Las Vegas- the “Entertainment Capital of the World”. We’ve read it, we’ve heard it, and we’ve lived it here for years. From stage shows, aerial acrobatics to tribute acts and cover bands, Las Vegas’ stages are seldom dark, highly touted and rarely…unique. So how does a Las Vegas native and well-respected musician find himself filling […]
Las Vegas- the “Entertainment Capital of the World”. We’ve read it, we’ve heard it, and we’ve lived it here for years. From stage shows, aerial acrobatics to tribute acts and cover bands, Las Vegas’ stages are seldom dark, highly touted and rarely…unique. So how does a Las Vegas native and well-respected musician find himself filling clubs and attracting audiences without the assistance of corporate bookings, a stale setlist or costume trickery? By reimagining the concept of what a cover band can really be; a personal mixed tape, a musical setlist of more intimate proportions.
To find out more, Vegas Cannabis Magazine sat down with founder lead singer and lead guitarist of The Majestic 12, Jason Walker.
VCM: Why the “Majestic 12”?
JW: The Majestic 12 by name, not necessarily had to be. The Maj 12 by intent…absolutely needed to be, which is a songbook and calling card band where I can go out and play the stuff that fills my soul, we can communicate music that hasn’t been overplayed and outplayed to the masses and also say, ‘hello… I’m here!’ as well, since Las Vegas is my hometown, born and raised, and I should probably be out there as myself.
VCM: Can you divulge what the term “The Majestic 12” refers to?
JW: The Internet is a great tool! There are parallels all over the premise…
VCM: Does your band have a regular group of band members?
JW: The band is comprised of many talented people who can sometimes be pulled away for various professional obligations, since we’re all seasoned professionally working musicians and performers. Examples of a few of our regular and rotating band members include Cian Coey (Dweezil Zappa, Meatloaf, Raiding the Rock Vault), Joey Melotti (Barry Manilow), Stoney Curtis (Count’s 77), and Jon Stenber, a fantastic and prolific bass player.
VCM: Did you model the idea for The Majestic 12 after any other musical project? You mentioned to me earlier that you are hoping to make The Majestic 12 the premiere Las Vegas jam band that would allow nationally touring acts to pop in and perform from time to time…
JW: Well there’s the host band type of scenario like Waddy Wachtel (Warren Zevon, Fleetwood Mac, Steve Perry) had at The Joint in Los Angeles which is album Rock being played at the bar by musicians who were excelling at what they’re doing to be able to support guest musicians who were traveling through town. That’s something that I’d love to be able to do with The Majestic 12 because honestly, we’d be able to do it. We all come from the experience and the musical history that would be needed to support something like that. That is the ultimate objective- to be able to have that precedence and murmur around town. This is one of those bands that you’d be able to do that with if you were say, Joe Walsh or a performer of that caliber.
VCM: Who are your main musical influences (as it pertains to The Majestic 12)?
JW: My personal songbook. It’s all my influences coming out toward the audience and the stuff that influenced me as a musician. I want to really project that out there because there’s a lot of music that deserves to be heard that Las Vegas audiences, in particular, don’t necessarily get to hear. The deep album cuts and the songs left un-played on most cover band stages.
VCM: You just had 2 massive shows recently- Planet Desert Rock Weekend v2 and a showcase at Count’s Vamp’d. Both shows were highly attended. Do your shows vary in the way of catering specifically to the venue and audiences? Are there differences?
JW: It’s not necessarily the size of the stage, it’s the intent of the venue itself that inspires how a particular show is going to go. If you see The Majestic 12 at Count’s Vamp’d, you’ll see the heavier side of my musical influence- a heavy show. At The Sand Dollar for example, you’ll see a wider range of material…maybe some lighter Bluesy fare, less heavy Rock songs.
VCM: You’ve played a few shows in the past where you’ve had surprise guests make appearances on stage to perform with a saxophone, or harmonica, a guest percussionist, etc. Do you want to continue the trend of having guest musicians pop up on stage?
JW: Yes, sometimes we might play a song that requires a saxophone even though it’s a heavy song. I am fortunate as a tenured performer and musician in Las Vegas to have friends who are amazing musicians in their own right and they are always happy to pop in and have a play if I ask.
VCM: Who were the musicians who performed with The Majestic 12 at your Count’s Vamp’d show recently?
JW: Joey Melotti on keyboards- he’s great, Jon Stenber who is a fantastic bass player that I count on to tackle any songs I throw at him and he can improvise his way out of any catastrophe (laughs) which I need! Michael Maysonet (aka ‘Stoner Dude’) is a talented artist in his own right who also had an artist vendor booth last summer at the Herban Expo, Stoney Curtis of Count’s 77 fame and a fantastic Blues and Rock musician and solo artist (thanks to Mike Varney for introducing us) and he’ll definitely be making more appearances with us in the future.
VCM: There wasn’t much of an Arts and Culture scene in Las Vegas when you were growing up, was there?
JW: Not as much as there is now. I think everyone now is at least trying a little harder, but I don’t think it’s nearly where it needs to be yet.
VCM: What are your feelings about the cannabis industry moving into Las Vegas? Do you think it has influenced the Arts community?
JW: I think what it has done has helped people to relax a little bit. And to open their minds to the fact that there’s more than just sports (now) and gaming around here.
VCM: Are you a cannabis user?
VCM: What is your favorite way to consume cannabis?
JW: As a singer who’s constantly using my vocal instrument, I actually prefer edibles. But there is something to be said for the ritual of the flower. When I need to work, I like the uplift of a sativa. When I need the anxiety gone and to take away the muscle aches, I enjoy a hybrid.
VCM: Do you think that cannabis enhances the artistic process?
JW: 100% yes. And provides proven health benefits, as well.
VCM: Where do you see The Majestic 12 in a year? Where is the ultimate destination?
JW: Gigging a hell of a lot more! The means to the end for The Majestic 12 is this: enough gigs that I can play my life and be able to do it on my own financial terms. It would be nice for The Majestic 12 to settle into a well-paying home that would have us- that’s the ultimate.
VCM: Final thoughts…?
JW: I’d really like to credit (and thank) my mother and father for instilling in me some of the greatest musical roots you could have.
VCM: How can people find more information on upcoming shows for The Majestic 12?
JW: For now you can contact me about upcoming shows for The Majestic 12 through FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/jason.walker.90038, Instagram @grindhousegurus, Twitter @GrindhouseGuru