Las Vegas Backstage Talk

Don Brewer, Al Bernstein…

Jan. 1 & 3, 2015  6pm-7pm PST 1230AM in LV & Web 

Audio of interviews posted below (Scroll down)

Grand Funk Railroad

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Don Brewer, original founding member, co-lead singer and drummer for Grand Funk Railroad guests on Las Vegas Backstage Talk radio show with Comedian Michele LaFong.

Known as “The American Band,” the high-energy five-piece group will play forty shows all over the USA this year. Grand Funk Railroad includes original founding member Don Brewer (vocals and drums, writer and singer of the multi-million selling hit, We’re An American Band) and bassist Mel Schacher, “The God Of Thunder.” Joining Don and Mel are true “All Stars.” Singer Max Carl is a rock veteran from 38 Special. Max penned and sang 38’s biggest hit “Second Chance” and was co-founder of California’s legendary Jack Mack and the Heart Attack. Don refers to Max as “the best blue-eyed soul singer on the planet.” Lead guitarist Bruce Kulick is best known for his 12 years with KISS and also has credits with Michael Bolton, Meatloaf and Billy Squier. (KISS members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley were influenced early on by Grand Funk.) Keyboardist Tim Cashion has a master’s degree in music from the University of Miami. Affectionately called “Dr. Tim,” his credits include stints with Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band and English soul man Robert Palmer.
Grand Funk Railroad is appearing at Orleans Showroom Jan. 10 & 11

Kevin Downey Jr.

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Comedian Kevin Downey Jr. guests on LVBST radio show with Comedian Michele LaFong.

Kevin has headlined clubs everywhere in the U.S., and can be heard regularly on “The Bob and Tom Show”, as well as, Sirius and XM Satellite radio.  He is also a proud member of Armed Forces Entertainment and he travels the world performing for the troops. Some of the bases he’s been to include Pearl Harbor, Guam, Roi-Namur, Kwajalein Atoll, Singapore, Diego Garcia.

Kevin has also appeared on NBC’s America’s Got Talent, “Comedy Central”, “What Not to Wear” and “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” Kevin appears at the Trop’s “Comedy Stop” in Las Vegas at least four times a year. He truly appreciates his ever-growing fan base. Kevin authors a column called, Drinking on $11 a Night, which can be read in “Bachelor Pad Magazine” and “GC” magazine, and online at usedwigs.com. Kevin’s song, “Secret Garden of Dirty Little Whores (who think they’re better than me)”, can be heard on college and traditional radio stations throughout the country. His nationally-released DVD called, “I’m not Gay, but Don’t Stop” can be found on both Amazon.com and Netflix.

Legendary “Voice of Boxing” Al Bernstein

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2012 International Boxing Hall of Fame Inductee

Al Bernstein returns on Las Vegas Backstage Talk radio show with Comedian Michele LaFong on 1230AM KLAV in Las Vegas, and The Web.

For just over 30 years, Al Bernstein has been one of the most recognizable and respected sportscasters in America. In those three decades, the “voice of boxing” reported the funny, poignant, and bizarre events that helped shape sports television, ESPN, boxing, Las Vegas, and Showtime. With an eclectic cast of characters that includes every big name in boxing, including Marvin Hagler, Mike Tyson, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, as well as such names in the entertainment world as Rodney Dangerfield, Sylvester Stallone, Russell Crowe, and Jerry Lewis, Bernstein’s memoir will have you in stitches.

Al Bernstein has written a new book, “30 Years, 30 Undeniable Truths about Boxing, Sports and TV,” and has already received a great reception. People from the sports, entertainment and media world are talking about this book.

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Jan. LV Backstage Talk column

By Michele LaFong

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(click on article to enlarge)

Jan. Las Vegas Backstage Talk column in Casino Player Magazine, and Gaming Today.

Last month, after interviewing Charlie Daniels, best known for his No. 1 country hit “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” and hearing several songs from his new Off the Grid CD – Doin’ It Dylan, a tribute piece in which the Charlie Daniels Band puts a southern twist on a collection of Bob Dylan’s most classic songs, I felt compelled to check out his show at The Orleans theatre to witness for myself how this country and southern rock legend skilled on guitar, fiddle, and mandolin, manages to stay so relevant at 78 years of age. It was closing night of National Finals Rodeo week. Backstage prior to the show we were chatting it up and I noticed that even his deep speaking voice was resonating with every word. He came across all American as apple pie, and was quite humble and personable both on and off stage. I had no idea what to expect from Charlie’s show but I knew after 50 plus years of creating his own new definitions of music which scored hits on rock, country, pop and Christian charts alike, and winning almost every music award along the way that I would be in for a real treat… and I was!
From the moment Daniels hit the stage, he displayed personality using some theatrics in some jovial interaction with his fellow band members. He really played to his audience when he sang a song about rednecks that clearly won the room over early on. Every type of music was covered from classic Christmas songs to blues and everything in between with Charlie’s signature southern sound and spin in the music’s interpretation. He even played a Johnny Cash tune to play tribute to the star that was so kind to him in Nashville when he was trying to break into the very competitive music business.

