Las Vegas isn’t just about the flashing lights and the raging party. The opening of the Smith Center in downtown Las Vegas proved that people would like things with a little more substance. You would never see a classical or cultural performance at a Cirque show.
The Las Vegas Hotel and Casino decided it was time to round out their entertainment with a little classical culture as well. Last night was the grand opening of Esteban in the Shimmer Cabaret.
Esteban is a classically trained guitarist who has his own style. His style can be compared to a classical Flamenco style guitarist with a contemporary twist. Esteban’s lovely daughter Teresa Joy accompanies him on stage playing her violin. The music of Esteban and his daughter take main stage as a drummer and a keyboardist fill in some background music.
As the curtain rises a man appears in a shadow box. This dramatic image is shattered as Esteban starts waving to the crowd like a little kid. This actually made me laugh out loud. Esteban stepped out of the shadow box wearing a traditional Flamenco outfit topped off with a bolero leather hat and dark sunglasses.
Esteban was ready to take audience on a musical journey. He had a short narrative that introduced the time period and the music he was going to play. One such song was called Celtic Dream where his daughter joined him on stage playing the violin dressed in Celtic garb. Esteban’s fingers danced over the neck of the guitar while his daughter danced around the stage playing the violin.
Watching Esteban play the guitar was like being a peeping tom. I know that sounds bad, but Esteban plays his guitar like he is caressing a lover. He holds the body of the guitar close and Esteban’s head finds a resting place between the neck and body of the guitar. His fingers glide up and down the strings and beautiful music is made. Esteban never looks up for approval of the audience it is just him and his guitar while he is playing.
There is no doubt in my mind why Esteban filled up the Smith Center when he played there last year. Esteban played songs that connected with everyone. From “When you Wish Upon a Star” to Del Shannon’s “Runaway” and even one of my favorite classical pieces “In the Hall of the Mountain King” by Edvard Grieg, Esteban played it all.
At one point during the show Esteban had made mention that Elvis had performed so many times in the showroom down the hall, Esteban then looked up to the sky and asked Elvis’s bright soul to join him for his next number. As Esteban and his daughter played “Love me Tender,” I couldn’t help but notice the woman I was sitting next to had tears rolling down her face. Looking around the audience, I witnessed a few people were having emotional reactions to this song.
It was my turn to have an emotional reaction as Esteban explained a bit about his life. He explained that he had stalked Andrés Segovia via snail mail until one day he was able to convince the Marquis of Salobreña to train him. After training with the virtuoso Spanish classical guitarist in Spain, Esteban was hit by drunken driver. Esteban lost sight in one eye (thus the dark glasses) as well as losing feeling in one of his arms. After a long ten years he was able to play the guitar again. (A little close to home for me. I had to learn how to walk again after a motorcycle accident.)
Putting everything back in perspective, Esteban ended the night playing what he called a Sun Melody which highlighted the song made popular by the Beatles “Here Comes The Sun.” At the end of the Sun Melody the crowd exploded into applause and gave Esteban and his daughter a standing ovation.
Outside the Shimmer Cabaret long lines formed to get a signed autograph of Esteban and his daughter Teresa Joy. It was truly a remarkable evening.
Wanting more information? Here is what you need to know:
What: Music From The Heart
Who: Esteban featuring Teresa Joy
When: Thursday and Fridays and select Saturdays
3000 Paradise Rd
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Costs: $39 VIP
$29 General Admission
$19 Locals Only with a valid photo I.D.
Benihana Dinner & Show Packages Available
(taxes and service charges not included in prices)
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