From: Norm Johnson

For: 10-19-2015

This week I’m going to catch up on a few shows that I have failed to write my reviews. The first one took place at the Italian American Club (IAC)in its spacious showroom. The second took place at the Golden Nugget downtown.

The showroom at the IAC  was filled to capacity as the 12-piece Mariano Longo orchestra began to go to work, the lights went down, and a dark haired man, attired in a beautifully tailored tuxedo, slowly entered the stage and began to sing. Gene Ferrari was back in one of his favorite cities. With a big smile he opened the 90 minute performance with “The Power of Love,” immediately followed by “Love is in the Air,” and “Yesterday.” Ferrari has a wonderful and powerful tenor voice and he knows exactly how to use it. Throughout the 19 plus songs performed, he immersed himself into each song so easily, it was like seeing and hearing a silk cloth float in the air, as each note was perfectly placed.

Gene did nearly 15- minutes in a special medley dedicated to the great music composed and performed by Neil Diamond. The list included “Sweet Caroline”, “Love on the Rocks,” and “Solitary Man,” ending with the fabulous “America.” When he was finished it was a standing-ovation for his ability to bring the songs so alive. He followed with a song made famous by his mentor, Engelbert Humperdinck, “Please Release Me.”

Two special guests were in the audience and brought to the stage. Noted TV personality Tony Sacca, and Elvis impressionist James Lawrey.

It is this writers thought that Gene Ferrari will be back soon, as the audience loved him and showed it with thunderous applauses and a couple standing ovations. If I was an entertainment buyer I would be on his trail. Just sayin’.

Last week I headed for downtown to the Golden Nugget with a buddy, Chadwick Johnson (who incidentally will be performing at the Smith Center this Wednesday, Oct. 21) to see and hear the new show put together by one of my long-time buddies, Gordie Brown. I’ve been watching Gordie for more years than either of us want to admit to. I first saw him in a Rich Little show at the Sahara Hotel, when he made his Vegas debut (having come down from Canada), and thank God he stayed. Not only does he do impressions of the famous, but he may take a song made famous by a singer, tweak the words, and before you know it you are laughing your butt off. That is what makes Brown so great. He is a first rate impressionist who does tributes to various artists, and can take or a saying and replace the words that gives it a total new meaning.

Gordie Brown is also able to do what a lot of impressionists can’t do, and that is to reshape his face or body to become that person. His Sammy Davis is a classic!  He takes Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone and has a conversation that makes absolutely no sense, but is a laugh getter. His list of impressions goes the gambit from Kenny Rogers, Elvis (with the glasses and sideburns), Ray Romano, Jim Carrey, the typical Jack Nicholson and Robert De Niro bit, to President Bill Clinton, Neil Diamond, and Paul Simon (he has a funny bit about Viagra). What makes the show new is a lot of the fresh material and jokes. His tribute to the Rat Pack era is a winner in every respect, as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy are at the old Sands Hotel and doing their very best to make the audience laugh—and of course his audience does just that.

This is a show that has outlasted all predictions. I believe he has performed more than 1,400 at the Golden Nugget. That is a lot of 90 minutes on a stage, and he’s still has that hungry energy he had when I first saw him perform. This is a show you can go back and watch again and again and be well entertained. So, if you like good music, like to laugh a lot, and feel good when you leave the room, then Gordie Brown is perfect for you.

THIS AND THAT QUICKLY:

Walker Furniture is now seeking nomination letters through Dec. 4, 2015, to assist individuals and families in Clark County in need for the 22nd Home for the Holidays program. As in past years, the search will allow 30 recipients to receive an entire houseful of new furniture. Larry Alterwitz, CEO of Walker Furniture, is pleased to get the holiday spirit of giving started with the announcement of the annual program knowing the holidays will be a little brighter for these families.

Helping Hands of Vegas Valley is partnering with Walker Furniture as the preliminary committee, using their expertly trained staff to identify the nominated families displaying the most genuine need. In addition this year, other partners include Star Nursery providing a holiday tree to each of the 30 families, and the Las Vegas Rescue Mission will supply food and toys. Nominations are made by writing a letter describing the prospective recipient’s situation, and sending it to Walker Furniture’s CEO, Larry Alterwitz. Relying on the community, letters on behalf of prospective recipients usually come from teachers, students, health care professionals, social service workers, clergy, friends, neighbors, children and grandchildren.

Recipient families have typically endured a variety of hardships, including single parent households facing financial difficulty; families with children suffering from physical or mental disorders; families that have lost their homes and belongings to fires; and families that have been affected by illness, domestic violence or sexual abuse are just some examples. Some stories of past recipients include four minor children whose mother was shot and killed by their father, and the grandparents ended up raising them; a single-parent family of five with one child having a brain injury that required ongoing therapy, and the entire family was sleeping on the floor; and a single working mother of five who was unable to provide her family with beds, chairs or a dining table.

Letters must be received by Friday, Dec. 4 to be reviewed by outside, independent panelists and Helping Hands of Vegas Valley, a local nonprofit organization servicing seniors with free assistive services, will read and verify the thousands of letters received. The 30 recipients will be announced at a special luncheon on Monday, Dec. 14 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Furniture delivers will begin on Dec. 17.

Well, gang, that’s about it for this week.   I’m outa here!

 

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