Claire Voyant's Las Vegas Gossip Column



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.  
She’s...

Claire Voyant  

Note: This is a past column from June 11, 2010
You can find the current column HERE


Las Vegas - June 11, 2010


Wes Winters

Romano Frediani

This is your final reminder - at least for these events taking place this weekend...

Wes Winters is back at the Suncoast showroom tomorrow and Sunday nights at 7:30, and this time, he's All Keyed Up! It's an all new stage show, with Wes performing a variety of musical favorites, not only displaying his award-winning piano abilities, but also showcasing his dynamic vocal skills. For this weekend's shows, Wes will share the stage with his special guests, magic man Joseph Gabriel and Joseph's spectacular birds; Joseph's wife, the magical and beautiful Katalin; and juggler extraordinaire, Romano Frediani. Tickets start at $19.95, plus tax and fees. For reservations, call the Suncoast box office at (702) 636-7075.


Golden Rainbow Ribbon of Life

Golden Rainbow's Ribbon of Life takes place in the theater at the Las Vegas Hilton on Sunday, beginning at 1 p.m. Tickets range from $25 to $200, but mid-week, we heard that the $25 and $100 seats were just about sold out. These annual shows, featuring the hard-working, often taken for granted, singers and dancers from the city's productions, are always very impressive. Now in its 24th year, the monies raised from Ribbon of Life go to provide housing and necessities for local HIV/AIDS victims and their families. Pietra Sardelli (there's that Sardelli name again), who will portray Sarah Palin in this year's event, says, "It's for a great cause and there's no other show like it!" Hopefully, Pietra's politically astute father, Nelson Sardelli, will forgive his daughter for the Palin takeoff. For Ribbon of Life tickets, call (702) 384-2899, contact www.Goldenrainbow.org, or call the Hilton box office at (702) 732-5755.


Martin, Susan, Clint & Domenick

And, in their first time in the 810-seat Orleans theater, it's Vocal Soup, featuring the voices of Clint Holmes, Domenick Allen, Martin Nievera and Susan Anton, with Jeff Neiman on piano and serving as musical director, delivering individual and group interpretations of a wide variety of material, including signature Vocal Soup material, including the title song "Vocal Soup" (written by Holmes and Allen), rock 'n' roll classics, hits from Foreigner, a love medley, plus popular and Broadway songs. In addition, the group will debut new numbers, giving recognizable hits the irresistible Vocal Soup twist. The repertoire of solo performances, duets and group numbers embodies the stars' shared dream of rekindling the Las Vegas tradition of entertainers coming together in an "anything can happen" atmosphere. On Tuesday afternoon, invited guests gathered for a "Meet the Members of Vocal Soup" brunch, organized by Ed Mathews and his son, Philip, along with PR man, Frank Lieberman, at Goldilocks Bakery and Restaurant, 2797 S. Maryland Parkway, in the Office Max center. Holmes, Allen, Nievera and Anton discussed their plans for this weekend's shows at The Orleans. They answered questions tossed at them from curious (and hungry) media-types. A buffet lunch was enjoyed by the guests. Vocal Soup show times are tomorrow (Saturday) and Sunday at 8 p.m. Ticket prices start at $29.95 plus tax and convenience fees (save the convenience fees by purchasing tickets in person at any Coast Casino). For additional information, call (702) 636-7075.

This was the first time we had been in a Goldilocks operation. We were surprised to learn that the Maryland Parkway location, which has been in operation for six years, is, at 8,000 square feet, the largest of three Las Vegas Goldilocks shops (the other two are at 9550 S. Eastern in Henderson, and 6584 N. Decatur in North Las Vegas). Friendly owners, Frank and Ruby Hao, informed us that 90% of their Las Vegas clientele are Filipinos. There are approximately 300 Goldilocks outlets in the Philippines, making them a larger presence than even McDonalds. According to Frank, all the stores are owned and run by family members. The bakery portion of Goldilocks is extensive, carrying all kinds of breads and pastries. Their specialty cakes are beautiful works of tasty art, with some of the elaborate wedding caked running into the thousands of dollars. Launched in 1966, by two sisters, Goldilocks has become a major success story. In addition to stores in the Philippines and Las Vegas, there are Goldilocks all around the world.

From one branch in Los Angeles in 1976, Goldilocks has expanded to other key cities in the United States such as San Francisco, Sacramento, and San Diego, for a total of 19 U.S. stores. Its first outlet on the East Coast will soon open, with others sure to follow. Likewise, the two Goldilocks outlets in Canada will undoubtedly encourage more branches to open due to its remarkable success. Goldilocks has also tapped markets in several Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Moreover, it has received a considerable number of requests to open in the Middle East, mostly from overseas Filipino workers and expatriates. Plans are also underway to open a Goldilocks in Hawaii.
Not being very familiar with Filipino food or drink, we have to say we did have (for us) a unique experience at Goldilocks on Tuesday - it was the first time that we have ever had to chew a beverage (ice not withstanding). We think it was called "Sago."