Charlie also showed much appreciation of his fellow band members throughout the show and during the introduction of an instrumental entitled Black Ice, an intricate, jamming concert-piece which was designed to showcase the skills of his musicians with solos from each band member which included an 8 minute solo from drummer, Pat McDonald which received a standing ovation in the middle of the show.

I found it interesting that the two Dylan songs that Charlie chose to play were coincidently the same two that I picked to showcase samples of during my interview with him which aired on LVBST. Tangled Up In Blue, and Gotta Serve Somebody, which I absolutely loved! (I noticed when I interviewed Daniels that we had the exact same taste in artists from Gregg Allman to B.B King, when he confessed, “I would love to have the opportunity to record with B.B.) Bob Dylan was the original before the Beatles, and before everyone else.” Charlie declared on stage. He told the story of how he was called to record with Dylan as a one-time fill in because the guitarist that was hired for the series of recording sessions could not make the very first one however after the session was over, Bob insisted that Daniels stay on and finish the project with him because he was the perfect person for the job.
Of course the show closed with the much awaited Devil Down in Georgia, which had the audience on its feet.
What a perfect way to end National Finals Rodeo week! Charlie will be touring the country starting in January, and has several dates in casinos nationally. I highly recommend his show.

The other artist featured on Las Vegas Backstage Talk with Daniels was Ventriloquist Jay Johnson, who is mostly remembered for his role as the schizophrenic ventriloquist “Chuck and Bob” on the classic ABC television comedy “Soap”. Jay was on my radio show promoting the new DVD release of his Tony Award-winning Broadway show The Two and Only,” a show which he wrote and performed. Jay Johnson made his Broadway debut at the Helen Hayes Theatre. Four months before the Broadway opening “Jay Johnson: The Two and Only” played the Colony Theatre where it won the Los Angeles Ovation award for Best Solo Show. The show was originally produced Off-Broadway the previous season at Atlantic Theatre company where it earned rave reviews and a Lucille Lortel Award nomimation. He has written and performed in television specials for NBC, CBS, HBO and made hundreds of appearances on variety specials and talk shows like “The Tonight Show” (with Jay Leno and Johnny Carson) and “The David Letterman Show”. He has been featured in more than 30 national commercials. His acting credits include appearances on “CSI”, “That 70’s Show”, “Dave’s World”, “Night Court”, “Broken Badges” and many other shows that have come and gone.
I had the pleasure of working with Jay years ago when we were performing on Senor Wences’ 100th Birthday Tour at The Improv in LA with Paul Winchell, Milton Berle, John Byner, Charles Fleisher, and many more. I hadn’t had the opportunity to speak with Jay since that night’s performance and it was gratifying to hear that his rendition of that very special evening’s dinner with those two ventriloquist legends had matched my exact recollection of events. The full interviews of Charlie Daniels and Ventriloquist Jay Johnson are archived on Lasvegasbackstagetalk.com, as with all our other shows. Please Like us on facebook to be eligible for future show tickets and other offerings. With rodeo week, Christmas, and New Years’ behind us the schedule for headline entertainment in Las Vegas for 2015 is slowly being put together and released.

My Picks: Joe Rogan, the Mirage, January 1-2, January 30- 31, Elton John, Caesar’s Palace, January 16–24, Rob Schneider, South Point, January 16– 17, Styx, Palms, January 18, Santana, Mandalay Bay, January 21-31, Daniel Tosh, Mirage, January 23–24, Tommy Roe, South Point, January 23-25, Rod Stewart, Caesar’s Palace, January 27 – February 15, Bobby Slayton and Kevin Pollock, South Point, January 29-31, Burt Bacharach, Smith Center, Jan. 30, Jackie Evancho, Smith Center, Jan. 31, Pitbull, Enrique Iglesias, Mandalay Bay, Jan. 31, Tim Allen, Mirage, Jan. 31

 

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Robin Meade, Tony Orlando

Dec. 20 & 25, 2014  6pm-7pm PST 1230AM in LV & Web

Audio of interviews posted below (Scroll down)

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Singer Robin Meade, longtime host of “Morning Express with Robin Meade” (HLN), guests on Las Vegas Backstage Talk with Comedian Michele LaFong.

