Michael Cavanaugh is perhaps best known for providing piano and lead vocals in the Grammy and Tony award nominated Broadway Musical Movin’ Out. Now, the Las Vegas resident and his band will be performing the Billy Joel Songbook at The Smith Center’s Cabaret Jazz room January 25-26.
My exclusive interview with Michael Cavanaugh concludes below. Click here for the first part of my interview.
PL: Would performing regularly in Las Vegas be of interest to you?
MC: I would love for that to happen. I’m not looking to play the night clubs around town even though there are some amazing clubs in town with million dollar sound systems, but I would love to play The Smith Center. Cabaret Jazz has 250 seats and I can entertain and tell stories and not worry if people are dancing every song or not, but if they want to get up and dance that’s great. I would love to maybe play there 4 or five times a year. Every couple of months or something. Whatever we could work out. But I would love for that to happen.
PL: Do you think The Smith Center will be successful for Las Vegas?
MC: I was so happy when The Smith Center was built. The Cabaret Jazz theater is beautiful. People who don’t live here don’t realize that Vegas is a real city – it’s a real place. It’s not just a bunch of people that work in casinos…We need culture and we need things just like the other cities do. [The Smith Center] is an amazing place – Las Vegas needed it. It’s hard for the local community to get their own arts going, you know, you look out the window and you see the Strip and you see Garth Brooks and you see Barry Manilow and you see Donny and Marie and its hard to compete with that, even on a local level. So, yes, I’m so glad its there, its huge. And the Broadway shows coming in now… It’s something this town needs.
The funny thing is my daughter is playing The Smith Center before I am. She’s doing a concert there…She’s in an acting school called Act Now! run by [Artistic Director] Matthew (Chandler). He has a school here in Vegas and in London and four of his students out of London are in the [Les Misérables] movie and my daughter is in his academy and they’re doing a show at The Smith Center, the same stage I’m going to be on.
PL: It’s been over 10 years since you were playing at the piano bar at New York, New York. And of course, it was there where you met Billy Joel that led to the tremendous opportunity to play his music in ’Movin’ Out’. Do you ever think about how things may have been different for you if you hadn’t met him?
MC: I would certainly still be playing music. I’m certainly very thankful for that night; that really did change everything for me. Put it on a different level – it lead to me playing on Broadway. But if that didn’t happen…I might still be in that piano bar (laughs). I’m certainly very happy with the life I have now, but I’m not going to speak bad about that piano bar. You know, that was one of the funnest jobs I ever had, but I certainly wouldn’t trade what I have now. But you know…I was happy.
I made a decision at a very young age that I’m going play music and entertain people as my way of life and if I’m doing that and I’m making a living and I can support my family – I’m usually pretty happy. So I had a smile on my face when I was there – my smile might be a little bigger now (laughs). But I’m certainly glad it happened.
PL: Do you have a set list already in mind, or are you still working it out?
MC: I have some things in mind. I’ve thought about starting from the beginning and going through each album. But then I though I might not do that. What I want to do is tell his story between the songs. Some of the stories I learned from him. I remember I was with him in Long Island and we were riding around and he had the driver pull over and he pointed to this little apartment on the ground level and he said, ‘See that? Right there that’s where I wrote captain jack.’ How cool is that?
There’s certain songs that I haven’t done in awhile. Like when I was a kid I always sang the song ‘Honesty’ so I think I want to do that one. Because that song kind of tells my story. I was a 14 year old kid in the 80s when everybody was singing Journey and Bon Jovi and I was singing ‘Honesty’ by Billy Joel…and people kind of took notice. They liked it. So, I will probably throw a few things in there that I haven’t done in a while, but I‘m looking forward to it.
PL: In 2009 you released the album In Color, which included some original tracks. Any new music on the horizon?
MC: I’ve been writing a lot of songs. I’m definitely going to put some things out. You know, I wrote this country/rock song and I’m thinking I’m probably not the right artist to release this song, but I sure love writing it so…its funny I’m starting to see myself separately as a writer and a performer and sometimes they overlap and sometimes they don’t. So I might right a song that I say ‘yeah, I want to be the artist on that and I might release it on iTunes, or maybe I’ll do another CD where I do some covers or I do some originals. And if I put out another CD this coming year, I will once again do some covers and some originals – maybe more originals this time. But, yeah, I do plan on doing some more. I think 2013, it’s going to be time for another CD to come out.
Start 2013 off on a great note and get your tickets now for Michael Cavanaugh performing the Billy Joel Songbook at Cabaret Jazz in The Smith Center for the Performing Arts.
For more information:
Michael Cavanaugh: The Billy Joel Songbook
Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center
Friday, January 25, 2013 at 7:00 pm
Saturday, January 26, 2013 at 3:00 pm
Saturday, January 26, 2013 at 7:00 pm
Tickets: $39 – $56
Order tickets online here, or contact the box office at 702-749-2000