music, technology & life in pasadena, california

Viva Las Vegas!

Welcome to Las VegasIt’s been almost 10 years since I was last in Las Vegas. New hotels and casinos are rapidly displacing the names familiar to previous generations who grew up with memories of Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack and everything that made their names synonymous with this all-night city seemingly plopped down from nowhere in the middle of the Nevada desert.

I remember my first visit in the mid-80s playing with Doc Severinsen, the former Tonight Show bandleader, and his small group, Xebron, at the Desert Inn. We stayed for three weeks and had a great time sneaking back into the showroom after it closed and jamming until the early hours, playing tunes we’d written during the day.

This week I’m playing with a great group of musicians from Los Angeles, New York City and Las Vegas who have all come together for the opening of the new Steve Wynn hotel, known around town as “the Wynn”.

From NYC there’s legendary session guitarists David Spinozza (Paul Simon), John Tropea (Blues Brothers) and bassists Wilbur Bascomb (Jeff Beck) and Tom Barney (Steely Dan). The west coast contingent includes one of L.A.’s most in-demand guitarists, Tim May, bassist Ken Wild (Seawind, The Simpsons) and pianists Randy Waldman (Barbara Streisand, David Foster) and Jim Cox (Mark Knopfler).

There’s something incredibly exciting and inspiring being around such a great group of creative people. The energy, the stories and the camaraderie keep feeding each other and the fun continues well past rehearsal hours. We’ll be performing Saturday night (that’s right, all of us together…6 basses, 8 guitars, 6 pianos) in the Latour Room at the Wynn. I’ve never heard anything like it but it should be a blast.

UPDATE: Our complete roster of guitarists included: John Tropea (NYC), David Spinozza (NYC), Phil Hamilton (NYC), Bob Ward (NYC), Gary Queen (LV), Tom McDermott (LV), Tim May (LA) and myself.

April 27, 2005 | Link to this entry

Reminiscence: Inside The Vatican

Last week's passing of Pope John Paul II reminded me of a recording session I played several years ago. Composer Mark Adler called me to play classical guitar for National Geographic's Inside The Vatican documentary. Mark wrote some beautiful guitar parts and I was looking forward to the airing of the show on PBS.

One night several months later, I fell asleep with the television on. I awoke, somewhat groggy with sleep, to the sounds of a solo guitar. It sounded so familiar but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. When I opened my eyes and saw the Pope on the screen, I realized what I was seeing and hearing. Mark had used the guitar piece as the Pope's theme and in doing so had given me a thrill, an honor and a reminder of my own Catholic boyhood.

April 11, 2005 | Link to this entry


Welcome to my new web site!

This will be a work-in-progress for the next few weeks, so please bear with me while I make adjustments to the design and functionality.

I'm looking forward to writing about music and technology along with providing insight into the world of working musicians in Los Angeles.

April 6, 2005 | Link to this entry


Paul Viapiano is a guitarist working in film, television and live performance based in sunny Pasadena, California.

You can email me here.

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