Making a Scene Presents an Interview with the Vegas Strip Kings!
An eclectic americana sound from Las Vegas, Nevada. The talent and synergy of the five highly accomplished musicians create an awesome experience wiith their unique mixture of influences and instrumentation they have crafted a lively and distinctive mixture of blues, Americana, rockabilly, and zydeco.
The quintet’s unique mixture of roots music style has earned rave reviews and an ever-growing fan base in both North America and Europe.
To see Strip Kings is often like watching a train rolling at high speed down a mountain. It’s frenetic, exhilarating, and you might often wonder if it’s about to run off the tracks – but it never does. The band’s interaction with each other is almost instinctive; trading solos between each of the members, the band looks and sounds fluid, as if every song has taken on its own meaning. The only giveaway is when you catch them laughing and grinning. These guys have almost as much fun playing as the audience does watching and listening. This thing really does move and shake along the tracks – like a smooth locomotive.
Billy Truitt – accordions, keyboards, vocals***Began his music career in the 60’s with Jack Ely and the Kingsmen (later to be re-named The Courtmen) of “Louie Louie” fame. In the 70’s Billy was a member of Cresendo recording artist “Foremost Authority,” which evolved into “Easy Chair,” one of Seattle’s and the Northwest’s most popular bands of that era. In the early 80’s Billy was the front man and driving force in the Boise, Idaho based “Gentle Ben” and the 1,000 seat night club of the same name. He then landed a production deal with Curb/Warner Records and moved to L.A., forming a production company and keeping busy as a producer and studio player while at the same time becoming a fixture in the Bakersfield country/blues music scene. In the 90’s the Billy Truitt and the Barnstormers album was released to great reviews, which led to a full schedule of touring for the next couple of years.
Al Ek – guitars/harmonica/vocal**** Plays a mean guitar but considers himself most accomplished on the harmonica. He joined The Spanic Boys in 1985 and toured the East Coast, including Tramps in New York City and The Tower Theater in Philly. Al’s own band, The Shuffle-Aires, has opened for such bands as Johnny Winter, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Los Lobos, and Lonnie Brooks. He has also joined Rob Edwards and Jim Lovgren for a recording session backing up Sun Studios legend Narvel Felts.
Jimmy Carpenter – Horns , Vocals. In addition to his work as bandleader and horn arranger with New Orleans icon Walter Wolfman Washington and The Roadmasters, he has embarked on a very exciting project with Mike Zito and The Wheel, recording 2 albums (Gone to Texas and the just-released Live CD/DVD, Songs From the Road, on Ruf Records). He was nominated in 2014 for Best Instrumentalist/Horn by the Blues Foundation, and he has just released his 2nd solo album, Walk Away, on Vizztone. Keeping up a steady international touring schedule, he has appeared as Special Guest Artist on several major festivals this year, including Paulie’s New Orleans Jazz and Blues Festival, Worcester, MA; Blues from The Top, in Winter Park, CO; Blues to Bop in Lugano, Switzerland, and The BIg Blues Bender, Las Vegas. He is also ramping up his own band’s presence, doing multiple shows in New Orleans this fall, and producing and headlining the long-running MNOP Festival (Music of New Orleans Perigueux), in Perigueux, France. All this in advance of hitting the road with Mike Zito this October/November, to promote their Ruf Records releases in the U.S. and Europe.
“Walk Away is a great second effort, beautifully produced and backed by an outstanding array of New Orleans musicians. Carpenter titled his first release Toiling in Obscurity. But with the work he’s put in and the skills he exhibits here, that description no longer applies. Jimmy Carpenter is finally out front, in the spotlight where he belongs.” “Carpenter’s duet with Reba Russell on the closer, “Fellow Traveler” is stunning.” – Grant Britt
Rob Edwards – upright bass**** an amazing player with high-energy and rhythmic interludes. His unique blend of rockabilly and blues makes him stand out above the rest. Rob has opened for bands such as The Stray Cats, Dick Dale, Ted Nugent, Dr. John, The Radiators, Rev. Horton Heat and many more. He has also backed Chuck Berry multiple times!
Justin Truitt – An accomplished composer, clinician, drummer/percussionist, and educator in Las Vegas who has been playing since the age of three. Justin has had the opportunity to play with many musicians and has performed all around the country and Mexico. Justin has received two Bachelor’s degrees from UNLV with emphasis in Music Education and Percussion Performance. In 2009 he completed his Masters of Music degree in Percussion Performance (UNLV).
As a performer, Justin has excelled in the World of Drum and Bugle Corps, having marched with the Phantom Legion in 1999 and the Phantom Regiment in 2002. That same year he became a World Champion percussionist, by winning Drum Corps International’s Individual Solo and Ensemble competition for his original composition, “Dream Wave”. Since that time Justin has appeared in Modern Drummer Magazine and Percussive Notes for his contributions to percussion. Justin has also had a successful career as a drum set player and percussionist on the Las Vegas strip and on the west coast performing with many singer-songwriters and the top Blues artists from in and around Las Vegas. Justin is currently a freelance drummer while also playing with his Americana/ Blues/ Zydeco band, Vegas Strip Kings.
Justin formally served as the Director of Bands, Guitar and Percussion at Spring Valley High School which has received excellent and superior ratings every year of Truitt’s tenure (2004-2013). Justin is currently the Director of Orchestras and Percussion at Lied Middle School. Mr. Truitt also serves as the Vice President of the Nevada Percussive Arts Society. Over the past twelve years, Justin has built a successful private lesson studio, which specializes in all areas of percussion concentration. Justin has been a clinician for the Nevada Percussive Arts Society Day of Percussion for the last seven years. In January of 2011, Truitt’s article “Teaching Percussion in Las Vegas” was featured on Prof. Johnny Lee Lane’s website; www.proflane.com.
Justin remains an active composer, performer and educator in the Las Vegas valley while endorsing; Randall May International, Remo Drum Heads, Sabian Cymbals, Vic Firth Sticks and Mallets, and Yamaha Drums & Percussion.
Jimmy Carpenter saxophones, vocals.
Jim Lovgren – drums***** With over 30 years of professional trap kit experience, mastering a wide variety of styles by playing behind a multitude of different artists. Most notably, he’s worked with Grammy award nominated artists Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds, country chart toppers Rex Allen Jr., Barbara Fairchild and David Frizzell. Jim has brought his well-crafted ‘driving the bus’ style of drumming to a huge variety of venues worldwide including, concerts, showrooms, recording studios, and international television appearances (Solid Gold and the Travel Channel).