July 21, 2022
Shamir broke out of Vegas in 2014 with his impossibly sunny, bouncy smash single, “On the Regular.” It was a hit, but it also presented a creative conundrum: How does a restlessly protean musical artist explore and experiment when fans might just want more hooky hits?
Shamir shrugged and forged forward, putting out a slate of solid, challenging albums in subsequent years that ditched easy pop conventions in favor of a bewitching, ragged-edged, basement-party electro-pop that seems perfectly suited to Shamir’s complex personal mythology. The Vegas Shamir returns to is much different than the Vegas of 2014; then again, Shamir is, happily, much different too. AK
9p, $20-35, The Space, thespacelv.com
Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons
Big girls don’t cry — unless, of course, they happen to miss their chance to see Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons in concert. In that case, bring on all the nostalgia-fueled waterworks, since the Smith Center’s Reynolds Hall will be hosting a one-night-only concert with the ’60s icon — and time is running out to get tickets. You can expect to hear Frankie and the gang sampling their songbook for tunes from obscure bops to big hits (“Grease” is a personal favorite of mine) spanning their decades-long career. Anne Davis
8p, $40-170, Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center, thesmithcenter.com
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The Lion King Jr.
Broadway in the Hood is bringing their own version of The Lion King to life on stage, where they’ll celebrate the circle of life in The Lion King Jr., their twist on the acclaimed musical. Broadway in the Hood is dedicated to bringing performing arts education to children regardless of race, social, or economic circumstances, so expect to see some of the valley’s most talented youth giving the summer season its final roar. LT
Various times, July 28-31, free, The Amphitheater at Craig Ranch Regional Park, broadwayinthehood.org
Along the Colorado
Here’s a prime chance to see how art about a catastrophe measures up to
the real thing: Along the Colorado marks one year since the river’s first official shortage was declared. Of course, the situation has gotten way suckier since. So the task assumed by curator Sapira Cheuk’s exhibit is to cut through our shrieking anxiety about having sand pour from our faucets to tell us something new about the river, its use, commodification, politics, and especially its scarcity. She’s tapped artists from the seven Colorado River Basin states to do just that. (Right, Sean Russell's mixed-media work) Scott Dickensheets
Through September 28, free, Nevada Humanities Program Gallery, nevadahumanities.org
Use the Other Door
Once you begin to suss its possibilities, “the other door” turns out to be quite a pliable concept around which to organize an exhibit: alternate pathways, untaken opportunities, unfortunate choices, life-altering diversions. You never know what the artists — working in any and all media — in this gallery’s annual Use the Other Door show will bust out, which is the fun of it. SD
Opening reception 6p Aug. 6, through September 30, free, corecontemporary.com
What’s jazz? What’s not jazz? The debate has been raging (well, uh, okay, mildly percolating among a small group of interested parties) since the birth of the celebrated musical form. Trumpeter Bijon Watson and singer/songwriter Niles Thomas want to weigh in with their final answer: It’s all jazz — so can’t we all just get along? Questioning the idea of limiting categories and exclusive subgenres in this dynamic art form, the two launched the Jazz Republic Entertainment Group to encourage listeners and artists to ditch the labels and get back to the music. Their Jazz Republic Concert series, presented locally by KUNV 91.5 FM, showcases talent from across the jazz spectrum to promote this quintessentially American music form, whatever the style. This concert features saxophonist Tom Luer, acclaimed for his nimble versatility — a welcome virtue in the Jazz Republic’s genre-bending vision of the dynamic jazz art form. AK
7p, $39-49, Myron’s Cabaret Jazz in The Smith Center, thesmithcenter.com
Dash and Splash
Whether you’re soaking up the sun on a beach trip or avoiding the heat with some epic binge-watching, you can’t beat that carefree feeling of freedom that summer brings. As fall approaches, why not make one last splash at the pool? Actually, make that a last run at the pool: The Pavilion Center Pool is hosting Dash and Splash, a 1.5-mile run from the pool to the Veterans Memorial Park, which continues to a 300-meter swim at the pool. It’s a two-for-one exercise kind of deal — and a literal race to the end of summer. LT
