Q&A with Billy Truitt of Vegas Strip Kings, a blues-based Americana sound band from Las Vegas, Nevada.

"Music is as much a refection of our society and it’s problems and strengths and any implications on society is usually an after effect."

Vegas Strip Kings: Eclectic Jackpot

Raised from the ashes of the acclaimed Blind Pig Records project Contino, Vegas Strip Kings is a blues-based Americana sound from Las Vegas, Nevada. With their unique influences and instrumentation, they have crafted a distinctive mixture of blues-based Americana with rockabilly and zydeco leanings. The band’s rootsy style has earned rave reviews and an ever-growing fan base in North America and Europe alike. To see Vegas Strip Kings is like watching a train rolling at high speed down a mountain pass—it’s frenetic, exhilarating, and you might often wonder it - it’s about to run off the tracks but – it never does. Their interaction is quite instinctive, as they forge serious meaning to each stanza, countered only by their smiles shared on stage.

To see Strip Kings is often like watching a train rolling at high speed down a mountain. It's frenetic, exhilarating, and you might often wonder if it's about to run off the tracks - but it never does. The band's interaction with each other is almost instinctive; trading solos between each of the members, the band looks and sounds fluid, as if every song has taken on its own meaning. The only giveaway is when you catch them laughing and grinning. These guys have almost as much fun playing as the audience does watching and listening. This thing really does move and shake along the tracks - like a smooth locomotive. The VSK are: Billy Truitt, Al Ek, Jimmy Carpenter, Jim Lovgren, Rob Edwards, and Justin Truitt. New album "Jackpot" will be hit the road on February 22, 2019. Billy Truitt, began his music career in the 60's with Jack Ely and the Kingsmen (later to be re-named The Courtmen) of "Louie Louie" fame. In the 70's Billy was a member of Cresendo recording artist "Foremost Authority," which evolved into "Easy Chair," one of Seattle's and the Northwest's most popular bands of that era. In the early 80's Billy was the front man and driving force in the Boise, Idaho based "Gentle Ben" and the 1,000 seat night club of the same name. He then landed a production deal with Curb/Warner Records and moved to L.A., forming a production company and keeping busy as a producer and studio player while at the same time becoming a fixture in the Bakersfield country/blues scene. In the 90's the Billy Truitt and the Barnstormers album was released to great reviews.

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the American roots music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

When we travel the world, we realize how much influence American Roots music has had on world music in general and how it’s embedded both musically and culturally.

What were the reasons that you started the music researches? Where does your creative drive come from?

Most of the VSK members had parents threatening body harm (kidding) if we didn’t practice our instruments when we were young an as we progressed into our teens a mixture of discovering the musical artists that would become our heroes and major influences along with impressing the girls was a major source for the creative drive.

"Too many great experiences and acquaintances come to mind to try and mention but I think for at least most of us in the band the discovery of the early blues musicians, B.B. King’s music and the early rock ad roll pioneers opened the doors to where we were heading musically and artistically."

How do you describe the VSK songbook and sound? What is the story behind the band’s name; Vegas Strip Kings?

“Eclectic” is the first description normally used in describing the VSK songbook but it’s really a mixture of our musical influences and original material with our blues roots holding down the foundation of our sound. Among all the members of the band we’ve either performed or been banned (kidding) from every casino and club on the Las Vegas strip, hence the name.

Which acquaintances have been the most important experiences?  What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Too many great experiences and acquaintances come to mind to try and mention but I think for at least most of us in the band the discovery of the early blues musicians, B.B. King’s music and the early rock ad roll pioneers opened the doors to where we were heading musically and artistically.

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, opening acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

Maria Muldaur performed on our Blind Pig project “Contino” a few years ago and along with her great performances on both the CD and Biscuits and Blues show her recollections od the Woodstock New York music era were especially memorable.

What do you miss most now a days from the music of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

We miss “melody most of all in a lot of musical offerings we hear now a days and our hope is that the younger musicians will appreciate and carry forward the  roots music movement.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become reality, what would it be?

Less Auto-tune...

"When we travel the world, we realize how much influence American Roots music has had on world music in general and how it’s embedded both musically and culturally."

What has made you laugh from the 1960s era? What is the impact of music to the socio-culture implications?

Since one of the members of VSK was performing in that era and there’s plenty of musical and pictorial evidence of him that’s all the humor we need…

Music is as much a refection of our society and it’s problems and strengths and any implications on society is usually an after effect.

What touched (emotionally) you from various US scenes? What are the most important lessons you have learned?

Racial inequity in all forms is always in the forefront of the US scene and reflecting honestly on the historical problems we’ve experienced is one of the most important lessons.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine. So where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

Down Highway 61 and hanging with Robert Johnson to be at the scene of the first “Roots Music Movement”.

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