85°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

Rock n’ roll hall of famer delights crowds

The crowd at the Pahrump Nugget Casino on a weekend night saw Sidro’s Armada go through familiar pop tunes like a Fleetwood Mac medley, Toto’s hit “Africa”, even “Shake Your Booty” by K.C. and the Sunshine Band.

Then lead guitarist Sidro Garcia sat down on his chair and played the Spanish classical hit “Malaguena” by Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona, along with Mason Williams’ 1960s classic “Classical Gas” and the Santana tune “El Farrol.” The audience paused from playing the slot machines or their ordinary conversations to take notice and applauded warmly after he went through some lightning-fast riffs on his guitar.

Sidro’s Armada, which plays at the Pahrump Nugget Hotel and Casino lounge stage from 7 p.m. to midnight this Friday and Saturday, was inducted into the Las Vegas Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.

Garcia, the band leader, moved from New Mexico to Las Vegas in 1965 with performer Sue Thompson, when he played in a band called The Sneakers. In his heyday in the 1970s, Garcia said his band was the main showroom opening act for George Burns, Barbara Eden, Jim Nabors, Al Martino and Johnnie Mathis as Sidro’s Armada. They played Harrah’s Casino on Lake Tahoe. Other gigs were as far away as The Latin Casino in New Jersey and the Fontainebleau in Miami.

In Las Vegas, Garcia said he first played at the Aladdin, then the Frontier, the Stardust, the Sahara, the Maxim, Palace Station, the Dunes and the Sands. He had extended gigs at the Maxim and the Mint.

“I’ve been playing since I was 8 years old and I’m 72,” Garcia said. “I’m totally self-taught, can’t read a note, I play a lot of them though.”

Garcia said he learned from performers like Louie Prima , Billy Eckstein, Fats Domino, Vic Damone and Little Richard who played in the same lounges. While he plays a Santana tune and his style can seem to resemble the rock superstar, Carlos Santana wasn’t a major influence, Garcia said, but he was inspired by blind guitarist Jose Feliciano.

Gradually, Sidro’s Armada went from a 10-piece band to an eight piece, a seven piece, a six-piece band, then a quartet, he said, calling it a sign of the economy. He is accompanied by Mary Ball on vocals, guitar and keyboard, Rick Bisbee on keyboards and vocals, Dave Collup on drums.

So is it a step down playing in Pahrump? “No, not at all. When I first worked there, all these people who had seen the act through all the years came up to me,” Garcia said. That includes local car dealer Tom Saitta. Garcia said he played at Harrah’s in Lake Tahoe with Saitta, who plays the trumpet, back in 1966.

“Most of the people there are a little older than normal, which is why I like it because I’m old too. Once we get them on the dance floor we hope the next song they dance to will keep them on the floor a little longer. We try to play what the people want to hear. I’ve always said that we’re like Walmart, we got a little bit of everything for everybody,” Garcia said.

It would seem he’d rather play a classical concert, but Garcia said he doesn’t mind playing the dance hits.

“You know what my favorite kind of music is? What everybody wants to hear,” Garcia said. “I like to hear people smile and applaud and dance. That’s my job.”

“They just did a documentary, I was on the Las Vegas top 50 jazz players. I’m not a jazz player, but they put me on that. They put my Classical Gas on there,” Garcia said.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Thousands watch Nye County GOP virtual debate

The Nye County Republican Central Committee, with the participation of the Pahrump Valley Times, hosted a GOP debate last weekend for the contenders vying for the Republican vote in the 2020 primary election, with nearly three dozen candidates joining in to tackle a variety of topics pertinent to their various offices and thousands of voters watching over two days of discourse and debate.

Striving for success, commission reduces Pahrump Fall Festival vendor fees

The Pahrump Fall Festival is, hands down, the single largest community event in the valley each year but over the past few years, it has been dwindling a bit in terms of participation by vendors offering merchandise and goodies for the thousands of people who turn out on a regular basis. With this in mind, town and county officials have made the decision to revise the vendor booth fee schedule, lowering the prices in an effort to attract more vendors and make the 2020 Fall Festival a resounding success.

Pahrump’s Movies in the Park given the go-ahead

It’s been more than two months since the last community gathering was held in Pahrump and though certain restrictions are still in place regarding the number of people allowed to congregate in public or private settings, the town is now readying for the first large-scale public event since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nevada, its annual Movies in the Park.

Leslie Street paving to commence tomorrow in Pahrump

Pahrump Valley motorists who regularly travel along Leslie Street might want to consider another route this Thursday and Friday, May 28 and 29, as the repaving project for the stretch of Leslie Street between Basin Avenue and Irene Street is set to take place over the next two days.

Virus deadly to Beatty events

Among the victims of COVID-19 are Beatty’s two biggest events of the year—the Fourth of July celebration in the park and Beatty Days in October.

Storm Area 51 cost Nye County $363,000

More than seven months after the Storm Area 51 event that had Nye County in an official state of emergency, the county now has a view of just how much the event cost it, with a reported $363,000 in unbudgeted expenses connected to the phenomenon that grew out of what was originally intended as a social media joke.

DAN SIMMONS: Get back to nature, enjoy the sounds of silence

Even as we see improvement in the current pandemic, but continue the process of quarantine, isolation, hibernation and social distancing, do what you can by continuing to work at home, work with government programs and creditors.

Pahrump’s Golden Years contestants surprise pageant founder

The contestants for the 2020 Ms. Senior Golden Years Pageant recently made a special visit to pageant founder BJ Hetrick-Irwin’s house to bring a smile to her face and let her know that while the pageant may have to be postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the ladies are ready and willing to forge forth with the annual event just as soon as they are able.