START YOUR 2017 PLAYLIST WITH THESE 10 VEGAS ACTS

Image by Mikayla Whitmore

Image by Mikayla Whitmore

Since dance music became mainstream, many musicians have given up their guitars and drum kits for synthesizers and mixers. Singer-songwriter Toney Rocks actually did the reverse. “I used to produce dance music, and I loved that,” he says. “What got me out of that was when I tried to be a DJ. I was getting paid a lot of money to just twist knobs and thought, this is bullsh*t. I want to play instruments.”

One might scratch their head at his transition from dance to Americana and folk (by way of the blues). But becoming a singer-songwriter is the logical conclusion for the musician whose longtime favorite musicians care as much about the lyrics and narrative as they do the authenticity and craft of the music—James Taylor, Vince Gill, Keb’ Mo’ and especially Jackson Browne. Rocks follows in that same tradition of storytelling on last year’s No Road Too Long and recent single “Run to the Night.” Since he moved here from Delaware last March, he’s been sharing those stories on the local open-mic circuit, along with playing on his own at venues like Boulder Dam Brewing Company and Artifice, assisted only by his acoustic guitar.

Rocks refuses to believe Las Vegas isn’t a town for singer-songwriters. “There’s a pocket for the genre anywhere,” he says. “It’s not an issue of getting gigs. It’s an issue of rooms paying you. It’s a matter of finding the people.” Which he’s positioning himself to do with his active YouTube channel and goal to play 200 shows—here and on tour—this year alone. “I’m about quantity. I want to work as much as possible and reach as many people as possible.” –Mike Prevatt