Tag Archives: Mohegan Sun Arena

Jim Calhoun Charity All-Star Game

story & photos
by Christopher Annino

The 10th Annual Jim Calhoun Charity All-Star Basketball Game was held in the Mohegan Sun Arena on Saturday, August 9. Former and current UConn players such as Travis Knight, Ray Allen, Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon, Rip Hamilton, Caron Butler, Kevin Ollie, Donyell Marshall, Khalid El-Amin, Doron Sheffer, Ricky Moore, Charlie Villanueva, and Rudy Gay took part in the game. Basketball Hall of Famer, Jim Calhoun began this fundraiser to benefit the UConn Foundation, Inc.’s Jim and Pat Calhoun Cardiology Research Endowment Fund for the UConn Health Center.

Both teams were made up of former alumi: the white team, with older players, and the blue team, with more current players.

From the second the tip off began, the game was full of fun and amazing plays that the audience of over 8,000 people enjoyed. The game was played with much heart, enjoyment and fun. During one play, NBA champion Ray Allen blocked a shot, got the steal, and did a backwards pass to his teammate who later responded with a slam-dunk.

The blue team won 119-117. “This is a great cause, and I enjoy coming every year to visit with fans, coaches, friends, and fellow players,” said UConn legend Travis Knight.

UConn legend and current star for the Milwaukee Bucks Charlie Villanueva added, “We are all bound together here as players because of what Coach taught us, I have been in the league for three years and I miss UConn. Coach taught me everything I needed to know as a man and a player.”

The game was dedicated to Robert “Spider” Ursery, who recently passed away from a six-year battle with Hodgkin’s Disease. Rudy Gay was the games MVP with 38 points, and after the game the fans were able to meet and greet their heroes for a two-hour autograph session. Mohegan Sun, Gold Orluk and Partners, Nike and other organizations helped sponsor the event.

NIN Rocks Mohegan Sun

by Jason Youngblood

Hundreds of loyal fans lined up outside the Mohegan Sun Arena to see their favorite industrial rock star, Trent Reznor, perform with his band Nine Inch Nails on Thursday, August 7. The primary choice of attire was black on black, with a variety of multicolored hair styles, chains and, of course, black eyeliner.

Nine Inch Nails, affectionately known as NIN, took the stage shortly after the opening act, Deerhunter. Trent wasted no time by jumping directly into his hard thrashing, brand new song “1,000,000” from his new album “The Slip,” and this is exactly what his listeners were hoping for. Heads were bobbing and thrashing throughout the audience and Trent seemed to feed directly off of if it; like a caffeine injection.

This was my first time seeing NIN live, so I was very excited to say the least. I am a long time fan of the band, since Trent’s early days, and own all eight of his albums. To tell the truth, I wasn’t really sure what to expect because I had only seen the band through their music videos. With that said, I was thoroughly impressed by what I saw.

Although Trent is known for his more aggressive songs, he took a short break in the middle of the show to perform some of his newer, more mellow material. “Ghosts I-IV,” the album directly preceding “The Slip,” is a collection of ambient tracks, something new for Trent. This break allowed the fans and the band alike to catch their breath. It also set the stage for an incredible light show that lasted the remainder of their performance.

The light show included two separate screens of LED lights that spanned the entire width of the stage – one in front of the band, and one behind. This staggered setup allowed for some truly amazing effects that made my jaw drop and my head spin.

After the ambient intermission, the band kicked back into full gear by blasting out several of their harder songs, including “Head Like a Hole,” “Survivalism,” “Closer” and “The Hand That Feeds.” But, unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and, in Trent’s case, the end of this concert was more final than we all knew. As it turns out, Trent is battling a recurring throat ailment, and shortly after this concert, he announced on his website that he had to postpone his August 8 concert until November 9.

Weekend Fun at Mohegan Sun Arena

by Taryn Alessandro

Ron “Tater Salad” White

Drinking scotch and smoking on stage, I wouldn’t exactly call him a role model, but comedian Ron White sure is funny. Ron performed with nothing but a cigar and a glass of Johnny Walker Blue Label at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Friday, July 25th.

