Las Vegas Backstage Talk

Bill Engvall, Kenny Wayne Shepherd

March 9, 2017

Audio of interviews are posted below

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comedian Bill Engvall, and Award-winning blues musician Kenny Wayne Shepherd guest on Las Vegas Backstage Talk radio show with Comedian Michele LaFong.

Bill Engvall is appearing at Treasure Island on March 10.

In a backstage videotaped interview, Bill reflects on his some-what competitive spirit on keeping up with Jeff Foxworthy’s exploding career, and how it affected his ability to enjoy himself for the first two years of The Blue Collar Comedy Tour.

You know Bill from his TBS sitcom “The Bill Engvall Show”, as host of “Country Fried Home Videos”, and one of the four on the original Blue Collar Comedy Tour along with Jeff Foxworthy, Ron White, and Larry the Cable Guy.

Bill Engvall is featured in Michele LaFong’s monthly syndicated column  “Las Vegas Backstage Talk” in Gaming Today, and in Casino Player Magazine.

For more about Bill Engvall, click here–

 

Kenny Wayne Shepherd

DSC00796

 

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 Orleans Showroom March 10 & 11 at 8pm.

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.

Share on Facebook

Oct. LV Backstage Talk Column

by Michele LaFong

ayout 1Layout 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Click on articles to enlarge)

G.T. 9-30-14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Share on Facebook

Bill Engvall, Pia Zadora-LVBST w-Comedian Michele LaFong

March 6, 2014 6pm-7pm PST 1230AM in LV & The Web

Bill Engvall returns on Las Vegas Backstage Talk Radio Show with Comedian Michele LaFong and gives his take on how he made it to the finals this year on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”

In a backstage videotaped interview, Bill reflects on his some-what competitive spirit on keeping up with Jeff Foxworthy’s exploding career, and how it affected his ability to enjoy himself for the first two years of The Blue Collar Comedy Tour.

You know Bill from his TBS sitcom “The Bill Engvall Show”, as host of “Country Fried Home Videos”, and one of the four on the original Blue Collar Comedy Tour along with Jeff Foxworthy, Ron White, and Larry the Cable Guy.

Bill Engvall is featured in Michele LaFong’s monthly syndicated column  “Las Vegas Backstage Talk” in Gaming Today, and in Casino Player Magazine.

LaFong interviews Engvall backstage at The T.I (Treasure Island) on video posted on site. Go to VIDEO on menu bar.

For more about Bill Engvall, click here–

Treasure Island Theatre, Friday March 6, 9:00pm

Pia Zadora

Pia Zadora 001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pia Zadora guests in-studio on Las Vegas Backstage Talk with Comedian Michele LaFong.

Golden Globe winner, GRAMMY Award® nominee, ShoWest winner, accomplished singer, film and Broadway star all describe Pia Zadora. Performing since the age of six, for those who have seen her in concert, what comes to mind first and describes this multi-talented performer is simply this: Pia Zadora is the complete entertainer. For more information, visit http://piazadora.com or follow her on Twitter @OfficialPiaZ.

Consummate performer and Las Vegas resident Pia Zadora joins forces with another notable mainstay, Piero’s Italian Cuisine, with the opening of “Pia’s Place,” a space long known as the “Monkey Bar.”  Zadora will perform in the intimate room Friday and Saturday evenings indefinitely at 9 p.m.

At “Pia’s Place,” the chanteuse reunites with legendary Sinatra pianist and musical director Vincent Falcone rounding out a quartet. Zadora will showcase her versions of standards such as “The Lady is a Tramp,” “Old Black Magic,” and “All of Me,” as well as a variety

Pia Zadora performs in “Pia’s Place” at Piero’s Italian Cuisine, 355 Convention Center Drive, on  Friday and Saturday evenings starting at 9 p.m. beginning September 19. A cover of $30 includes two drinks. Must be 21 and over with a valid ID.

Share on Facebook

Las Vegas Backstage Talk column

Feb. CP mag coverLayout 1GamingToday 2-25-14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Click on article to enlarge)

 

 

 

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

by Michele LaFong

With the advent and popularity of Smart TVs, where it is now possible to watch web TV on your main set, alternative programming and new opportunities for entrepreneur talent for internet entertainment is growing daily.  This new popular trend couldn’t have been more evident than at the IAWTV awards, “the Oscars” of the Internet Shows held at The Rio H & C last month.

