Casinos up the ante on Halloween parties

New Year’s Eve is the biggie for casinos, but Halloween comes in a close second. If a casino has enough space for a party, you can bet it will be hosting one (or a few) over the next week.

Resort nightclubs have become significant moneymakers – in many instances outgrossing gaming itself – and they’re making mega-parties the focus of this weekend.

Thunder Valley, for instance, kicks off the festivities tonight with its house-party-themed “Hip Hop Is in the House,” featuring Whodini, Kurtis Blow and Rob Base (9 p.m.; $49.50; Saturday hosts “Sinners or Saints,” a big blowout with a $2,500 first-place costume prize ($1,000 for second), a live DJ and go-go dancers (9 p.m.; $20/$15 club members today, $25/$20 Saturday).

The big Tahoe party is the Freakers Ball at the MontBleu. The event is in its 35th year, having started when the property was Caesars Tahoe. There are actually four parties scheduled to run concurrently Saturday – at BLU Nightclub, Opal Ultra Lounge, Haunted Zone and the Party Pit. The costume awards total $10,000 for this one, and ’80s hair metal cover band Glam Cobra will provide the live music. (8 p.m.; $30;

At Jackson Rancheria

In the late 1960s, when the Beatles were transforming themselves and music in general, one group outsold them. That was Tommy James and the Shondells, whose “Sweet Cherry Wine” was just one of their hits from that period to become a staple, with “Hanky Panky,” “Mony Mony,” “Crimson and Clover” and “Crystal Blue Persuasion” as other examples.

Now, James’ autobiography, “Me, the Mob, and the Music,” is reportedly being developed as a motion picture. It won’t be the first movie with his music, though. James’ songs have popped up in “Forrest Gump,” “Moneyball” and even “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.” “Crystal Blue Persuasion,” appropriately, was part of the soundtrack of the “Breaking Bad” finale. James brings his group to Jackson Rancheria on Saturday (7 p.m.; $20 with club card;


Leon Russell, a legend who worked his way up from studio musician to an 2011 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, appears Saturday at Harrah’s Tahoe, just four years after teaming with Elton John on “The Union,” and three years after surgery for a brain fluid leak. His classic band features Jackie Wessel on bass, Brandon Holder on drums, Chris Simmons on guitar and Beau Charron on almost everything else. (7:30 p.m.; $46.20;

Cache Creek stamps musical passports this weekend, with La Original Banda El Limón De Salvador Lizárraga tonight (8 p.m.; $49, $59, $75;, a Fall Korean Concert on Saturday with Hyan Chul (8 p.m.; free with card, distribution at 6 p.m.) and a combination of Thai, Lao and Hmong artists Sunday (8 p.m.; free with card or $20).