Goldilocks Creation

Kelly McDonald

Rebecca Spencer & Philip Fortenberry

* * * * * * *

Someone else's misfortune has proven to be a great opportunity for comic Kelly McDonald. On short notice, Kelly, a Las Vegas resident, was called upon to open for Julio Iglesias during Julio's run at the Hilton this weekend. Iglesias is one of the most popular recording artists in the world, with dozens of albums in several different languages to his credit. In 1988, Iglesias received the Grammy Award for Best Latin Singer of the Year 1987 for his album Un Hombre Solo. He has sold more than 250 million albums, and has been the recipient of more than 2600 Platinum and Gold records, a figure that no other singer has ever managed to achieve in the history of music. McDonald and Iglesias perform 8 p.m. shows in the Las Vegas Hilton Theater, through tomorrow night. Tickets are $59 - $119 (plus tax and service charge). To purchase, call the Hilton box office at (800) 222-5361. On Sunday night, Kelly McDonald will do an unbilled guest spot at Bob Kephart's Comedy Stop at the Sahara. Kelly will join his friend, fellow funnyman Cork Proctor, on Cork's last night of his current one week gig at the Comedy Stop.

* * * * * * *

Next Sunday, June 20th will offer a couple of interesting programs for music lovers. Because they take place at different times, but in the same part of the city, many may choose to do both...
At 2 in the afternoon, Rebecca Spencer, who created the role of Madame Giry in Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular, will be returning to Las Vegas to appear in concert on at the Flamingo Library Theatre, 1401 E. Flamingo. The debut of this newly conceived solo concert, entitled WAITIN', will also feature her long-time musical director and collaborator, Philip Fortenberry. Philip is the assistant musical director for Jersey Boys and also performs three afternoons a week in Liberace and Me, at the Liberace Museum. Rebecca's program highlights include her signature art song interpretations of the American Songbook and Broadway repertoire, as well as new compositions created specifically for her. This performance marks a return to her concert career roots, which began in Las Vegas when she debuted her solo program as part of the Brown Bag Series produced by the Performing Arts Society of Nevada. That concert was Las Vegas Magazine's No. 1 Pick of the Month in their Datebook Calendar, and earned a Las Vegas City Life 'DIVA' preview pick of the week. During the two years Rebecca lived in Las Vegas performing in Phantom, she also shared her talents in projects throughout the community. She was the first Phantom performer to appear in the Las Vegas Composers Showcase, where she regularly introduced new material by composer Keith Thompson (conductor for Jersey Boys). She served as the co-host for the Liberace Foundation Piano Competition alongside fellow cast member Bruce Ewing, and was invited to perform at the 30th Anniversary Liberace Museum Gala. She was featured in readings of Richard Oberaker's (conductor for Ka) musical Ace, and Wayne Green's (conductor for Spamalot) new musical, Beyond the Abbey Gates. Becky's charity work in Las Vegas included leading performances in the Golden Rainbow benefit concert of Jerry Springer - The Opera, conducted by Jack Gaughan, at the MGM Grand's Hollywood Theatre, several presentations of God Lives in Glass benefiting Family Promise of Las Vegas, and a CD signing and in-store performance at the Summerlin Barnes & Noble store as a benefit for the Rainbow Theatre Company, Las Vegas' nationally recognized youth theatre program. Rebecca was featured on the cover of the Las Vegas Review Journal's Neon magazine, and in their popular IMAGE fashion section. In the R-J's Theatre Chat column, upon the release of her second recording, Anthony Del Valle noted: "There's lots of talent on display at 'Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular,' but the person I can never stop watching is Rebecca Spencer." Tickets for this program are $15, and may be purchased by calling (702) 658-6741. They are also available at the library box office, an hour before show time. We urge you to reserve early for this one.

That evening, RagTag Entertainment will be presenting Andrew Lloyd Webber: Encore at the Cabaret Showroom in the Liberace Museum (1775 E. Tropicana at Spencer). The show begins at 7, with doors opening at 6:30. Encore is the follow-up to the popular Another Suitcase in Another Hall program held at the Cabaret in March. The evening will not only feature top RagTag talent, such as David Andino, Sandra Huntsman, Steve Huntsman, Aimee Wade, Charles Beraud, Danyel Arianna, and Joel Rene, but Andrew Ragone, Kristen Hertzenberg, Sarah Elizabeth Combs, and Ian Jon Bourg, cast members from Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular. The show will also feature Angela Chan on piano, and Amanda Wright on cello. Encore will feature some of Andrew Lloyd Webber's greatest hits, and music from his new Phantom sequel, Love Never Dies. Tickets are $20 in advance, and $25 at the door. This should be an amazing concert. For reservations, contact the museum at (702) 798-5595.


