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.  

Claire Voyant  

Note: This is a past column from March 22, 2013
You can find the current column HERE

Las Vegas - March 22, 2013

Frankie Laine Vintage

Frankie Laine At 90

March 30th commemorates the 100th anniversary of the birth of the legendary American singer, songwriter, and actor, Frankie Laine. Born Francesco Paolo LoVecchio in Chicago, Laine's career spanned more than 70 years, from his first concerts in 1930 with a marathon dance company, to his final performance of his 1947 classic, "That's My Desire," on a PBS special, My Music - Moments to Remember, recorded in October of 2005, and aired in March 2006. Often billed as America's Number One Song Stylist, his other nicknames include Mr. Rhythm, Old Leather Lungs, and Mr. Steel Tonsils. Laine sang an eclectic variety of song styles and genres, stretching from big band crooning to pop, western-themed songs, gospel, rock, folk, jazz, and blues. During his career, Laine earned 21 gold records, including for "That's My Desire," "That Lucky Old Sun," "Mule Train," "Cry of the Wild Goose," "Jezebel," "On the Sunny Side of the Street," and "Jealousy." Additional hits included "Moonlight Gambler," "Love Is a Golden Ring," "Rawhide," "Cool Water," "Your Cheatin' Heart" and "Lord, You Gave Me a Mountain." Frankie Laine's recording of "I Believe," written by Ervin Drake, Irvin Graham, Jimmy Shirl and Al Stillman, still holds the record for the most weeks (18) spent at number one in the UK Singles Chart. Although he wasn't a country western singer, Frankie sang well-known theme songs for many movie Western soundtracks, including "3:10 To Yuma," "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral," and "Blazing Saddles." He did not sing the soundtrack song for "High Noon," which was sung by Tex Ritter, but his own version was the one that became a bigger hit. Frankie Laine didn't just sing songs, he also wrote them. Collaborating with some of the top musicians on the planet - Mel Torme, Hoagy Carmichael, Matt Dennis, Duke Ellington and Carl T. Fischer, among them - Laine wrote lyrics to many, many songs, among them the beautiful "We'll Be Together Again."

There were some movies and a number of TV shows in Laine's resume. On television, he hosted three variety shows - The Frankie Laine Hour in 1950, Frankie Laine Show (with Connie Haines) 1954-5, and Frankie Laine Time in 1955-56. Frankie Laine Time featured such guest stars as Ella Fitzgerald, Johnnie Ray, The Four Lads, Georgia Gibbs, Cab Calloway, Patti Page, Eddie Heywood, Boris Karloff, Duke Ellington, Patti Andrews, Joni James, Shirley MacLaine, Gene Krupa, Teresa Brewer, Jack Teagarden and Polly Bergen. Frankie was also a frequent guest star on various other shows of the time, including Shower of Stars, Steve Allen Show, Ed Sullivan Show, What's My Line?, This is Your Life, Bachelor Father, The Sinatra Show, Walter Winchell Show, Perry Como Show, Garry Moore Show, Masquerade Party, Mike Douglas Show, and American Bandstand. In the 1960s, Laine continued appearing on variety shows such as Laugh-In, and took on several serious guest-starring roles in shows like Rawhide, Burke's Law, and Perry Mason. Laine performed at three Academy Awards ceremonies: 1950 ("Mule Train"), 1960 ("The Hanging Tree"), and 1975 ("Blazing Saddles"). In 1981, he performed a medley of his hits on American Bandstand's 30th Anniversary Special, where he received a standing ovation. Later appearances included Nashville Now.

Laine had a lengthy Las Vegas history. He was an established recording star when, in 1949, he made local entertainment history with a photograph taken of him at the El Rancho Vegas by Joe Buck of the Desert Sea News Bureau, which later became the Las Vegas News Bureau. It purportedly became the first of its type to be go out over a major news wire, a move that helped attract visitors to the then-small desert gaming oasis. Frankie performed in Las Vegas every decade, from the 1940s to his final show here in 2000. In November of 1998, Laine performed a sold out benefit concert for Musicians local 369 at The Orleans. He was back at The Orleans again in 1999 for a weekend engagement. In November of 2000, he was one of the first entertainers to perform in the showroom at the newly opened Suncoast. Frankie Laine passed away in San Diego on February 6th, 2007, at the age of 93. His enduring popularity was illustrated in June 2011, when a TV-advertised compilation called Hits reached No. 16 on the British chart. The accomplishment was achieved nearly 60 years after his debut on the UK chart, 64 years after his first major U.S. hit, and four years after his death.

