Las Vegas Backstage Talk

Chuck Negron, Kenny Wayne Shepherd

September 14, 2017

Audio of interviews are posted below

Chuck Negron1Chuck Negron & LaFong (2)

Legendary Vocalist Chuck Negron, formerly of Three Dog Night, guests on Las Vegas Backstage Talk radio show with Comedian Michele LaFong.

Chuck Negron headlines at The Golden Nugget H&C on Sept. 29.

Among Three Dog Night’s biggest hit songs featuring Negron’s soulful, four-octave range and unique vocal styling: “Joy To The World,” “Easy To Be Hard,” “Old-Fashioned Love Song” and “Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog,” which appeared on the multi-Grammy nominated and 1971 Record Of The Year “Joy To The World.”

“Am I Still In Your Heart” was Negron’s first solo release in 1995, followed by a Christmas release of  “Joy To The World” in 1996. Negron spent two years writing his book “Three Dog Nightmare” and recorded the accompanying soundtrack CD “The Long Road Back.” His fourth solo effort “Chuck Negron – Live In Concert” recorded at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas was released in 2001 and the original song “Took Me Under” was nominated in 2002 for a PRISM Award for Best Song. In 2005, Negron released “The Chuck Negron Story: Biography of an Entertainer,” which won several awards including the 2006 PRISM “Video to Production” Award.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd

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Award-winning blues musician, and protege of Stevie Ray Vaughn,  Kenny Wayne Shepherd guests on Las Vegas Backstage Talk radio show with Comedian Michele LaFong.  They will bring their chart-topping hits to The Tropicana H&C, Sept. 16.

Bandleader Kenny Wayne Shepherd began his career at a young age, sharing the stage with New Orleans legend Bryan Lee at 13 years old. Shepherd has since been listed among the top blues guitarists of all time by Guitar World magazine, along with legends B.B. King and Eric Clapton.

The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band debuted in 1995 with “Ledbetter Heights” and the album quickly rose to the top of the Billboard blues chart. The band followed up with “Trouble Is…”, which also reached the top of the blues charts and featured “Blue on Black,” a single that spent 17 consecutive weeks at #1 on the rock charts.

In total, the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band has released eight albums, including the 2014 release “Goin’ Home,” which was just nominated for “Blues Rock Album of the Year” for this year’s Blues Music Awards.

During his career, Shepherd has received five Grammy nominations, two Billboard Music Awards, a pair of Orville H. Gibson awards, the Blues Foundation’s Keeping The Blues Alive award and two Blues Music awards. He’s had released six #1 blues albums and a string of #1 mainstream rock singles. His acclaimed CD/documentary project “10 Days Out: Blues from the Backroads” was the top-selling blues album of 2007.

Completing The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band are: Noah Hunt, lead vocals; Chris Layton, drums; Tony Franklin, bass guitar; and Riley Osbourn, B-3 and keyboards.

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Frank Caliendo, Chuck Negron

October 6, 2016

Audio of interviews are posted below

Frank & M

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comedian, actor and impressionist Frank Caliendo, and legendary vocalist Chuck Negron, formerly of Three Dog Night, guest on Las Vegas Backstage Talk radio show with Comedian Michele LaFong.

Caliendo is perhaps best known for his impressions of famous actors Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro; former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton; broadcasters John Madden and Charles Barkley; and talk show hosts Dr. Phil, Jay Leno, and David Letterman.

A veteran of televised comedy, Caliendo has starred in numerous television shows including “MADtv,” “Mike & Mike,” “Hot in Cleveland,” and his own series on TBS “Frank TV” in 2007 and 2008.

From 2003 to 2012, Caliendo was a fixture on the “Fox NFL Sunday” pregame show where he worked with Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long and the rest of the team. His “Frank’s Picks” segments were featured during the broadcasts of Super Bowls XXXIX, XLII and XLV.

Frank is appearing at The Orleans Showroom Oct. 7 & 8 at 8pm

Chuck Negron

Chuck Negron1Chuck Negron & LaFong (2)

Legendary Vocalist Chuck Negron, formerly of Three Dog Night, guests on Las Vegas Backstage Talk radio show with Comedian Michele LaFong.

