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December 22, 2014

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Some true and false pretenses as Lon Bronson’s All-Star Band blasts back into the Smith Center

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The Lon Bronson All-Star Band performs at Ovation at Green Valley Ranch.

Lon Bronson’s All-Star Band at Cabaret Jazz

Lon Bronson's All-Star Band at Caberet Jazz at the Smith Center in March 2014. Launch slideshow »

Lon Bronson once said, “Let’s face it: Everything Chicago recorded in the ’80s sucked, and we can’t be expected to perform the suckage.”

He said this from the stage, and trust me on this: That is not the most barbed comment to be made from the stage by Bronson. Not even close. But it is entirely in character.

One of the great orators — and trumpeters — in all of VegasVille is bringing the Lon Bronson All-Star Band back Thursday night for its fourth show at Cabaret Jazz in the Smith Center. Tickets are $15 for steerage (inside joke, that) and $30 for VIP seating. Hit the Smith Center website for info and a seating chart.

Bronson and the blasting band he describes as “industrial strength” has been performing in Las Vegas for 24 years, from the Riviera to Golden Nugget, Ovation at Green Valley Ranch, M Resort, Boulder Station, Aliante and, if memory serves, the Paddlewheel Inn.

Over the weekend, I asked Bronson for a list of myths or actual fun facts about the All-Stars. We have arrived at this list, in the form of a true-false quiz, about one of Las Vegas’ favorite bands. As they used to say at the Paddlewheel, give it a whirl:

QUESTIONS:

1. Two band members performed semi-nude at the famed Cavern Club in Liverpool, England.

2. One band member worked for the Nixon election campaign.

3. Wayne Brady once sat in with the band when it was playing Le Bistro Theater at the Riv.

4. A band member stalked and confronted Mick Jagger.

5. One member of the band is a working Fonzie (“Happy Days”) impersonator.

6. One of the members of the act is reigning Miss Laughlin.

7. A member of the band is stricken with Pteridophobia.

8. Kenny G was among the guest performers when the band performed at Golden Nugget.

9. A member of the band was a stand-in for the Unknown Comic.

10. A band member once gave President Clinton a sax lesson.

11. Everyone in the band is an avid Civil War re-enactor.

12. Yours truly once appeared onstage with the band while in drag.

13. One member of the band competed in the biathlon in the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy.

14. One of the band members was an English chess champion at age 12.

15. One member of the band has sung backup for more than 50 Elvis impressionists.

ANSWERS:

1. True: Jimmy McIntosh and Bronson sat in with a local band, shirtless, while visiting Liverpool on a David Cassidy tour.

2. True: A very young Bronson was paid as a Nixon campaign flier/mailer distributor in New Hampshire for the ’72 Nixon campaign. Bronson was instructed to pull out and destroy any McGovern materials from people’s mailboxes.

3. False: Brady once asked to appear onstage, years ago before he was famous, but Bronson declined because he’d never heard of him.

4. True: Guitarist Jimmy McIntosh followed Jagger’s entourage in Las Vegas for an entire day before somehow getting through Jagger’s security, whereupon he asked for and received a hug from a bemused Jagger.

5. True: Trombonist Neil Maxa is a paid Arthur Fonzarelli impersonator.

6. True: Dancer Aimee Shank was crowned Miss Laughlin 1994, and they never had another pageant. She still reigns.

7. True: Violinist Nina DiGregorio (commonly known as Nina D) has this condition, which is a fear of ferns. Sigmund Freud had it, too.

8. False.

9. True: Drummer Mark Barrett was a stand-in for Murray Langston, aka the Unknown Comic, for press appearance, conducting interviews and signing autographs. He wore the paper bag over his head and the same suit as Langston.

10. True: Saxophonist Rob Stone gave Clinton a saxophone lesson, in 2006, after Clinton left office.

11. False.

12. True: I read a Top 10 List, in full drag, with the band (also in drag) onstage at the Stratosphere for the in-drag Showbiz Roast of Frank Marino.

13. False.

14. True: U.K.-born keyboardist Rob Cooke was a county chess champion at age 12. He recently became a U.S. citizen.

15.True: Singer Lisa Mayer has performed with more than 50 Elvis impersonators — and counting.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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