Displaying keen perception and great insight.
She's a little bit naughty. She’s a little bit nice.
She calls ‘em like she sees (and hears) ‘em.
Note: This is a past column from December 25, 2009
You can find the current column HERE
Las Vegas - December 25, 2009
Artie Schroeck & Linda November
Hope all you readers, who celebrate Christmas, enjoyed the day and got everything on your Wish List.
* * * * * * *
In spite of a slow start, the F.I.O.R.E. (Fun Italians Organizing Ridiculous Events) holiday party turned out to be a success. The fun Italians, who organized the event, were a bit concerned a week before the December 19th get-together, as the reservations were not pouring in. Our guess is that folks wanted to make sure there was no Vegas snow storm on the horizon (like what happened last year). More than 100 partygoers were at the Italian American Club for the buffet dinner, live music, dancing, and raffles. Entertainment was provided by Michaelina Bellamy, Joel Dane, Linda November, Ronnie Rose, Nelson Sardelli, Artie Schroeck, Allen Tramont, and Nathan Brian Wine. Accompaniment and dance music was by Gary Olds (drums), Chuck Hoover (keys), Chuck Kovacs (bass), and Dr. George Ritter (saxophone). A great time was had by all.
And speaking of Ms. Bellamy, the onetime principal singer in the Tropicana's Folies Bergere is hosting a new Sunday afternoon music fest at Bugsy's, 6145 W. Sahara Ave.
From Nelson Sardelli comes this announcement on the subject (we are always pleased when someone helps write our column, especially when it is to promote someone other than themselves)...
Michaelina Bellamy, unquestionably, one of our true great local talents, has put together an amazing Sunday afternoon opportunity for all lovers of great music. Every Sunday, from 3:30 to 6:30 pm, at Bugsy's Speakeasy (located at the southeast corner of Sahara and Jones), the sounds of a real LIVE BIG ORCHESTRA can be heard to the delight of all. What used to be the norm for entertainment in Fabulous Las Vegas has, sadly, disappeared. Michaelina has assembled a great group of professional, accomplished musicians to bring the music back. (This is not the amateur hour to which we have all regrettably become accustomed - no, this is the Real thing.) Every Sunday she will feature a different professional, established singer, as well as offering some songs from her own, vast repertoire. No more complaining that the music that made Las Vegas and America great is gone. Michaelina has gone to great lengths to ensure this generation has the chance to experience music as it should be experienced and we have the opportunity to show some folks how to dance! The minimal $10.00 donation ($5.00 if you are a student) asked at the door is divided among the musicians, who obviously are doing their part out of love and dedication for the craft. (Even with SRO crowds there will not be enough money to pay these artists what they rightfully deserve.... it will, maybe, pay for the gasoline....if the price doesn't go up that is.) $10.00 for an afternoon of Big Band music with never less than 16 musicians? . . . Who could miss that?! It should be noted that Michaelina is not doing this for personal gain. Au contraire, my learned friends, she is doing it out of love. She is not being remunerated in any manner. It would even be fair to say that she has incurred some expenses of her own in creating this magical afternoon at Bugsy's. Please, send this e-mail, or facsimile thereof, to all of your friends.... especially to those who always complain that there are no live big bands around anymore....Now there is - Every Sunday, from 3:30 to 6:30 pm, at Bugsy's Speakeasy.
Note from Cousin Claire...Ms. Bellamy calls this ensemble the WNFA Big Band. What does WNFA stand for? We are told it stands for We're Not F___ing Around. Tickets are $10 for adults, and $5 for students. For additional information, call (702) 871-7194.
Our sympathies go out to Michaelina Bellamy on the death or her brother, Tony Bellamy. Tony, also known as "T-Bone," was lead guitarist/pianist and singer with the group, Redbone. He passed away in a Las Vegas hospital at 8:13 a.m. today, Christmas day, as the result of liver failure. Redbone had several hits throughout the world, especially "Come And Get Your Love," which has been used for commercials and has been covered by several artists. Tony Bellamy was 63. We will have more on Tony in next Friday's column, including plans for an upcoming memorial service.
