Claire Voyant's Las Vegas Gossip Column



Displaying keen perception and great insight.  
She's a little bit naughty. Shes a little bit nice.  
She calls em like she sees (and hears) em.  
Shes...

Claire Voyant  

Note: This is a past column from March 06, 2009
You can find the current column HERE


Las Vegas - March 6, 2009


Rebecca Spencer & Philip Fortenberry

Robin Williams

Shear Madness

If you missed piano virtuoso Philip Fortenberry with his special guest, singer/actress Rebecca Spencer, at the Liberace Museum last week, you missed something special, really special. The show opened and closed with a touch of Liberace - starting with the King of Bling's brilliant and classical version of Chopsticks, played by Philip, and ending with Rebecca's beautiful interpretation of I'll Be Seeing You, Liberace's signature closing tune. In between, the twosome performed a wonderful mix of songs, including selections from their collaborative CDs, Wide Awake and Dreaming and Fair Warning. In the musical lineup was Over the Rainbow, On My Way To You/I've Got You Under My Skin, I'm Looking For Something In Red, Amazing Grace/Hymns, Anything Can Happen (done with a Scott Joplin-feel), The Girl Who Used to Be Me, Stardust/Deep Purple, Fair Warning (based on a poem called Warning by Jenny Joseph, seen below), and Eat, Drink and Be Mary (one among a number of the songs written by clever Keith Thompson, musical director for Jersey Boys). Spotted in the very receptive audience were Dennis Bono and Lorraine Hunt-Bono, Bruce Ewing, Jason Forbach, Brianne Kelly Morgan, Lee Richey, Jerry Ritholz, and Thompson. Fortenberry is the assistant musical director for Jersey Boys at the Palazzo. Rumor has it that Rebecca and Philip are currently working on a third collaborative album. We can hardly wait.

Warning, a poem by Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

We had a busy weekend. In addition to taking in the above mentioned show last Saturday afternoon, on Sunday, we attended the matinee performance of John Guare's House of Blue Leaves at the Las Vegas Little Theatre. Directed by Walter Niejadlik, the dark comedy featured, in order of appearance, Stephen McMillan, Michael Blair, Kathleen Etor, Valerie Carpenter-Bernstein, Kate Lowenhar-Fisher, Ellen Radcliff, Kelley Goode, Daci Overby, Eliseo Otero, Steven Goldstein and Nathan Ferrier. Although we weren't crazy about Guare's story line (with "crazy" being the operative word here), we were quite impressed with the acting, especially by McMillan, Etor, Carpenter-Bernstein, Lowenhar-Fisher and Ferrier. The next production for the Las Vegas Little Theatre, from March 27th through April 12th, is Douglas Carter Beane's As Bees in Honey Drown. Call (702) 362-7996.

On Sunday night, we made our first visit to the newly opened piano bar/cabaret, Don't Tell Mama. The establishment is owned by Minh Pham, who operated New York's Don't Tell Mama for almost 20 years before moving to Las Vegas. Located on Fremont Street, just east of Las Vegas Blvd. and Neonopolis, the 96-seat club should become a popular hangout for music lovers, especially music lovers who also sing. We spent more than three hours at Don't Tell Mama, listening to talented folks like Thom Culcasi, Christopher Lash, New York transplant Phillip Officer, Lisa Wilson, and a new face and voice for us, Brooke (last name unknown), performing songs including Time After Time, A Foggy Day, New York State of Mind, Manhattan, The Girl From Ipanema, Here I Am (from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), At Last, Stephen Schwartz's Meadowlark, I Am Changing (from Dreamgirls), What I Did for Love (from A Chorus Line), My Funny Valentine, I'm Not Afraid of Anything (from Songs For a New World), Night and Day, I'd Rather Be Sailing, Yesterday, I'll Remember April, Here's That Rainy Day, Stormy Weather, Hernando's Hideaway, Unchained Melody, Moving Too Fast (from The Last 5 Years), Out Here On My Own, and a lovely duet sung by Phillip and Lisa, called Who Will Love Me As I Am? (from Side Show, in which Officer appeared). Mama's is open from 8 p.m., seven nights a week. All of the wait staff and bartenders sing. The mic is open for drop in guests who have talent. There is no cover charge, and the drinks are reasonable, with "fancy" beverages like Mama's Refresher (Absolut Citron and lemonade), Play It Again Sam (Sambuca Romano and Stoli), Mama's Melons (Midori Melon Liqueur and Gray Goose), Mama's Mad Margarita (Patron Silver, Cointreau, Lime Juice and Sweet n' Sour), and Papa-tini (Crown Royal, Granny's Sour Apple and Cranberry Juice), going for $8. If you enjoy Broadway show tunes, the American songbook, pop and cabaret standards, this place could become your new hangout. The address is 517 Fremont Street, cattycorner from the El Cortez hotel. Call (702) 207-0788. We will definitely be back there.

