Music

REVIEW: “Kiss Me” single by Rebel featuring Sophie Tweed-Simmons

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Sophie Tweed-Simmons just released a single with Rebel called “Kiss Me” which beautifully illustrates her captivating, seductive and delightful voice. Sophie, daughter of KISS founder/front man Gene Simmons and wife Shannon Tweed Simmons, teamed up with Rebel and the end result is a wonderful, catchy song that to be perfectly honest I can’t get out of my head.

“Kiss Me” has a melody that stands on it’s own but is enormously accentuated with such an awesome voice singing every word with so much emotion and musical accuracy, it results in a composition that simply makes you feel great.

Sophie’s voice is fantastic. In fact, her voice is the ultimate example of vocals as an instrument. Her strong and yet purposefully relaxed voice, coupled with the songs wonderful lyrics, are perfectly nested atop a foundation of instrumentation accompanied by an arrangement that is nothing short of magical.

“Kiss Me”, technically speaking, makes brilliant use of of the call-and-response technique which perfectly balances the accentuation of vocal points with delicate and deliberate  instrumentation – resulting in a sort of conversation between voice and instrumentation. It’s very subtle, but it is definitely there and it suits the song perfectly.

Fortunately, every nuance of Sophie’s voice is captured in this recording. From the quick breath of air preceding the start of lyrical phrases to the perfectly-controlled vibrato at the end some of those very phrases and everything in between, the listener is blessed with an angelic voice that makes listening to “Kiss Me” not only effortless, but mesmerizing.

Simply put, “Kiss Me” is one of those songs that will often just pop in your head and one that you’ll catch yourself humming throughout the day.

Get the single here at iTunes

Follow Sophie on twitter at @SophieTSimmons

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Leaders

Donald J. Trump: The Art of the Presidency (part 1)

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Donald J. Trump isn’t just another in a long list of people who hope to become President of the United States. He is the only candidate who actually wants to make America great again. And the best part is he knows how to do it.

I don’t know about you, but I find it quite curious that the standard operating procedure for politicians is to hire a staff of experts that do everything from speech writing to public relations and damage control. To me, if you have to hire people to write your speeches & people to make you look good when you are negligent or do something wrong, you shouldn’t be in any office. If you aren’t capable of (or willing to) speak from your heart & directly/honestly tell people what you think without the use of writers, advisers and teleprompters, why should you be taken seriously as a candidate?

The natural rebuttal to my position on this subject would be something like “politicians focus on their strengths such as core issues and strategic processes to best serve the public and therefore utilize ancillary experts whose strengths are best communicating their employers position to the voters”. Professionals call that spinning, I call it bullshit.

Merrian-Webster defines politcal correctness as “agreeing with the idea that people should be careful to not use language or behave in a way that could offend a particular group of people”. “Could offend” is subject to interpretation and as such covers so much ground that it’s impossible to not offend someone at some point. I have always found it ironic that politics is built on this idea that by definition means people may have to dance around the truth. The truth sometimes hurts, but it IS the truth. Under this premise, perhaps the definition of “politics” itself should be amended to say “getting and keeping power in a government regardless of the fact you may not have the best interest of the people at heart“. Just reading that probably offends many of you. If it does, ask yourself why.

Mr. Trump says what so many others want to say: the truth without fear of repercussions. If he doesn’t like you, he’ll tell you why & to your face. If agrees with you, he’ll tell you why & to your face. If he likes a policy he’ll fight tooth and nail for it and if he disagrees with it he’ll not only tell you why but he will back it up with factual data. How could you accept anything less in a Presidential candidate? Perhaps you are insecure and/or maybe you have ulterior motives.

Americans are used to, and obviously widely accept, the practice of spinning. It happens every day in virtually every aspect of life. Politics is no exception and arguably may even represent the mother of all spinning. In fact, politics may be the avenue the spinners who work for celebrities aspire to go to mark their highest career point. I refer to these masters of political spinning as the cirque du soleil of spinning. They can dance, sing, entertain and create a fabulous show with just a few props and water. But at the end of the night, the makeup and costumes come off and we find out they can’t really fly.

