Posts Tagged ‘las vegas’

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THE LAST SNOWSTORM OF THE SEASON

March 24, 2009

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NIGHT AND DAY THROUGH THE STORM’S EYES

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SNOWFALL AT “LITTLE FALLS” IN MT. CHARLESTON

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THE SNOW SQUALL MOVES IN

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IT APPROACHES CATHEDRAL ROCK

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THE HAND OF THE SQUALL COMES FROM BEHIND

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IT OVERWHELMS AND CONQUERS THE MOUNTAIN

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THE WHITEOUT FINALLY ARRIVES

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THE MIGHTY SUN BREAKS THROUGH

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A MOMENT OF ZEN

June 15, 2008

I decided to show some views from my balcony that I shot at 6 am in the morning.  I am so lucky to have these gifts, and I’m only 40 minutes from Las Vegas.

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Cheap Thrills On A Very Vegasy Afternoon

April 11, 2008

A TYPICAL SMOKIN\' VEGAS JAZZ PIANIST

A TYPICAL SMOKIN’ JAZZ PLAYER FROM VEGAS

Many people decry the lack of inexpensive alternatives to the current costs of enjoying oneself in the “new” Las Vegas.  Vegas used to be a town of cheap rooms, inexpensive food, and free entertainment.  But all that’s been changing since the sixties when they figured out they could take the talent in the lounges, build a closed-in theater, put the acts in there and start charging admission.  Little by little as the town progressed to a corporate bean-counting oasis and the mob self-destructed, things that were free or cheap disappeared.  Of course now Strip land is worth $40 million an acre and the costs of greed flow downward. 

Regardless, here’s a great way to spend a lovely afternoon for less than $10 for two.
 Find your way to the new Palazzo Hotel and admire the beautiful granite and marble accoutrements, a two-story waterfall, as well as the gorgeous artwork and design that CEO and founder Sheldon Adelson is noted for since he constructed the building of the adjacent Venetian Hotel Casino.  The Palazzo Hotel connects directly to the Canal Shops in the Venetian and one can access either property quite easily.  The one thing that you notice about the Palazzo that is different than most casino areas is the wide open floor plan with more than enough room to move and a very good ventilation system.  As the stench of the cigarette smoke is impossible to eliminate altogether it is a vast improvement on all other gambling joints. 

You never do know what you’re going to see on any given day.  The day we were there we kept running into a dozen drop-dead gorgeous contestants for the Miss USA pageant, as they were shopping and simultaneously being filmed, and escorted by a bevy of security guards.  Directly above the Palazzo casino floor Emeril Lagasse’s “Table 10” restaurant, high end jewelry stores and accessory boutiques, and the Double Helix bar were open for business but other stores were still under construction.  Smooth jazz emanated through the area as a pianist and bassist played unmindful of their surroundings.  Walking on, my wife and I stopped into Barney’s of New York so she could look at $8,000 dresses and $1200 shoes.  The salespeople seem grateful for any traffic as there were a few buyers that day.  We then made our way up the escalator to the Canal shops.  We stopped at Godiva chocolates and split a tasty peanut-butter filled chocolate to the tune of four dollars-pricey but Heaven in small bites.  Walking through a replica of St. Mark’s Square, a crowd gathered around a living statue dressed in pure white and whiteface and people posed with him taking pictures and leaving generous tips.  At the Peter Lik Photographic Gallery we spent time gazing at his beautiful imagery, recognizing many of the places that we ourselves had been on these huge enlargements of scenic wonder.

We walked past the many shops and of course watched the gondolas go by and stopped for a cappuccino and banana nut muffin.  We sat and people-watched as the ultra rich, beauty queens, and normal people bustled by, all on their own singular quests.  The shops there are quite diverse from Venetian glass and ceramics to high-end lingerie, Magic shops and modern art to gowns and denim.  All said and done we spent a little less than $10, and didn’t even have to spend that, for an interesting and fun afternoon.  So you see, a cheap date is possible here and having lived here now for close to 15 years, it’s still never ceases to amaze me how incredible this town really is.