* * * * * * *
The Edwards Twins
Larry "Santa" Edwards
On Wednesday night, a number of invited guests attended a "Sneak Peek" of The Edwards Twins new Las Vegas show, opening at Hennessey's Restaurant & Showroom, at downtown's Fremont Street Experience, tomorrow night. Among the folks we saw enjoying dinner and the show, were veteran funnyman, Marty Allen and his bride, musician Karon Kate Blackwell; publicist Jackie Brett; entertainer, Elly Brown; Mel Carter; Tina Turner/Patti LaBelle impersonator Larry Edwards (no relation to The Edwards Twins, Anthony and Eddie); journalists Jerry Fink and his daughter Jerri Lee; Neil Diamond tribute artist, Rob Garrett; singer, Michelle Rohl; businessman, Marvin Lashever, and Elvis impersonator James Rompel. The Masters of Celebrity Edwards Twins show - featuring Anthony Edwards at the piano and impersonating stars such as Elton John, Andrea Bocelli, Neil Diamond, Billy Joel and Sonny Bono, while identical twin brother, Eddie Edwards, performs as Barbra Streisand, Cher, and Bette Midler - might be the best entertainment bargain in the city. In addition to a stage full of stars, Hennessey's served up some tasty dinners with a choice of Minestrone Soup or Salad; Crab Stuffed Flounder, served with rice pilaf and steamed vegetables; a 10 oz. Grilled Sirloin Filet, with garlic mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables; or Creamy Chicken Pasta with grilled chicken, sweet peas and mushrooms tossed in Garlic Cream Sauce; followed by Mixed Berry Fruit Sorbet or Chocolate Brownie a la mode...all for less than $50 per person! Beginning tomorrow, it's dinner at 6:30 p.m. and show at 8 (dark on Fridays). Hennessey's is located at 425 Fremont Street, on the southeast corner of Las Vegas Blvd. For reservations, call (702) 205-5313.
Howard Jochsberger, who worked tirelessly to create an attractive and comfortable showroom and helped with the production of the unique and entertaining revue.
And speaking of Jerry Fink, the popular journalist, with the help of his computer savvy daughter, 17-year-young Jerri Lee, recently launched his own online Web site. Jerry started as an entertainment columnist with the Las Vegas Sun in August of 1997, following 20 years with Tulsa World. Fink was one of more than 30 top people who were let go in a December 1st (otherwise known in this household as Black Tuesday) cost-cutting move. You can't keep a good man down for long. Check out his site at http://www.thejerryfink.com/.
And speaking of Rob Garrett, the Neil Diamond lookalike/soundalike will perform in The Club at the North Las Vegas Cannery on Saturday, January 23rd. Calling himself the "King of Diamonds," Garrett tribute to Neil will take place at 8 p.m. Tickets are a more than reasonable $5 per person. Heck, it would probably cost more than that just to park at a real Neil Diamond concert. For reservations, call (702) 507-5757 locally, or toll free at (866) 999-4899.
And speaking of Elly Brown, on March 6th, the Las Vegas Philharmonic will present Pops III Broadway a la Carte in an 8 p.m. performance at the Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall at UNLV. Five spectacular singers - Ms. Brown, Bruce Ewing, Mary Ann Robinson, Kevin Sherrell and Kristy Tingle - along with the entire Philharmonic, will take you on an unforgettable musical journey with music from Les Miserables, Evita, South Pacific and Hello, Dolly! Ticket prices are $35 to $75 for general seating, $31.50 to $67.50 for seniors (62 and older) and students (18 and younger). For reservations, call (702) 895-ARTS (2787). We will remind readers about this program in February. This should be a sellout, so we urge you to make your reservations early, lest you get shutout.
* * * * * * *
It's a Clint Holmes Christmas weekend at the Suncoast, tonight through Sunday, with shows at 7:30 p.m. Holmes will be joined in song by his wife, Kelly Clinton, and sister, Gayle Steele. Tickets start at $29.95, plus taxes and fees. For reservations, call (702) 636-7075. We hear that, starting in January, the Suncoast will cut back to two shows a weekend instead of three - no Friday night headliners, just Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. Plan accordingly.