To celebrate the spirit of the holidays, Las Vegas headliners Human Nature launched a brand new show titled “Christmas, Motown and More” in The Sands Showroom at The Venetian Las Vegas, with Special Guest Robin Meade.

Human Nature’s “Christmas, Motown, and More” started on Dec. 12, with a special 1 p.m. matinee show on Christmas Eve.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.humannaturelive.com or www.venetian.com or call (702) 414-9000.

Robin Meade is a New York Times Bestselling author and a singer-songwriter with 2 music albums. She’s jumped out of a perfectly good plane with President George HW Bush, hosted “Ask Oprah’s All Stars” at the mogul’s request, and belted the anthem to millions of Nascar & NFL fans. She’s performed with Kenny Chesney, Darius Rucker, Richard Marx, David Foster & The Tenors among others. She wrote 14 of the songs on her debut & followup albums “Brand New Day” & “Count On Me”, while her New York Times Best Selling book, “Morning Sunshine!” chronicled her rise over crippling panic attacks. Robin’s quick wit lands her visits to the “Steve Harvey Show”, “Wendy Williams” & “Extra” while her passion-filled vocals earn her a standing ovation on stages like the Grand Ole Opry.

Tony Orlando

Tony Orlando! 075Tony Orlando & Michele LaFong backstage

 

My buddy Tony Orlando returns on LV Backstage Talk in backstage interview from The South Point Hotel & Casino.

Tony Orlando brings to the stage a warmth and exhilarating energy that electrifies an audience. From million selling records (five number one hits), a popular television variety series, movies and Broadway (Barnum and Smokey Joe’s Café), Tony Orlando has conquered every facet of show business.

Through no plans of his own, Tony was coaxed into putting his voice on a demo record for a song titled “Candida” for his friends Hank Medress and Dave Appell at Bell Records. The record was released under the name of the record promotion director’s daughter, Dawn.

Hoping lightning would strike again, Medress had Orlando recorded “Knock Three Times.” The song not only became number one, it was the tip song of 1971 selling over six million copies worldwide. The immense popularity of the song is still evident today. Tony’s recording of the song was featured in the hit movie Now and Then.

Realizing it was probably safe to give up his successful career at CBS Records, Tony decided to jump full force into what was already a meteoric rise to the top. Along with Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent Wilson, Tony Orlando and Dawn became an international sensation.

Amazingly enough, Tony hadn’t even begun to scratch the surface of his stardom. In 1973 he recorded “Tie A Yellow Ribbon ‘Round The Ole Oak Tree.” The song was number one for the year, became Orlando’s theme song and grew into an American anthem of hope and homecoming, reunion and renewal.

More about Tony Orlando here–>

 

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Carlos Mencia, Mathew Nelson

Dec. 18, 2014  6pm-7pm PST 1230AM in LV & Web 

 Audio of interviews posted below (Scroll down)

Carlos Mencia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comedian Carlos Mencia, The Nelson Twins guest on Las Vegas Backstage Talk Radio Show with Comedian Michele LaFong on 1230AM, KLAV in Las Vegas and The Web.

In a candid “comic to comic” videotaped interview at Treasure Island, following Mencia’s phone interview on our radio show, Carlos answers accusations  of stealing comedy material from his peers, which led to the cancellation of “Mind of Mencia” on Comedy Central.

One of the controversial youtube videos that LaFong discussed with Mencia is posted on the link below:

Comic Joe Rogan confronts Carlos Mencia about stealing material from fellow comics during a set he was performing at The Comedy Store.   http://youtu.be/gdugSUFbzws

Currently on the road with his “C 4 URself” Tour, comedic superstar Carlos Mencia. Mencia has appearances on television shows including “In Living Color” and “An Evening at the Improv.” In 2000, he released a comedy album called “Take a Joke, America” that showcased his brand of confrontational humor. In 2002, he received a CableACE Award nomination for “Best Stand-Up Comedy Special” for his HBO special, and was featured on “Comedy Central Presents” later that year. In early 2005, “Mind of Mencia” debuted on Comedy Central, which drew an average of 1.5 million viewers. His most recent Comedy Central special, “New Territory,” debuted in December 2011.

