Erik Kabik / Retna / ErikKabik.com
Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016 | 5:08 p.m.
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On this week’s show, John Katsilometes talks with Jerry Lopez, founder of the great Las Vegas band Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns. On Monday, January 11, the band is making its second appearance at Cabaret Jazz at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts— and hopes to play the venue more often in 2016.
The Kats Report Bureau at this writing is the Breakfast Club eatery in the downtown entertainment district of this Southwestern metropolis. The sun shines during 85 percent of the days in this city, and it is shining now as I prep to watch Human Nature perform with the Phoenix Symphony at nearby Symphony Hall.
We’re picking up a road victory with the longtime headliners on the Strip, most recently at Sands Showroom. If they don’t announce a return to that venue soon, I might just give up and move here and take up the oboe. If and when they do formalize their new show and schedule, look for a groovy piece in an upcoming issue of Las Vegas Weekly.
Meantime, across the way from this restaurant is Legends Entertainment Plaza, an expanse of arenas, restaurants, retail shops and entertainment venues. The sports venues are Chase Field (home of the Arizona Diamondbacks) and Talking Stick Arena (Phoenix Suns, Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League and Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA).
Such familiar businesses as Tilted Kilt (also find one at the Linq Promenade) and Lucky Strike (find one at the Rio if it is 2006) also are nearby, as is the comedy club Stand Up Live, where Marlon Wayans is headlining this weekend. Another Las Vegas frequenter, Carlos Mencia, is upcoming.
The sense is this scene is what MGM Resorts’ vision of T-Mobile Arena (the T, in short), the Park and the Theater at Monte Carlo will evoke on the west side of the Strip in a couple of years. One-walk shopping for all your tourist needs. Oh, and locals, who will be happy to know that they will still be able to park for free if they pick up an M Life loyalty card, or pull into the Tropicana-Hooters surface lot and hoof it across the Strip.
Some additional news from MGM Resorts’ entertainment center is to follow …
• Billboard is reporting an appearance at T-Mobile by the newly re-formed (if not reformed) Guns N’ Roses this year. Without specifying a date or offering official confirmation, the magazine’s website has reported that GNR will play the arena as part of a U.S. tour after its sets at Coachella on April 16 and April 23.
The band is said to be commanding $3 million per show on that tour, and even more for their appearances at Coachella. The three original members announced are Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan, and that triumvirate has not appeared onstage together since a concert in Buenos Aires in July 1993.
As we know, Rose has fronted the latter-day GNR lineup for two roaring residencies at the Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel, but speculation grew that the originals might reunite when guitarists DJ Ashba and Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal left the band last year.
Slash’s divorce from his wife of 13 years, Perla Hudson, either hastened a truce between Rose and he or delayed a reunion tour, depending on what account you believe. But the reconstituted GNR burned the Joint in their two stints at the Hard Rock, and there’s little doubt the band would ring the bell, as it were, at T-Mobile.
• In the audience at the requisitely explosive performance of “Alice — A Steampunk Concert Fantasy” at Brooklyn Bowl on Tuesday night: Wynn Las Vegas entertainment official Louanne Madorma-Williams. She is the original casting director of “Le Reve — the Dream” and also headed up the audition process for “Steve Wynn’s Showstoppers.” Kind of a big deal, in other words.
Madorma-Williams has been on hand for the past two performances of “Alice” at Brooklyn Bowl and has signed production founder Anne Martinez as a swing vocalist for “Showstoppers.” Madorma-Williams might have been on a scouting mission, or not, but also in her party was Alon PR rep Jennifer Dunne, a former Wynn publicist who also worked for Cirque in Las Vegas.
A $4 billion partnership between Australian resort magnate James Packer and former Wynn exec Andrew Pascale, Alon is set to open in mid-2018 has yet to announce an entertainment program, aside from announcing that Jesse Waits will run its nightclub. What is being planned, and with whom, in its multimillion-dollar entertainment venue has long been a source of fascination and speculation among the Las Vegas entertainment community.
• We choose the moment of the opening of the topless revue “X Country” to praise a caustic, middle-aged dude playing an acoustic guitar.
He’s Dennis Blair, and he is way funny. George Carlin’s opening act for something like 25 years, Blair is the only comic I know of who currently performs a rote impression of “Riverdance.” You also can find him playing the six-string and nifty bass with Kenny Davidsen at Davidsen’s Bow Tie Cabaret shows at La Piazza at Tuscany Suites.
Blair is a throwback to the days of Joey Bishop and Jackie Mason, and he performs an inspired impression of Mason (never heard Bishop, but that might be in his arsenal, too). Blair also is a gifted musician and serious songwriter who in December made his debut at the Composers Showcase at Cabaret Jazz. Blair is one of the hidden gems in this town, cropping up at Bootlegger Bistro, the Smith Center and the odd topless revue.
Otherwise, “X Country” at Harrah’s is the latest adult production from Stabile Productions, specifically Matt and Angela Stabile and Angela’s daughter, Tiffany Mondell.
Those three devise these adult shows of dazzling visual velocity and advanced audio modulation. They are sexy, in short, and “X Country” features a seesaw and fully functional shower hauled out to the middle of the Improv Showroom stage. Team Stabile had some fun in its opener Thursday when, during the shower scene (as Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” reverberated through the club), a photo of Caesars Entertainment exec Jason Gastwirth was set on the table in the set.
Some members of the audience had to wonder what all the laughing was about from those who got the joke, and the guy next to me — Gastwirth himself — certainly did. The Stabiles plan to use photos of VIP guests in that scene throughout the show’s run. It’s a dripping-wet scene with some pretty dry humor.
• On the topic of hot adult revues, “Sexxy” at Westgate Las Vegas celebrates its first anniversary Jan. 26.
Also, the show celebrated its anniversary at the hotel Jan. 5.
See, it’s essentially a rolling celebration for the Jennifer Romas-conceived production at Westgate Cabaret. We’ve celebrated Romas’ show throughout its first year, and the show and brand continue to grow. Romas moved into House of Blues at Mandalay Bay on Dec. 11 for a one-off showcase for anyone interested in backing a tour of the show.
The party Jan. 5 was thrown by music entrepreneur and man-on-the-scene Billy Tuchscher at his penthouse atop the hotel’s Sky Tower, which offers a great view of Strip and also the sky.
Westgate owner David Siegel turned up to toast Romas, and she has been the toast of the hotel in many ways since Siegel arrived and gave her a shot to realize a dream in producing a show in a Las Vegas resort. Romas has overcome myriad challenges over the past few years, including a stage accident in “iCandy” at Saxe Theater that nearly ruined her knees and almost torpedoed her career.
But Romas continues to tweak, promote and — remarkably — star in this production. The ice is used as much for her knees as champagne these days, but Romas is worth every toast.