Lost Vegas Hiway is one story, and many. It’s a story of individuals you may otherwise write off. It’s a story of what really goes on behind the closed doors of those who haven’t had a fair shake from life. It’s a story of empathy.
Written by/starring Las Vegas-based singer/songwriter Jeff Mix, and directed by Zohaib Latif, Lost Vegas Hiway finds Mix, reimagined as a Texas-based musician separated from his wife, hitting rock bottom at Downtown Las Vegas’ Gateway Motel after a troubled tour through the Southwest.
At the Gateway, Mix encounters a cast of characters one could imagine hanging around a Downtown Las Vegas motel, including a conman, a prostitute, a drug addict, a transexual, a mobster, a homeless man, a bride and groom, and others. Mix’s interactions along his music-filled journey ultimately lead to him finding more than he lost, but it doesn’t come easily.
Mix said the idea for Lost Vegas Hiway, released together with an album of the same name, was developed following a real-life close call with a conman in Las Vegas.
“I thought, ‘I should write a song about this dude in his motel.’ Then I thought, ‘Why not a song about a multiple guests at a dive motel?’” he said. “The initial idea was to put together an album and make a music video … once we did that, it was like, ‘Let’s just make a movie with all of these characters.’”
Mix said his ultimate goal with the film was to create empathy for those who are struggling in the real world.
“When you see the down and out people … most people won’t look at where they’ve been or what there going through, and kinda write them off,” he said. “I kind of wanted to give those people a story, so maybe you’d look at a prostitute a little different.”
The cast includes Texas country artists such as Grand Ole Opry member Hal Ketchum (playing himself), 2008 Academy of County Music Male Vocalist of the Year Jack Ingram, 2009 Americana Music Awards Instrumentalist of the Year and producer Gurf Morlix, Robyn Ludwick, described by No Depression magazine as “The queen of modern Texas country soul,” and Tom Meny, winner of the 2015 Kerrville Folk Festival’s Grassy Hill New Folk Competition.
The film also brings together members of Las Vegas’ music scene, including The All Togethers’ Ken Osborne, Jack Evan Johnson, Justin Mather, Chris Heers, Seth Turner, The Clydesdale’s Paige Overton, Tsvetelina Stefanova of Same Sex Mary, and local radio personality Blake Phillips of “Our Kind of Music.”
Mix hopes the film sheds light on the burgeoning Americana music scene in Las Vegas.
“We’re basically trapped on a desert island here. We have nothing in a 200 mile radius of the city, compared to cities like Boston, where an artist can easily gig all over the place. We only have each other, which has helped make a tight community of artists, and may give us our slant on Americana, which we call ‘Vegascana.’”
The majority of the film was shot in and around Las Vegas, with additional shooting outside Austin, Texas at the famed Devil’s Backbone Tavern.