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December 18, 2014

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Clint Holmes is happy to chill (indoors) at Smith Center; ‘MDQ’ bids farewell to its ace on bass

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Tom Donoghue/DonoghuePhotography.com

Kelly Clinton Holmes and Clint Holmes on the Smith Center for the Performing Arts grand-opening red carpet on Saturday, March 10, 2012.

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Clint Holmes sings "Does Anybody Really Know Who Zowie Bowie Is?" at "The Showbiz Roast" at the Stratosphere.

The Kats Report Bureau has been wafting around VegasVille over the past few days, from the Thomas & Mack Center and the WNFR to a rodeo of different flavor, the Lon Bronson All-Star Band at Sunset Station’s Club Madrid. The Bellagio Conservatory, Liberace “Too Much of a Good Thing Is Wonderful” exhibition at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, and a late-night hang Bootlegger Bistro have also served as bureau outposts, and something we have that Macau does not is … well, any of that.

And anyone who thinks eight seconds on a champion bull is the wildest ride you’ll find has not experienced Lon Bronson speaking unfettered into a live mic. Dang, dude. How do you really feel? You just have to see Bronson, the great trumpet player and music director, in action to know what I am talking about. The show has a real attitude, is musically outstanding (Blood Sweat & Tears, Led Zeppelin and Kansas among the great bands sampled) and never, ever disappoints.

And, for classic-rock fans, we’ll paraphrase Paul McCartney: It’s time for a rake show (at the Hollywood Bowl):

• When Clint Holmes announced his holiday show for outdoors, at Symphony Park at Smith Center on Sunday, the thought was, “I hope the weather cooperates.” It did cooperate, if the idea was to resurrect “Ice: Direct from Russia,” the skating-circus production that played the Riviera about six years ago. But no measure of artistic warmth would overcome temperatures expected to dip into the 20s late Sunday.

So Holmes is performing two shows at Cabaret Jazz on Sunday afternoon, adding a 2 p.m. matinee performance to the scheduled 5 p.m. show. About 400 tickets had sold for the outdoor show, so Cab Jazz should be jammed jubilantly for Holmes’ annual Christmas performance.

Martin Kaye of “Million Dollar Quartet” and Jimmy Hopper (formerly of Fontana Lounge at Bellagio and VooDoo Lounge at the Rio) have been added to the 2 p.m. show. The Sunday shows are to feature Frankie Moreno, Kristen Hertzenberg and Earl Turner. Also gracing the stage in each performance this weekend (including Saturday night’s 8:30 p.m. show) are the esteemable Kelly Clinton-Holmes; longtime Holmes friend and music director Bill Fayne; and Antonio Fargas, famous as “Huggy Bear” from the original Starsky & Hutch” series.

Fargas will read from the poem “'Twas the Night Before Christmas” as Holmes scats improvised rejoinders throughout Fargas’ spoken-word performance. Also among the guest performers is Holmes’ 9-year-old granddaughter, Asia, who made her solo debut at last year’s holiday shows. I’ve never seen Holmes smile the way he did last year when Asia sang “Winter Wonderland.” It was as sweet a thing as you will see.

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LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 12: Million Dollar Quartet from Harrah's Las Vegas performs at the closing night party for IPW 2013 at the Garden for the Gods pool at Caesars Palace on June 12, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/WireImage)

• Every once in a while a person who is not necessarily a star makes his mark in a big way in VegasVille, and Mikey Hachey is such an artist. He was the bassist in “Million Dollar Quartet” at Harrah’s up until Wednesday night, when his final night onstage coincided with the guest-star appearance by Holly Madison. That night was also the 57th anniversary of the night Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins convened at Sam Phillips’ Sun Studios in Memphis, the happenstance that sparked the idea for the musical.

Hachey quickly showed he is serious bad-ass on the bass, shining in the production (his occasional solo on the wooden stand-up one of the show’s highlight), at Composers Showcase at Smith Center and as part of cast mate Martin Kaye’s band at Kaye’s offshoot show at Art Square Theatre a few weeks ago.

Hachey is leaving what is doubtless a plumb gig for another choice opportunity with Cirque’s “Varekai” touring show, originally a big-top show that is being pumped up for an arena production. Rehearsals start this weekend in Boissier, La. The show opens Dec. 20 at Bell Centre in Montreal. Hachey is geared up to play a lot of different styles in the new show, and certainly left his mark in Vegas. Wednesday’s “MDQ” performance was particularly energetic, as the cast gave Hachey a rocking send-off.

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Taylor Hicks sings the national anthem at Day 1 of the 2012 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo at the Thomas & Mack Center on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012.

• Remember that wild finish to the Iron Bowl last Saturday? Taylor Hicks does.

The Paris Las Vegas Napoleon's headliner was in attendance at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium for one of the great football games, or great sporting events of any kind, ever. The Tigers’ Chris Davis’ 109-yard return of a missed field goal attempt by Alabama’s Adam Griffith as time expired gave Auburn a 34-28 victory and set off bedlam in the stadium.

One of those who rose to his feet during Davis’ mad dash was Hicks. Born and raised in Birmingham, the “American Idol” Season 7 champ has always presented himself as a huge Crimson Tide fan. He is summarily mobbed anytime he is in attendance at games in Tuscaloosa, and usually needs a police escort just to reach Bryant-Denny Stadium. But Hicks also holds some Auburn loyalty, as he attended the university briefly to study business and (yes) journalism before ditching that career path and focusing on music.

I asked Hicks, via text, what he was feeling after the Tigers’ wild Iron Bowl victory. It took some time and thought for him to assemble just the right words, but he came back with, “The Iron Bowl is the greatest sports rivalry in history, and the games are an example of that. I hope that Auburn jumps a mediocre Ohio State team that plays in a weak conference (the Big 12, ouch). The playoff system next year will take care of all the doubters. Congrats to the Tide on a great season.”

Totally agree with him on that playoff comment. Back in Hicks’ days at Auburn, that would have made a great subject for an editorial.

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Cirque du Soleil's "Mystere" at Treasure Island.

• Cirque du Soleil’s 20th anniversary in Vegas is this month, as “Mystere” marks that anniversary Christmas day. One of the producers who has been inspired by Cirque’s daring artistry, Spiegelworld founder Ross Mollison, remembers being blown away the first time he saw the show at Treasure Island.

“I sat in Mystere 7-8 years ago and said, ‘Oh my God, what are these guys doing? They’re amazing,'” he said in an interview last month. “I love Cirque du Soleil. It’s an amazing, incredible company that there will never be another one like it.”

• One number of note in the dizzying Bellagio Conservatory holiday display: 28,000. That is the number of white carnations used to create the trio of flowery polar bears just to the left of the attraction’s entrance. Another: 1,600. That’s the weight, in pounds, of the chocolate house at the right of the entrance. It was made entirely on-site by the hotel’s pastry team.

• Stifler is happening Dec. 18. Check my Twitter account for RSVP information. This is tied into the Las Vegas Weekly’s anniversary party. It’s going to be a thing, believe me. A real thing.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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