Hot Guys of Vegas: Guitar Heroes

Songs sound so much better when the visuals match the music


“Hey, don’t objectify me. I’m a serious artist”. Yeah yeah yeah….we’ve heard it a thousand times. Beautiful people often complain that they aren’t respected for their talents. Yet most of us grew up in a time when you had to be MTV-ready to make it in the music industry. Just ask Jeff Timmons of 98 Degrees.

Jeff Timmons of ’98 Degrees’ Weathers the Storm

Perennial “Hot Guys” recipient Jeff Timmons doesn’t play guitar

These days, TikTok and Instagram have made  “models” out of millions, so very little has changed. Luckily for readers of this column, three Vegas hunks have been strumming their guitars like they’re pumping iron at the gym. So here they are…Hot Vegas Guitar Heroes of 2021

Michael Shapiro –  singer/guitarist/producer

38303967_10216525972802048_33681919514247168_n

Do you remember that old Burger King jingle “It takes two hands to handle a Whopper“? Well, Michael Shapiro not only has two full hands, but he also wears hats in two separate bands. As front man to both Many Miles Away and Reckless In Vegas, Shapiro does more in one evening than most do in a week.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I first chatted with the handsome musician when we were guests on What The Cluck, a topical comedy chat-fest by The Bronx WanderersVin A. Prior to that, I’d enjoyed Michael’s tribute to Bruce Springsteen in World’s Greatest Rock Show at The STRAT. During the pandemic, Shapiro was busy writing music for his newest musical venture. 

Produced by Paul Fletcher, MANY MILES AWAY debuted their new songs in a showcase at The Barbershop Cuts & Cocktails (inside Cosmopolitan) earlier this week. It was a star-studded affair attended by movers and shakers like man-about-town Mark Messina, comedian/actress Elaina Bhattacharyya, Paula Maggio, Vin A. (of course), his behind-the-scenes muse Elizabeth Hunt, Review-Journal entertainment columnist John Katsilometes and singer Travis Cloer (see below).

May be an image of 5 people, people playing musical instruments, people standing and text that says 'RECKLESS IAVEGAS A MODERN TWIST ON VINTAGE VEGAS Thursday, July 15, 2021 Italian American Club 2333 E Sahara Ave., Las Vegas, NV 89104 TICKETS $65 Dinner 6:30-7:00pm-- Show 8:00pm For Reservations go to iacvegas. or call (702) 457-3866'

This coming July 15th, Shapiro’s Reckless In Vegas will be back onstage at Italian American Club. Overflowing with style and sexiness, the retro-cool Reckless In Vegas takes vintage swagger and turns it on its ear with modern interpretations. Seating is 6:30 pm and you can get tickets/info by clicking here. This is one night on the town that you won’t want to miss.

Travis Cloer–  singer/guitarist/actor

 

198156699_10226911846089046_4418332866590385967_n

Photo by Dianne Davis

It’s impossible to follow Vegas music and NOT know Travis Cloer. A rip-roaring bundle of positive energy, Travis is beloved not just by fellow musicians and fans, but by the entire Sin City community. And because he’s smokin’, Travis has made it onto my Hot Guys of Vegas column twice. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Last November, I told you about the Jersey Boys star’s Christmas single Holiday With Me. Now he’s prepared to heat up the summer charts with Standing Here. Releasing this week, Standing Here finds the crooner fresh off a sold-out Composer’s Showcase at NOTORIETY, where he performed the new ballad.

Produced by popular Vegas entertainer Frankie Moreno, Standing Here is the type of song you play during a relaxing summer drive. Close your eyes, imagine you’re riding along a country road with the windows down, and listen to a sample right here. Standing Here is available for pre-order via the same link. 

194644833_10158191213777555_2120044043620443067_n

Thanks for the great vibes, Travis!

Miles Schon – singer/guitarist/songwriter

 

FB_IMG_1624370965284

Miles Schon is as handsome as he is talented

If I have to explain why our final Guitar Hero made the list, perhaps it’s time to visit an optometrist. Miles Schon is the ultimate hot musician. Handsome, humble, charismatic and an ace on the strings, he’s got the DNA to back up his impending super-stardom.