Among Three Dog Night’s biggest hit songs featuring Negron’s soulful, four-octave range and unique vocal styling: “Joy To The World,” “Easy To Be Hard,” “Old-Fashioned Love Song” and “Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog,” which appeared on the multi-Grammy nominated and 1971 Record Of The Year “Joy To The World.”

“Am I Still In Your Heart” was Negron’s first solo release in 1995, followed by a Christmas release of  “Joy To The World” in 1996. Negron spent two years writing his book “Three Dog Nightmare” and recorded the accompanying soundtrack CD “The Long Road Back.” His fourth solo effort “Chuck Negron – Live In Concert” recorded at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas was released in 2001 and the original song “Took Me Under” was nominated in 2002 for a PRISM Award for Best Song. In 2005, Negron released “The Chuck Negron Story: Biography of an Entertainer,” which won several awards including the 2006 PRISM “Video to Production” Award.

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Frank Caliendo, Chuck Negron

April 21, 2016

Audio of interviews are posted below

Frank & M

Comedian, actor and impressionist Frank Caliendo, and legendary vocalist Chuck Negron, formerly of Three Dog Night, guest on Las Vegas Backstage Talk radio show with Comedian Michele LaFong.

Caliendo is perhaps best known for his impressions of famous actors Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro; former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton; broadcasters John Madden and Charles Barkley; and talk show hosts Dr. Phil, Jay Leno, and David Letterman.

A veteran of televised comedy, Caliendo has starred in numerous television shows including “MADtv,” “Mike & Mike,” “Hot in Cleveland,” and his own series on TBS “Frank TV” in 2007 and 2008.

From 2003 to 2012, Caliendo was a fixture on the “Fox NFL Sunday” pregame show where he worked with Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long and the rest of the team. His “Frank’s Picks” segments were featured during the broadcasts of Super Bowls XXXIX, XLII and XLV.

Frank is appearing at The Orleans Arena April 23

Chuck Negron

Chuck Negron1Chuck Negron & LaFong (2)

Legendary Vocalist Chuck Negron, formerly of Three Dog Night, guests on Las Vegas Backstage Talk radio show with Comedian Michele LaFong.

Among Three Dog Night’s biggest hit songs featuring Negron’s soulful, four-octave range and unique vocal styling: “Joy To The World,” “Easy To Be Hard,” “Old-Fashioned Love Song” and “Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog,” which appeared on the multi-Grammy nominated and 1971 Record Of The Year “Joy To The World.”

“Am I Still In Your Heart” was Negron’s first solo release in 1995, followed by a Christmas release of  “Joy To The World” in 1996. Negron spent two years writing his book “Three Dog Nightmare” and recorded the accompanying soundtrack CD “The Long Road Back.” His fourth solo effort “Chuck Negron – Live In Concert” recorded at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas was released in 2001 and the original song “Took Me Under” was nominated in 2002 for a PRISM Award for Best Song. In 2005, Negron released “The Chuck Negron Story: Biography of an Entertainer,” which won several awards including the 2006 PRISM “Video to Production” Award.

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Frank Caliendo, Chuck Negron

Sept. 24, 2015

Audio of interviews posted below (except on Internet Explorer)

Frank & M

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comedian, actor and impressionist Frank Caliendo, and legendary vocalist Chuck Negron, formerly of Three Dog Night, guest on Las Vegas Backstage Talk radio show with Comedian Michele LaFong.

Caliendo is perhaps best known for his impressions of famous actors Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro; former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton; broadcasters John Madden and Charles Barkley; and talk show hosts Dr. Phil, Jay Leno, and David Letterman.

A veteran of televised comedy, Caliendo has starred in numerous television shows including “MADtv,” “Mike & Mike,” “Hot in Cleveland,” and his own series on TBS “Frank TV” in 2007 and 2008.

From 2003 to 2012, Caliendo was a fixture on the “Fox NFL Sunday” pregame show where he worked with Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long and the rest of the team. His “Frank’s Picks” segments were featured during the broadcasts of Super Bowls XXXIX, XLII and XLV.

Frank is appearing at The Orleans Showroom Sept. 26-27 at 8pm.

