The Las Vegas Based Recording Artist, Whose Critically Acclaimed Debut
Album ‘This Time Around’ Includes A New Arrangement Of Newton’s
Trademark Hit, First Encountered Him As A Young Girl When Her Father Played
In His Band
Las Vegas based recording artist Sandy Kastel (www.sandykastel.com) experienced
a real blast from the past recently as she hung out backstage at the MGM Grand
Hotel and Casino with “Mr. Las Vegas” himself, Wayne Newton.
Growing up, Kastel—a former Miss Nevada—watched the legendary
entertainer in rehearsals while accompanying her father, an acclaimed saxophonist
who for years backed many of the city’s greatest performers, including
When Kastel told her father that her friend, writer and publicist Bobbie Katz,
was taking her to see the singer’s show, he began telling stories of
performing with Newton at The Frontier and The International (now the Las Vegas
Hilton), as well as Harrah’s Reno and Harrah’s Lake Tahoe. Mr.
Kastel also recorded on a Newton Christmas album.
With the release of her critically acclaimed debut album This Time Around,
the Vegas born and raised Kastel has become a true cultural ambassador for
the city, bringing the magic of classic Las Vegas to the rest of the world
for the very first time. Putting her own unique spins on songs that continue
to transfix our imaginations decades after we first heard them, the singer
pays homage to, among others, Frank Sinatra (a medley of “All Of Me,” “I’ve
Got You Under My Skin” and “Just One Of Those Things,” plus “Luck
Be A Lady”), Peggy Lee (“Fever,” “Come Back To Me”),
Johnny Mathis (“Misty”), Dinah Washington/Celine Dion (“When
I Fall In Love”) and Judy Garland (“Over The Rainbow”).
Of course, the collection also features Newton’s trademark hit “Danke
Schoen,” and Kastel was eager to tell the legendary entertainer that
she honored him. “When Bobbie took me backstage to meet him after the
show, he was gracious when I told him my story about watching him in rehearsals
as a little girl. He remembered my dad and when he bought the musicians the
T.V. for the band room. When I told him about my tribute album and that he
was one of the people I was honoring along with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin
and Bobby Darin, he laughed and said, ‘I’m in good company.’ Wayne
was as I remembered him from my childhood, friendly, funny, a gentleman and
a true performer. It was wonderful meeting him again as an adult and watching
him perform as only he can. He is truly Mr. Las Vegas!”
Watching him regale yet another appreciative audience, Kastel fully understands
the secret to his many years of success: “After almost 2 hours of performing
non-stop, singing his hit songs including ‘Danke Schoen’ and closing
with a high energy medley, Wayne said goodnight to his audience, promising
to join his fans afterwards for a meet and greet where he took photos with
every one of them. This is what he does for his fans. He knows they are important
and always treats them special, showing them his appreciation by spending time
with them after each show. In my opinion this is one of his characteristics
that led to a long and successful career.”
For a full rundown on Kastel’s memorable evening seeing “Mr. Las
Vegas” in concert, please visit www.sandykastel.com.
These are singers and songs that have inspired me to write. Some of the songs represented life changes, others reflected my feelings at the time. They take me back to a moment in time, a first love, a break-up, or a first date, frustration or joy, invigorating pumping energy, passion and defiance, all emotions that drive us to live, to love to fight for our beliefs. That is what music is to me and these are just is my first playlist for you. There will be more...
Singers like Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Pat Benatar and Tina Turner and Chaka Khan are strong, independent, passionate and in their songs they are out spoken about their feelings. This is the kind of passion that inspires me to write about my own feelings.
Bonnie Raitt combines rock, r&b, country and soul in her songs. So do I. Another singer who inspires me because of her raw emotional connection to her songs. I wish I could play the guitar the way she does.
Wynonna Judd, Martina McBride, Shania Twain, Tanya Tucker again women with their own individualistic strengths, they speak to me through their songs.
Carrie Underwood is the new country, incorporating beauty, determination, attitude into her delivery. There is an honest, down-home vibe about her that is refined and perfected.
BB King, Sting, the Beatles, the Cars, the Who each telling their stories through the music, I grew up listening to them talk to us, developing through the psyche of the generations they still speak to me.
Oh, my gosh! It is so good to get in touch with people who have been part of my life. I just got a message from a friend from my high school days. How many of you have done that?
It was like a different lifetime for me. Was it for you, too?
I was in choir, actually, three different choirs in high school. One was the 'girls glee' with Miss Jan Morgan. Then there was the Madrigals. That was the group that did the classical choral music. Then there was Celebration. We did the fun stuff, like whatever was popular at the time. I was also in Chorale, which was a mixture of girls and boys. We sang all of the choral pieces that all the schools do. All of these were taught by Jan Morgan. I was in them from 10th - 12th grade.
But the last year I had some health issues and missed the 'photo session' for the yearbook. The surprising thing for me was that when I got my yearbook, Jan Morgan had neglected to add my name to all of the choirs I was part of. Yes, it was a big disappointment not to be included, even though I had been part of all those groups for my entire time in High School.
