While performing emcee duties for Gibson Brands 120th Anniversary festivities at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, our own, Will Jones/Dr. Epiphone sat down for a moment (literally) backstage with Tony Moreno, Epiphone artist/bass player for Las Vegas' "Headliner of the Year" Frankie Moreno. Headquartered at the world famous Stratosphere Hotel and Casino, the multi-talented Frankie and his 10-piece powerhouse ensemble, including his brother Tony, were the featured entertainment for 3 nights at Gibson Brands' big tent in the front of CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Hi Tony! It's great to see you again!
Hey Will! It's good to be back here at CES playing for Gibson Brands and checking out all the new toys!
Yes! And I see you are still rocking your Epiphone Thunderbird bass!
I've been playing the Epiphone T-Bird for a little over a year now. I love the beefiness of it and have dialed in a pretty good sound with it... and it can definitely take a beating.
So, you play that bass everywhere?
Yes, I play it 4 nights a week at the theater at the Stratosphere as well as ALL my road gigs. And I plan on taking it on my European tour that we just booked that starts this March!
Killer! How did you get the bass bug to begin with?
I started professionally in Las Vegas when I was 14 and I'm 26 now still playing bass... it's all I've ever done. When I first started, I was just playing bass, but within a couple of years, I started songwriting as well. Since then, we've recorded multiple albums of original material. It's awesome to play bass on the songs that we've written.
You guys masterfully cover a vast array of styles and material during your shows. What's the kind of music you dig the most?
I grew up listening to a lot of older stuff... Motown, Elvis, the Beatles. I listen to a lot Rocco Prestia (Tower of Power), Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), and I'd say a lot of my inspiration comes from the classics.
I know you have a lot of aspiring players ask you this; what's your advice to someone who wants to get started playing bass?
You've got to practice and you have to stick with what you love... AND... you've got to play with people that are better than you, more knowledgeable, more experienced than you. It's the pathway to growth.
That's truly sage advice! Now, let me ask the obvious; what's it like performing with your brother, Frankie, night after night?
Best thing in the world! Before I started playing bass, he was obviously playing music. Since I was a little kid, I was there at his shows watching him perform and I've gained a great understanding of where he's coming from. That's helped us play together and really gel on stage. I love playing in general and playing the music that we write, but there's something special about playing with my brother-- a bond there-- that you just don't get... with anyone else.
I can tell you guys enjoy yourselves in the music and camaraderie. It shows through to the audience and I think it's part of the genuine fun of your show. Even your bother Ricky cutting up off stage is hilarious, but, the quality of the music and musicianship you guys bring to the stage is incredible. I hope you guys come through and play Nashville sometime!
Right on! I grew up partly in Hendersonville! I miss Nashville... but you can't beat Vegas!