Mr. Trump knows how to write and negotiate deals and he has a network of the greatest business minds who want to join him in making this country great again. This country needs a total reorganization from the top down. The traditional political foundation needs to be torn down and a solid business-centric one built in it’s place. If you don’t think this country should be run like a business, don’t complain about unemployment, the deficit or even the fact you may have trouble getting a small business loan.

The buzz words most often thrown around at election time are jobs, opportunity, secure retirement and the military. Politics don’t create jobs, business does. Politics don’t create opportunity, business does. Politics don’t make your retirement secure, business does. Spinners will choreograph great dance moves to convince you otherwise but at the end of the day it is all about business. Therefore, lets quit focusing on the dance and start selling tickets.

The Military needs to file for divorce from it’s political spouse and the military needs to get in bed with business. Politics has lost focus and is quite frankly too far removed from the actual task at hand: making America great again. We are currently so wrapped in the “politics” of war that we are literally giving weapons and infrastructure to those who will one day use them against us.

If Mr. Trump becomes President of the United States, it won’t be about politics, it will be about business. That, in and of itself, is probably the reason some simply can’t comprehend the idea of “President Trump”. The Oval Office will no doubt take an unprecedented turn from an outside-interests structure to an American-interests structure. Decision will be made based on the good of the country and not the good of those offering money for decisions.

Americans as a whole must change their way of thinking. We must be open to new ideas and new ways of doing things. The status quo simply doesn’t work and is not sustainable. And if you’re happy with the status quo, I might suggest you check into the Bedlamite Hotel & Spa (they have padded walls, provide the finest brand-name straight jackets and have the latest in shock therapy equipment).

Donald J. Trump can and will make America great again. I’m all for it. Why? Jobs, opportunity, financial security, a secure United States of America and no bullshit.

Follow Donald J. Trump on the web at https://www.donaldjtrump.com
on twitter at @realDonaldTrump
on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DonaldTrump
on instagram at https://instagram.com/realdonaldtrump/
and on youtube at https://www.youtube.com/user/trump

Picture courtesy of https://www.donaldjtrump.com

 

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Music

The Business of Misleading Headlines – Gene Simmons Vindicated

If you think you can glance at the headlines to get a quick update on the facts you are dead wrong. In fact the manipulation of headlines (or as I refer to as “The Business of Misleading Headlines”) is a common practice designed to get your attention and to hopefully get you to read on. However, those who systematically & quite creatively craft those headlines know full well they are often times setting aside transparency, accuracy and fairness in order to suck you in. The problem – a rush to judgement by some viewers and a plethora of misinformation being blasted all over social media.

cnntwitterCase and point, last night I was catching up on my twitter and all of a sudden saw a constant flood of tweets regarding a search warrant being served at the home of Gene Simmons. One of the first tweets I saw was from CNN which simply stated ” A search warrant was served at the home of Kiss bassist Gene Simmons, the Los Angeles Police Department says.” I then saw a tweet from USA Today that read “A special task force investigating crimes against children searched the home of Gene Simmons.”.  The was the first of many outright malicious, blatantly misleading tweets that would try to dominate social media. The internet then usatodaywent crazy with individuals, organizations and “robots” retweeting these and so many more tweets like them. As if that weren’t bad enough, I then began to see people tweeting hateful things as if the headlines told the whole story. In other words, people were believing the “hype” and perpetuating that misinformation. I dug a little deeper and quickly saw a tweet by CBS reporter Peter Daut that stated “At @GeneSimmons‘ home tonight where LAPD detectives searched earlier. We want to be VERY clear: Neither Simmons nor his peter_daut_CBSLA_KUDOSfamily are suspects.”.  Peter’s tweet was the first tweet I saw that I thought was indicative of a professional reporter taking journalism seriously. I appreciated his professionalism so much, I tweeted him to thank him.tweettoPeter

As I saw a constant floor of tweets and retweets from people who were not clarifying their headlines and stating false information as though it were gospel, I took it upon myself to reply to as many of those tweets as I could with clarified info via LAPD that Gene, nor his family, were suspects. I got into a few heated debates with some people that were clearly looking for trouble & I turned many people onto the truth which they graciously acknowledged. I took every chance to provide links/quotes so people who were jumping to conclusions would get clarification. While everyone should know better than to take a headline at face value, people will be people and I just couldn’t stand on the sidelines of such ignorance.

