The Society of Seven first appeared in a Northern Nevada casino in a venue that has been long gone, as has the club it occupied. That was the famous Harolds Club (which had billboards around the world, even Antarctica, proclaiming “Harolds Club or Bust”). The top of the casino was occupied by the Fun Room, home to singers like Vic Damone and Barbara McNair and comedians like Bob Newhart and George Gobel. The Society of Seven opened there for Bing Crosby.
That was shortly after they had changed their name. They began as The Fabulous Echoes in Hong Kong and changed to Society of Seven in 1968, thinking their original name was a little too much like those of rock groups of the era. The change proved more than fortuitous because a year later they opened at the Outrigger Waikiki Hotel, replacing Tommy Sands for a four-week engagement. That extended for decades, establishing them as the longest continually running show in Hawaiian history. Others had long success, like Don Ho, but they played different venues.
The Society of Seven like to call themselves the last of the great show bands. This is no idle boast. The likes of Sam Butera and the Witnesses, Honolulu and Krush are no longer, but SOS remains strong, not only in Hawaii but in a broad group of casino-hotels, like Cache Creek where they perform this Saturday. Their formula has not changed – hits old and new, classy presentation, comedy ranging from subtle to broad. They know how to please a crowd. (8 p.m.; $45-$65; cachecreek.com)
Cache Creek favorite, country singer Buck Ford follows on Sunday, this time offering a homage to his favorite singer with “Strait Country: A Tribute to George Strait.” (5 p.m.; Free with club card or $20 at the door)
Reno’s Grand Sierra starts off a busy week Friday with comedian Sebastian Maniscalco on his “Why Would You Do That?” Tour. He’s risen considerably the last couple of years in the highly competitive stand-up arena, largely due to appearances with Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers and Jerry Seinfeld, the latter on “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” Parts of the tickets sales for his concerts go to his charity, The Tag You’re It Foundation, which among other things supports Alzheimer’s research and education. (8 p.m.; $32-$75; grandsierraresort.com)
The first of a string of “Nutcracker” ballets begins at the hotel Saturday and Sunday, this one by the Bay Pointe Ballet, choreographed by Bruce Steivel. (2 p.m.; $26-$55)
Rise Against brings alt-punk to the venue on Tuesday. Their latest recording is “Wolves.” They’re joined by Pennywise, a band whose “skater punk” is perfect for the hoped-for snowboarders of the season. (7:30 p.m.; $36)
No slouches on the rest of the calendar this week: jazz-and-blues player Jonny Lang headlines the MontBleu Saturday (8 p.m.; $35-$55; montbleuresort.com); comedian Rodney Carrington returns to a venue where he’s proved extremely popular, Reno’s Silver Legacy, tonight (8 p.m.; $40-$65); and Jeff Dunham, ventriloquist extraordinaire, is more than capable of filling Reno’s cavernous Events Center Saturday (7 p.m.; $58.50; renoevents.centernevada.com)