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Small town musician makes it big in Las Vegas

Zoe Greszler • Updated Jun 1, 2017 at 12:48 PM

MONROEVILLE — Dan Fester has led an exciting 28 years of life so far, already having a regular musical gig in Las Vegas. And the Monroeville native has no plans of stopping now. 

Fester said his love of music started somewhat by chance.

“When I was 8, I started taking guitar lessons from a private instructor and did it out a desire (to be good) because I wasn’t doing well in sports and my parents didn't want me playing video games all the time,” he said. “From the end of elementary school through the end of high school, I started doing lot of shows at school and started doing Elvis impersonations.

“Already in Sharonville, where we lived before we moved to Monroeville, I was playing songs that were way before my time in a sense — ones that were popular in the 50s and 60s. I was doing bar shows from young age. That started out as couple of songs at first, then went to doing full shows by the time I was 14 with (my instructor).”

When Fester was 16, his family moved to Monroeville, a change he said he appreciated and that he feels fostered growth of his talents.

“It was just a positive sense of community and people in school,” he said.

“In the large school in Sharonville, there wasn't as much of an acceptance of my performing. It wasn’t the popular music my friends knew. They didn't recognize the music. And they would ask, ‘Why are you playing Elvis?’ In a smaller school, they were really happy to have a dedicated musician. I started playing many more shows — about one to two a week by the end of high school.”

His career took a game-changing turn a few years later when he moved to his Nashville.

“I went from playing an acoustic guitar doing covers and some original songs to essentially a one-man band,” Fester said, describing what’s known as live looping music. The technique allows the musician to “loop” his instruments together and play multiple at the same time without the use of a technology.

“In live looping, you can make layers and you can start 'stacking’ your music. I can play the guitar, keyboard and drums,” he said.

Gradually his music started shifting, incorporating modern hiphop elements into classics hits — a unique move that drew a crowd.

“I started getting more into mashups, adding the hip-hop to 50s and 60s music,” Fester said.

“I started to get a mixed audience or the younger groups and people in their 40s and older in the same place. You didn't want to alienate one or the other so I started creating a sense of that all music is good — no matter if it's old or new. I wanted to bridge that gap.”

Like any good artist, he moved a lot — to Columbus, Put-in-Bay, Tallahassee, Fla. and eventually Las Vegas, where he now keeps a regular gig at a major venues. 

Fester landed a two-day regular gig featuring his one-man, mashup band at MGM. It gradually grew into four days. Then it moved and got him spots at places like The Bellagio, The Flamingo, Caesar's Palace and others.

“I’ve started sticking to MGM more now because it’s my favorite. It's one of the best gigs I've ever had.” he said. “My show has been built to people who want to have a good time. Those rotating tourist crowd haven't seen seen things like what I do. Vegas is DJ-saturated. Mine is actually doing real instruments, not just pushing buttons on a computer.”

When asked if this was something he enjoyed doing, Fester said “it's more than that.”

“It's medicinal,” he said. “It’s necessary in my life. It's the biggest aspect of my identity and it's how most people know me. Very few people know me outside of my music and I like it that way. ... It’s a constant source of pleasure. Being able to pick up an instrument is one of the most important things for anybody because it’s the easiest remedy for anything.”

Coming back home from the big city and bright lights has been a nice break for Fester.

“It's very emotional some of it is good,” Fester said. “I love seeing friends and families. I love everybody that's here. You don't get people like this in Vegas. There people are very, very interested in themselves. It’s not like that here. You feel that everyone is looking out for each other. You can feel that when you come and when you leave.”

Fester has played a few shows while visiting home during Bike Week and his last show will be today at 7 p.m. in the Main Street Tavern in Huron.

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