While “reading on” may clarify the details, the members of the press have a responsibility to know their readers and to their credit they do. Unfortunately, the readership traits the press focuses on are geared more towards business practices and less on journalistic practices.

Will it change? Of course not. Why? Ratings, advertising & competition.

To everyone who rushes to judgement and wants to jump on the haters bandwagons (of any subject), I wish you the same treatment you provide your targets.

In terms of Gene Simmons and his family, the LAPD said it best: “Simmons and family NOT suspects.”.

 

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Music

A Birthday Gift for Gene Simmons

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 05: Musician Gene Simmons arrives at Relativity Media's premiere of

As I write this, Gene Simmon’s birthday (August 25th) is just over 1 week away. What do you give a person for his Birthday who seemingly has everything? Ideally, something they don’t already have, something they can’t buy & something no one else can give them. Alas, I give to Gene Simmons my personal thank you. Thank you for what you ask? Allow me to explain.

Aside from, and even more important than, the obvious things that would come to mind (over 40 years of pure entertainment, great music, great television, great books, etc.) – I’d like to thank Gene Simmons for being a great role model. If you are asking yourself what I could possibly mean by calling a guy who wears 8″ platforms, paints on more makeup than your mother, spits blood and breathes fire a role model – you don’t really know Gene Simmons.kissgenesimmons

Remember that saying “you can’t judge a book by its cover”? That “war paint” (what Gene refers to his KISS “Demon” makeup & costume by) is all part of a fictional character created for entertainment/business purposes. Gene isn’t a demon in real life, he just plays one on TV and in front of 65,000 paying fans all over the world nightly. In this way, Gene is no different than say Tom Cruise who puts on makeup and outfits for Mission Impossible. They both “get into character” to perform and entertain us.  Though I can’t say I have seen it personally, I am quite sure they both put their pants on one leg at a time & occasionally take some reading material into the loo just like you and I.

The core values that Gene applies to all aspects of his life, and the sheer determination to succeed that is an innate part of his personality, are virtually unmatched. That drive he has to be the best he can be both professionally and personally is what makes him the person he is today, and the one he will be tomorrow.

Gene came to America from Israel when he was approximately 5 years old. His father had deserted the family and his mother had been in a Nazi concentration camp. He came to the land of opportunity with literally nothing but the desire to be the best he could be. He didn’t necessarily know what exactly that meant at that time, but he did know he was going to do great things. And, against all odds, he did just that.

One of Gene’s attributes is that he is & always has been fiercely efficient. He does his homework,  tells it the way he sees it, is intensely focused on the subject at hand and always finds the most productive & direct path to his goals. For example, many guys get into the music business for the “girls”. But, their immaturity & lack of self-confidence allow them to get sucked in to the readily available drugs and alcohol which ultimately inhibits their initial goal. Gene, never doing drugs or drinking alcohol, went straight from the stage to the bedroom. Direct, to the point, mission accomplished with maximum benefit. He utilizes that methodology in everything he does.

10 APRIL 2013 - LOS ANGELES - USA GENE SIMMONS AND FAMILY ATTENDING THE PREMIERE OF THE NEW MOVIE FROM UNIVERSAL PICTURES OBLIVION, HELD AT THE DOLBY THEATRE IN LOS ANGELES. BYLINE MUST READ : XPOSUREPHOTOS.COM *AVAILABLE FOR UK SALE ONLY* ***UK CLIENTS - PICTURES CONTAINING CHILDREN PLEASE PIXELATE FACE PRIOR TO PUBLICATION *** **UK CLIENTS MUST CALL PRIOR TO TV OR ONLINE USAGE PLEASE TELEPHONE 44 208 370 0291**

Gene works hard. Period. Everyday. No exception. And, he has a lot to show for it. Not just tangible things, but the more important intangible things such as peace of mind & security. When it comes to raising children, once again he shines. Both Nick Simmons & Sophie T. Simmons are well-behaved & well-educated, each independently successful and each actively involved in giving back through various charitable organizations. Gene and wife Shannon Tweed-Simmons gave their children the tools to build their own empires, the wisdom to properly use those tools, the guidance to be the best they could be and the love which is the foundation for it all.