* * * * * * *
In his assessment of the Stage Door Theatre's production of An X-Mas Carol, the Las Vegas Review-Journal's Anthony Del Valle, Lloyd Ziel received the most praise from the critic. Del Valle writes, "The rock of the production the night I was there was Lloyd Ziel as the narrator. He conjured up a character so pompous, condescending, intellectual and jovial, that he made Alistair Cooke seem like a crude tradesman. The way he spit out his under-the-breath wisecracks made you feel he deserves his own revue." Maybe Del Valle doesn't know that Ziel is one half of the musical comedy team of Tony and Lloyd, with Tony Arias as the other half. Don't think of making plans to see this tongue-in-cheek version of the Charles Dickens tale. The six scheduled performances ended yesterday.
* * * * * * *
From former Las Vegan, songstress Loretta Holloway who currently is living back in her hometown of Belton, South Carolina, comes this e-mail...
Special happy wishes to my Las Vegas friends. How I miss you. It was good to see the smiling face of Skip Trenier in your previous edition and thank you for reminding us of his birthday. I will always have a special place in my heart for how much joy and laughter The Treniers gave to us for so many years. It was also good to see the smiling face and read of the good things happening for Fred Kaz. I first saw his musical genius with Chicago's Second City many years ago. A big hello and my sincere regards to his nephew Bob Kaz.
May all that's good get better.
* * * * * * *
Regarding last Friday's horror saga about what is going on over at DeStefano's, most involving one Patrick Kavanaugh, we got positive feedback from a number of musicians, a longtime Vegas entertainer, and a journalist, who have also been victimized, in one way or another, by the shenanigans taking place at the southeast Vegas establishment. After many weeks of empty promises, female impersonator/singer/comic Kenny Kerr has still not been paid the money he is owed for past performances. We have urged Mr. Kerr to file a suit in Small Claims Court, and/or go to the Labor Board with his valid complaints. (We may also suggest he get in touch with our local news stations' Contact 13. The very last thing this business needs is more bad press.) From WW comes this e-mail...
Thanks so much for the story on DeStefano's. It is surely Right On The Money. I, and several other friends of mine, got the 'financial runaround' months ago. And it only takes one conversation the want-to-be waiter/singer/manager, to know that he is as phony as a $3 bill. Keep up the good work.
And, from reader BW comes this column follow-up...
Well, I needn't tell you...so I won't, except to say thank you for the fine entertainment-investigational journalism.
And earlier this week, one of our respected local media-types informed us that, after checking the stories Mr. Kavanaugh gave him about his background, there was not one thing that could be verified as true. We had the same situation. The things that we do KNOW to be true when it comes to Kavanaugh is that he was a coffee shop waiter at the Tuscany on East Flamingo (something he conveniently "forgets" to mention while name-dropping, ad nauseum), and that he has an extremely vivid imagination.
* * * * * * *
Tony Orlando will stop tying yellow ribbons around his Christmas packages, just long enough to deliver his gift of songs at Michael Gaughan's South Point, tomorrow, Sunday and Tuesday nights (December 26th, 27th and 29th (no Monday the 28th), with 7:30 shows. Tickets start at $45, tax included. For reservations, call (702) 797-8055.
Krenn Scott's Hootie
And speaking of the South Point...
