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Las Vegas lounge scene revived in COVID-19 reopening

Updated June 10, 2020 - 5:16 pm

Somebody summon Cook E. Jarr. We’re riding a lounge revival Las Vegas.

The reopening of Las Vegas resorts, restaurants and bars is leading to this welcome aftereffect. Lounges are driving the entertainment scene. This won’t last forever, of course. But until Gov. Steve Sisolak announces Phase Three directives to safely return large-scale entertainment to the city, lounges own the town.

“People want to experience entertainment, to see something, in these casinos,” said veteran Las Vegas entertainment booker Steve Beyer. “Until showrooms open, the lounges are where you’ll see entertainment.”

So during Phase Two, it’s been trips to such old faves as Bootlegger Bistro, with pianist Doug Taylor entertaining the spaced-out dinner crowd; Piazza lounge at Tuscany, with bandleader Kenny Davidsen and guest singer Justin Michael Martinez; and the already-chronicled visits to Mayfair Supper Club and the piano haven Petrossian Bar at Bellagio.

Kelly Clinton-Holmes has performed Wednesday night, Laura Shaffer on Monday and Ashley and Aaron Fuller on Tuesday at Piazza lounge at Tuscany. That room is featuring live entertainment every night. The Tuscany is also moving lounge-scaled entertainment into the Copa Room until “The Rat Pack is Back” is back, for real.

The recent spate of hotel openings announced by Caesars Entertainment on Tuesday has thrown open the Piano Bar at Harrah’s, home of Pete “Big Elvis” Vallee. The King of Kings in Las Vegas returns 2 p.m., 3:30 and 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

I anticipate more announcements about acts in the Piano Bar, and also those returning to Carnaval Court, the outdoor bar and music annex between Linq Hotel and Harrah’s.

On Thursday, Circus Circus revived its free-admission circus acts, and backing musicians, on its famous Midway.

Across the valley, Station Casinos is returning solo artists and DJs to Hanks at Green Valley Ranch Resort; and at T-Bones, Onyx and the Lobby lounge at Red Rock Resort.

Downtown, Notoriety at Neonopolis has also taken the lead with the live-comedy show “The Hilarious 7” and is also planning to evolve to more live music in its Robin Leach Lounge. Notoriety is unique in that it sells tickets to the comedy show, steering around Phase Two mass-gathering restrictions as a bar that is operating at less than half fire-code capacity.

Jerry Tiffe, the man I refer to as “The Last Lounge Singer,” is set to return to Italian American Club on July 11, a night after the restaurant itself reopens.

“I’ve actually been enjoying the time off,” Tiffe said Monday, “but I am always in favor of live entertainment. It’s my life.”

The Vegas lounge scene starts with Mr. Tiffe, a stage stalwart dating to the Sands in the 1970s who has survived it all.

Tuesday’s Mark

Emcee-at-large Mark Shunock was unable to attend Mondays Dark for the first time in the series’ history this week. Shunock was assigned to announced the closed ESPN Top Rank boxing card from “The Bubble” at MGM Grand Conference Center Grand Ballroom.

Shunock recorded his comic stylings with Mondays Dark producer Jassen Allen on Sunday before heading to the boxing assignment. Mondays Dark, a benefit for the Green Our Planet youth gardening program, was once more a no-audience event.

The twice-monthly charity events and for-profit shows at The Space are moving to a pay-per-view emphasis, with Thunder From Down Under planning a live-stream show from its main stage on June 20. This is another consequence of COVID-19, as non-profits and professional entertainers seek support onstage and through your laptop.


Around midnight Saturday, OYO Hotel’s Attic Showroom was animated for the first time since March 15, three days before the COVID-19 shutdown. But this is not to imply a show was being staged. It wasn’t. Rather, the empty room’s light system automatically restarted and performed to its setting as if an actual performance were underway.

The mic stand and stool were all still in place from the final performance of “The Jokesters” comedy show. Zak Bagans actually headlined that night, and I joke …

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats! podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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