Updated November 14, 2021 - 11:49 am
Bronx Wanderers have passed what we call The Mom T-Shirt Test.
This is actually a multi-step review of Las Vegas entertainment. First, does your mom buy a shirt at the show? Check. Then, does she keep the shirt long enough to wash it multiple times? Check. Then, does she neatly fold the shirt to continue wearing it (rather than turning it into a dish rag)? Check.
Bronx has passed that test. I arrived at this method when visiting Momma Sanna in Boise in April 2020. She was folding laundry as we watched “The Price is Right” (now a pandemic-visit tradition in my visits to Idaho), and held up a Bronx Wanderers T-shirt.
“Look!” she said, smiling. She loves the show.
Your family will feel at home with the Bronx family, is the point.
Bronx Wanderers have opened their latest rock ‘n’ roll, storytelling show at Westgate Cabaret. The show’s schedule hints at the band’s tireless quality, running 5:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and 8 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays.
The band moved into Harrah’s Showroom just before the pandemic, and expected to return to Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesars Palace, but was undercut when Caesars shut down that venue in May.
Westgate was ready, slotting the Bronx show in with popular magician Jen Kramer and the “Soul of Motown” R&B revue. Comic George Wallace’s status remains unsettled. At the moment, he is not part of the Westgate roster.
Having returned with a revamped show about a month ago, BW hearkens to the music of the family patriarch Vinny Adinolfi’s patron saint, Dion, through some of son Vinny “Vin A.” Adinolfi’s favorites. A turn through the Stray Cats’ “Rock This Town” is one sharp selection.
The younger Adinolfi plays guitar, keys, shows off his drumming, and has sufficient range to sing up on high during Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” He grins readily and makes jokes dealing with his dad by leaning on Jack Daniel’s and Prozac.
The show is stuffed with sing-alongs and familiar tunes, the type that evoke nostalgia. “Sweet Caroline,” a surf-rock medley of “Wipe Out” and the “Hawaii 5-0” theme, “Who Loves You” by the Four Seasons, Billy Joel’s “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant.”
The guys toss in some customized lyrics in a new knuckleball, “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back),” by Backstreet Boys (“Bronx is back, all right!”). A risky move, but the rendition is fun. They also add the line, “We’re Bronx Wanderers’ family rock and roll band,” for the “Sgt. Pepper”-Beatles closing, replete with a modified “Sgt. Pepper” album cover, showing the Bronx band.
It’s a good time all over the place. Vinny and Vin A. score with the crowd by returning to their Bronx roots. Recording star Tony Orlando, who made the trip to the show’s premiere a couple weeks ago, is among the family’s earliest supporters. So is actor Chazz Palminteri, who appears on video and tells the band, “The saddest thing in life is wasted talent and the choices you make will shape your life forever.”
Adinolfi the elder spins tales of how, as a young record producer, he was known as a hitmaker. Jim Croce was among his artists, and he was an exec behind Reba McEntire’s “Does He Love You,” just re-recorded after 27 years. A series of mergers and takeovers eventually threw Adinolfi into unemployment, but cleared the path for him to form a rock band with his boys.
Vin A., a guy born to be onstage, remains in Vegas. Bronx brother Nick, originally in the band during its five years in town, has opted to move his family back to New Jersey. He’s still shown in the old home movies, clearly an integral part of the tale told in every show.
Some of the Bronx shtick will prompt a roll of the eyes. The church choir piped in every time they mention Dion’s name, for instance. But it feels like dropping a needle on an old LP and listening with the family. We’ve done it many times. With the Bronx crew, the shirt fits.
That was indeed Jennifer Lopez at Wynn Las Vegas this weekend. She was to be the unbilled guest star at Delilah on Sunday night. Lopez has long been expected to pursue a return to residency performance on the Strip. But there has been no verification of why she was in town, other than to add further mystique to Delilah’s supper-club experience.
‘Rock’ on hold
We still anticipate “Rock of Ages” to open at the old 1 Oak Nightclub space at The Mirage. Feeling a March relaunch of the show, which closed at the Rio on New Year’s Day 2019. Specifics and formalities need to wait, until The Mirage’s sale is announced.
Cool Hang Alert
The Composers Showcase of Las Vegas rolls back into Myron’s at The Smith Center at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night. Composers whose original work will be showcased include Joe Chavira, Doug Elliott, Bill Fayne, John Hammel, Rylan Leo Helmuth, Clint Holmes, Chris Lash, Crystal Lewis, Joey Melotti, Kevin Gardner Rose, Keith Thompson, Giada Valenti and Mark Wherry. Featured performers include Philip Fortenberry, Randal Keith and Janien Valentine. In short, a cavalcade of Vegas talent. Tickets are $25, $35 and $45. Call 702-749-2000, or go to TheSmithCenter.com.
Earl Turner called up the always stage-ready Bubba Knight, late of Gladys Knight & The Pips, at his show at Myron’s at The Smith Center on Thursday night. As the band thundered through “Superstition,” Knight grooved it up with Turner, showing off some of the dance moves he made famous in his days with the Pips.
Afterward, Knight said he could have used a run-through at sound check to make it really special. But that would wreck the surprise, right?
Call him out
Lionel Richie shouted out to his old friend Clint Holmes during Richie’s show at Encore Theater. “My dear friend Clint Holmes! Where ya at? Clint Holmes, everybody!” I remember three years ago, hearing that Holmes had been nominated for two Grammys for his “Rendezvous” album, just before a sit-down interview with Richie at Zappos Theater. I told him Clint had been nominated and I thought he might start crying. “I’m getting chills,” he said.
What works in Vegas
The Whitney Houston hologram production at Harrah’s Showroom. Hearing that the show is already breaking even in previews. My hologram saw its opening this week and loved it.
Blue Gaz Group
A closer look at the artist playing The Gazillionaire in photos with Sting and Steve Buscemi visiting “Absinthe” this week revealed longtime column fave Marc Roberts. The versatile veteran performer spent two decades in Blue Man Group. He also performed as the Silver Knights’ Town Crier in the minor-league hockey team’s inaugural season.
Roberts has been around for a spell, always excellent, yet has never been billed. That’s the case with many Vegas performers in Spiegelworld and Cirque, especially. But Roberts and members of the “Absinthe” cast caught Sting’s rehearsal performance Thursday at the Colosseum. Playing a character has its perks.
Cool Hang Alert
“Piano Party” with Bill Fayne,” starring the master music director, vocalist and pianist is 7 p.m.-10 p.m. Tuesdays in November at The Nevada Room. Fayne always welcomes special guests, there is a new menu in the Piano Bar Bistro, no cover but do reserve a spot.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.