Chuck Negron

Chuck Negron1Chuck Negron & LaFong (2)

 

Legendary Vocalist Chuck Negron, formerly of Three Dog Night, guests on Las Vegas Backstage Talk radio show with Comedian Michele LaFong.

Among Three Dog Night’s biggest hit songs featuring Negron’s soulful, four-octave range and unique vocal styling: “Joy To The World,” “Easy To Be Hard,” “Old-Fashioned Love Song” and “Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog,” which appeared on the multi-Grammy nominated and 1971 Record Of The Year “Joy To The World.”

“Am I Still In Your Heart” was Negron’s first solo release in 1995, followed by a Christmas release of  “Joy To The World” in 1996. Negron spent two years writing his book “Three Dog Nightmare” and recorded the accompanying soundtrack CD “The Long Road Back.” His fourth solo effort “Chuck Negron – Live In Concert” recorded at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas was released in 2001 and the original song “Took Me Under” was nominated in 2002 for a PRISM Award for Best Song. In 2005, Negron released “The Chuck Negron Story: Biography of an Entertainer,” which won several awards including the 2006 PRISM “Video to Production” Award.

The Cannery, Oct. 3

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April Las Vegas Backstage Talk column by Michele LaFong

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

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(click on article to read)

 

Remembering David Brenner

It doesn’t get much than better listening to show-biz stories from David Brenner and Shecky Green in a Las Vegas coffee shop.  It wasn’t that long ago I was doing just that.  I was shocked when I heard that David Brenner lost his battle with cancer at age 78. II was fortunate enough to have interviewed him when he was promoting his last engagement at The Suncoast Showroom.  In that interview Brenner talked about how his father taught him to always leave the audience laughing.  And he did…even till the very end.  I reran that interview on March 20, in David’s memory.  The audio is archived on lasvegasbackstagetalk.com.

After interviewing countless comedians and singers on LVBST for almost three years and following up to watch their shows, I started to realize that artists and audiences often have very different agendas. Audiences always want to be entertained and look forward to hearing their favorite bits or hits of the artist that they pay to go see…and artists want to entertain but also want to grow and continue to evolve, develop and explore.  With the double-edged sword of name recognition and fame come expectations from fans of what that artist often perceives as keeping them stuck in the past, and pigeon-holed.  Finding that perfect balance of “old” and “new” is the answer to satisfying both the audience and artist whether a comedian, or singer.  Tom Jones is a perfect example of someone who has mastered not only combining old with new, but also in re-inventing his band and updating his bluesy arrangements, keeping his material fresh yet in-step with his brand which also keeps him relevant.  A crowd-pleaser like Tony Orlando, who is known for opening his show with his biggest hits right off the bat then following up with everything from Led Zeppelin, to The Beatles, always delivers a feel-good contemporary show, is always “on,” and has that special connection with his loyal audience which explains his lasting popularity and sell-out performances. Bill Maher, and Jerry Seinfeld are examples of comedians that are committed to keeping their material updated, presentation smooth, and take pride in the quality of their shows without sacrificing laughs.  Paula Poundstone, Chuck Negron, Mickey Gilley, Marty Allen, Rich Little, Gallagher, Gary Puckett, Carlos Mencia, and Judy Tenuta are all examples of artists that not only embrace their audience but also include a Meet & Greet following every show.  Another performer that is very pro-audience and eager to please was Burton Cummings, former lead singer for The Guess Who.  Cummings sang hit after hit when headlining at The Orleans in January, and received several standing ovations throughout.  He even allowed flash photography during his performance and went as far as inviting fans to videotape the show!  However not all artists are even close to being as giving and grateful on and off stage, committed to taking the audience up as high as they can.  70’s Pop Star Helen Reddy had a packed house.  Before the show began at The Orleans Theatre, I over-heard audience members anticipating which hit Reddy might open with.  But no one called it right!  She didn’t sing any hits until forty minutes into the show.  Although her voice sounded as good ever, the fans that came out expecting to hear her many, many hits were clearly out of luck, as I counted three hits in total including the iconic and mandatory “I am Woman.” Oh…And of course, no pictures, nor autographs for anyone with no exceptions, and certainly no backstage passes!  I can’t say I was that surprised because when I interviewed Reddy a couple of weeks prior to the show, and asked her why she had quit the business and stopped singing for over ten years, her reply was “I was bored.  I was tired of singing the same songs over and over again.”  I asked why she decided to return, her reply was “I was at my older sister’s 80th birthday party, and she asked me to do her a favor and sing a duet with her …and you don’t turn down your big sister…so I sang… got a huge standing ovation, and I heard my voice coming out of the monitor and thought “gee, that’s not so bad…maybe I should go out and do that again…and here I am.”  Before my interview, I asked her if she will be gambling while in Vegas?  Her reply? “I don’t gamble, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, and I’m a celibate!” (Not exactly what I was expecting!) I immediately recalled a videotaped interview I did with Comedian Sal Richards in which I asked if there was a celebrity he worked with that wasn’t what he expected them to be.  His immediate reply was “yes Helen Reddy!” And the story he told about her was pretty outrageous and shocking!  It really shows what can go on behind the scenes in Show Business.  It is posted on casinocenter.com and promises not to disappoint!

