Michael Feinstein has been pretty busy these days. He's started a new singing competition. He's continuing his "Sinatra Project." He's working on a movie with Steven Spielberg. He's involved in multiple recordings. He's about to have a book released. He's started work on a new Broadway musical. And somehow he's finding time to perform concerts, one of which is Saturday night at John Ascuaga's Nugget.
The contest is the Great American Songbook Competition, and Feinstein said it is "one of the most thrilling experiences I've had in a long time." Unlike the reality shows on television, this event has a goal in mind beyond profit and launching a couple of singing careers. Ten young finalists from across the United States competed in Carmel, Ind., in mid-June, singing songs restricted to those from Broadway, Hollywood musicals and the Tin Pan Alley era Feinstein's favorite genres.
"Through this competition, we are reaching a new generation to teach this music and the American history that inspired and influenced these composers. Our winner this year, Nick Ziobro from New York, was spectacular. He showed an innate sense of how to sing these songs. He's one of many young people these days who love this music."
Feinstein's dedication to the American songbook is legendary. Once a confidante of Ira Gershwin, he was allowed to catalog that composer's collection upon his death. His passion for the Gershwins has continued since. He has a new coffee-table book called "The Gershwins and Me" coming out in October, and he's joining forces with director Steven Spielberg on a movie about the creation of "Porgy and Bess," a property that has been long in the canon but is also enjoying renewed interest through a current Tony-winning Broadway production.
"The movie has been in development a while. Steven likes the script and is committed to doing it. He's resolute about directing it, but we have to wait until it becomes his next project.
"I saw the Broadway show and it's neither fish nor fowl. It's got tremendous talents and it's a magnificent musical work. There are things there that are wonderful in many aspects, but I very much missed the operatic aspects of the original composition. I know what they're trying to do, to form a new version of the show, to make it something different and able to stand alone. But I missed much of what I love."
Feinstein's "The Sinatra Project, Volume II: The Good Life" was released last year by Concord Records, and his "The Sinatra Legacy" concert has been airing on PBS stations. Feinstein met Sinatra at Chasen's in Hollywood while playing a birthday party for Sinatra's wife, Barbara. They became friends, joining two of the biggest advocates ever of classic song.
Then there's "The Power of Love," a CD recorded with Cheyenne Jackson of "Glee," who is a "great collaborator whose first love is music; he introduced me to much contemporary music along the way, and he has a superb voice."
Another CD, recorded with the Carmel Symphony Orchestra, is "We Dreamed These Days," the title song co-written with Maya Angelou, "a sweet, wonderful woman who lives her life the way she wants the world to be, true to her heart and her soul."
It seems that the reason Feinstein gets along with so many people who want to collaborate with him is that his interest in talent and music is so deep and sincere. He also seems unafraid to go where he's never gone before now into the world of creating a Broadway musical.
"The holders of the rights to 'The Thomas Crown Affair' approached me to adapt the film to Broadway, and it's a great property. It's a very exciting project, very intriguing, and a challenge. It's going to require a large cast and be an economically large production, so we'll see if it goes to fruition.
"And don't forget my radio show on NPR, 'Song Travels.' "
See Feinstein at 9 p.m. Saturday; $69; (800) 648-1177 or janugget.com.
This week in Reno-Tahoe
The Lake Tahoe Summer Concert Series officially kicks off tonight at Harveys Outdoor Amphitheater with a rocking combo of classics, Chicago and the Doobie Brothers (7 p.m.; $49.50, $59.50, $99.50; Ticketmaster or apeconcerts.com). Then Sunday features the arrival of one of the hottest tours of the season, the reuniting of the Beach Boys for their 50th Anniversary Reunion Tour (7:30 p.m.; $49.50, $59.50, $89.50, $99.50, $125.50).
The Preservation Hall Jazz Band is celebrating its 50th anniversary and venturing out of New Orleans to spread some Dixieland jazz joy. It'll be joined Sunday at the Grand Sierra by the Del McCoury Band and the Trey McIntyre Project for a unique evening (8 p.m.; $30, $45, $60; renoisartown.com).
Celebrity spotting will be one of the most popular summer sports at Lake Tahoe next Tuesday through Sunday as the American Century Golf Championships take place at Edgewood, South Shore. An array of athletes gathers to enjoy the atmosphere and grab up the swag. Ray Romano, Tony Romo, Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley have been regulars. Live TV coverage will air on today (NBC Sports Network), Saturday and Sunday (both NBC).
Big doings at Thunder Valley this weekend as the Steve Miller Band plays the Summer Concert Series tonight (8 p.m.; $47.50, $52.50, $69.50, $89.50, $99.50; thundervalley resort.com); and Earth, Wind & Fire appears Saturday (8 p.m.; $34.50, $39.50, $49.50, $71.50, $84.50).
Paul Revere once said that he went through so many three-cornered hats he had to order them by the gross at wholesale prices.
Those would be the hats worn by his Raiders, a name selected originally as a clever counter to the British musical invasion of the 1960s. Revere himself remains the only original member, but current lead guitarist Doug Heath and drummer Ron Foos have pretty good longevity with 35 years.
Revere himself keeps everything going in madcap rapid-paced style, seemingly inexhaustible after all these years. The band joins Righteous Brother Bill Medley tonight at Jackson Rancheria (7:30 p.m.; $20; JacksonCasino.com).
Carson Valley Inn Cabaret Lounge: Midnight Express, through Saturday; Lee Alverson as Elton John, today-Saturday; George Pickard, Sunday-Tuesday; Vinny Messina, Wednesday, July 25; Stew Stewart, Thursday-July 22; Paul Covarelli, July 23-24. (775) 782-9711.
Eldorado, Reno Convention Center: Kansas, next Friday. Showroom: "Man in the Mirror," through Aug. 3. (800) 648-5966.
Harrah's RenoSammy's Showroom: "Persuasion," Thursdays-Sundays. Comedy at the Zone: Dobie Maxwell, through Saturday; Ron Morey, Thursday-July 21. (800) 427-7247.
Harrah's Lake Tahoe South Shore Room: Nathan Owens Motown Legends, today-Monday, July 27-30. (800) 427-7247.
Harveys, Lake Tahoe Improv: Rocky LaPorte, Ron Morey, through Sunday; John Caponera, David Gee, Wednesday-July 22; Dat Phan, Ronnie Schell, July 25-29. Outdoor Arena: Chicago and the Doobie Brothers, today; the Beach Boys, Sunday; Maroon 5, July 21. (800) 427-8397.
Horizon, Lake Tahoe Illusion Fusion starring Alex Ramon, Thursdays-Tuesdays. (775) 588-6211.
Peppermill, Reno Terrace Lounge: Maxxt Out, today-Saturday. (866) 821-9996.
Silver Legacy, Reno Grande Exposition Hall: Cake Boss Buddy Valastro, Saturday; Ron White, July 28. (800) 687-8733.