IMG_3193-smallOn October 1st, 2011 Gene and long-time partner and mother of his children Shannon Tweed married in an outdoor ceremony in Beverly Hills. This was symbolic in many ways. Never mind the legal recognition of their relationship, IMG-20120814-00682this wedding was a clear indication that Gene was once again taking the lessons of life and applying them – this time it was all about the one thing he cherishes more than anything else – his family. Having admired Gene for nearly 40 years at that point for all of his accomplishments, his marriage to Shannon and all that it represented was the icing on the cake for me personally.

However, I would be remiss if I didn’t also acknowledge the fact Gene co-founded KISS – the Hottest Band in the World, is the God of Thunder and a Dr. of Love, the creator of the famous rock and roll hand sign, co-owns a brand with nearly 3,000 licensed products and counting, co-wrote the Rock and Roll Anthem (Rock and Roll All Nite), is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, has his face on condoms toothbrushes caskets and urns, wears 8″ platforms, paints on more makeup than your mother, spits blood and breathes fire (this list obviously represents a diminutive portion of Gene’s achievements).

Having said all of that…..Gene I raise my water-filled Martini glass to you, say “Thank you” and wish you a Happy Birthday.

—-John J. Simpson

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Music, Sports

The LA KISS & an Opsimath Sports Fan


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Most people discover and acquire an active interest in sports at an early age. While most of my friends at that time were starting to explore their new found hobby, I simply had no interest. I didn’t want to watch sports on tv, didn’t want to play sports in the yard or at school & in fact never even owned a single baseball card. What I vividly recall discovering and becoming fascinated with was music. I was 9 years old and my older brother had just gotten a record player and one of his first records was the KISS “Dressed to Kill” album. When he dropped the needle onto that vinyl album for the first time, my fate was sealed. My parents would go on to buy me that album later that year for Christmas.

I would go on for approximately 40 years with “music” as my passion. While friends and family gathered to watch sports throughout the years, I would be listening to and or playing music (usually KISS). I simply never had any connection with, or to, sports. I certainly appreciated sports though, and knew there were some pretty amazing & highly-talented people doing some awesome things. But, it just wasn’t my thing, I simply wasn’t into it.

kiss-06sAnd then – that band I had gone on to invest 40 years of my life into for entertainment, and even inspiration, announced they were starting an Arena Football League team appropriately called “LA KISS“. I began to see tweets about Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley starting a football team and my ears perked up.  And for the first time I found myself reading about football, watching it, and doing everything I could to learn about this sport – and more importantly  learning all about “my” team. Yes, at 48 years old, I had finally discovered what all the hoopla was about and I too finally had a team.

Why did it finally click? I truly believe it was because I had an intimate connection with the band & brand. Though I am certainly not one of those KISS fans that can tell you every factoid about the band and/or it’s members, wears the makeup at Halloween or even has a bunch of KISS merchandise all over my house (ok, that last part is a lie, I have quite a collection of KISS merchandise in my house), KISS is without a doubt that staple in music I have always had. And why not? They inspired most of the other bands I have grown to like, no one puts on a more entertaining and engaging concert performance, and no other band in history works as hard as they do for their fans (on stage and off!). Oh, and they wrote/recorded the world-renowned Rock and Roll Anthem “Rock and Roll All Nite” (if I were a lawyer, this is where I would say “I rest my case”).

kiss-02sHaving such an emotional attachment to the band coupled with their philosophy &  leadership skills that they would be bringing to this new organization, all the pieces were in place and I simply fell into my sports place. I, at 48 years old, finally had that sports spark. And with KISS behind that spark, it would be more appropriate to call it a series of huge explosions. And truth be told, I got interested in the LA KISS in that fashion. I didn’t just ease into it – no one ever eases into anything KISS. It’s just not done that way.

Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and Doc McGhee (KISS’s long-time manager) joined forces to create the LA KISS. They are 3 very strong, powerful, established and relentless leaders. They are business smart, people savvy and fan conscious. Those are 3 monster qualities to have mastered – and just what it takes to acquire the right talent for a team, to lead them, to retain them and to train them to be winners. As for how involved Gene and Paul are with the team/games, they have each appeared at several home games and even done meet & greets. They give pep talks in the locker room and even on the sidelines. They are truly hands-on (where the find the time I have no idea, but they do).

