May 29, 2023

Ensanta Catalina

Aventure et nature

Journey’s Neal Schon riffs on 50th anniversary, reuniting with Santana

Neal Schon is in year 49 of his musical Journey. He’s looking to a major milestone next year, as the band he founded plays a quartet of orchestra concerts this weekend and next at Resorts World’s Theatre.

“My 50th year that I’ve been with the band is coming up. Wow,” the guitar legend, impressed by his own longevity, said in a recent Zoom interview. “Just getting to where I started, if you go on Google and you look it up, it says Journey started in ’73. I actually started in the middle of 1972, but next year, we will be celebrating for a while.”

As rock scholars well know, Schon split from the original Santana, headed up by Carlos Santana, to form Journey. The two guitarists have reunited over the years, including a collaboration on Santana’s 50th anniversary show at House of Blues at Mandalay Bay in 2017.

Schon has been in contact with Santana since Santana experienced a health scare last week during a show in Michigan. Schon texted of his friend and mentor, “He seems to be very (thumb’s-up emoji) and replenishing (gratitude-praying hands emoji).”

“I love Carlos, we talk almost on a daily basis. We’re talking about the future, always,” Schon said before Santana’s health episode, which knocked out five concerts on his current tour with Earth Wind & Fire. “It makes total sense to me, especially because of where Journey came from, to do something with Carlos. To have that mingling going on, onstage, just makes sense to me. It seems like the right thing to do and what our fans would want to see.”

Consider the shows at Resorts World as a kind of preview to that anniversary. Journey is performing with a full orchestra in its Resorts World premiere on Friday and Saturday and again July 22-23. The onstage roster is Schon, Jonathan Cain on keyboards, Arnel Pineda on lead vocals, Deen Castronovo on drums and vocals, Todd Jensen on bass, and Jason Derlatka on keyboards and vocals.

The band is committed to some of its indelible hits, including “Don’t Stop Believin’,” “Wheel in the Sky,” and “Who’s Crying Now.”

Schon said it will not be a greatest-hits show, however.

“I’m assuming we’re going to play three or four new songs in the set,” Schon said, referring to selections from the band’s latest album, “Freedom,” released this month. “We’ll be playing stuff like ‘City of Hope,’ ‘Winds of March,’ ‘Patiently,’ to show we’re not on just the greatest-hits list.”

A key figure of Journey’s reassembled lineup has still not reunited with the band. Bass virtuoso and “American Idol” judge Randy Jackson “is still in the mix” and in talks about how and where to return to the lineup. Jackson underwent surgery on his spine two years ago, which has delayed his return to live performance.

“He’s still healing himself, but he might up for the second week in Vegas,” Schon said. “It’d be great to see him and maybe pop him onstage for a couple songs, if he can actually make it to Vegas.”

Look for some funny here

Stand-up star Eddie Griffin, a longtime Vegas headliner currently performing at the Sahara Theater; and Four Queens mainstay Mike Hammer are hinting to a collaboration in Criss Angel’s entertainment operation. Hammer is the comic magician in “Amystika,” Angel’s partnership with Franco Dragone at Planet Hollywood. Hammer is not at liberty to say what is up. We expect jocularity, regardless. Coming together, right now …

I experienced my first sample of Raiding the Rock Vault at The Duomo at the Rio on Sunday night. The 300-seat room is cozy, the performances powerful. Dancers are involved. The show seems on steady footing in its new locale, but I do need to see a full run. I also had a great antipasto and pizza nosh-up at Cupola Café, its menu created by the Ferraro family of Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant Wine & Bar.

There is a coffee bar on one side, vintage pinball machines on the other, and some classic rock in the middle. The venue is owned by Las Vegas attorney/rock musician Tony Sgro, whose band plays the room, too. The Duomo is operated by Damian Costa and his Pompey Entertainment company. A music residency with an aquatic vibe is also being planned for the room, so dress appropriately.

Get to know this place

Maxan Jazz Sushi & Jazz club is developing a solid rep as a cool hang, though I can’t stamp it as such because I’ve yet to hang there. But the performers have been so promising. Those who have headlined include the Neil Maxa Quintet; headed up by Maxa, a trombone great and sometimes Henry Winkler look-alike model; The Moonshiners (back again Sunday night); and Pepe Jimenez’s Groove Culture Trio (July 20). Gotta, gotta get there.

Cool Hang(s) Alert

Cheapshot on Fremont East continues to bolster — bolster, I tell you! — its entertainment schedule. The “Mavericks” variety show is 7 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; “Mavericks Late” (more adult even than “Mavericks”) is 9:30 p.m. Saturdays; the “Guilty Pleasures” nightclub hang and side-acts show is 11:30 p.m.-3 a.m. Saturdays; “Body Work” disco hang is 11:30 p.m.-3 a.m. Fridays; the piano bar (remember, this place was once Don’t Tell Mama) from 8 p.m.-close Wednesdays and Sundays and 9 p.m.-close on Thursdays; and the venue’s Happy Hour is 9-11:30 p.m. Fridays.

I’m advancing the idea of a Pensive Hour, maybe on Mondays, just to ease into the week. I’ll take it up with founder and Mistress for All Time, Amy Saunders. Get to for pricing and more info.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at Contact him at Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.