Most of you probably know Ron from his “Blue Collar Comedy Tour,” with Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall and Larry the Cable Guy. Ron toured with the rest of the “Blue Collar Boys” from January of 2000 until March of 2003, grossing over $15 million dollars.  The tour served as a huge launching pad for Ron’s career; since then he earned two grammy nominations, released a New York Times Best Seller, Ron ‘Tater Salad’ White: I Had The Right to Remain Silent, But I Didn’t Have the Ability, and made several appearances on Comedy Central.

Born and raised in a small town in Texas, Ron always captured listeners with his hilarious and sometimes ridiculous stories. He struggled in his early years, but now Ron is filling arenas with his “Blue Collar” brand of comedy. Ron  constantly reminded us of his recent success with lines like “My jet, that you all paid for, was broken and I had to fly first class.” Poor Ron.

“I’m razor sharp tonight,” Ron says, after telling us about his trip with his son, Marshal “Tater Tot” White, to St. Paul’s “Casino” instead of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. It must be all that scotch drinking.

Sheryl Crow with James Blunt

On July 26th, James Blunt swooned every girl in the 10,000 seat Mohegan Sun Arena with his heartbroken ballads. He earned a standing ovation with his touching performance of “Goodbye My Lover,” allowing the audience to sing the chorus. He later amped up the energy level by running down aisles, high-fiving fans, jumping around, and even “surfing” on his piano.

During her performance following James’, Sheryl Crow brought me tons of fond memories – from belting “Everyday is a Winding Road” in the backseat of a Jeep Wrangler, to playing “Leaving Las Vegas” on repeat, driving through the sweltering dry heat of Nevada. I’m a Sheryl Crow fan ever since her album, Tuesday Night Music Club debuted in 1993.

The much anticipated Sheryl gave us all the old goodies during her performance, including “A Change Will Do You Good,” “My Favorite Mistake,” “Run Baby Run,” “If it Makes You Happy,”  and of course, “Strong Enough.” In the middle of “Can’t Cry Anymore” she surprised us by breaking into Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now.”

While giving us a sampling of her new album, “Detours,” released in February, Sheryl played new songs “Gasoline,” “God Bless This Mess” and “Detours.” “It doesn’t matter what journey you go on in life. It’s really the detours that teach you about who you are,” she said about her song, “Detours.”

After her set, the audience screamed and pleaded for more Sheryl. She came back for an encore with “All I Wanna Do” and her version of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground,” featuring vocals from her backup singers.

Roger’s Rave Reviews: Dave Koz, Janet Evanovich, and the CT Boxing Hall of Fame

by Roger Zotti

Dave Koz

It was the best encore I ever saw. Dave Koz, the great saxophonist, and his incredibly talented band – Bill Sharpe, Randy Jacobs, Brian Simpson, Steveo Faye, and Ronnie Gutierez – began playing “You Make Me Smile” and then went into the audience for what can be called a up close and personal final touch. It doesn’t get any better!

Highlights of Dave’s June 20 show, at the Mohegan Sun Cabaret Theater, included his Grammy nominated “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” from his “At the Movies” CD. “The song is seventy years old, and I know you’ll recognize it,” Dave said: “It was a fun album to record because the songs were so [integral] to the films.”

Other highlights were several tracks from “The Dance” CD: the title cut, the arresting “Surrender,” and “Can’t Let You Go (The Sha la Song).” (He fired up everyone with “The Sha la Song” by dividing the crowd into three sections and having them compete vocally against each other.)

Dave Koz is an enormously talented musician. Accessible, energetic, and personable, he’s athletic, too – he moves around the stage as if he owns it and, while he’s performing, he does.

Janet Evanovich at MGM Grand

“I always hated reading, until I read Janet Evanovich,” said Chris of East Granby. “I’ve read all the Stephanie Plum series and most of what’s come in between.” Chris was in the MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods, June 17, to listen to the best-selling author read from and sign her latest novel, “Fearless Fourteen.” (St. Martin’s Press).

