Photo Diva: Up On the Roof

Sara Evans performs on the rooftop
stage at Laughlin's Riverside Casino.
Photo by Linda Evans.

The universe has not been kind to the Diva lately. Family illness, a falling out with a friend, overworked and under paid have all been involved. You don’t need the messy details. It has been a rough few weeks.

As I have written before, I end pretty much every night standing on the roof deck of Diva Central (a.k.a. my house in the southwest part of the valley) looking over the Strip on one side and Red Rock on the other. It is incredibly beautiful and calming — my place to escape the day, reflect and plan. But this week I needed a little more than that and ended up on a very different roof.

When things get this crazy (and frankly, scary) Bill and I have a tendency to just get in the Divamobile and drive. Doesn’t matter where. This is all about the journey and not the destination. We often just grab a change of clothes and toothbrush in case we decide to stay over in some little town and just hit the road. A few weeks back it was Mesquite. Last weekend it was blackberry cobbler at the Cracker Barrel in Kingman, AZ. It’s therapeutic and we have had some very awesome talks about life and our place in it while driving through the desert.

So, back to the whole roof dealie…

Having done the Photo Diva thing for better than a year and having lived in Las Vegas for more than five years and being married to the editor of a live audio magazine, well, let’s just say I go to more than my fair share of shows. And I have seen everything from tributes to headliners on various outdoor stages. And with a few notable exceptions like the Beach at Mandalay Bay most of them, well, I don’t want to us that word that rhymes with luck but they are less than great. Most of them feel like a total afterthought. “Hey we’ve got all of this space outside by the pool. Let’s put a stage up and put some band on it and charge people fifty bucks to get a seat.”

The Riverside Casino's rooftop stage
is a perfect place to see a show.
Photo by Linda Evans.

Never mind the fact that a stage does not really fit and that there is not enough power and the pool is right in the middle of it and there is not an audio system made that can cover the area they want to cover. I went to a show at an outdoor venue at a very nice property probably two years ago and the stage did not even face the cabanas that people had paid big bucks for. No joke.

So it was a real pleasure to go to a show at an outdoor venue that was planned for shows when it was built — even though it is on the roof of a parking structure. The bad news is that it is a bit of a drive. It’s at the Riverside Resort Hotel and Casino in Laughlin. (See, I told you I would get back to the roof thingie. You didn’t really doubt the Diva, did you?)

I got invited out by my favorite local production company, HAS Productions for a show by country siren Sara Evans. We had a busy morning and it was pouring rain. We had the Vegas monsoonal moisture happening and we’re both a little nuts so we pulled into a parking lot and got out and danced in the rain. Don’t laugh. It is an awesome cleansing experience, you should try it sometime. Oh and don’t call it a monsoon. every time I do, some weather geek sends me an email or FaceBook post telling me why we can’t have monsoons on this continent. Whatever, it rains really really hard for a very short period of time. I love those storms. They one of my favorite things about living in Las Vegas.

But there I go taking the scenic route to my actual point. Back to the roof.

When we got there we were met by HAS owner Larry Hall and audio guy extraordinaire (and resident cutie) James Elizondo. They took us up the escalator and showed us around. I won’t bore you with the audio details but that pre-planning thing meant some structural features that make putting a stage and 3000 people up there faster, easier and safer. And the system sounded so good that we could still clearly hear the lyrics to the songs at our car. No small feat considering we were parked a long city block away.

By the way, as the show was about to start, BIll, James and I (Larry had already left to go home) were standing at the front of house position (that is what they call the area where the sound and lighting controls live). A woman seated in the first row of the bleachers got up and asked us if we were going to be standing there all night. James said, “Probably. This is my job. I’m at work.”

Sara Evans' fans were wowed by her Laughlin performance.
Photo by Linda Evans.

“Well I paid good money for these seats,” she replied. “And we can’t see.” We did the nice thing and kneeled on the concrete. Well, Bill and James did. I only had three songs to shoot and I was running around making the most of that limited time. But when I came back to change lenses it was obvious they were not happy or comfortable. A word of advice: When buying tickets, the area right behind the audio console is not a great choice. No one wants to look at sound guy butts all night. Now, a Diva butt is an altogether different thing. But I digress.

Sara Evans is a likable, strong singer who has released six records since 1996 including one greatest hits. Hit singles include “A Real Fine Place to Start”, “Cheatin'” and her current single “Stronger.” Great lyrics on that last one. And she has received a slew of awards including Best Female Singer from the Academy of Country Music. The girl has a voice to be reckoned with an her band is just great. Seeing and shooting her set was a great distraction but real life was calling and we hit the road pretty much right after my “three songs, no flash” was over.

On our way back to Las Vegas we were dying for something to eat. I was dictating this column while my “secretary” typed, but I needed fuel to keep telling the story. We stopped at the Searchlight Nugget and bellied up to the retro lunch counter inside their cafe. What a cool place and so unlike the mega resorts in town. Family pictures on the wall and the nicest waiter you can imagine. (Thank you Michael….) We got a patty melt and onion rings to go and the tab was less than seven bucks. Michael told us the prime rib dinner on Sundays is a bargain and really tasty at a mere $9.99 but get there early because they usually sell out. The trucker sitting at the counter with us nodded in agreement as he downed the hearty-looking meatloaf. You should check it out. I know we will be back for sure.

As we crested the hill between Railroad Pass and the southern end of Henderson the entire valley looked magical — as if the rain had washed the whole city clean. We made our way quickly home for the nightly ritual. Yep, I’ve got me a hot date waiting up on the roof. I gotta go.