Las Vegas Sun

December 13, 2018

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New club, downtown vibe, with a House of Blues tie

The downtown music scene is continuing to expand with the startup of the Canyon Club at the Four Queens.

The Club joins several other music venues, including Take One, the Celebrity Club, Hogs & Heifers and the Triple G Bar and Grill.

Blues rocker Joe Bonamassa plays the Canyon Club on Friday and Saturday. The 30-year-old guitar whiz has been rubbing elbows with the pros for 20 years.

Coming up in the next month are Ian Hunter, Los Lobos, Leon Russell and Johnny Winter.

The Canyon Club is the karmic brainchild of Lance Sterling. He and his group started the House of Blues in Las Vegas, left it in 2000 and built the Tabernacle in Atlanta and then opened the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills, Calif., a 1,300-seat theater that attracts some of the top jazz and blues musicians.

Sterling began eyeing a Las Vegas expansion three years ago. "I was intrigued by the idea of putting a club downtown," he said.

Before he opens a club, there has to be a certain vibe at the site. "I stand in the space and I either feel it or I don't."

He felt it at the Four Queens, but it took 2 1/2 years to make the deal and get the place open.

The 615-seat club is open four nights a week, depending on what's going on.

"I try to be a couple of years ahead of the curve," Sterling said. "Downtown is a gold mine. It has a vibe. The Strip has manufactured cool."

Bonamassa was reached by telephone on tour in Oklahoma City. He was celebrating his 30th birthday at the Route 66 Roadhouse, which he called "a cool juke joint blues club."

Bonamassa plays frequently at the Canyon Club in California. He's done a few gigs at the House of Blues and other venues in Las Vegas.

"Everyone likes to play Vegas," Bonamassa said. "When our friends at the Canyon Club asked us to play, I said sure."

Bonamassa began performing at age 10. By 12 he was touring with B.B. King, who has a home in Las Vegas , though he tours most of the time.

"He's been one of my best friends for almost 20 years," Bonamassa said. "He really has helped me immensely, starting my career. He's the reason I have a career.

"He really enjoyed what I did when I was a little kid. He invited me on a tour, gave me a stage, gave me an opportunity to play and help build fans. I tour with him at least once a year."

Bonamassa says he's fortunate.

"I'm been doing this a long time," he said. "I've been an underground blues hero for a long time, but now I'm finally coming aboveground."

He says his plan for the future is to keep doing what he's been doing for 20 years.

"I'm making a nice living for everybody," he said. "I have 13 employees now. If we can just keep doing what we're doing and I can make a living doing it and everybody who's with me can make a living do it, then I have achieved my goal in life - and I've never had to have a real job."