Many familiar faces were seen on the red carpet like “Fitness Celebrity”, and “Infomercial King” John Basedow, inventor and star of “Fitness made Simple.” Basedow was a presenter, and was also nominated for three awards.  When John guested on LVBST with Guinness World Record holder, Comedian Fran Capo, “World’s Fastest Talker, John explained what awards he was up for this year; “(Best Variety Series) is for CULTURE POP, my YouTube series where I take to the streets getting people’s opinions on the top entertainment, celebrity and pop culture news. The second is for FIT NOW with BASEDOW (Best Writing), in which I give fitness, exercise and nutrition tips for people to improve their bodies and lives, The third is for the work I do with Buzz60 Entertainment News (Best News Series) and that’s awesome since they’re one of the first companies to give me a job where I get to keep my shirt on.”  Both Fran Capo, and John Basedow’s interviews are archived on lasvegasbackstagetalk.com

Following a successful 7 month run at The Laugh Factory at The Tropicana, Legendary prop comic and watermelon-smasher Gallagher quietly closed his seven-night a week show on December 30.  It’s a wonder that this eccentric free spirited, flighty, highly creative, mad comedy genius could stay in one place for that long!  I’m definitely going to miss him and the backstage drama that always seemed to follow him.   I’m sure every comic that has worked at The Laugh Factory in the last 7 months, has a “Gallagher story” to tell!  When I asked what his plans were after his out of state gigs were over, his response was “wherever I end up!”  He explained his state of mind at this stage of his life quite well in a recent interview that I entitled “Getting really personal with Gallagher.”  That video can now be seen on casinocenter.com.

Dana Carvey, one of my favorite and funniest guests returned on LVBST to promote his upcoming dates at The Orleans Showroom, Jan. 31 & Feb.1.  Right off the bat, he did a very funny but scary impression of me…I hope it wasn’t as dead-on as it sounded!  Not only is he always upbeat, freshly hilarious, and topical, but he’s also one of the nicest mega-talents in show business.  Dana shared some of his comedy writing, and developmental process. “I tape all of my shows but it’s really hard to get myself to listen to it…yet it’s incredibly instructive.  I’m really hard on myself.”  After a show, from time to time, you might find Dana trying his luck out at The Black Jack tables. “Paul Anka taught me how to play… You gotta whack it.  You really gotta whack it!  I was reminded what Paul Anka sounds like when he’s talking…and I must say…it was a little eerie.  We touched on many interesting subjects including Mike Meyers and the possibility of more Wayne’s World projects.  The interview will air on Jan. 30.

Grammy Award-winning musician and acclaimed actor Meat Loaf will return to the RockTellz & CockTails stage at the PH Showroom inside Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.  Meat Loaf will perform 24 dates, beginning Feb. 13, kicking off the 2014 series.  Shows will be every Thursday, Saturday and Tuesday, Feb. 13 to April 8, at 7 p.m.  Meat always delivers a dynamic and dramatic show and is a very interesting character.  The legendary musical group and Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame inductees The Jacksons are the next legacy artists of the RockTellz & CockTails series. The Jacksons, including Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon, will perform 40 shows, beginning Feb. 20.  Thurs.-Sun. 9:30pm

I finally went to check out Golden Globe winner,Pia Zadora’s new nightclub show at Pia’s Place @ Piero’s.  Her residency there started in Sept. and is open ended Thursday-Saturdays at 9pm.  Pia Zadora is at home working the room, singing, telling funny stories, and even has special guest drop- INS like Jerry Lewis, Rich Little, Steve Rossi, and other notables.  Pianist Vince Falcone, former musical director for Frank Sinatra heads her quartet in an intimate, throw-back setting that recreates “Old Vegas”.  A great time!  Pia invited me to do some comedy…and next time I will…

Another gem not to be missed of headline entertainment without a cover charge is Singer/Piano player/Funnyman Michael Shane.  Shane was hand-picked by Steve Wynn, to perform at Wynn’s Tower Suite Bar, and is a regular on LVBST.   Michael keeps the night moving from behind the piano with never a dull moment and lots of personality.  He also takes requests and can’t be stumped.  I love it!  Like Pia, Michael is popular and puts on Special Guest Star drop-ins .  He can be seen on some Thursdays at Bootleggers Bistro at 5:30pm. Be sure to check their schedule as they don’t give out dates too far in advance.

Other acts not to miss this month include Comedian Amy Schumer, Feb. 7& 8, The Mirage, Herman’s Hermits with Peter Noone, Feb. 7-9, Clint Holmes, Feb. 8, Smith Center, Clint Black, Feb. 13, The Smith Center, Dion, Feb. 13 & 14, The Orleans, Crystal Gayle, Feb. 14-16,  The South Point, Ron White, Feb. 14 & 15, The Mirage, The Eagles, Feb. 15 & 16,  MGM, Boz Scaggs, Feb. 15, Eastside Cannery,  Mike Epps, Feb. 15, The  Palms, Helen Reddy,  Feb. 15, The Orleans Showroom, George Lopez, Feb. 21 & 22, The Mirage, John Pinette, Feb. 21 & 22, The Orleans, Adam Carolla, Feb. 21, TI, Danny Wright, Feb. 23, The Smith Center, George Thurgood & The Destroyers, Feb. 27, The Smith Center, Rob Schneider, Jan. 30- Feb. 1, The South Point, , Ray Romano, Feb. 28 & March 1, The Mirage.

Your comments are always appreciated.

Share on Facebook

Jan. LVBST syndicated column by Michele LaFong

Randy Couture 010Jon TafferJanuary LVBST column
LVBST-Las Vegas Backstage Talk column is published monthly in Casino Player Magazine and Gaming Today.

