Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Thursday, May 29, 2014 | 10:15 p.m.
This week, longtime Las Vegas performer Lon Bronson, founder of the great Lon Bronson All-Star Band, stops in to talk of his 20-year career in Las Vegas. Later, lounge singer Mark OToole of talks of his battle against Stage 4 non-Hodgkins lymphoma, which he has overcome and made a strong comeback at M Resort.
Kats and the Dish talk to Pop Evolution's David Perrico.
Lon Bronson of the Lon Bronson All-Star Band talks with Kats about the band's upcoming shows at Green Valley Ranch's Ovation.
John Katsilometes and Tricia McCrone talk to Eric Jordan Young, who just left "Vegas! The Show" to be his own headliner.
It’s suddenly a horn-a-copia at Cabaret Jazz in the Smith Center, and if you think that pun is bad, you should hear me play the trombone.
Announcements and missives from big players in town show the programming of local talent in Cabaret Jazz undergoing a bolstering, and soon. The highlights of the Cab Jazz local lineup have been Clint Holmes as the self-titled artist-in-residence (he seems to adopt a British accent when he calls himself that) on the first weekend of each month and Keith Thompson’s monthly Composers Showcase performances.
Thompson led another barn burner Wednesday night, and his shows are regularly selling out far in advance (the June 25 performance is already accelerating to a full house). Holmes returns June 6-8 for his latest effort, which is an update on the Great American Songbook. As in the Next Great American Songbook. Expect some inventive selections and, likely, nothing currently on the pop charts.
Otherwise, let’s unfurl the Cab Jazz highlights over the next few weeks in chronological order (for tickets and related info, hit the Smith Center website):
• Mark OToole, one of our favorite Lounge Lizards (said with love) is putting on a big-band show at 7 p.m. Tuesday, the title of which is “Singin’ With the Big Bands.” This is a major performance for OToole, who has built an avid, and occasionally addled, following in his 25 years of performing in Las Vegas. A few years ago, OToole beat stage IV lymphoma, is in full recovery and singing busily at Rampart Casino and Sunset Station.
Not to be confused with former Frankie Goes to Hollywood bassist Mark O’Toole (who uses an apostrophe in his surname), OToole is to be backed by a nine-piece band at Cabaret Jazz. He is recording this show — which has sold out — on video, hoping to advance his career to bigger rooms and bigger bands.
• Lon Bronson’s All-Star Band is back June 19 for its fourth swing through the Smith Center. Bronson promises an “industrial-strength” All-Star Band, with guest stars. You can still catch Bronson and the crew at Railhead at Boulder Station and at Sunset Station’s Club Madrid, but Bronson’s days as an exclusively free lounge inhabitant are over. Tickets to the 8:30 p.m. gig at Cab Jazz start at $15 — a pittance! A pittance, I tell you!
• Michael Cavanaugh and his “Music of Billy Joel & Elton John” showcase is June 20 (7 p.m.) and June 21 (3 and 7 p.m.). Cavanaugh’s story is one for the books, and scripts, as he was plucked from a gig at New York-New York’s Bar at Times Square, where he was performing the club’s dueling pianos act. One night in 2000, Max Loubiere, who is Joel’s tour manager, caught Cavanaugh’s performance at the bar and promised that he would bring Joel himself to the hotel the next time they were in Vegas. That happened on Valentine’s Day 2001 during the Joel-Elton John co-headlining tour stop at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
The two played together that night creating such chaos that security was summoned to make sure the two performers were not crushed under the mass of fans in the bar. Months later, Joel had a band mate call Cavanaugh to pitch a musical project he’d been working on; the show was called “Movin’ Out” based on Joel’s music. Cavanaugh played more than 1,200 performances beginning in June 2002.
As you might anticipate, Cavanaugh is a terrific singer and musician and has a couple of nifty originals he’ll perform in this show at Cab Jazz. He still makes Las Vegas his home and was a highlight in Wednesday’s Composers Showcase.
• David Perrico’s Pop Evolution has finally, as Perrico says, cracked the code to the Smith Center. Pop Evo, late of the Stratosphere, is scheduled for June 24 at 10 p.m. Tickets are $15 and $30. Pop Evolution has seemed a strong candidate for a performance, or even series, at Cab Jazz for about a year. That’s when Perrico began talking to Smith Center officials about performing in the 244-seat venue.
Perrico soon entered into his run at the Stratosphere, which ended in May, again opening up the possibility of his 20-piece band fronted by vocalist Naomi Mauro playing Cabaret Jazz. Ideally, Pop Evo will land every couple of months at the Smith Center, in rotation with other powerhouse Las Vegas acts.
• Eric Jordan Young, or as the hep cats refer to him, “EJY,” is at Cab Jazz on June 27. The man who played Ernie the custodian in “Vegas! The Show” for four years, EJY is fronting “Once in a Lifetime” showing off his skills as a singer, dancer and actor. He’s a veteran of the Broadway productions of “Ragtime,” “Seussical: The Musical,” “Chicago” and “The Look of Love” and has toured in a tribute to Sammy Davis Jr. titled “Sammy & Me.” EJY also was in the Las Vegas Hilton’s Andrew Lloyd Webber production of “Starlight Express,” joining Reva Rice (with whom he would perform in “Vegas! The Show”) in that cast. Tickets to see one of the best stage performers in town are $29.