Talking With Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. – February 12, 2015

FotoFlexer_Photo McCoo-Davis

This week, Ira spoke with Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr.. To listen to the interview click below.

Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr., appearing at the Orleans Casino, February 14-15, have enjoyed tremendous success through the years as recording artists, performers and authors. They have received 7 Grammy Awards and earned 15 gold and 3 platinum records, and enjoyed starring roles on television and stage. They have performed to sold-out concerts around the world. They are currently celebrating more than 40 years in the entertainment business with a musical tribute to the hits and productions that have made up their multi-faceted careers.

As part of The 5th Dimension, the group released numerous champagne and soul classics, including hits “Up, Up and Away,” “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” “Worst That Could Happen,” “Stoned Soul Picnic,” “Sweet Blindness,” “Wedding Bell Blues” and “One Less Bell to Answer.”

After a decade with The 5th Dimension, McCoo and Davis decided to leave the group and establish themselves as a duo. They had immediate success with the single, “You Don’t Have To Be A Star (To Be In My Show).” The song became a #1 hit and earned them a Grammy for “Best R&B Vocal Performance By a Duo or Group.” Additionally, Davis devoted his efforts to a successful gospel music career and McCoo served as host of television’s “Solid Gold.”

The husband and wife team are celebrating 46 years of marriage. In 2004 the couple wrote a book, which shares their secrets of staying happy and committed to each other in Hollywood. The book, “Up, Up and Away…How We Found Love, Faith and Lasting Marriage in the Entertainment World,” was written in collaboration with Mike Yorkey and was released by Northfield Publishing Company. In it, they talk about how they met, their successful musical careers, and their major struggles behind closed doors, offering practical marriage advice and spiritual encouragement along the way

Talking With Ron Kenney – February 5, 2015

FotoFlexer_Photo Ron Kenney 2-5-15

This week, Ira spoke with Ron Kenney. To listen to the interview click below.

Comedian Ron Kenney is performing at the Riviera Comedy Club with Shayma Tash through February 8th.

Kenney has been performing professionally for more than 20 years in almost every venue imaginable, including corporate shows, colleges, cruise ships and comedy clubs in between.

He has appeared on A&E’s “Evening at the Improv,” VH-1’s “Comedy on the Road,” MTV, and Comedy Central. Kenney has opened for Lou Rawls, Neil Sedaka, Melissa Manchester, and Andrew Dice Clay, among others.

Talking With Benjamin D. Hale – January 29, 2015

FotoFlexer_Photo Benjamin Hale

This week, Ira spoke with Benjamin D. Hale. To listen to the interview click below.

Benjamin D. Hale, who is currently starring as Johnny Cash in “Million Dollar Quartet,” will be presenting a “Night of Cosmic American Music” in Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center on Saturday, January 31st at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Classically trained and well-practiced, Benjamin D. Hale is known for his unique ability to create music that blends a wide range of influences into one powerful voice. A lifelong career of onstage music has provided Hale with opportunities to be in multiple bands.

Previously, Hale covered the role of Raoul, the romantic lead, in “Phantom the Las Vegas Spectacular” for six years. The show brought him to Las Vegas. He is originally from Orem, Utah where his parents own and operate The Hale Center Theater, a community theater in the round. Hale’s theater is one of a few that where originally started by his grandparents, Ruth and Nathan Hale, whose theater in Burbank, California owns the title of the longest running community theater in the round in the United States.

Hale has two performing sides to him, the musical theater side and the rock’n’roll side. His dad was a rock’n’roll singer before he began to run the theater in Orem, Utah. From a very young age, Hale was exposed to both the theater and the rock’n’roll.

Talking With Tommy Roe – January 22, 2015

FotoFlexer_Photo Tommy Roe
Photo by Hub Wilson

This week, Ira spoke with Tommy Roe. To listen to the interview click below.

Singer-songwriter Tommy Roe, who will be performing at the South Point January 23- 25, wrote, co-wrote, and recorded six Top Ten Hits between 1962 and 1969, more than any other single artist/songwriter during this period. “Shelia” and “Dizzy” topped the Billboard chart at #1

Roe had a total of eleven records reach the Billboard Top forty, and 23 Billboard Top 100 chart records. With similar chart success in England, and throughout Europe, Asia, and Australia, Tommy is considered one of the early pioneers of American pop culture.

Born in Atlanta, Roe started singing and writing songs at the age of 14. In high school, he and two friends, Mike Clark and Bobby West, formed a band called The Satins. In addition to neighborhood gigs, Tommy and The Satins played high school dances, and fraternity parties at Georgia Tech, and the University of Georgia. It was during this time that he met Felton Jarvis, who would soon become his producer.

In February of 1962, Roe, along with Felton Jarvis, and his new manager, Bill Lowery, drove from Atlanta to Nashville, and recorded two songs – “Save Your Kisses,” and “Shelia.” The single “Shelia” was released and soon became the number one hit around the world. Little did Roe know that this would be the beginning of a career that would propel him into the spotlight for life.