She got upset with me because I missed two weeks of school due to my illness. I guess she decided she would 'show me'. Well, she did show me that she was petty to not give me the credit for all of my hard work and dedication to her groups.
Was it fair? I don't think so, but what was I to do about it? There is really not much anyone can do about it when you are only a high school student and the 'teachers' 'disrespect' you by not including you in the organizations that you participated in.
Oh, yes, I was also very much a part of the theater program. But that was another area that they decided to 'forget about'. I was in 'Sweet Charity'. I was only one of the three girls backing up the lead, but the director included me in numbers not typical for my role, because I was the strongest voice of all the girls and they needed the strength. Then I was the lead in 'Funny Girl', the largest high school production of the year and they decided that it only warranted one group photo, even though I was the lead in the musical (the role played by Barbra Streisand in the movie). I guess they were trying to send a message to me not to miss classes because of illness!
But it didn't hold me back, no not me. Terry Richards was in the audience and he asked me to join his touring band that summer, which lasted for 2 years on the road.
It was a great experience and I learned a lot about touring, being in a band with 5 other musicians and how to deal with 'groupies'.
So, all in all, we may have experiences in high school or other situations that we don't understand at the time, but we can turn all of those situations into positive outcomes by 'plugging ahead' or believing in the long time 'showbiz' motto, 'THE SHOW MUST GO ON!
Keep your chin up when things don't go your way. Believe in yourself and your dreams. Follow your heart and listen to your inner voice. Keep the friends and family around you who support you and go out into the world and share your talents.
If you do this, you will be heard! Believe it and you can Do It! I do!
Last night long-time writer and publicist Bobbie Katz invited me to see Wayne Newton at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino. I remember seeing Wayne for the first time when I was just a little girl. My dad was playing for him at the historic Frontier Hotel. I would sit and watch the rehearsals and on special occasions Dad brought me to watch the show from the light booth.
I was amazed every time I watched him. He would sing song after song after song, play his instruments, come out into the audience and he always went well over 2 hours giving his audiences the best show possible. I learned what it was to be a true performer. He would dance between the booths, shaking hands. He was like the Every Ready Bunny who just kept going. His audiences always left satisfied that they had just seen the best show ever! They always gave him standing ovations at the end of his show.
One of the main reasons Bobbie invited me to see Wayne is because I recorded an album THIS TIME AROUND, which pays tribute to the performers who really made Las Vegas the Entertainment Capital of the World, like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bobby Darin, Judy Garland, Peggy Lee and Wayne Newton. When I told Bobbie that Danke Schoen is my #1 Download on CDBaby and ITunes, she said, "Well, I have to take you to meet the man himself, Wayne Newton."
When I got the invitation I sent my dad an email and he told me a few stories about his experiences working with Wayne.
Read more ...
I had a wonderful time at the 51st Grammy Awards. The day started out getting pampered at the Nikki Chavez Salon in Beverly Hills. Then Alex, my driver, whisked me away in his Silver Mercedes. We stopped at the Breadbar to pick up a salad to give me energy for the long day ahead.
What an experience. I thought this was going to be a glorious celebration and it turned into a nightmare. Two of my most expensive pieces were stolen from the gallery during working hours and the wife of the owner did everything she could do to make me feel that it was not important for them to uncover the culprits, which leads me to believe that there is more to this story than meets the eye. And I am going to pursue it with the police to see if we can find out who took my sculptures during broad daylight!
When we arrived downtown we drove around for about a half hour following the barriers set by the traffic controllers to guide us into the front door of the Staples Center where there were lines of women dressed in designer dresses, jewelry, bags and shoes. The men were decked out, too.
I was wearing a classic Dolce & Gabbana fitted dress with an Angel Sanchez Feathered Jacket, Christian Louboutin Shoes, Prada handbag and Harry Winston Jewels.
The Grammy Awards show was great. It was like 20 concerts all in one with the Jonas Brothers, Stevie Wonder, Radiohead, Lil Wayne, NeNo, Robert Plant, Alison Kraus, Jennifer Hudson, Justin Timberlake, Cold Play, Smokey Robinson, John Mayer, Paul McCartney and the list goes on.
Congratulations to all the winners. There are so many categories that they can't cover them all during the televised show so they have a pre-show to hand them out.
The After Party was full of surprises with a PEACE bus, songs from the 70's musical Hair, mime style acrobats performing skits on several stages around the room. There was a band up on stage playing songs that made us all get up and dance.
I met Grammy Award Winners Trae Pierce for Christian Album, Ruben Ramos and the Mexican Revolution for Best Tejana Album, "Viva La Revolucion", their producer Randy Caballero, his sister, Rachel and the rest of the group, Grammy Winning Rock & Soul King, Solomon Burke, Dance Music Diva Pepper Mashay, Indy Film Producer, Cherisse Goedhart to name just a few.
The food was excellent and the staff made every effort to make sure that the party-goers had enough food and drink throughout the entire evening.
The party lasted all night and as I returned to the London Hotel I was surprised by the flashing lights of the Paparazzi. As I entered the hotel I turned and waved goodnight!
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