Judy Thorburn | Editor in Chief | Writer | Columnist

Judy Thorburn's 'Vegas Happenings' column


By Judy Thorburn This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Owner/Editor in Chief/writer - Las Vegas Round The Clock

Owner/Editor in Chief/writer - The Flick Chicks
Director of Communications - Nevada Film Alliance


Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Holds Topping-Off Ceremony to Mark Completion of Steel Construction for Expanded Meetings & Convention Space

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas has unveiled plans to add nearly 18,000 square feet of meetings and convention space by winter 2016. The property held a "topping-off" ceremony on Monday, May 23 to commemorate the new developments which will blend the property’s stylish, cutting-edge lifestyle with a group experience that is sure to appeal to all business travelers.

Drew Varga
Drew Varga
Photo courtesy of Hard Rock Hotel

“The expansion of Hard Rock Hotel’s meetings and convention space is a demonstration of how we stay in the forefront of the Las Vegas market,” said Drew Varga, vice president of operations – group sales at Hard Rock Hotel. “In town, you won’t find another hotel with the high-energy and entertaining environment that we can offer to groups.”

Gary Scott
Gary Scott
Photo courtesy of Hard Rock Hotel

Jody Lake 2
Jody Lake
Photo courtesy of Hard Rock Hotel

The “topping-off” ceremony kicked off as construction workers and executives including Jody Lake, chief operating officer at Hard Rock Hotel, Gary Scott, general manager at Hard Rock Hotel, Drew Varga, vice president of operations – group sales at Hard Rock Hotel and more signed the final beam before it was lifted into place. As part of the event, the beam was hoisted by crane on top of the steel structural element and placed into its final position. Jody Lake then approached the podium where he welcomed attendees to the ceremony and spoke on Hard Rock Hotel’s continuous growth, prosperity and evolution since its opening in 1995. He continued by thanking the individuals responsible for their hard work and dedication to this project. A barbecue luncheon was also served to construction workers, Hard Rock Hotel executives and media members in attendance.

Topping-Off Ceremony 3
Topping Off Ceremony
Photo courtesy of Hard Rock Hotel

Topping-Off Ceremony 4
Topping Off Ceremonny
Photo courtesy of Hard Rock Hotel

Topping-Off Ceremony 5
Topping Off Ceremony
Photo courtesy of Hard Rock Hotel

Highlights of the project include:

  • Adding an additional 18,000 square feet of meetings and convention space; 
  • Adding an additional 5,000 square feet of back-of-house storage and office space; 
  • New exterior signage along Paradise Road;
  • Relocation of the fully functional Business Center;
  • Contiguous meeting space and event venues.

Upon completion, Hard Rock Hotel will have nearly 110,000 square feet of meetings and convention space and will be able to accommodate a larger segment of business guests. It will offer a broad selection of facilities to satisfy any company’s needs from traditional conference space to unique venues. High-tech amenities include Wi-Fi, CAT5 cabling and a program to create customizable sound, light, mood and banquet packages for maximum impact.

Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Executives
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Executives
Photo courtesy of Hard Rock Hotel

Other recent and upcoming “happenings” in and around Las Vegas include:

Local rock band THE SCOUNDRELS took top honors, along with a $250 cash prize, at the recent HARD ROCK RISING competition held at Hard Rock Cafe Las Vegas at Hard Rock Hotel. Winners from each of the participating cities will be evaluated by an expert panel of international artists and music industry professionals, who will narrow the local winners down to four regional finalists and one global grand prize winner.

HRR Finals Scoundrels winner 6116
The Scoundrels
Photo of The Scoundrels is courtesy of Hard Rock Cafe Las Vegas at Hard Rock Hotel

Hard Rock compiled a panel of artists and music industry veterans to judge this year’s competition. Together, the panel of talented and diverse judges will vote to determine who has what it takes to take home top honors.

Hard Rock Rising, in partnership with ReverbNation, saw 10,000 up-and-coming musicians register to compete for a chance to become the Hard Rock Rising champion. The global grand prize winner and four regional finalists will take home a professionally-produced music video, a 1,000 count CD/DVD pack of their latest recording from Bison Disc and a Fender Instruments prize pack. Additionally, the grand prize winner will take home $50,000 USD and an all-expenses-paid trip to perform at Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza in September.