Miles is the son of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Neal Schon. Dad has been involved with such legends as Journey, Santana, Joe Cocker, The Allman Brothers, and Sammy Hagar. When you grow up in that type of household, you’re bound to have a passion for great music, too.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Music is always a collaborative effort, and Miles found his perfect partner in Michael Shapiro (above). The two formed MANY MILES AWAY, a moniker undoubtedly inspired by the younger Schon’s first name. The two even wrote a single sharing the same title, which they performed in Salt Lake City earlier this year:

Miles cites R & B, pop and metal as his primary musical influences. An avid jock, he enjoys the great outdoors, which explains his stunning physique. Excited about a successful first Las Vegas performance at The Barbershop last Monday, Miles is eager to learn what comes next:

“We have no idea what the future holds. Looking back on looking into the future…I had no clue and still don’t. Just keep grinding and be the best you can be.” – Miles Schon

Photos from recipients’ social media and websites. Caricatures by Neal Portnoy.

 

Small Spaces, Towering Talent

Intimate Venues are the Hottest Ticket to Sin City’s Rebirth…


The times, they are a changing’. Gone for now are the concert tours, superstar residencies and spectacular mega-productions. As Sin City eases into a new comfort zone, the smart money is on smaller spaces, where performers and audiences can connect on an intimate level. In other words, a pure entertainment experience.

185811687_299960598504791_7776715406732249016_n

The Nevada Room Piano Bar Bistro is open and ready to entertain

Lounge acts and supper clubs harken a return to the days that put Las Vegas on the map…a time when true talent was the star. Their resurgence is evidence that tourists and locals alike are yearning for live music, despite concerns of gathering in public spaces. Perhaps that’s why The Vegas Room, less than a year old, has already inspired a more elaborate sister club just down the block. Check out The Nevada Room, which debuted on May 13th.

NOTORIETY Live on Fremont Street is another small performance space experiencing a wave of popularity. Located in a former movie theater at Fremont Street’s NEONOPOLIS complex, NOTORIETY has attracted a number of notable names from a wide variety of Strip productions.

“Tenors of Rock” performed a special July 4th show at NOTORIETY

Spearheaded by Ken Henderson of Best Agency, the colorful NOTORIETY nightspot has been safely hosting magic shows, burlesque revues from Lucie May, rock concerts and comedy acts for months while others have remained shuttered. With its full bar service and available dining options, the 21-and-over clientele have been returning week after week for top-notch excitement.

imageMain_5_885

While contracted productions are on hiatus, individual performers have been able to create scaled-down solo shows. Bucky Heard of The Righteous Brothers (see my Las Vegas Magazine article here)  launched “The Heart of Rock & Roll”, a concert series. Bucky told me that it’s an intimate duo presentation with accomplished guitarist John Wedemeyer, who’s worked with legendary acts such as Donny and Marie, Bonnie Raitt, Wayne Newton and Clint Holmes.

Bucky and John’s “The Heart of Rock and Roll” premiered February 17th at Italian American Club on East Sahara Avenue. As usual, the guys put on a wonderful show that makes you long for more.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If you’ve never visited Italian American Club, you owe it to yourself to discover it. Thanks to a dear friend, I’ve experienced the joys of this old-school gem and their rotating roster of talent, both established and rising. Stunning hunks like Jonathan Karrant and Chadwick Johnson performed incredible pre-Christmas shows, and they’ll be back on the IAC stage very soon.  Other favorites include Craig Canter, Chase Brown, and Frankie Scinta

143486844_10158858378798796_4339398638214291886_o

Travis Cloer, best known for his l0ng-running role in the Jersey Boys musical, was super-busy during the pandemic. He’s had gigs at The Vegas Room and Italian American Club, among others. In February he was at Chianti Restaurant with Christopher Lash for a special Valentine-themed performance. 

