Talking With Norm Clarke – December 11, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Norm Clarke

This week, Ira spoke with Norm Clarke. To listen to the interview click below.

Norm Clarke’s popular “Vegas Confidential” column is featured four days a week in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He regularly breaks news about celebrities or personalities that are reported around the world.

Clarke is a Montana native, whose background includes more than 15 years in Denver as a baseball writer, sports journalist, and man-about-town columnist.

He had a 12-year stint with the Associated Press (with stops in Cincinnati, San Diego and Los Angeles) and has written two books, “1,000 Naked Truths” and “Sinsational Celebrity Tales.”

Clarke will be presenting his quarterly “Conversations With Norm” in Cabaret Jazz at the Smith Center on Sunday, December 14th at 1 p.m., this time sitting down with Mr. Las Vegas himself, Wayne Newton.

On Twitter: @Norm_Clarke

Talking With Brody Dolyniuk – November 26, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Brody

This week, Ira spoke with Brody Dolyniuk. To listen to the interview click below.

Brody Dolyniuk, performing in “Bronson, Brody and Beatles-A Hard Day’s Night of Legendary Music,” November 28 and “Totally 80s Symphonic!” December 7 (both at The Smith Center) is a multi-faceted, self-taught musician who began his professional music career playing in piano bars.

A chance meeting with a pair of star-shaped sunglasses led to forming an Elton John tribute band Brody called Yellow Brick Road. Soon YBR began going outside the EJ catalog to perform other classic rock giants such as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and more.

Within a year, YBR was a steady working band in the Las Vegas music scene and had cultivated a large local following. YBR also became an in-demand choice for the corporate entertainment market.

After 14 years of solid work, Brody stepped down as front man for YBR to pursue other avenues, namely his role as a vocalist for Windborne Music’s touring symphony shows, singing the Music of Queen and The Who. Simultaneously Brody had been developing his own production called Symphonic Rockshow.

Now residing in Southern California, Brody continues to tour, as well as perform as a producer and session musician.

Talking With Jim Warlick – November 20, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Jim Warlick 11-20-14

This week, Ira spoke with Jim Warlick. To listen to the interview click below.

Jim Warlick, who has spent a lifetime collecting presidential artifacts, will be opening the “The JFK Exhibition” at the new Tropicana Las Vegas on November 22nd. The exhibition will showcase artifacts from a historic time in 20th century America and feature some of the most iconic memorabilia from the 35th president of the United States, all collected by Warlick.

Warlick grew up in the small town of Morgantown, North Carolina where his interest in politics was spurred on by U.S. Senator Sam Ervin Jr. As a child, Warlick collected political buttons and other memorabilia as a hobby. In 1980, while working on Capitol Hill for North Carolina Congressman Lamar Gudger Jr., Warlick came up with the idea of designing and selling political campaign buttons. Shortly after designing and creating several buttons, he attended the national Democratic convention in New York City and sold them outside his hotel. After realizing he could make a better living selling campaign buttons than working on Capitol Hill, he quit his job and hit the road to start USA Button Poll.

Warlick designed a system so each customer purchase would update a poll that showed which candidate had sold the most buttons. A few years later, several well-known national reporters began asking Warlick for regular updates on which presidential candidates’ buttons were selling the most. They realized that the USA Button Poll’s sales closely aligned with the popular vote.

In 1989, Warlick opened a kiosk at Union Station to sell political memorabilia. Within a few years, he had opened a total of six stores selling buttons and other presidential memorabilia in Boston, Chicago, Baltimore, and Washington, DC. He created an internship program and has since worked with more than 200 political science students, encouraging them to be more involved with politics.

Warlick continued collecting political memorabilia and opened his Presidential Museum in Branson, Missouri in 2002, showcasing a Boeing 707 Air Force Once fuselage, Oval Office, First Ladies’ gowns, and more than 500 presidential items. Warlick wanted more people to see his collection, so he took his American Presidential Experience across America, exhibiting at Rockefeller Center in New York and presidential nominating conventions in Denver, Charlotte, and St. Paul.

The exhibition at The New Tropicana Las Vegas, opening November 22, 2014, will feature the largest inventory and most iconic exhibits of his presidential collections, including two JFK limousines and a Boeing 707 Air Force One fuselage outfitted exactly the way it appeared on November 22, 1963. Many other personal items of both John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy will be on display for the first time anywhere in America. Many items were recently acquired from personal collectors and have not been available for viewing.

Talking With Gail Rubin – November 13, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Gail Rubin 11-13-14

This week, Ira spoke with Gail Rubin. To listen to the interview click below.