His acting credits include starring opposite Ben Stiller and Michelle Monaghan in 2007’s “The Heartbreak Kid,” and in 2010 he starred in “Our Family Wedding” with Forrest Whittaker and America Ferrara.

Mencia will be featured in Michele LaFong’s Syndicated Monthly Columns, “Las Vegas Backstage Talk,” in Casino Player Magazine, and “Getting Personal with The Stars” in Gaming Today, and Feature Interviews in CP (Casino Player Magazine.)

For more about Carlos Mencia, click here–>

Mathew Nelson (The Nelson Twins)

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Mathew Nelson of The Nelson Twins guest on LV Backstage Talk with Comedian Michele LaFong.

Their music has stood the test of time. Matthew and Gunnar Nelson, revered for unforgettable past hits, explore fresh creative territory in the present with their new project, “Lightning Strikes Twice”. Magical melodic songwriting and soaring sibling harmonies continue to ensure that this dynamic duo is still a vital part of the music scene’s future.

“After the Rain” was the debut multi-platinum album by NELSON, the band led by twins
Matthew and Gunnar in the early 1990s. They zoomed to number one with their hit song,
“(Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection,” which made history landing America’s iconic Nelson family (bandleader Ozzie Nelson, rock legend Rick Nelson, and twins Matthew & Gunnar) into the Guinness Book of World Records as the ONLY family in Entertainment with 3 successive generations of #1 hitmakers. NELSON’s “After the Rain” record and tour became a phenomenon just prior to the rise of grunge. The last major success of the good time rock’n’roll era, NELSON has had (1) Number One, (4) Top Ten, and (5) Top 40 Billboard Hot 100 hit singles, plus (5) #1 MTV videos and has sold over 6.5 million albums worldwide!

For more go to http://www.Nelsonrocks.com

 

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Charlie Daniels, Ventriloquist Jay Johnson

Dec. 11, 2014- 6-7pm PST 1230AM in LV & The Web

Audio of interviews posted below (Scroll down)

Charlie Daniels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charlie Daniels and Ventriloquist Jay Johnson guests on Las Vegas Backstage Talk with Comedian Michele LaFong.

The Charlie Daniels Band will bring their unique blend of country, southern rock and Christian music to The Orleans Showroom, December 12 and 13, as part of Boyd Gaming’s Wrangler National Finals Rodeo entertainment line-up.

During the course of Charlie Daniels’ 50-plus year career, he has scored hits on the rock, country, pop and Christian charts and has received numerous awards from the Country Music Association (CMA), Academy of Country Music (ACM), TNN/Music City News Awards and the Gospel Music Association (GMA). Daniels was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2008 and the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2009.

Born in Wilmington, N.C., Daniels was raised on a variety of music that included Pentecostal gospel, local bluegrass bands, rhythm & blues and country.

His signature song, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” topped both country and pop charts, bringing him international recognition. The single was certified platinum, earned three CMA awards, became a cornerstone of the soundtrack for the movie “Urban Cowboy” and propelled Daniels’ “Million Mile Reflections” album to triple platinum sales levels.

CHARLIE DANIELS: PLAYING “THE LEGEND” FORWARD WITH NEW TRIBUTE CD — OFF THE GRID – DOIN’ IT DYLAN

His first new album project release since 2007, Off The Grid is Dylan the Daniels way and the result is sheer musical genius.
Ventriloquist Jay Johnson

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Ventriloquist Jay Johnson releases his Tony Award-winning show The Two & Only!  The DVD can still be ordered in time for Christmas!

Jay Johnson made his Broadway debut at the Helen Hayes Theatre starring in the show he wrote and performed entitled “Jay Johnson: The Two and Only”. It won him the 2007 Tony Award for Best Special theatrical Event. Four months before the Broadway opening “Jay Johnson: The Two and Only” played the Colony Theatre were it won the Los Angeles Ovation award for Best Solo Show. The show was originally produced Off-Broadway the previous season at Atlantic Theatre company where it earned rave reviews and a Lucille Lortel Award nomimation.

Jay is a writer, comic, ventriloquist, poet, magician and puppeteer. He has written and performed in television specials for NBC, CBS, HBO and made hundreds of appearances on variety specials and talk shows like “The Tonight Show” (with Jay Leno and Johnny Carson) and “The David Letterman Show”. He has been featured in more that 30 national commercials. His acting credits include appearances on “CSI”, “That &70’s Show”, “Dave’s World”, “Night Court”, “Broken Badges” and many other shows that have come and gone. But he is best remembered for his role as the schizophrenic ventriloquist “Chuck and Bob” on the classic ABC television comedy “Soap”.

