Archives For mohegan sun

Monday marked “National Tequila Day,” another capitalism-created “holiday” that no one would be aware of if not for a hashtag and radio DJs like myself talking incessantly about it. However for Panic! At The Disco lead singer Brendon Urie, it’s a holiday that he essentially celebrates before every Panic! performance with a double-shot.

“It just kind of kills the hyperawareness, so we’re not up there reading too many signs and I’m forgetting lyrics and stuff,” the frontman told me back in March before the band kicked off its “Death Of A Bachelor Tour” inside Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The interview originally aired on Mohegan Sun’s Facebook Live feed. “Yeah it’s nice; it just kind of kills the tension a little bit.”

Urie recalled a time before the band’s pre-show ritual of tequila when the group instead opted for whiskey.

“We all noticed on stage… this is going to sound weird but, we were on stage and we just kind of all looked at each other and we all felt grumpy,” he said while laughing about it. “Then after we got off stage we were just like, ‘Get off me!’”

After two sets, Panic! turned to tequila.

“That worked. Then it was just a party,” he noted. “It definitely makes a difference. I don’t know if it’s psychosomatic or something, but yeah.”

I assured Urie that it is normal for people to react in different ways to different liquors; knowledge I was able to secure without headlining sold-out arenas. No word if Urie is continuing the tradition during his run on Broadway but if the lead in “Kinky Boots” appears a little grumpy, perhaps now you know why.

A post shared by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


Check the full interview below.

Back in February, while talking about baseball, Train lead singer Pat Monahan told me he was done singing the National Anthem at sporting events because of how stressful it is.

You could imagine my surprise when I saw Monahan on national television belting out the anthem, a cappella, before Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been as nervous as that one, and I sang at the AFC Championship game two years ago in New England,” Monahan said after I played him the clip of us speaking earlier this year. “That was stressful, but nothing like Game 1 in Oakland.

The singer explained why the moment is filled with so much pressure.

“There’s a thing that happens, up until, ‘and the rockets’ red glare,’ all the way up until then, there’s a vast chance of you forgetting all of the words that would just disappear,” he said. “I don’t know why, but I’m so scared for that 48 seconds that it takes years off of my life.”

Monahan agreed to sing the anthem at the urging of his manager. With connections in the Bay Area along with Seattle and Western Pennsylvania, the front man has a number of rooting interests in sports, including the Golden State Warriors.

When I caught up with Pat, it was in a much-more relaxed setting. He and I chatted backstage before the band headlined Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut. Our interview was for Mohegan Sun’s Facebook page and broadcasted live on it as we talked in Monahan’s dressing room.

“There are songs that we play every night that I had no idea that they would get the reaction that they’re getting,” the lead singer told me. “There’s a song called “Working Girl” and it goes pretty bananas out there every night.”

Monahan is mixing in the newest from the band’s “A Girl, a Bottle, a Boat” with the classics as well; one in the latter category is his favorite to perform every night.

“’Drops of Jupiter’ will always be the song that has heart for me,” he said in response to a fan question about his favorites on the set list. “Play That Song,” Train’s lead single from its latest LP, also received an honorable mention.

As far as other set list specifics, the band switches out two songs every night. They also pay tribute to Chris Cornell and Gregg Allman, neither of whom had passed away before the “Play That Song Tour” commenced.

The tour, which features support from Natasha Bedingfield and O.A.R., runs through mid-July before Train takes off for the “Fuji Rock Festival” in Niigata, Japan.

Stand-up comedian Sebastian Maniscalco doesn’t take his success granted. His roots won’t allow it.

“It’s great to do (comedy) for a living now,” he told me. “I worked as a waiter and then I was selling satellite dishes out of a mall so to be doing comedy for a living and what I always dreamed of is fantastic.”

Maniscalco has been in the comedy game for 18 years and is currently experiencing a surge of popularity. His humor is centered on real-life family experiences that resonate with both millennials and baby-boomers. Maniscalco’s most-recent special, “Why Would You Do That?” was filmed in the iconic Beacon Theater on New York City’s Upper West Side. It premiered on Showtime last October and he’ll continue touring behind it until at least November. The Chicago-born comedian also appeared on all of the major late-night shows and perhaps most notably, Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee.”

The next big dates in the Northeast for Maniscalco include a string of three shows at The Borgata in Atlantic City and a night headlining Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut. Don’t expect to find the comedian at a craps table though; he says gambling was left behind in his 20’s.

