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Strip favorite, Lady Gaga bandleader back with late-night hang

Updated April 9, 2024 - 10:40 am

A show that ignores the clock is marking a big date on the calendar.

Brian Newman: After Dark” relaunches for nine shows Nomad Library at Nomad Las Vegas, a quick mosey from Dolby Live at Park MGM, from June 19-20 , 26-27, and July 3, 5-6. Tickets are on sale 10 a.m. Friday at Ticketmaster.com.

Newman is again running in concert (or, after concert) with Lady Gaga’sJazz + Piano” show earlier in the night at Dolby Live.

“After Dark” does not enjoy the “LG” (as she’s known within the show) lead-in on June 26.

Newman, a trumpet player, arranger and singer of great acclaim, is celebrating his fifth anniversary as a Vegas resident performer (he opened “After Dark” in May 2019). A prominent member of Gagas’s “Jazz + Piano” orchestra, Newman is returning with his variety pack of musicians, singers, burlesque performers, showgirls and side acts.

The shows start at 11:30 … “ish.” Or, whenever Newman can swap out his stage tux for a late-night suit. The performances have rolled until 2 a.m. or 2:30. Scenesters should get a nap to be prepped for this one.

Newman’s wife, burlesque star Angie Pontani, returns for all nine shows. The two have mastered their stage patter (with Pontani correcting her husband on the pronunciation of “TREN-tin,” her hometown in New Jersey).

It’s a kind of burlesque-colored, Steve-and-Eydie vibe. Newman’s backing band is intact, with Daniel Foose on bass, Alex Smith on keys, Steve Kortyka on bass and Nolan Byrd on drums. Aside from Byrd, all play the “J+P” show earlier in the night. Expect Skye Dee Miles as a regular guest singer, Vegas burlesque performer Buttercup as “stage kitten” and showgirls Britt Dunn and Lara Preister escorting Newman to the frivolity.

Gaga herself has turned up at “After Dark,” especially in the pre-COVID days. Newman’s artistic involvement in the Gaga show, and their long personal friendship, have helped fuel the “After Dark” experience.

But Newman’s long-term goal is to create a show that can stand without the Gaga lead-in, while also commanding a ticket price that starts at $49 (not including fees). The show has blazed when Gaga’s audience has filed into “After Dark.” Those crowds have already been partying at Park MGM, seizing the possibility they’ll catch Gaga’s unbilled spin through “Call Me Irresponsible.”

But as Newman emphasizes, “After Dark” debuted at Duane Park in New York City in 2005. That’s about five years before he signed on with Gaga.

And Newman has buttressed his Strip connection, installed as music director at The Pinky Ring at Bellagio. He’s been working for months with Bruno Mars, whose backing band, The Hooligans, play the club — occasionally with Mars himself.

A new band with Newman’s players, The Diamonds, also strive to make the club a must-see, late-night, live-music hang. Similar to his “After Night” experience at Nomad Library.

“I’ve been a bandleader all these years, putting my own bands together, making music and making entertainment. That is what I’m about,” Newman says. “The Pinky Ring is such a fun thing, it’s great to work with someone like Mr. Mars, who just knows exactly what he wants.”

Newman is throwing a line out to Vegas entertainers, superstars and otherwise, to jump into “After Dark” performances. He’s ready for anything.

“I’ve got a banjo and fiddle ready for Wayne Newton,” he says excitedly. “And I’m still holding out for Santana. Any of the cats in Vegas who want to come in, we’re ready. I’m just lucky to be in this orbit, whether I’m singing, I have the horn in my mouth or just watching this cool thing happen.”

Cool Hang Alert

A band that kicks it up while throwing it down and getting the joint jumping, Latin Breeze is back at Amp’d at M Resort from 8 p.m.-midnight Friday. The nine-piece outfit enforces the grooves with Salsa, Merengue, Cumbias, Mambos and Boleros, among other stylings. No cover, multicultural, 21-over.

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 X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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