Kristen Hertzenberg

Kristofer McNeeley

Sting

And speaking of the Liberace Museum, on Sunday the 13th, Kristofer McNeeley, of the Las Vegas Strip's hit show, Jersey Boys, will launch his weekly solo show in the Cabaret. The 45-minute acoustic guitar/piano set will include his interpretations of material by some of the great singer/songwriters of the '60s, '70s and '80s - including Elton John, Billy Joel, John Denver, Phil Collins, Burt Bacharach and Fleetwood Mac among others. Also included in the set will be several original compositions influenced by and in the same style as these singer/songwriters . Listeners will be invited to enjoy an afternoon of mellow, relaxing, meditative musical reflection and an intimate look into Kristofer's journey as an artist and the music which has shaped his work as a composer. As for the unusual name of his show, Holding the Space, there is a logical explanation. The Sunday spot is usually filled by Kristofer's wife, Ali Spuck and her solo show, Here I Am. The McNeeley's are the parents of a brand new baby girl, so daddy is Holding the (mommy's) Space, until she (Ali) is ready to go back to work. Show times, for Kristofer or Ali, are on Sundays at 2:30. Tickets are $15. Call the museum at (702) 798-5595.

* * * * * * *

Next Friday (June 18th), the multi-award winning Sting will perform his most celebrated songs, accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Steven Mercurio. An Evening with Sting will take place in the MGM Grand Garden Arena beginning at 8 p.m. (doors open at 6:30). The English musician, singer-songwriter, activist, actor and philanthropist, has been at the forefront of rock and pop music for almost 40 years. He is a member of both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Tickets are $201, $86, and $51 inclusive of LET (plus $6 handling fee).

* * * * * * *

Apparently, Rubio's Big Burrito giveaway on June 3rd, was a Big Success. Here are a couple of comments we got from folks who took advantage of the one day Especial. "Thank you so much for sharing this. We went to Rubio's by Sunset Station. The line was humongous, but worth the wait. The Burritos were great. Sent a copy of the required online coupon to some friends. They all went too and loved it. Thank you from all of us." And "Thanks for the heads up. We took advantage of the offer and we both enjoyed our meals. Judging from the crowds at the Lake Mead site, this promotion appeared to be a hit. We had never been to Rubio's before. We will definitely go back again."

* * * * * * *


Adam of Hard Pipe Hitters

Tempest Storm

Gordie, not Garry

Following their Tuesday night appearance at The Box Office, Las Vegas-based Hard Pipe Hitters joins California's Vultures United and Holding On To Sound (HOTS) at Boomer's Bar, 3200 Sirius Ave., tonight (Friday, June 11th) from 10 to 11:30 p.m. Hard Pipe Hitters are a hardcore punk rock band, consisting of Kiel on vocals, Adam on guitar and vocals, Greg on drums, and Frank on bass and vocals. HPH has been making their mark on the West Coast punk rock scene, with three Southern California tours under their belts, and a northwest US mini-tour in March. The group is in the process of writing the last songs for their debut album, scheduled to be recorded this spring. That's it, all you punks. Expect to see an HPH show near you!!!

* * * * * * *

By now, many of you have probably heard that Tempest Took a Tumble. That would be Burlesque veteran, Tempest Storm (real name Annie Blanche Banks). Last Friday night (too late for the June 4th column), while strutting her stuff at the Burlesque Convention at the downtown Plaza hotel, the 82-year-young red-head lost her balance and fell backward during her big finale number. An ambulance was called and the Georgia Peach (she was born in Eastman, Georgia) was taken to Sunrise Hospital where it was determined that she had broken her left hip and would require surgery. We have heard that the trouper is doing well.

While still on the subject of downtown Las Vegas, on Saturday night, we took in Gordie Brown's show at the Golden Nugget. Gordie was in top form, and the almost full house audience was much appreciative of his talent. With the 2006 death of James Brown, Gordie "officially" became the "Hardest Working Man in Show Business." No one works harder to please an audience than Gordie Brown. Backed by Steve Swinford on guitar, Adam Shendal on drums, Bill DeLoach on keys, Andre Brunson on bass, and Joey Singer filling in for Gordie's regular piano man, Chris Hoffman, these musicians do a fine job of keeping up with the high energy Mr. Brown. Shows are normally at 7:30, although, last Saturday, the show was rescheduled for a 9 p.m. start. Tickets range from $39.95 to $99.95. We highly recommend Gordie Brown. Call (866) 946-5336 for reservations.