Gail Rubin, CT, The Doyenne of Death®, will be speaking on “Jewish Funeral Traditions on Film,” at the Nathan Adelson Hospice – Walter L. Schwartz Center for Compassionate Care on Tuesday, November 18th at 7 p.m. The event is presented by the Jewish Community Center of Southern Nevada. She helps get funeral planning conversations started with a light touch on a serious subject. She hosts the TV/DVD series, A Good Goodbye, as well as a weekly Internet radio program.

As an award-winning speaker, Rubin uses humor and funny films to attract people to a topic many would rather avoid. She also helped pioneer the Death Cafe movement in the United States by hosting the first one west of the Mississippi in Albuquerque, New Mexico in September 2012.

Rubin is a Certified Thanatologist, a designation awarded by the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC). The designation Certified in Thanatology: Death, Dying and Bereavement is a fancy name for a death educator. She has made behind-the-scenes visits to mortuaries and the Office of the Medical Investigator, and takes continuing education courses on funerals, death, grief, and the afterlife.

She is also a Certified Celebrant, a Life Tribute professional personally trained by Doug Manning and Glenda Stansbury of the In-Sight Institute, the leading U.S. organization that trains Celebrants. Gail is also a public relations professional and event planner. Rubin has more than 30 years of experience creating many memorable life cycle events. She is an award-winning speaker with memberships in Toastmasters International and the National Speakers Association New Mexico Chapter.

As the author of “Matchings, Hatchings and Dispatchings,” an Albuquerque Tribune column on life cycle events, Rubin found that the columns on death elicited the greatest reader response, indicating a pressing need for information on the topic. She started The Family Plot Blog, a chipper online resource to provide the information, inspiration and tools to pre-plan a healing and meaningful funeral or memorial service.

Her award-winning book, A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die, provides everything you never knew you needed to know about funeral planning and brings light to a dark subject. The book was awarded Best of Show in the 2011 New Mexico Book Awards and was a finalist in the Family & Relationships category of the 2010 Book of the Year Award from ForeWord Reviews.

Talking With Steve March-Tormé – November 6, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Steve March Torme 11-6-14

This week, Ira spoke with Steve March-Tormé. To listen to the interview click below.

Steve March-Tormé will be performing in “An Evening With The Next Generation,” on Saturday, November 8th at the M Resort. The next generation includes, in addition to Steve (who is the son of Mel Torme): Ricci Martin, Son of Dean Martin; Lorna Luft, daughter of Judy Garland; and Lena Prima, daughter of Louis Prima. The Master of Ceremonies is Anthony Lewis, son of Jerry Lewis.

March-Tormé was born in New York City to the multi-talented Mel Tormé and the former model, Candy Tockstein. They were divorced when Steve was two and a half years old. Shortly thereafter, Candy married the actor/comedian Hal March, who was the host of NBC-TV’s The $64,000 Question Show and subsequently starred in Neil Simon’s Come Blow Your Horn on Broadway.

An avid baseball player and fan growing up in Westchester County, N.Y., March-Tormé dreamed of playing for the Yankees. While listening to games on the radio in the basement of their home, he discovered his love for music almost by accident. Following every game, he’d switch to the Top 40 music stations and find himself singing along with such artists as The Four Seasons, Nat King Cole, The Temptations, Ricky Nelson and Gene Pitney. With his natural ear for harmonies, his favorites quickly became and remain The Beatles. By the age of 12, he knew that he wanted to be a performer and at 13, he earned his first paycheck, fronting his own band. After his family moved to Beverly Hills, he formed friendships with other second generation “show biz kids” like Desi Arnaz Jr., Dean Martin Jr., Miguel Ferrer, Carrie Fisher and Liza Minnelli while attending high school. During this time, he continued to develop as a musician and his influences grew to include Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Todd Rundgren and Steely Dan.

Following the early death of his stepfather, March-Tormé rekindled his relationship with his father Mel, and soon realized they had a great deal in common besides a love for performing and various types of music. They also shared an avid interest in vintage planes, trains and automobiles.

In the late 1970’s, March-Tormé recorded his first LP, Lucky, for United Artists Records, supporting it with a very well received 20 city, national concert tour. Upon returning to California, he produced and sang on Liza Minnelli’s Columbia Records release Tropical Nights, which became a favorite of the New York dance clubs.

Since then, March-Tormé has wooed audiences in every venue from intimate jazz clubs to Performing Arts Centers to festivals worldwide (Australia, England, Japan, Canada, Brazil, to name a few).

