Open-mike that's known for attracting an impromptu collection of seasoned performers who have recorded and toured with the likes of Lou Rawls, Joe Cocker, Barry White and various rock bands. At one point, many of them — mostly musicians and tribute artists, with a few comedians mixed in — have touched the big time. But few have commanded the marquee all by themselves.
Still, they are good enough to rule almost any local stage in America. When a tribute artist takes the Tap House stage to do Elvis, Marilyn or Sinatra, patrons will sometimes ask: "Who needs the real deal?"
Some of these performers do get regular gigs and even national tours — like comedian Steve Rossi, who with partner Marty Allen was once an "Ed Sullivan Show" regular, and Rob Garrett, a Neil Diamond tribute artist known as the "King of Diamonds."
Others face hard times in the city that calls itself the entertainment capital of the world. Major casinos are shrinking their house bands or hiring solo entertainers accompanied by a computerized beat. That leaves many artists to compete for a diminishing number of lower-paying, off-the-Strip lounges and restaurants.
In this environment, the Tap House provides a haven and a job network. Entertainers perform without pay before a crowd that often includes talent agents.
"I get a lot of work out of this scene," says Sid Smith, known to Tap House regulars as "Sid the Kid," a saxophonist who has backed Gladys Knight and other A-listers. "It's a gold mine for me, seriously."
But even more than getting gigs, playing at the Tap House is about making music, about grabbing the spotlight, just for a few songs.