Las Vegas Backstage Talk

Oct. LV Backstage Talk Column

by Michele LaFong

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Las Vegas Backstage Talk’s syndicated monthly column in Casino Player Magazine, and Gaming Today-Oct.

Finalist on Last Comic Standing Lachlan Patterson on Las Vegas Backstage Talk with Comedian Michele LaFong (10 min. edited)

Oct. LVBST column
When Randy Bachman, founding member of The Guess Who, the Canadian band responsible for such hits as “No Time” and “American Woman” left to explore his personal musical horizons, he joined forces with Fred Turner to create Bachman-Turner Overdrive and rock & roll history was made. I, along with millions of other fans worldwide, grew up and sang along to radio hits such as “Taking Care Of Business,” “Let It Ride,” and “Roll On Down The Line.” So when I heard that after 20 years of fan demand these two giants of hard driving tunes were reuniting, touring, and appearing at The Cannery August 30, billed as Bachman & Turner, I knew I had to get an interview, which I finally landed with Fred Turner. You can imagine my shock when backstage, before their concert Fred casually dropped the bombshell scoop to yours truly that this was his very last show with Bachman. “I am retiring and have lots of other unfinished business to take care of…I’m just taking care of unfinished business, you might say…loose ends to tie up. I’ve got a bucket list with lots of things I need to do.” When asked how Randy Bachman took the news, he responded “Randy’s got so many things going on all the time with so many artists, and new projects, he’s just fine! …Maybe I’ll be back in a few years…you never know.” While watching the concert I was kind of sad but felt blessed to be witnessing the last historic show of Bachman & Turner. They never announced the news to the crowd and I haven’t heard a peep about it since.
Another thing that has come to an abrupt end is the celebrity impersonating “dealertainers” that the Imperial Palace, now The Quad soon to be the Linq was so famous for. It seems this was not a popular decision with many of their loyal customers. Also, the Clarion Resort on Convention Center Drive formally Royal Americana, Debbie Reynolds Hotel & Casino, Paddlewheel, and Greek Isles has closed for good. It’s been an interesting quaint little property that opened as the Royal Inn in 1970. Debbie Reynolds gave me my first running show there, “Vegas Live” starring Michele LaFong.
It is with a heavy heart that I am addressing the untimely passing of Comedy Icon Joan Rivers who at age 81 seemed ageless, and invincible. I was asked to join WTTG-TV (FOX 5) Washington via Skype to share some of my personal interactions with Joan when guesting on her afternoon talk show back in the 80’s and speak on the impact that she had on comedy in general. Like so many other stories being shared by industry over the weeks about Joan’s generosity, graciousness, and wonderful sense of humor, I experienced much of the same. Joan’s approach to comedy was fearless and unapologetic- breaking ground and paving the way for other female comics. Ironically she hated being referred to as a pioneer or a trail blazer because her work was not even close to being done. In fact, in a recent interview before her passing she was quoted as saying “I hate when female comics come up to me and say “Oh you broke barriers for women… I’m still breaking barriers….” Sadly her work was unfinished but her legend lives on and she is sorely missed.
Another feminine comedy ground-breaker of sorts is New Jersey native “Queen of Comedy” Sommore, who began her career as the first woman to host BET’s ”Comic View,” and then later hosting Russell Simmons’ “Def Comedy Jam” and “Showtime at the Apollo.” She was the 1995 recipient of the Richard Pryor Award for Comic of the Year, and in 2000 she entered “The Guinness Book of World Records,” performing for an audience of more than 50,000 people in Atlanta as part of the “Queens of Comedy” tour. A recording of the show became the longest-running and highest-rated special in the history of Showtime Networks.
I recently interviewed Sommore, who was promoting her upcoming weekend at Suncoast Hotel & Casino on Labor Day Weekend. With credits which include her status as being among the top-grossing stand-up comediennes in the United States and abroad, as well as Oprah Winfrey proclaiming her “a force to be reckoned with in the new millennium,” it’s of no wonder that Sommore sold out both nights at the 500 seat theatre before the weekend even began with Suncoast having to turn away hundreds of fans. Her show equally as impressive had substance and she drew a drinking, spending well-dressed crowd. I think it was obvious just from her credits that Queen of Comedy Sommore deserved to be performing in a much bigger theatre on The Strip. I’m sure Las Vegas won’t make that mistake again as word gets out fast!
Another impressive comedienne making a difference in comedy is Wanda Sykes. Wanda is Executive Producer of NBC’s Last Comic Standing which got renewed for a second season. I recently interviewed runner-up Lachlan Patterson, and Winner Rod Man who were promoting their upcoming Last Comic Standing Tour with all 5 finalists in the show. The audio of their interviews are archived on our site. I will be doing a backstage videotaped interview with both Lachlan, and Rod Man in between their sold out shows at Aliante Casino. An edited portion will be posted on gamingtoday.com, casinocenter.com.
Bill Maher returns to the Palms on Oct. 10 & 11. He always puts on a solid, funny, relevant show, and is one of my favorite return guests on LVBST. Bill’s interview will air on Oct. 9.
My Picks:
Wanda Sykes, Treasure Island, Oct 3, The Beach Boys, The Cannery, Oct. 4, Lewis Black, The Mirage, Oct. 4, Daniel Tosh, Mirage, Oct. 10 & 11, Legends of Motown: the Four Tops, Temptations, Spinners, Cannery, Oct. 10 & 11, Loni Love, Venetian, Oct. 10 & 11,
The Eagles, MGM Grand, Oct. 11, Queensryche, Eastside Cannery, Oct. 11, Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull, Mandalay Bay, Asia, Red Rock Resort, Oct. 17, John Fogerty, Palms, Oct. 17, Ray Romano and David Spade, Mirage, Oct. 17 & 18, Zac Brown Band, MGM Grand, Oct. 17, Carlos Mencia, Treasure Island, Oct. 17, Smokey Robinson, Eastside Cannery, Oct. 18, Ron White, Mirage, Oct. 24 & 25, Bill Engvall, Treasure Island, Oct. 24, Wendy Williams, Venetian, Oct. 31.