To honor the man and his music, Frankie Laine will be celebrated with a luncheon and concert at the Koa Kai Resort and Spa, 1551 Shelter Island Drive in San Diego, this Sunday, March 24th. Friends and Laine aficionados, from international starting points, will gather to mark the occasion of his Centennial Birthday. The luncheon will be from 1 to 2:30 p.m. The concert portion of the afternoon, starting at 3, will present Frankie Laine's Musical Director, Benny Hollman and the orchestra, and star Frankie's personal friend, super entertainer, and recoding artist, Bobby Arvon (best-known for singing the theme song for TV‘s Happy Days), who will perform his Las Vegas-style show, highlighting the music of Frankie Laine. Along with special celebrity friends, there will be gifts, mementos, and other surprises for everyone in attendance.

Sixty-seven years after his breakout hit - and six years following his death - Laine will be receiving a nickname with an emphasis on a Southern California angle. The streets of his beloved Point Loma neighborhood will be adorned with 60 banners, designed by Marcia Lo Vecchio, Frankie's wife. The flags will have a great picture of Frankie Laine with the title, "The Prince of Point Loma," and will be flown on three major streets leading to the Kona Kai. The flags, which went up on March 1st, will fly through March 31st. It's all part of a 100th birthday celebration of a singer who relocated, but never truly retired, to San Diego in 1968. Tickets for the luncheon/concert are $65 per person, and reservations are available via e-mail or snail mail. For e-mail reservations, please include your name, address, number of tickets and your credit card information. A Pay Pal account has been set up if you want to pay via that method. See the "Order Link" below. To send your reservation via snail mail, you can make your check, money order (U.S. dollars) payable to JFM/Frankie Laine, 340 Andrew Ave. Encinitas, CA 92024. On the memo line, write Frankie Laine's 100th celebration. For more details, call (760) 943-9911, or e-mail to [email protected]

Cousin Claire is more than a little disappointed, and ashamed, that Las Vegas has never honored Frankie Laine, especially with this long history in this city. With his contribution to the local musicians union in 1998, we had hoped they would get-together to pay tribute to the entertainer in some way. Although we tried to make that happen, we did not receive the support we should have gotten. The fact that Mr. Laine was never inducted into the Casino Legends Hall of Fame when it was at the Tropicana, is an embarrassment. In 2004, the last year the induction ceremony was held, the honorees were Jack Jones, Patti Page, Debbie Reynolds, Tempest Storm, Ben Vereen and Sheena Easton. Sheena Easton? A good singer, but a Las Vegas legend? We think not. Perhaps, we can rename a little street, somewhere around the Strip, after Old Leather Lungs, and call it Frankie Lane.
Incidentally, the legendary Ms. Easton performs at the South Point, this weekend on Saturday and Sunday.

Sheena Easton

Wes Winters

And speaking of the South Point, WW is feeling the results of MM. Because of March Madness, entertainer Wes Winters will not be performing at the South Point for this weekend's regularly scheduled Friday and Saturday shows in the GrandView Lounge. The versatile Mr. Winters returns to the 88 keys, and his 6 to 9 p.m. South Point schedule, next weekend, March 29th and 30th. There is no cover charge for these shows, and dancing is encouraged. Get to the GrandView early, as the place fills up very quickly. We are told that March Madness involves basketball - morning, noon and night. Who knew. If you can't wait until next weekend, or you live in the Summerlin area, Wes Winters performs in the Rampart Casino Resort's 75-seat Addison's Lounge with his One-Man-Lounge-Show, Tuesday nights from 6 to 9. Admission is free, and a dance floor is available. Watch the show, or be the show. Check out Winters in the southeast part of the city, or in the northwest.

