About a year ago, the Fabulous Cut-ups started booking the best stages in Northern Nevada. They were having no problem finding good places to play, but were still struggling to get picked up in Las Vegas.
They were told they didn't have enough sex appeal. Easily solved the band figured - just have one of their members start dressing in drag.
"We really don't take ourselves too seriously. We are definitely a comedy band," said bass player David Gearheart. "With this business it's important to be good, but also to be entertaining."
Gearheart, along with drummer/ saxophonist David Lewis and Vern James on keyboards and guitars, have been playing together for nearly 15 years. Guitarist Ray Rodarte of Carson City, joined the band in 2005. All members of the band also sing.
For many years the band was based in Alaska, but soon began working three-month stints in outlying casinos in Nevada. They moved to Northern Nevada full-time in 2003.
"The casinos here are a good marriage for us. They needed a boost, the bands they had weren't performing," Gearheart said. "Somewhere over time the bands became the background ambiance instead of the entertainment,"
Gearheart said what makes the Cut-ups unique is the spontaneity they provide, mixing in skits and playing every song requested.
"We play such a wide variety and every request. People enjoy that, and they leave and remember that," Gearheart said.
As for his personal request, the 55-year-old Gearheart, a self-described "Hippy Musician Bum," said it's the sounds of the classics.
"I like doing Fats Domino's stuff," he said. "I like the hitch and the giddy-up. I just like the sound of his songs."
The band said their success over the last year can be attributed to a dedication to playing real music with talented performers and real instruments.
"We actually play bass and we don't use machines to play the instruments. When our drummer plays saxophone, we do use a drum machine. But he is such a good sax player that it's worth it," Gearheart said. "But no instrument can replace good human voices. If you can sing harmony, you can see it in (the audience's) faces. It affects them."
That harmony has apparently paid off for the band, as their schedule has filled up with larger and larger venues. They are scheduled to play at two locations during Hot August Nights, one during the day and another at night.
"I see us having a long run in the Nevada casinos. There's a lot more style here and we enjoy playing," Gearheart said.
The Fabulous Cut-ups are playing at the Carson Valley Inn in Minden through Sunday and will take the stage at the Carson Nugget from July 4-9. During their performances at the Nugget they will be joined by guest vocalist Kenyatta Mackey.
• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217.