If you have never been downtown, or haven't been down there for sometime, take the trip. Just seeing the Golden Nugget swimming pool is worth the ride, but there is more to do and see. In addition to the Fremont Street Experience - with its free shows, overhead nighttime canopy light displays, interesting kiosks and stores, and a wide variety of dining choices - in addition to Gordie Brown at the Golden Nugget, there are a number of other entertainment options that we can recommend. At the Plaza, it's Dick Feeney's Rat Pack Is Back and at Hennessey's Tavern, the newly opened musical revue, Only You, featuring David Derek. Both offer dinner shows. Fitzgeralds offers Kevin Burke's Fitz of Laughter, and the interactive murder-mystery dinner show, Marriage Can Be Murder. Steven Best & Cassandra star in Superstars of Magic, playing at the Vegas Club.

We were told that another downtown establishment, with a new show (using the same show name as a Strip producer) that was supposed to open on Wednesday, has been for about a week. Whether they will reopen remains to be seen. In December, we predicted there would be major problems at this place as soon as the thermometer started moving up.

* * * * * * *

The Las Vegas ESPN Zone, located at New York-New York for almost 10 years, is the latest local casualty of the economic downturn. The restaurant will close on Wednesday, putting about 150 people out of work. Chicago, Baltimore, New York and Washington D.C. will also close stores, due to weak financial performance.

* * * * * * *


Brian Bromberg

Buddy Bregman

Louie Anderson

Jazz bass payer Brian Bromberg with the It Is What It Is Band, featuring The Fat City Horns, will present a free concert at the Centennial Hills Park Amphitheatre, tomorrow (Saturday, June 12th) at 7 p.m.

Vegas Jazz is proud to collaborate with The City of Las Vegas for the Jazz on the Green concert tomorrow, Saturday, June 12th, featuring acclaimed jazz bass player, Brian Bromberg, with the It Is What It Is Band - Gary Meek, sax; Tom Zink, keyboards; Will Kennedy, drums; and Alec Milstein, bass. They will be joined by special guests The Fat City Horns, a popular and well-known group of six of Las Vegas' top musicians, Gil Kaupp, Danny Falcone, Phil Wigfall, Nathan Tanouye, Jerry Merra and Rob Mader. Bromberg has earned a reputation as one of the most versatile and respected straight ahead and contemporary jazz musicians today. He has recorded 17 albums, which include more than eight Top 10 hits, some of which he composed and produced. Jazz legend Lionel Hampton referred to him as "the greatest bass player in the world." Jazz Review magazine says, "A true master of the bass...If you are looking for something new and exciting, look no further...." Nathan Tanouye did the horn arrangements on Bromberg's It Is What It Is CD. These 11 musicians playing together will definitely create a not-to-be-missed concert. The free concert begins at 7 p.m. in the Centennial Hills Park Amphitheatre, located at 7101 N. Buffalo Drive, near Deer Springs Way. Bring blankets, folding chairs and picnics to enjoy the evening comfortably. Pets and glass containers are not permitted in the amphitheatre. For more info, call (702) 229-1087 at The City of Las Vegas, or the Vegas Jazz message line at (702) 313-6778.

And more jazz news...
Jazz up your weekends with The Village at Lake Las Vegas' "Jazz on the Lake" free concert series. The Village provides a relaxing environment for jazz fans to kick back and enjoy Las Vegas' top jazz artists by water's edge, Saturdays in June, from 7 to 10 p.m. Tomorrow night, it's Tommy Thompson, serving up Jazz and R&B, and on June 26th, Darrin Michaels presents smooth jazz. This takes place at The Village lakeside lawn, 15 Costa di Lago in Henderson. Concerts are free and open to the public. No coolers please.

