Despite being 95 years of age, Joe Vento is proud of it and will always smile his widest whenever he reveals his age. Till this day, the gray-haired showman is still seen performing on a Steinway in the 1960s-themed lobby of the off-Strip Royal Resort each weekend. He will always be there to greet the harried travelers who are usually in a rush to reach the front desk, which is just beyond.
It can be pretty tough at times, but Joe hustles to peddle the nostalgia of his old-school jazz, calling out to newcomers for any request. The senior pianist would usually be seated on two pillows, working the room from the piano. If a visitor comes by and mention that his is from Toronto, Joe would take the initiative to play for them the Canadian national anthem, singing the lyrics from memory. If he suspects that there is a French couple then he would roll into a can-can. Also, if there is any visitor who mentions that he/she just turned 60 years old, Joe would play “Happy Birthday” for them briefly before transiting into a jazzy rendition of “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”. For Joe, he considers six listeners in the audience to be a packed house rather than an embarrassment.
His glass jar is placed near him and he added that on a good evening, he could make $500. The fact is that Las Vegas is filled with solo musicians, most of which perform at restaurants and casinos. Many of these individuals are content to just play to half-listening ears. However, Joe does not feel the same way. Over the past 70 years, the freelance jazz player has worked hard to captivate a crowd with more than just his music.
He has basically been a witness to the town’s musical history, and his stories punctuate his act. He even entertains listeners with tales of his days as a fixture in the MGM studio band. Those were some of the best years of his life. After which, he went on to work on cruise ships as well as other gigs that took him around the world. Then, for the next 27 years, he was in a group called the Three Suns, where they played at most casinos on the Strip. For the full story, you can read more about it here.