Sons of Vegas greats back to rock

Billy Sherwood can remember skateboarding down the Strip and subsisting on the Tower of Pizza.

"I loved growing up in Vegas. My parents being musicians, they were in the inside loop," he says. "We just had free rein of that city. It was great."

Sherwood, 43, is known to Las Vegas old-timers by his parents, ’60s-era lounge headliners Phyllis and Bobby Sherwood. And they’ll know band mate Jimmy Haun by his father, Rouvaun, who headlined "Casino de Paris" at the Dunes.

The loyal cult surrounding veteran rock band Yes knows the two California-based musicians more for their current endeavor: Circa, a Yes offshoot that plays Friday in the Canyon Club at the Four Queens. Fans are expected from England and Australia for the band that features Yes drummer Alan White and the group’s original keyboardist, Tony Kaye.

Sherwood played with Yes on three tours that visited Las Vegas in the 1990s, before the group’s most famous lineup regrouped in 2000. Now that group is "on hiatus for God knows how long," Sherwood says. "There’s a little bit of a void for this style and I guess we’re kind of filling it."

Sherwood remembers his mother teaching him how to play drums and calling him to the stage for occasional conga work when he was 11. His father died in 1981. Phyllis now lives in Palm Springs, Calif., where she has performed in "Palm Springs Follies."

Haun, 48, grew up as best friends with Billy’s older brother, Michael, who played on Circa’s album and plans to be in the audience Friday. Haun dropped out of Valley High School in the 1970s to tour with Phyllis and Bobby Sherwood on his first professional guitar gig.

Haun also was in the road band for the pop duo Air Supply from 1987 to 1992. "That was great because I got to play the same Dunes showroom my father did," says the musician who now scores TV commercials and writes corporate jingles for the likes of Yahoo and Expedia.

His father, Jim Haun, headlined the Dunes revue from 1967 to 1970. He later starred on his own until his early death in 1975, from hepatitis complications at age 43. He picked the stage name Rouvaun after consulting a numerologist, his son says.

The name sounded French and because he headlined "Casino de Paris," the producers "claimed that he was directly from France," his son says. "That went on for about a year, and then he went on Ed Sullivan and Ed knew the truth, (introducing him as) ‘And now the magnificent voice of Utah’s Rouvan.’" …

Speaking of the Canyon Club, the Beatles tribute Fab Forever pulled the plug there last week; John Lennon performer Gary Gibson breaking a tooth while eating a nacho (!) at another casino was the final straw Jan. 2.

"I didn’t see a future in that venue," says producer Jerry Peluso. "It’s a nice club for concerts but not the proper venue for a Las Vegas show." But he doesn’t believe a rival production, "Fab Four Mania" at the Sahara, will impede the search for a new venue. …

If you happen to be in Red Bank, N.J., next week, you can check out a new production of "MacBeth" co-directed by Teller, the silent half of Penn & Teller. He designed the special effects for the blood-splattered production billed as "A Horror Show," which will make explicit things "that are normally just actors’ chores," Teller says.

"The whole play is about how the world can seem to be what it’s not if you don’t have a moral grounding," Teller explained a while back. "It’s full of hallucinations, it’s full of lies, it’s full of deceptions. It’s full of all kinds of levels of the world behaving like a magic show for the main character. And this magic show leads him straight to hell."

Meanwhile, stage partner Penn Jillette was to visit the Consumer Electronics Show on Wednesday to announce a new Internet production on Sony Pictures’ Web site Crackle, one that will enable him to riff on current events in the manner of his previous radio show. …

John O’Hurley again dons his King Arthur crown on Jan. 28, rejoining the cast of "Monty Python’s Spamalot" at Wynn Las Vegas for an indefinite engagement. The current king, Randal Keith, will remain in the cast in multiple roles.

Another Broadway musical, "Mamma Mia!" long ago announced its endgame, but not a specific date. Now there is one: Jan. 4, which will give the Mandalay Bay production extra time to reap any benefit of the movie adaptation with Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan, due in theaters July 18. …

Will Harper, who produced last year’s Trumpet Awards for African American Achievement at Bellagio, was in town last week to meet with several properties about a live talent show branded with the name of Harlem’s famed Apollo Theater. It would be co-produced by Asient Entertainment, the team behind The Scintas at the Las Vegas Hilton. …

Golden Nugget officials dispute last week’s column note saying Rich Little might not go the distance until April. They say management stands by its man. …

Finally, a note from the I Thought It Was A Joke department. A pair of recent press releases touted the fact that "Phantom — The Las Vegas Spectacular" and "Stomp Out Loud" made my Dec. 30 list of 2007’s Top 10 casino shows.

But the "Phantom" press release quoted what I wrote about the show, while the "Stomp" release quoted other writers. The omission included the remark that "Stomp" is "perfect for families, even if I’m supposed to whisper that."

Guess I really was supposed to whisper it.

Mike Weatherford’s entertainment column appears Thursdays and Sundays. Contact him at 383-0288 or e-mail him at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com.

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