Three new show venues are good news for locals who don’t like to fight traffic on the Strip, provided there are enough live acts to go around.
The Canyon Club attempts to bring a concert club with a personal touch downtown to the Four Queens, while Ovation at Green Valley Ranch helps Station Casinos circle the valley with its own entertainment beltway.
But it will have some nearby competition from Fever, a new nightclub-showroom hybrid that also plans ticketed concert acts at the South Point.
The Canyon Club hopes its name will draw Californians familiar with the original venue in the San Fernando valley.
“To be honest, for me downtown is cooler than anything on the Strip. I like to go into what I believe is the more hip section of town. The manufactured cool doesn’t work for me,” says managing partner Lance Sterling, who worked for the House of Blues until shortly after the Las Vegas location opened at Mandalay Bay.
Sterling has known Four Queens owner Terry Caudill for a long time, and local nightclub entrepreneur Billy Richardson is a partner in the venture. The 10,000-square-foot space once housed a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! museum but more recently has been used as a ballroom.
The club holds about 600 people and hosted its first concert dates with Robert Earl Keen and Junior Brown last weekend with almost no advertising or promotion. Mark Jason, who does marketing for the club, said that when construction fell behind schedule, management decided to honor the bookings and consider the early shows a staff-training “soft opening.”
Sterling’s hands-on approach hearkens back to such bygone Las Vegas music clubs as Calamity Jayne’s or Fremont Street Reggae & Blues. “I decorate the walls myself,” he says. “My favorite thing ever is to sit next to the stage and watch the fans watch the bands.
“We were all corporate refugees who started (House of Blues),” he adds. Now House of Blues is itself a big company and “I’m their biggest competition here in L.A. They’ve been after me for years, but I don’t think they’re ever going to get me. The bands kind of protect me.”
The Canyon Club will offer themed dance nights with live music — including local new wave cover band the Spazmatics and the jokey Boogie Knights — interspersed by ticketed concerts. The schedule includes Joe Bonamassa May 18 and 19 and Los Lobos June 10.
Green Valley Ranch’s new Ovation venue is a club-and-concert hybrid touted as Station Casinos’ most accomplished venue to date. It will host the “Jam for a Wish” benefit on Monday with country station KWNR-FM, 95.5, followed by the first regular ticketed concert May 18 with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. The 500-seater gives Green Valley Ranch a third option for concerts, enabling acts to be placed “in whatever the appropriate venue is,” says Joe Santiago, vice president of entertainment for Stations.
A few miles west on Interstate 215, South Point hopes to have its new showroom/club up and running with Bill Medley on Memorial Day weekend. The 410-seat room is “like the Suncoast, only a little better,” says Roy Jernigan, the entertainment buyer who followed Michael Gaughan to the South Point after Gaughan bought the casino back from Boyd Gaming.
So far, Jernigan has booked acts ranging from Warrant to Paula Cole. “We don’t know who our customer is yet,” he says.
The Fever name will come into play after ticketed concerts in the evening morph into the nightclub operation. The club will target locals with bottle service and other amenities of the high-profile Strip operations, but at half the price, says South Point marketing executive Tom Mikovits.
The new venues are bound to be a field day for booking agents until all the new venues have a grasp on their market. The Canyon Club’s Sterling sounded mildly surprised when told two upcoming acts, America and Air Supply, have played the locals market to the point of saturation. …
There is always the option of finding new talent. Paul Stone, whose Las Vegas ties extend back to 1980, is showcasing the British string quartet Stringfever at the Suncoast this weekend through his Showstealers production company.
The family act — two brothers, two cousins, all four named Broadbent — gives chamber music the variety act approach on electrified instruments. YouTube clips show all four playing Ravel’s “Bolero” on one cello. Another clip is a “History of Music” medley that quotes “Billie Jean” and “Smoke on the Water.”
“It’s putting the humor back into music,” says Ralph Broadbent.
“We’re from a classical background, but all four of us are drawn to the fun side of music. Personally, I was a big fan of Dudley Moore and his musical-comedy stuff (at the piano).”
Mike Weatherford’s entertainment column appears Thursdays and Sundays. Contact him at 383-0288 or e-mail him at email@example.com.MIKE WEATHERFORDMORE COLUMNS