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If you need some laughs, want to get out of the house, but don't have a Cirque du Anything budget, do we have a deal for you. The Riviera Casino & Hotel's search for its next comic headliner has reached the semifinal level, as 16 people from around the country have been selected out of 226 entries, to compete in four events beginning Saturday, March 23rd. All comedians, both amateur and professional, were asked to submit a 3-5 minute video, with the winner earning a one-week headlining gig at the iconic Riviera Comedy Club. Four comedians will perform per night on March rd and 30th, April 6th and 13th at 10 p.m. One winner from each semifinal will compete in the finale on Saturday, April 20th, to coincide with the 58th Anniversary of the opening of the Riviera Casino & Hotel. All of these competitions are open to the public and free to attend. The four semifinalists that will take the stage on Saturday, March 23rd, are:
Alycia Cooper from Temple Hill, MD; Chad Haskell from North Las Vegas, NV; Mike Merrill from Panorama City, CA; and Doug Stone from Des Moines, IA (Lineup subject to change based on availability). "This search was intended to provide an opportunity for a comedian, whether up-and-coming or a seasoned veteran, to headline on the Las Vegas Strip," says Mark Massimino, director of entertainment at Riviera Casino & Hotel. "We are thrilled with the amount of submissions we received and while narrowing it down to 16 was a difficult task, we feel that these semifinalists each have what it takes to be in the spotlight at Riviera Comedy Club." For more information, visit

Alycia Cooper

Faith Prince

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An Evening with Faith Prince and Jason Graae - The Prince and the Showboy, takes place in The Smith Center's Cabaret Jazz, next weekend, Friday, March 29th and Saturday, the 30th, with both performances at 7 p.m. The Prince and the Showboy unites Tony Award-winner, Faith Prince, and L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award-winner, Jason Graae, in a delightful evening of song. Veterans of 13 Broadway shows between them, this pair takes to the concert stage singing their most requested and memorable Broadway numbers. The show features a heartfelt tribute to Broadway legend, Jerry Herman, who has been a significant influence on each of them, both personally and professionally. Join Prince and Graae, two of Broadway's finest (and funniest) performers, for an evening you won't soon forget. The San Francisco Chronicle recently called them "the Steve and Eydie of the 21st Century!" Tickets are $39 and $49. To purchase, call the Smith Center Box Office at (702) 749-2000, or buy them at the Performing Arts Center, 361 Symphony Park Avenue in downtown Las Vegas. Don't miss this one. See you there!

Jason Graae

Lon Bronson

The Lon Bronson Band begins, what we hope will be, a long run on Friday nights at Boulder Station. If you are reading this early enough, check out their inaugural Friday night at the incredible Railhead Showroom inside Boulder Station, tonight. March 22nd. Downbeat for the popular big band, is 9 p.m.

Tomorrow, Saturday, March 23rd, is your last chance to see the official Las Vegas premiere of the Tony Award-winning musical, Next to Normal. Show time at the Onyx Theatre is 8 p.m. Next to Normal is a raw, authentic rock musical chronicling the effect of mental illness on a mother and her entire family. With provocative lyrics and a thrilling score, this musical shows how far two parents will go to keep themselves sane and their family's world intact. Ben Brantley, of the New York Times, wrote, "No show on Broadway has made as direct a grab for the heart - or wrings it as thoroughly - as 'Next to Normal' does. This brave, breathtaking musical ... focuses squarely on the pain that cripples the members of a suburban family, and never for a minute does it let you escape the anguish at the core of their lives." Next to Normal, by Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt, was winner of a 2010 Pulitzer Prize, and in 2009, won three Tony Awards, out of 11 nominations, including that for Best Orchestration and Best Original Score. The Onyx version of Next to Normal is a Huntsman Entertainment/Off-Strip Co-Production. Tickets are $25. Call (702) 732-7225 for reservations. The Onyx Theatre is located at 953 E Sahara Ave #16, inside the Commercial Center's Rack clothing store.

