The 14th annual Phins to the West festival was an early summer perk for Trop Rock music fans. Held in Mesquite, NV at the Casablanca Resort, a venue well equipped to handle this annual trop rock invasion. Starring a lineup of top acts and quickly rising new artists, this festival is worthy of great fanfare.
Transforming a four day weekend in the desert into a tropical oasis isn’t the easiest accomplishment and the team of organizers for Phins to the West proved to be some of the best. Every detail was delivered perfectly to create an exclusive experience for attendees.
An admirable aspect of this festival is it’s 501(c)(3) status with it’s purpose to raise money for Keep Memory Alive, a non-profit organization dedicated to “the conquest of Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, ALS and all forms of memory disorders.”
Phins to the West is an all around enjoyable adventure. The days were spent by the pool with Trop Rock music floating across the water. The nights were exciting and full of action in the Vegas style showroom featuring Trop Rock bands. And don’t forget those in-between times for stopping in at the seafood buffet or dropping a few dollars in the slot machines.
There was something for everyone at this year’s Phins to the West.
Phins to the West – At The Pool
Half the fun at Phins to the West is the epic pool parties. As the daytime hub for all the action the amenities are plentiful, the water is refreshing and the portable bar is only steps away from the pool. Add 6 hours of Trop Rock music per day to the scene and it’s the undeniably the perfect adult playground.
Thursday through Sunday, Trop Rock performances began at 11am by the pool with a number of established artists, newer artists and one fun cover band.
This year, John Friday kicked off the Phins to the West festival as the first poolside performance with his popular song “Beachfront,” getting everyone in the tropical state of mind for the next four days.
Along with John Friday, the lineup of top Trop Rock artists included Jerry Gontang with Mike Broward and Bob Karwin. Jimmy Parrish wrapped up Saturday afternoon with his treasure trove of tropical songs and then joined us all for some pool time. The Chill band turned out to be a great cover band that kept the spirit of the pool party going.
Newer to the genre, Donald James is making his mark at various Trop Rock festivals. Coordinating the timing of his new CD titled Salty Strings, Phins to the West became a huge CD release party. Cory Young also performed poolside on several days where he introduced us to his new song “Whatever Comes My Way.” The message in this song is exactly how Cory lives his life… taking it all in stride.
Along with all this great music, attendees participated in poolside games, wrangling large flamingo floats and fundraising activities. The Hold Your Banana was a new take on the children’s game, Musical Chairs. The Knee Knocker team relays were just as funny to watch as participants raced holding an orange between their knees. You just never know what people will do for fun after a few drinks at a pool party.
Phins to the West – Concerts and Theme Nights
Stars on the Water Band & “Purple” Theme Night
On Thursday night, the showroom was a sea of purple in honor of the event’s charity, Keep Memory Alive. It’s an easy costume night with most everyone sporting purple t-shirts and accessorizing with purple beads, feather boas, leis, hats or headbands.
Stars on the Water is the first band performance of the event and a staple at Phins to the West. Performing at all 14 festivals and already booked for number 15 next year. Led by Jerry Gontang and joined this year by Mike Broward, their show is an entirely on your feet experience.
Covering top songs such as “Bama Breeze” by Jimmy Buffett, “The Party Never Ends” a Country favorite by Robert Earl Keen to Classic Rock songs like “It’s All Right Now” by Free. The dance floor was always packed and the audience sang along to every single song.
The big announcement came mid-way through the show when the Phins to the West team presented a check for this year’s fundraising efforts estimated to be $25,000 to Keep Memory Alive. Congratulations to the organizers and attendees for truly partying with a purpose!
Southern Drawl Band & “Redneck Yacht Club” Theme Night
Of course it’s a redneck theme! The Southern Drawl Band wears dual hats in the Trop Rock community, performing their Country and island theme songs.
The Phins to the West attendees may have taken this costume night to a whole new level this year. Plaid shirts, fake babies, chain smoking mom’s, jean coveralls and missing teeth were just some of the crazy costume choices.
Mike Nash took the stage barefoot for their show, exploding with energy as he yelled out “somebody scream.” Mixing in great Country and Southern Rock covers with their own blend of Trop Country sounds is what makes these guys a fun headliner.
The dance floor was thumping and redneck night was a hit..
Jimmy and the Parrots & “Phlock This Way” Theme Night
Saturday night was the last big band performance in the showroom and the costumes were all about the best in parrot head style. Flamingo costumes and accessories were abundant with everyone getting into this year’s overall pink flamingo theme.
Jimmy and the Parrots are Trop Rock fan favorites where ever you go. Known for keeping crowds on their feet with covers songs such as Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s “Sweet Home Alabama” to their island style original “Yea Mon.” Jimmy Maraventano is the star of the show, but he shared the spotlight throughout the night with his talented band members, fans and other artists in town for the Phins to the West festival.
Drummer, Mark Sacco, dazzles with drum solos and of course his famous rap verse which is injected into a fun Jimmy and the Parrots song mashup. Bob Karwin was feeling the groove, jumping on stage to join in as backup and lead singer plus pulling out all the stops on a full rap song Karwin style. Mark Leimback also steals the show with his guitar solos and lead singer vocals on multiple songs through out the night.
Surprisingly, the crowd got involved in bringing up Phins to the West newcomers Donald James then later Cory Young. Although Jimmy hadn’t met them, he graciously added them to his stage as the crowd chanted their names. Donald James performed a pretty good dance number, got the crowd involved when singing Georgia Satellite’s cover “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” and traded hats with Jimmy – putting Jimmy back in the lead singer role – for their rendition of Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places.”
As the chanting began again, Cory Young jumped up on stage. He shook hands with Jimmy and leaned over to whisper. The first chords of The Joker by the Steve Miller Band rang out from Jimmy’s guitar and everyone began cheering. Another fantastic crowd sing-a-long.
This revolving stage of stardom made for an epic closing night in the showroom.
Are you ready for next year? You bet I am!
Phins to the West 2019
Date: June 6th – 9th, 2019
Location: Casablanca Resort, Mesquite, NV
Headliners: Stars on the Water, Jimmy Parrish and The Waves, Donny Brewer and the Dock Rockers.
Registration is Open: Phins to the West
Thank you Nora Brown for your photo and Steve Cantwell for the use of many, many of your great photos.