“Now I just go and perform and go out to dinner,” Maniscalco said of his casino show routine. “I love eating. My wife and I love cooking, entertaining, travel… so yeah, that’s kind of what we like doing.”

Sure beats waiting tables or working in a shopping mall.

Last weekend I made the trek up to Uncasville, Connecticut where my friends at Mohegan Sun invited me to head backstage at Mohegan Sun Arena and interview the band Bastille. It was the first time the GRAMMY-nominated quartet played the venue; lead singer Dan Smith and company were fresh in to the North American leg of the “Wild, Wild World Tour” in support of the band’s sophomore effort “Wild World.”

Here are five takeaways from my chat with the group, which was initially broadcasted live on Mohegan Sun’s Facebook page, with a bonus fan-submitted question answered on Twitter.

1.) If Bastille could pick one artist to collaborate with at the moment, it would be Rihanna. “We’ve been asked this for years. We keep saying Rihanna and we haven’t heard a word from her,” drummer Chris “Woody” Wood joked.

2.) Smith confirmed that just as the band released a companion remix album for “Bad Blood”, Bastille will give the same treatment to “Wild World.” “It’s just a question of finding the time,” he elaborated.

3.) Bastille is currently writing it’s third album on the road; they have a designated “Writing Room” backstage. Although last Friday, “Woody” primarily used the space more to play FIFA on Xbox than craft Bastille’s next big hit.

4.) The album art for “Wild World” was not snapped from One World Trade Center, but rather “an undisclosed building, somewhere, maybe.” Smith wouldn’t elaborate but did mention that the cover’s creation is actually a focal point in the show’s production (and I won’t elaborate because I don’t want to spoil it for someone who may be reading this in another part of the U.S. before the concert).

5.) General consensus amongst the band led the members to designate guitarist Will Farquarson as the laziest member of the group, although Smith did mention that there are different genres of lazy. We wanted him to elaborate on this too, but perhaps he didn’t feel like exerting himself?

Watch the full interview and bonus clip below.

Panic! At The Disco is on the “Death Of A Bachelor” tour, headlining sold-out arenas across the country. But for lead singer Brendon Urie, the album cycle is basically finished.

“I’m literally trying to jump right in to the next record cycle,” the front man told me backstage at Mohegan Sun Arena before the trek’s opening night show. The interview was conducted for Mohegan Sun’s Facebook page. “I know that seems crazy but I’ve got a bunch of ideas I’ve been working on for the last couple months. I’m seriously pursuing recording them in the next month or two.”

The “Victorious” singer is also going to try his hand again at projects that don’t exclusively involve music.

“Theater really interests me and acting really interests me,” he continued. “I’ve done a couple of auditions, a few years ago, and they didn’t go so hot. So I want to try and redeem myself a little bit.”

The fact that Urie wants to branch out might be a testament to how gratifying and fulfilling the band’s latest LP was. “Bachelor” debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with the highest first-week sales for Panic! yet. It also earned Urie a “Best Rock Album” nomination at this year’s GRAMMYs.

“That was a huge milestone,” he said of the nod. “I was filled with so much happiness. I was just like, running around… did a lot of drinking that night to celebrate.

“But it was amazing, man. It’s definitely put a nice little hat-tilt to this tour.”

Speaking of drinking, Urie joked (or maybe semi-joked?) that as far as essential tour items, beer definitely makes the list. He also revealed a Panic! pre-show ritual: shots.

“We did one night where we tried whiskey,” he explained before laughing. “This is going to sound so weird but, we were on stage and we all just kind of looked at each other and we all felt grumpy.”

The remedy? A switch to double-shots of tequila. Urie said it puts the band in party-mode in part by killing the group’s “hyper-awareness.” Judging by the rave reviews that the show is receiving so far, it seems to be working.

It wasn’t all a dream… it actually came true for Little Mix last week.

The girl group, which is currently supporting Ariana Grande her “Dangerous Woman” tour, traveled through a schedule last week that is hectic even by the girls’ standards. Little Mix started in Uncasville, Connecticut at the original Mohegan Sun Arena on Friday February 17. The day began with a whirlwind radio promo schedule, continued with an album signing and acoustic performance in The Shops at Mohegan Sun and ended with a performance for the sold-out arena crowd.

