Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The NYT Loves, Invents Stuff About Clint Holmes

Don't get me wrong here. I love Clint Holmes. He's an amazing performer and I wish he were still a Strip headliner. He's old-school and genuine and works so hard you feel lazy watching him.

So I'm thrilled that New York Times music critic Stephen Holden adored his performance at Feinstein's at Loews Regency in New York City. Among other superlatives, Holden wrote:

Vocally, Mr. Holmes is a solid belter who pays close attention to lyrics. He doesn’t simply recycle oldies with the blas√© suavity of standard lounge singers. Rethinking them from the beginning, he turns them into personal dramatic monologues.

High praise. And, no doubt, well-deserved.

But Mr. Holden also shows an ignorance of Las Vegas entertainment that is truly boggling. Here's how he describes Clint:

But under the aegis of Steve Wynn, Mr. Holmes, now 64, has become a major Las Vegas attraction who might be described as the next generation’s Wayne Newton.

Uh, what? How many years has it been since Holmes was a Strip headliner? Almost five. He does the occasional show here and there at outlying locals venues, but is he, as of April 20, 2011 when Mr. Holden (left) published this, a Las Vegas attraction at all, let alone a "major" one?

And Steve Wynn? Huh? It took a little digging to realize that, yeah, Clint once toiled for The Steve at the Golden Nugget. It's hard to find; Holmes' own website bio doesn't mention that. But that was downtown; his big break was becoming the marquee star for Harrah in 2000. Wynn is responsible for a lot of major entertainment milestones in Vegas -- Siegfried & Roy, Cirque du Soleil, Danny Gans -- but Clint Holmes? WTF?

And what is this "next generation's Wayne Newton" crap? The Wayner is only four years older than Clint, and Wayne's honorific as Mr. Las Vegas was earned for an extremely long tenure that nobody else is ever likely to match. Also, Wayne was much more recently a Strip headliner (last year) than Clint (2006). With what wisdom, perspective or insight does Mr. Holden get to anoint Vegas stardom or historical relevance? None.

Then there's this:

Mr. Holmes, fortunately, has more talent than Mr. Newton.

Yes, Clint has far better pipes than Wayne these days. Fine. But I'm going out on a really short limb here when I suspect Mr. Holden has probably never actually seen Wayne perform either lately or in his prime. It's just an easy shot, and an unoriginal one at that.

I have no idea if Clint put these absurdities into his program or media material to entice The Times to cover his show, but anyone with a vague ability to use Google should be capable of separating hype from reality. Then again, accuracy rarely matters to the New York media when it comes to Vegas entertainment, so I'm sure Mr. Holden would shrug it all off anyway.

Naw, this is paint-by-numbers Vegas-As-Seen-From-2,500-Miles-Away scribble: (1) Sprinkle a dash of the only Vegas figure anyone in Manhattan knows/likes, Wynn; (2) Insult Wayne to bolster whomever has pleasantly surprised you; (3) Make a reference lounge lizards. Yep. Check this out conclusion:

If Mr. Holmes’s performance indicates a trend, the new lounge lizard has a trait not commonly found in the old: sincerity, or at least the appearance of it.

This is where even Clint ought to take umbrage. Holmes is not now and wasn't ever a lounge act in Vegas. He commanded -- and frequently filled -- a showroom of some 600 seats at Harrah's. Feinstein's in New York, too, is not a lounge but a nightclub/supper club. It's as though Mr. Holden seems to think that serious Vegas headliners still croon by casino bars rather than appear in lavish theaters. And, anyway, the Vegas lounge performers of old were among the most revered legends in the live music world specifically because of their dedication and sincerity. You know, folks like Louis Prima and Keely Smith, Sam Butera, Bobby Darin, Jackie Gleason and on and on. The "old" to which he refers is known for precisely the opposite of what he suggests.

Mr. Holden has no clue what he's writing about, so he goes for the cheap cracks. And that's too bad because I'm sure Clint deserved his plaudits free of insults and bizarre misunderstandings about his hometown.


Michael said...

Great article, I was concerned when I read the headline on my reader, that it might be a bit of a sensationalized headline and minor inaccuracies. But in this case, I think your headline was actually sort of kind, based on the number of inaccuracies in the article and I think your assumptions of why are very reasonable.