With Janet, though, you get not only a reading and signing, but also a live band (Doublefisted), videos, and Mooner imitations. (William “Mooner” Dunphy is, of course, a recurring character in the Stephanie Plum series.)

Before Janet began her reading, she told the audience: “If it gets boring, just talk among yourselves.” Then she read from Chapter One of “Fearless Fourteen”: “…my kitchen is filled with crackers and cheese, roast chicken leftovers…Truth is, I would clearly love to be a domestic goddess, but the birthday cake keeps getting eaten…My name is Stephanie Plum… and I don’t have any communicable diseases.” Not to worry: Janet’s reading wasn’t boring. After all, what’s more interesting than listening to an author read passages from his/her work?

Janet said she started writing as a romance novelist: “But because I liked the chase and the adventure, I reinvented myself.” She did “a lot of reading in the crime genre” and began writing crime fiction.” Janet noted that 1988’s “Midnight Run,” with Robert De Niro as bounty hunter Jack Walsh, influenced her. (Stephanie Plum is a bounty hunter.)

Asked why she writes her Plum novels in the first person, as opposed to the third, Janet said, “It’s more intimate. Of course, it’s limited to what only Stephanie sees and hears.” Janet admitted that with the first person narrative, she doesn’t have to write much narrative – which, she added, “I suck at.”

Will any of her books be made into movies? Tri-Star Pictures is interested in her Stephanie Plum novels, Janet said: “But by the time they get around to it, I’ll be on oxygen.” As for who she’d like play Stephanie, Janet favors Sandra Bullock.

Grand Opening

Former welterweight contender and 2006 CT Boxing Hall of Fame inductee Gaspar Ortega was there, and so was former welterweight champion Marlon Starling, a 2005 inductee. Other inductees present were Manny Liebert, Lou Bogash, and Joe Rossi. (Apologies to any inductee I missed.) The event was the Grand Opening of the CT Boxing Hall of Fame, which is now housed in the concourse of the Mohegan Sun Casino Arena.

Gaspar, who’s in his seventies and was a top welterweight from 1956-64, had his first pro fight at seventeen. His overall record stands at 131-39-6 (69 knockouts). Of his 176 bouts, 44 were on national television. Incredible! Back then, Gaspar told Stu Rosen of South Windsor, fighters didn’t take a vacation after a bout. “I fought on a Friday night and was back in the gym training on Saturday.”

So, the night was a success. “All the feedback about the grand opening that I got,” said Mike Murtha, Vice-president of the CT Boxing Hall of Fame, “has been positive. We wanted to memorialize these CT fighters, and with the help of Mohegan Sun, our commission, and a lot of other folks involved, we saw it through.”

The Piano Man Still Wows Fans at Mohegan Sun Arena

by Taryn Alessandro

During his 10-concert series at Mohegan Sun Arena, musical genius, Billy Joel, is proving he still has what it takes to sell out venues and keep fan’s swooning. The exclusive New England appearance shows are running from May 23 through July 3. Tickets are going fast! The June 28th and July 3rd are the only shows that haven’t sold out yet.

The concert is an eclectic mix of Billy’s lesser known songs, such as “Zanzibar,” accompanied by trumpet player Carl Fischer, and his classic hits, such as “River of Dreams,” “In a New York Minute,” “Only the Good Die Young,” and “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” Billy had us laughing, crying, jumping, and swaying.

“This has been an amazing ride,” said the six time Grammy Award winner. “Thank you all for continuing to come see us and letting me do what I love.”

Instead of an intermission, Billy surprised us by introducing his “rough around the edges,” roadie, “Chainsaw,” to give a fist-pumping performance of AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell.”

The concert concluded with a much awaited, stellar performance of Billy’s first hit, “Piano Man.” Seemingly, every audience member knew the words as they collectively sang back to Billy. “Sing us a song, Piano Man. Sing us a song tonight,” radiated the 10,000-seat arena and showed us how huge an impact Billy’s music has had on his fans.