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Late breaking news...Grammy and Academy Award-winning actor Robin Williams, who was scheduled to bring his new stand-up routine, Weapons of Self-Destruction, to the MGM Grand Garden Arena for a night of pure comedy on May 25th, will postpone his one-man tour due to health issues. According to a statement from his rep, the 57-year-old actor and comedian is planning to have surgery for an aortic valve replacement. We will keep readers posted on this situation.

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In Las Vegas, mystery and magic always prevail. The mystery part involves a missing show. The interactive Shear Madness, originally scheduled to open at Town Square on Las Vegas Blvd. South in early December, didn't. Then it was announced it would open in January. Today, if you can find any reference to it at all, it indicates the Las Vegas version of Shear Madness, billed as "America's Longest Running Comedy," will debut here in the Spring...of what year, they aren't saying. Calling any of the phone numbers shown in the full-page, four-color ads running in some of the tourist publications, get answering machines.


Siegfried & Roy

Lou Ruvo Brain Center

The magic part involves Siegfried and Roy. Last Saturday, the illusionists returned to the stage for a one-night-only special performance. The event, held at Bellagio, was to benefit the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. The center, which will treat brain disorders like those Horn now suffers, is set to open later this year in a bizarre-looking building designed by famed architect, Frank Gehry (see accompanying photo). It has been more than five years since a brutal tiger attack ended the careers of the longtime Las Vegas duo. Roy Horn, now 63, and Siegfried Fischbacher, who is 69, had been stage partners for 45 years when, on October 3rd of 2003 (Roy's 59th birthday), a Bengal tiger named Montecore sank his teeth into Horn's neck during a live performance and dragged him offstage in front of a stunned audience. As the result of the attack and a possible stroke, Roy was left partially paralyzed. After 13 years and more than 5,000 performances, Siegfried and Roy's production at The Mirage ended. During the brief charity show, the German-born showmen, responsible for one of the most successful shows in Las Vegas entertainment history, appeared on stage with Montecore, the 380-pound white tiger that mauled Roy on that fateful day in 2003. What the audience saw was a version of one of the duos' signature illusions, a slowly performed metamorphosis. Siegfried, dressed in a white robe and a mask, stood inside a cage. The cage was then covered. Seconds later, Roy, dressed in black robes with his face covered with a skeletal mask, removed the cover. In Siegfried's place was a tiger, while the white cloaked magician appeared across stage. We have had questions and comments from a number of people since last weekend's - some who saw the performance and others who didn't. Was there more to this than met the eye? Was it, in fact, really Roy on stage for that illusion? Why did the twosome wear masks to cover their faces? Siegfried and Roy - The Magic Returns, with footage of the charity performance, and interviews with the two men conducted by Elizabeth Vargas, will air tonight in a one-hour special on ABC's 20/20. Watch it, and see what YOU think.

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Here we go again. We hope that Trent Carlini, the Elvis tribute artist who was the big winner on 200-'s The Next Best Thing, has better luck at the Steve Wyrick Entertainment Complex than any of his predecessors. Since the 500-seat theater, located in the mall adjacent to Planet Hollywood, opened in early 2007, we have watched numerous talented entertainers - including ventriloquist, Ronn Lucas; Filipino superstar, singer Martin Nievera; Aga Boom, Mega Bubble Man, Fan Yang; impressionist, Tom Dane; and Liberace tribute performer, Wes Winters - come and go from the theater. Lucas was the longevity champ, managing to stick it out at the Wyrick for about five months. The "divorces" have seldom been amicable, with one of the acts threatening a lawsuit. The only success story involving the Wyrick is Defending the Caveman. Scheduled to be one of the opening acts at the Wyrick two years ago, Caveman wisely bailed before the theater was up and running. Instead of the Strip location, Kevin Burke took his one-man-show to the Golden Nugget, where it played for about a year-and-a-half, before moving to the Excalibur in December. Smart move, Mr. Burke.


