Las Vegas Sun

October 22, 2017

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Face lift doesn’t alter spirit of old Vegas jazz bar

Pogo’s is being jazzed up.

There are new booths and carpeting. Even the stage, moved from the west wall to the east, is new.

A layer of construction dust has replaced the dust of time that found its way into the cracks and crevices of the saloon since it was built more than half a century ago to slake the thirst of cowboys who lived in the sparsely populated desert and rode to the oasis on horses that they tethered to a hitching post.

“It’s just a face lift,” says new owner Bill Stypowany.

For the past six weeks Stypowany has split his time between his moving company and swinging a hammer inside the neighborhood bar that for the past 30 years or so has been a Friday night gathering place for jazz musicians and fans.

After being closed for cosmetic surgery, Pogo’s will resume the jazz jam tradition at 8 p.m. Friday, when fans can get their first peek at the spruced up digs at 2103 N. Decatur Blvd.

“We got rid of some of the old stuff, added some new stuff,” Stypowany says.

The old stuff they’re keeping is the jazz.

At Pogo’s, there is an even stronger interest in music than before. With the addition of video camera equipment, 10 flat-screen TVs plus a 10-foot projection screen, the band can be seen as well as heard from anywhere in the saloon.

Greg Tischhauser, who works for Stypowany’s moving company and has been right beside him in the remodeling, says keyboardist Dick Fazio’s band will resume its gig.

Fazio may or may not be there for the reopening. About three weeks ago he suffered a minor stroke and is now in rehab.

Joe Kennedy will fill in for Fazio. Now 24, Kennedy was a toddler when some of the musicians who perform regularly at Pogo’s started drawing Social Security.

Plans call for an expansion of the music scene — more jazz, more blues, maybe some country.

Pogo’s once called itself an Oakland Raiders bar.

“Now we’re nondenominational,” Stypowany says.

“Ribbon of Life”

More than 300 Las Vegas entertainers will perform in the 22nd annual Ribbon of Life fundraiser Saturday and Sunday at Paris Las Vegas.

The benefit is the major source of revenue for Golden Rainbow, a nonprofit organization devoted to helping victims of HIV, providing permanent housing, financial assistance and prevention education.

Entertainment will be provided by the casts of “Folies Bergere,” “Jubilee!” “La Cage,” “Le Reve,” “The Lost Vegas Crew,” “Mamma Mia!” “O,” “Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular,” “Spamalot” and “Tony & Tina’s Wedding.”

There will also be performances by Mosaic, Tony & Lloyd, Tim Searcy, Missy Cochran Entertainment and No Boundaries Dance Company.

Details: 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; Le Theatre Des Arts, Paris Las Vegas; $35 to $200; 384-2899; goldengainbow.org.

Around town

The Zap Band and the Calloway Brothers will be among the entertainers performing at the eighth annual Las Vegas Juneteenth Festival. (4 to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; Sammy Davis Jr. Plaza, Lorenzi Park, Twin Lakes Drive and West Washington Avenue; free) ... The topless show “X Burlesque” has been extended for another year at the Flamingo ... Magician Jason Byrne, who performs in “V: The Ultimate Variety Show” at the V Theater inside the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood, was recently awarded the Merlin Award from the International Magicians Society for best cabaret magic.

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