Hey, gang, because I was unable to attend the special benefit held at the Suncoast Hotel & Casino, last Saturday afternoon for my friend Bill Fayne, I asked another friend to take notes and write a story for me. Michelle Rohl, who has been a professional singer for a number of years in our little village, including a few years with Clint Holmes, where Fayne held forth as Holmes conductor and personal friend since the two met in college, agreed to help. The following is her report.
A BENEFIT FOR A FRIEND
The sold out tribute to Bill Fayne, Saturday, March 6, was one of the most generous afternoons I have ever experienced. It started with a beautiful gesture on the part of Fayne’s good friends, and show co-hosts Clint and Kelly Clinton Holmes, who spearheaded the fund raiser. The Suncoast stood tall, by donating the showroom and covering all costs involved backstage and staff for the event. Domenick Allen, who has worked with Holmes (and thereby with Fayne) over the years, took on the responsibilities of musical director. Brian Czach and his, “Czach Attack Band,” volunteered as the core band, with other musicians sitting in when needed. All the entertainers and musicians donated their time, plus everyone purchased a ticket since there were no complimentary ones.
Robin Leach toasted the audience with his famous “Champagne Wishes,” and the show was on. And, for the next three hours, Bill Fayne’s friends did what they always do: entertain for a friend in need.
Clint and Kelly Holmes kicked it into high gear by opening with Michael Jackson’s, “The Way You Make Me Feel” and “I Just Can’t Stop Lovin’ You.” I really loved those songs, and especially the way they sang them as a duet. It was a perfect opening.
Terry Fator came on stage with his character, “Dougie” in tow, who is very reminiscent of your most annoying neighbor. Fator and his friend were really funny and the ventriloquism was impressive. Pete Barbutti came out and informed everyone that Louie Anderson is lost somewhere in Las Vegas, so “I’ll be filling in for him.” Anderson arrived and immediately joined Barbutti, explaining that he had driven to the South Point Casino instead of the which made for some great jabs (by Barbutti) and laughs, which of course the SRO audience enjoyed.
Three of my favorite Las Vegas girl singers, Sandra Benton, Vita Corimbi and Skye Dee Miles, from the cast of “Menopause—The Musical,” performed a dramatic and soulful version of The Beatles’, “Let It Be.” The three wailed in soulful style and finished off with a beautiful harmony, just as it should be—with lots of love. It was a very moving and dramatic version that got a great response from the crowd. Rick Faugno, a very accomplished singer/dancer, brought down the house with his “Dancin’ Man” number.
One of my favorite moments in the show (there were lots of those favorite moments), was when three of my all-time male vocalists joined forces: Jerry Lopez, Tony Davich and Jamie Hosmer, to sing one of Lopez’ original songs, “Let Me Come Back Home.” Awesome alto saxophonist and solo artist, Phil Wigfall, joined the trio with a fantastic solo. “Le Me Come Back Home” is a beautifully written ballad and was, again, a highlight for me.
The classy and cool, Lance Burton let the audience in on the fact that the reason we were all there, was because Fayne loved magic. Burton then taught everyone how to make a great magic trick look easy (for him, yeah, but the rest of us, no way)! Creator of “Diva Las Vegas,” Michelle Johnson, sang a great arrangement of “Smile.” Mark Giovi (one of the original Las Vegas Tenors with Bill) sang a powerful original, “Young Angels.” Kelly Clinton returned to the stage as her hilarious character, Joe Joe Spaghetti Moretti. You have to love Kelly, she is so amazing. The vocal group, “Fifth Avenue,” performed a tight and funny at times, rendition of “Something’s Coming.”
Domenick Allen, who was the musical director for the event (and a very close friend of Fayne, and is a member of Vocal Soup) performed a medley of Billy Joel songs, but with some new words inserted which were at times, funny or touching, and even a slight “roast” of Bill and his new health situation: “This is a time to remember, all your friends have come together, this day to hold on to, and we came because we want to sing you a song…” It was absolutely brilliant. Another moving moment was when Allen’s daughter, Cayleigh Capaldi, performed. The nine-year-old sang with a grace and style of a seasoned professional. Cayleigh did a beautiful song about children, penned by Dominick, “No Small Miracle.” Another member of Vocal Soup, Susan Anton, sang a very dramatic, “If I Can Dream.”
Lena Prima brought a lot of energy along, which only a Prima could do, with her cool vocals. Prima belted out a version of her father’s (Louie Prima), most memorable hit, “Jump, Jive & Wail.” Tom Steele wailed on the saxophone, intermixed with, “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” The Las Vegas Tenors performed with grace and style, singing a great theme song for their buddy, “You Raise Me Up.” Frankie Scinta jokingly informed the audience that the reason we (the entertainers, etc.) were there, was because Bill loves Barry Manilow, and then sang, “This One’s For You.” Tina Walsh, Clint and sister, Gail Holmes, sang “Breath,” a song from Clint’s original Broadway bound musical. The words and music are brilliant, and gives one a snapshot into the life and times of Clint Holmes. Clint followed up with a passionate version of “I Sing,” another one of my favorites. Other special guest’s appearances were made by the “Swing City Dolls,” Ronnie Rose, “Oh What a Night,” Vince Falcone, “Dangerous Curves,” consisting of Karen Merstik-Michaels, Lisa Smith and Margaret Menzies Gonzales. And, of course, yours truly, Michelle Rohl.
Bill Fayne came on stage and joked, “Where’s the Mayor? I thought, for sure, I would at least get a plaque commemorating the day…” Fayne went on to thank everyone before singing, “Here’s to Life,” which brought tears to many, including my eyes.
The show, after three hours of fantastic entertainment, closed with the entire cast on stage singing, “That’s What Friends Are For.”
As of this writing, Clint estimated that the show generated a little more than $20,000 for his friend of 27 plus years. I (Norm, the regular writer) just wish I could’ve been there to see the smile on my friends’ face, as he watched fellow entertainers do what they do best for a friend in need—entertain a loyal and loving Las Vegas audience. I also want to really thank Ms. Rohl for taking time away from her daughter, to write this very comprehensive column for me. Thanks Michelle.
That’s it for this week. I’m outa here!