It’s was my first visit back at the old Hilton Hotel, once called The International, and now the Westgate, in nearly a year. The draw last time was Vinnie Favorito (who is still there and doing great business), and this time it was a young entertainer by the name of Donny Edwards. Now that name alone means very little to me (and a lot of other citizens of the world), but then you see this photo of him in a sparkling white suit with a cape, a fancy belt buckle, and you go wow, as you think of a time back in 1969, when a guy named Elvis Presley sauntered out on the same stage.
The International Hotel opened on Wednesday, July 30, 1969, and the opening act in the 2,200-seat theater was someone very special. I had the pleasure of being there for the dinner show. It was one of many great openings in Las Vegas, but this was a very grand evening–because a very wonderful singer, Barbra Streisand, would be performing for the very first time in our city. You name the stars and the local VIP’s and they were there that night. Just a little trivia.
Anyhow, now back to Donny Edwards and that photo. My friend, Jeanne Bavaro (who was producing the show), had called and asked me to do a write up on this Elvis Tribute performer. Which I did. Then she called and asked me to see the show. Okay, I said. To be honest I wasn’t too sure that I wanted to see another Elvis tribute show. After all, I was there when Elvis first walked out on that huge stage, following Streisand’s opening night. On Thursday, July 31,1969, a very energetic Elvis Presley made his Las Vegas debut. And, I was also there in December 1976, when he performed for the last time in Las Vegas. Of course, he had no idea, nor did any of us who were there, that he wouldn’t be returning. Since then I have seen some of the best Elvis impressionist in the world: Johnny Hara and Dana Mackay to name a couple of my favorites.
As I sat in the booth with my companion, Brenda Weems, my mind was racing with memories (keep for another column someday). The stage was a bit different. The theater had seen some major changes over the years that was for sure. The band consisted of four rhythm and two brasses (they filled the room with a lot of great music). There were also three back-up singers, two out of Texas, and a local lady.
Right out of the box Edwards walked out on stage to the sound of, “Shake, Rattle & Roll,” followed by “Blue Suede Shoes,” and “Heartbreak Hotel.” I was impressed with the sound and his voice. The costume was Elvis in his civilian type clothing (what he wore on the Ed Sullivan TV show), since Donny was starting out his performance with Elvis in the ‘50s and through the ‘60s. Such great songs as “Love Me Tender,” “Teddy Bear,” and ending the first section with “Viva Las Vegas.” As Donny left the stage, after setting up the fact that the for seven years he had two groups, The Imperials and The Sweet Inspirations, sharing the stage with Elvis. The three back-up singers then stepped forward and performed “Sweet Inspiration” and “Swing Down Sweet Chariot.”
Edwards returned to the stage in the famous White Eagle jump suit that Elvis opened with back in 1969. He opened this section with “That’s Alright Mama,” “You Gave Me a Mountain,” “Love Me,” and a very special “My Way,” (I’m picking out the highlight songs of the 27 he sang). All through the show Edwards tells little tidbits of the history pertaining to Elvis or a song (very knowledgeable stuff). You can’t do an Elvis tribute without covering one of The King’s favorite songs, “How Great Thou Art,” which Donny did as good as I’ve ever heard. He winds up the show when he gets into “In the Ghetto,” Suspicious Mind,” and the famous “American Trilogy,” which was Elvis’ dads favorite song. Mine too! He ended with the song Elvis always closed with, “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”
I must say this about Donny Edwards, he has jumped to my list of the “Top Three” Elvis Tribute Artist: the other two I mentioned above and they have since joined the real Elvis with God’s band.
I think the people who are booking the theater at the Westgate should get behind this guy, do a good advertising campaign, and let Donny Edwards build up an audience. It would be a winner! And they need a winning show!
THIS AND THAT QUICKLY:
On the heels of an exciting three weeks of new market expansion, United Soccer League (USL) officials — alongside team owner Brett Lashbrook, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman, and Councilman Ricki Y. Barlow — announced that Las Vegas will be the third and final USL expansion franchise to join the league for the 2018 season. The new franchise will play at Cashman Field, located in the heart of Downtown Las Vegas.
“Las Vegas brings a significant level of excitement to the rapidly growing professional soccer landscape in the United States,” said USL CEO Alec Papadakis. “The USL is leading this growth in the sport’s popularity and demand by identifying and securing thriving new markets, such as Las Vegas, which continues to drive the league toward its goal of becoming one of the top Division II leagues in the world, alongside the likes of the English Championship, Liga Adelante in Spain, and Germany’s 2. Bundesliga.”
“Las Vegas is a first-class sports city with a progressive sports-minded mayor and leadership, and an outstanding venue in Cashman Field that will create an exciting home for this club,” continued Papadakis. “Furthermore, Brett Lashbrook brings significant soccer experience and is well-respected in the soccer industry, immediately adding to the already strong group of owners in the USL family. Those three qualities create a successful expansion market for the league as it continues to grow. We are excited for the plans Brett and his team have in store for the community, and for Las Vegas soccer fans who will finally have a club of their own.”