Talking With The Naked Magicians – October 30, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Naked Magicians

This week, Ira spoke with The Naked Magicians. To listen to the interview click below.

Jason Baney and Charles Bach perform in “The Naked Magicians,” a show that combines magic and strip poker and involves the audience as well. The show is presented at 4 p.m. in the Tommy Wind Theater on the Las Vegas Strip through Halloween. Charles is producer/creator/choreographer for “The Naked Magicians and Jason is a cast member.

Bach’s career of more than 20 years began with a combined interest in acting, puppetry, magic, and dance. The last decade and a half has been spent touring the world with his own illusion show, a residency at Caesars Palace for four years, and producing and choreographing dance shows, musical revues, game shows, and magic shows for casinos, theaters, and corporate events.

Bach is the only magician in the world performing an incredible death-defying Underwater Escape locked in 100 pounds of chains, locks and shackles. This spectacular feat of skill has been performed around the world at large events, on cruise ships and grand openings. As a testament to the genuineness of this performance, men from more than 65 different countries have had the experience of chaining Charles up for the escape. In six years of Charles Bach performing this escape, over 500,000 people have witnessed it live.

After several years as a successful competitor and performer on the convention circuit, Baney was hired for the first time as a creative consultant by fellow magician Kevin James, a role which has continued for more than 10 years. Meanwhile, he took his act overseas, performing in Europe and Asia, performing live and on television for millions.

Upon returning to the United States, Baney took up residence in Las Vegas. It wasn’t long before he started performing in the longest running daytime show in the city’s history, “Viva Las Vegas.” Those performances directly led him to land a spot in the coveted “World’s Greatest Magic Show” for the next three years

Talking With Patrick Murray – October 23, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Patrick Murray & Matilda

This week, Ira spoke with comedy ventriloquist Patrick Murray. To listen to the interview click below.

Comedy ventriloquist Patrick Murray and his partner, Matilda, perform daily at the D Las Vegas.

Murray’s family was a little taken aback when he told them he wanted to be a ventriloquist when he grew up. Especially since when he told them he was 23 years old. Up until that time, although he was a clever mimic and full of funny voices, he made his living unloading freight trains. After teaching himself ventriloquism from Izzy Rizzy’s Home Study Course, a $4 booklet from Izzy Rizzy’s House of Tricks and School of Ventriloquism on Chicago’s South Side, Murray decided to stop throwing freight and start throwing voices.

His newfound talents landed him in top nightclubs where he honed his craft and sense of humor. After a few successful years Murray decided to see the world and started tours that covered the entire US, Caribbean, South America, Australia, Europe and Asia.

His greatest successes came after introducing Jamaican Comedy Diva, Matilda into his act. Matilda was born into a talented family. Her father Winston is a world-class Limbo Dancer, who always taught her the importance of raising the bar. Her mother Camille is listed in The Guinness Book of Records as the world’s fastest basket weaver and hair braider. Brother Clive an airline pilot with Air Jamaica, although he was never able to overcome his fear of heights, he gets by pretending a DC 10 is nothing more than a Buick with wings. This character was developed at the encouragement of West Indian friends and co-workers who thought that Murray’s talent for the West Indian accent and sense of humor warranted a character that highlighted the islands. She was an instant hit and a beloved character.

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Talking With Patty Ascher – October 16, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Patty Ascher

This week, Ira spoke with Patty Ascher. To listen to the interview click below.

Las Vegas based, Brazilian born singer Patty Ascher is performing residency shows at the Downtown Las Vegas Container Park every Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Born in Sao Paolo, Brazil, Ascher grew up in a musical household. Her father Neno was part of a very successful Brazilian band from the 70s called “Os Incríveis” (The Incredibles). “My father is a musician, his brother is a very popular arranger and maestro in Brazil and all my cousins play an instrument,” she says. As a singer, she cites Brazilian divas Leny Andrade and Gal Costa along with American jazz divas Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald and Dinah Washington as important influences. “What they all have in common,” says Ascher, “is personality. When you hear them you do know who is singing.”

She also lists Nat “King” Cole, Frank Sinatra and Al Jarreau as among her favorite male voices, though her earliest vocal influence may have come from a 1930s icon. “The first song I remember in my life was ‘Ain’t Mishbehavin’’ with Fats Waller singing,” she recalls. “I was only three years old and I loved that song. I’d wake up in the morning hearing Fats, and that always stuck with me. Then I discovered Cab Calloway’s ‘Minnie the Moochie’ from a cartoon and I loved that as well. My father then introduced me to Louis Armstrong and I started to listen all the time to his versions of ‘Dream A Little Dream of Me,’ ‘High Society’ and ‘St. James Infirmary.’ I used to love that man singing just to me in my room while I was eating or taking a bath, even when I was sleeping.”