Singing funnyman Michael Shane was such a hit at Bootlegger Bistro on Thursday nights that he is “back by popular demand” on every Friday & Saturday in April from 6:30PM on.  He will be taking your requests and is very difficult to stump!  The food is great, especially the pizza, and you’ll be thoroughly entertained.

My picks for April are Ray Romano/Kevin James, April 4 & 6, Mirage, Brian McKnight, April 5, Eastside Cannery, Rob Thomas, April 4, Palms, DL Hughley, Orleans, April 4 & 5, Palms,  Gary Lewis & The Playboys, April 4 & 5, Suncoast, Jeff Ross, April 5, Mirage, Olivia Newton-John, April 8- 12, Flamingo, Jason Alexander, April 11-May 4, Harrah’s, Wayne Brady, April 11, Mirage, Bryan Ferry, April 12, Palms, Jay Leno, April 12, Mirage, Foghat, April 12, Cannery, Las Vegas Soul Festival, April 12, UNLV, Megadeth and Motorhead, April 17, Palms, The Bronx Wanderers, April 18-20, South Point, Gabriel Iglesias, Mirage, April 18 & 19, Jim Belushi & Chicago Board of Comedy, April 18 & 19, Venetian, Robert Cray, April 18, Cannery, Restless Heart/Sawyer Brown, April 19, Eastside Cannery, Jeff Tracta, April 24, LVH, Tony Orlando, April 25-27, South Point, Bobby Rydell, April 25-27, Suncoast, Tracy Morgan, April 25, TI, Little River Band, April 26, Cannery, Temptations, April 26 & 27, Orleans, Rod Stewart, April 30-May 17, Caesars Palace

 

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March-LVBST syndicated column in Gaming Today, and Casino Player Michele LaFong

Las Vegas Backstage Talk by Michele LaFong

(Desi Arnaz Jr., Joy Behar, Chuck Negron, Dana Carvey, Rob Schneider, Bill Engvall, Bill Maher, Larry The Cable Guy, Jeff Foxworthy)

GamingTodayMarch CPayout 1

 

 

 

 

 

(Click on article to read)

March-LVBST syndicated column

by Michele LaFong

in Gaming Today, and Casino Player Magazine.

Not since Barbara Walters, has Desi Arnaz Jr. granted anyone an interview. However, after much persistence and good timing with the upcoming Dam Short Film Festival last month at the Historic Boulder Theatre which Desi and his wife Amy own since 1986, I finally was the very lucky person to break this silent streak!  When I do an interview, I never know what direction it’s going to go.  I attempted what would have been a very  “rare interview with Desi Arnaz Jr.” speaking about growing up with Lucy & Desi but it became a very interesting and informative “Where Are They Now” episode that Oprah Winfrey has made so popular on the Own network.  Very soon into the hour- plus conversation, it was evident that we were in need of at least a five session series because Desi said it best “I’ve lived over 200 years in 60!”  Much of the conversation got really deep, had many layers, and took twists and turns.  When I asked him what his plans were in the near future besides what he is already doing with the non-profit ballet company that he and his family runs together, and events at The Boulder Theatre, surprisingly Desi responded “I’m going to be Michele LaFong!  I will be interviewing celebrities on video on-stage at The Boulder Theatre that are in town for up-coming projects, or who just have a story to tell.”  Since Desi grew up with an “inside view” of show-biz, and a dating history that includes Liza Minnelli, Patty Duke, and almost every other A Lister hottie in Hollywood…I think this is a natural that would make great television, which we are so in need of today.   For more information on the Dam Short Film Festival, The Boulder Theatre, or to listen to the archived two part interview that aired on Feb. 6, and 13, go to lasvegasbackstagetalk.com.

