A lot of soul, an onslaught of tribute bands, and one veteran entertainer fill out this holiday weekend in the casinos.
Start with the lineup of the Thanksgiving Soul Jam at Thunder Valley Saturday, featuring entertainers who may not have reached the ultimate heights in their style of music but all of whom made pretty solid tries, scoring memorable hits along the way. For instance, Gerald Alston, who sang most of the leads on the Manhattans’ hits, joins the group for “Kiss and Say Goodbye,” “Crazy,” and “Forever by Your Side.”
Bloodstone is on the bill, too, with originals Charles McCormick (bass) and Harry Williams (keyboards) joined by Daniel Brown, a vet in his own right, with the group since 2002. They’ve got “Girl (You Look So Fine),” “That’s the Way We Make Our Music,” and “Never Let It Go” on their hit list.
And Carl Carlton finishes the roster, the original singer of what has become a staple in soul (and sampled in rap), “She’s a Bad Mama Jama.” (7:30 p.m.; $54.95-$64.95; thundervalleyresort.com)
Cache Creek jumps on the soul train Saturday with the Dazz Band, who started out as the Kinsman Dazz but changed their name when they signed with Motown, leading to their giant hit “Let It Whip” in 1982. (8 p.m.; $25-$35; cachecreek.com)
Cache Creek also kicks off the weekend of tributes with “Shania Twin: The Ultimate Shania Twain Tribute,” featuring Donna Huber, tonight. (8 p.m.; Free)
The MontBleu fills a stage with imitators on Saturday with “An Evening of Legends.” “Life in the Fast Lane” features the songs of the Eagles; Mike Furlong, whose show used to be called Petty Theft, now simply bills himself as “A Tribute to Tom Petty”; and “Like a Rock” features the music of Bob Seger. (8 p.m.; $15; montbleuresort.com)
Harrah’s Tahoe brings in one of the most successful such shows in the country with the music of ABBA performed by Abbacadabra. Just try getting the songs out of your head for a week. (Tonight and Saturday; 7:30 p.m.; $26-$100; Ticketmaster)
Also at Harrah’s Tahoe, Brandon Bennett, winner of the 2008 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist contest put on by Elvis Presley Enterprises, plays next Sunday through Thursday, performing in “One Night with the King.” (7:30 p.m.; $24-$39; Ticketmaster)
Is Jay Leno still the “hardest working man in show business”? Probably not, since he left “The Tonight Show,” but he’s still busy on “Jay’s Garage” and, thankfully, has not abandoned his stand-up roots which he will show off once again Saturday at the Nugget in Sparks. (8 p.m.; $65-$105; NuggetCasinoResort.tix.com)
The Nugget, once John Ascuaga’s Nugget, has gone through a couple of ownerships since those days and has hit some low points, but a very impressive remodel has just taken place and top entertainment is once again in the lineup, not only Leno, but also Brenda Lee on Dec. 9, Todd Snider on Dec. 30, the Dan Band on Dec. 31, and Under the Streetlamp for a special New Year’s party also on Dec. 31.