I ran into a pair of Las Vegas entertainment icons at the Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns show at South Point. One was Jerry Lopez — an expected encounter, as he has been the band leader of Santa Fe for 40 years or so.
But I’d not expected Tommy Rocker to turn up.
First, we note that the Monday night performance was the band’s final show at South Point after opening in the showroom Labor Day weekend. The reason for leaving is simple: Fan support for the band was not strong enough to balance the books at South Point. Lopez is not fond of being told that his band needs to improve the bottom line — he’s an artist, not an accountant — so the band is surveying the landscape to find a Monday night home.
Lopez did joke from the stage, “We are now looking for backyards to play in.” Don’t believe it. The band might well return to the Lounge at the Palms, once Station Casinos takes over that hotel this fall. It’s a tight fit for a 16-piece band, but the room has always served Santa Fe well. Keep checking back, as we keep track of a terrific band once more on the move.
• Returning to Mr. Rocker. The legally named Thomas Greenough is the proprietor of Tommy Rocker’s Mojave Beach tavern at 4275 Dean Martin Drive. He has been a fixture of party-time entertainment in this city since he started performing in 1984 at Carlos Murphy’s on Maryland Parkway.
Rocker opened the current Tommy Rocker’s club in March 1995. Since, his one-man guitar act, with an open mic at his side ready for any novice vocalist, has for decades been a popular destination for locals and also weathered Parrotheads (the venue has staged Jimmy Buffett-themed events over the years). Frequently, Rocker has assumed the persona of a country-western twanger named Darryl Greene and warbled a novelty tune known as “The Rodeo Song.”
A lyrical sample: “Well it’s an allemande left and an allemande right, c’mon you (expletive deleted) get the right steps right!”
Soon, the crowd is pelting Darryl with wadded-up cocktail napkins.
Well, git this: Rocker has passed along word that he is heading to a gig this weekend at the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo in Wyoming. Yes, Rocker is goin’ cowboy, fir reals, and his transportation to the event is his cherry-red 1970 VW bus.
This rig has logged between 500,000 and 600,000 miles; Rocker can’t be sure, because the vehicle’s odometer counts only to 99,000 miles. As he says, “That’s how confident the manufacturers were in this vehicle’s lifespan.”
For the trip to the Frontier Days, Rocker is attaching a pair of deer antlers to the front of the bus. Whether Rocker dons a Resistol cowboy hat or opts for a parrot hat or a Hawaiian shirt is to be determined …
• Some uncertainty has surrounded the Donny & Marie gig at Flamingo Las Vegas. The duo have yet to signed a deal extending their residency through 2017. I expect that to happen soon enough, meaning that what was booked as a six-week run in September 2008 will indeed hit its ninth year in ’17.
• Wayne Newton has been recovering from a bite from a brown recluse spider at his lakeside retreat at Flathead Lake near Kalispell, Mont. This happened in late June and The Wayner missed a few dates at Bally’s as he had surgery on his leg and has been under antibiotic treatment. The episode took him out of a planned appearance Friday at Mondays Dark, which was a tribute to the USO (Newton has been active in the organization since the late 1960s and led several tours into combat zones).
But Newton was heard from, calling event founder Mark Shunock during the show and addressing the audience, which fell silent as The Wayner expressed his gratitude for the event and reinforced the importance of the USO.
“I thank all the performers who have made this night possible. Thank you for your support of the Las Vegas USO. I think it is important to realize that our military represents 1 percent of our country’s population but that 1 percent is what the other 99 percent of us depend upon. I ask two things: Please support our military, police and firemen, and please invite me back when I can be there in person,” he said.
The event raised 10,000 for the organization.
• Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band has booked Nov. 13 at Reynolds Hall at the Smith Center for its next Las Vegas show (tickets are on sale at 10 a.m. July 30, www.thesmithcenter.com). The band features Todd Rundgren, Gregg Rolie, Steve Lukather, Richard Page, Warren Ham and Gregg Bissonette. The show is show is produced by longtime rock promoter Danny Zelisko.
This brings to mind the many venues in which I have seen Ringo and his All-Starr Band perform in Las Vegas. The list: The Rio Pavilion, the old Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel, Pearl at the Palms and the Beach at Mandalay Bay.
Quick quiz: At which venue did Ringo say, “We’ve played a lot of weird places before, but this one takes the cake.”
Mandalay Bay Beach, in reference to the dozens of concert-goers standing knee-deep and grooving in the water. Fun show. Just different …
• Word out of SLS Las Vegas is there are no plans to open a restaurant in place of the closed Ku Noodle. The space has been boarded up and might well be turned into a gaming enclave. The Jose Andres-operated restaurant shut down April 1.