Mo5aic will get Vegas show at last


It took a long time for Mo5aic to open its own show in Las Vegas. But the group at least waited long enough for a cappella to be cool.

Consider what I first wrote about the Las Vegas singers in 2008, when comedian George Wallace used the vocal quintet as a Flamingo opening act. Group leader Josh Huslig talked of a quest to reinvent a cappella singers, whom I called “a theme park breed that runs neck-and-neck with Up With People on the peppy and perky scale.”

But now the group moves into the LVH’s Shimmer Cabaret on Sept. 27, the same weekend Straight No Chaser is doing a fan convention and — count ’em — four concerts at the Palms. Pentatonix and other groups popularized by NBC’s “The Sing-Off” completed the image makeover Huslig says Mo5aic started in 2008 by winning MTV’s “Top Pop Group.”

A producer from that show went on to launch “The Sing Off,” which Huslig doesn’t feel is a coincidence. That TV contest seems to be in network limbo now, possibly returning for the holidays. Huslig says Mo5aic might get on the show as guest performers, but never as contestants because they have been around too long.

“It’s not really unfortunate, it’s just a regret that through our work we created a tremendous vehicle for other groups to come along and use,” he says.

Mo5aic has picked the lower-hanging fruit of cruise ships and corporate gigs instead of entering the fray of trying to sell show tickets on the Strip. But the offer from the LVH — where executives knew them from a showcase performance a few years ago — was well-timed with Mo5aic signing with an official manager, Landon Balding, who brings “a lot of business sense to the project,” Huslig says.

“It kind of allows me to just be creative, which is what I prefer.”

Rick White, who oversees entertainment for the LVH, says the group arrives with “a certain amount of awareness in this town. It just needs to be moved to the next level.” …

Meanwhile, the LVH’s big theater will have angelic harmonies of its own when Jon Anderson, the original voice of Yes, guest stars in “Raiding the Rock Vault” from Friday through Tuesday.

Anderson is the “most iconic so far” of several guest stars who have passed through the show, says John Payne, creator and co-producer of the revue tracing rock history through a house band of veteran players.

Anderson, who turns 69 next month, battled serious health issues in 2008; Yes replaced him and never invited him back. The group has played the Palms twice without him, and Anderson performed solo acoustic shows two years in a row at Green Valley Ranch Resort.

So this is a chance for fans to hear him sing a trio of Yes classics with a full band, and a chance for the “Rock Vault” producers to better promote a guest-star policy that Payne agrees has gone somewhat unexploited.

Past guest stars such as Rainbow’s Joe Lynn Turner and Starship’s Mickey Thomas “gave the show validity,” Payne says. But, he adds, “validity in most cases did not directly convert into ticket sales. At the end of the day, validity doesn’t pay the bills.”

Anderson and Foreigner’s Lou Gramm, next up Oct. 18-22, can push “Vault” more into play with the classic rockers booked for one- or two-nighters at The Orleans or suburban casinos. The trick is to get the word out better through social media or radio, without changing every billboard in town.

“Running a Vegas show is a science,” Payne says he has learned since “Vault” opened in late March. Overall though, he believes “Vault” is building audiences and name recognition.

“We spent six months raising a brand,” Payne says. “We came into town with a new show. We’re not ‘Jersey Boys’ or ‘Rock of Ages’ that have a history. That’s always very difficult.” …

Bibliophiles will be cheered to know they have a second chance to see “Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody,” in a limited run at the Golden Nugget Oct. 18-Nov. 9. The sketch-comedy spoof of the erotic best-seller has been looking for another run in Las Vegas since it spent a weekend at the Rio in November. …

Fans of Penn &Teller are hip to Mike Jones, aka “Jonesy,” the jazz pianist who plays to the duo’s arriving audiences at the Rio, backed for some of that time by a tall bassist in a fedora who may just be one of the two people they paid to see.

Tuesday brought the release of the Mike Jones Trio’s new album “Plays Well With Others,” where he takes on some standards plus a couple of originals with bassist Mike Gurrola and drummer Jeff Hamilton. Jones is working on lining up some local dates beyond his ongoing showcase with the magic guys.

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.