Trent Carlini

Doug Davidson

Jennifer Hudson

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If you are a fan of TV's The Price Is Right or The Young and the Restless, or, especially, if you are a fan of both shows, do we have a deal for you! Doug Davidson, the award-winning actor who has portrayed Paul Williams on the popular daytime soap since 1978, is hosting The Price Is Right Live! stage show at Bally's through March 14th. Davidson was nominated for his first Daytime Emmy in 2003 in the category of Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, he was honored with Soap Opera Awards for Best Supporting Actor in 1992 and 1997, and for Outstanding Hero in 1990 and 1991. In addition to hosting the Tournament of Roses Parade for six years, Davidson was the master of ceremonies for the Miss California Pageant and hosted the nighttime version of The Price is Right. He co-starred in the Judith Krantz mini-series, I'll Take Manhattan, The Initiation of Sarah, and in the feature film, Mr. Write, alongside Paul Reiser. When not working, Davidson and his wife, actress Cindy Fisher, contribute much time to various charity activities. Married since 1984, Doug and Cindy are the parents of two teenagers, 19-year-old Calyssa, and her 16-year-old brother, Caden. The Price is Right Live! is an interactive game show experience that features fan-favorite games such as "Plinko," "Cliff Hangers," "The Big Wheel," "Hole in One," and, of course, "The Showcase." Just like the classic TV show, eligible audience members, chosen at random, have the opportunity to win thousands of dollars in prizes such as vacation packages, jewelry, appliances and even a new car. The audience is also treated to hilarious outtake clips from the on-air show. The live show is presented Tuesday through Thursday and Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and on Fridays at 7:30 p.m. in the Jubilee! Theater. Tickets are $49.50 (plus tax and service charge) and are available at the Bally's and Paris box offices, or by calling (702) 967-4567 or toll free at 1-877-374-7469. Tickets can also be purchased via www.ballyslasvegas.com. There is no age requirement for ticket holders. Contestants must be at least 21 years of age. Bally's invites you to "Come On Down" and play!

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Tickets for the Palms Casino Resort's presentation of Jennifer Hudson and Robin Thicke go on sale tomorrow (Saturday, March 7th) at 2 p.m. Academy Award winner Hudson (for her debut film role as in Dreamgirls), and Grammy winning, platinum recording artist Thicke, will co-headline at The Pearl Concert Theater as part of their five-week U.S. tour on Friday, May 1st. The tour brings together a powerhouse of two of the most distinctive and enduring voices in the current world of R&B music. World-renowned for her astonishing live vocals, this marks the first official tour for Hudson, who recently won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Album for her self-titled debut album. With the release of last September's single, Spotlight, Hudson landed on to Billboard's Top 200 chart, entering as No. 2, the biggest first week for a debut R&B female since November 2004, when third season American Idol winner, Fantasia Barrino's, I Believe, hit the charts. Hudson's current single, If This Isn't Love, continues to climb the charts. Robin Thicke, the award-winning artist, returned to center stage with the 2008 release, Something Else. The '70s soul and pop inspired album debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, making it Thicke's highest charted album to date. The Evolution of Robin Thicke (2007) featuring the hit, Lost Without U, is on its way to double platinum status. The song held multiple positions on the Billboard charts and was the most played song on the Urban Adult Contemporary BDS. This event is presented by Andrew Hewitt and Live Nation. Tickets are $55, $75 and $85, plus any additional service fees. Please visit any Ticketmaster location, call 1-800-745-3000, visit www.ticketmaster.com or www.livenation.com to purchase tickets. The Pearl Box Office is open from noon to 7 p.m. daily. Doors will open at 7 p.m., and show time is 8 p.m.


