Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Viva Las Vegas?

I spent Wednesday afternoon here in Minnesota attending a live broadcast of a local talk show. On this particular day the show was being broadcast from Mystic Lake, a huge Native American casino in the Twin Cities area.

The casino broadcast was part of a big promotion Mystic Lake is doing right now, which features the awarding of numerous trips to Las Vegas. Those of us attending today's broadcast of the talk show had a chance to win a trip to Vegas. Five nights at Palazzo and $5,000. Nice prize, eh?

I didn't win. Dream of a trip to Vegas this spring is dead once again.

The show featured a variety of Vegas-related segments, and the set had plenty of Vegas decor.

The show also featured a pretty good Elvis impersonator, Anthony Shore. It was pointed out to us that you can't have a Vegas-themed show without an Elvis impersonator.

And it made me wonder why that is.

While I'm not an Elvis in Vegas historian, I realize he had a good run at the end of his life as a fixture in Vegas, performing at the former Las Vegas Hilton when he wasn't touring the country. He came to Minnesota a couple of times, at least, in the 1970s, from what I could tell doing 60 seconds of research.

Given his unique look and style, and his years in Vegas, it's not a surprise that imitation of "The King" has been a part of the Vegas fabric over the years.

But the guy has been dead for nearly 40 years. Why do we still have impersonators performing in Vegas lounges these days? No, it's not very common these days, but it happens. So do weddings performed by an Elvis impersonator, I've been told repeatedly.

Elvis impersonators aren't a fixture of the Vegas entertainment scene these days, and his music will endure long after all of us take a dirt nap, but it does seem odd to me that in 2016 the Vegas/Elvis cliche remains.

I think one of the reasons why Elvis still gets some love in Vegas is that his music, look and style are so distinct.

Sinatra was huge, and plenty of people can likely rattle off a bunch of his tunes. But I'll bet a random survey of adults 18-49 would demonstrate a lot more familiarity with the music of Elvis over the music of "Ol' Blue Eyes."

While I can picture Sinatra, his look and style don't stand out like that of Elvis. That helps the legend live on, without a doubt.

You can't forget the past, but Vegas makes a habit of reinventing itself. Yeah, older properties such as Lady Luck downtown and Sahara on the strip were revitalized without demolition, but tearing down and building new is seemingly essential in Vegas.

Wayne Newton seems to have no problem resurfacing from decade to decade, but Vegas doesn't have much time for old-timers these days. That's what Branson, Missouri, is for.

In a city that seems to demand fresh, new and exciting on a weekly basis, it's a bit of a surprise that there's still an affection for Elvis nearly 40 years after his death.

Britney Spears and Celine Dion should be so lucky.

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