I have been living-las-vegas.com’s Photo Diva for less than six months now and I have been truly blessed in meeting some great people who have been instrumental in helping me share my love of great entertainment with you. One person in particular is connected with the Las Vegas Hilton and asked if I’d be interested in covering Eric Floyd’s Old School Party Week being held in the showroom. I gladly accepted the invitation and and got hooked up with a media pass. So I broke out my boogie shoes and tripod and set off to the Hilton to get my nostalgic groove on for a few days.
My pass was waiting for me at the Players Club desk so while I was there I decided to sign up. As a Vegas local I hadn’t given the Hilton much thought (or entertainment dollars for that matter) because I didn’t consider the property, located off-strip and next to the humongous convention center, local-friendly. While the Hilton is the ideal place for conventioneers it is also a great place for locals with its large casino floor, several lounges and showrooms for live entertainment and lots of dining choices including Benihana, click here for information on their Labor Day special. My hubby and I decided to give the Hilton a try: we played a few slots, shared a sandwich and a drink at Superbook Deli for less than $9 (locals get a 25% discount at the restaurants with the Players Club card) and still walked out with more money than we walked in with. That’s saying a lot these days.
Eric Floyd’s Old School Party Week
Wednesday, August 12 through Sunday, August 16
The Showroom at the Las Vegas Hilton
Gettin’ Down in the Showroom
Eric Floyd of Goddess Empire Entertainment (a.k.a. “Jerome” of TV’s “Fame”) created a pretty cool lineup for the five-day event, beginning with the first two nights being the Diva Fever Revue, featuring Wanda Dee (known as being the first female DJ as well as vocalist & Co-Writer/Co-Publisher for The KLF and married to Eric Floyd for something like 25 years), The Emotions, SIster Sledge and many other talented divas. My invite must have gotten lost in the mail… Friday night brought out dance crews for a tribute to Michael Jackson as well as the proclaimed “Godson of Rock & Soul” Siameze. Saturday and Sunday nights capped it all off with an Old School Party featuring Vanilla Ice (Ice Ice Baby), Shannon (Let the Music Play), Sisqo (It’s All About Me), The KLF (3 A.M. Eternal), C & C Music Factory (Gonna Make You Sweat, Things That Make You Go Hmmmm…), Meli’sa Morgan (Do Me, Baby, Still In Love With You), Technotronic (Pump Up the Jam), Full Force ( I Wonder If I’ll Take You Home) and Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam (Head To Toe, Lost In Emotion) among others. According to Eric Floyd, proceeds from the shows are going to two deserving charities: Oprah’s Angel Network and Michael Jackson’s Heal The World Foundation.
I must admit that I was a bit of a disco diva in my late teens/early 20’s during the late 70’s-early 80’s and went dancing in the LA area clubs every night and one of my favorites were The Emotions: an all female soul, disco, and R&B singing group consisting of three sisters, Pamela, Sheila and and Wanda Hutchinson, that formed in Chicago, Illinois in 1968. Their association with Earth, Wind & Fire’s Maurice White brought them their greatest success in the late 70’s with the White-produced single “Best Of My Love” in 1977 and in 1978 the group collaborated with Earth, Wind & Fire on another single, “Boogie Wonderland,” both of which top the charts and became must plays in the disco clubs of the day. Their set on Thursday’s show was nearly flawless: the band was smokin’ hot and the ladies’ voices were pitch perfect and there’s just nothing like sister harmonies. Their approximately hour long set seemed to just fly by and the nice sized crowd was really digging the sound. The sisters ended their set with Boogie Wonderland, complete with an oversized disco ball and the crowd on their feet, singing along. It was clear that even after 40 years of performing together these ladies still love to entertain and, for me, still a pleasure to listen to and watch on stage.
Siblings Kim, Debbie, Joni and Kathy Sledge formed Sister Sledge in 1972 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Their biggest success came in 1979 with the disco hits “We Are Family” and “He’s the Greatest Dancer.” Unfortunately Kim, Debbie and Joni and those fabulous sister harmonies were nowhere to be seen or heard as Sister Sledge consisted this night of Kathy Sledge, her daughter, a cousin and one other singer. Oh sure, Kathy sounded fabulous, especially on her solo performance of Gershwin’s “Can’t Take That Away From Me” (her tribute to Michael Jackson) as well as when she brought up Clifton Davis to sing a duet with her on the classic Jackson 5 song he wrote, “Never Can Say Goodbye” and the audience participation on “Greatest Dancer” was a lot of fun but the rest of the set was rather poorly mixed with way too much echo on Kathy’s vocals and the other singers buried in the mix. Overall, Sister Sledge was a bit disappointing but the crowd seemed to be enjoying it and that’s all that really matters.
A Tribute to Michael Jackson
Before Friday night’s headliner, Siameze, started his act the audience (quite a bit larger than the night before) was entertained by four local and LA-based dance crews and their tributes to Michael Jackson, filled with lots of classic Jackson moves and costuming plus some great breakdancing and stepping. The audience loved their energy and talent and it was definitely a nice start to the evening.
Then there was Siameze. From the moment the band, the Alley Cats, started playing an elongated opening of Elvis’ version of “C.C. Rider” I was worried. I mean, c’mon, the Hilton showroom is the stage that Elvis made history on and this weekend was the 32nd anniversary of his death. (In 1969, Elvis Presley performed for 58 consecutive sold out shows at what was then known as the International Hotel, breaking all Vegas attendance records, then broke his own attendance record in February 1970, and again in August 1970, and August 1972 and lived in the penthouse suite when performing there until his last one in December 1976.) My worry was justified when this kid — who hadn’t even been conceived when The King graced that very stage — bounced onto the stage wearing a white outfit with a red cape very reminiscent of an outfit that Elvis might have worn with a hint of James Brown. Soon the cape came off and then the shirt…oh no…..
Now, I’m not saying the kid’s not talented. Oh, no, it’s not that. Siameze, who’s only in his early 20’s, has a fabulous multi-octave vocal range with a beautiful tone and can dance his ass off (and yes, quite hot) but much like what has become of most pop stars’ shows, his performance is so overproduced, overacted and over-the-top it comes off as shallow, phony and a clear rip-off of mega-entertainers like Prince and James Brown. I did enjoy his combo arrangement of “Ballroom Blitz/American Woman” and the beginning of Bacharach’s “Walk On By” but then he started in with the crying and overacting to the song’s lyrics and I completely lost interest and unfortunately it just got worse with the costume change into a devil outfit, complete with plunging neckline, hip cutouts and enhanced packaging. Overall the show was just too gimmicky and just too Vegas of 20 years ago for my taste and would much prefer to see this kid take it down a level and cut out the acting crap all together and tone down the James brown and Prince rip-offs and that way he can possibly connect with the audience more and build a following.
I get the impression that after having a successful limited engagement at the Hilton’s Shimmer Cabaret (filling in for the Sin City Bad Girls while they took some time off), Siameze Floyd (his parents are Eric Floyd and Wanda Dee) is now looking for a bigger and better venue to perform in but I don’t think the 1,600-seat showroom is necessarily a good fit. Not entirely sure what the demographics would be for this type of show but I’m pretty sure it’s not the type of people that go to the Hilton. Perhaps I’d feel a little differently if it was less like PEEPSHOW and more like MANILOW.
Photo Diva has left the building.