8a-10a, $10, Pavilion Center Pool, lasvegasnevada.gov
For his lifelong exploration of the intersections of jazz and Latin music, renowned conguera Poncho Sanchez deserves all the plaudits of a true musical pioneer. Where do you go when it seems you’ve covered every musical innovation that lies at the fertile border of these two endlessly rich musical forms? You go deeper. On his latest album, Trane’s Delight, Sanchez not only delivers an energetic tribute to the music of John Coltrane, but infuses Coltrane’s music with new life. AK
7p Aug. 19, 6p Aug. 20, $39-$69, Myron’s Cabaret Jazz in The Smith Center, https://thesmithcenter.com/
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I was in San Francisco (a Greg-worthy foodie destination itself) when a friend shared the shocking news that Greg had died of natural causes on July 16 at the still-too-young age of 52. Greg was well-known in Las Vegas for his colorful but unfussy writing about (mostly) dining and (sometimes) travel, which appeared in all manner of publications and websites, including Desert Companion. But to me, he was better regarded as being a staunch friend who always believed in me. And I always believed in him.
Way back in 2005, I was a year deep into my first full-time writing/editing job, spinning up words and occasional HTML code for Vegas.com — at the time, a veritable smorgasbord of all things Vegas and not just a glorified booking engine — when Greg sauntered onto our little content team.
Although he was several years older, we became fast friends. We were a lot alike. We shared a love of college rock, we both dabbled in web design and photography, and most pertinently, we both had incurable entrepreneurial urges, mostly viewing our “day jobs” as the means to fuel our respective (and often overlapping) passion projects.
We also quickly became collaborators outside of work on all sorts of projects. Despite only being in Vegas less than a year, Greg had already immersed himself into the burgeoning local art scene. He launched a website dedicated to it called ArtsofVegas. I coincidentally launched around the same time a complementary website called VegasInsight. We wrote for each other’s sites, and Greg was game to donate his time, talent, and camera gear to help me film videos for mine.
We filmed segments at UNLV, on a pedestrian bridge overlooking the Strip, in the 18b Arts District, and at the Hard Rock Hotel (R.I.P.) when Gumball 3000 rolled into town. We did interviews with bands and traipsed around the AFAN AIDS Walk. It’s really Greg’s fault that I ended up getting into filmmaking, because I first learned how to edit video on the footage that he helped me capture.
Looking back, I’d forgotten all the ways Greg and I continued to support each other’s efforts and mutually collaborate over the years. I hired him for freelance gigs. He offered to film my bands for nothing more than beer and credit. I recommended him to clients to do writing, video production, and web development. He brought family-handcrafted cheese to my house for the holidays and inadvertently shepherded me into a stint as the bassist for indie rockers Moonboots. Even while Greg bounced from city to city chasing financial stability and professional fulfillment in the wake of the Great Recession, we never lost touch.
Though we had much in common, one major difference between us is that, for the most part, I found a balance between developing a stable career and finding creative fulfillment. Maybe it’s that because Greg’s passion burned a little hotter, his vision stayed a little clearer. He was less willing to compromise or yield his voice. So, he kept hustling, vacillating between freelancing full-time and jobbing at various agencies and publications to support a series of creatively fulfilling if not particularly profitable endeavors: GoVeraPizza.com, EatingandDining.com, Gregarious Company.
And although he did stints in cities such as Salt Lake City, Reno, and Seattle — as well as his hometown of Pocatello, Idaho — over the course of a decade, Vegas always lured Greg back. As I told him way back when we shared a cubicle wall at Vegas.com, Greg “was meant to come here.” His heart was here. His friends were here. And most importantly, the food he loved was here.
So, when Greg sent me a Facebook message in February to let me know he was returning to Las Vegas full time to take residence as the Review-Journal’s new restaurant and food reporter, I was elated. As Greg noted in his message, this job was the culmination of “the path began at VDC,” aka Vegas.com. I thought this was it, just the thing to provide him a home to share his love of unexpected food finds and some stability after a rough couple of years personally.
Last April, only two days after losing his own mother — with whom he was tremendously close — Greg took the time to reach out to me on my mom’s first posthumous birthday to share an empathetic commiseration. “I’ll always remember that time I said ‘Hi’ to your mom on speaker phone at the Vegas.com office. This sucks the worst ever.” And he’s right, damn it. This does suck the worst ever.
In memory of Gregory John Thilmont, March 8, 1970 - July 16, 2022
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DiMaio first visited the area in 2013, when a geologist friend asked him to help run her research camp while he was on a break between filmmaking projects. “I was really fascinated by a lot of things that I saw out there, related to geology, but also to land rights and the history of the area,” he says. Soon, he started formulating a plan for making a movie. “I was working on other films, and thinking about trying to get a film crew out there and what the story would be.”
The story that DiMaio developed takes on local issues via two characters who meet in the desert: Alex Haynes (Alex Oliver) is a geology Ph.D. student from Boston, who’s traveled to the Mojave Desert to conduct research for her dissertation. Nick Devale (Jack Mulhern) is a cattle rancher who is preparing to take over his family business, although he’s worried that there might not be much of a business left by the time it gets to him. They form a bond that is a little more than friendship but not quite romance, each introducing the other to an unfamiliar world.
While Vegas makes a brief appearance in the movie (and partially stands in for Boston), via UNLV, a climbing gym and a storage unit, DiMaio spent most of the three-week production schedule shooting in Beatty and the surrounding desert, capturing the natural beauty of Nevada’s open spaces. He even found both a geologist and a rancher based in Beatty to work as consultants. “The odds of that happening, to me, seemed very low,” he says. “It was a very lucky coincidence for me.”
On the other hand, the relationship between geologists and ranchers is more common than DiMaio anticipated when he was first developing the story. “What was so funny is that when I would tell people that I was making this movie, I heard multiple times, ‘Oh yeah, I know a rancher that married a geologist.’”
Through the two main characters, DiMaio explores the ideas that first drew him to the desert. Alex is frequently undermined and disrespected by her male colleagues, who only start paying attention to her research when she discovers a rare kind of fossil in the Mojave. “The geologists that have helped me along the way, some of them have been quite vocal and interested in bettering diversity in geology, because I know that their field really struggles with that,” DiMaio says. “They’ve seen it as sort of a conversation starter.”
For Nick’s storyline, which involves a conflict with the Bureau of Land Management over accidental unauthorized grazing on federal land, DiMaio met with locals in the Beatty area. “I spent time with a lot of ranchers out there,” he says, “and what I’ve always learned when you
interview people is there’s always diversity within groups, even if to the outside they can seem like a monolith because of how they’re presented in the media.” Although the movie was produced around the time of the Cliven Bundy family stand-off with the BLM, DiMaio wanted to steer clear of that political controversy. “I don’t really want to make a movie that’s pro- or anti-anyone, that’s painting anyone in broad strokes. I’d rather show a story and show what it’s like, and let people come to their own determination.”
Named after a natural phenomenon that indicates a gap in the geological record, Unconformity is primarily a story about two specific people, whose experiences reflect the realities of life in rural Nevada. “I hope that (audiences) get to see a slice of American life that they might not have otherwise had access to,” DiMaio says. “And that they’re entertained by it, and it makes them think about the themes that are addressed in the film, related to a changing West and how people interact with the land and with each other out there.”
Unconformity is available for digital rental and purchase from Amazon .
Photos and art: See Hear Do: courtesy Shamir, Nevada Humanities; Greg Thilmont: courtesy Pj Perez; Unconformity: courtesy Jonathan DiMaio
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