DOWNTOWN SUMMERLIN the 106-acre premier fashion, dining and entertainment destination located in the heart of the Summerlin master planned community, has announced the return of its SUMMER SCREEN SERIES presented by Summerlin Hospital. Now in its second year, the fun, family-friendly movie series are shown on Park Centre Drive near H&M. Summer Screen Series runs every Thursday evening through August 25. Some of the blockbusters that will be shown this year include Cinderella, Finding Nemo, Inside Out and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The viewings are FREE, open to the general public and patrons may bring their own blankets or lawn chairs.  New this Year: Downtown Summerlin announces a special VIP section with viewing chairs. These will be available for guests who spend a minimum of $20 at the center the day of the movie. Guests will be required to show their receipts to Concierge upon arrival to the VIP section. VIP seats are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Before each movie begins, special character appearances, giveaways, prizes and complimentary USTA hosted tennis clinics will be available courtesy of a different community partner each week. These include Communities in School, The Jewish Community Center, FIT4MOM, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Discovery Children’s Museum, St.

FREMONT STREET EXPERIENCE, known for its nightly music scene, is expanding its lineup to include Saturday and Sunday afternoons throughout the summer. Beginning Saturday, June 4, and lasting through Sept. 4, locals and tourists alike can now beat the heat and cool down Downtown while enjoying hot LIVE ENTERTAINMENT beginning at 2 p.m.

Fremont Street Experience’s upcoming June afternoon entertainment schedule is as follows:
• Saturday, June 11: 2-4 p.m. – Dancing DJ –Main Street Stage
4-7 p.m. – Alter Ego – Main Street Stage
5-8 p.m. – ’80s Station – 1st Street Stage
• Sunday, June 12:   2-5 p.m. – VooDoo Cowboys – 1st Street Stage
5-7 p.m. – Dancing DJ – Main Street Stage 5-8 p.m. – Dancing DJ – 1st Street Stage
• Saturday, June 18:  2-5 p.m. – Tony Marques – 3rd Street Stage
 4-7 p.m. – Alter Ego – Main Street Stage
5-8 p.m. – Siana King – 1st Street Stage
• Sunday, June 19:  2-5 p.m. – Tyler James – “Elvis” & Memphis Experience – 1st Street Stage
 5-8 p.m. – Dancing DJ – 1st Street Stage
• Saturday, June 25:  2-5 p.m. – Alter Ego – 3rd Street Stage
 4-7 p.m. – Monroy – Main Street Stage
 5-8 p.m. – HaleAmanO – 1st Street Stage
• Sunday, June 26:  2-5 p.m. – VooDoo Cowboys – 1st Street Stage
5-8 p.m. – Dancing DJ – 1st Street Stage

MUHAMMAD ALI, who was battling Parkinson’s disease passed away Friday morning, June 3 at the age of 74 after being hospitalized in Phoenix for respiratory issues.  The boxing legend was honored on Saturday, June 4 the FREMONT STREET EXPERIENCE, located in Downtown Las Vegas, with an audio/pictorial retrospective on the Viva Vision canopy, North America’s largest graphic display system. Ali was no stranger to Las Vegas. He had competed several times in the city and it is where one of his daughters and her children call home. Ali was voted into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame last year. He leaves his mark as not only one of the greatest boxers of all time, but a champion for human equality and humanitarian efforts.

