Tag Archives: performers

Las Vegas First Friday ‘Art Crawl’ Event Takes Nosedive

Selling cultural art opportunities in Las Vegas that are ostensibly designed to benefit residents, and not so much the tourists, is apparently a very difficult sell. 

‘First Friday’ in Las Vegas started in 2002 as an art crawl, or a monthly block party on the first Friday of each month that includes downtown galleries and businesses in the Las Vegas Downtown Arts District.  Art galleries were open.  Musicians would take to the sidewalks next to psychics, poets and other strolling performers.  Crowds grew from a few hundred to as many as 10,000, requiring barricades, police officers and a host of special permits. 

But now all that has changed.  No white familiar tents dotting the landscape.  No stages blasting rock music.  No crowds lining up in large lines at food vendors. 

Funding problems are causing Whirlygig, the nonprofit organization running the event, to scale back considerably.  Founder Cindy Funkhouser has been seeking money, including private donations, but not enough has resulted to keep the festival going. 

Festival costs are in excess of $13,000 a month for barricades, stages, power, lighting and permits.  Las Vegas, which is a large support of the event, contributing $80,000 a year, now concentrates that amount on just six months, when crowds are the largest, rather then the entire year.  It hoped Whirlygig would grow into a self-sustaining organization.  It didn’t. 

Funkhouser says she and her husband, Rick Dominguez, want to get back to presenting the large festival, but says “We’re just kind of winging it.  I’m just kind of at the point where this is what it is.”

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Terry Fator’s Quantum Las Vegas Leap

Just three years ago Terry Fator was giving a performance at a fair near Houston, Texas to an audience of one.   He considered walking away from show business but made a fateful decision to audition one more time and after winningterryfator2 the second season of America’s Got Talent, Fator has stopped wondering whether he’s in the right profession. 

Fator has signed a five-year contract to perform nightly at The Mirage Casino and Resort in Las Vegas. He is replacing Danny Gans, who has moved to Steve Wynn’s Encore, and will be presenting his show at the Terry Fator Theatre. 

But if the ventriloquist act isn’t exactly what you’re looking for, take a look at the artists who are working the room on the nights that Winston the Impersonating Turtle is taking a break.   Ray Ramono and Brad Garrett, Ron White and Lewis Black will all give it a whirl in the Terry Fator Theatre in 2009. 

Don’t  count out the entertainment value of a night with Fator and company:   “I look at myself as a talk show host and the characters are my guests,” says Fator. “I can guarantee anyone who comes to my show, within a second or two, will feel that the puppet is the real entity.”

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Burning Man Turns Up Las Vegas Heat

Tired of the politico-speak, technobabble, and continuous water-drip torture of our choking economy?  Want to try your hand at building art- or a mutant vehicle?  Perhaps your cup of tea is spinning fire with  some poi and java?   If you don’t mind bringing in all your own sustaining necessities and using foot-power to travel, then you may enjoy escaping it all and heading to the Burning Man events in Nevada this year. burningman

Trying to explain what Burning Man is to someone who has never been to the event is a bit like trying to explain what a particular color looks like to someone who is blind. It means different things to different people.  But suffice it to say that every summer 48,000 plus artistic Burning Man participants (aka Burners) meet in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada to create Black Rock City and re-engage with community, and celebrate shared values of radical self-expression and self-reliance.   Expressing and relying on themselves to a degree that is not normally encountered in one’s day-to-day life, they celebrate the power of community, honor the importance of art, and enjoy the immediacy of experience. Then they leave a week later – without a trace of having been there. 

This year the eclectic artsy clan will gather from August 31 through September 7.  Having an “evolution” themed event which promotes the very core of individual survival and philosophies of Charles Darwin and Natural Variation, the event urges participants to question themselves, where they’ve come from, and how they can adapt to our ever-changing world. 

Prior to that, though, Southern Nevada burners have just announced that they are gathering for the Dark Skies Arts Festival 2009, their own annual branded regional Southern Nevada Regional Burn event.  It will be at Mojave Drums in Meadview, AZ (about 100 miles north of Las Vegas) for four days from April 23rd through April 26th.   A limited number of 250 tickets have gone on sale yesterday afternoon, ranging in price from $45 to $75 each.  There will be no gate sales. 

The Las Vegas artist and performer community is small, but mighty and growing – they’ve increased the number of locals attending events every time they do them.  Their community is based on participation and communication, creating a growth outlet for creative people.  The Dark Skies community is planning this year to build an art installation, a mutant vehicle for roaming the playa (you can’t drive your own vehicle within camp), and put on various performances. 

Dark Skies promotes a radically inclusive, participatory, self-reliant, leave-no-trace event existing amid a gifting society environment (no buying and selling of goods and services) where people don’t direct others, but rather do what is necessary (they call it a “DO-Ocracy”).  It’s not a rave or camping trip – it’s a community. 

