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November 1, 2014

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‘Million Dollar Quartet’ star Martin Kaye: Nine attractions that I love in Las Vegas

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L.E. Baskow

Martin Kaye portrays Jerry Lee Lewis in “Million Dollar Quartet” on Tuesday, April 22, 2014, at Harrah’s.

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Rehearsal for 'Million Dollar Quartet'

Tyler Hunter, center, performs as Elvis Presley during a rehearsal for Launch slideshow »

'Million Dollar Quartet' at Reynolds Hall

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As Robin Leach ends his annual summer vacation under the Tuscan sun in Italy, many of our Strip personalities have again stepped forward in his absence to pen their own words of wisdom. As Robin gets ready to pick up pen, notepad and tape recorder to resume his Strip coverage, we continue today with “Million Dollar Quartet” at Harrah’s stars Martin Kaye, Felicia Garcia and Benjamin D. Hale. Here’s Martin.

Ah, Las Vegas. I still can’t believe that I live here.

Only four years ago, I was plying my trade around the world on cruise ships merely dreaming of hitting a big stage like the one on which I currently have the honor of performing at Harrah’s. I’m grateful to be here, and not just because of the realization of a dream.

I’m grateful because Las Vegas truly is a fantastic place to live. Here are nine reasons why:

Lake Las Vegas

There are some who hold the view that nature is better than man-made, but, in this case, man did well. Stunning views, beautiful resort hotels, golf courses and a quaint little village. Five years to the day after meeting my wife on a ship in the Atlantic Ocean, we went back on a boat — a gondola — on Lake Las Vegas to celebrate. Perfection.

Skydiving

For my 30th birthday, my wife surprised me and drove me to Boulder City — to go skydiving! Yep. I jumped out of an actual plane that was in the actual air (15,000 feet high, to be precise). Am I crazy? Perhaps, but that’s neither here nor there. It. Was. Mind-Blowingly. Incredible. Free falling toward Lake Mead and Southern Nevada desert mountains is an experience I can’t even find the words to describe.

Hiking

Speaking of mountains, I’ve discovered a new love: Bounding up and down rock faces. We live about 10 minutes from Red Rock Canyon, and every time it’s an absolute joy to literally drive out of civilization and into nothing except serenity and nature at its finest.

Grouchy John’s

Wherever we go, we always search out the best local coffee shops, and Las Vegas is no exception. Our favorite is Grouchy John’s on Maryland Parkway and Wigwam. Great drinks, games, owners and chairs. The fact that it’s on the other side of town from us should indicate how much we love it.

Vegan restaurants

Plant-based diets can prove to be challenging in some U.S. cities, but there are little gems here in this multicultural melting pot. Veggie House, Red Velvet, Pura Vida, any Wynn restaurant and some vegetarian places that also are vegan-friendly, like Merkato Ethiopian — oh, sweet mother. We don’t suffer.

Farmers markets

That being said, we’ve found that delicious, not-trying-to-be-healthy vegan desserts are hard to come by, so my wife decided to open a business that sells exactly that. She slaves away in the kitchen every day baking seriously tasty treats for anyone who frequents the diverse and top-quality Fresh 52 farmers markets at Tivoli Village and Sansone Park Place every weekend. Check out Bite Vegan Bakery (shameless plug).

The Composers Showcase

Keith Thompson, musical director of “Jersey Boys” at Paris Las Vegas, hosts a truly inspiring evening once a month at Cabaret Jazz in the Smith Center. Artists from across the Strip and beyond come here to perform their original material, and it’s hands down one of the best nights of the month whether you’re performing or watching.

Mac King

Whenever we have friends in town, there is one show we always take them to see. There’s a reason why Mac King has been here for 13 years. It’s top-quality magic and LOL funny every time.

‘Million Dollar Quartet’

And on that same Harrah’s Showroom stage is where I now ply my trade. Six nights a week, I don a Jerry Lee Lewis wig, put on my best Louisiana accent and play piano and sing with some of the best musicians I’ve ever played with in my career.

“Million Dollar Quartet” has taken me around this wonderful country, and now it allows me the opportunity to enjoy living in this fantastic city. I couldn’t be happier than I am right now.

Be sure to read our other “Million Dollar Quartet” star guest columns today from Felicia Garcia and Benjamin D. Hale. On Tuesday, it’s time for the Venetian’s “Rock of Ages” stars Mark Shunock, Tiffany Engen, Becca Korte and Justin Mortelliti.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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