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May 20, 2019

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Ice Ice Billy

Find Frankie Moreno in the happy aisle

Frankie Moreno at the Stratosphere

Leila Navidi

Frankie Moreno performs at the Stratosphere on Thursday, April 5, 2012.

Frankie Moreno at the Stratosphere

Frankie Moreno performs at the Stratosphere on Thursday, April 5, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Stratosphere headliner Frankie Moreno and esteemed hard rock vocalist Paul Shortino were sitting in Moreno's dressing room Wednesday night. Moreno and his band had just reeled in the audience with an explosion of musicianship, humor and charisma. And Shortino was, justifiably, hard rock singing Moreno's praises.

Moreno – a classically trained virtuoso musician, former child prodigy, and perhaps a collective embodiment of the best all-around performers Las Vegas has ever had to offer – made his case on how all music we have today began with classical music. The conversation grew, and the enthusiasm between the artists saw more raises than at the final table of the World Series of Poker, particularly when the word "heart" entered the conversation.

I found myself sitting on a sectional sofa listening to all of this because on occasion I get to hang out with John Katsilometes, scribe of The Kats Report (among other fine items). He is the first person to whom I turn, on line or by text message, whenever I have an open Wednesday night and want a suggestion on how to most thoroughly enjoy this amazing town in which we live.

Shortino, who once fronted Ruff Cutt and Quiet Riot and who played Duke Fame in 1984's immortally riotous "This is Spinal Tap," moved to the edge of his seat as Moreno elaborated on what he had tweeted earlier that day. With the invention of the gramophone, Moreno said, music became packaged and labeled, and that's how we buy our music today. What if, Moreno wondered, music wasn't shoved into genres like country or hip hop, but rather into how it makes the listener feel?

It's a lovely idea. To walk into a music store and go straight to the aisle that will make one happy, or sad. Or even make us feel a little better about being angry. Such a system could aid in our human connections.

"Hey," the music store clerk said. "Weren't you in here just last week in the sad section?"

"Yeah man," the customer said. "But she left him and came back to me. Got anything in 'optimistic'?"

"Nope," the clerk said. "But I do have a new 'apprehensive' release you should check out."

Predictably, that's what a notion as this would come to anyway, isn't it? Where there is commerce and marketers there is packaging and, at most times, the artist's intentions end up on the floor. Human emotions, one would guess, would be packaged into sub-emotions. Within happy, there would be the met-a-new-girl section, the got-a-new-job section, and the survived-a-parachute-failure section.

This last subset of happy, obviously, would have a very small selection of titles from which to choose.

Our streaming audio folders would have new sorting choices: Artists, album artists, angry artists, in love artists, nostalgic artists. And there would probably have to be an entire category devoted to Lil Wayne, because it's hard to really figure out what he's talking about.

It's not likely the music industry will be relabeling its inventories. But Las Vegas has a show like Frankie Moreno's that would most certainly appear in the "making you happy" aisle at your neighborhood live music store, mostly because it's stunningly obvious that writing and performing - while not having to leave anything on the floor - makes Moreno himself very, very happy.

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