FIRST CLASS ENTERTAINMENT AT AFFORDABLE PLACES IN LAS VEGAS

By Dee Dee McNeil / Jazz Journalist
May 22, 2018

This past Mother’s Day Weekend, my beautiful daughter and I decided to go to Las Vegas. While there, I was bent on finding a club or hotel act that played good blues. We usually buy show tickets, but this time, I was hoping to find out where the local entertainers were performing. After several calls to friends and other entertainers, I discovered some pretty incredible talent in Las Vegas at very affordable places. Our first stop was on West Las Vegas Blvd, far from ‘the strip’ and near Martin Luther King Blvd. The hotel is called, “The Silver Nugget “and inside you will find a comfortable showroom and bar that features a five-piece blues and R&B band. There was an opening act and a main act. The star was Lady Brandy.
When we entered the ‘no-cover-charge’ club and ordered drinks, the first thing we noticed was the well-dressed woman in a sparkly sequined dress, burgundy hair and dangle earrings. She approached us after we were seated and gifted we three women (my daughter, my Las Vegas buddy, Stephanie, and myself) with glowing, red, artificial roses that lit-up with tiny lightbulbs nestled in the petals. She was friendly and engaging. It didn’t take long to discover she was originally from my hometown of Detroit, Michigan; a product of Motown. She was also the featured act for the evening.

Her show began with Michael ‘Mico’ Welch taking the stage. Michael sang “Lovely Day” to open the show and put soul into the already soulful Bill Wither’s tune. Next, he performed the Otis Redding hit record, “Sittin’ On the Dock of the Bay.” He had the audience in the palm of his hands sporting an excellent voice, stage persona and friendly patter in between his songs. This was followed by the Jeffrey Osborne hit record, “Love Ballad.” Michael Welch performed in the most amazing way as he sang, “What we have is much more than they can see” with the audience responding verbally; singing along. People rushed to the small dance floor and held each other tightly.

This was followed by Al Green’s standard hit, “Let’s Stay Together”, Michael Welch turned up the heat, and raced around the room, jumping on the empty chairs surrounding the bright red table cloths and he sang to the attentive crowd, making musical love to the Mother’s Day guests. The opening act ended his powerful set with the Teddy Pendergrass tune, “You’re My Lady”.

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Then came the star of the show, Lady Brandy, poured into a purple sparkle dress with four-inch, gold high heels and a voice that was powerful and authentically blue. She sang to her audience, “You better own it, if you want to make my day” and told us with conviction, it takes a real strong technique to handle Lady Brandy. We believed her.

When she sang the Staple Singers hit, “I Know A Place, I’ll Take You There,” there was solid audience participation. This was followed by “Who’s Makin’ Love to Your Old Lady, while you’re out makin’ love?” She has a delightful and sincere way of chatting with her audience, the same way she approached us when we walked into the club. She makes you feel at home and that each song is a personal story she’s sharing specifically with you.

People were joyful and got up to dance around her. Some danced with her. She’s a show person; an entertainer. She knows how to work the room. Blues songs ranged from “Down Home Blues” to Erykah Badu’s “Call Tyrone.” She told the ladies in the audience, becoming very confidential, that one of the band members was her husband and that they had been having problems. Then she inserted the song, “While you been steppin’ out, someone else is steppin in” and when she got to the line that says, “I got a new way of wearin’ my hair,” off came her wig, flying across the room and up on the stage for her husband to retrieve. Beneath the natural-looking wig, her hair style was like a 1920’s Betty-Boo-look, with dark, shiny waves pressed beautifully against her head. This was followed by “Sexy Man, What Your Name is?” Lady Brandy walked the room, got down on her knees, told us stories of life and love, all supported by a tight blues band and lots of drama. This is a very affordable treat for blues lovers any Friday or Saturday night at the Silver Nugget Casino in Las Vegas where they pour strong shots and offer entertaining blues.

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On Mother’s Day, we got a message from Las Vegas vocalist, Bobby Rose, that there was an amazing female singer called, Madame Dee, featured as part of the Soulful Sunday entertainment package at Cork & Thorn Floral shop. Yes, I said Floral Shop. During the week this unique venue sells flowers. They offer floral education and fun, providing numerous flower design and arrangement courses and infusing a first-person experience at their shop with sparkling libations and cheese platters. Then, comes Sunday. They feature live music and the amazing Madame Dee.

As we enter the Tivoli Village mall, Cork & Thorn is a small shop with lovely, ornate dry-wood floral designs hanging from the ceiling on thin wires. A trio of musicians is set up against the wall and a woman in a full length, sparkling blue dress is singing the Rufus/Chaka Khan song, “Everlasting Love” with so much emotion and power, I am stunned. Madame Dee has a style and vocal ability similar to Patti LaBelle. She is captivating and a true show-woman. At times, she put the microphone down by her side, because her vocals were so powerful and persuasive, she didn’t need the microphone. At the end of her songs, she stretches her arms wide, cues the band and tantalizes the audience, with her head thrown back. Her voice is magnificent.

From what I understand, this venue offers Sunday entertainment featuring this dynamic vocalist every Sunday at 330 So. Rampart Blvd., #180 in Las Vegas, NV. I promise you, her performance is extraordinary and she presents a concert that is mesmerizing. Here is another ‘no cover charge’ venue that is artsy, comfortable with couches and warm with good vibes. Everyone is dressed to impress in their Sunday go-to-church clothes and Madame Dee looks like a Main Stage Las Vegas, Showroom celebrity. You’ll think you are at the MGM Grand instead of a modest flower shop. Her voice is a gift and a blessing. What a wonderful way to spend Mother’s Day or any day at all!

In addition, at the end of her last set, she invited a host of local entertainers to her bandstand. We enjoyed the silky-smooth vocals of Bobby Rose.

There was a visiting singer from Chicago, with a close- cut blond afro and a big, beautiful voice. She was introduced as a background singer for Patti LaBelle. Speaking of Chicago, I hear that my friend Ghalib Ghallab is back on the strip entertaining. He plays piano and sings. See http://ghalibghallabjazz.com/tour_calendar/

We also enjoyed Yohon Harbin, who presents a tribute to Ron Isley around town. He was another stellar vocalist, formerly the lead singer with the legendary Drifters.

I hope this article gives you some ideas for the next time you visit the city that never sleeps. There’s no place like Las Vegas, and no limit to the incredible entertainment you can enjoy.

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