Jay and his wife, dancer Sandi Asbury, have been married for more than 38 years. They met while performing together at a theme park in Houston, Texas. Jay describes Sandi as the muse of his artistic life. They have two amazing sons, Brandon and Taylor. Although neither son pursued a career in ventriloquism, one teaches and studies languages in Berlin and the other is completing a degree in Linguistics at UCLA.

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Actor Nick Turturro, Comedian Vic Dibitetto

Dec. 4, 2014- 6-7pm PST 1230AM in LV & The Web

 Audio of interviews posted below (Scroll down)

Nick Turturo & Vic Dipetetto(Nick Turturro, Left)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Actor Nick Turturro partners up with Comedian Vic Dibitetto in Mall Cop 2.  They both guest on Las Vegas Backstage Talk with Comedian Michele LaFong together, and separately.

Nicholas Turturro, Jr. was the youngest of three children born to carpenter Nicholas Turturro, Sr. and his wife, Katherine. Following in his brother John’s footsteps, Turturro majored in theater at Adelphi University but dropped out after two years to marry the mother of his child. While working as a hotel doorman in the late 1980s, Turturro was introduced by his brother John to Spike Lee, while the soon-to-be-famous director was shooting “Do the Right Thing.” Taking a liking to the young actor, Lee wrote the younger Turturro a part alongside his brother John in his next project, “Mo’ Better Blues” (1990). Lee would subsequently hire both the Turturro brothers for his next two follow-up projects, the controversial “Jungle Fever” (1991) and the well-received biopic “Malcolm X” (1992).

The actor’s greatest success, however, would come on television. In 1993, Turturro won the role of the good-natured Detective James Martinez on “NYPD Blue.” Though originally written for a Latino actor, the Italian-American Turturro made the character his own; immersing himself deeply in the “Nuyorican” (slang for New Yorkers of Puerto Rican descent) culture and adopting mannerisms appropriate for the character. Paired alongside Gordon Clapp’s bumbling Detective Greg Medavoy, Turturro and Clapp brought the usually somber “NYPD Blue” a welcome lightness and spark of humor. A tough cop with a true heart of gold, Turturro’s quiet and dependable performance earned the actor two Emmy nods – first in 1994; then again in 1997 – for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. In 2000, however, Turturro decided that the Martinez character had run its course. Written out of the show with an off-screen promotion, Turturro left “NYPD Blue” after its seventh season; while, leaving the door open for a possible return.

Post-“Blue,” Turturro remained quite busy with steady, if unremarkable work as a guest star on such shows as “The Twilight Zone” (UPN, 2002-03), “Tremors: the Series” (Sci-Fi Channel, 2003-04) and “Third Watch” (NBC, 1999-2005). In 2006, Turturro revealed his ruthlessly competitive side when he appeared as a contestant on “Celebrity Fit Club 2” (VH1, 2005- ). Later that year, Turturro returned to the big screen with a feature role in director Oliver Stone’s “World Trade Center” (2006). Turturro popped up the following year with a turn in the fireman-posing-as-gay-couple comedy “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (2007). After a small appearance in the Ice Cube-Tracy Morgan comedy “First Sunday” (2008), the actor played the trainer of controversial boxing legend Sonny Liston (Ving Rhames) in the sports biopic “Phantom Punch” (2008). For a more personal project, Turturro co-wrote and starred in the immigration comedy-drama “The Deported” (2009) alongside his young son, Nicholas Turturro III. There was another supporting role in the heist movie “Takers” (2010), in addition to portraying Sgt. Anthony Renzulli, the partner of rookie cop Jamie Reagan (Will Estes) in the police-drama series “Blue Bloods” (CBS, 2010- ). Turturro turned in a pair of quick cameos for his pal in the Sandler produced comedies “Zookeeper” (2011) and “Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star” (2011), then joined the cast of the slasher flick “Nurse 3D” (2012), starring Paz de la Huerta as a dedicated by deadly caregiver.
Comedian Vic Dibitetto

Comedian Vic Dibitetto has been headlining comedy clubs around the country for over 30 years.  He became an internet sensation when he posted a comedic video on YouTube that went viral and caught the attention on Comedian Kevin James.  He called Vic personally to ask him to be in Mall Cop Blart 2 teamed-up with Actor Nick Turturro.  He is currently filming at Wynn through next week.

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