* * * * * * *

When we got a recent e-mail from Buddy Bregman, we recognized his name and knew he was someone special, we just didn't know HOW special. The American musical arranger, record producer and composer has some real history in Las Vegas. He produced, directed and orchestrated the show that opened the new Frontier Hotel. The star of that show? The great Ella Fitzgerald. Bregman arranged and conducted her two biggest albums of all-time, Verve Records' Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Cole Porter Songbook, and Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Rodgers & Hart Songbook. Bregman also wrote all the musical arrangements for Jerry Lewis' solo debut at the Sands Hotel, and wrote the musical arrangements and co-produced Sammy Davis Jr.'s first solo Las Vegas show, also at the Sands. Also at the Sands, Buddy did all of Van Johnson's musical arrangements for his Las Vegas debut at that hotel. Bregman wrote the musical arrangements for Jane Powell, Eydie Gorme, and Diahann Carroll's acts, all of which played here numerous times. And, as long as we are name dropping, as a producer/director/musical arranger/composer/conductor, the Chicago-born Bregman has also worked with performers such as Alan King, Andre Previn, Andy Williams, Anita O'Day, Barbra Streisand, Betty Hutton, Bing Crosby, Bob Fosse, Bob Hope, Bobby Darin, Bobby Short, Buddy Holly, Cheryl Lee Ralph, Cindy Williams, Count Basie, Dean Martin, Debbie Reynolds, Dick Shawn, Dionne Warwick, Don Rickles, Donald Sutherland, Duke Ellington, Eddie Fisher, Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire, George Burns, Jack Benny, James Earl Jones, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jane Fonda, Jimmy Durante, John Williams, Joe Williams, Joel Grey, John Cassavetes, Mark Rydell, Johnny Carson, Jonathan Winters, Jose Greco, Judy Garland, Kay Thompson, K.C. & The Sunshine Band, Leslie Uggams, Kevin Kline, Louis Armstrong, Lucie Arnaz, Lucille Ball, Mamie Van Doren, Marcia Cross, Marge and Gower Champion, Mary Tyler Moore, Michael Keaton, Milton Berle, Miriam Makeba, Michael Crawford, Nell Carter, Oliver Reed, Oscar Peterson, Paul Anka, Peggy Lee, Peter Lawford, Quincy Jones, Ray Bolger, Rick Nelson, Rita Moreno, Ritchie Valens, Sir Michael Redgrave, Sam Cooke, Sam Butera, Stan Getz, Suzanne Somers, Theolonius Monk, Tony Bennett, Tony Perkins, Vic Damone, Victor Borge and Yves St. Laurent. In addition to his musical career, Buddy Bregman has produced and/or directed/written more than 150 hours of features/TV film and video programming in England, Europe, Canada, and the USA - from the award winning The American Civil War (BBC), to the feature film Wandering Minstrels starring Olivia Newton-John, to the comedy series, Oh Madeline (ABC) starring Madeline Kahn, to the half-hour comedy pilot, Fraud Squad (ABC). He had his own show, Buddy Bregman's Music Shop, on NBC. The very first show ever broadcast by BBC2, An Evening With Ethel Merman, was produced and directed by Buddy. The 14 episodes of the series featured a slew of International stars, including Mel Torme', Nancy Wilson, Shirley Bassey, Robert Clary, Jack Carter, Anna Maria Alberghetti, Pete Barbutti, and The Kingston Trio among them. He followed up with tribute specials to Broadway musical legends, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hart and Rodgers & Hammerstein, with Ron Moody as "The Guide." We might also mention that Buddy is the very proud father The Young and The Restless star, Tracey E. Bregman, who has played Lauren Fenmore on the soap since the early '80s. There is way too much on Buddy to put in this column. If you want to know more about the talented Mr. Bregman, check him out on the Internet. (The only person we know who has worked with or known this many major celebrities is Patrick Kavanaugh, late of DeStefano's. Don't believe it? Just ask him.)

* * * * * * *

After more than four years at the Excalibur, comic Louie Anderson will wind up his engagement at the Castle on the Corner on August 1st. The very first time we saw Anderson perform in Las Vegas was in 1987. The relatively unknown funnyman was co- headlining at the Desert Inn (now the site of Wynn Las Vegas) with another relative newcomer, Roseanne Barr. As we hear it, it was Louie who encouraged Roseanne to try out at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles. The rest, as they say, is show business history.

* * * * * * *

As we approach our weekly deadline, here is the list of entertainers and supporters who have committed to be part of the annual Father's Day Show at the Veterans Home in Boulder City, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 20th - Vince Falcone, the Gary Olds Trio, Michaelina Bellamy, Linda November, Artie Schroeck, Babe Pier, Jerry Lopez, Cork Proctor, The Great Tomsoni & Co., Allen Tramont, Charly Raymond, Paul Campanella, Peter Anthony, Dr. George Ritter, Nathan Brian Wine, Ronnie Rose, Charlie Shaffer, Joni Illi, Nik Mastrangelo, Dr. Wilfred Krom, Thom Nelli, Tom Marth, Diane Ellis, Larry Taylor, Tommy Thompson, Robert S. Ensler, Mundane the Grate (Jac Hayden), and Lou Toomin. By the time the 20th rolls around, we expect there will be more volunteers. Despite the warm temperatures and the schlep to Boulder City, through whatever means (threats, blackmail, torture), the annual event organizer, Nelson Sardelli (there's that Sardelli name again) manages to gather together an impressive list of community-minded citizens to make the trip to the city by the darn. Mr. Sardelli reports that he is still waiting to hear back from Eddie Cantor, Marlene Dietrich, Ida Lupino, Vincent Price (who may do a duet with Michaelina), Peter Lorre, Jack Kogan, Gus Guiffre, Sabu, Turhan Bey, Judy Garland and Maria Ouspenskaya, who might join Nelson as co-host. We will have a more complete list next Friday. Stay tuned.

