Topping this week’s column of notes is this tidbit from John Fogerty, during an interview at a suite at the Venetian. Fogerty is 70, but still has the spark of a man decades younger. As he explained:
“I’m feeling great. Life is wonderful for me, and not necessarily because of my career. It’s been a long period of awareness, and I found a treasure when I found my wife, Julie. I used to be something of a mess, in the old days, but I’ve found the most important is love, and I’ve followed that feeling forever.” Groovy.
More from the scene:
An intriguing comedy headliner booking for 2016 is Andrew Dice Clay at Laugh Factory. Over the past five or six years, the Diceman has performed at Shimmer Cabaret, the Riviera and Vinyl at the Hard Rock Hotel. His next dates in the room once occupied by Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club are January 21-23. There has been loose talk of him returning for more dates at that club; the folks who operate Vinyl say that they would be interested in his return, too.
The chief reason for the interest is that Clay has banked a six-episode series on Showtime, titled Dice, a single-camera, 30-minute, scripted show that depicts him as a once-formidable comedy superstar trying to recharge his career in Vegas. “Semi-autobiographical,” is the description of this project. Criss Angel and Wayne Newton are among those who have appeared on the series, which has yet to set an air schedule but can only help boost Clay’s box-office appeal.
I returned to the Britney Spears show at Planet Hollywood’s Axis theater on January 2, the first time I’d seen her since she opened in December 2013. She was in good form, danced well and brought the party, which is what’s expected. The announced return of Pitbull there for a set of dates in the same room in March is further evidence that Axis has developed into a mix of a live-performance venue and ultra-nightclub. Be prepared to groove in this place.
The big takeaway from the Spears show is she seemed a lot more involved in the production than when it opened two years ago, when she came across as relatively stilted as the show erupted around her. But she seems genuinely energized today, which generates excitement to the audience—and there is no denying Britney’s zealous fanbase.
What to look for from her show in the coming months: a refreshing, piloted by her Vegas-based manager, Larry Rudolph. Don’t anticipate a full-scale overhaul, but a tune-up that will fall in line with the Axis residencies of J. Lo, Lionel Richie and Pitbull. But Spears remains Axis’ anchor, and after two years, it’s time to tweak.
A man who is a serious, serious artist is hosting the new jazz series at the Sayers Club at SLS. Vince Preister is the man in the middle of a terrific band that floats a contemporary jazz set beginning at 7 p.m. Sundays (the cover is $25, and it’s a bargain). Preister has played behind some of the music business’s biggest stars, including fellow Las Vegas resident Gladys Knight, for whom he performed during an eight-year run. He has also collaborated with En Vogue, Brian McKnight, George Howard, Patti LaBelle, the Yellowjackets, Smokey Robinson, Phyllis Hyman, Les McCann and Lonni Liston Smith. He is legit.
The January 3 premier of the seven-week series drew a standing-room-only audience, which is sort of misleading since the seating at the Sayers Club is cushy couches and not so plentiful. But the showcase was a refreshing taste of real jazz played by real musicians. Gene Marshall of Marshall Entertainment Group, a fitness expert and longtime Clark County firefighter, is the series promoter and a man to support.
Back in action is a longtime column favorite, Alice—A Steampunk Concert Fantasy, returning January 12, February 24 and March 23 to Brooklyn Bowl. Founder Anne Martinez has continued to boost her whimsical, rocking adaptation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with aerial artists and rigging and an ever-evolving setlist. Somewhere is a rightful schedule for this show, more than monthly, to meet its artistic potential. Martinez wants four to five nights a week (oh, and also a financial backer). The Big Challenge has always been how to best market—and even describe—this show. But it has what it needs in terms of quality and talent. Those qualities are abundant.
Santa Fe and The Fat City Horns mark their return to Cabaret Jazz January 11 at 10:30 p.m., the band’s second show at the Smith Center venue, and Lon Bronson teams with Brody Dolyniuk January 20 at 8 p.m. for Bronson, Brody & Beatles. Dolyniuk, founder of the great rock cover band Yellow Brick Road, has been a friend of Bronson for 20 years or so now. He is a terrific talent who moved to Southern California four years ago, but continues to blaze back to Vegasville for shows at the Smith Center and Railhead at Boulder Station.
On the topic of musical notes, one of the great, under-the-radar performers in this city is saxman Phil Wigfall of Santa Fe and The Fat City Horns, Celine Dion’s orchestra and Vegas! The Show, among other projects. Wigfall dislocated his right pinkie finger—one of these 90-degree dislocations that you can barely bear to look at—while stopping a man from attacking a woman at a bar on New Year’s Eve. Wigfall has no medical insurance, so his fellow musician and friend Danny Falcone (also of Santa Fe and Celine’s band and the son of legendary pianist and music director Vinnie Falcone) covertly set up a GoFundMe account to pay Wigfall’s emergency-room bill.
The amount requested was $1,900. At this writing, the donations are about to hit $3,000—and Chris Phillips of Zowie Bowie kicked in $300 himself. Wigfall is known for his searing solos, but sometimes you need great bandmates.