I could swear on the proverbial stack of Bibles that the first day of summer occurred about a week-and-a-half ago, but the reality is autumn is barreling towards us at warp speed. As such, a look at some highlights of the upcoming season’s regional casino bookings is definitely merited.
Below (in chronological order) are 10 noteworthy engagements scheduled for local gambling dens as 2023 heads toward its expiration date:
Michael Franzese (Sept. 23, Casears Atlantic City)
It’s an absolute lock that Atlantic City has never seen a headliner quite like Franzese (although there probably have been plenty like him in showroom audiences). That’s because the 73-year-old New York native spent decades as a major figure in the notorious Colombo mob family for whom he engineered, among other things, a gasoline-tax scam that earned him and his associates hundreds of millions of dollars.
But, in the 1990s, after serving a federal sentence for his role in the gas-tax swindle, Franzese renounced his criminal ways and today is an entrepreneur, big-time YouTube star and a public speaker who enthralls audiences with his first-person tales and insights about organized crime. Tailoring his presentation to the gig, he’ll be speaking about the roles AyCee and Philadelphia have played in the annals of gangsterdom.
Dire Straits Legacy Tour (Sept. 30, Golden Nugget Atlantic City)
Not just another “tribute band,” Dire Straits Legacy is comprised of musicians who, at one point or another, performed and/or recorded with the British band whose signatures include “Sultans of Swing,” “Money For Nothing” and “Walk of Life.”
Fans of classic “prog rock” should be advised that among those in the band are brass man Mel Collins (King Crimson) and Trevor Horn (Yes), who’s playing bass on the tour.
RuPaul’s Drag Race -Night of the Living Dead (Oct. 6, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City).
Fans of the groundbreaking TV competition series may be disappointed that the show’s nominal star won’t be in attendance, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of the naughty, bawdy and gaudy gender-bending fun that has made “Drag Race” so popular. That the program has a Halloween theme promises even more fun.
Dogstar (Oct. 8, Hard Rock).
There are an incalculable number of people who want to be movie stars. And, it seems, there are a similar amount of movie stars who want to be rock stars. Case in point: Keanu Reeves (“The Matrix”) who, when he wasn’t making the big-screen scene, played bass in Dogstar, an L.A.-based alt-rock band which he co-founded in the 1990s. The trio’s local gig is part of its revival after calling it quits in 2002. Also on tap is an album, “Between the Power Lines and Palm Trees,” which is due out next month.
Foreigner (Oct. 27 and 28, Hard Rock)
Normally, a casino date by the 1970s-and-’80s arena-rock titans wouldn’t merit inclusion in this list given that they have been regulars on the gaming-hall circuit for years. But (if the billing is to be believed), the Hard Rock shows are part of what has been dubbed the “Feels Like the Last Time Final Tour.”
Randy Rainbow (Oct. 27, Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City)
Granted, the brilliant song parodist may not be a particular favorite of MAGA World (check out any of his Donald Trump-eviscerating tunes on YouTube for confirmation), but there’s no denying Rainbow is extraordinarily talented and exactly the kind of not-the-same-old-same-old type of headliner of which Atlantic City needs more.
Johnny Mathis (Oct. 28, Caesars)
It’s almost impossible to process, but the 87-year-old, velvet-voiced crooner is now in his eighth (yes, eighth!) decade as an entertainer. And by all accounts, he’s still got it. And those are just two reasons why this gig should not be missed by any fan of classic American pop music. You want another? Fine; how often do you get to share a physical space with a show business immortal?
Sebastian Maniscalco (Nov. 9-11/16-18, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa)
The Chicago-born standup comic’s star may not be burning quite as brightly as it did a few years ago (for instance, his movie, “About My Father,” in which he co-starred with Robert De Niro—it was released last winter–was a major bust). But he obviously still has enough currency to head back to the Big B for yet another 10-show run.
Howie Mandel (Nov. 17, Parx)
A whole generation may only know the chrome-domed Canadian as an “America’s Got Talent” judge, but he is also a one-of-a-kind standup act thanks to his almost-supernatural ability to hilariously ad-lib with audience members. If you’ve never seen Mandel live, do yourself a favor and catch his Parx show.
Chicago & Friends (Nov. 17 and 18, Ocean Casino Resort)
The pioneering jazz-rock outfit Chicago is another act that’s been depositing casino paychecks for many years, but their two-night Ocean engagement comes with a cool twist: It’s a celebration of the 55th anniversary of the band’s debut LP, and to mark the festivities, the horn-heavy unit will not only perform, but will have a bunch of their songs delivered by a diverse roster of artists including guitar god Steve Vai, popster Robin Thicke, “American Idol” alum Chris Daughtry and the a capella quintet VoicePlay.