Went to the Italian American Club the other evening to hear and watch an Elvis Impressionist sing a bunch of songs, none of which were attributed to the long-time dead singer. Nope, folks, it was Justin Shandor doing Justin Shandor. And I got to tell ya, by the end of the evening I was blown away with his choice of songs, his vocal range, and his persona.
Right off the bat I was saying to myself “this guy belongs on Broadway.” No sooner did I have that thought than Justin was telling “why I’m not on Broadway (sideburns, etc.).” But his voice is so pure and powerful and if I was him—off with the sideburns, etc and Broadway here I come. But that won’t happen I fear as he has become one of the top impressionists of a man loved far and wide: Elvis Presley.
In talking with Shandor following his 90-minute (with a wee bit of overtime) performance, he told me that he was really nervous, as this was his first time doing just himself. Justin had surrounded himself with four of the best musicians in town led by conductor, singer, pianist Bill Fayne—who came to town in the late ‘80s or early ‘90s with his buddy Clint Holmes and never left ‘Thank God.’ Fayne had Bob Sachs on bass; John Falbo guitar, and Adan Shendel on drums.
The show opened up with Shandor performing “Just one of those Things,” followed by “Our Love is here to Stay” followed by “Isn’t She Lovely” into “Where do You Start.” That’s when I knew we (the audience) wee going to be well entertained by the time the evening would be ending. After a couple of standards Justin moved smoothly into a Sinatra standard, “You and Me” where he really shines, and then he tops that off with two dramatic beauties—“I Can’t Get Started” and “A Day in the Life of a Fool.”
I noticed one thing that Shandor does that was very neat, and he does it in closing out a certain song– he puts his own spin on the finish. Not every song either, just certain ones that I think he had more of a liking towards. Lots of singers have their favorites and arrange a few changes to make it their own, and I think Justin does it with a number of his songs. Personally, I liked it!
About midway he brings on an incredibly talented, beautiful lady who headlines on the Strip, to sing a song with him, Gabriella Versace, and the two team up on the wonderful “The Way We Were.” That was a killer gang, and the show continued ranging from Pop to Broadway to Streisand to Sinatra to Elvis to Phantom of the Opera’s hit, “Music of the Night.”
In saluting his conductor Justin selected a song he had not ever sung before, nor had it ever been heard by hardly anyone before this evening—“The Way of Life” written by his conductor, Bill Fayne, some 30 years ago. And, wow, the words just hit you right in the gut. This is a song you wish you could hear again! I hope Bill or Justin do something with it. It’s too good to be in a closet!
In closing Justin proved that he could do things other than Elvis. He fills rooms with Elvis, but now he can fill them with just singing with his own far-reaching Bari-ten voice. I want to see more of Justin Shandor singing Justin Shandor.
THIS AND THAT QUICKLY:
As many of you know, during my early days of making a living in Los Angeles, I worked for one of the greatest human beings I ever had the honor of knowing and working with the late Heavyweight Champion of the World (1937-1949) Joe Louis. Well, gang, over the past few years I’ve had the pleasure of meeting up with one of his daughters Candice and her husband, George Joseph, who make Las Vegas their home.
After assembling some of their personal collection the dynamic duo contacted the Las Vegas Library system, asking them if they would like to display a collection of things belonging to the late champion. So now it’s a reality. On display at the West Sahara Library, 9600 W. Sahara, is a special painting presented to Louis by Frank Sinatra in 1978, many of the awards collected by him over the years, a one-of-a-kind lithograph signed by Joe and Max Schmelling commemorating the “Fight of the Century” on June 22, 1938, the championship belt given by Ring Magazine, gloves, and the Congressional Gold Medal given in his honor in 1983 (two years after his death), along with a five-minute video narrated by his daughter, Candice Louis Joseph. The display will be there through June for sure.
Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar invites guests to experience the Taste & Learn on Saturday, May 29 and Saturday, June 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. Taste & Learn is Ferraro’s popular, monthly wine-tasting and education event that provides illuminating wine education along with a menu of expertly prepared, authentic Italian small plates crafted by Chef Mimmo Ferraro.
Each Taste & Learn offers a tour through some of Italy’s most esteemed wineries. May’s event spotlights the wines of the Allegrini estate, one of the most renowned wineries in the world. The Allegrini family owns and operates two wineries: the original in Fumane Valpolicella, Veneto, and the other in Bolgheri, Tuscany. The family has been an essential part of winemaking production in the Veneto region since the 16th century and has played a significant role in the development of the Valpolicella area.