Finally… a rowdy and fun new concept in Las Vegas casino entertainment that won’t break the bank!
I’m pleased to recommend a unique quality experience that is now available to locals and tourists alike.
Buzz’N Brushes in the Orleans H&C proves that you don’t have to be a budding Picasso to have a great time and that’s part of the fun!
This new interactive Las Vegas attraction puts all the tools in the hands of the audience-turned “art-class” to help them create a work of art that they can then take home.
This is all done with step-by step instruction from entertaining Art Teachers that are on-stage supported by an attentive staff that “works” the floor and are specifically trained to engage the partying artists in an upbeat, “anything goes” type atmosphere complete with music, laughs, games, raffles, dancing, booze, and a pizza kitchen that specializes in making thin-crust pizza. There are day and night classes to choose from with different themes and packages. Whether you make reservations as part of a group or a single, you’re looking to party, blow-off some steam, meet people, or just network…there is bound to be something there for you. Did I mention that this space also includes an art studio that features different artist’s work? I predict corporate events, and bachelorette parties alike will soon catch on to this new, hot, innovative trend.
MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) Champion and Actor Randy Couture was the special guest Celebrity Host last month at the “Paint N Punch” two hour Event which ended with photo opportunities and an autograph session. I witnessed one of the partying artists insisting, while lifting her shirt that Randy sign her cleavage…and he did…“Anything for charity!” Randy generously donated his time to support Buzz‘N Brushes for a portion of the proceeds to be donated to the Xtreme Couture G.I. Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by Couture. Its programs fulfill unmet needs of veterans of America’s armed forces as they return to civilian life, which includes assistance in financial crises. Randy had this to say when I interviewed him following the hilarious, almost topless display:
“When Teresa Lemming, Owner of Buzz‘N Brushes first approached me with the idea of me hosting the show…I was like well…I’ve never painted before…but it was really fun and easy. I wasn’t nervous about the Hosting part of it because once you’re used to standing in that cage in front of the masses in nothing but your drawers…everything else pales in comparison!”
Randy had just returned from Bulgaria, where he finished filming “The Expendables 3,” with Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Dolph Lundgren, Wesley Snipes, Jet Li, Antonio Banderas, Ronda Rousey, Terry Crews, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Victor Ortiz, and Kellan Lutz.
An edited portion of my videotaped interview with Randy Couture is posted on casinocenter.com

Jon Taffer, star of “Bar Rescue” on Spike TV, and frequent favorite guest on LVBST, was recently on ABC’s 20/20 revealing some short-pour tricks that some desperate bar owners “all too often stoop to,” to short patrons on their alcoholic counts even while they are watching! He demonstrated just how easy it is to get fooled. It looked like magic! I can’t wait to hear what else Jon has to reveal on his next in-studio visit.
Steven Wright, the “Confucius of Comedy,” finally guested on LVBST to promote his up-coming gig at The Orleans Showroom on Jan.3 & 4. I had been trying to get him on my radio show for 3 years! Known for his dead-pan style, monotone voice, and trademark wit, Wright has an arsenal of brilliant one-liners like: “Right now I’m having amnesia and Deja vu at the same time. I think I’ve forgotten this before… It’s a small world, but I wouldn’t want to have to paint it…” And if anyone would know about painting it would be Steven Wright because who knew this Academy Award®-winner and Grammy® Award nominee also was a budding artist and musician with paintings and music samples of really cool original music that he wrote, played, sang and recorded up on his website? I would never have guessed! He even plays the harmonica. Dylan-“esque,” was what came to mind, and as an avid Bob Dylan fan, I was intrigued. I would love to see him incorporate his original music and art with his Stand-up show. Perhaps I can convince him…you never know!
My interview with Steven Wright will air on Jan 2. All interviews are archived on lasvegasbackstagetalk.com.
Larry the Cable Guy returns to The Palms H&C Jan.31. I hope to have him on the show before that. I remember asking Comedian Bill Engvall what life was like on the road with “The Blue Collar Comedy Troupe” and who was the most “out of their minds” -you, Jeff Foxworthy, Ron White, or Larry the Cable Guy?” Bill responded without hesitation “Larry!” He also said he that he was the sweetest guy. “We called him the “Mikey” of the Comedy Troupe. He could be talked into going along with anything. He really was the only redneck amongst us, and… that’s not a costume that he wears. It’s not at all an act. He pretty much got married on four wheelers! That’s part of the reason that he’s so popular and people can relate to him so well because there are no airs, he’s just genuine.”
Other Headliner picks for January are: Garth Brooks and his band at Wynn Jan. 3 and 4, Wayne Brady at The Mirage Jan. 4, Tim Allen at The Venetian H&C Jan. 8, 18, 31, Gabriel Iglesias at The Mirage Jan. 17, Paul Revere & The Raiders at The South Point H&C Jan. 10-12, Styx at The Palms H&C, Santana at Mandalay Bay Jan.22-Feb.1, Shania Twain at Caesars Palace Jan.22-Feb.15, Jay Mohr at The South Point H&C Jan. 24-26, Dolly Parton at Primm Valley Casino Resorts, Rob Schneider at The South Point H&C Jan.30-Feb.1, Daniel Tosh at The Mirage Jan.31-Feb.1.
Your comments and feedback are always appreciated.

Share on Facebook
Next Page »