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From singer/actress Rebecca Spencer, who winds up her role as Madame Giry in the Seoul, Korea, production of Phantom of the Opera in just a few days, comes this information, along with the accompanying photo. Rebecca played Madame Giry in Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular, prior to joining the Korean touring company. Received this e-mail earlier on Friday...
With just 5 days left to go in Seoul...Proud to have just posted this photo on my Timeline! Such an honor to have been introduced to two principle cast members of the all Korean Phantom of the Opera Cast that performed in the 2010 - 2011 Seoul Season. Fun that they actually had texted my Korean dresser, June. at intermission to see if they could meet me after the matinee in my dressing room as they were attending a matinee performance of Phantom here in Seoul. (In the photo) On my left, the lovely Yoon Ena who played Carlotta. She shared that she had received her Masters from Manhattan School of Music in Opera. On my right, the lovely actress Kim Ki Soon who played Madame Giry. Coincidentally, she had just closed the all Korean production of Jekyll and Hyde, here in Seoul. She was thrilled from reading my bio in the program that I was an original collaborator and original B'way cast member of Jekyll! Both shows so significant in my career journey. We had a wonderful visit in my dressing room that day. Loved that show folk showed up for each other and they were so enthusiastic of my performance! It does not get any better than this. Such an international rich experience. Here's to life!
Early next week, Becky heads back home to the United States, and her patiently waiting hubby, Jim D'Asaro. She will see her new Southern California residence for the first time.

Phantom's Yoon Ena, Rebecca Spencer, Kim Ki Soon

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In 2007, JR e-mailed from Austin, Texas, wanting to know the whereabouts of singer/Frank Sinatra tribute artist, Bobby Barrett. Last Saturday, we got another inquiry about Mr. Barrett.
JS, from Litchfield Park, AZ, wrote, "My husband & I were very impressed with Bobby Barrett's impersonation of Sinatra a few years ago! Does he still entertain? If (he) is still entertaining--where & when?" What we learned in 2007, JS, was that Mr. Barrett, had been suffering some serious voice issues, was no longer performing, and, like you, was living in Arizona. If any readers have additional, more current, information about Bobby Barrett, please contact Cousin Claire, and we will print it.

Bobby Barrett

From Grant Philipo Costume Collection

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Donn Arden's Hallelujah Hollywood! Free Reunion will take place on Sunday, April 7th, beginning at 7 p.m., at Grant Philipo's Las Vegas Showgirl Museum. This is NOT to be confused with the $ 125 per person event taking place at Bally's. This is a FREE get together, with FREE beverages and snacks. People who were a part of Donn Arden's Hallelujah Hollywood! - cast and crew - along with their guests, are welcome to attend. In 1999, then entertainment columnist Michael Paskevich wrote in the Las Vegas Review-Journal...
Donn Arden didn't invent topless showgirls parading sensually wearing heavy feathered headdresses, glittering costumes and omnipresent smiles. He was not the first in showbiz to employ quirky novelty acts, handsome lead singers and winsome chorus dancers, then surround them with massive stage sets and mind-boggling special effects. But the late producer was certainly the first to fuse these elements into such creative, over-the-top presentations that would become known worldwide as Las Vegas showroom spectaculars. His flair for blending beauty and good old song-and-dance, with amazing re-stagings of disasters such as the sinking of the Titanic and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, earned Arden the titles of king of the modern production show and the "Master of Disaster." And his impact is still felt today, nearly five years after his death and almost 50 years since Arden's showgirls and boys performed with headlining ventriloquist Edgar Bergen (with dummy Charlie McCarthy), and singer Vivian Blaine, at the April 24, 1950, opening of Wilbur Clark's Desert Inn. Somewhere, a Donn Arden show has been running ever since. The MGM Grand's Ziegfeld Room, where Arden's lavish production was performed, had the largest stage and largest backstage area in the world. Hallelujah Hollywood! was to be Arden's biggest extravaganza yet - a $3 million tribute to classic MGM Hollywood musicals. Hallelujah Hollywood! opened in 1974 and ran until 1980. The extravaganza included magicians Siegfried and Roy, who had also starred in Arden's later Lido shows at the Stardust. The costumes were designed by Ray Aghayan and Bob Mackie. The Hallelujah Hollywood! flamboyant finale was a tribute to the Ziegfeld Follies, featuring The Grand Stairway and The Great Ziegfeld Walk. It was also the show playing when the MGM Grand had its major fire in November 1980. When the hotel re-opened, it was called Bally's. Some of Grant Philipo's fabulous Hallelujah Hollywood! Costume Collection will be on display in his 7,000 square foot home. Hallelujah Hollywood! opened 39 years ago and has never had a cast and crew reunion until now. So far, among those who are expected to attend the Donn Arden Hallelujah Hollywood! reunion at the Philipo mansion are Laura Goodsell, Bic Carrol, Dany Broussier, Debbie Sikirica-Fernandez, Jerry Dixon, Diana Saunders, Lynn de Souza, Renee' Brunnmeier, Dolly Kelepecz, Jakki Ford, Jeffrey Adair, Cindy Miles, Suzan Hiett Rawlings, Alison Kravenko-Johnson, Suzanne Saxe-Picozzi, Rusty Taylor Feurer, Maureen Owen, Pamela Schneider, Gaya Trombley, Carl and Henriette Lindstrom, Deborah Murowski, and Lisa Gioia-Acres. And on the "we're hoping to be there" list are, Nikki Adamo Schwebel, David-Paul Shapiro, Allison Pickering, Deirdre Cline-Johnson, and Theodore Powell. The list is expected to grow over the next couple of weeks. If you want to join your friends and fellow Hallelujah Hollywood! cast members for an evening of fun and shared memories, contact Grant to RSVP (he needs a head count), for more info, and for the address and directions to the estate. E-mail to [email protected].