Ascher’s musical horizons eventually expanded to include the Beatles, American Soul and jazz. During her college years while studying for a bachelor’s degree in Literature at the University of São Paulo, she began immersing herself in Brazilian music while harboring a dream of becoming a professional singer.

In 2006, after earning a master’s degree at age 22, she encountered bossa nova pioneer, Roberto Menescal, who invited her to record her first CD, singing Burt Bacharach songs in bossa nova style. “Meeting him was a sign to me,” she says. “It was a chance to go on seriously with a career, working with a great producer and mentor. We released our project one year after our first meeting and it was a dream project. It was an incredible opportunity to sing samba and jazz together. They have a lot in common. Both were born in the ‘new continent’ at the same time from the same mother…Africa.”

Talking With Jerry Lewis, Part 2 – October 9, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Jerry Lewis Tuxedo

This week, Ira spoke with Jerry Lewis, Part Two. To listen to the interview click below.

Entertainment legend and Academy Award® winner Jerry Lewis recently performed “An Evening with Jerry Lewis” at the Smith Center. It was a blend of stand-up comedy, gags, trademark vignettes, songs, and big-screen video montages of the Academy Award winner’s most memorable and hilarious feature film moments.

Some highlights of Lewis’ long and successful career:

Jerry Lewis was born Joseph Levitch on March 16, 1926, in Newark, New Jersey. His parents, Rae and Danny Lewis, were professionals in the entertainment world. Jerry’s father was the “total entertainer,” his mother played piano at New York City radio station WOR, made musical arrangements, and was her husband’s musical director.

When only five years old, Jerry made his debut in New York’s Borscht Circuit singing “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?” By the time he was fifteen, he had perfected a comic routine, miming and silently mouthing lyrics of operatic and popular songs to a phonograph located off-stage. This was known as his “Record Act”.

On July 25, 1946, Jerry began a show business partnership with Dean Martin, an association that would soon skyrocket both to fame. It started when Jerry was performing at the 500 Club in Atlantic City and one of the other entertainers quit suddenly. Lewis, who had worked with Martin at the Glass Hat in New York City, suggested Dean as a replacement. At first they worked separately, but then ad-libbed together, improvising insults and jokes, squirting seltzer water, hurling bunches of celery and exuding general zaniness. In less than eighteen weeks their salaries soared from $250.00 a week to $5,000.00.

When the motion picture producer Hal Wallis watched the two perform at the Copacabana in New York City, he offered them a contract with Paramount Pictures. Of their first film, “My Friend Irma” (1949), Bosley Crowther of the New York Times wrote: “We could go along with the laughs which were fetched by a new mad comedian, Jerry Lewis by name. This freakishly built and acting young man, who has been seen in nightclubs hereabouts with a collar-ad partner, Dean Martin, has a genuine comic quality. The swift eccentricity of his movements, the harrowing features of his face, and the squeak of his vocal protestations… have flair. His idiocy constitutes the burlesque of an idiot, which is something else again. He’s the funniest thing in the picture”.

For ten years Martin and Lewis sandwiched sixteen money making films between nightclub engagements, personal appearances, recording sessions, radio shows, and television bookings. Their last film together was “Hollywood or Bust” (1956). On July 25th of that year the two made their last nightclub appearance together at the Copacabana, exactly ten years to the day since they became a team.

From then on, Jerry Lewis was constantly on the move. His film career skyrocketed, and he recorded several records and albums; one of them “Rock-A-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody”, released by Decca Records, has sold nearly four million copies to date. With increased confidence, Lewis plunged into screen writing, directing, producing as well as acting. In the spring of 1959, a contract between Paramount Pictures and Jerry Lewis Productions was signed specifying a payment of $10 million plus 60% of the profits for 14 films over a seven year period… at that time the biggest single transaction in film history for the exclusive services of one star.

In 1967 Jerry became a professor at the University of Southern California, where he taught graduate students a course in film direction. “The Total Film-Maker”, based on recordings of 480 hours of his classroom lectures, was edited by Jerry and published by Random House in 1971. The USC library also houses an extensive collection of Jerry’s original documents relating to motion picture production.
Lewis has won the Best Director of the Year award eight times in Europe since 1960; three in France, and one each in Italy, Belgium, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.

