This was the scene at Ovation at Green Valley Ranch on Sunday afternoon:
Positioned randomly onstage singing “A Little Help From My Friends” for the finale of the Jeff Jordan benefit show was a hodgepodge of Vegas talent such as Michael Grimm, Domenick Allen, Leigh Zimmerman, Zowie Bowie’s Chris Phillips and Marley Taylor, superb jazz vocalist Michelle Johnson and members of The Rat Pack Is Back at the Rio. Oh, and comic Jeff Cohen was loaning his vocal stylings, in the same way Dan Aykroyd was invited to join in the chorus of “We Are the World.”
In the middle of high-spirited assemblage was Grimm, the show’s headliner, harmonizing with his arm draped around Rat Pack cast members Kenny Jones (as Sammy Davis Jr.) and Drew Anthony (as Dean Martin).
Grimm & Dean & Sammy.
Wow, I say.
About 400 people turned out to contribute to Jordan’s mounting medical bills. Jordan is a film composer and fine sax player who has performed in The Rat Pack Is Back and in Lon Bronson’s All-Star Band. Mostly, he’s “a guy in the trenches,” as described by Bronson, a powerhouse sax player who is fine with being part of the band. Sadly, several weeks ago, Jordan suffered an aortic aneurism that subsequently led to nerve damage in his leg and foot, and he spent three weeks in intensive care.
Jordan was seated in a booth for the show, which raised more than $7,000 in ticket sales. The total take is still being tallied. It’s not nearly enough to offset Jordan’s financial debt, but the event was a moving example of how fast such a show can be arranged, and just how good the entertainment can be.
Reva Rice and twin tappers Sean & John from Vegas! The Show at Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood also took part in the two-hour performance, and Taylor was joined by her performing partner, trumpet master and Zowie Bowie music director David Perrico.
But Grimm was the most powerful draw, for good reason. His victory on America’s Got Talent means that even a show that seems hastily organized can fill a showroom with less than a week of planning. As Bronson said afterward, Grimm’s willingness to perform was the chief reason the place was nearly packed with such a short window to prepare. Given another week of planning and a longer get-the-word-out effort, there would have been an overflow crowd at this show.
One particularly rewarding moment was the appearance by guitarist Jim Buck, who has long been a friend of Grimm’s and is currently a member of Terry Fator’s backing band at the Mirage. Grimm and Buck teamed up during Grimm’s set, a four-song sprint of “Leave Your Hat On,” “Down in the Valley,” “Damn Your Eyes” and “Back to L.A.”
Grimm is about to join Stevie Nicks on tour beginning Aug. 9 at Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater in Colorado. Grimm will be performing songs from his new CD, simply titled Michael Grimm, but (bummer alert) the tour does not stop in Las Vegas. And Grimm’s days of playing at Hank’s at Green Valley Ranch seem to be over, too.
Also to note, from the show, is that there is a new venture featuring Phillips and Taylor, to be staged daily at 3 p.m. at Human Nature Theater at Imperial Palace. The deal is not quite official, but it is said to be of the gameshow variety and not the Vintage Vegas show Phillips loves so much. But the idea is unique, and it would showcase Phillips and Taylor in an appealing light.
Of course, speaking retrospectively, the best idea for Zowie Bowie would have been to follow this on-and off-stage saga beginning with their move to Las Vegas from Scottsdale five years ago, and, hey, maybe it’s not too late for that to happen. I love these guys, but wow are they theatrical.
Amid all the news boomlets, Phillips-as-emcee had it right when he suggested from the stage, “Let’s do this every week!”
Not a bad idea, Z.B. Let’s make it happen.