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Papa Vegas


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Led by guitarist/songwriter and vocalist Joel Ferguson, Papa Vegas emerged in the late ’90s. They had a sound, a look, and an attitude tailored for the mainstream “alternative” masses and the media/business outlets that catered to what had become a large musical appetite for polished and melodic guitar rock. After a brief indie recording stint, Papa Vegas was welcomed with open arms to the musical stables of RCA Records, who oversaw the writing, recording, and release of the band’s one and only full-length disc. The resulting interest in the group was hardly what the band or the label anticipated, and Papa Vegas promptly fell off the face of the earth. If the group was dropped from the RCA roster, or if they, in fact, broke up before the label had a chance to purge the group from its accounting ledgers, there were no significant announcements or press releases (except perhaps in and around the band’s Michigan home). So, all fans of the group and their 1999 offering Hello Vertigo could do, as news of the band trickled then halted completely just months after the release of their debut, was look to the stars and pray for an unlikely resurrection.

The band started in Grand Rapids, MI, when Ferguson — inspired by musical heroes like the Beatles, the Police, and Depeche Mode — began jamming with guitarist Pete Dunning in the early ’90s. The pair split up not long into their initial partnership, but the vision that would become Papa Vegas was set in Ferguson’s mind and set into motion. A steady stream of musicians came and went as Ferguson tinkered with his songwriting skills and his band’s lineup through the mid-’90s.

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