In September 1976 the United States Senate unanimously adopted a resolution of appreciation to him “For his outstanding contribution in the fight against muscular dystrophy.” In June 1978 the communications industry honored him with the NATPE (National Association of Television Program Executives) Award of the Year for his humanitarian efforts in raising funds to combat neuromuscular disease through his annual Labor Day Telethon.

On February 22, 1998 Jerry received the Lifetime Achievement Award from The American Comedy Awards.

In 1999, Lewis dedicated much of his time to the remakes of his 1960’s classics, “The Bellboy,” “Cinderfella,” “The Errand Boy,” and “The Nutty Professor II,” as well as writing and developing new film and television projects. In September of 1999 he was awarded the “Golden Lion” by the Venice International Film Festival for his lifetime achievements in motion pictures. This was a great honor from the oldest film festival in Europe.

Talking With Jim Belushi and Clint Holmes – October 2, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Jim Belushi & Clint Holmes

This week, Ira spoke with Jim Belushi and Clint Holmes. To listen to the interview click below.

Comedian, actor and blues musician Jim Belushi along with blues band The Sacred Hearts will be performing at the Orleans Showroom October 4-5.

Belushi is known worldwide for making people laugh as a regular on “Saturday Night Live,” his long-running comedy series “According to Jim” and his many film appearances. In addition to his film and TV career, Belushi’s music career blossomed in 1995 when he joined forces with House of Blues regulars, The Sacred Hearts. Soon after, friend Dan Aykroyd asked Belushi to join him as part of the Blues Brothers. To get ready to play with the Blues Brothers, Belushi would crash rehearsals for The Sacred Hearts. He had so much fun performing with them, they eventually merged professionally and have been performing as Jim Belushi and The Sacred Hearts.

The band’s first CD, “36 x 22 x 36,” was released in 1998 and delivers a Memphis rhythm & blues sound seasoned with a lot of soul. Additionally, the “According to Jim Soundtrack” was released in 2005, containing the music by Jim Belushi & The Sacred Hearts featured in fan favorite series episodes. Much of the show’s music was written and recorded by Belushi and bandmates Johnny Rubano and Tony Braunagel, who also made regular guest appearances on “According to Jim.”

Band members include guitarist J.J. Holiday, vocalist/trumpet player Johnny Rubano, bassist Larry Lee Lerma, composer and saxophonist Joe Sublett, vocalist Julie Delgado, drummer Tony Braunagel and trumpet player Darrell Leonard.

Clint Holmes is performing in GEORGIA ON MY MIND: Celebrating the Music of Ray Charles at the Venetian Las Vegas through October 29, along with ten-time GRAMMY award-winning vocal group TAKE 6, six-time GRAMMY nominee and DownBeat artist of the year Nnenna Freelon, and Stella Gospel Award and GRAMMY award-winning saxophone star Kirk Whalum. DownBeat artist of the year Nnenna Freelon, and Stella Gospel Award and GRAMMY award-winning saxophone star Kirk Whalum. Th

Holmes, named Las Vegas Entertainer of the Year three times, Singer of the Year four times and awarded the Sammy Davis Jr. Foundation award, is appearing with has begun an exclusive engagement at Cabaret Jazz inside The Smith Center. The newly opened Smith Center For the Performing Arts, is a world-class venue in the heart of Las Vegas.

Holmes comes by his talent naturally. His father was an African-American jazz musician and his mother a classically trained opera singer from Great Britain. Clint admits it was the best of two musical worlds. “My mom taught me how to sing correctly, and my dad taught me how to enjoy it.” Casual elegance describes Clint’s presence on stage. His musical selections range from contemporary to classic, with jazz and opera thrown into the mix.

In the world of theater, Holmes, along with Nelson Cole, created the book, music, and lyrics for the musical, “Comfortable Shoes.” Clint starred in the world premiere of this musical at the legendary Papermill Playhouse. His latest musical, “Just Another Man” with Larry Moss and Bill Fayne, had its premiere at the Nevada Conservatory Theatre at the Judy Bailey Theater at UNLV.

In April of 2012, he premiered a major cabaret piece, “Remembering Bobby Short,” a loving homage to the man who defined New York cabaret. It was performed at the legendary Cafe Carlyle, where Bobby Short held court for more than thirty years. In July of 2012, he premiered another major work, “This Thing Called Love-The Music of Cole Porter and Paul Simon,” directed by Larry Moss, also at the Cafe Carlyle in New York, to rave reviews.