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Needless to say, the LA KISS would not be like any other team even at conception. The helmets (designed by Paul Stanley) bore the infamous KISS “flames” and their logo comes in the shape of a guitar pick. The players entrance to the field starts with fireworks, explosions and an entire stadium completely immersed in the experience. And it only gets better from there. Imaging being at a KISS concert, because in a way you kind of are. Only instead of 4 guys on stage busting their asses entertaining you, there is a team of players on the field busting their asses to win a game – with a  pseudo KISS-style fanfare peppered throughout. The energy, ambiance, passion and raw determination all come together and the fans are just as much apart of the game as the players. It’s unlike anything I have ever seen. Every LA KISS game  epitomizes sport, entertainment and fan appreciation. If you haven’t yet discovered this amazing phenomena called the LA KISS, do yourself a favor and look into it.

Lets not forget the cheerleaders. If you know Gene & Paul, well lets just say a picture is worth a thousand words.

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The fans of the LA KISS are just like the fans of KISS. They are devoted, dedicated, passionate and respectful. It’s a great “Army” to be in. I’m glad I joined.

Now, when people ask if I am into sports, my answer is simply “I am one with the LA KISS” #WEAREONE

— John J. Simpson – on twitter at @johnjsimpson

P.S. I still have that KISS “Dressed to Kill” album of my brothers (I stole it from him years ago, he understands). It, as well as almost every other KISS album, decorates the walls of my home.

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Music

Review: “Oh Baby” Duet (Ashley Hamilton & Jaime Wyatt)

Ashley+Hamilton+aQsfQZ6hkAImI recently published my review of the Ashley Hamilton EP “Act One” but didn’t touch on this song specifically because I didn’t know the name of the female half of the duet. Now that I do, I feel I can properly pass on my thoughts.

If you love the sound of two magnificent voices singing together then wait – because it gets even better. Not only do Ashley Hamilton and Jaime Wyatt each have heavenly voices, but they both have an amazing natural ability to sing with as much expression and emotion that for the first time 0cPXMudw_400x400that I can recall I actually listened primarily to the their voices and not the traditional instruments. That might not sound like a big deal to you, but it is.

The song starts with Ashley and a guitar. There is so much emotion and buildup in the first 4 bars that I could seriously just put that on a loop. Ashley’s strong, yet vulnerable voice makes you feel exactly where he is coming from. AND it’s only the first 4 bars into the song. The first verse continues and the slide guitar is perfectly introduced to help emotionally guide you along.

The first chorus comes in and it rests on a great 4/4 foundation that makes you feel a sense of relief. The first verse was very emotional and the chorus just makes you feel better. Every instrument perfectly in place, with purpose and in full support of Ashley’s vocals.

The second verse starts with a quick musical pause. In that 1 or 2 seconds you know something is about to happen but you don’t know what. Then, out of nowhere, this voice (Jaime Wyatt) comes in with just as much emotion, strength, power and yet vulnerability. The only way I can describe her voice is like heaven. I fell in love with that voice on the first line of the verse. WOW!

A beautiful, short piano part comes in (great producer and piano player behind this atmospheric piece) and then Ashley joins Jaime to finish out the verse and then it’s back to that chorus that makes you feel stable.

And then – it gets even better. The bridge section showcases just how tight and connected these two power-voices can be. It is somewhat subtle, but if you close your eyes and listen, you will know what I mean.

Summary: If you don’t fall in love with this song and their voices, you must be deaf or dead. I seriously can’t imagine any other explanation.

MORE INFO:

You can buy the Ashley Hamilton & the Lonely Hearts “Act One” EP here on iTunes via Republic Records

Follow Ashley Hamilton on twitter at @ashleyhamilton

Follow Jaime Wyatt on twitter at @jaimewyattmusic

 

 

 

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Restaurant

An Evening at Capo’s

capos logoIf you’ve never been to Capo’s Restaurant/Speakeasy, you are missing out. That is, assuming you enjoy tremendous food, coupled with a unique choice of delightful cocktails, service that is second to none and being treated like you are apart of the family the moment the door opens. If none of this is appealing to you, then by all means crawl back under your rock.