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THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME-The Music of Led Zeppelin with a 50 piece Orchestra

March 30, 2008

Yes you did read correctly, it does say orchestra in the title. Rock and roll merges with classical music as conductor/arranger Brent Havens presents The Music of Led Zeppelin, a program he scored that extends the listening experience of Led Zeppelin’s timeless tunes. Now you would ask as I did, how can they maintain the power of such a super screaming rock and roll mega-band, riff for riff, while blending in new musical colors with 50, count em’, 50 orchestral instruments?
Think about incorporating just the double-reed instruments—the oboe, English Horn, bassoon, add in the violins, violas, cellos, basses, and woodwinds or more pure sounds from instruments like a flute or a clarinet, then add the entire brass section, like the trumpet, trombones, French horns, and the lower brass like the bass trombone and tuba and you begin to see just how large that task is.  Then add a monster electric guitar, bass and drums with the addition of the electric violin and you have to go and listen for yourself to see if it is all that it seems to be.
In conductor Havens’ words, “The Music of Led Zeppelin was to take the music as close to the originals as we could and then add some colors to enhance what Zep had done. The wonderful thing with an orchestra is that you have an entire palette to call upon.” 

So there I was in a great seat in the Planet Hollywood Theater (the old Aladdin Performing Arts Center) in a unique position of listening to an orchestra tune their instruments to A-440 minutes before this rock concert opened.  After a very informal hello, the lead singer Randy Jackson, not to be confused with the corpulent person from American Idol, dove into “Good Times, Bad Times” and by the end of the song I wanted to go to the sound console and throw the audio engineer aside as all I could be heard was a loud guitar and the overbearing vocals, not that they were bad-they were quite good-but this was to be with a 50 piece Orchestra and not an acappella concert.  Yes it brought back memories, memories of concerts by bands such as The Grateful Dead when I wanted to throw audio mixer Dan Healy off of the mixing console as all you could hear was a screamingly loud lead guitar most of the time.  I don’t want to go into a diatribe, but I just can’t understand how hard it is when you’ve taken hours to carefully place microphones on every instrument, ran then to the board, equalized them, and then combined them to matrixed subgroups specifically for the purpose of being able to bring up and down volume of each grouping of instruments so one does not have to sit there and try to mix 60 instruments at once.  If you’re going to combine an orchestra with a rock ‘n roll group, then you have to be able to hear the orchestra.  It’s as simple as that.  Now I understand it takes a couple songs to get in gear and I was willing to easily forgive the sound guy because mixing an orchestra is a daunting task, I know-I’ve done it more than a few times.  Keep in mind, however, that the following is a no-brainer to understand especially if you’re going to mix a rock show – there is a certain dynamic level that can be achieved only by a minimum amount of volume overall and without that level of “push” through the sound system the feel and drive of the music is not there, regardless of genre. 

George Cintron, the lead guitarist, did a phenomenal job laying down the lines of legendary Jimmy Page note for note and enjoying his job tremendously.  Drummer Powell Randolph did an excellent job mimicking the late John Bonham’s inventive and melodic style.  The bassist Dan Clemens was adequate, when you could hear him, in fact the orchestra was quite good when you could hear them and unfortunately it wasn’t until the encore, when the obligatory song “Stairway to Heaven” was performed that the true merging of all those instruments and the rock ensemble teamed together in a perfect wave of sound at the right volume to produce an absolutely incredible musical delight.  Perhaps it was because that was the only Zeppelin song the young audio mixer had ever heard, but I doubt it.  Fortunately the great vocals and the excellent guitar work of Mr. Cintron salvaged the evening but I left only wondering how incredible it could have been.  As this is the closest I will probably ever be to seeing Led Zeppelin live it was a nice revisit to the days of yore, when hotel rooms were routinely trashed and private 747’s crisscrossed the world delivering those young lads from one sold-out stadium to the next.  The songs rocked and brought more than a few smiles to my face.  A gray-haired Jimmy Page is smiling somewhere as well, as he reminisces and possibly prepares for one last reunion with his mates.

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VEGAS VIG WEEKLY

March 29, 2008

Weird Scenes Inside A Gold Mine 

This is the first in a series of weekly blogs that will try to capture the irony and spirit of “a city gone wild” in a perspective that will show different types of lifestyles, concert and show reviews, nutty people and the things that happen to them, and a contemporary view of this Twenty-first century gold rush that shows no sign of stopping.  Thanks for tuning in to the first entry and please feel free to comment on anything.  The first blog will be short and sweet until I can get everything worked out.  WordPress does not make any of this very easy and with another blog it is very confusing to get anything done quickly.  Bear with me, I’ll make it worth your while once I can get the “look” established.  

Have a lucky day!