* * * * * * *


Beverly Washburn

Lee Roy Reams & Mitzi Gaynor

There are only two more performances of Spider Baby the Musical at The Onyx, tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m. An authorized adaptation of Jack Hill's classic horror film, Spider Baby starring Lon Chaney Jr., Spider Baby the Musical tells the story of the Merrye family. Each member suffers from the same degenerative mental disorder which causes a loss of impulse control. Some distant relatives want to institutionalize the Merrye children and sell their land. Spider Baby the Musical deals with the extreme measures the family takes to stay together. This year, composer, Enrique Acosta, inspired by his talented cast, has expanded the show, adding four new songs and re-arranging more than half of the original songs to give the show a darker, more raw sensuality. Rumor has it that actress Beverly Washburn, who played Elizabeth Merrye in the film, will be in attendance for Saturday night's show at The Onyx. Tickets for Spider Baby the Musical are $25, and $20 for locals. The Onyx is located inside The Rack at 953 E. Sahara, Suite 16, in the Commercial Center. Call (702) 732-7225 for more details.
Parental warning: This is not a show intended for children as it depicts sexual situations and violence.

* * * * * * *

On Sunday, Father's Day, Mrs. Geez Southern Home Cooking Restaurant, 2605 S. Decatur at Sahara, will present a tribute show honoring the late Ali Ollie Woodson of The Temptations. Paying homage to Woodson will be Darcus; Mr. Reggie Gonzales, Vocalist Extraordinaire; Terry Forsythe (Only You) Professional Entertainer, Gospel, R&B and Jazz Recording Artist Songwriter, Arranger, Producer and Vocal Director; Barrington "BO" Henderson, Grammy winner, former lead singer with The Temptations, and lead vocalist for the hit, "Stay." Show is at 7 p.m. There is no cover.

* * * * * * *

Sympathies to Steve Cutler on the loss of his mother, Ruth Cutler, who passed away in Las Vegas on June 4th at the age of 83. Steve Cutler was the curator of The Casino Legends Hall of Fame at the Tropicana.

* * * * * * *

It's hard to believe, but Hollywood legend Mitzi Gaynor, who starred in There's No Business Like Show Business, South Pacific, The Joker is Wild (starring Frank Sinatra as the comedian/singer, Joe E. Lewis), made her very first New York City cabaret debut when she performed at Feinstein's at Loews Regency, May 18th through the 29th. According to Feinstein's publicity, the 78-year-old film actress, who calls her act, Razzle Dazzle! My Life Behind the Sequins (many of her sequined gowns were designed by Bob Mackie), "brought her "incomparable brand of showmanship to the stage in a glittering multimedia one woman tour-de-force of music and memories from her show-stopping life and career." The show featured classic elements of her fabled concert performances, interspersed with video footage culled from her television, concert and film work and rare personal photos embraced in an all new, up-to-date setting. Gaynor shared her recollections of Sinatra, Ethel Merman, Marilyn Monroe, Irving Berlin, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Howard Hughes, Marlene Dietrich and more. Tony Charmoli directed the show, which feature musical arrangements by Dick DeBenedictis and Bill Dyer. Musical director/pianist Ed Czach lead a seven-piece band; orchestrations are by Ovation Award winner, Colin R. Freeman, and Helen Hayes Award nominee, Nick DeGregorio. Mitzi Gaynor starred in 17 motion pictures, nine network television specials (garnering 17 Primetime Emmy nominations) and returned to live performing with countless concert productions nationwide for more than 40 years. For several decades, Mitzi Gaynor was a top attraction in Las Vegas, beginning in 1961 at the Flamingo, as well as other nightclub and concert venues throughout the United States and Canada. Among the audience members who turned out to see Ms. Gaynor at the Park Avenue hotspot were friend, musical theater star Lee Roy Reams (he portrayed Roger DeBris in The Producers here), and Las Vegans, Clint and Kelly Clinton Holmes.

