The Kats! Bureau at this writing is Venetian Theatre, at Earth Wind & Fire’s sound check before its opening-night performance. EWF is playing six shows through March 30 in its second stint at the Venetian.
Segments of this sound check were recorded by media members. A highlight from the run-through of “September,” vocalist Philip Bailey calling out, “This is for TV! Not the radio! We’ve gotta give it a good run!”
They did, too. Live Nation should sell tickets to these sound checks.
EWF has played Las Vegas several times — I first caught them at Circus Maximus showroom at Caesars Palace in 1997. Bassist Verdine White recalled that performance during a recent interview for my PodKats! podcast.
“Right! Right! The old Caesars room,” White said. “We had played there and they were tearing it down for Celine. We were one of the last bands to play there before Celine Dion came in. It was a traditional showroom, very tight and fun to play.” White joined EWF in 1969, officially.
— John Katsilometes (@johnnykats) March 20, 2019
I asked him how it felt to be creeping up on 50 years with the band. The ageless wonder said, “Really? I’m not even counting. I haven’t even thought about it yet. I just feel great onstage.”
White has seen a high complement of Strip productions. His favorites?
“I love Cirque, everything they do. I love the ‘Love’ show at the Mirage,” he said, and quickly added. “I love Donny & Marie, too. It’s good stuff. The professionalism, after all these years, is something I admire, and they still look great.”
The Mama moment
Neonopolis is about 90 percent filled these days. That means 10 percent of its space is still available for my new show concept, “Joshi!” This would be Rohit Joshi’s one-man show.
The owner of the entertainment center took to the open mic next to pianist Kenny Davidsen for a whirl through the Beatles’ classic, “Eight Days a Week.” He also cut in led a sing-along of “Sweet Caroline” for Mayor Carolyn Goodman, changing the lyrics to “Sweet Carolyn”; and welcomed the mayor by jumping on the mic in the middle of Davidsen’s performance with singer Elise Victoria.
Gotta love that Joshi. He also plays nimbly on sitar and knows his way around the guitar, too.
This zany scene unfolded during the ribbon-cutting for Don’t Tell Mama piano bar, late of Fremont East, which is opening Thursday night in its new haunt on Neonopolis’s first level.
— John Katsilometes (@johnnykats) March 19, 2019
Davidsen, who performs at Mama’s on Wednesdays and Saturdays, played a mini-set with Gloria Vivelo, Carly Presher, Ashea Erdahl, Traci Reynolds and Victoria. Then Joshi stepped in to welcome Goodman, Ward 5 City Councilman Cedric Crear, and club owners Minh and Joanna Pham.
As he told the crowd assembled at the club entrance, Joshi had tried to work a deal with the Pham family a decade ago before the club signed a lease as one of the earliest tenants on Fremont East. That agreement timed out in December, giving Joshi another shot to bring the club famous in Manhattan to his multifaceted entertainment fortress.
As Davidsen accurately noted early in the proceedings, “You can throw an ax, then come in here and sing!” You can also learn about cannabis at that themed museum, then throw an ax. then
Neonopolis has had a mercurial history with live entertainment and nightlife. The late Vegas showman Tony Sacca and chef Josette LeBlond tried nobly with Las Vegas Rocks Cafe about a decade ago. The heavily hyped Krave Massive nightclub barely got off the ground in 2013 before cratering after being denied tavern license applications.
But Mama is already a proven success. The charge in its new location is clear: Funnel the pedestrian flow from the edge of Fremont Street and Fremont East into this oddly designed entertainment fortress. I’d set up a spot near the corner of Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard, and have someone with a mic and a guitar sing the club’s praises. I can think of one guy who would kill in that role.
A place I must visit ASAP, The Barbershop Cuts and Cocktails at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, hosted its opening Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The three-night party was highlighted performances Saturday by Bush, led by Gavin Rossdale; and the 442s, led by column faves Ben Carey on guitar, singers Shawn Eiferman and Justin Carder, bassist Eric Runquist and drummer Chris Lukes. On Sunday, Serayah, Eric McIntire, Sohvi Rodriguez and Jacob Latimore took over the club.
Name-checking other celebs and newsmakers on that scene: Trace Cyrus, AnnaLynne McCord, Gilles Marini, Ballers’ Carl McDowell, Jeff Beacher, Samuel Larsen, Scheana Shay, Diana Madison (of Mob Town), Rachel McCord, Serayah, Jacob Latimore, Sohvi Rodriguez and Eric McIntire. Britney Spears’ Las Vegas manager Larry Rudolph and his wife, Jen Barnet, were also in the mix.
The Barbershop Cuts and Cocktails’ master barber Jose Sosa, master “intoxicologist” Eric Hobbie and Clique Hospitality partners Andy Masi, Ryan Labbe and Jason Craig are heading up the new clip joint/nightclub. I hear it’s, um, edgy.
The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. Las Vegas Sands operates The Venetian.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts.Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.