Mr. Las Ve­gas takes stage at Gold Strike

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - Music - By Mark Jor­dan

Spe­cial to The Com­mer­cial Ap­peal

As with most sec­tors of the econ­omy, it was a tough year for gam­bling re­sorts, but head­ing into 2010, Tu­nica casi­nos are dou­bling down with a full slate of New Year’s Eve fes­tiv­i­ties.

By far the big­gest name in Tu­nica this New Year’s is Las Ve­gas leg­end Wayne New­ton, who per­forms a sold-out show at 8 p.m. at the Gold Strike’s Mil­len­nium The­ater. Be­sides bring­ing a bit of Ve­gas Strip glamor to the Mis­sis­sippi Delta, the show may be one of the last chances peo­ple have to see the per­former who has earned the ti­tle “Mr. Las Ve­gas.” To mark his 50th an­niver­sary per­form­ing in the gam­bling Mecca, in Oc­to­ber the singer of “Danke Schoen” and other hits started a new show, the ca­reer ret­ro­spec­tive “Once Be­fore I Go,” at the Trop­i­cana Las Ve­gas amid hints that the stand, which runs through April, may be the 67-year-old’s last.

Horse­shoe Casino con­tin­ues the old Ve­gas vibe with its “New Year’s Eve Trib­ute to the Stars,” fea­tur­ing hourly per­for­mances by Ve­gas show­girls and celebrity looka­likes min­gling on the casino floor through­out the night. There will also be New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day buf­fet spe­cials as well as a mid­night count­down with a bal­loon drop and a com­pli­men­tary cham­pagne toast. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit horse­shoe­tu­nica.com.

A very dif­fer­ent kind of per­former takes the stage at Har­rah’s Event Cen­ter with an ap­pear­ance by DJ Jazzy Jeff. For one night only the venue will be trans­formed into the Ul­tra Lounge as the dee­jay, born Jef­frey Townes in Philadel­phia, spins hits from his long col­lab­o­ra­tion with Will “Fresh Prince” Smith as well as his own solo discs, in­clud­ing his re­cent Michael Jack­son trib­ute mix­tape He’s the King ... I’m the DJ. Tick­ets are $20 and $65 (in­cludes free drinks) and are avail­able at the casino gift shop and through Tick­et­mas­ter.

Hol­ly­wood Casino will ring in 2010 with mu­sic by the Big Boys per­form­ing in the Sa­fari Lounge from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. and a mid­night bal­loon drop as well as food and drink spe­cials at the award-winning Fair­bank’s Steak­house and the Epic Buf­fet, in­clud­ing a cham­pagne and mi­mosa brunch on New Year’s Day. For more in­for­ma­tion, call (800) 871-0711, or visit hol­ly­wood­casino­tu­nica.com.

Like­wise, Fitzger­ald’s Casino is of­fer­ing din­ing spe­cials at its Riverview Buf­fet, but gen­er­ally the casino, which re­cently opened a VIP Lounge and new high limit room, prefers to cel­e­brate with cash, hold­ing its first $25,000 New Year’s Day Slot Tour­na­ment. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit fitzger­ald­stu­nica.com.

Fi­nally, a lit­tle closer to home, West Mem­phis’ South­land Park gets into the fes­tive spirit with its sec­ond an­nual New Year’s Eve Big Top Bash. The cir­cus-themed cel­e­bra­tion kicks off at 5 p.m. with bal­loon artists, stilt walk­ers, hu­man stat­ues, jug­glers, mimes and ma­gi­cians on the gam­ing and racing floors. There will also be car­ni­val games and food, in­clud­ing hot dogs and fun­nel cakes, and, for Player Re­wards Mem­bers, free Fer­ris wheel rides. In the Juke Joint lounge, Ed­die Har­ri­son & the Shortkuts per­form from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and the Mean Green Mu­sic Ma­chine plays in the New Year with a 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. set. For more in­for­ma­tion, call (800) 467-6182 or visit south­land­park.com.

At Har­rah’s Event Cen­ter: DJ Jazzy Jeff spins hits from his long col­lab­o­ra­tion with Will “Fresh Prince” Smith as well as his own solo discs.

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