It's that time of year again. The streets of Reno, Carson City and Lake Tahoe will start to look like "Back to the Future." The gas prices will be higher than those posted in the movie, and a horde of attendants is unlikely to emerge to service the vehicle, but a lot of the vehicles at the pumps will be classic.
Hot August Nights slips into first gear today and reaches full throttle late next week with what will probably be record crowds since, for the first time, registration is not restricted.
When it started 26 years ago, the celebration of classic cars and music was pretty much a shot in the dark. Its popularity was quick and big. Evidently, there were and still are plenty of people who want to cruise Reno's Virginia Street and Sparks' Victorian Plaza, showing off their lovingly preserved and restored automobiles.
Every casino in the area has special promotions, and every stage features groups with names such as Ronny and the Classics, Elvis and the Bel Airs, and Ginny Lynn and her Real Gone Daddies (all of whom are playing many shows at the Atlantis).
In many ways, Hot August Nights is an opportunity for participants to relive their youths, forgetting teenage angst and societal problems of the day the Korean War, Vietnam War, A-bomb anxiety, student protests.
Proms, hops, the early days of rock 'n' roll, burgers, fries and shakes, all present and accounted for. In fact, there is a sock hop from 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Circus Circus, and the ticket prices are downright antediluvian ($5, plus an extra $1 for reserved seating; 800-648-5010).
There's also a prom, the Hot August Nights Prom, 8-11 p.m. Thursday, also at Circus Circus, featuring Ronny and the Classics, also with the retro price for advance tickets of $15 ($20 at the door).
Once again this year, the central gathering places for nightly entertainment will be the Grand Sierra parking lot and Victorian Square, and once again the lineup is packed with nostalgia. At 8:15 p.m., shows will take place in both venues, the only disagreeable aspect being that it will be impossible to catch them all.
The Grand Sierra lineup features the "Oh, What a Night!" tribute to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons on Tuesday and Hotel California on Wednesday, Herman's Hermits featuring Peter Noone on Thursday, Paul Revere and the Raiders next Friday, and John Kay and Steppenwolf on Aug. 11.
Victorian Square starts off Tuesday with "Echoes of the '60s," followed by the Chicago Tribute Authority on Wednesday, Sonny Turner of the Platters on Thursday, the Village People next Friday, and Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers on Aug. 11. All of these shows are free, and you don't have to have a classic car to attend them.
Show 'N' Shines, Poker Runs, classic movies like "Seven Year Itch" (Nugget), controlled cruises, hula hoop contests, drag races, fireworks (9:45 p.m. Friday, Silver Legacy), memorabilia auctions, and the 10 a.m. closing Grand Parade on Aug. 12 with grand marshal Alan Taylor, the radio and television automotive expert, down Virginia Street (the sidewalks pack early).
Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons will be highlighted in the Eldorado's new production "Jersey Nights." During Hot August Nights it will run at 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and 7 and 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday ($19.95, $29.95, $34.95; 800-648-5966 or eldoradoreno.com). The show will then continue its run through Nov. 4.
Carson City kicks off the festivities today through Sunday with its Silver Dollar Car Classic at Mills Park.
Today also starts the capital city's Jazz and Beyond Festival with more than 30 bands performing around town through Aug. 19. The Reno Jazz Orchestra, the Mile High Jazz Band, Atomika, Colin Ross and the New World Jazz Project are among those that will perform at Third Street, the farmers market, Comma Courtyard, Carson Mall, the Brewery Arts Center, the Legislative Plaza and the Capitol Amphitheater.
Most performances are free, but today's 5:30 p.m. Garden Party at the Mansion with Jakki Ford and Finesse at the Nevada Governor's Mansion will cost $40. (Go to VisitCarsonCity.com).
Also getting things going, the Silver Legacy tonight features Cheap Trick. (8 p.m.; $50, $62.50; 800-687-8733 or silverlegacy.com).
Out and about
Big doings at Jackson Rancheria on Saturday: Big & Rich, joined by Cowboy Troy and Bradley Gaskin, will perform in the outdoor event area.
"Between Raising Hell and Amazing Grace," the title of their 2004 album, pretty much sums up their careers since spiritual grounding and honky-tonk fun. (7:30 p.m.; $30 club members, $60 general; JacksonCasino.com).
Two major ventriloquists have returned the classic form of entertainment to popularity with singular modern twists. Jeff Dunham and Terry Fator are scheduled to appear at Thunder Valley Casino in Lincoln, Dunham on Saturday night. (8 p.m.; $37.50, $42.50, $54.50, $71.50, $81.50; thundervalleyresort.com). Fator is scheduled Sept. 15.
Also at Thunder Valley in the amphitheater Saturday night will be Creed, along with guest stars Eve and Adam, and Like a Storm. (7:30 p.m.; $24.50, $29.50, $43.50, $57.50, $69.50).
Neil Young has not toured with Crazy Horse since 2004, but they're on the road and set to appear Thursday at Lake Tahoe's Outdoor Arena at Harveys.
Crazy Horse just released "Americana," its first new CD in nine years, with interpretations of American compositions. Young and Crazy Horse (Frank "Poncho" Sampedro, Ralph Molina, and Billy Talbot) will play four August shows before a North American tour in October. (8 p.m.; $59.50, $89.50, $125.50, $150.50; APEconcerts.com or Ticketmaster).
Toby Keith, on the other hand, has been pretty much a tour regular the last few years, and he is set to play the Outdoor Arena at Harveys on Wednesdayas part of his "Live in Overdrive" tour, joined by Brantley Gilbert ("Country Must Be Country Wide"). (7 p.m.; $59.50, $69.50, $89.50, $135.50; APEconcerts.com or Ticketmaster).
Finally, his years on 'Saturday Night Live" and with Chicago's "Second City" have certainly qualified Jim Belushi to return to live improv, which is what he will do Saturday night at the Grand Sierra, joined by the Chicago Board of Comedy (9 p.m.; $25, $45; grandsierraresort.com).
John Ascuaga's Nugget, Sparks Jelly Bread, Aug. 29.
Carson Valley Inn Cabaret Lounge: Hands of Time With Stew Stewart, through Saturday; Dale Poune, Sunday-Wednesday; Felix and the Soul Cats, Thursday-Aug. 11 (775) 782-9711.
Eldorado, Reno Showroom: "Man in the Mirror," through today; "Jersey Nights," Tuesday-Nov. 4. (800) 648-5966.
Harrah's Reno Sammy's Showroom: "Persuasion," Thursdays-Sundays. (800) 427-7247.
Harrah's Lake Tahoe South Shore Room: Nathan Owens Motown Legends, today-Monday, next Friday-Aug. 13. (800) 427-7247.
Harveys, Lake Tahoe Improv: Maryellen Hooper, Jim McCue, through Sunday; Graham Elwood, Chris Mancini, Wednesday-Aug. 12; Joel Lindley, Avi Liberman, Aug. 15-19. Outdoor Arena: Toby Keith and Brantley Gilbert, Wednesday; Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Thursday. (800) 427-8397.
Horizon, Lake Tahoe Illusion Fusion starring Alex Ramon, Thursdays-Tuesdays. (775) 588-6211.
Silver Legacy, Reno Grande Exposition Hall: Cheap Trick, today; Doo Wop, next Friday; Gladys Knight, Aug. 11. Reno Ballroom: "Rock N' Roll Wine" wine tasting with Soul Asylum and Tony Beliveau of Crash Kings, Saturday. Reno Events Center: Van Halen, Aug. 30. (800) 687-8733.