149073168_10220967288430104_8453484703733259345_n

Crooners, Inc. at THE MINT Lounge…

February also saw the debut of Crooners, Inc. at The Mint Lounge on East Sahara Avenue. Described as “an hour and a half of pure, classic Vegas entertainment on Valentine’s Day with music, mayhem and memories”, the production features a full band and a cast that includes Miss Mala, Tony Felicetta, Jonny Bird, JC Lopez and Dean Perry

73090455_2109069759193706_4714571560571109376_n

Tuscany Resort on East Flamingo Avenue has been another go-to for superb lounge acts. Kenny Davidsen’s Bowtie Cabaret is a weekly Friday event with rotating hosts and guests. Stars like Ruby Lewis, Ian Ward, Anne Martinez, Kelly Vohnn, and Cassie Stone have recently joined Davidsen on stage. Performers Rita Lim, Ashley Fuller and Michael Grimm all have ongoing residencies there as well. 

Harrah’s outdoor lounge Carnival Court has been playing host to a number of familiar faces, albeit under aliases. The father/son duo of Vinny Adinolfi and son Vin A. (The Bronx Wanderers) hit the C.C. stage on the weekends, operating as…well, it seems to depend on the week. Let’s stick with “VINdemic” for now. The guys also hit Italian American Club with the full band in January, and was back there on February 18th.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Another effect of the pandemic has been the formation of “super groups”. What you get is a superlative combination of artists from various other productions working together under a new moniker. ORIGINAL CHAOS boasts TENORS OF ROCK members Dai Richards, Chris Cicchino and Tim Sorbs (The Black Donnellys), along with bare-chested hunk Andrew Diessner (replacing Colin Cahill, both from Atomic Saloon Show).

The new band has already gotten a stellar following, as evidenced by a sold-out performance of The EaglesHOTEL CALIFORNIA at The Space earlier this month. Next ticketed event is a full-album presentation of PARANOID by Black Sabbath at The Space on June 20th. Get tickets here

NOTORIETY Live hit the ground running in November with Vin and Jimmy’s DOWNTOWN HOOTENANY. An irreverent collection of music, comedy, and hysterical video segments, the show featured Jimmy Denning of TENORS OF ROCK, Vin A. (him again), Tim Sorbs on drums, and guest stars Bucky Heard and Colin Cahill (do you see a trend here?). A second edition of DOWNTOWN HOOTENANY took place in April.

148233209_10159681193755961_1749088873546539342_o

Broadway stage and screen star Ruby Lewis, a recurring guest at The Vegas Room, had her own showcase at NOTORIETY on February 25th. The one-night performance celebrated both her birthday and the release of her first original song “Shock Value“. Ms. Lewis was most recently at The Nevada Room with “Starlet“. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Speaking of The Vegas Room, the classy supper club had a great line-up of acts in the early months of the year. Entertainment director Jassen Allen booked The Doo-Wop Kings, Christopher Lash, Savannah Smith, Elisa Fiorillo (with Barry Manilow’s musical director Joey Melotti), Skye Dee Miles and many more. 

Mosaic Theater On The Strip just celebrated the 100th performance of Queens of Rock. AUSSIE HEAT male revue continues in its second year at the newly-remodeled venue, and MJ – The Evolution is due to open this month.

Even Town Square shopping complex has gotten into the entertainment scene. Stoney’s Rockin’ Country is currently hosting CARPENTERS TRIBUTE CONCERT, and Baobab Stage has APERO, a residency featuring alumni from Le Reve, Zumanity and many other top-tier productions. 

 

Get ‘Portnoyed’ With Sin City’s Philanthropic Artist


Famed caricaturist Neal Portnoy donates talent and funds to furloughed Las Vegas performers…

Update 7/12/20 – In addition to the wonderful effort that Portnoy Gallery has put forth to assist entertainers in the community, this year it will be hosting a benefit for St. Jude Ranch for Children. The announcement from Dorothy Cannata Portnoy is as follows:

We are excited to announce our Annual Christmas in July event and Raffle Fund Raiser. Limited tickets for social distancing during event and unlimited virtual tickets available. The day will be broken down to 4 sessions each having different raffle prizes and one grand prize at last session including all who bought tickets Pick the group you like best or all. The virtual tickets are set up the same way. Click here for full details. Looking forward to a great day of supporting St Jude’s Ranch for Children.

107385471_1133738157010497_2413342965357615338_o

Donations of household items are also being accepted – you can request a copy of the wish list from Dorothy Cannata Portnoy by clicking here.