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Fred Turner, Sommore

Aug. 28, 2014- 6-7pm PST 1230AM KLAV in LV & The Web

 Audio of interviews posted below (Scroll down)

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Fred Turner, of Bachman & Turner, guests on Las Vegas Backstage Talk with Comedian Michele LaFong.

The musicians at the heart of legendary band Bachman-Turner Overdrive are recording and touring again as a new, full-throttle rock machine: Bachman & Turner.  They will be appearing at The Cannery on Aug. 30, at 8pm.

After over 20 years of fan demand, Randy Bachman and Fred Turner-two giants of rock n’ roll-are finally re-united.

The duo and their top-notch band have released their first new single in two decades, “Rollin’ Along,” which is currently available for streaming at their website bachmanandturner.com and for sale at iTunes. The track offers fans a long-awaited glimpse into Bachman & Turner’s self-titled, brand new album currently set for a September 7th release on E1 Music (Canada), and RBE Music/Fontana (U.S.). Bachman & Turner’s upcoming studio album will be stocked with all original new tracks penned by the pair; in addition to “Rollin’ Along,” the album’s anthems include “Rock and Roll Is the Only Way Out” and “Slave To the Rhythm,” which have a sound that seamlessly fits alongside Bachman-Turner Overdrive classics “Takin’ Care of Business” and “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet.”

Over the course of a four-year run, Bachman-Turner Overdrive sold in excess of 30 million records, earning a staggering 120 platinum, gold and silver discs, and notching up hits in more than 20 countries. The band reached #1 on Billboard’s singles chart (“You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet”) and album chart (Not Fragile), as well as scoring another handful of hits including “Taking Care of Business,” “Hey You,” “My Wheels Won’t Turn” and “Looking Out for #1.”

With the two singers sharing lead vocal duties, the album features smoking mid-tempo anthems such as “Rock ‘N’ Roll is the Only Way Out” and “Rollin’ Along,” as well as the funky riff of “Moonlight Rider” and a slow-burning blues shuffle, “Waiting Game.” In addition, tracks like “Slave to the Rhythm” offer a gratifying fusion of chords with catchy choruses, not to mention the distinctive growling vocals familiar to fans from Bachman-Turner Overdrive classics such as “Let it Ride” and “Roll on Down the Highway.”

For more go to their website: bachmanandturner.com

Sommore

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Actress and comedienne Sommore guests on LVBST with Comedian Michele LaFong.

Equal parts classy and sassy, Sommore’s frank, fearless routines and controversial wit have garnered loyal fans worldwide. Among the top-grossing stand-up comediennes in the United States and abroad, Oprah Winfrey proclaimed her “a force to be reckoned with in the new millennium.”

New Jersey native Sommore began her career as the first woman to host BET’s ”Comic View,” later hosting Russell Simmons’ “Def Comedy Jam” and “Showtime at the Apollo.” In 2000, she entered “The Guinness Book of World Records,” performing for an audience of more than 50,000 people in Atlanta as part of the “Queens of Comedy” tour. A recording of the show became the longest-running and highest-rated special in the history of Showtime Networks. She is the 1995 recipient of the Richard Pryor Award for Comic of the Year.

Sommore’s film credits include roles in “Soul Plane,” “Friday After Next” and “Something New.” She has also graced the small screen, appearing on “Flavor of Love,” as a regular on “1 vs. 100” and competing for the winning team on season six of “Celebrity Fit Club.” Her comedy specials “The Queen Stands Alone” (Comedy Central, 2008) and “Chandelier Status” (Showtime Networks, 2012) earned rave reviews.

 

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