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October 20, 2019

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Bill Medley totally righteous at Composers Showcase; Penn Jillette’s latest book to diet for

Bill Medley

Ira Kuzma

Bill Medley of The Righteous Brothers performs during the Composers Showcase at Cabaret Jazz on Wednesday, May 25, 2016, in the Smith Center for the Performing Arts.

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The Righteous Brothers featuring Bill Medley, right, with Bucky Heard.

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The Righteous Brothers — Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield — at the Riviera on Sept. 4, 1975, on the Las Vegas Strip.

The Kats Report Bureau once again was ensconced at the Composers Showcase on Wednesday night, and it was a genuine Hall of Fame experience.

For the first time, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame performed an original song. He would be the incomparable Bill Medley, who simply leveled Cabaret Jazz with the uber-bluesy “The Last Time,” punctuated by the lyric, “This will be the last time you see me cry!”

I get chills even thinking about that performance, highlighted by a searing guitar solo from John Wedemeyer, who is a member of The Righteous Brothers show at Harrah’s. Newly minted R.B. member Bucky Heard also was, um, heard from Wednesday at Cab Jazz.

Also taking the stage in a typically talent-loaded Composers Showcase lineup was Elisa Fiorillo, the longtime backing vocalist for Prince. She delivered “Staring Back at You,” co-written by Prince, as a teaser to her upcoming performance with The Bruce Harper Big Band tonight at that very venue.

In all, the level of aptitude in that room prompted series co-founder Keith Thompson to say, “New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Nashville can suck it. I’m serious!”

Keep in mind, it was National Wine Day, and Thompson is a connoisseur — an effusively opinionated connoisseur, typically.

The next Showcase is Aug. 10 because Thompson will be busy working on “Idaho! A Comedy Musical” set to run July 6-17 at nearby Reynolds Hall. The show will have a lot of (ready for it) a-peel (ba-zing!).

More from the scene:

• Penn Jillette’s latest book is an exercise in light reading, and, yes, that pun is intentional. The title is “Presto,” and recipe for intrigue here is Jillette’s 100-pound weight loss (the subtitle is “How I Made More Than 100 Pounds Magically Disappear and Other Big Fat Tales”).

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Penn Jillette attends the 10th anniversary celebration for Carrot Top on Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015, at Luxor.

During his show Monday night, Gillette announced his weight to be 234 pounds, where it has remained steadily for more than a year since he dropped from a high of about 320 — though Jillette says he’s weighed more than that, as “you never weigh yourself at your heaviest.”

Jillette is to take the stage tonight with Lon Bronson’s All-Star Band during Bronson’s tribute to David Bowie at Cabaret Jazz.

This show is sold out; Bronson has been a consistently hot ticket over his 14 performances in the little room at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts.

In other news on the Bronson front, The All-Star Band has extended its twice-monthly residency at Club Madrid at Sunset Station, performing the first and third Thursdays of the month. The admission is ridiculous, and by “ridiculous,” I mean free.

And to sprinkle some fairy dust on this note, Bronson is working with Melody Sweets of “Absinthe” on Sweets’ upcoming album, covering the Alice Cooper gem “Is it My Body.” Bronson reports that work commences at 11th Street Records in downtown Las Vegas next week.

• It was a moment of nostalgia and great music Thursday at Frankie Moreno’s “Under the Influence” production at Planet Hollywood.

His longtime friend and sometime writing partner Graham Russell of Air Supply stopped in for a quick set during the acoustic section of the show. Russell and Moreno bookended the set with “All Out of Love” and “Lost in Love,” and added “Dance With Me” (a Russell-Moreno composition) and Russell’s “Son of the Father.”

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Graham Russell of Air Supply joins Frankie Moreno at Planet Hollywood on Thursday, May 26, 2016.

For those with even so-so memories of Rush Lounge at Golden Nugget, Russell was a frequent guest during those shows and, the difference Thursday was nobody in the audience was tossed for fighting.

• A couple of talented name-checks for the production of “Dreamgirls,” set for 1 p.m. Saturday at Reynolds Hall at the Smith Center. “Jersey Boys” at Paris Las Vegas star Travis Cloer and Emmy Award-winning set designer Andy Walmsley are involved in the production, with Walmsley doing the set work and Cloer making a quickie cameo.

The musical inspired by The Supremes is a one-off production by Las Vegas company Broadway in the Hood and stars Moya Angela as Effe. Tickets are $34 and $64 and available at

An only-in-Las Vegas moment from Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club on Tuesday night: Garrett held a particularly long post-show summit in his green room at MGM Grand, with Medley joining for some reminiscing about the old days on the Strip.

Garrett introduced Medley from the crowd and noted that he opened for The Righteous Brothers ages ago at the old MGM Grand, when bands were not so apt to give rising comics a shot onstage.

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Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club

Afterward, as the group made their way to the door leading to the Underground promenade, the doorbell to the room went off.

Garrett opened the door to find six 20-somethings — four guys and two girls — in the company of an older Asian gentleman. The kids freaked when they saw Garrett. They had just randomly hit the bell to see if anyone was inside.

So, there were cries of, “Oh my God! It’s him!” and the requisite snapping of selfies.

“We’re partying!” one member of the troupe said, needlessly.

“I see,” Garrett said. “Who’s the Asian guy?”

“He’s taking us to a (strip) club!” was the answer.


Sadly, Medley had already left the room. Too bad. That would have been a photo opp for the ages.

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