Rick Faugno, one of the Strip's popular Broadway imports, who currently stars as Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys at The Palazzo, will reprise his critically-acclaimed, one-man song and dance show, and release his first CD, Songs My Idols Sang (And Danced!), on Sunday, January 24th, at 3 p.m. in the 400-seat showroom at the South Point Casino. The triple-threat Faugno, with his professional dancing, singing and acting talents, premiered his solo show last August, selling out two performances in 48 hours. "I'm especially excited about my first CD and re-creating the magic that I was able to capture on stage with my musical director Keith Thompson, my band and in the recording studio," said Faugno. "And I'm thrilled about sharing some of my favorite music from the Great American Songbook, as well as presenting it in a new light." The 80-minute musical showcase features a seven-piece band with some of Las Vegas' best musicians. Selections include Faugno's performances of "Embraceable You," "Fly Me To The Moon," "Steppin' Out With My Baby," "Puttin' On The Ritz," "Cheek To Cheek," "Our Love Is Here To Stay," and the powerful tap number, "Mr. Bojangles," as a tribute to one of the many great icons of song and dance, Sammy Davis, Jr. Faugno created the show with his long-time love, Joyce Chittick, a fellow Broadway performer-choreographer, and Keith Thompson, musical director and conductor for Jersey Boys. Faugno's show is based on his life in show business. It tells how, with the love and support of his family and many others while growing up in New Jersey, he got to Broadway and the Las Vegas Strip, where he is today. Faugno first appeared on Broadway in The Will Rogers Follies when he was 12. In 2008, Rick came to Las Vegas to star as Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys. The Las Vegas Review-Journal staff named Faugno "Best Singer" in their annual Readers Poll. His impressive list of credits from theatre, film and television while performing throughout the U.S. include Broadway performances in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Conversations With My Father, Wonderful Town, Fosse, The Will Rogers Follies, and national tours of Jersey Boys, The Boy Friend, and Fosse. His film and television credits include Tri-Star's Looking For An Echo, Two Bits by Miramax, American Dreams, Adventures of Pete & Pete, and the Kennedy Center's 25th Anniversary Gala on PBS. Faugno holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Acting and Theatre from New York University. Visit his website at http://web.mac.com/rickfaugno. Tickets for his upcoming South Point show are now on sale and priced at $20, $25 and $30. Call (702) 797-8055 or (866) 796-7111. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.southpointcasino.com, and at the South Point Box Office, 9777 Las Vegas Boulevard South.
* * * * * * *
Our story about the death of Jet and Truman, the beloved pets of Norm Johnson, and Marty Kreloff and Tim Olsen, respectively, brought this note from another reader regarding her cat, Hootie. Krenn Scott, who used to work for What's On in Las Vegas magazine and now works for Uncle Sam, tells us that her 17-year-old cat, Hootie, died right before Thanksgiving. She loved Hootie and misses him greatly. Krenn sent along this piece of poetry by Irving Townsend that expresses her feelings. Perhaps it will be of comfort to anyone else who is grieving the loss of anyone or anything.
We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own, live within a fragile circle, easily and often breached.
Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way.
We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan.
* * * * * * *
Here are a few more Las Vegas New Year's Eve offerings...
At the South Point, it's Righteous Brother Bill Medley in the Grand Ballroom. Beginning at 8 p.m., there will be a four course dinner, open bar, party favors, a midnight champagne toast and Medley performing, for $149. Purple Reign, featuring Jason Tenner in a Prince tribute, performs in the showroom, starting at 9:30 p.m. For $39 general admission, celebrants will get the show, two drinks, party favors and a midnight champagne toast. For those who prefer to do the New Years partying during the daylight, it's impressionist Tom Stevens and the Swing City Dolls, in the Grand Ballroom at noon. Admission is $19, for the entertainment, party favors and a champagne toast. All prices include taxes and gratuities. For South Point reservations, call (702) 797-8055.
Ana Maria Martinez
We mentioned Frankie Avalon at the North Las Vegas Cannery last Friday, but we didn't mention Blood, Sweat and Tears at the Eastside Cannery. Now on a World Tour, the musicians will make a Las Vegas stop for the 8:30 p.m. show on New Year's Eve. Tickets are $29.95, $39.95 and $$49.95, plus tax. Call (702) 856-5470 for reservations.
On Thursday, the Suncoast will feature the Las Vegas Tenors in the Grand Ballroom, and Lisa Smith of Shades of Sinatra (who perform in the Suncoast Showroom at noon) will supply the musical entertainment at the hotel's SC Prime Steakhouse. Call the Suncoast, at (702) 636-7111, for times and prices.