The World Famous STONEY'S ROCKIN' COUNTRY, located in Town Square at 6611 Las Vegas Blvd S, Ste 160, presents the NASHVEGAS HITMAKERS series, showcasing Nashville songwriters every Saturday from 7-8 p.m. beginning June 4. This intimate, acoustic show brings to life the stories behind the biggest hits from the greatest writers in country music.  NashVegas HitMakers upcoming performances for the month of June include:

 June 11 – Paul Jenkins and David Fanning -Paul Jenkins wrote “Don’t You Wanna Stay Here A Little While” performed by Kelly Clarkson and Jason Aldean. David Fanning recorded “Drink You Away” with Justin Timberlake. June 18 – Stewart Harris and Jim McBride -Stewart Harris wrote “No One Else on Earth” performed by Wynonna Judd and “Drift Off to Dream” and “I’m Gonna Be Somebody” performed by Travis Tritt. Jim McBride wrote “Rose in Paradise” performed by Waylon Jennings and “Chatahoochie” performed by Alan Jackson. June 25 – Kylie Sackley and Phil Barton - Kylie Sackley wrote “Sunshine and Summertime” performed by Faith Hill and “Nothin’ Bout Love Makes Sense” performed by LeAnn Rimes. Phil Barton wrote “A Woman Like You” performed by Lee Brice.

Tickets are priced at $15 each and include one well, wine or draft drink. All military and first responders receive free entry on Saturdays. Saturday night events are 18 and over and doors open at 6 p.m.

In honor of ALZHEIMER'S BRAIN & AWARENESS MONTH in June, Affinity Gaming's SILVER SEVENS HOTEL & CASINO AND PRIMM VALLEY CASINO RESORTS will help to increase awareness and support the ongoing fight to find a cure for Alzheimer's with PROMOTIONS, FOOD & BEVERAGE SPECIALS AND TEAM MEMBER INITIATIVES. Proceeds will benefit the local Desert Southwest Chapter of Alzheimer's Association. Silver Sevens (4100 Paradise Road) will "go purple" with the outside marquee, blackjack tables and dice emblazoned in the color representing Alzheimer's awareness. The Sterling Spoon Cafe will offer "Food For Thought" purple-themed dishes. Hotel bars will serve up $4 drink specials on dark house red wine and purple cocktails. $1 from each food & beverage special will go to the Association. Team members will wear awareness bracelets and dress in purple on Monday, June 20, known as "The Longest Day" for caregivers of people with Alzheimer's.

At Primm Valley Casino Resorts (Buffalo Bill's, Primm Valley and Whiskey Pete's) team members will wear purple every Saturday during the month and have the opportunity to donate to "Penny For Your Thoughts" jars in the back of house. The sports book bar at Primm Valley and the Tree Bar at Buffalo Bill's will sell $5 purple specialty cocktails with $1 of every drink donated. Smokey Robinson will raffle off a signed guitar before his concert at Star of the Desert Arena on Saturday, June 18 and guests can purchase raffle tickets for $1 from the box offices the day of the concert.

NEVADA ASSOCIATION TO STOP GUARDIAN AND ELDER ABUSE,  a not-for-profit organization that fosters putting a stop to guardian and elder abuse for the local senior population, will hold its 1st ANNUAL FUNDRAISING EVENT on Wednesday, June 8, at the Veil Pavilion in the Silverton Hotel and Casino.  The event, themed “WE ARE FAMILY” kicks off at 6:00 p.m. with a local celebrity-studded red carpet, followed by cocktails, an award ceremony for the first annual “Rosie Award”, live entertainment, and a silent auction. Steve Sisolak, Chairman of the Clark County Commission will be the keynote speaker. Chadwick Johnson, an award winning singer and songwriter known for his soulful approach to music and love of original musical interpretation will serve as entertainment host. Scheduled to perform are:  Zowie Bowie, Elisa Fiorillo, Genevieve Dew, Pia Zadora, Tony Sacca, Anne Martinez, Rick Natole, and Jimmy Harper. Proceeds from the “We Are Family” event, will fund the Nevada Association to Stop Guardian & Elder Abuses which supports helping seniors escape from guardianship abuses and education and training for seniors volunteers to help their fellow seniors.Individual tickets are available for $25 and $35 for VIP.  To purchase tickets and support “We Are Family”, call  (702) 251-4441.

Celebrating 10 wonderful years as a signature community event in the city, LAS VEGAS RESTAURANT WEEK 2016 kicks off June 6 – 17 at select MGM Resorts International restaurants. World-renowned celebrity chefs, award-winning restaurants, talented wine professionals and creative master mixologists will come together to support Three Square Food Bank, a non-profit organization working to end hunger in Southern Nevada. The 12 day event will present incredible dining options with special lunch and dinner menus priced at $80, $50, $40, $30 and $20. Wine pairing options also will be available.

