By Sam Wagmeister - Nightlife Editor
The “Next Big Thing” opened on the Las Vegas Strip last week when the Bronx Wanderers took the stage at Bally’s Casino for the first of what should be many, many performances to come.
Fans flew thousands of miles to experience the music and culture that engulfed the room. There was a sense that the Windows Showroom moved and swayed to the beat of the songs from a bygone era: Ragdoll, Walk Like a Man, Dawn (I’m No Good for You) …and more contemporary hits like Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and a tribute to Billy Joel…all among a rich inventory of music that drew standing ovations throughout the nearly 90-minute show.
The Bronx Wanderers are a tight, melodic rock band of black leather jacket-type guys whose million dollar smiles quickly explode the tough guy persona. Father Vinny is joined by his self-taught musician sons Vinny Jr (keyboard, guitar, banjo, drums and anything else he can get his hands on) and Nicky the drummer who first hit the stage when he was 11.
The family bonds that were so cherished in simpler times are reignited as these guys share their music with each other, highlighted by the two son’s tribute to each other, the Beach Boys “God Only Knows (What I’d Be Without You)”.
Each talented band member is a showman in their own right and has an opportunity to exhibit their exceptional talents in solos and songs, including some spiffy new moves thanks to choreographer Joey Pescetto.
First in line, over an hour before show time, were Long Island residents Bill and Mary Tupper quickly followed by Las Vegas fans Sonny and Lisa Ruggieri and Mena and Gary Deroe of Port Richie, Florida. The appeal and loyalty of the Bronx Wanderers loyalists is exhibited by the Facebook buzz from fans nationwide excitedly sharing their travel plans to Bally’s.
The appeal of this group transcends their music. There is a feeling that fills the room that is rare in the tightly, computer controlled shows on the Strip today.
For Vinny the Dad, the Bally’s show is the fulfillment of a lifetime Las Vegas dream. And to have his sons on stage with him is just that much more special. Vinny the Dad, as are his sons, is one of those kind of people who make you feel good just by being in the room with him and breathing in his sincerity.
The performance is more than music; it’s Vinny’s story of a proud poppa and loving husband from his earliest days in the Bronx harboring a burning desire to be part of the music business. Along the way, he did it all - from producing, performing, directing and finally, Las Vegas.
It’s bits of family photos, tributes and anecdotes that draw the audience in to this special evening…just enough to get to know them before their songs capture you and take you back to the times you remember fondly.
Credit is due to the South Point Casino who first recognized the group’s appeal and provided a stage for them that quickly grew from a 1-night sell out to three nights.
To experience a tiny bit of what makes this show so special, to see something that you probably will not see in any other show on the Las Vegas Strip, watch the brief attached video.
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