June’s Taste & Learn features the Cantina Pertinace winery, located in Trieso, Piedmont. Founded in 1973 by Mario Barbero, the winery was a wine-growers cooperative of 13 members from the Treiso area. Today, there are 17 members, with 222 acres under vines, producing 650,000 bottles of wine each year. Tickets for the all-inclusive experience are $75 and space is limited. To make reservations, please call (702) 364-5300.
AREA15, the dynamic art, events and entertainment district located minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, ranks No. 1 in the 2021 USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice travel awards for Best Immersive Art Experience. A panel of industry experts partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial nominees and then top 10 winners were determined by popular vote.
10Best Readers’ Choice Awards highlight the best of the best in contests covering categories such as destinations, food and drink, hotels, and art museums. Nominees for all categories are chosen editorially by a panel of relevant experts. This award represents the most recent accolade received by AREA15, a collaborative venture between real estate development firm Fisher Brothers and creative agency Beneville Studios, both of New York.
“We are incredibly honored to hold the title of the Best Immersive Art Experience in North America,” said Winston Fisher, chief executive officer, AREA15. “We are proud to introduce the world to something truly disruptive and extraordinary.”
The full list of the 10Best Readers’ Choice Award-winners for Best Immersive Art Experience follows: AREA15 – Las Vegas, Nevada; Wonderspaces Arizona – Scottsdale, Arizona; Seismique – Houston, Texas; Prismajic – Denver, Colorado; WNDR Museum – Chicago, Illinois; House of Eternal Return – Santa Fe, New Mexico; Otherworld – Columbus, Ohio; ARTECHOUSE – Miami, Florida; Factory Obscura – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and City Museum – St. Louis, Missouri.
Leaving fine dining Italian cuisine for American BBQ, James Beard nominated, and Bravo Top Chef favorite Chef Bruce Kalman opens his first Las Vegas restaurant with business partner Richard Camarota, dubbed Soulbelly BBQ, in the heart of the Downtown’s Arts District May 12, 2021.
“I came to Las Vegas because a chef friend of mine convinced me it was a great place to start a business and raise our son, Jude. Since taking the leap of faith in 2019, I’ve been so warmly welcomed by the incredible culinary and business community here. I want Soulbelly to be something special that celebrates the amazing soul of Las Vegas and its people. We’re going to work really hard to deliver on that and give our town a relaxed experience where you can come as you are and know that you’re going to be well fed and well taken care of, and also have fun while you’re at it.”
A veteran chef who worked his way through some of the country’s most prestigious kitchens in New Jersey, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, Kalman became most known for his time at and ownership of LA’s Knead & Co. Pasta Bar + Market and Pasadena’s UNION, where he wowed diners with his Italian cuisine.
Committed to art of cooking, Kalman has always prided himself on house-crafted dishes created with the best-quality ingredients. In a kismet meeting, Kalman found himself at a charity event also attended by Backbeat BBQ founder and Foo Fighters front man Dave Grohl. In an effort to help Grohl serve the crowds, Kalman was introduced to the passion, effort, and incredible community of American BBQ. That was all it took. From that experience, Soulbelly BBQ was born. Coming from a vastly different side of the culinary industry “barbecue has been humbling,” says Kalman. “I really wanted to respect the tradition while putting my own spin on my meats. I’m taking a little more of a chef’s approach than a pitmaster’s, though the heart of the industry and culture can still be tasted.”
Signature #jigglymeat-a phrase coined for the way a brisket moves when it’s pulled from the smoker-dishes include Kalman’s Salt & Pepper Brisket, Carolina Pulled Pork, Chipotle Cider Glazed Drumsticks, Pork Spareribs, house made Hatch Chile and Cheddar Hot Links, and Texas Sausages. From handcrafted pasta and chicharrón breadcrumbs for the Mac and Cheese, to extensive recipe testing for the Coleslaw, Kalman dedicated his efforts toward ensuring that each dish on Soulbelly BBQ’s menu was crafted with full flavor in mind. Further showcasing his creative side, Kalman has adorned the bar menu with rotating bites like superb Pigs In A Blanket, Frito Pie, Pickled Eggs, Chicharrón Chips, Pimento Cheese Dip and more. Soulbelly BBQ is located at 1327 S Main Street, Las Vegas, NV 89104. The restaurant will open at 11 a.m. daily.
Well, gang, see ya at the Joe Louis collection perhaps?