UPDATE5/17/20 –  Neal Portnoy messaged me to let me know that my oversized mug had been “Portnoyed”, too. The honor is overwhelming…and I’m thrilled that he made the decision to include me in this illustrious collection. You can obtain yours and help the unemployed entertainers of Las Vegas by clicking here.

97556335_10216026893201025_761006168343576576_o

                                                         Hey, my mug is on a mug! 


For many entertainers, the benchmarks of success are seeing their name in lights and perhaps, someday, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But you’ll know that you’ve really made it when your likeness has been “Portnoyed”.

50652014_759700157747634_2286326007805771776_o

Neal Portnoy is a successful artist who specializes in caricatures (or “cartoon portraits”) of famous performers and sports figures. His Portnoy Gallery in Las Vegas is a veritable shrine to pop culture and the entertainment world. Its centerpiece is the Wall of Honor, a collection of Portnoy’s most revered work.

87300191_478413893036982_8926301235028426752_n

Once a year, the Gallery holds a red carpet induction ceremony that’s attended by public figures, prominent athletes, celebrities and one very special doggie. Neal’s background as a baseball player and sleight-of-hand entertainer gives him a unique insight that few artists possess. His portraits, most often created with felt markers, capture the dedication of his subjects along with their humor, talent, and charisma.

Working with felt markers is a unique and challenging medium. As Neal explains it:

Markers…unlike oils, unlike acrylics, unlike water colors…is a stain. You can change colors in water colors, acrylics and oils, and kind of put what you want down. But with marker, every line you put down, stays down.  If I make a mistake, I make it into something else…’cause every line is an expression.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When it comes to being charismatic, the Massachusetts native exudes a wonderful degree of warmth and confidence. It’s easy to understand why some of the most powerful names in entertainment have entrusted their images to Neal. From members of the Las Vegas Raiders to Barry Manilow, Freddy Mercury to Aretha Franklin, each work of art is timeless and unforgettable.

18954729_10209046802183112_4209757318478630910_o

My first opportunity to chat with Neal was earlier this year. It was at the Summerlin birthday party of influential power-player Mark Messina, where I shared a table with the artist and his charming wife, former New Yorker Dorothy Cannata Portnoy. During our conversation, Dorothy told me that she is the gallery’s Director. She also tirelessly assists her husband in his efforts to support the local community.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Portnoys invited me to their studio to check out Neal’s collection. Alas, a certain pandemic became headlines soon after, placing my visit on a to-do list for when life returns to normal. In the interim, I’ve researched the gallery via websites and social media. There I learned about a heartwarming effort that the couple and Mark Messina have created to assist out-of-work Vegas entertainers.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As you may recall from last week’s article on the Mondays Dark Live Stream Telethon, the residents of Sin City are unparalleled when it comes to taking care of their own. That’s why Portnoy Gallery has decided to donate 50 percent of sales from Portnoyed.com:

Las Vegas has been hit particularly hard due to quarantines and venue closures.  Our entertainers have been among the hardest hit.  We would like to give back to the community, by providing our out of work entertainers 50% of proceeds from our current online products.  Please browse our store for your favorite Las Vegas entertainer, and together we can help them get through this period.

Screenshot 2020-04-20 at 6.00.59 AM

Up for grabs are 76 uniquely-designed coffee mugs, each featuring a beloved Vegas celebrity. Musicians like the Bronx Wanderers, Niki Scalera, David Tatlock, Mark O’Toole, Michael Shapiro, and Zowie Bowie can join your coffee break, along with comedians Carrot Top, Mike Hammer, and John Di Domenico. Even Messina and my colleagues Gabe Ginsberg, Chet Buchanan and Johnny Katsilometes have their mugs committed to a mug.

To obtain one or more of these uniquely Vegas collectibles (while simultaneously fueling the movement to keep Las Vegas entertainment alive) visit this link. Until the gallery reopens, you can browse and purchase prints of Neal’s creations by clicking HERE.

87609127_3552083111531375_2960959151171174400_o

Portnoy Gallery is located at 1537 W Oakey Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89102. Phone 702.685.2929 for more information.

Photos: Neal Portnoy, Dorothy Cannata Portnoy, David Orlov, Dianne Davis, Jonathan Scott