Big Daddy’ Carlos’ big plans for Downtown Las Vegas

Big Daddy’s come a long way, and now he’s bringing his brand of fun from LA to Vegas.
Photo: Adam Shane

It wasn’t enough to launch two venues designed to up Downtown’s live-music game. “Big Daddy” Carlos Adley shared a vision with his partners in 601 Fremont that also included a radio station, TV and recording studios and a record label, all working as a backdrop for an original docudrama about life at the complex. “You won’t be big if you don’t think big,” Adley said.

A year later, the vision is even bigger, and some of the original components are still in the works. Following the successful opening of Backstage Bar & Billiards in 601’s anchor spot, Fremont Country Club debuted next door in March with a performance by Louis Prima Jr. and the Witnesses. The mayor showed up for the ribbon cutting, and locals crowded the dancefloor for a first taste of what founders hoped would bring major talent from the Strip to the old neighborhood. Sellout shows by the likes of Alkaline Trio and P.O.D., Sick Puppies and Hanson got the momentum going, but the number of shows and spectrum of bands will be greater in 2014, Adley says, provided F.C.C. can attain new licensing that would allow a broader demographic of ticket buyers. He won’t go into more detail until the issue is formally brought before the City Council, though he says if it’s successful, F.C.C. will host shows at least once a month if not every week.

Seeing “First Lady of Rockabilly” Wanda Jackson perform at F.C.C. for Punk Rock Bowling was a personal highlight for Adley, though he sounds just as proud about the space hosting events like RAWards, a showcase of local artists, fashion designers and musicians, as well as a speaker series for Life Is Beautiful and private charity events. To anyone who thought F.C.C.’s event calendar wasn’t robust enough in its first year, Adley says: “I don’t answer to anybody. … I write my own checks. I could shut that f*cker down for the next five years and still have fun, I don’t give a sh*t, just do private parties in there and have my friends roller skate naked.”

As for the radio station, Sirius is poised to jump in and develop “Downtown’s FM station.” The recording studio is to be headed up by Grammy-nominated producer Brandon Friesen, and the record label will be guided by DJ Lethal of Limp Bizkit fame (and a co-owner of Backstage Bar & Billiards). These projects are tied up in development of 601’s second story, which will also include a 125-room boutique hotel with a 50,000-square-foot mezzanine convention center. The vibe—from the minds of Adley, his wife and business partner Ava, and Ziad Khan of international design firm Langdon Wilson—will be “retro chic; a modern homage to old Vegas.” Adley says plans for that project will be unveiled to the City Council once site studies are complete, sometime in the next few months.

Filming is done on the docudrama, Big Daddy, Big World, which Adley says will be part of the content scheme for a digital network that’s brewing at 601, one that would live-stream everything from TV shows and movies to F.C.C. concerts, online gambling through Binion’s (owner Terry Caudill is a partner) to pay-per-view fights featuring a new MMA league Adley is organizing with some stars of the industry.

Each piece of the puzzle will have a brand, though the names will stick close to the neighborhood, to Fremont and 601. “I want to keep it Downtown, so when it’s all over the world people are like, ‘Oh, 6th and Fremont!’ You know what I’m sayin’? Like 4th and Broadway,” Adley says. “Some things happened sooner, some things are happening later, but everything is happening the way it needs to be. … I believe in taking my time and making things perfect.”

As he works on the “ultimate sauce” for Downtown’s colorful pasta, Adley can be spotted some nights enjoying a drink and maybe a little Soul Train on the screens at Backstage Bar & Billiards. It’s become a haunt for old-school punk bands that don’t fancy playing dive bars anymore, Adley says, laughing hard. This month it will host Robby Krieger of The Doors. Last year it hosted rockers The Neighbourhood just before the band broke its hit “Sweater Weather.” Adley says the idea was always for 601 Fremont to make Downtown’s music scene richer across as many genres as possible, bringing diverse fans with it to experience everything the urban core is and is becoming. “It’s a cornucopia,” Adley says of the dream in progess. “And that’s what’s so beautiful about it.”

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