‘Godfather’ actor, horn royalty and more from the Vegas scene

Updated July 2, 2018 - 9:24 pm

The Kats! Bureau at this writing is Copa Room at Bootlegger Bistro, where Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns are administering “The Healing.” We call it that because you always walk out feeling better than when you walk in.

And sometimes, you walk out without paying the tab, which did happen one night about 10 years ago at Tropicana Theater. I’m still working it off, too.

You know who is in a booth in this swanky hang? Gianni Russo, who played Carlo Rizzi in “The Godfather.” Blue-suited, impressively postured and impeccably groomed, Mr. Russo looks every bit the ex-Mobster he claims to have been many years ago. For a time he owned Gianni Russo’s State Street restaurant in Las Vegas until the place closed about 30 years ago.

In one famous Vegas incident, in 1988 Russo shot a man to death at his State Street restaurant. In Russo’s account, the victim was a member of the Medellin drug cartel who was harassing a female patron. Russo stepped in; the man stabbed him twice in the stomach with a broken wine bottle.

Russo then pulled a handgun, fired twice, and killed the man. The case was ruled a justifiable homicide and Russo was not charged with any crime.

Maybe I’ll buy him a fizzywater.

Also, over at one of the many power tables, sax artist Cleto Escobedo Jr. of Cleto & The Cletones on“Jimmy Kimmel Live” and a mini-entourage. Escobedo is the father of Kimmel’s bandleader, Cleto Escobedo III, who played with the ’60s rock-soul band Los Blues. Escobedo, Jr. had given up playing professionally until Kimmel invited him to the show.

No question, Escobedo is horn royalty, and also Vegas royalty. More fizzywater for Cleto, and put it on the Kats! tab.

Onstage, a few regulars are out tonight. Bass master Rochon Westmoreland and percussionist Gabriel Falcon are on the road wtih Donny & Marie. Two others are touring with Celine Dion. Trombonist Nathan Tanouye (who writes Celine’s horn charts) and sax great Eric Tewalt and are away as Celine rolls through Southeast Asia.

Celine should see this band in action. So should Britney Spears, just one time, because even superstars can use some healing. Including my buddy Gianni.

More from this scene and elsewhere:

Teller on the mend

The silent partner of the Penn & Teller empire is recovering after spinal-fusion surgery Monday.

“Surgery all done. Went perfectly,” Teller posted on Twitter from his hospital bed. “Penn is here and he gave me a beautiful watch, sweetly inscribed.”

Penn Jillette’s message: “Teller My Buddy And Pal. I Love You. Penn.”

The Penn & Teller stage show is dark as a result of Teller’s operation to repair wear and tear he has suffered in a 40-year career. The duo are set to return Aug. 18.

Mayoral wager finale

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser put a cap on the Stanley Cup Final wager she won against Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman. The two officials and hockey fans had wagered on the final between the Capitals and Golden Knights, won by Washington 4 games to 1.

Goodman paid off by sending a Vegas goodie basket to Bowser’s office in Washington. “All bets are in!!” Bowser posted on her Twitter page. She also posed for a photo of her winning haul, which looks like the result of a spin through the Bonanza Gift Shop at Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard.

Goodman sent a Welcome to Las Vegas visor, a deck of Vegas playing cards, a miniature Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign and Carolyn Goodman and Oscar Goodman bobbleheads.

Vinnie RIP

Several thousand fans descended on the Dallas rock club The Bomb Factory on Sunday to pay final tribute to Vinnie Paul. The heavy metal superstar and co-founder of the bands Pantera and Hellyeah died June 22 in Las Vegas at age 54. No cause or manner of death has been announced.

Paul’s drum kit from Hellyeah was placed amid an array of floral arrangements onstage at the club. Luxor headliner Carrot Top (who could not attend as he was onstage last weekend) and Paul Shortino of Raiding the Rock Vault at Vinyl at the Hard Rock Hotel were among the many stars and friends who sent gifts for Paul’s service. Others who appeared in person or in tribute video messages included Sammy Hagar, Kid Rock, Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath and the bands Megadeth, Anthrax, Disturbed, Slayer and Alice in Chains.

Adhering to a request from his family, Paul was buried in a Kiss-decorated casket. (Paul’s brother, Dimebag Darrell, was also buried in what is known as a Kiss Kasket.)

Carrot Top, whose legal name is Scott Thompson, was one of Paul’s favorite Vegas headliners. Paul estimated he’d seen Carrot Top’s show about 300 times — and that was about three years ago.

“He was always happy, always smiling and taking care of others,” Thompson said Monday. “He just always wanted others to have fun and be happy. He was a true soul.”

By the numbers

312: The number of cupcakes, formed in the shape of an American flag, displayed at the main entrance of the Westgate through July 4. That’s 132 red velvet cupcakes with red coloring, 63 blue velvet cupcakes (yes, there is such a thing), 117 vanilla bean cupcakes, 50 white candy stars (makes sense) and 37 pounds of icing.

Westgate Executive Pastry Chef Stephen Sullivan and his team created the flag of cakes. This is the same crew that created the baby grand piano cake in June for Barry Manilow’s 75th birthday.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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