Jake Wagner has always loved two things: music and sports. It was only natural, then, that the desert native jumped at the chance to join the Vegas Golden Knights as the NHL team’s music director.
Wagner has been programming the music for Vegas’ home games at T-Mobile Arena since the Knights made their NHL debut in 2017. Prior to that, the musician and sports aficionado was working in the minor leagues—soundtracking 51s baseball games—and serving as a music supervisor and on-air host for Nevada Public Radio.
In keeping with his knowledge of the local music scene (he’s a guitarist, too) Wagner began incorporating Vegas-bred musicians and artists into his Golden Knights playlists. It was only a matter of time before the audience—and management— caught on.
“That got the gears turning on the managerial side of things,” Wagner says. “They were like ‘Hey, can we do that every game?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, we definitely can.’”
Wagner has songs from more than 60 acts from which to choose for his Vegas-born “artist of the game” segment—The Dirty Hooks, Mikey Picasso, Shelco Garcia and Teenwolf, Youth Fables, Mercy Music and more. “There’s definitely people in the crowd that know the artists,” Wagner says. “Once it pops up on the screen, you’ll hear whistles and cheers, and that always brings a smile to my face.”
The music director also soundtracks Las Vegas Aces games, UNLV football and basketball, and hasprogrammed big-room, one-off sporting events like the 2019 and 2020 NHL All-Star Games, and January’s NHL Winter Classic in Dallas. And yes, he’s always taking new submissions for music, he says. Just reach out on social media.
“It’s an awesome gig and I’m having the time of my life,” Wagner says. “Every time, I’m like, ‘Man, I can’t believe I get to play some of my favorite artists. It feels like, you’re kind of fighting the good fight, playing independent artists that need to be shared.”