Although FOX-TV’s "The Casino" didn’t do well ratings-wise during its six-week summer run and, in my opinion, did nothing to show the Golden Nugget as the elegant and classy property it was when under the ownership of Steve Wynn, the one thing it might have succeeded in doing was introducing folks to singer Matt Dusk.
Using the saloon-style vocalist ‘s version of Bono’s "One Shot of Happy, Two Shots of Sad" for the "reality" shows’ opening credits, Dusk appeared in most of the series’ 13 episodes. Through all the weeks, no matter how much he begged, Dusk never got the "break" he was promised by new Nugget owners, Tim Poster and Tom Breitling. Instead, bookings by name acts - Tony Bennett and Barenaked Ladies, for example - took to the stage in the hotel/casinos Ballroom theater, leaving the young, Toronto-born singer frustrated and unhappy.
In the Mark Burnett-produced (he of Survivor and The Apprentice fame) television series, new Nugget owners used the bait of a possible booking in the hotel’s main showroom to keep Dusk, who was performing in the Nugget’s small Zax restaurant, hopeful. Although some media sources indicated Dusk had been invited back to perform at the casino "later in the year," here it is November and that hasn’t happened. In real life, it’s the Las Vegas Hilton, not the Golden Nugget, who is giving Matt Dusk his shot at the Las Vegas big time.
Like in the Bono-written song, this could be Matt’s shot at happy...or, his shot at sad. The Hilton Theater, where he is scheduled to perform for three weeks, accommodates approximately 1400 audience members. The timing seems to be right for Matt Dusk‘s style of music. With a plethora of young singers of classics and standards - Michael Buble (29), Peter Cincotti (21), Josh Groban (23) and Renee Olstead (15) come to mind - is the world of music (and especially Las Vegas) ready to embrace 25-year-old Matt Dusk? Is the young singer biting off more than he can chew? November will tell.
In a recent press release touting Dusk‘s Decca/Universal Music CD, the writer states, "Matt Dusk is a velvet-voiced twenty-four-year-old, who is all set to sing his way to international stardom. Matt’s music takes the finer elements of the rat pack era (great vocals, style, sophistication), and gives this classic genre a 21st century spin with state of the art production values and unique new material. Past, present and future meet and the result is the dawning of a new era of sound and a stunning collection of songs, entitled ‘Two Shots’."
"Two Shots," Dusk’s fifth CD (the first four were independent projects) was recorded in Miami, Toronto and at the Abbey Road Studios in London, using a 42-piece string section from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Released in June 2004, the album contains a unique version of The Beatles’ "Please, Please Me" but is mostly made up of original compositions, including a couple created by Dusk himself. The title track was written for Frank Sinatra as an 80th birthday present by U2 frontman Bono and the Edge. The plan was for Sinatra to record the song, but he died before he had the opportunity to do so. Although, in reality, Sinatra DID record the song...NANCY Sinatra, that is. Bono’s own recording of the song, released as the B-side of the 1997 single, If God Will Send His Angels, never got much exposure.
As a youngster, Dusk appeared to be destined for a career in classical music or even opera. At the age of seven, he was accepted into the St Michael’s Choir School in Toronto, where he stayed for 11. He toured with SMCS choirs, singing primarily classical and choral music. One of his first singing teachers was an opera singer. He studied opera and musical theatre before discovering jazz at the age of 18. After listening to a friend’s recordings of big-band singers, he knew this was the kind of music he wanted to sing.
It was obviously the right choice, as in 1998 Dusk won the Rising Star competition, a prestigious talent contest held at the annual Canadian National Exhibition. Matt beat out 654 contestants to emerge as Grand Champion. He enrolled in Toronto’s York University where he studied jazz theory with John Gittens, jazz vocal with Bob Fenton, and attended master-classes with Montreal-born jazz pianist Oscar Peterson. Dusk subsequently earned the school’s Oscar Peterson Scholarship.
If you want to catch a rising star on his way up the fame ladder, and before he starts commanding those fame ticket prices, a trip to the Las Vegas Hilton to see Matt Dusk is in order.
Las Vegas Hilton
November 1 - 21 7:30 p.m.
$25 Call (702) 732-5755 or (800) 222-5361