This writer had been asked over and over, to go to the Italian restaurant called the Tap House, 5589 W. Charleston, to watch what happens there on a Monday night. If I was going to go out on a Monday evening, I would usually attend another Italian restaurant much closer to me. But, after some heavy politicking by my friend, Barry Berlin and his wife, Louise, I agreed to meet them last Monday. Well, let me tell you, it was an amazing evening.
First off, the wonderful singer, Mark Giovi, turned out to be hosting the event, which is going strongly into its 16th month. There is a live band, composed of drummer, LJ Harness, bass guitar, horn, and a keyboard player. And that’s when the fun begins. There are a bunch of guys (and gals) who bring their axe (musical instruments), or voices, and sit in for a few songs, or all night. The show starts at 7:45 p.m., and is scheduled to end at midnight. I’ve been told it sometimes stretches beyond the schedule.
Now what made this particular night so amazing to this writer? I have known and loved the musical family, The Scintas, since they first landed in our town many years ago. I was one of the first to interview them when they opened at the Hilton Hotel (now the LVH). What made the group so special? A number of things: they were funny, they were great musicians, they had charisma, and they had a girl singer that could knock a song out of the ballpark—Chrissi Scinta!
I learned Monday night that Chrissi had trouble with her vocal chords and had been unable to sing a note for more than a year. She had been under treatment all that time. And, I also learned that it was Frankie Scinta’s birthday last night, and the entire family was there, Mama Scinta, Brother Joey, the respective wives, and other members of the family. Of course, eventually you knew that Giovi would get them up for a song or two.
Another favorite of this writer, a beautiful singer, Genevieve Dew, was there, and early in the evening sang a fantastic Billie Holiday hit. Other entertainers this particular evening were Gary Anthony, who sings a lot of Sinatra songs, and vocalist Mark Love who did the twist with Mark Giovi.
Then the moment came. Giovi motioned for his buddy, Frankie, to come up to the stage. The two singers did a few songs, joked around, and just made the evening very special. Then Genevieve joined the two and they sang a wonderful, “That Lovin’ Feeling,” which got a standing ovation. So, that left Joey Scinta to come up on the dance floor (oh, yeah, they encourage dancing while the entertainment goes on), and again it was a fun time with some great music.
At this time, Mark left Frankie alone on the dance floor. Frankie, one of the nicest guys in town, believe me, then said a few words about his dynamic, beautiful, talented sister, Chrissi. You could hear a pin drop as he explained what had happened to this petite lady with a giant voice. There had been rumors of why she was not with the group as they travelled the world entertaining this past year. Now it was confirmed—she had hemorrhaged her vocal chords. Frankie asked his sister to join him on stage, which she did. And, then it happened. She said she was going to sing a song for her brother on his special night. Again, you could hear a second pin drop, but this time a few of the standing room only crowd, had little shiny tears slowly falling on their cheeks. “This is a song that I have loved since I was a little girl, and it’s meant a lot to me over the years,” she smiled. Her voice cracked for a second as she lifted the microphone to her face, and suddenly the un-mistakable, dynamic, beautiful voice of Chrissi Scinta began to sing, “April Showers.’ What more needs to be said? It was just pure joy!
You never know in life what lies ahead of you. Chrissi had no idea what she would sound like, as she said following the song, that this was the first time she had sung a note since being told not to over a year ago by her doctors. Now she knows. Chrissi is back, stronger than ever. I personally can’t wait to hear her singing with her family again. You can bet I’ll be there when they next appear in Las Vegas.
Oh, yeah, don’t think you can just walk in at 8 p.m. and find an empty seat or chair. I’ve been told that people make reservations a week ahead, and then you better be on time, or it’s gone! Just a kindly warning should you plan on attending one of these Monday nights.
THIS AND THAT QUICKLY:
This coming weekend is the one I really look forward to. NASCAR at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway will begin on Thursday, with a Sprint Cup Series practice session for the new Gen 6 cars. Practice will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and is free to the public. A number of drivers shared their thoughts on testing and racing in the new NASCAR Gen 6 cars at LVMS this weekend.
“I think the cars are obviously really fast because they have more down force,” said Richard Childress’ driver, Kevin Harvick. “Everyone’s anticipation of getting to Las Vegas and getting all of the cars on the race track at the same time is pretty high, just for the fact that no one can tell you exactly what’s going on. You really don’t know what will happen until you get into 100 percent race conditions. The test on Thursday and the race, will at least give us a direction of where we need to go after the weekend so we can work on things. It’s going to be interesting and we’ll see very fast, high speeds.”
Kevin Hamlin, one of the top drivers in NASCAR, and always a contender, said, “Las Vegas is one place that this FedEx team has run pretty well at over the years, but has never really gotten the results we deserve. It’s a fast track with quite a bit of banking, and it’s hard to get your car just right. It will be the first race for these new cars on an intermediate track, so it’ll be interesting to see how they react when you get around another car….”
“I’m jacked up about heading to Vegas,” said Ford driver Greg Biffle. “One, I love to gamble, and two, I love that race track. We run really well there. We’ve got the American Red Cross on the car this weekend and I just can’t wait to get there….”
“We’ve had some success in Las Vegas, winning the very first race in 1998,” said Toyota driver Mark Martin. “Sure, we can do that again. We led 75 laps Sunday (at Phoenix), so we know we’re capable of running well. We’ll just need to put the whole race together. But we can do that….”
Kyle Busch is a native of Las Vegas and also the winner of the 2009 Kobalt Tools 400. “I think I’m expecting that we really don’t know what to expect,” said Busch. “How the car raced at Phoenix will be much different when we get to Vegas. We’ll try to use the Thursday test day, and the rest of the practices, as best we can and learn as much as we can about this new car. So far, they drive well. They put more down force to them. We haven’t really gotten into a pack yet with the mile-and-a-half stuff to see how they lead and follow. We’ve always qualified well at Vegas, and I’m hoping we can keep that going, and have some good track position to start the race with our M&M’s Camry.”
Biffle and Martin, along with Carl Edwards and Casey Mears, will participate in a question-and-answer session in the Neon Garage at 3:45 p.m. Thursday. The public is invited. Tickets for NASCAR Weekend are on sale at www.lvms.com or by calling (800) 644-4444. Neon Garage passes, Lucky 7 preferred parking and driver introduction passes also are available.
The book, “My Father’s Lost Diary,” has just been published by a Las Vegas resident, Simone Salen, who was born during the start of the Holocaust in Europe in the mid ’30s. It is one of the most interesting books this writer has read. It tells the story, in 71 pages, of how this young Jewish father, not only survived being put under arrest by the Gestapo, but was able to get his wife, and daughter (Simone) safely to Great Britain, and eventually to America, and San Francisco. Simone will be doing a book signing at Barnes & Noble at the Rainbow store, 2191 N. Rainbow, on March 16, at 7:00 p.m. She’s a very interesting lady.
Well, gang, that’s about it for this week.
I’m outa here!