From: Norm Johnson

For: Column  6-30-15

     Went to the Italian American Club over on East Sahara last Wednesday, at the invitation of long-time friends, Pauland Sue Lowden See, Paul, who at one time owned the original Hacienda Hotel, the Sahara Hotel, and other hotels, actually got a gig.  Yep that was what the note said from Sue: “Paul has a gig at the Italian American Club…come on over.”

Well, it had been a long time since I watched Paul work his magic on those ivory keys—piano, B-3 organ or whatever was out there to fool around with. Lowden’s first love is his old B-3 organ, which are things of long-ago,  along with the hula hoop,  candy cigarettes, and those miniature wax bottles of colored liquid.  That’s about how old the B-3 is!  Sue, who at one time was a news anchor at the old channel 8 TV (and a good one too), also responded to my question about his B-3 organ, as we sat waiting for the second set to begin, “Paul had to scramble all over to find an old B-3 that he could buy, so he would have parts to keep his own working,” which he plays at home.

Now back to the gig. The entertainer who took a chance and let the B-3 organist sit in for three sets (he actually used a modern day keyboard) was singer, Renee Hale. As you all know I’ve covered a lot of singers in my 50 years in the village, but I never had the opportunity to really sit down and listen to this wonderful entertainer.  The club was filled to the rafters (well, there are no rafters at the club), but needless to say it was standing-room-only. 

As we sat sipping on our vodka soda, we were joined by Cindy Doumani and Randy for the next set. Paul left the table and made his way to the stage, joining the guys of the band consisting of  Kenny Siefert on bass, John Fredrick, guitar, and Michael Tramontana on drums.  This is one heck of a band, let me tell ya.  For Paul, he was cast back to those days when he played that old B-3 at lounges throughout the village. He breezed through such songs as “Sweet Georgia Brown,” “So Nice,” and “Sunny Side of the Street.”  Hey, gang, I didn’t hear a bad note. Renee loves to sing the blues and on this evening she sang quite a few, including: “Stormy Monday,” “You Don’t Know Me,” and one of my favorites, “Birth of the Blues.” The one song that definitely connected with just about everyone inside the club was, “How do you keep the Music Playing.” And all without a rehearsal!

One of the nice things about the Italian American Club and its entertainment, is if you’re a professional entertainer, you can sit in for a song or two.  So, on Wednesday evening, walking up to the stage to sing a song were such local professionals as Rita Lim, Jay Joseph, Tony Sacca, and Nick Mastrangelo.

It was one heck of a night.  But that’s pretty much the “Norm” at the Club every night.  Oh, did I forget to mention they have fantastic food and great service too? Well they do!


    The Laugh Factory, located on the mezzanine level of the New Tropicana Hotel, will be presenting, veteran stand-up comedian Tim Gaither, along with Jon Stringer, and hosted by Johnny Cardinale this coming week (June 29 through July 5).  Show times are 8:30 and 10:30 p.m., nightly with tickets priced at $34.95 and $44.95. 

Tim Gaither is a seasoned comedy veteran from the Midwest, who now lives in Hollywood. The comedian has performed in almost every state in the U.S. as well as Canada and Korea where he performed for the troops. Gaither is a regular Vegas headliner and recently filmed an Hour special at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino in front of a sold out audience. Russell Peters made a special introduction, and Tim received a standing ovation. Check out Tim's new you tube hidden camera series "inappropriate," and don't miss any opportunity you have to see this star of stand-up comedy. He has no specific audience, he is hilarious to all ages and ethnicities and he is a heckler's nightmare. Great material, quick wit, and a wide range of original characters and stories, all spun together with Midwestern charm make this show a must see. More comfortable on a stage than in his own living room, he makes the audience feel like he is in theirs.

The strangely bizarre Jon Stringer, who has been described as a “grown-up boy,” found his voice and passion for stand-up comedy out on the road. He has appeared on the “National Lampoon Disorientation Tour” and E! Television’s “Night Club USA,” however the past few years have found him focusing his deep pool of creative talent into his high-energy, physical stand-up act, which is quickly making him one of the most promising comedians to come out of Texas.