Hallelujah Hollywood! Costume

Bob Mackie

And speaking of singing and dancing, it has been announced that the annual Tony Awards is heading back to Radio City Music Hall. Mark Kennedy, AP Drama Writer, reports that the Tony Awards are going back to the home of the Rockettes. Kennedy writes, "The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, joint producers of the show that honors the best of Broadway, said Monday that the glittery event will be broadcast live by CBS from Radio City Music Hall on June 9. Producers of the show were forced to find a new home for the 2011 event after Cirque du Soleil moved into the 6,000-seat Rockefeller Center arena with its $50 million acrobatic rock opera "Zarkana." The Tonys had been hosted at Radio City from 1997-2010. For the past two years, the Tonys were handed out at the Beacon Theater on Manhattan's Upper West Side. The venue was much smaller, having only about 2,870 seats, leading to ticket rationing and a struggle to seat the often large amount of show producers. The decision to return to Radio City, where the Grammy Awards, MTV Video Music Awards and the ESPY Awards have previously been hosted, was made easier when "Zarkana" left after the summer. The Tonys, which consistently win Emmys for their presentation, began being televised in 1967 and a different Broadway theater -- the biggest, the Gershwin Theatre, has about 1,900 seats -- rotated as host each year. Producers often just added a glittery drop and brought in a few props. That all changed when Radio City became the home for the telecast, giving producers access to a massive arena that had a stage bigger than any Broadway house and space to grow into an annual spectacle. Last year's telecast from the intimate Beacon was hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, and "Once" was crowned as Best Musical. The broadcast was seen by 6 million viewers, down significantly from 2011's 6.9 million. It was also the second-lowest ratings for the Tony Awards since 1988, though it was up against the season finale of AMC's Mad Men." Mark your calendars, all you musical theater lovers, and set your recording devices. Once again, the date for the broadcast is Sunday, June 9th.

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Even though he won't be here until Friday, May 3rd, tickets for Tony Bennett in Concert are already on sale. The Grammy® Lifetime Achievement Award-winner will perform in Celine Dion‘s home, The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, with one show at 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $196, $136, $96 and $59.50 (all prices include 10% Live Entertainment Tax). Orders are subject to additional service charges and fees. Tickets may be purchased in person at The Colosseum Box Office, by calling 1-888-9-AXS-TIX (1-888-929-7849), or online by visiting or, keyword "Tony Bennett."

Tony Bennett

Bellagio Conservatory Dressed For Spring

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It's beautiful, it's free, and it's available for viewing and photographing, 24/7 through May 11th. We are referring to the incredible spring display at the Bellagio's Conservatory & Botanical Garden. Brilliance abounds inside the breathtaking Conservatory & Botanical Gardens. The attention to detail is astounding. The passionate display of nature in all its awe-evoking glory - quite simply, sensational! Let your imagination wander as you assume a leisurely stroll amongst rare natural finds selected distinctively for Bellagio from all over the world. Admire the essence of every season recreated with exceptionally gorgeous plants, flowers and trees thoughtfully arranged to inspire full splendor. Specially designed lighting spotlights every flower to accentuate its best features. To ensure the Conservatory & Botanical Gardens maintains magnificence 365 days a year, 140 expert horticulturists theatrically arrange gazebos, bridges, ponds, and water features uniquely for each season. Treat yourself to this unrivaled attraction's ever changing personality for the Holidays, Chinese New Year, spring, summer, and fall! In celebration of spring, the display features a greenhouse inhabited by more than 800 live butterflies, a life-size windmill and vibrant displays of more than 8,200 flowers. The assortment of butterfly species on display originates from several countries around the world including Costa Rica, the Philippines and Kenya and others. If you are in Las Vegas, don't miss the experience.

