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November 23, 2014

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Joe Downtown: Cosmopolitan, First Friday Foundation cultivating local arts scene

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Juice, a Las Vegas-based band, performs this weekend at The Chandelier at The Cosmopolitan.

A multigenre local band, Juice, will be playing this weekend at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

The band features Juilliard alumnus and downtown resident Joey Pero on trumpet and vocals, Las Vegas native Michael Spadoni on piano and vocals, Las Vegas Academy graduate Will Leahy on upright and electric bass, and UNLV alumnus Carl Collins on drums. They caught the eye and ears of resort honchos at the launch dinner for the First Friday Foundation, said Charles Ressler, who works for the foundation and is marketing director for Coterie, a clothing store on Fremont East.

The Cosmopolitan has supported local artists in various capacities since opening in December 2010. Ressler hopes to strengthen that connection through the First Friday Foundation.

Ressler, who grew up in New York City and has performed on Broadway, says the mission of the First Friday Foundation, established just a few months ago, is threefold: to make it more economically feasible for local artists to stay in Las Vegas by connecting them to more outlets; commissioning civic art projects; and assisting artists with grants.

“The hope is that we can position Las Vegas for the first time as a viable city to build music and art,” Ressler said. “People would automatically think of Nashville, L.A. or New York for music, but we’re saying we have so much talent here and more shows per capita, why aren’t we creating recording artists or cultivating local talent?”

Ressler sees art as one of the keys to the redevelopment of downtown Las Vegas.

“The emergence of an art scene is usually the first sign that a city is on the right track,” he added.

Juice performances will take place from 8 to 8:45 p.m. and 9:05 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday, and 9 to 9:45 p.m., 10:05 to 10:30 p.m., and 10:45 to 11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at The Chandelier.

Joe Schoenmann doesn’t just cover downtown, he lives and works there. Schoenmann is Greenspun Media Group’s embedded downtown journalist, working from an office in the Emergency Arts building.

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