Casinos: Free shows are a good bet during traditionally lag week

Nobody does hype better than the music industry. Words like “king,” “queen,” and “diva” are tossed about liberally. Elvis was the “King.” Michael was the “King of Pop.” For years, Aretha Franklin was the “Queen of Soul” and Donna Summer the “Queen of Disco.” There’s a “Prince.” There was a “Duke.” “Princess” does not seem to have caught on much. Better to be a “Queen.”

That’s why Cache Creek has gathered together up to 10 “Queens of Pop” for a show Saturday. There is an Aretha on the list, along with Summer, Beyoncé, Faith Hill, Gloria Estefan, Janet Jackson, Natalie Cole, Teena Marie, and Whitney Houston. Sorry, Celine, Mariah and Barbra.

These are impersonators, of course, but they’re backed by live music. Besides, the combined repertoire is huge and long-lived, dating from Motown and disco to modern funk. It’s an opportunity to indulge in some of the best music ever.

The show is free and that makes it all the better (8 p.m.;

Such is not the case when Dionne Warwick, an authentic queen, appears at the club Jan. 18. Tickets run $55-$75. So do tickets a week later for the man who wrote many of her hits, Burt Bacharach.

In what is definitely a lag week, traditionally so in the immediate aftermath of New Year’s Eve, the way to go may be the free shows. At Tahoe, for instance, while Harrah’s and the MontBleu sit with darkened showrooms, the feisty little Crystal Bay Club on the North Shore will feature two shows this weekend.

Tonight finds the On the Spot Trio, a group out of Santa Cruz with a declared mission to bring back the “soul jazz dance” of the Hammond Organ trios. They are regulars in San Francisco’s Boom Boom Room and Santa Cruz’s Crepe Place. (10 p.m.). Saturday it’s Sneaky Creatures, a Tahoe band with this self-description: “gypsy-swing-rock-folk-alt country-jazz-funk.” (10 p.m.;

Finally, to expand one’s art horizons, step outside the casinos and into the Nevada Museum of Art, where “Toulouse-Lautrec and La Vie Moderne: Paris 1880-1919” is its final weeks. The show closes Jan. 19. (160 West Liberty St.,, Reno; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays, to 8 p.m. Thursdays; $10; 775-329-3333or