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Impressionist Rich Little continues his Jimmy Stewart & Friends show in the Shimmer Cabaret at the LVH (formerly the Las Vegas Hilton), but with a revised schedule. See and hear the man of many voices bring Jimmy Stewart, along with some of his pals, including George Burns, John Wayne and Cary Grant, to life in performances at 8:30 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. Tickets are $63.90 and $73.90 (locals get 2 for 1). For show reservations, call (702) 732-5755.

Rich Little

Larry Liso

Also at the LVH, RagTag Entertainment presents Guys and Dolls in the 1,700-seat theater, next Friday, March 29th at 8 p.m. Guys and Dolls, the 1951 Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway musical, stars Lou De Meis as Nathan Detroit, Robin Vincent as Miss Adelaide, and real-life couple, Ayler Evan and Amanda Kaiser, as Sky Masterson and Sarah Brown. Bally's Jubilee! dancers will bring the Hot Box Girls to life. Musical Director, Bill Fayne, will bring his vast knowledge and love of musical theatre to the production, featuring the well-known Frank Loesser classics including "Luck Be a Lady," "Adelaide's Lament," "More I Cannot Wish You," "Take Back Your Mink," and the show-stopping "Sit Down You're Rocking the Boat." Tickets are $25 to $40, and proceeds help support Twinkle Toez Foundation and Beyond Sight. For tickets, call the LVH (formerly the Las Vegas Hilton) at (888) 732-7117 or (702) 732-5111.

And, while you are at the property, formerly known as the International and then the Las Vegas Hilton, check out the Burger Bistro. It is the newest restaurant to join LVH's outstanding dining lineup. Spicing up traditional American fare, Burger Bistro raises the classic burger joint to new heights with an array of meat options, delicious sides and a variety of appetizers. Using only the freshest ingredients, the menu features six different burger types to choose from, including Angus beef, California lamb, yellow tail tuna, turkey breast, lump and black fin crab and kosher vegetarian. Customers can choose from a plethora of mouthwatering burger toppings ranging from special bistro sauce to foie gras terrine with sweet apples. French fries are made from giant Idaho potatoes, cut fresh and fried to order, served skinny or thick, with the customer's choice of natural, truffle or parmesan garlic. The menu also includes tasty salad options, fried sweet hot house pickles, fajita nachos and jalapeno poppers. A fine selection of wines and 30 types of beers are also available. Burger Bistro hours of operation are from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Note: Burger Bistro is a non-smoking restaurant.

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Also making music, from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. on Fridays, albeit a bit different than the Big Band at Boulder, is Larry Liso, singing at the beautiful La Scala Restaurant. La Scala has been sharing its food and rich traditions with Las Vegans, tourists, and famous celebrities, for more than 40 years. The quaint Italian restaurant was originally owned by Joe Pignatello, Frank Sinatra's personal Las Vegas Chef. Many of the original La Scala recipes, enjoyed by the man himself, are still being served today. Experience fine dining, fine company, and white glove service in a romantic atmosphere while listening to standards sung by one the stars of Shades of Sinatra, Larry Liso. La Scala Restaurant is located just off the Las Vegas Strip, on Desert Inn Road, east of the Convention Center in the Mark I Towers. For reservations and information, please call (702) 699-9980.

