One of Dennis Gomes' greatest pleasures was to offer showcase opportunities to unknown entertainers. T. Fox, whom the late casino exec discovered at the lounge at Tropicana Las Vegas, is currently making the most of Gomes' posthumous largesse with a little program called "House Party," which finds him gigging in what is almost certainly the biggest venue he’s ever played.
The show, which runs Tuesdays and Wednesday through July 12 in the 1,400-seat Superstar Theater, is a breezy survey of several decades' worth of pop music with an emphasis on hits by African-American artists including Louis Armstrong, Sammy Davis Jr. Al Green and Earth Wind & Fire. Most of the time, Fox delivers the material in his normal voice, which is a pleasant enough instrument and certainly suited to the mostly soulful material. Occasionally, as with Armstrong (good) and Davis (not so good), he serves up an impersonation.
It is hard to fault him on such numbers as Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You” and the Frank Sinatra signature, “Fly Me To the Moon.” But there is simply nothing vocally that sets this obviously talented man apart from scores of other others, be they casino lounge pros (as he is) or weekend Karaoke singers (and speaking of Karaoke, Fox’s obviously tight budget means he performs to pre-recorded tracks).
Instead, Fox’s strengths lie in his stage presence and showmanship. His is an engaging and likeable style that immediately puts the audience on his side. And he has a couple of cool tricks up his sleeve. During the Wonder tune, he encourages audience members to call someone on their cell phones. He then strolls the seating area, picking up phones and singing into them, sometimes sharing a few words with whoever is on the other end.
And his “Soul Train” tribute segment features an invitation to the public to join him onstage (and for a through-the-house conga line). This proved to backfire slightly on him during a recent performance, as one of those accepting his invitation was an 88=year-old woman who shook and shimmied and goofed with Fox like a seasoned pro—and who pretty much stole the show away from him.
Fox is a polished and competent entertainer. But there is simply nothing that identifies him as a must-see act.
Show times are 3:30 p.m. Tuesday and 3:30 and 8 p.m. Wednesday. Admission is. For tickets, call 800-736-1420, or go to www.ticketmaster.com.
Tonic for the ears
Los Angeles rock outfit Tonic comes to Showboat Atlantic City Saturday for the latest in the series of free concerts at the Party Pit area of the House of Blues casino. As always, show time is 10 p.m.; you should check in much earlier if you want to score a comfy seat for the show. And, of course, you must be 21 to attend.
Ringo hawks artwork
If you, are attending Saturday night’s concert by Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band (which includes rock titan—and Upper Darby native--Todd Rundgren, Steve Lukather of Toto and Gregg Rolie, a charter member of both Santana and Journey), or even if you’re not, stop by Caesars Atlantic City Friday or Saturday and check out the ex-Beatle’s visual art. Both days between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m., Ringo’s paintings will be on display and for sale. Those who purchase a piece (or more) are invited to attend a meet-and-greet with Starr set for 4 p.m. Saturday. All proceeds are earmarked for the Lotus Foundation, which works in the areas of child and family welfare, women’s issues and animal aid.
Palmer in the cards at Valley Forge
Baltimore Orioles pitching legend Jim Palmer is the featured attraction this weekend as Valley Forge Casino Resort hosts the Philadelphia Sportscard and Memorabilia Show June 22-24 in the resort’s convention center.
The show features more than 100 tables’ worth of collectibles, including vintage baseball, football, basketball and hockey sports cards, memorabilia and equipment, autographs and game-worn uniform items.
In addition, sports auction houses will have representatives there to appraise, buy and consign souvenirs. Shoe times are 3 to 8 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday
Admission is $8 per day, $21 for a weekend pass (children under 8 free). Attendees 21 and older get complementary access to the gaming floor. For additional information, go to www.phillyshow.org.