In 1986, Roe was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. He is also a Rockabilly Hall of Fame inductee and a member of The Iowa Rock ‘n Roll Association Hall of Fame.

Talking With Sommelier Kirk Peterson – January 15, 2015

FotoFlexer_Photo Kirk Peterson

This week, Ira spoke with Sommelier Kirk Peterson. To listen to the interview click below.

Kirk Peterson grew up in a small town in Northern Nevada before eventually making his way to Las Vegas to attend film school. After working in the entertainment industry from Los Angeles to Australia, he returned to Las Vegas to make his favorite hobby and true passion a career: wine and spirits.
After joining the opening team of Carnevino in 2008 as a sommelier, Peterson now serves as beverage director for B&B Ristorante, Carnevino Italian Steakhouse, Otto Pizzeria e Enoteca, and B&B Burger & Beer.

Talking With Diane Schuur – January 8, 2015

FotoFlexer_Photo Diane Schuur

This week, Ira spoke with Diane Schuur. To listen to the interview click below.

Diane Schuur (nicknamed “Deedles”), long regarded as one of contemporary jazz’s leading vocalists, is appearing in Cabaret Jazz at the Smith Center through January 9.

Born in Tacoma, Washington in 1953, Schuur was blind from birth; but she was gifted with perfect pitch and initially taught herself piano by ear.

With a distinguished career that includes two Grammy awards (“Timeless” and “Diane Schuur and The Count Basie Orchestra: on GRP Records), Schuur has explored almost every corner of the 20th Century musical landscape. Her musical collaborations include those with Barry Manilow, B.B. King, Ray Charles, and Jose Feliciano, among countless others. These collaborations have resulted in numerous #1 Billboard Chart recordings, including “Pure Schuur” and “Heart to Heart” with B.B. King.

Schuur has appeared on PBS and many other television specials…as well as a very special visit to “Sesame Street.” She has been invited to perform at The White House on multiple occasions, and was one of the select musical guests invited to perform for Stevie Wonder at the Kennedy Center Honors when he received his prestigious award. Schuur continues to tour and perform extensively at major concert halls and venues around the world.

Schuur’s latest critically acclaimed recording, an homage to two of her very important mentors, Frank Sinatra and Stan Getz is “I Remember You (With Love to Stan and Frank),” released on June 10, 2014 The recording features all new arrangements by Alan Broadbent, and in addition to Mr. Broadbent on piano, it includes an All-Star Band of Ben Wolfe, Ulysses Owens Jr., Romero Lubambo, Roni Ben Hur, and Joel Frahm.

Talking With Toni Wine – January 1, 2015

FotoFlexer_Photo Toni Wine

This week, Ira spoke with Toni Wine. To listen to the interview click below.

Singer-songwriter-musician Toni Wine has been touring and performing with Tony Orlando throughout the country, including his Las Vegas appearances at the South Point.

Wine was born and raised in New York City where she was a child prodigy who studied classical piano at the Julliard School of Music. She went to work at Screen-Gems Publishing, where she initially collaborated with a series of writers including Gerry Goffin, Howie Greenfield and Steve Venet. Her first recorded song was the Cookies’ “Only to Other People,” but she hit her stride as a composer when she began a three-year collaboration with Carole Bayer; the first fruits of their partnership, the Mindbenders’ “A Groovy Kind of Love,” topped the U.S. pop charts in March of 1965.

By this time Wine was also recording as a solo act, releasing a handful of singles for Colpix. In 1969, she joined with Ron Dante, Ellie Greenwich and Andy Kim to record as the fictional cartoon group the Archies, contributing vocals to the blockbuster “Sugar, Sugar”; she also reunited with her long-time friend Tony Orlando to lend vocals to her song “Candida.”

Wine married famed producer Chips Moman and relocated to Memphis, where she released material for Atco and Monument in addition to a busy career as a writer and session vocalist.

Talking With Farris Rookstool III – December 18, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Farris for website

This week, Ira spoke with Farris Rookstool III. To listen to the interview click below.

Farris Rookstool III, an Emmy Award-winning historian, former FBI analyst and JFK expert, recently addressed key issues in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy at “The JFK Exhibition” at The New Tropicana Las Vegas. The exhibition, open through January 3rd, showcases artifacts from a historic time in 20th century America and features some of the most iconic memorabilia from the 35th president of the United States.

During his distinguished career with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Rookstool spent more than nine years reading more than 500,000 pages of classified FBI documents concerning the assassination and prepared over 3,500 pages of follow-up investigative reports.

He is the only historian to brief the United States Secret Service director and assistant directors on the JFK Assassination events and personally took them to Dealey Plaza and Oswald’s escape route. Rookstool was the only FBI analyst granted access to the National Archives Records Administration Southwest Region vault where Parkland Hospital Trauma Room One was stored. He personally transported all of the official records from Dallas to Washington, D.C. and served on the FBI JFK Task Force in Washington, D.C.

Rookstool also briefed the attorney general, FBI director, and members of Congress on the Kennedy assassination records and is the only historian to broadcast live on national television during the JFK 50th news coverage.

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.