Joy & Michele 3After 16 years as co-host of ABC’s The View, Comedian Joy Behar retired from the show but has not retired from her very long career.  In fact there are persisting rumors of Joy returning to television…and that could be happening very soon.  In the meantime, Behar continues to perform her stand-up as she did so well at The Orleans Showroom last month. Hanging out with Joy and her husband Steve after the show was de je vu for me, as it’s been over 20 years since we’ve seen each other.  We had a bite at the coffee shop then joined Steve in the casino and played Blackjack, and craps.  They love Vegas!  Joy was noticeably happy, content, and much more fun than I remembered her to be back in the late 80’s, when she was a struggling comic in NY, bitching about how far she had to schlep on my “LaFong gigs” which I used to book her on quite frequently.   Of course this was before Barbara Walters discovered her and cast her on The View.  A couple of years ago, I was watching Joy on The Joy Behar Show on HLN interviewing Comedian Colin Quinn, and Joy brought my name up and told a funny story about working for me that she’s been telling for years.  The video is posted on our website with my side of the story too!

After interviewing Chuck Negron, former lead singer of Three Dog Night, I went to check out his show at the Suncoast Showroom.  His signature voice was in rare form and his band was truly exceptional.  They sang many complicated harmonies together.  They were on fire when they played Three Dog Night’s many hits “Joy to the World,” “Mama told me not to Come,” “ Shambala,” “One,”…there were so many… Not to mention my personal favorite “The Show must go on.”

Chuck Negron1

It was obvious by Chuck’s energy, swagger, and million $ smile, how much he truly enjoys and appreciates being on stage, and is grateful for the opportunity to still be able to entertain with the chops that he is still so blessed with today in spite of the years of drug abuse that his body had endured.  He was simply joyous on stage soaking in every moment, never taking his audience for granted.  This was also evident by his meet & greet after the show, making sure to say hello to every last fan that wanted to speak to him.  And there was no shortage!  I hope to see Negron and his rockin’ band perform in a larger venue next time.

I almost always go to see Dana Carvey’s show when he is in town and this time was no exception… especially when he told me he had been working on new material, and would be doing a Q & A at the end of the show with his opening act, Mark Pitta, which he had never done before in Vegas.  Carvey was relaxed, and his material was funnier than ever. During the Q & A, former SNL cast member, Rob Schneider made a surprise guest appearance. The three were improving together. It was a fun unexpected bonus.

Bill Engvall returned on LVBST to promote his upcoming appearance at the TI on March 7.  He spoke about his entertainment strategy that earned him a spot in the finals in this year’s “Dancing with the Stars” that introduced him to a new set of demographics that may not have been familiar with The Blue Collar Comedy Troupe.  When I asked if the other guys from the Troupe helped in soliciting votes for him he responded “Larry the Cable Guy did…” This led me to curiously wonder why no support had been extended from Jeff Foxworthy, or Ron White, both of whom would have been most effective and influential in racking up votes for Engvall from their fans.  Hmmm, sometimes what an artist doesn’t say in an interview can be just as telling as what they do say.  Engvall’s full interview will air on March 6, from 6-7pm PST on 1230AM in LV, and streaming live on lasvegasbackstagetalk.com.  Last year, in a backstage videotaped interview, he spoke about his career and marriage. That interview is now posted on casinocenter.com.

Congratulations to Bill Maher for getting renewed on HBO’s “Real Time,” and for his 2014 residency at The Palms.  He returns March 22 & 23, and Oct. 10 & 11.  Maher’s interview will air on March 20.

Your feedback and comments are always appreciated.

 

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