Don Alexander
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Don Alexander


Band Jazz Singer/Songwriter


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"Alexander's musical odyssey leads to Las Vegas"

Columnist Jerry Fink: Alexander's musical odyssey leads to Las Vegas
Jerry Fink's lounge column appears on Fridays. Reach him at at (702) 259-4058.


Many musicians and vocalists dream of surviving on their talent in Las Vegas.

Few actually realize that dream.

Don Alexander is among the few.

For the past eight years the 54-year-old entertainer has performed nights at the former Club Monaco, 1487 E. Flamingo Road. The club recently changed hands and now is P.J. McRae's.

Alexander can be heard there from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, and 9 p.m. until 3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Recently he began a second gig -- at Zingers, 1000 E. Sahara Ave., from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Mondays and Tuesdays.

"My wife, Christina, and I were living in Coral Gables (Fla.), but we didn't feel at home there," Alexander, a native of Dequincy, La., said. "We felt like foreigners.

"People kept saying we had to move to Vegas. The demographics were great. And we fell for it."

The couple finally made the move in '93.

Alexander, whose repertoire includes everything from rock 'n' roll to popular to jazz and funk, had been a successful performer for years, singing and playing piano and saxophone with bands throughout the South and parts of the Midwest.

"My musical experience started when my dad bought a piano when I was 3 1/2 and I started pecking out songs," he said.

Although music was his passion in high school, he started his college career studying engineering.

"I couldn't stay out of bands," he said. "At one point when I got into math, I wasn't doing too well. Then I made a road trip one summer with a band and never came back to engineering -- I changed my major to music the last semester."

At the University of Southwest Louisiana in LaFayette he played with several bands.

"We did all the pop stuff," Alexander said. "The Monkees were popular. We did some James Brown. The Yardbirds.

"Finally, I came to the conclusion I didn't need to be wasting my parents' money for a degree," he said. "There was no reason for a music degree, I just liked music, and I just wanted to play it."

So he joined a band and did a lot of one-night stands.

"We moved to Baton Rouge after I quit college and did a lot of weekenders around there," he said. "We were just a good-old rock 'n' roll band. We played all the cool stuff we could find that wasn't really popular on the radio, but cool with the college crowds.

"The band smoked."

The group survived, but they weren't getting rich.

"We didn't need a lot of money," Alexander said. "You don't need a lot of stuff when you're young.

"Sometimes all of us would crash with the girlfriend of one of the guys. We never starved. I don't remember having to sleep in my van but one or two times, and it was no biggie."

The one-night-stands gave way to longer engagements, sometimes weeks at a time.

Alexander was with one group for more than four years, and came close to getting a recording contract with them.

But the other members of the band weren't as passionate about the music as Alexander, and when the president of a recording company in Atlanta tried to sign them, they were not interested and eventually drifted apart.

"That was totally unreal to me," he said. "The label gave up on us."

Alexander -- who recently released a CD, "Wake Up To Love" -- struck out on his own, but eventually put together his own band.

The group was together about three years, and then he discovered cruise ships.

"If you have the discipline for it, you can do pretty well," he said.

Alexander worked on ships for six years. He met his wife, a vocalist, on one of the cruises and they soon teamed up -- onstage and off.

When the decided to move to Vegas, they didn't give up the ship gigs.

"We just kept working cruise ships, and on our breaks I moved our things to a storeroom in Vegas," he said. "When you work on the ships you can live anywhere -- they will fly you to your port.

"It was a good way to ease into the city."

Alexander said there were a lot of jobs here when they first arrived.

"But people had them and they weren't letting go," he said. "Vegas is the kind of place that if you know somebody who is connected you are set -- but we didn't know anybody at first so it was tougher to break in.

"It was rather disappointing."

In the early years he mostly worked on cruise ships, but performed locally from time to time -- at the Plaza, the Rail Road Pass and other venues. During an engagement at the San Remo, his wife lost her voice and couldn't sing for a year.

"They worked us really hard there," Alexander said. "It just trashed our throats."

They alternated between local gigs and cruise ships for four years, until Alexander landed a job at Club Monaco.

A connection helped.

Tim Boatman, a pianist/vocalist from Alexander's hometown in Louisiana, was working at the club. Alexander is a few years o - The Las Vegas Sun June 10, 2005


I have just released the CD, Wake Up To Love on my own production company label, As-Is Productions. Radio play is in the works in Las Vegas. You may hear samples of the music on CD Baby's website.



I was born and raised in south Louisiana in te 50's. My influences come very much from blues and the various Louisiana and southern ethnic styles. I was a rocker in the 70's, converted to soul and jazz elements. My sax style and tone are closer to soul with simpler but more passionate lines than typical jazz.