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Casinos continue to bring top-level entertainment to state

In their quest to give guests a full range of options, casinos have always been associated with live entertainment. Since legal gaming came to Mississippi, residents along with visitors have enjoyed a wide range of entertainers at casino properties.

“With more headline entertainment than anywhere else in mid America, many of the world’s top performers are familiar faces in Tunica,” says Webster Franklin, president and CEO of the Tunica Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Tunica’s top-name entertainment lineup attracts visitors to enjoy the non-stop entertainment of the casino floor, the fine dining and buffet options and the other attractions that make Tunica a great getaway destination.”

A few of those top performers scheduled to perform at Tunica casinos this fall include JoDee Messina, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Booker T. and the MGs, Hootie and the Blowfish and Montgomery Gentry.

Horseshoe Casino’s Bluesville in Tunica features headline acts from country, rock and pop music. This venue has added more than 300 club-style seats tiered from the second floor Founders Club. Notables including B.B. King and Ronnie McDowell have performed there.

“Bluesville is one of the best places in the area to see big name entertainment because of the intimacy of the venue. There are no bad seats in the house,” says Jocelyn Agnellini, regional director of marketing services for Harrah’s Mid-South. “It feels like you are in a small Mississippi Delta juke joint. The acoustics are great and the ‘private party’ feeling makes for a remarkable experience.”

Another Harrah’s property, Grand Casino Resort Tunica, offers entertainment in the Grand Event Center where Creedence Clearwater Revisited, Delbert McClinton and Montgomery Gentry will take the stage in November.

“We look forward to continuing to provide top-billing entertainment choices at the Grand in 2008,” Agnellini adds.

The level of entertainment is back to pre-Katrina days on the storm-battered Gulf Coast, according to Stephen B. Richer, executive director of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau. The recently-opened Hard Rock Casino Biloxi is partnering with the Coast Coliseum to bring headliners to the area. Kid Rock and Coast natives 3 Doors Down played for the Hard Rock’s July opening, and Faith Hill and Tim McGraw recently played at the coliseum.

Construction has begun on Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville Casino in Biloxi, a property that is sure to feature top-notch entertainment.

With top-draw headliners and the music-oriented new casinos, Richer foresees the Coast being right up there with Atlantic City and Las Vegas in the entertainment category. “Maybe we won’t have as many shows but we will have the same quality,” he says. “All the things coming in here are looking at making this a key entertainment destination in the Southeast.”
The renovated Beau Rivage Resort and Casino Theatre is bringing high-energy productions to Biloxi, too. A recent one was the sizzling Imaginaya, a show featuring performances by the Russian circus and dance company, Todes.

Enhancing the experience

Pearl River Resorts offers some of the biggest names in entertainment with nightly live performers in its lounges and headlining acts in the showroom. Coming up in October are country music duo Big and Rich featuring Cowboy Troy, and November 2 “American Idol” winner Taylor Hicks performs.

“We know our guests enjoy seeing their favorite acts perform and we feel it enhances the gaming experience to offer top shows and events,” says Ryan Griffin, public information manager. “We also offer three show lounges at Silver Star and Golden Moon which feature nightly live entertainment that really add energy to the gaming floor.”

He says tribute acts have been among the more popular show series, such as the September 21 and 22 Shania Twain tribute performer ‘Shania Twin.’ Country music group Shenandoah performs in the Golden Moon’s Xenon Lounge October 19 and 20, and blast-from-the-past act Vince Vance and the Valientettes entertain October 27.

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.


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