Monday, Feb. 23, 2009 | 7:42 p.m.
A quick quiz about the a capella group Mosaic, which warbled and crooned their way into our hearts on Saturday night at the Las Vegas Hilton Theater:
Which song or songs did Mosaic sing, never backed by instrumentation of any kind, during the 90-minute set?
1. “Shining Star,” by Earth, Wind & Fire.
2. “Those Were the Days,” the theme from “All in the Family."
3. “Take 5,” by Dave Brubeck.
4. “Vecchia Zimarra,” from “La Boheme.”
5. “Mah Nah Mah Nah,” from “Sesame Street” and “The Muppet Show.”
6. All of the above.
7. All of the above, except for, “Mah Nah Mah Nah.”
If you guessed, “7,” you’re on it. The six-pack of audibly dexterous young guys put on a remarkably entertaining performance on Saturday night, belting out a vast array of music that is typically accompanied by at least a backing band, and in many instances an entire orchestra. But Mosaic proudly goes vocally full monty, using only what God gave ’em. In an era when you can’t be sure just who is singing what, if at all, you have to applaud the integrity of that artistically organic approach. You might not want them baby-sitting your kids, but they were a real kick in the arse to watch as they rambled, quasi-choreographed, around the largely barren Hilton stage. They look great, though they seem to be dressed in whatever’s hanging on the hamper, donning in mismatching jeans and vests and jackets covering embroidered shirts. I was never close to being bored, and the performance soared by as I found myself guessing at what song they would attack next. I had to laugh at a sextet of 30-or-so's diving into “The Name Game” from 1964, then shifting radically into Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” Gershwin’s “Summertime,” was soon overtaken by a machine-gun medley of TV theme songs: “Laverne & Shirley,” “All in the Family,” “Three’s Company,” “The Love Boat,” and “The Brady Bunch.” (On that last number a woman was asked to join the guys onstage to help fill out a tick-tack-toe board with Hillary Clinton’s face in Alice’s spot, and the individual summoned was the torridly blond Leslie Frisbee of Las Vegas Magazine.)
Mosaic does the Oscars
All of the guys had a chance to shine; Mosaic has no true front man, and the crew’s ethnic mix crosses seemingly every ethnicity. Remember the names Josh Huslig, Heath Burgett, Troy Dolendo, Sean Gerrity, John Gibson and Corwyn Hodge. They’re opening for George Wallace at the Flamingo now, but they might be ready to take off. They sang through the TV Guide channel’s Oscar coverage on Sunday night (see the accompanying YouTube clip), and they sure looked at home in that big theater.
The right notes: Weird coincidence, that Wallace and local variety-show icon and noted crooner Dennis Bono were wearing the exact same black-beanie caps. … Bono was there with his wife (also a noted crooner, and a restaurant owner, and a former lieutenant governor) Lorraine Hunt Bono. … Applauding with great effort was one of my favorite Vegas voices (and a pretty fair photographer), Bobby Black of the Las Vegas Tenors. … As I watched the unique Mosaic performance, I thought of the wide variety of shows I’ve seen over the years at the Hilton, including “Buddy,” the Buddy Holly musical; Reba McEntire, Wayne Newton (with special guest, Delisco); Terry Fator (with snappy opening act Bobby Badfingers), the Las Vegas Tenors, and “RockShow” by the guys from Yellow Brick Road. … For the first time, I think, ever, Ira David Sternberg missed sending his Las Vegas Notebook on Sunday. He’s OK, just a muscle pull or nerve thing that has him out for a few days. That guy has some nerve (ka-POW, baby). … You know a good way to get someone’s attention on the gaming floor? Glare at the roulette wheel and scream, “Two! I need a 2! Come on 2!” A guy did this after the show and heads were turning from tables all across the casino. ... Mosaic has one of the great Web addressees, notaboyband.com.