Interview Rockabilly

VLV Countdown: Interview with Tom Ingram

9:23 AMDollie DeVille

Only 90 days to go until Viva Las Vegas 14!

Zack, Tom, and I
(ignore the terrible pic of me, it was years ago)

Today I have a real treat for my readers, especially the ones that will be attending VLV for the first time this year. I wanted to give a little history about how VLV started and about the man behind the curtain, Tom Ingram. I had it all typed up to post at the 100 day mark, but I decided that it would be a better story directly from Tom himself. Tom is a super nice guy, and we run with the same crowd around LA, so I knew he would let me do a piece about him. So, without further ado, here is my interview with Tom Ingram of VLV:

Interview with Tom Ingram of Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend:

Dollie DeVille: Let’s start from the beginning. Tell me about your upbringing in the UK, and how you first got interested in rockabilly music, DJing, and promoting weekenders.

Tom Ingram: I first got into fifties music when I was about 13 and discovered Elvis. I soon decided that I wanted to be a DJ so when I was old enough I started renting out halls at the back of pubs and doing the record hops. Then I started adding bands, getting bigger venues and then weekenders.

DD: Then in 1996 you moved to Long Beach, got engaged, and pursued an acting career, correct?

TI: Yes, that is correct.

DD: How did the rockabilly scene in the US compare to that in the UK? It must have been strong enough for you to decide to pursue a rockabilly weekend here.

TI: I would not say it was very strong and there was not a lot of variety of 50s music. It was very different also in that no one danced to the records then.

DD: Sin City is the perfect location for a rockabilly weekender. I can’t believe that you were the first person to consider putting on a weekender there. What logistics were involved in planning the event in Las Vegas while you were in CA? I know that you had a hard time finding a hotel to “take a chance” on you.

TI: Finding the right hotel was tough but eventually I found one. The first one was difficult because it was a new event and a lot of logistics have to be sorted out. The Gold Coast was happy to take the risk.

DD: So, tell me about the very first Viva Las Vegas in 1998 at The Gold Coast. It was fairly successful right away, with about 2,000 in attendance, correct? You must have been proud.

TI: I was very proud and relieved. After being ripped off by my partner in the UK for Hemsby, to have another successful event was a great feeling.

DD: Did the first VLV have a lot of the same events we all know and love now, like the car show, pool party, and burlesque competition?

TI: The first one did not have all of the events. The car show only had about 12 cars. There was no official pool party, no burlesque and only 2 venues.

DD: Eventually the event out grew The Gold Coast, and the weekender has to be moved to The Orleans, a sister property of The Gold Coast. As we all know, the rockabilly crowd is very nostalgic. Did you meet any animosity when you announced that you have to change locations?

TI: No. I did not get any animosity. I had the choice of a number of hotels so I sent an email out to everyone on the mailing list asking for feedback and preferences. It was about 95% in favor of moving to The Orleans. I would not have made the change without that feedback.

DD: I remember that time when you were considering South Point. We went to check it out, and it just didn’t have the Viva vibe. I think The Orleans was a better choice. Speaking of The Orleans, late one night I ran into you in the elevator and you were going up to the top floor, where you said you had a suite. I bet that is one of the great perks of running VLV. How is that suite by the way?

TI: The suite is really nice but I hardly see it because I am so busy at the event. By the time I get to it all I want to do is sleep.

DD: I think most of us feel that way. Do your wife and kids come with you for the weekend, or do they stay at home?

TI: They come to every event.

DD: There are a lot of new things going on at VLV this year, like Burlesque Bingo, the Tiki Pool Party being on Fri, Sat, and Sun, the Hooch and Smooch moving upstairs to the ballroom, and a 24 hour record hop down stairs. From what you have heard, are people excited about that, or do some people feel that it is getting too big?

TI: I think people are always interested in new ideas. Burlesque Bingo is a great fun event and perfect for Vegas. The 3 day pool party is necessary due to numbers and the all night record hops have been very well received.

DD: I know I am excited about it! Tell us briefly about the other events that you have tried to put on in the past, that were not as successful as VLV- like The Shakedown, the Las Vegas Rockaround, and the Rockabilly Rave USA. Why do you think that those events didn’t catch on like VLV did?

TI: I think VLV is special. There is nothing else like it. The other events did not work for various reasons but that is how it goes.

DD: Okay, last question, just for fun: Do you have any VLV horror story? Anything catching on fire, any act falling off stage, or the whole state of NV selling out of PBR? Give me something juicy and rock-n-roll!

TI: I often get asked about VLV horror stories but there really are not any. Here is one story from The Gold Coast. I think it was around VLV 4 or 5. I was having an afternoon nap and my phone rang. The girl said that the hotel owner had to see me in his office ‘right now’. So I panic thinking there is a problem and go to his office. I walk in and he says ‘we are planning some refurbishment and changes in the hotel. I want you to see the plans to make sure the building changes will be OK for VLV. If not we will do new plans’.

DD: Wow, that’s really considerate of them! Thanks for giving The Rockabilly Socialite a chance to interview you. My readers and I are very excited for VLV 14. Anything else you would like to add?

TI: I just want to say that I am always open to ideas, comments, suggestions and complaints so please feel free to contact me.


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  1. All I know is that a 3 day Tiki Pool Party means that I need to bring at least 3 bathing suits now. At least!

  2. How wonderful...isn't he the nicest man...he always takes a moment to chit chat...i love that...being a long time viva makes me happy that he loves what he does and that viva is special to him. ahhhhh...looking forward to another rocken fun year...9 years runnin'!!! yahoooooooooooooo...great job dollie-

  3. Thanks for mentioning the Hooch and Smooch! That was super awesome! If anyone needs the info, it will be thursday April 21 in the Bienville Room upstairs. Full lineup announce soon, but I know a swell band called The Blue Collar Combo will be playing! Be sure to get your wristband before coming to the party!

  4. Dollie, I love your blog and your attendance to the shows. Hope to see you in Brendans Pub in the Orleans Midnight to 4 am Friday and Saturday at some point to see the Variety of Icons The Reverend Martini has for you again this year. Been Packed for the last two years since Reverend Martini has booked The Reverend Martini's All Night Jumpin Showcase. Last Year I had for instance Marky Ramone with Deke Dickerson, Dale Watson, Big Sandy, The Go Getters, Nikki Hill, Members of Royal Crown Revue and more of your favorites. I am currently getting the line up ready and will keep you in the loop! xxx

  5. Dollie, I love your blog and your and Zac's attendance to the shows. I will look forward to seeing you at The Reverend Martini Presents Brendan's Pub as part of VLV in the Orleans again this year. It is Reverend Martini's Third year invited to produce The Showcase by Tom Ingram and each year is packed with Rockabilly Fans to see the Artists Reverend Martini invites such as previous years with Marky Ramone and Deke Dickerson, Mr. Dale Watson, Marty Brom, Rosie Flores, Big Sandy, The Go Getters, Nikki Hill, Pachuco Jose, Moonlight Trio and more! Looking forward to seeing you again Midnight to 4 am both Friday and Saturday night as a part of the GREAT event Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender 17 Orleans in Las Vegas. xxx come to Tom Ingrams Birthday at The Reverend Martini Presents Jan. 25th with Wild Artists Little Victor and Los Bananos plus DJ Chuy! xxx Karen aka The Reverend Martini


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