We joke about the many halls of fame in which Al Bernstein has been inducted. Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame, International Boxing Hall of Fame, and Jewish Sports Heritage Association Hall of Fame in New York are on the list.
If there were an Boxing Broadcaster-Singer of Standards Hall of Fame, Bernstein would be enshrined there, too.
But before we unveil that bust, Bernstein headlines performances at 8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Thursday at Tuscany’s Piazza lounge (no cover for this main event, sports fans). It’ll be touch mics and come out crooning, with a show serving as the undercard to Saturday’s Errol Spence Jr.-Terrance Crawford bout at T-Mobile Arena.
Bernstein, who is calling the fight on Showtime, will throw combinations of such classics as “Georgia,” by Ray Charles, “Hello,” from Lionel Richie, and “Sweet Home Chicago,” which we first knew from the Blues Brothers. The broadcaster is originally from Chicago, where (we understand) he is a member of like 19 halls of fame.
Bernstein’s backing band could be in the Vegas Lounge Hall of Fame. All are great players and well-known around town, with bandleader Kenny Davidsen on keys, comic/singer-songwriter Dennis Blair on piano, Rob Mader on sax and and David Ramirez on drums. Celena Sasso is guest vocalist.
The boxing-broadcast great has long been passionate for singing. He has sat in during lounge show across the city throughout his career. He became well-known as a good singer who took the craft seriously.
In April 1987, Bernstein debuted as a headliner, a three-show engagement at the old Olympic Lounge at Caesars Palace. The performances led to the heavily hyped Sugar Ray Leonard-Marvelous Marvin Hagler “Superfight.”
Bernstein’s deal to perform wasn’t quite signed on an Olympic Lounge cocktail napkin. But it was a very Vegas turn of events.
“It was interesting, that came about because I was having dinner with some Caesars execs, and they were talking about (Irish boxing star) Barry McGuigan’s dad. He was a pub singer, and had performed at that lounge for several nights at that lounge leading up to Barry fighting there,” Bernstein says. “And one of the Caesars guys says, ‘You sing, don’t you?’ I said, ‘Yeah!’ And he said, ‘OK, you’re doing three nights before Hagler-Leonard.’ I didn’t have a band or an act, but I figured one out.”
The place was packed with stars of the day. I mean, Michael Landon was in this crowd. So was boxing champ Tommy Hearns, Rodney Dangerfield, then-Washington D.C. Mayor Marion Berry, boxing promoter Butch Lewis, NFL coaching and broadcast legend John Madden, and Victor French from the “Little House on the Prairie” ’70s TV show (insiders reported he there was with Landon, star of the show).
“Here’s a funny one, Ron Jeremy was in the audience,” Bernstein says. “It was epic.”
Thursday’s shows at Piazza should be packed, if not with that caliber of celeb iconography. Bernstein has been working the media channels promoting the performances. Showtime is backing the effort by contributing prizes to a boxing trivia contest (this puts the “prize” in prizefighting).
A show hosted by Bernstein just ahead of a major boxing card would seem ripe for any venue, especially when it’s likely the venue will be mentioned during the telecast. But Bernstein likes the Piazza, where he has guest-starred and hosted with Davidsen several times, including January 2019 prior to the Manny Pacquiao-Adrien Broner fight.
“The Tuscany is my musical home away from home, and doing this show has been a warm and productive collaboration,” Bernstein says. “That’s something you hope for with any venue you work with. That kind of spirit is baked in at the Tuscany.”
Planet Hollywood headliner Criss Angel has a stunt dialed up for Sept. 8 in Indianapolis. Jim Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts and a big fan and friend of Angel’s, unexpectedly broke the news Monday on X. (Or, Twitter. That one.)
Irsay is holding his annual free party at Lucas Oil Stadium for 60,000 of his closest friends (and, many strangers), with Angel performing what is described as “a 150-foot free fall.” This is billed as a stunt that will break such a record by Houdini. A lot to unpack, or unbuckle, if a straitjacket is involved. More will be revealed …
May we recommend
Ex-“Jersey Boys” cast member Buck Hujabre plays Italian American Club Showroom at 6:30 p.m. (dinner) and 8 p.m. (showtime) Friday. “Buck’s Back” is the title, and promise, as Mr. Hujabre is a great talent and fun individual with whom to hang. Expect Four Seasons hits, and also selections from Hujabre’s record library. Tickets to the latest Sal Cucco Entertainment vehicle are at iacvegas.com.
Cool Hang Alert
We need to start an Underrated Performers Hall of Fame in VegasVille. Vocalist Fletch Walcott would be a charter member. Walcott is among the vocalists in David Perrico’s Raiders House Band. Walcott premieres a show from 7-10 p.m. Sunday that seems to have it all, “Crazy Sexy Groove — A Night of Love, Music & Magic” at Maxan Jazz at 4130 South Decatur Boulevard. Go to MaxanJazz.Com for intel. Walcott won $150 last year on the Fox contest series “Don’t Forget the Lyrics!” Idea: The eight songs Walcott aced would make a great start of a show themed for that appearance.
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.