Wednesday, April 1, 2009 | 6:08 p.m.
The Joint wasn’t blowing smoke, even if its new resident performer is famous for doing such. We were promised a legend, and Carlos Santana is that, no doubt. The name has been readily recognizable to fans of contemporary music for more than 40 years. Even if you mispronounce the rock classic as “Perry Como Va,” you know the artist as Santana.
It makes sense, rolling The Joint with Santana. He has recorded a stack of classics, certainly enough to fill a full greatest-hits concert. He has fairly recently released a monster hit album/CD/download, “Supernatural,” and to make sure fans remember that title, the show is called “Supernatural Santana: A Trip Through the Hits.” There would have been more inspired choices than Santana, certainly, artists with more “wow” appeal. Over the past several weeks, guessing The Joint’s new resident artist has become kind of a parlor game. Names tossed at the dartboard and even mused about in media reports have included David Bowie, Lenny Kravitz, Aerosmith, Beck (hell yeah!), The Killers -- and in that field, Santana seems not so remarkable. My own efforts to will Paul McCartney into the venue as a repeat performer were snuffed out like last night’s … cigarette.
But there is reliability about the 61-year-old Santana that should serve AEG Live and the Hard Rock Hotel well. He’s no diva. He can be relied upon to be a pro, to serve his audience what they pay for (wise move, with prices ranging from $79 to $299) and to be an honest artistic partner. He’s a solid dude. I was interested in how Morgans Group President and Chief Operating Officer Randy Kwasniewski, the head man at the Hard Rock Hotel, used the staid term “quality” in the news release sent out this morning announcing The Joint’s new resident. “We look forward to launching the new facility with quality concerts and Santana at the helm of our entertainment offerings.” I can’t envision a packed house at The Joint throwing its fists skyward and shouting, “Quality! Whoa, baby! Bring on the quality!” But if you expect quality and are delivered euphoria, the show has exceeded expectations. It’s the same philosophy often employed by politicians entering a debate, and it applies here. Santana will give you quality with little risk -- for instance, there’s no “Vegas Fret,” a version of Vegas Voice, which has knocked a few vocalists off the stage in our desert climate.
The overriding concern is whether Santana satisfies the huge responsibility of filling 4,000 seats 36 times a year. I would be skeptical, but this is AEG Live, which leaves little to fate in its market research. I recall a lot of us hearing that Celine Dion would be the resident performer at the 4,000-seat Colosseum at Caesars Palace and feeling a little cynical about how a woman with a giant voice but slender frame could possibly fill that giant showroom. But I am no longer wondering what the folks at AEG Live are smoking. Carlos Santana? That, we know. Light it up, and let it happen.
If you gauge a hotel’s financial state by the stability of its entertainment, you knew long before Riviera and Hooters warned of possible bankruptcy that they were doing a Mark Knopfler (in dire straits is the reference). Over the past few months, Riviera has lost one of its signature productions, Frank Marino’s “Evening at La Cage,” along with the lesser-acclaimed “Fab Four Mania.” At Hooters, audiences at recently departed (yet, currently hilarious) comic Bobby Slayton were said to be up to 60 percent papered. Hooters is sending “Men of X” to the Night Owl Theater, while Slayton is off to the Tropicana’s former “Comedy Stop” space. The one advantage “Men of X” has over Slayton is, audiences know what to expect in “Men of X.” The title pretty much explains the content. The show is produced by Matt and Angela Stabile, who produce “X Burlesque” at the Flamingo, and who knows? Maybe it’s just what Hooters needs to shift the momentum. Riviera, meanwhile, still has “Ice.” As in, “skating on thin …”
Active Network still active
Last week I asked about the status of the City of Las Vegas’ $75,000 payment to The Active Network to locate and secure sponsorship partnerships between the city and corporations across the country. I’ve spoken with reps on both sides of this deal, and The Active Network is still an official partner with the city, but the climate is so … what’s the word? Crappy. It’s such a crappy climate for enacting such partnerships that the process is nearly latent. No deals have been signed, and don’t expect much progress until the economy improves. Which, according to my financial guru, will be Tuesday.
Betting on the fly
Last week a reader asked about the limits on “in-running” betting at M Resort, the first casino in the country to offer flexible betting lines and odds on games in progress. Per-bet limits are a minimum of $5 up to $250 on the handheld, but you can exceed the $250 if your account with the sports book is higher than $250. You can bet it all on the fly, in other words, but can’t exceed your posted account balance. Unless, you know, you know somebody …
On the streets
This morning, on Paradise near Russell Road, I was driving behind a guy riding a Harley Davidson while wearing a Hells Angels jacket. He was, I mean. Not me. That’s not so unusual. I’ve seen Angels around town before. But what was odd about this jacket is, it was fleece. A fleece jacket with the famous Hells Angels logo stitched into the back. I had no idea they made those.
Great moments in press releases
Those who missed out on the Lobster Boy state fair tour from years ago will be happy to know that “Freaks” is currently in production at O’Sheas. The press release announcing the show includes a souvenir item described as “One Used Vajayjay Dart.” Used? See the show to find out why that claim would gross you out. But what really kills me about this particular memento is someone had to actually check on the proper spelling of “vajayjay” before sending out the release. But it’s a keeper, definitely. I just need to find a use for one used vajajay dart.