Friday, Aug. 28, 2009 | 5:02 p.m.
Not Your Steppin' Stone
The Lon Bronson All-Stars brought their A game Thursday night to the Ovation lounge at Green Valley Ranch.
From a surprise acoustic violin-guitar duo of "Dust in the Wind" to Drew Carey stepping in to sing backup on the Monkees' "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone," it was first-rate, all the way.
Bronson's locally based horn band is known for mixing it up each week, creating a fresh show with a variety of world-class musical guests who regularly perform on the Strip and in the surrounding neighborhood hotel-casinos.
And with his 15-piece band, Bronson puts together complex arrangements at seemingly the drop of a hat.
For example, the band, at the request of longtime friend Carey, turned on the Wayback Machine, cranked the dial to the Hanna-Barbera cartoon adventure world of the 1960s and performed a 5-minute rendition of the Jonny Quest theme song.
The percussion, horns and flute transported the audience back to the sci-fi world of Jonny, his scientist dad and CIA-trained Race Bannon.
The only thing missing were the richoteting bullets off the robot tarantulas and the pterodactyl screams echoing through the vined canyons of the lost jungle.
The band played several signature favorities, including a Who medley and "What is Hip?"
Also, singer/guitarist Buck, who plays with Terry Fator's show on the Strip, gave an inspired, soulful rendition of the Allman Brothers Band's "Whipping Post."
Bronson's band isn't known for going acoustic. But guitarist-vocalist Buck teamed up with Nina DiGregario, who pays lead violinist with Bella Rumore at the M Resort, for a sweet mix of the Kansas hit "Dust in the Wind."
With his loose, laid-back style, Bronson regularly brings in performers from around the Strip, some who come to enjoy the music, others to join him onstage.
For example, he pointed out that soon-to-be Monte Carlo headliner Zowie Bowie's Chris Phillips and Marley Taylor were in the house, over by the bar.
And he brought dancer Jennifer Romas-Ferreira to the mic to talk about making the finals with her husband Mario on NBC's ”America's Got Talent” competition.
But most of Bronson's between-song banter was about his friend Carey, who is in Las Vegas to perform an improv comedy act tonight and Saturday in the Terry Fator Theatre at the Mirage.
The comedian spent much of his evening at a table in the rear of the lounge. But as Bronson performed the final number, he brought the "Price is Right" host to the stage.
With a hat covering up his bottle of beer, Carey backed up lead vocalist Rick Friedman's in "Steppin' Stones." He came in on the chorus with Bronson, as the three dancers fluttered around him.
At the end, Carey flashed a cockeyed grin and saluted the crowd.
Give the former "Who's Line is it Anyway?" host and scorekeeper 50 points for spontaneity. The dancers get 50 points for making him look good. And Bronson gets 100 points for bringing another cool free show to Vegas.