Robin Thicke

Rita Rudner

Donald Braswell

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Here is today and tonight's (March 6th) First Friday schedule from our friends at the Neon Venus Art Theatre. They have some great activities planned, beginning with a 2 p.m. Art Installation/Fashion Show (makeup starts), followed at 4 p.m. by an Art Installation Shoot (photographers and models). From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. it's the Drum Circle. A songwriter's showcase, presented by two-time Grammy- nominee, Walter Morciglio, takes place from 7:30 to 9 p.m. More music follows, with Neon Venus, Breeze, XOCH, and Shy Tree. At 11:15 p.m., the comedy troupe, Sketchofrenics, takes over. The cost for all of this is a requested $1 donation. The Neon Venus Art Theatre is located at 1404 S. 3rd St., between Utah and Imperial.

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Marsha Ross, in cooperation with the Las Vegas Jazz Society, presents Basie! Blues! & Beyond!, featuring the legendary Jimmy Wilkins Orchestra. The concert will take place on Saturday, March 7th, from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Black Label Tavern, 3550 S. Decatur Blvd. A $10 contribution for the musicians would be appreciated...after all, horn players have to eat too!

And speaking of the Jazz Society...Jessica Zuch, of Jazz Notes!, the newsletter of the Las Vegas Jazz Society, had some very nice things to say about Woody Woods' February 15th performance at the Summerlin Library. Zuch writes, "...the Summerlin Library Theater enthusiastically appreciated the Woody Woods Orchestra and guest performers' vibrant tribute to Black History Month. The show, 'Journey of the Drum,' explored the origins and evolution of Jazz: America's original art form. Woods artfully expressed his message by incorporating a variety of genres including music, dance, poetry, the spoken word and improvisation. Guest performers included Sophia Lelis, China Hudson, Queens of the Mystic Law, Laurence T., Melanie "Babydoll" Wallace, Sonya Randall, the Jester Hairston Singers (National Association of Negro Musicians), and the Gifford Youth Orchestra from Florida. Woody Woods began this tribute to Black History Month with a powerful original composition entitled, 'Drum Song, a dance and poem combining Jazz and Classical musical elements. This moving piece was performed using timpani drums and featured the sumptuous dancing of Sonya Randall. "Drum Song" highlighted the percussive origins of Jazz music's historic roots in African drumming. The next selection, "Here's One," an Afro-American spiritual, paid tribute to its composer, William Grant Still, one of America's most important composers. He wrote over one hundred and fifty compositions, and was the first Afro-American composer whose symphony was performed by a major American orchestra. In addition, Still was the first Afro-American to conduct a major American orchestra and have his opera performed by a major opera company. The essence of Sunday's performance was captured luminously in Woody Woods' arrangement of this piece, and featured the lead vocals of Henrietta Scott and the NANM Choir "Modonna," the program's next selection, is an original compositions by Woody Woods, reflecting the birth of Afro-Cuban rhythm, and combining two rhythms, 4/4 and 6/8. The first part of the piece featured the sensual, interpretive dancing of China Hudson who, along with the distinguished voice and spoken-word technique of Lou Jarrett, creatively expressed a poem about Modonna, African Queen of the Earth. A brilliant aspect of this piece was the dancers who brought so much to the stage and to the program! As the program continued, we found ourselves captivated by two pieces which demonstrated the importance of the Underground Railroad during the times of the slavery, "Boom By," a poem and dance composed and performed by Queen Ester (sic) of the dynamic duo, Queens of the Mystic Law, is a tribute to Harriett Tubman, an Afro-American abolitionist and humanitarian, who helped start and facilitate the 'Underground Railroad', a network of antislavery activists and safe houses. She helped many slaves escape their conditions and move to the northern part of the US and Canada. At that time, important warnings and messages about escape plans were coded through spirituals. "Canaan Land,' by Mahalia Jackson, featuring Melanie "Babydoll" Wallace and the NANM Choir, was an excellent example of a spiritual that communicated a message through code. This message talked about going up north to Canada... and to freedom. Another highlights of the event was Sophia Lelis' gorgeous singing of Quincy Jones' Miss Ciely's Blues (the award winning song from the movie 'The Color Purple'). Sophia has remarkable range and quality, couple with the ability to pull the listener into a magical place. Bass-Baritone, Laurence T., followed and rocked the audience with a rendition of "Route 66", and a moving "My Funny Valentine", in ad deep, sonorous voice reminiscent of Joe Williams. This review would not be complete without mentioning the Gifford Youth Orchestra who were featured in a rendition of Duke Ellington's classic, "In A Sentimental Mood", and "A New Day", a Woody Woods original. Additionally, the fine "Jazz Set" interlude, featuring several members of the orchestra in improvisation, created an exciting jam session atmosphere. Woods' excellent sextet included Ken Seifert/Bass, Rick Powell/Drums, Mike Fredrickson/Guitar, Joel Gibson/Trumpet and the enjoyable Frank "Jiggs" Hemsley/Tenor Sax. The concert closed with the powerful piece, "Spiritual," by W. Woods, movingly delivered by Laurence T. and Choir. At the end of the program, the whole ensemble was applauded for several minutes by a crowd who rose from their seats to cheer and scream their approval. There could be no more fitting a tribute to Black History Month than this: the Las Vegas Jazz Society has presented a unique and magnificent program to honor our country's Black History!