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News from Norm Johnson...Drivers. Start your engines! It's that time of the year again, when the adrenalin in fans of auto racing begins to flow in anticipation of the odor of high-test fuel in the air, the noise of 800 plus horsepower motors shaking the earth beneath ones feet, and the Boys of Thunder begin coming alive once again. Yep, gang, it's time for "racin.'" There is, for example, NASCAR and its biggie, the Daytona 500, which set historic records last weekend. Indy Racing League has its biggie in May, the Indy 500. Road Racing has a couple of biggies, the already raced Rolex 24 Hour being its true biggie. The Silver State Open Road Races has two biggies. Now they are major events. There is no question about that! However, there is one race that is bigger than all of them combined in entries and, just maybe in prestige if you just finish the race, and that is the World Famous Mint 400 Off-Road Race, which will be held in Las Vegas through Sunday. The Indy 500 has 33 open wheel race cars that take the starting flag. The Daytona 500 has 43 race cars hit the start line. The Rolex, held every year at Daytona, may have as many as 50 cars in various classes competing. The Silver State Classic Open Road event, over the years, has had as many as 240 cars run down Nevada State Highway 318 for 90 miles (with the fastest going well over 205 mph). And then there is the Mint! A few years back, in its prime, there were more than 400 special built off-road race cars, trucks, and buggies entered, with less than 24% actually finishing. The Mint 400, which local writer and promoter, Mr. Johnson, created in 1968, raced across the desert for 22 years, before it was shut down when the Mint Hotel/Casino was sold. The new ownership felt it was no longer a viable promotion. Thus, the race sat quietly for nearly 20 years, when a group of Las Vegas off-road enthusiasts got together with a major sponsor, General Tire, and the Mint 400 returned in 2008. Three years later (after the 2011 race), Matt and Josh Martelli, of Mad Media, approached the group with an offer to purchase the race. The off-road group took the money and walked away. In 2012, The Martelli brothers, under their umbrella company Mad Media (a television production company), immediately began the job of returning the famous race to its "Glory Days." They approached veteran off-road race promoter, Casey Folks (who competed in the original Mint 400s on motorcycles), to include the Mint 400 as part of his "Best in the Desert" off-road race series. They then asked writer Johnson, to come aboard as a consultant for the event. Mel Larson, who took over as race director from 1970 through 1975, was named the Grand Marshall for the 2012 event. Many new side-bar promotions were created for the return of the Great American Off-Road Race, including the return of the Miss Mint 400 contest. The 2012 race had 321 entrants, and this year's Mint 400 is expected to surpass that number.

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Platinum-selling, award-winning world guitarist, Jesse Cook, returns to the Henderson Pavilion, 200 S. Green Valley Parkway, where he will perform for fans, Friday, March 29th at 8 p.m. Cook's appearance comes on the heels of the fall release of his eighth studio album, The Blue Guitar Sessions. After embarking on a worldwide 2012 tour to support his latest accomplishment, beginning in Europe and following it up with a 20-city concert schedule in his home country, the Canadian resident is celebrating with a 60-date U.S. tour, including a stop in Henderson. The Blue Guitar Sessions is much different from his previous works. The guitar virtuoso steered clear of any rhythms or tunes resembling rumba flamenco. Instead, Cook focused more on the music, recreating a sound inspired by Miles Davis, while showcasing individual musicians, their talents and contributions to the record. "It's a big departure from the work I've done in the past," said Cook about his new album. "I feel the role of an artist is to change, to constantly push forward and try and come up with something new." Local audiences are going to be captivated by Cook's new live show. The seasoned musician is incorporating new material from The Blue Guitar Sessions, along with a number of his more well-known songs, which allows Cook's charismatic blend of fiery, passionate guitar work and international rhythms to shine. Tickets are $10 for general admission, and $20 for premium seating. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit, call (702) 267-4TIX (4849) or the Henderson Pavilion Box Office, Tuesday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The city of Henderson supports the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Advanced notice may be necessary to ensure that appropriate accommodations will be provided. For full telephone, use Relay Nevada by dialing 7-1-1. Incorporated in 1953, Henderson is Nevada's second largest city with more than 268,000 residents. Henderson is a premier city, nationally recognized for its stunning parks, trails, master-planned communities and outstanding quality of life. Recognized as one of America's Best Places to Live (MONEY, 2012, 2008, 2006), one of America's Best Cities (Business Week), and the Second Safest City in America (Forbes), Henderson is a progressive and vibrant city committed to maintaining premier amenities and services for all who chose to live and work in Henderson...a place to call home.

Jesse Cook

Bethany Owen

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The Palms Casino in Las Vegas presents voice impressionist, Bethany Owen, in her hit one-woman show, One Voice, Thursday, March 28th at 3 p.m. Doors to The Lounge Showroom open at 2:30. Admission is free for Palms Casino Sterling Advantage Club Members. All those people on one stage, in one show. Don't miss the talented Ms. Owen and her cast of many.

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