Capo’s is more than just a restaurant, it’s an experience. Your experience starts from the moment you are greeted at the door (which by the way, you have to tell the man who opens a little hidden door revealing only his face the password before he’ll let you in). Once he opens the door, you are greeted with a big smile and he welcomes you as if you were his favorite relative. He then walks you to your table (or the bar if you choose to start your night off with a cocktail and a large poster of Al Capone watching over you). The entrance alone sets the stage for what will surly be an unforgettable evening.

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I start off at the bar. Not just because the bartenders are beautiful, on top of it and serve some amazing drinks the likes of which I have never had anywhere else, but also because I enjoy meeting new people and every time I am at Capo’s it seems the bar is full of people who want to be one big happy family. If you can’t make new friends at Capo’s, you may need to look into counseling. Just saying.

Oh, and that guy who let you into the place (we’ll call him Ziggy) he also comes by periodically to make sure you are ok, to see if you are in need of anything and in general just making sure you know he knows your in the house and you mean something pretty good.  It’s always nice to be treated with respect, and owner Nico Santucci makes sure his entire staff masters this fine art.

Let’s not forget those magicians in the kitchen who create this most amazing food. I like to refer to the them as the Cirque du Sol-Capo’s show. They not only make mouth-watering to-die-for unique creations, they do it in what seems like a well-orchestrated syncopated theatrical show. With multi-level cooking ovens and broilers and refrigerators and I don’t know what all all kind of grouped together, these performers work in and around and through and on top of each other never missing a beat, dropping anything or even touching the others. And what makes it even better to see, is when one of them gets the fire going on the grill and it back lights them all as if they were on stage. On a busy night, you’ll get to see this numerous times. By the way, this is best seen from the bar (great way to start off right!).

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After a “Nicotini” (Martini named after its creator Nico himself – the recipe I knew not to ask for) and the making of some new friends, Ziggy escorts me to my table which is a booth near the piano overlooking the entire room. I felt like a king. A great lounge singer just pouring his heart our in song to a full house, one of the most comfortable booths I have ever sat in, a room full of family and one hell of a meal to be consumed.

The food – where to begin. I started off with the Meatballs and Peppers. It comes with 2 huge meatballs (Nico’s has the biggest balls in the business) sitting atop a base of sauce that can’t accurately be described with words. The recipe is rumored to be from the Capone family. It’s so good, I don’t even want to know how it’s made. All I know is if I had to choose my last meal on earth, it would those meatballs.  Imagine the best meal you have ever had, and how you couldn’t get enough of it and talked about it for weeks. Well, forget that meal because this one drove that one to the desert and buried it 6′ under. THIS is food-porn baby!

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The menu is perfect. Why? Because it isn’t 8 pages long. Sure it’s kind of of hard to read in the dimly lit room but they give you a flashlight, quite your bitching. The best thing about the menu is that I can pick my meal my favorite way – I open it up, and put my finger down and whatever it lands on is what I get. And – it is always freaking awesome! Remember the Cirque du Sol-Capo’s folks? That’s right – they know what they’re doing and I know I am in good hands. I have had probably 7 different dishes so far – each one perfect. I consider the menu a listing of all the dishes that came in first place so they reside together in a nice binder.

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Lets not forget about service. The staff works their butts off and even though they may get quite hectic at times, you would never know it by their demeanor or service output. They give it their all and if you can’t respect that, go somewhere else. Family is about respect, and they are family.

Needless to say, each time I leave Capo’s my belly is full and even though I know I may have over done it, I am already looking forward to doing it again.

My hat is off and my Martini glass raised in appreciation to Nico and his entire staff. The utmost professionals and masters of the culinary experience.

SUMMARY: If you’ve been to Capo’s, go back. If you haven’t been to Capo’s, get your ass over there and report back to me!

– JJS – on twitter @johnjsimpson

P.S. – as for Ziggy – turns out he can play the piano like it was going out of style. A man of many talents so I’m told.

 

Capo’s is owned by Chicago-native Nico Santucci and is located at 5675 W. Sahara Ave, Las vegas NV  702-364-2276

Capo’s website

Follow Capo’s on twitter at @CaposRestaurant

Follow Nico on twitter at @NicoSantucci

 

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