Updated November 3, 2021 - 8:45 am
The Halloween double-header began with a trove of Vegas Vickies. It ended when Brian Newman started and closed his show early Monday morning at NoMad Library.
Vegas Vickie was inspiration for a Halloween costume contest at Circa. It is not enough that hotel co-owner Derek Stevens has salvaged and restored the neon statue of the cowgirl from its days in front of Glitter Gulch. Sunday, the neon cowgirl was the subject of the first “Neon Idol” competition. Mistianna Lund, a Vegas local, topped a field of 30 costumed Vegas Vickies. One was dressed as a showgirl, another a gentleman in an oversized (and sightly disquieting) papier-mache head.
Lund won the $10,000 first prize and admirably turned that check over to her new charity, Answers4Cancer. The organization furnishes finances for those seeking holistic options to fight cancer.
“This contest was a surreal experience that I’ll never forget,” Lund said in a statement. “It’s an honor and I’m so blessed and grateful. This was a creative and fun way to raise money for Answers4Cancer, and this check from Circa will help us in our mission to help as many cancer patients in Clark County as we can. It’s an honor to be named your 2021 Vegas Vickie!”
Judging this collective was not easy, we say from the experience. It was fast, frenetic, but fun. Yours truly joined Dayna Roselli and Sean McAllister of Vegas Revealed; YESCO’s Wes Van Dyke, whose company enacted the neon sign’s restoration; Scott Roeben of Vital Vegas; and “Horny” Mike Henry of “Counting Cars” on History on that judges’ panel. Circa director of concierge operations Mike Printy, dressed in a Vegas Vic outfit, was emcee.
Stevens took on a firefighter costume, honoring first responders. His wife, Nicole, wore a dalmatian outfit. Stevens called out to the couple thousand (at least) partiers in front of the 1st Street Stage, “Halloween has become a thing that downtown owns! This is the greatest place to celebrate Halloween, anywhere in the country!”
The Vegas Vickies would concur. Lund spent more 115 hours on the costume, gluing 3,000 jewels onto her Vegas Vickie outfit. We can hope Cher will be similarly inspired to wear a Vegas Vickie costume if and when she returns to Dolby Live. Break it out after “Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves.”
‘Look at all these books’
Speaking of Dolby Live and the Park MGM entertainment district …
Lady Gaga finished her latest “Jazz + Piano” series, and Brian Newman closed out his “After Dark” show at NoMad Library on Halloween. We knew LG was going late when Newman, who is her bandleader, scrambled into his scheduled 11:30 p.m. show about 12:40 a.m.
That was the start, ladies and germs. We were lucky to beat sunrise on All Saints Day. Luckily, we made our 5 a.m. tee time at Las Vegas Country Club (that’s a Rat Pack-era joke, folks).
The place was SRO once again, as some in attendance had hoped LG would turn up. Not this night, and not any night for Newman’s run at NoMad. But Newman’s hang is standing on its own after its latest run drew beyond-capacity crowds.
As is customary in “After Dark,” the host of the party welcomed an assortment of guest stars. He brought up Tim Stewart’s father, country artist Lonnie Stewart, for “Faded Love,” the Willie Nelson-Ray Price swing-fiddle tune that was performed without the fiddle Sunday. Up until this past weekend, the Stewarts had never performed onstage together.
Vegas bass great Steve Flora, who has known Newman since their days in Cincinnati, hopped up to join the conga line.
We also heard from“American Idol” alum Mikalah Gordon, who came with her original, “Honey,” and shimmied with an audience member’s commemorative Gaga C-note boa; the statuesque burlesque performer Mr. Gorgeous (long story short, I caught one of his leggings he threw to the crowd); a shirtless groove sesh from members of “Magic Mike Live”; and a two-number burst of “Built For Comfort” and “Girl Crush” from Skye Dee Miles to close it.
If anyone was groggy before Miles took the stage, they were sufficiently riled up after she destroyed the place. Standing-O, again, for the woman who calls herself Black Sunshine.
Newman worked back-to-back shows over eight hours, counting rehearsals for both performances. This is known as “respectable” among Vegas musicians. Newman overcame a crackling mic, his first such problem in 22 shows since returning to the Library on Oct. 14. It all careened to a halt about 3:45 a.m., another rowdy night on the Strip.
“For a blue-collar guy from Cleveland who lives in Brooklyn, this is so incredible. I am so grateful,” the band leader said.
It’s the stuff folks write about. We’ll see Newman back in the Library, dates to be determined, soon enough. We just need to pencil him in, and take a siesta in the afternoon.
Those Vegas cats
“Jazz + Piano” is especially exciting for locals familiar with the Vegas entertainment scene. Gaga’s orchestra was once more peppered with local musicians, some of the best in the biz. Those who performed with LG in the most recent Dolby Live run were Curt Miller (lead trombone), Adam Schroeder (baritone sax), Neil Maxa (trombone), Danny Falcone (lead trumpet), Jason Levi (trumpet), Rob Mader (sax), Eric Tewalt (tenor sax), Tommy Porrello (trumpet), Rick Keller (sax), Nathan Tanouye (trombone), Sal Lozano (lead alto sax), Sonny Hernandez (bass trombone) and Gil Kaupp (trumpet). Eddie Rich (baritone sax) subbed for Schroeder in Sunday’s finale.
Many of these players are fully fledged members of Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns (or are swings in that lineup), still enforcing “The Healing” at the Copa Room at Bootlegger Bistro at 7:30 p.m. Mondays. Lon Bronson All-Star band is also represented. Many musicians, too, have studied or taught in the internationally renowned UNLV jazz studies program. Newman knows where to find the cats.
Walk, don’t run
On the topic, kinda, of UNLV’s College of Fine Arts ..
The 4th Annual UNLV Art Walk is set for 5-9 p.m. Friday on the university campus. The event commemorates the 40th anniversary of “The Flashlight” art installation, set for 7 p.m. Friday in the plaza between Ham Hall and Judy Bayley Theatre. Created by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen, the piece was installed in 1981, standing 38 feet and made of 24 black-steel fins painted with polyurethane enamel. The school says the structure was commissioned to “amplify the vision” of the Performing Arts Center.
Elsewhere, the walk winds through Barrick Museum, the school’s art galleries, PAC complex and along the academic mall. Dozens of performances of dance, live music and related experiences are scheduled. There is a beer garden (but don’t get plowed) on Pida Plaza, and the UNLV jazz band will be playing in that spot. Many food vendors.
You’ll probably see someone you know, including UNLV College of Fine Arts Dean Nancy Uscher, the heart and soul of the university’s arts endeavors.
What Works in Vegas
Lionel Richie’s residency at Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas. Richie’s series is extended by 12 dates running from Jan. 26-April 9, all performances at 8 p.m. Tickets are on sale 10 a.m. Friday at ticketmaster.com.
Stefani check in
Gwen Stefani has presented a donation of $185,000 to Cure 4 The Kids Foundation. Since opening at Zappos Theater in June 2018, Stefani has donated $1 of every ticket sold to her “Just a Girl” show to the cause. Tickets are still on sale for her residency, which closes Saturday night.
We loved her opening “Hollaback Girl” segment, a tribute to Vegas showgirl productions that incorporated tubas, oversized bananas, a drum corps and wonderful feathered costumes. Stefani got it, the whole run, on the Strip.
Cool Hang Alert
The refurbished Remix Lounge at The Strat has Dr. Rock from 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday and High Octane from 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturday. A good call if you are in the neighborhood, no cover and a nod to the property for keeping live music alive.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.