* * * * * * *

It's a sign of the times we are living in today, especially in the Las Vegas hospitality world. During this past week, more than 2000 applicants auditioned and applied for restaurant and nightclub positions at Lolita's Cantina & Tequila Bar, the latest concept created by The Medusa Group. Lolita's, set to open in Town Square next month, hired 250 people. "The level of talent and expertise that we saw at our casting call was so impressive that I am confident that our service and hospitality will set a new standard in this market," said Eric DeBlasi, President and CEO of The Medusa Group. Lolita's Cantina & Tequila Bar features traditional, regional Mexican cuisine with a modern twist, fusing the style and energy of South Beach, the spirit of Baja, and the tradition of Mazatlan all under one roof to create this one-of-a-kind eatery by day, nightclub hotspot by night. Wholesome dishes are prepared with only the best in organic ingredients with proprietary sauces and salsas made fresh daily. Award-winning celebrity chef and mixologist, Carlo Cavallo has created a diverse menu of authentic Mexican specialties, regional classics and a margarita and cocktail menu that is unmatched in the area. Each margarita will be handcrafted straight up, blended or hand-shaken. Using only fresh fruits, made-to-order mixers and specialty ingredients, Lolita's Cantina will offer more than 100 different tequilas including a wide selection of 100% agave tequilas, a specialty cocktail menu and what promises to be the city's most talked-about happy hour. In Las Vegas, they will offer lunch, dinner and after-hours fare with seating available both inside the restaurant or out on the patio, where patrons can people-watch the bustle of Town Square from the second floor perch. With non-stop energy, Lolita's will feature live performers, dancers and DJs to establish Lolita's as Sin City's newest party spot. Lolita's will also have a take-out menu and catering division. Nightlife/hospitality veteran DeBlasi has owned more than 40 restaurants, nightclubs and hotels across the United States over the past two decades, and the Medusa Group is currently responsible for various development projects and several new restaurant concepts set to debut nationally in the next two years. Lolita's Cantina & Tequila Bar is located in Town Square at 6605 Las Vegas Boulevard South, For more information, please visit www.lolitascantina.com.

* * * * * * *


The Beach Boys

Greg London

On Thursday, June 17th, at 8 p.m., feel the "Good Vibrations" as The Venetian hosts a one-night-only poolside concert with The Beach Boys. While The Beach Boys mark more than 45 years of making music, the group continues to ride the crest of a wave unequalled in America's musical history. "We wanted to kick-off summer, and there's no better way of doing it than with a poolside concert by The Beach Boys," said Chris Yancey, executive director of entertainment for The Venetian and The Palazzo. "Guests can 'Catch a Wave' with the cool sounds of the Beach Boys while enjoying all the amenities of The Venetian and its luxurious pool." The Beach Boys have become synonymous with the California lifestyle since lead-singer and front man Mike Love penned the lyrics to their first hit, "Surfin'" in 1961. Since then, the band has had a string of chart-topping songs that spans nearly 30 years and includes eternal anthems of American youth: "Surfin' USA," "Surfer Girl," "Fun, Fun, Fun," "I Get Around," "California Girls," "Help Me Rhonda," "Barbara Ann," "Good Vibrations," "Wouldn't It Be Nice," "Rock and Roll Music" and "Kokomo." Throughout the course of their career, the Beach Boys have sold more than 100 million records worldwide and received 32 Platinum and Gold record awards from the Recording Industry Association of America. Ticket prices will be $25 and $45, plus additional tax and handling fees. A limited number of concert and suite packages are also available. To make reservations, visit www.venetian.com, call (702) 414-9000 or visit any Venetian Box Office.

* * * * * * *

Following his record-breaking two-and-a-half year run in Sammy's Showroom at Harrah's Reno, Greg London begins previews of his critically acclaimed hit show, ICONS - Entertaining the World One Impression at a Time, in the Riviera's Mardi Gras Showroom on June 16th, with the official Grand Opening set for mid-July. "You thought Las Vegas' biggest coup was Garth Brooks signing on for acoustic weekends at the Wynn?," asks London's press release. "Hardly. Garth is certainly terrific but, the country legend is just one guy. Greg London is coming to town with scores of pop culture ICONS, all channeled by the master musical impressionist himself, ready to reshape the city's entertainment landscape."