Then the girls crossed the pond to perform at The Brit Awards, the UK’s version of our GRAMMYs, on the 22. Little Mix was also nominated for three awards and took home the hardware for “British Single Of The Year” thanks to “Shout Out To My Ex.” The track hit number one in the UK for multiple weeks and served as the first single from the group’s fourth LP, “Glory Days.”

The next day: back to the U.S. Little Mix hopped back on Grande’s tour to open up for the pop star at “The World’s Most Famous Arena,” Madison Square Garden.

“We love it,” Jesy Nelson responded when I inquired about how they navigate the long travel and many responsibilities. “It’s tiring and it does take its toll but at the end of the day when we get on stage that just makes up for it because we get to see all of our fans and it’s just the most incredible feeling.”

I chatted with the girls in between the acoustic performance and autograph signing in Connecticut and when I brought up the week that included both The Brits and the MSG performance, there seemed to be more excitement than nervousness amongst them.

“To make two dreams come true,” Nelson said as the other girls talked about the idea of both possibly winning a Brit and taking the stage at The Garden, “C’mon, that’s pretty cool.”

They’ve even found some time amidst the madness to celebrate the success of their latest album.

“We do go out quite a bit,” Jade Thirwall admitted, rather sheepishly, before eliciting laughter from her bandmates. “Hey if we’ve got something to celebrate, there’s nothing wrong with that!”

Of course, the only thing better than having something to celebrate is having two things to celebrate. But the quartet, which formed during the eighth season of “The X-Factor” in 2011, will be hard-pressed to fit that into its schedule. Little Mix will continue to tour with Grande through mid-April and then embark on its own headlining trek overseas in May. There’s a sizable break in shows during the months of September and October, but the ladies revealed that those months are set-aside at the moment for studio time to begin work on the next album.

My first trip of 2017 involved both people and places that I am quite fond of along with a method of transportation that I find very enjoyable.

For me, an outing on Amtrak that is four hours or less is one of the best ways to travel. You don’t have to deal with TSA, the departure and drop-off in the city is right below the radio station, the ticket is usually relatively inexpensive and the trip is pretty comfortable. Amtrak offers decent Wi-Fi free-of-charge, you’re allowed multiple carry-on baggage items and it’s not a hassle to bring food or drink with you on the train, especially given that you’re departing from Penn Station (Don Pepi’s is my go-to and in my opinion, makes one of the best quintessential NY Deli sandwiches in the city).

With that, I grabbed my normal order (2 eggs on a wrap, prosciutto and mozzarella on a roll, bottle of water, small coffee) and walked over to check-in. Amtrak offers e-tickets via an app but I opted for the antiquated paper ticket. Thanks to a complimentary upgrade, I rode in business class on the trip; not the same as a first class plane upgrade. The seats are a bit bigger and more comfortable but not measurably more than coach. You also receive free non-alcoholic beverages with the upgrade, a note I found out after I made my purchase at Don Pepi’s.

My itinerary started at Penn and ended for Friday in New London, Connecticut. Then I hopped a ride to Mohegan Sun in Uncasville to spend the evening, see a few old friends and naturally, lose a bit of money. To be honest, the only thing I left the property upset about was that for my second consecutive trip, I failed to dine at Todd English’s Tuscany, my favorite restaurant in the resort.

Peak-boughieness right now on this blog.

Caught a Connecticut vibe this weekend. @mohegansun, the real MVP.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


Saturday a car trudged through the snow and brought me back to the train station, where I rode Amtrak up to the Kingston, Rhode Island station. An Uber brought me across the Pell Bridge to Newport where Cumulus Media was having its annual holiday party.

This party is fantastic for a number of reasons: it’s scheduled after the craziness of the holiday season, it’s held in the Newport Marriott which is gorgeous (just like the rest of that beautiful town), the food is delicious (I love seafood) and most importantly, the crowd is lovely.


A different Uber brought me back to the train station on Sunday morning and I encountered perhaps the most New England Uber experience ever. It had stopped snowing at this point but there is almost no one on the roads; some areas are plowed more than others. I notice there’s a Dunkin’ Donuts on the way and I could really go for one of their coffees (especially given the alternative was to buy one aboard the train; no offense Amtrak). I ask the driver if he’ll stop and he obliges. I then inquire if he wants anything.

“Yeah, you know what? I could go for a coffee,” he responded. “Medium dark, no sugar. Team work, getting the job done.”

You’re damn right. And just like the other people, places and methods of transportation I encountered over the weekend, what’s not to enjoy about that?

It was an eventful weekend.

My friends at Mohegan Sun asked me to travel up to beautiful Uncasville, Connecticut and host red carpet coverage for the casino’s 20th anniversary celebrations. The festivities for the big 2-0 last throughout the month of October, however last weekend there were two very special events. Kevin Hart hosted a comedy all-stars event at Mohegan Sun Arena, and the after-party took place at Avalon Nightclub, where my first red carpet was located. The second was the “Red Carpet After-Party” inside Uncas Ballroom.
mohegan
There was no shortage of stars: Hart had Sarah Silverman, Margaret Cho and Dave Attell with him on stage. Jessie James Decker performed in the Cabaret Theater Friday night. Then on Saturday Fergie headlined the arena and LL Cool J performed a free show in the Wolf Den.

JoJo Fletcher and Jordan Rodgers, some of The Real Housewives and former “Jersey Shore” star Vinny Guadagnino all came by for “Reality Check” events (the latter in which I also hosted). Some of Buddy’s siblings from “Cake Boss” were on-hand to present a 20th Birthday cake from Carlo’s Bake Shop, which has an outpost inside The Shops at Mohegan Sun.

There were even a few surprises: namely David Ortiz showing up on Friday night and partying with his former teammate Johnny Damon. The following evening, I actually introduced Damon to LL Cool J on the red carpet.

You really can’t make this stuff up. Why would I? Watch the highlights from Friday and Saturday below or check out the full broadcasts here and here.

Ahead of Friday night’s “Undercover Boss” episode on CBS, Mohegan Tribal Counselor Bruce “Two Dogs” Bozsum talks about his disguise that was so good, even his son was fooled. Bozsum also reveals what he experienced and discovered as an employee on the floor at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut and Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs during an interview on “The Ralphie Show.”

Selena Gomez brought her “Stars Dance Tour” to Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. on Saturday. The former Disney star had not performed at the casino and resort since turning 21, so she took the party post-show to the slot machines and an upscale lounge.

“I attempted to do the slot things,” Gomez attempted to explain in an interview that aired on “The Ralphie Show” Monday night. “I don’t know anything about it. I just put something in and pressed buttons and it just… I couldn’t do it.”

In Gomez’s defense, some of the newer slot machines can be a little confusing, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing.

“I think I should actually spend time to learn but I just got excited and we ended up just being in a lounge dancing to like Destiny’s Child, so we were fine,” Gomez said of the rest of her evening. A number of dancers and tour members joined the starlet at Mohegan Sun’s Vista Lounge at Wombi Rock – a venue she called “beautiful” earlier in the interview.

On stage, there were no mishaps for Gomez, who is in the midst of a trek that last seemingly through the year’s end when holiday radio shows are added in. Last week, the artist found herself on TMZ for reasons that did not involve her personal life; rather a small misstep in which she slipped and fell off stage. No pun intended, Gomez seems to be taking it all in stride.

“I was actually really happy, because honestly, four years of performing and that was the first time ever (that it happened),” Gomez revealed. “It’s probably going to happen again anyways but, it was funny because I got off going, ‘Well, four years and I did it.’”

The blooper may serve the purpose of showing her fans that she’s just like them. Gomez already plays this role well – whether it is during a mid-show confessional to thousands of screaming teens or playfully posing for a selfie with a girl backstage in a meet-and-greet. The singer also noted that she shops in the same places that the girls buying her album probably frequent.

“I just go shopping and if I see cute tops… I don’t know. Plus, every girl goes to Forever 21 or like Urban Outfitters,” Gomez said. Obviously with her celebrity status, Gomez doesn’t exactly qualify as “every girl,” but she scoffed at the notion that she isn’t shopping for her own clothes.

“What do you think I do?” she asked. I responded that perhaps someone does her shopping or the stores send clothes to her. “I mean I do get really awesome gifts every now and then but I like to shop.”

Amidst all of this singing, dancing, and shopping – Gomez also finds time to act in movies. She has two films set to be released in 2014, and will be involved in the anticipated adaption of “Thirteen Reasons Why” novel.

“A lot of my fans have been wanting to know because I’ve had that book for a while,” she said. “It’s just that books are so hard to translate in to something that will do the book justice. It’s always the, ‘Oh OK, this is not as good as the book.’ So, we want to do it justice; for the author, for these kids because it’s such a powerful message. It is still happening. We’d just rather it be great than rush it.”