Johnny Cardinale has been featured on “Chelsea Lately” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” and he made his feature film debut in “Bobby Khan’s Ticket to Hollywood,” which was released in 2014. Cardinale also hosts the podcast “For the Love of Mic” on iTunes. He has performed for troops overseas on ten separate occasions in over thirty countries and is a nationally touring college comedian.


Legendary comedian and impersonator Rich Little, will return to the Las Vegas Strip with the debut of his new autobiographical one-man show Rich Little Live”at the world-famous Laugh Factory inside the New Tropicana Hotel. Featuring a compilation of impersonations, sketches, and interactive video of the actors, musicians, politicians, and personalities Little has worked with throughout his more than 50 years in entertainment, spanning from his television career in Canada to his first United States appearances to the present day.  Rich Little Live” will premiere Tuesday, July 14, 2015, at 7:00 p.m.


Rich Little Live” will be performed Saturday-Sunday and Tuesday-Thursday inside the renowned Laugh Factory, located on the mezzanine level of the Paradise Tower inside The New Tropicana Las Vegas from Tuesday, July 14, through Sunday, Aug. 23. All shows begin at 7 p.m. Tickets are $39.95 for General Admission, $49.95 for VIP and $59.95 for Golden Circle and VIP booths (plus applicable taxes and service fees), and can be purchased in-person at the Tropicana Las Vegas Show Tickets desk, online at or by phone at 800-829-9034Rich Little Live” is an all-ages show.


     Fremont Street Experience will be hosting another SlotZilla Charity Challenge, this time to benefit Three Square Food Bank. Fremont Street Experience will be donating 100% of SlotZilla revenue to Three Square on Thursday, July 16 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. There will be a 1:00 p.m. media event where members of Three Square and local celebrities will be on-site taking pictures and flying on SlotZilla. The local celebrities attending the event include: UFC Hall of Famer Forrest Griffin, Pro BMX rider and television personality Ricardo Laguna, Chef Rick Moonen, Miss Nevada US 2014 Lisa Song Sutton, Food Blogger Al Mancini, Chef Johnny Church and Chef Beni  Velazquez. Flight times can be purchased at the SlotZilla box office or can be booked in advance online at 


“We developed the SlotZilla Charity Challenge concept as a fun and exciting way to give back to the community and we are honored to partner with Three Square Food Bank,” said Jeff Victor, president of Fremont Street Experience. “Three Square is an amazing organization that provides hunger relief to people in need in Southern Nevada. Everyone that comes down to fly on SlotZilla on either the Zoomline or Zipline on Thursday, July 16 will be supporting a great cause with every dollar of revenue going to the Three Square.”
SlotZilla ticketing, will call and check-in office is located next to the SlotZilla takeoff tower on Fremont Street between 4th Street and Las Vegas Boulevard. Parking is available at Fremont Street Experience parking garage with entrance off 4th Street just north of Carson.  Zipline – Flyers take off from the lower tier of the tower, 77 feet high and zip in a traditional seated-harness position on an 850-foot flight – half the length of Fremont Street Experience – to a mid-point landing platform located between 3rd Street and Casino Center.  Zoomline– Flyers launch from 114 feet high and zoom in a horizontal “superman” position going 35 mph 1,750 feet across the entire length of Fremont Street Experience, and land on a platform atop a newly built Main Street Stage.  Children under 13 in age must be accompanied by a flyer age 13 or over.  Flyers must weigh between 60-300 lbs. for Zipline and 100-300 lbs. for Zoomline, with a maximum 6’8” height for lower Zipline but no height limit on upper Zoomline.  Flyers cannot be under the influence of drugs and alcohol.  Flyers should not ride if they have health concerns, neck/shoulder problems, are pregnant, have heart trouble, problems with balance, or seizure disorders.


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