Fremont Street Experience’s ROCK OF VEGAS SUMMER CONCERT SERIES continues with a FREE CONCERT featuring 3 DOORS DOWN, Saturday, June 11 at 9 p.m. on the 3rd Street Stage. Fresh off the release of their sixth full-length album Us and the Night, 3 Doors Down will return to the stage at Fremont Street Experience to perform songs off their new album such as their latest single “In the Dark,” as well as their hits including: “Kryptonite,” “Here Without You” and “When I’m Gone.”

After a 2 year absence,  THE AUD DUBLINER IRISH PUB,  located at the Village at Lake Las Vegas will host the official reboot of the MONTELAGO BEER FESTIVAL on June 11th from 2-7pm. There will be wristbands and souvenir sampling glasses for 2500 beer lovers, the best elements from the previous days, a few special improvements, and great craft beers. The festival is open to the public to visit the vendor tents, restaurants and food trucks, and to dance the day away by the stage. But, to sample the beers, you’ll need the "MLVBF" ID wristband and souvenier sampling glass. Taps are off at 7pm, but the live music goes till 10pm! Tickets at the admission tent will be $60 VIP for 2pm Entry, and $45 GA for the 3:30 pm Entry time.

THE BARRYMORE AT ROYAL RESORT (99 Convention Center Drive) will host a viewing party for the implosion of The Riviera Hotel & Casino's 24-story Monaco tower, scheduled for the early morning of Tuesday, June 14. The Barrymore will stay open for extended hours starting at midnight on Monday, June 13 until 3 a.m. Tuesday morning, featuring Social Hour favorites and the best vantage point to watch one of Las Vegas' most iconic hotels fall 24 stories to the ground.  Located directly across the street from The Riviera, The Barrymore's patio and lounge area with floor-to-ceiling windows will set the stage for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see one of two high-profile viewing demolitions. Guests can enjoy the Social Hour menu with $2 beers, $5 cocktails and glasses of wine, and special pricing on dishes including beef sliders, roast bone marrow and Oysters Rockefeller.  The viewing party is open to the public - reservations are highly recommended.

Nevada’s first GOOSE ISLAND PUB is set to open this month (June) inside The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas. Goose Island Beer Company is an innovator and leader in the craft of brewing, and the resort will offer eight of its signature beers on tap, bottles of Bourbon County and a wide selection of wines, liquor and pub-style food.
ELECTRIC DAISY CARNIVAL (EDC), celebrating 20 Years Under the Electric Sky, is scheduled to return to Las Vegas Motor Speedway June 17 – 19 with more than 250 of the world’s top dance music artists set to perform across spectacularly designed stages. Illustrating the diversity of the dance music community, the lineup draws upon an eclectic selection of international dance music artists who will help shape the incredible energy at the three-day experience.General Admission passes are officially sold out. A limited number of VIP tickets for EDC Las Vegas 2016 are on sale.  Insomniac’s VIP experience offers viewing areas at four iconic stages, specialty cocktails, dedicated carnival rides and activations, and anniversary offerings.

General Admission and VIP tickets are now on sale for the fourth edition of LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL MUSIC AND ART FESTIVAL, an annual celebration where people from all walks of life (generations, orientation, race, religion, and nationality) come together and create an experience centered in music, art, taste and ideas, which takes over the streets of Downtown Las Vegas Sept. 23 – 25. This year’s lineup features main acts such as  Mumford & Sons, J. Cole, Major Lazer, The Lumineers, G-Eazy, The Shins, Flume, Jane’s Addiction and Bassnectar, with dozens more creating a multi-genre experience for festival goers. Admission (GA) Tickets: · 3-day General Admission Advance: $265 · 3-day General Admission Regular: $285· 3-day General Admission Payment Plan: $325. VIP Tickets:· 3-day VIP Advance: $615· 3-day VIP Regular: $655. Limited number of Advance tickets will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Once advance tickets sellout, regular ticket pricing will apply.

Celebrity sightings:

Sunday, June 5...