Following the announcement of the franchise, Lashbrook revealed the six potential team names still in the running, including Las Vegas FC, Las Vegas Lights, Las Vegas Action, Viva Vegas, Club Vegas, and Las Vegas Silver. Fans can visit the www.VegasProSoccer.com website from now through Monday, Aug. 28 at 11:59 p.m. PT to vote for their favorite team name.
Prior to moving to Las Vegas in 2015 to be near family, Lashbrook served as Chief Operating Officer to lead Major League Soccer’s expansion team in Orlando, Florida, where he oversaw the Club’s transition from USL to Major League Soccer. In addition, he also previously served as legal counsel and special assistant to the Commissioner’s office at Major League Soccer for seven seasons. Las Vegas Soccer joins Nashville SC and Fresno FC in joining the USL for the 2018 season. The league also this week announced an expansion franchise for the 2019 season in Birmingham, Alabama and a return to Austin, Texas. As the USL continues to expand into new markets, it requires a vibrant millennial and family population of soccer fans, a strong corporate base, an exceptional ownership group and a proper venue to display the sport. Deposits for the team’s inaugural season in 2018 are now available for $20 at www.VegasProSoccer.com.
Wild West Bass Trail (WWBT) announced it will host its 2017 Lucas Oil Western Classic Championship in Henderson next month. The bass fishing tournament will be held Sept. 8 through Sept. 10 at Lake Mead, with an angler seminar taking place on Sept. 6 at the Henderson Convention Center, 200 S. Water St. This is the second year Henderson has hosted the championship tournament. Organizers chose the city due to the success of last year’s event and proximity to Lake Mead. The city’s amenities and nearby attractions also were a factor in the decision.
“We are thrilled to host the championship bass fishing event for a second time,” said Barbra Coffee, Director of the City of Henderson Economic Development & Tourism Department. “We hope the anglers experience all that Henderson has to offer during their visit. We are excited for this year’s event and look forward to working with Wild West Bass Trail on future events.”
The Lucas Oil Western Classic will feature 200 of the best pro- and co-anglers from the West Coast, including Nevada, California, Arizona, and Washington. “Our anglers have fished at some of the best lakes on the West Coast to qualify for this championship,” said Gary Dobyns, co-owner of the Wild West Bass Trail. “We have seen an amazing display of competition this year and are ready to see who will take home the title.”
Fish weigh-ins, which are open to the public, will be held at 2 p.m. each day of the tournament at Callville Bay Marina, 100 Callville Rd., on Lake Mead. Weigh-ins will be broadcast live on WWBT’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. The top pro and co-anglers at the championship will each receive a Ranger boat with an Evinrude – a combined value over $90,000 – and split the prize payout, which is valued at over $150,000.
An angler seminar will be held prior to the tournament. The free event will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sept. 6 at the Henderson Convention Center, 200 S. Water St. The seminar is a chance for fans to talk to the pros, learn new fishing techniques and view nationally sponsored/branded boats. Television coverage for WWBT, including the 2017 Lucas Oil Western Classic Championship, will be available to national and regional audiences through broadcasts on The Pursuit Channel, Fox Sports West, and Fox Sports Arizona. The unique, participant-focused show will share perspectives from participating tournament anglers, as well as supporting sponsors and tournament crews. Check local listings for broadcast times and dates. For more information on the WWBT, tournament schedules or registration, visit WildWestBassTrail.com or call 530-821-0301.
Kristin Hensley and Jen Smedley, stars of the web series IMOMSOHARD, are bringing their hit show to Las Vegas for a special performance at the Grand Events Center inside Green Valley Ranch Resort on Saturday, November 18 at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $20 and go on sale Friday, August 18, 2017 at 10 a.m. Tickets for IMOMSOHARD are $20, $30, $40 and $50 plus tax and applicable fees for reserved seating. A special package, including four VIP tickets, a bottle of champagne and orange juice, are available for $300 plus tax and applicable fees. Doors open at 7 p.m. and guests must be 18 years or older. Tickets can be purchased at any Station Casinos Reward Center and The Fiestas, by logging onto www.stationcasinosevents.com or through Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com.
The show is about two moms (Not married), who are actually married, just not to each other. Four kids. Two husbands. Three dogs. Two glasses of wine – to start. Lots of laughs. Kristin Hensley and Jen Smedley have been performing, teaching, and writing comedy internationally for a combined 40+ years. They have been moms for one quarter of that time and it shows. How do they cope? They laugh about all the craziness that comes with being a mom and they want you to laugh about it too! From snot to stretchmarks to sleepless nights, Kristin and Jen know firsthand that parenting is a hard job and they invite you to join them in taking it all a little less seriously (even if for a few short minutes a day). After all, Jen currently has four days of dry shampoo in her hair and Kristin’s keys are still in her front door. They try, they fail, they support each other, and they mom as hard as they can.
Well, gang, that’s about it for this week.