Michael Grimm makes Red Rock debut

America may have talent, but Summerlin has Michael Grimm.

The season five winner of NBC's "America's Got Talent" is slated to perform at 8 p.m. Saturdays at Rocks Lounge inside Red Rock Resort, 11011 W. Charleston Blvd.

Grimm is known for his Southern sound. He has an open-ended contract at Red Rock Resort. What is it about Grimm that gets people's attention?

"I'd say it's the soulful passion in his voice ... He's got that kind of voice where he could sing 'Row, Row, Row Your Boat' and women will cry," said his manager, Steve Eggleston.

Grimm said dealing with Judy Alberti, vice president of entertainment for Station Casinos, was "like working with family." The two have known each other for about 10 years. Her introduction to Grimm began with a video sent her way.

"I went, 'Oh, my gosh. This guy's amazing,' " she said. "His voice, it's one of those voices that's unforgettable. He's one of the best vocalists I've ever heard."

She immediately booked him for Hank's Fine Steaks at Green Valley Ranch Resort, 2300 Paseo Verde Parkway, and found him to be low-key and a humble person.

Later, his was the musical act that opened Ovation at Green Valley Ranch Resort. When Alberti suggested he get a band together, he took up the suggestion, and he and his band appeared at Ovation many times. Ovation has since closed.

"I work with a shake of the hand with Judy," Grimm said. "It works better that way if you can trust someone. Maybe I'm an old-schooler when it comes to that."

At Red Rock Resort, expect to hear a mix of Southern rock, New Orleans funk and what Grimm calls Mississippi River music ---- Otis Redding and Al Green types of songs. He also plans to include some of his original works in the 90-minute show.

It was Alberti who first suggested that Grimm try out for "America's Got Talent." But he wasn't biting.

"It took Judy a couple years to convince me," he said. "I didn't want to become an 'American Idol.' Because an American Idol (only) got to be the idol for women. It's not really what America's voting for. Take people like Taylor Hicks, for example. Great singer and everybody voted him through because he was a soulful guy. But to be the American Idol, he had to 'not' dig into his soul. When he first came out after the show, they released an album on him that was all pop music. They were trying to conform him."

Eventually, Grimm gave in and tried out, but he didn't receive a callback. In fact, he heard nothing. It was a shock and sent him into a low period, he said, causing Bill Medley, formerly of The Righteous Brothers, to tell him bluntly that he "looked like crap."

To get his mind off it, Grimm agreed to go on the road with Medley, who was touring with his daughter, McKenna, at the time. Grimm played guitar for their band.

Months later, Grimm got word that the TV show had lost his tape. Urged to come back and try again for "America's Got Talent" the following year, which was 2010, he was sent to the head of the line ---- no cattle call, no preliminary cut, no singing a capella in front of staffers to make sure he maintained pitch. Instead, Grimm was ushered to the stage to perform before the celebrity judges.

"And that was the first episode that everybody saw," he said. "It was a series of coincidences. I didn't expect anything. When I saw that I was in front of the judges, I knew it was going to get aired. And that was good enough for me. I was happy at that point."

He went on to win. Grimm, who recently turned 34, said when he was a child, he may have thought fame was a good thing. Now, he regards it with caution. He said he'd bent to a label's rules before, and it left him with a bad taste.

"Too many people take control of your life," he said. "Maybe I'm set in my ways a bit, but I've been down the 'road of labels.' Between Nashville, L.A., New York, they all know me. And they won't sign me because I won't do what they want."

Instead, he said he follows his heart, and now, that means appearing at Rocks Lounge. He said more Strip visitors should take the drive to see what Summerlin has to offer.

"I'd like to be able to steer some of the people from the airport and have them take a left and go straight to Red Rock (Resort), avoid the Strip," he said. "It's a gorgeous casino. I know they cater to locals, but (tourists) should really know of this place."

He said playing in Summerlin offered a performer the same status as appearing on the Strip. "Especially with me playing there," he joked.

The Saturday night gig is not the only thing occupying his time. Grimm is working on a new album. For more information, visit michaelgrimmmusic.com.

The cover charge is $10 ($5 for locals). The show will be dark this Saturday. For more information, visit redrock.sclv.com.

Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at jhogan@viewnews.com or 702-387-2949.


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