Actor and Miss USA Pageant host Terrence J was spotted at Hakkasan Las Vegas Nightclub in MGM Grand alongside a number of Miss USA contestants including Top 15 finalist Miss South Carolina, Leah Lawson, former Miss USA Nia Sanchez with husband Daniel Booko, and many more where they socialized and listened to resident DJ Borgeous spin his chart-topping hits throughout the night.

Borgeous Hakkasan Photo Credit Stacey Torma 4
Borgeous Hakkasan
Photo credit: Stacey Torma

Saturday night, June 4...

The Miss Teen USA 2016 contestants enjoyed a family-style dinner at Carmine’s in the Forum Shops at Caesars.

Miss Teen USA at Carmines
Miss Teen USA at Carmine's
Photo courtesy of Carmine's

Monday, May 30...

Snapchat master DJ Khaled closed out the Memorial Day Weekend festivities by kicking off “Unlock Your Mondays” at Marquee Nightclub in The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. After receiving a key to city in a special ceremony on Sunday, the “Major Keys to Success” artist enjoyed dinner at Beauty & Essex before heading to the nightclub for his set.

Taking in Khaled's set was Wiz Khalifa as well as Marquee resident DJ Carnage sitting at separate VIP tables.

DJ Khaled at Marquee 5.30.16 Brenton Ho
DJ Khaled at Marquee
Photo credit: Brenton Ho

Khaled in DJ Booth at Marquee 5.30.16 Brenton Ho
Khaled in DJ Booth at Marquee
Photo credit: Brenton Ho

Wiz Khalifa at Marquee 5.30.16 Brenton Ho
Wiz Khalifa at Marquee
Photo credit: Brenton Ho

Sunday, May 29...

Fifteen of the 2016 Miss USA Pageant contestants enjoyed  the world-famous KÀ by Cirque du Soleil®. The 2016 Miss USA Pageant will be held at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, June 5 and will be broadcast on FOX at 7 p.m. EST/PST. MGM Grand will serve as the Host Hotel of this year’s pageant.

2016 Miss USA Contestants at KA by Cirque du Soleil May 29
2016 Miss USA Contestants at KA by Cirque du Soleil
Photo courtesy of Cirque du Soleil

Hip hop superstar and GRAMMY-Award Nominee Flo Rida was spotted at Hakkasan Restaurant Las Vegas inside MGM Grand. In town celebrating several birthdays, Flo Rida arrived at the restaurant around 11:30 p.m., with a group of about 33 guests including Flava Flav.

UFC Fight Night victors Cody "No Love" Garbrandt and Erik "New Breed" Koch, who squared off against respective opponents Thomas Almeida and Shane Campbell, celebrated their wins with friends with an after party at LAX Nightclub at Luxor Hotel and Casino.

Cody No Love Garbrandt and Erik New Breed Koch at UFC 88 UFC Fight Night 88 After Party  2
Cody No Love Garbrandt and Erik New Breed Koch at UFC 88 UFC Fight Night 88 After Party
Photo credit: Ira Kuzma Photography

To wrap up the unofficial start to summer, nine time GRAMMY Award-winning music producer Bryan-Michael Cox delivered a dynamic DJ set at Hyde Bellagio.

Bryan-Michael Cox Wraps Up Memorial Day Weekend at Hyde Bellagio 5.29.16
Bryan-Michael Cox Wraps Up Memorial Day Weekend at Hyde Bellagio
Photo credit: Hyde Bellagio

Saturday, May 28...

In the afternoon, multi-platinum selling and Grammy nominated recording artist Sisqo performed at Go Pool at Flamingo Las Vegas. The R&B singer and actor hopped on the microphone to treat poolside partygoers to a performance of his hit "Thong Song" as well as other jams.

Legendary Blink 182 drummer, Travis Barker, kept the party going at Hyde Bellagio with the final performance of his “Give the Drummer Some” residency.

Travis Barker celebrates Memorial Day Weekend at Hyde Bellagio 5.28.16
Travis Barker celebrates Memorial Day Weekend at Hyde Bellagio
Photo credit: Hyde Bellagio



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