Dark Skies is accepting applications for either participating in or conducting workshops and special events. Last year they had a hula hoopin’ workshop, past life regression, fire spinning, solar power, creative rope bondage and more.  They also have crazy, zany events like a tightie-whities contest.  Deadline to submit workshop requests is April 17. 

Are we really just a very small piece of a gigantic cosmic puzzle?

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‘Osmondmania’: Las Vegas Blessing or Curse?

Osmondmania.  It’s everywhere- the Las Vegas equivalent to motherhood and apple pie.donnymarie

The seven Osmonds have been performing in front of world-wide audiences for 50 years.  They were virtually born on stage and continue to make it their home, thrilling many millions of people with their unique brand of barbershop, pop, rock, country, and jazz music

With millions of albums and have several gold and platinum records to their credit, the Osmonds have broken records for sell out performances once held by the Beatles and Elvis, and won numerous awards including the People’s Choice Award.

And choking economy or not, Donny and Marie Osmond continue to perform and shine brightly on the Las Vegas Strip.  Taking the helm when past Flamingo headliner Toni Braxton had to end her show last April due to health concerns, their 90-minute greatest-hits multimedia show at the Flamingo Showroom, which opened September 9, 2008, has an extended run through October 2010.

Now it appears the Osmonds will be Las Vegas for an eternity- and then some.  “The Osmond musical name-and teeth- will live for a long time,” jokes Donny, 51. “Marie and I still are working hard in Vegas because, with dozens of grandkids waiting in the wings and needing jobs one day, we may have to take over every hotel on the Strip.” 

Osmondmania appears here to stay in Las Vegas.

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Boston’s Vinnie Favorito Packs ‘Em In at the Flamingo in Las Vegas

Times are tough, but you wouldn’t know it by watching the insulting Boston comic Vinnie Favorito throw down a torrent of smack and pack ’em in nightly at the Flamingo in Las Vegas.vinniefavorito

Although we’re all perhaps feeling a little down on ourselves right now, Favorito has refined his ethnic humor to fit our blended and ever evolving society.  He has his black jokes and his Mexican jokes, but when he finds a couple in the audience with of each he asks, “When something’s missing, who do you blame?”

Why is Favorito’s style so popular?  It’s hard to know for certain, but maybe there’s an undercurrent of nostalgia for the simpler era of chop-busting.

Or perhaps it’s because we have moved so far past those simple definining lines in the real world, and it’s now just harmlessly ridiculous when Favorito acts mock-astonished that a Mexican couple has no children.

Either way, there is something direct and kinetic about a guy that keeps you on the edge of your seat, wondering if you’ll be the next victim.

Vinnie Favorito carries on the Don Rickles torch daily at 8 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturdays at the Flamingo in Las Vegas.

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Hip-Hop Star Nelly Gambles on New Las Vegas TV Show

Hip-hop star Nelly is pacting with “The Biggest Loser” producer 25/7 Productions to take a stab at the popular variety TV genre.nelly

“Nelly’s Night in Vegas” is currently being pitched to networks as a weekly series that would feature Nelly performing and interacting with celebrities.  25/7’s Dave Broome is set to be the executive producer along with Nelly and “The Daily Show” co-creator Madeleine Smithberg.

“I was thinking about what was missing on TV, and when this idea came about, it made sense for me,” said Nelly, whose real name is Cornell Iral Haynes Jr. “We do have talkshows, but no one’s speaking from the pop culture perspective. Let’s get a little more pop, a little more edge, a little bit younger, and not look like you’re sitting in the principal’s office. As a performer, that’s the type of show you look forward to going on.”

Broome said the producers have reportedly already sealed a deal with Planet Hollywood to film the weekly show at its Las Vegas hotel; 25/7 is also in conversations with other sponsors about potential pacts.

“Nelly’s Night in Vegas” would be a talkshow-variety hybrid, Broome said, with a sidekick and house band, as well as guests and performances. Because it will shoot in LasVegas, there may also be an in-studio gaming element.

Nelly has sold more than 20 million albums throughout his career and has picked up several Grammy Awards. As an actor, Nelly appeared in feature “The Longest Yard” and in a multiepisode arc on CBS’ “CSI: NY.”

Nelly is the latest star to dabble in reviving the variety genre; CBS is working on a variety special starring musician John Mayer, while Fox is set to launch a show this spring starring the Osbournes.

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Las Vegas Rain Nightclub Rains on Oscar Awards

The Oscar Night America event, which was to have been held February 22 at the Rain nightclub at the Palms Casino & Hotel has been cancelled due the economic downturn.  Organizer Jimmy Foster, president of Whispering Giants, the special events company in charge of organizing the event, says, “We feel it is better to skip this year and revisit our fundraising initiatives in 2010.”

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