Produced by Bob Byers, Jr., David DeLorenzo and Frank Visco, Greg London was voted 2009 Entertainer of the Year, and Greg London's ICONS was voted Best Show in Northern Nevada in the Nevada magazine poll. Greg London will impersonate some of the world-famous superstars and legends who have performed in Las Vegas - including Louis Armstrong, The Beach Boys, Tony Bennett, Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, Engelbert Humperdinck, Liberace, Barry Manilow, Dean Martin, Liza Minnelli, Dolly Parton, Luciano Pavarotti, Kenny Rogers, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, The Supremes, Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond, Billy Joel, Tina Turner , Ray Charles, Sammy Davis, Jr., Rod Stewart, Michael Jackson, Macy Gray , David Cassidy, David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks of The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, Freddie Mercury/Queen, Elton John, Joe Cocker, Bruce Springsteen, Dire Straits, Eric Clapton, Jim Morrison of the Doors, ZZ Top, David Bowie, Axl Rose, Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot, Bob Dylan, Robin Gibb of The Bee Gees, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Garth Brooks, Randy Travis, Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson, Julio Iglesias, Tom Jones, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ozzy Osbourne, Kermit The Frog, James Bond (Sean Connery version), Austin Powers and the Phantom of the Opera. Fresh off his win for Best Adult Contemporary Song at the 2009 Hollywood Music In Media Awards (HMMA), London has been selected to co-host the third annual event at The Highlands in the Hollywood and Highland Kodak Theatre Complex on November 18th. The singer's recording of "Everything I Own" was the highest charting new artist release and highest charting release on an independent label (airplay charts) of 2009. London scored back-to-back Top 5 singles on the FMQB Adult Contemporary Radio Chart. London also made Music Connection magazine's list of Hot 100 Artists of 2009. In 2008, he appeared in the independent film comedy, The Dukes, playing a member of a washed up doo-wop group that turns to a life of crime. His cohorts are Chazz Palmenteri, two-time Academy Award nominee Peter Bogdanovich, and renowned character actor Robert Davi (Die Hard, Profiler), who wrote, directed and co-produced the film. London, who launched his live musical comedy performance career in various venues at the Pebble Beach resort, even made Clint Eastwood's day. Dirty Harry himself says of this million dollar baby, "Greg will leave you emotionally charged with a truly great performance." Show times will be 7 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Ticket prices are $39.99, $59.99 (preferred seating) and $69.99 (VIP), plus taxes and fees. On Father's Day Sunday, June 20th, dads will be admitted free. They will also receive a free ICONS coffee mug. A discount of $20 off Preferred and VIP seating is also being offered on this special day. As a sign of appreciation, through July, the first 100 active members of the military, police, firefighters and first responders, with proper ID showing their active service presented at the Riviera box office, will be admitted free to the show. For more information, call The Riviera Box Office toll free at (877) 892-7469 or visit www.rivierahotel.com.

With performers and permanent shows, such as Gordie Brown, Larry G. Jones, Frank Caliendo, Jersey Boys, two Rat Pack shows, The Beatles (Love at The Mirage, plus groups such as the Fab Four), miscellaneous Elvis‘ (Trent Carlini, Pete Willcox, etc.) and Viva Elvis at CityCenter's Aria, not to mention (although that's what we're doing) Barbra and Frank - The Concert That Never Was, Legends in Concert and American Superstars to compete against, another impressionist with little name recognition in Southern Nevada, we think Greg London has his work cut out for him. We wish him luck.

Illusionist Mark Bennick, who just performed at the Suncoast, is using his magical talents in a different capacity for a while. Mark is the Production Manager and Coordinator for Greg London's ICONS.


Mark Bennick

James Barela of BLu7

* * * * * * *

The Freakin' Frog is proud to feature BLu7. The Las Vegas-based jazz quintet will be performing some very exciting and creative music throughout the summer. Appearance dates will be tonight, Friday, July 23rd and Friday, August 6th. Their music combines elements of modern jazz with world music and contemporary beats in organic and unforced manner accessible to all who listen. Evidence of this can be heard on their debut CD, Cultural Instigator, released in June of 2008. This project features eight original tunes fusing elements of jazz, flamenco, bossa-nova, R&B, industrial, hip-hop, and free jazz. Reviews have been excellent and it is clear BLu7's star is on the rise. The second track on the CD, "Kelly," has been one of the most downloaded tunes on allaboutjazz.com. "Matador," the first track, is being featured on a jazz compilation CD produced by KUNV 91.5 FM in Las Vegas. Both tunes, as well as the others, are receiving airplay on many radio, satellite, and internet radio stations around the world. BLu7 was formed in 2007 by trumpeter and composer James Barela. The members of BLu7 are Barela (trumpet, flugelhorn, EVI), EJ Delgado (guitar), Rachel Delgado (piano, Rhodes, synthesizer), Mitchell Anthony (drums) and Justin Vogel (bass). Each musician brings with them decades of experience and the creative edge to make an impact on today's jazz scene. BLu7 derives its name from the term jazz and blues musicians used for the 7th of the dominant 7th chord. In western musical theory, the dominant 7th chord causes a certain amount of tension and leans towards resolution. In jazz and blues, the "blue 7" also provides that tension/resolution, but also adds a melancholic vocal quality to the melody and improvisation. With a tip of a cap to the past, and all eyes to the future, BLu7 is poised to create change among the status quo of the jazz world. The Freakin' Frog is located at 4700 S. Maryland Parkway, across from UNLV. Music begins at 9:30 p.m. and admission is free.
Photo of James Barela by Leila Navidi



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


     Like to be notified when Claire Voyant's next column is available?
Then join Claire Voyant's announcement mailing list!
Enter your email address below, then click the 'Join List' button:
   

Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye