As a new crop of Las Vegans seeks fame and fortune on “America’s Got Talent,” last year’s winner uses his new fame to help a fellow musician in need.
Michael Grimm will be the top draw at a Sunday benefit for Jeff Jordan, a saxophonist facing major medical bills in the wake of an aortic aneurism. The 4 p.m. show in the Ovation club at Green Valley Ranch is organized by Lon Bronson, whose All-Star Band is the nexus for most of the city’s musical community.
As such, Grimm “sat in with us a bunch,” before his national breakthrough last year, and Jordan has worked in his band, Bronson says. “Obviously, the second he started to sing, everyone went ‘Wow.’ ”
Bronson can’t remember another alumni of his late-night happenings to get a shot at the big time. Grimm’s major-label debut album reached No. 13 on Billboard’s album chart before plunging to No. 143 this week.
However, Bronson was once reminded by Wayne Brady that he denied Brady stage time back when the multitalented performer was working the MGM Grand’s short-lived theme park. In those pre-YouTube days, Bronson had two rules for calling someone up: You have to know someone in the band or you had to be prescreened with a demo tape of yourself. Brady showed up without either.
Sunday’s show has a $20 ticket, and includes show folks who can guarantee a quality afternoon even without TV exposure. They include local favorite Dominick Allen and spouse Leigh Zimmerman (who was Uma in the Las Vegas production of “The Producers”), Reva Rice of “Vegas! The Show” and Michelle Johnson of “Nunsense.” …
If you want to make it a day of benefits, start at noon at the Clarion with a “Vintage Vegas Variety Show” for The Salvation Army, with a talent lineup including Clarion magician Jan Rouven. There is no admission charge. …
“Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Show” is moving across Paradise Road to the Las Vegas Hilton’s Shimmer Cabaret, after the show closed at the Riviera in the wake of a dispute with the Las Vegas Musicians Union.
The show will have an initial run Tuesday through Aug. 9 while impressionist Greg London is on vacation, but then will go to a weekly, Tuesdays-only schedule, working around three other shows in the cool little club.
A single show day per week (with two per night) could make it hard to get traction against the rival “The Rat Pack is Back.” Hackett accentuates the positive, talking about theater bookings around the country, and an easier commute with his family now in California.
Besides, he says, “who used to come in and work one day a week? Buddy Hackett.” (That would be his late father.)
Band members who used to play for Hackett’s revue are being discouraged to continue. Union officials say they may have to testify if the Riviera labor complaint goes to a hearing.
So will the Hilton version be live or on tape? Hackett says he is not being coy when he answers, “There will be music.” Whether it’s live or recorded, or even a mixture of the two at the Hilton (which does not have a collective bargaining pact with the Musicians Union), could change night to night, he explains.
Hackett also had his ties severed with the Riviera’s resurrected comedy club, where he was performing and helping to line up comedians. …
Magician Steve Wyrick continues to push back his opening in the Hilton’s main room, with the new target date of Aug. 5. Wyrick had to work around last weekend’s concerts by Ethan Bortnick and an Elvis fan gathering today through Saturday.
In the meantime, expensive-to-rent billboards in the tourist corridor spent July advertising an ultra-magic show that wasn’t open. …
Like many Las Vegans, Cirque du Soleil is up and down the highway to California this summer. The quick visit was to stage a battle scene from “Ka” — yes, one of those Vegas-based shows that seemed impossible to tour — at the big Comic-Con in San Diego last week. The focused promotion seemed a smart move. “Ka” has an inherent appeal to fantasy fans that has never been fully exploited.
But Cirque also unpacked its bags for a Vegas-length stay with its new “Iris,” the salute to cinema (with music by Danny Elfman) that began ticketed previews in Hollywood last week, gearing up for a formal opening Sept. 25.
Since many transplants consider Las Vegas merely one Southern California suburb beyond Victorville, what does that make “Iris”? The 7.3rd Las Vegas title?
Southern California provided Las Vegas with 26 percent of its traffic last year, so it will be interesting to see how Cirque handles the cross-promotion, or lack thereof. The Hollywood show has to create an appetite for more Cirque product, not quench it before tourists get to Las Vegas.
P.S.: A recent visit to the scrubbed-up Hollywood Boulevard found it very Strip-like beyond Cirque, from costumed sidewalk characters to a Madame Tussauds waxworks. Think we’ll get Musso & Frank’s here?
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.