Since graduating from UNLV's Jazz Studies program with a Master's Degree, pianist Jessica Zuch has been playing at the Wynn/Encore and at other venues around town.

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Tomorrow night, An Evening in the Catskills, featuring Rita Rudner and the Klezmer Conservatory, will provide the entertainment for a Spring Gala honoring Jim and Beverly Rogers, 2009 Champions of Freedom Award recipients. The event, sponsored by the Jewish Federation, and promising "food, dancing, community and comedy," will take place at the Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa, with a reception starting at 6:30 and dinner at 7:15. Tickets are $175 per person and may be purchased by calling (702) 732-0556, extension #233.

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Based on some recent e-mails that we received, it is apparent that Donald Braswell is a real ladies man. Braswell, a finalist in last season's America's Got Talent reality show, was a headliner in the Hilton showroom on Valentine's Day weekend. We had wondered how the America's Got Talent competitor would fare in that great big room. Our readers let us know. Not too surprisingly, most of the letters came from women. Here are a few of them...

As we mentioned in an earlier column, Cherie in Denver wrote, "I was in Vegas for the Donald Braswell concert, which was outstanding! Did you see it? Why aren't there reviews of the show anywhere?" We responded to Cherie, saying that we didn't see Mr. Braswell during his Hilton showroom engagement. We also said that we hoped the singer did well in his first solo Vegas appearance, but we thought the 1,600-seat Hilton theater was a risk for a newcomer (unless, it was Michael Buble), and asked for feedback from readers on the subject. From the above mentioned Cherie, comes this additional information..."YES, Donald sold the house out! There were a few seats in the balcony open, but they had to bring in about a hundred conference chairs for the aisle (between the upper and lower room) and stage wings. The security guard said they only do that when it is sold out. Donald ROCKED the house! He was amazing! He sang us down memory lane with songs by people like Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darren (sic), and an Elvis that made the audience raucous. He sings Unchained Melody like nobody else. His composition, Look at Me brings you to tears. He did Knights in White Satin in Italian! Spectacular entertainer! He is doing a PBS special on March 15th for a 5 state area and Canada. On March 21st he starts his North American concert tour "New Beginnings" in Asheville NC. Sorry you missed him." From Shelley in Connecticut, "FYI, Donald Braswell is, in my opinion, a better talent then even Michael Buble, and a more total entertainment package! I'm not dissing Michael, I like him, but Donald Braswell is a much better talent, just fact. Donald's show at the Hilton, last Sunday (2/15/2009) was sold out and most were disappointed he was only there one night. You owe it to yourself to go see Donald Braswell if comes to Las Vegas again and I am certain he will. I promise you will have a tremendously enjoyable and refreshing experience. Donald Braswell, I believe, is the best singer AGT or American Idol or even Las Vegas has ever offered!" Beverly in Idaho writes, " I attended Donald Braswell's show at the Hilton on Feb. 15, 2009. Any newcomer is taking a risk, so I don't see that as an issue. This one however seems to have paid off as the 1600 seat auditorium was almost filled to capacity. There were a few seats in the balcony. I would say as a "reader" and a "viewer" that makes a pretty huge statement all on it's own. The show was full of variety, excitement, humor and seriousness. I am sorry you didn't see it. You would have a very different view. Hopefully the next time he comes to town and he will, you will take the time to see his show. It was worth the trip from Idaho. This proved people WILL come to see him and they WILL buy his music." From Linda in Canyon Lake, Texas, "I was fortunate to be in Las Vegas Feb. 15th when Donald Braswell performed at the Las Vegas Hilton. The concert, I must say, was the best I have ever been to. Donald Braswell is a versatile singer who will steal your heart. I was impressed with his song choices, presentation of them and mostly his voice. I feel Donald Braswell is a talent that deserves to be recognize. I am hoping that he will be scheduled again in Las Vegas so that I can return and see him perform again. The best part of my entire trip to Las Vegas was seeing Donald Braswell perform on stage at the Hilton. I purchased his CD "New Chapter" after the concert and it is the most calming, soothing CD I have ever heard. It certainly is worth every penny. I plan on finding out where Donald Braswell will be performing next and will be at that concert also." Barbara in Florida has this to say, "I was wondering if you had the good fortune of attending Donald Braswell's concert the other night at the Hilton. The show was by far the best one that I have ever seen in Vegas or anywhere else. Donald has the most beautiful voice I ever heard. It is so rich and smooth and so full of emotion. Add to that the fact that he is so charismatic and charming, and you have the perfect combination for a fantastic show. I feel blessed that I had the opportunity to see this fabulous entertainer in a live concert. Hopefully, the powers that be will bring him back to Vegas again and again." Judy in Cincinnati states, "Claire, I am so sorry you missed Donald Braswell's show! If the theater size was a gamble for a newcomer, this gamble paid off with him winning big! Honest, if you like Michael Buble, you'll LOVE Donald Braswell! I didn't get to attend on Feb 15, but I keep hearing glowing reports from friends who did, and every time I talk with them, they recall more details. I'm kicking myself for not being there! However, my husband and I will definitely come to Vegas for Donald's next show, with my cousin from Florida and her husband joining us for it. I hope it gets scheduled soon and wish you the good fortune of attending. Take care and be well!" And, once again, Cherie in Denver speaks her mind. "Yes Claire, Donald Braswell's show on 2/15 was sold out. He was magnificent! He ROCKED the house. I think he is the best singer I have ever heard in my life...and I've been around a long time. When he plays Vegas again (I say "when" because they HAVE to bring him back), you must go see him. He will amaze you with his range of talent. FABULOUS ENTERTAINER!" We hope the decision-makers at the Hilton are listening to their customers. We wouldn't be surprised to learn that the hotel has also gotten their fair share of Braswell fan mail.

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From Lisa Dawn Miller, proud daughter of the late songwriter, Ron Miller, comes a note regarding last Friday's (February 25th) concert at the White House, honoring Stevie Wonder. President Obama presented Wonder with the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. With the new president, the first lady, and Wonder himself in the front row, Tony Bennett performed Ron Miller's For Once In My Life. The song, sung by both Bennett and Wonder, was included on Bennett's award-winning 2006 Duets: An American Classic album. To view the White House performance, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQPjlLc5tHk.


Tony Bennett & Stevie Wonder

Jessye Norman

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Tomorrow, March 7th, at 8 p.m., former Las Vegan, Lucy Shropshire, will be a part of Sacred Ellington, made up of excerpts from Duke Ellington's magnificent Three Sacred Concerts. The performance will take place at The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, located at 1047 Amsterdam Avenue in New York city. Ellington wrote and performed one of his Three Sacred Concerts at the Cathedral in 1968. He lived nearby, and the Cathedral was a sanctuary of central importance in his life. The concert will feature famed soprano, Jessye Norman, who also organized this homage to Ellington. Also lending their talent, Mark Markham, music director and piano; Maurice Chestnut, tap dancer; Margie Gillis, dancer; The Flux Quartet, made up of Tom Chiu (violin), Conrad Harris (violin), Max Mandel (viola), and Felix Fan (cello); Sacred Voices (with a very proud Ms. Shropshire contributing), and additional artists to be announced. Lawrence Hamilton directs. Tickets were $40 per person. We say "were," because the performance is SOLD OUT. This concert is supported, in part, by the A.L. and Jennie L. Luria Foundation. Please visit www.carnegiehall.org or call CarnegieCharge at 212 247-7800 for information about other Carnegie Hall events.

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Las Vegas was well-represented at Jim Caruso's Cast Party on February 23rd. Clint Holmes and wife, Kelly Clinton, along with the very musical Bill Fayne, were quite a hit at New York's famed Birdland on Monday, February 23rd. Caruso's weekly party attracts the stars of the cabaret world, and a loyal bunch of cabaret fans, so the Vegas reps fit in very well. Clint knocked the audience out with the song 1944 from his bio-musical, Just Another Man, as well as If Not Now, When and I Sing. Kelly had the honor of doing her version of the funny Bald Headed Men in front of the songs' writer, Christine Lavin. Mrs. Holmes so charmed the crowd, including Paige Davis (seen in accompanying photo), best known as a host of the reality TV series, Trading Spaces, she was asked to do her take on Cher and Wayne Newton (who Kelly sang backup for a few years ago). This trio was a definite smash in the Big Apple. Clint returns to the Suncoast, March 20th through the 22nd.

Photo of Paige Davis, Holmes and Clinton by Steve Sorokoff


Paige Davis, Clint Holmes & Kelly Clinton

Isaias Hiram Urrabazo

Sherrie Maricle

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Those folks at Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular are a charitable, generous, community-minded bunch. This Sunday, from 3 to 5 p.m., Isaias Hiram Urrabazo, also known as The Singing Dresser, will head up a musical program to benefit the Gateway Gallery's scholarship fund. Gateway is a 501-c3 non-profit organization. Isaias, a member of the Phantom team, will share his magnificent voice and stories of his life as a performer, costumer and dresser to the stars. He will also present part of his outstanding collection of original costume renderings. Joining him will be Phantom cast members, Jason Forbach, Danielle White, Ian Jon Bourg, and Courtney Combs. Michael Paul Wineski will be a special guest. The program will feature pop standards and selections from Broadway musicals such as Man of La Mancha, Porgy and Bess, Camelot, Jekyll and Hyde, and Les Miserables. The event will be held at the Trinity International School, located at 2525 Emerson Avenue, east of Eastern, between Desert Inn and Flamingo. Seating is limited and reservations are suggested. A donation of $15 is appreciated. For information and to RSVP, please call (702) 255-0695.

Next Sunday, March 15th, cast members Andrew Ragone, Megan Starr-Levitt, Tina Walsh, and Scott Watanabe, will present Heart & Music at the Mountain View Presbyterian Church, 8601 Del Webb Blvd. in Summerlin, on Sunday, March 15th. With William Waldrop as musical director, will perform selections from the Broadway musical theater at a 3 p.m. show. There is no set charge for the concert, but a free will donation is requested.

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Monday's Las Vegas Review-Journal consisted of only 52 pages, with eight of those pages being the Las Vegas Sun section. A number of major daily newspapers around the country have either stopped the presses...permanently, or are seeking bankruptcy protection to try and survive. Hopefully, Nevada's Largest Newspaper will fare better.

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Jeanne Brei reports that it didn't take long for the folks to find her group, The Speakeasy Swingers, at the Mezza Lounge & Grill. After just one night at the city's newest hotspot, last Sunday night, around 16 swing dancers showed up, and Tuesday night, it was singers night out. Lisa Smith, from Shades of Sinatra, sat in and sang Summertime. Lisa's husband, Ron Smith, was recently hired as swing for King Arthur in the Excalibur's Tournament of Kings. Teddy Davey, of the Las Vegas Tenors, sang Nature Boy, and did a duet with Jeanne on Just in Time, and Kimberly Arnold sang Patsy Cline's Crazy. Kimberly is the daughter of Jimmy Arnold, the original lead tenor with The Four Lads. Pianist also Ronnie Simone also stopped in. The Speakeasy Swingers will be performing at Mezza on Tuesdays this month (March 10th, 17th, 24th and 31st), from 6 to 9 p.m. The group's regular players include Charlie Shaffer on piano, Bob Sachs on bass, Gary Olds on drums, Don Hill on sax, Merv Harding on trumpet, Bobby Scann on trombone, and Brei on vocals. As Shaffer had a previous commitment last Tuesday, Ned Mills subbed for him. Bill Fayne and Davey, who usually entertain at Mezza on Monday's, are working a cruise ship this week, so singer Ronnie Rose and pianist Mike Clark will fill in for them. Larry Liso is in the spotlight on Thursdays and Fridays, with Mediterranean music on Fridays and Saturdays after 10 p.m. There is no cover or minimum at Mezza, located at 9640 W. Tropicana near Ft. Apache. Call (702) 489-4493 for other information.

