The regular Friday night show Kenny Davidsen’s Celebrity Piano Bar at the Tuscany is celebrating five years this week, which means an extra-big, one-night-only version of the show is moving from Friday to Sunday and relocating from the off-Strip casino’s Piazza Lounge to the Copa Room. I caught up with the Brooklyn native to talk about the Tuscany, the anniversary show, his ongoing mastery of so many popular songs and much more.
You came to Las Vegas from New York in 2011. How different are the entertainment scenes in those cities for you? They’re not completely different, especially now that we have The Space and The Smith Center doing the kinds of things you would find in New York’s old cabaret venues. More people here say yes than they do in New York. And we have casinos here that provide more entertainment, though not as much as they used to. I would probably have to pay [the venue] to do the show I do at the Tuscany, but here they pay for it.
How has the Tuscany show evolved over the five years? It started with just me and a drummer but we always one guest singer, a different singer every week. Now we have a full band and the guest singer invites friends and they each do a song, so it’s 10 to 12 songs a night. I also have these monthly shows called Playlists where we pick a theme and get a bunch of singers to do songs by the Eagles or Lady Gaga or Madonna. The next one is April 15 and it’s Paul McCartney and Wings.
The Tuscany has been really good to me. They just want good music in the lounge and now they’ve brought in Michael Grimm and Ryan Whyte Maloney and Kelly Clinton on a weekly basis. The five-year show on March 18 is going to feature a lot of singers that have been regulars in the show, kind of a retrospective. Jassen Allen and Anne Martinez are the co-hosts and there will probably be over 30 acts.
You also play downtown at Don’t Tell Mama and serve as the musical director for the twice-monthly Mondays Dark show at The Space. I played at the original Don’t Tell Mama in New York for 10 years before I came out here. It’s not too different from the Tuscany other than I don’t have a band and anybody can come up and sing a song. My job is still the same. And I’ve been with Mondays Dark almost since it started, which is something that just shows the community in this city absolutely fantastic. There’s no other word for it. The artist community in New York is a little more competitive. Here everyone is so supportive and everyone wants everyone to do well and get shows and work. It’s the reason I’ve made it five years at the Tuscany.
You are known for being able to play so many songs. Where do you find the time to learn new tunes? I just had to learn “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran because a lot of people want to sing it at Don’t Tell Mama. It’s good, it keeps me on my toes. I’m always learning new things and old things.
Kenny Davidsen’s five-year anniversary show is set for March 18 at 8:30 p.m. in the Copa Room at the Tuscany Suites & Casino (255 E. Flamingo Road, 702-893-8933). Admission is free and more info can be found at tuscanylv.com.