And for Country Music lovers, it's Merle Haggard at the Star of the Desert Arena at Buffalo Bill's in Primm at the Nevada California border. Tickets range from $49.45 to $82.45. For reservations, call (800) 386-7867.
And if you happen to be anywhere around Valencia, California, on New Year's Eve,
Gina Eckstine will be performing at the Hyatt Regency Valencia. They will be starting the evening out with some swinging jazz, but will later be rocking the house with some grooving rhythm and blues and classic rock and roll. So wear your dancing shoes and get ready to cut loose. The crowd will be partying all night long. A fabulous dinner and a great band. What more do you need to end the year? Reservations are strongly suggested. Call (661) 799-1234 for directions and details.
* * * * * * *
And to Chris in Florence, South Carolina, who e-mailed to ask if it was Celine Dion that sang "The Prayer" with Andrea Bocelli during his December 12th concert at the MGM Grand Arena. Since we were unable to reach anyone who could have provided us with the definitive answer before last Friday's column deadline, we took a guess and suggested it might have been the young Filipino star, Charice Pempengco. We should never guess, on issues like this, as it turns out we were wrong. Although Charice has performed the song with Mr. Bocelli in previous concerts, it was not her on stage with Mr. Bocelli this time around. Here is where the story gets more confusing. During this last week, we had calls from two very nice ladies associated with the MGM, both with answers to our question. Oddly, the MGM representatives each provided us with different names. Okay. So we know, positively, that the female singer who joined Bocelli in "The Prayer" at his recent MGM show was NOT Celine. We also know (we think) for sure that it wasn't Charice. The question now remains, was the lady Ana Maria Martinez, as one source tells us, or was it Delta Goodrem, as another has informed us? What makes all of this even more puzzling is that the internet indicates that BOTH Martinez and Goodrem were part of the Vegas concert. Maybe Chris will be able to tell, from the accompanying photos, exactly which lady he saw. Hopefully, he will then take a few minutes to let us know if it was Ana Maria or Delta. We can then pass the word on to the folks at MGM.
* * * * * * *
Joe Castro, longtime Las Vegas pianist/arranger/conductor, passed away here on December 13th at the age of 82. Castro was born on August 15th, 1927, in Miami, Arizona. He began playing music professionally, as a pianist, at the age of 15. Joe enrolled at San Jose State University, but his attendance was interrupted twice - first by a stint in the U.S. Army, and later when he formed his first jazz trio working on both the West Coast and in Hawaii. In 1956, Joe moved to New York City, where his trio successfully appeared in the city's top jazz clubs - Basin Street East, The Embers, The Hickory House and Birdland. He was critically lauded by the likes Leonard Feather, and Dave Brubeck, who had known Castro since the early 1950s. In 1958, he moved to Los Angeles to be associated almost exclusively with renowned jazz musicians: Teddy Edwards, Billy Higgins and Leroy Vinnegar. Castro recorded and performed extensively with The Teddy Edwards Quartet while also making two of his own recordings as a leader for Atlantic Records. The first album entitled, Mood Jazz (1956), and the second entitled, Groove Funk Soul (1958). Throughout the '50s and '60''s, Joe toured the world playing in a variety of venues - The London Palladium, The Mars Club in Paris, and Bricktop's in Rome. He played with jazz greats such as Louis Armstrong, Zoot Sims and Oscar Pettiford. Later, tobacco heiress/jazz enthusiast Doris Duke, along with silent partner and friend, Duke Ellington, formed record company Clover Records and music publishing company Jo-Do. Castro's third album as a leader, entitled Lush Life, was the only album released on Clover Records. From 1959 to 1960, Castro also backed vocalists Anita O'Day and June Christy, and was the music director for Tony Martin from 1961 to 1963. While working, writing and arranging for the Hawaiian Symphony, he met and married vocalist/pianist Loretta Faith Haddad in 1966. They were married for 41 years until her death in June 2008. Joe and Loretta performed and lived together in Hawaii and Los Angeles before eventually moving to Las Vegas in 1971, where they raised two sons. Joe continued to accompany vocalists and play in Las Vegas pit bands, and did arranging for the likes of Joe Williams, Count Basie and Al Hibbler until he became the musical director for the Tropicana Hotel's Folies Bergere. He retired in the late '80s, but continued to play in jazz combos until his death. He is survived by his sons, John Castro of New York City, and James Castro of Las Vegas. Services were held on Saturday, December 19th, at Palm Mortuary, 1600 S. Jones Blvd. in Las Vegas.