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This Sunday, March 8th, the University of Nevada Las Vegas Department of Music's Jazz Studies Area and the Las Vegas Jazz Society is presenting a very special event. Sponsored by Southern Wine & Spirits, it's Sherrie Maricle & The DIVA Jazz Orchestra with the UNLV Contemporary Jazz Ensemble I in a 4 p.m. concert at UNLV's Judy Bayley Theater. With New York as their home base, DIVA is an ensemble of 15 extremely talented and versatile musicians who just happen to be women, headed by swinging drummer, Sherrie Maricle. The inspiration for DIVA came from Stanley Kay, one-time manager and relief drummer for Buddy Rich. In 1990, Kay was conducting a band in which Maricle was playing the drums. Kay immediately picked up on her extraordinary talent and began to wonder if there were other women players who could perform at the same level. The search was on, and a nationwide audition of players produced the foundation for The DIVA Jazz Orchestra, a core group of musicians who performed their first concert in March of 1993. In 2006, DIVA was voted one of the best big bands in the world in both DownBeat magazine's annual Critic's and Reader's Polls. They have received critical acclaim performing in some of the world's most prestigious music venues, among them Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops Orchestra (the concert was Sold Out), John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, Verizon Jazz Festival at New York's Lincoln Center, Blue Note in New York, Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Birdland, Hollywood Bowl for the Playboy Jazz Festival, Cinegrill in Hollywood, Harrah's in Lake Tahoe, Symphony Halls in St. Louis, Philadelphia and Cleveland, and the Apollo Theater in New York. International appearances include Le Meridien Hotel in Paris, France; Teatro de Sistina in Rome, Italy; Berlin Jazz Festival in Germany; Salzburg Music Festival in Austria; Bern Jazz Festival in Switzerland; Montreal and Ottawa International Jazz Festivals in Canada; Bogota International Jazz Festival in Colombia; Jamaica Jazz Festival; Zagreb Jazz Festival in Croatia; and the Pori Jazz Festival in Finland. DIVA is a concert jazz orchestra steeped in the history of jazz but infused with the progressive harmonies of today. The band plays contemporary, mainstream big band jazz, composed and arranged by band members and renowned writers, including Tommy Newsom, Ellen Rowe, Rich Shemaria, and Scott Whitfield. DIVA's unique sound is a result of their repertoire being composed expressly for the individual personalities of the musicians themselves. What audiences can expect to hear is powerful ensemble playing and creative soloists playing with all the spontaneity, originality and finesse of the jazz masters who have preceded them. DIVA has performed with many artists, including Nancy Wilson, Joe Williams, Diane Schuur, DeeDee Bridgewater, Rosemary Clooney, Jack Jones, Clark Terry, Dr. Billy Taylor, Terry Gibbs, Tommy Newsom, and Randy Brecker, in both the United States and abroad. Television appearances include multiple features on CNN's Arts Break, CBS Sunday Morning, a spotlight presentation on the Kennedy Center's 25th Anniversary Special, a feature on Japanese television's NHK network, as well as various local cable programs. Music critics all over the world have praised DIVA's most recent CD, TNT - A Tommy Newsom Tribute. The band's other CDs include, Live in Concert, I Believe in You, Leave it to DIVA, and Something's Coming. Tickets to Sherrie Maricle & The DIVA Jazz Orchestra with the UNLV Contemporary Jazz Ensemble I Band are $20 general admission, $15 for Jazz Society members, and $10 for UNLV students, faculty and staff. Tickets can be purchased at the UNLV Performing Arts Center Box Office or by calling 895-ARTS (2787).



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