* * * * * * *
We absolutely think that some smart entertainment bigwig should bring David Pomeranz's musical tribute to Charlie Chaplin to a theater or showroom in Las Vegas. Pomeranz, who counts Barry Manilow's No. 1 hits, "The Old Songs" and "Trying to Get the Feelin' Again," among his compositions, has written a great score to compliment the tale of the Little Tramp. If you can find a copy of the CD, we say buy it. The recording of Little Tramp the Musical features artists including Richard Harris, Petula Clark, Lea Salonga, Treat Williams, Mel Brooks, Tim Curry and Pomeranz himself. The last one we saw for sale was on Amazon. The price for a "Used - Like New" copy? A mere $99.75, plus shipping.
* * * * * * *
Sal Como & Ron Garrett
Ron Garrett, former VP of Entertainment & Marketing at the Sahara Hotel & Casino, along with his business partner and friend, construction magnate, Sal Como, recently took over The Maple Tree Countryside Kitchen, a breakfast and lunch dining spot in the southwest part of the city. After 40 years of breakfast meetings, in a myriad of restaurants around the city - from IHOP and Blueberry Hill, to the Cracked Egg and others in between - Vegas old school movers and shakers, Garrett and Como, realized that something was missing when it came to the kind of breakfast, brunch and lunch places they were seeking. When the opportunity presented itself, the twosome took over The Maple Tree Countryside Kitchen. Ron and Sal, a couple of breakfast/brunch connoisseurs, have taken four decades worth of personal notes on what their favorite qualities are about early AM dining and poured it into this charming cafe with delicious down home delectable delights. The extensive menu offers selections like Old Fashioned Buttermilk or Buckwheat Pancakes and Golden Crisp Belgian Waffles, all served with pure Grade A Maple Syrup and fresh Whipped Butter, as well as Maple French Toast, dipped in Cinnamon Vanilla egg batter, grilled to a golden brown and topped with powdered sugar. There are also Apple Cinnamon, Blueberry, Fresh Strawberries or Banana pancakes and waffles, Pigs in a Blanket, the Maple Tree Monte Cristo (a French Toast sandwich with thinly shaved ham, turkey and Swiss cheese, fried to a golden brown, lightly dusted with powdered sugar and served with pure maple syrup or raspberry puree). Or how about Biscuits and Gravy, Eggs Benedict, the New England Benny with two Crab Cakes, served on English muffin halves, topped with two poached eggs and hollandaise sauce, or the Veggie Benny with grilled tomatoes and sliced avocado served on English muffins, topped with two poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. And, of course, there are eggs - eggs served with bacon, sausage, steak, crab cakes, chicken breast, glazed ham, corned beef hash, pork chops, kielbasa, baby back ribs or Country Fried Steak. This is just the tip of the iceberg. You can see more by checking out the menu at http://www.usmenuguide.com/mapletreemenu.htm. Among the regular Maple Tree diners are the Floyd family - Eric, Wanda and Siameze - who have made this well kept secret their No. 1 choice for both personal and professional power breakfasts and brunches. They are such good customers, we have learned that, for a limited time only, if you ask for The Goddess Empire Discount, Ron and Sal will take 10% off your bill. The Maple Tree is at 6000 West Spring Mountain Road (on the corner of Jones) in Suite 1B. They are open Tuesdays through Sundays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call (702) 362-5151 for additional information.
* * * * * * *
Have a question about Las Vegas? Want to make a comment (be nice, now)?
If so, drop an e-mail and ask. Click Here
Cousin Claire will do her best to find the answer for you.
You can find Past Columns HERE
Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye