Clint Holmes
Clint Holmes
Unless you've spent time in such casino towns as Las Vegas or Atlantic City, you may not be aware of Clint Holmes, who is playing a six-night stand at Feinstein's at Loews Regency. True, he had a #2 hit on the pop charts in 1973 with his smash single "Playground in My Mind," served as Joan Rivers' sidekick on her short-lived talk show, and hosted his own TV show, "New York at Night." -- but he's rarely been seen here, in part because his brand of old-fashioned showmanship is better suited to larger venues than the intimate cabarets in town.

Nonetheless, as he proved in his wonderfully entertaining show, no matter the venue, Holmes is an entertainer's entertainer, a throwback to such all-around performers as Sammy Davis, Jr., Bobby Darin, and Harry Belafonte (one of the many celebrities in his opening night audience).

The charismatic performer, here accompanied by a pianist, bassist and drummer, boasts a powerful voice and a wide-ranging vocal style that is showcased to excellent effect. From his slam-bang opening number "Orange Colored Sky" (made famous by Nat King Cole) to his emotive rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," he pulls out all the stops.

He displays an Al Jarreau influence on his jazzy rendition of "All the Way"; a talent for Ella-style scatting on Toots Thielemans and Norman Gimbel's "Bluesette"; and a dazzling vocal dexterity on an intricate medley from West Side Story that brought the crowd to its feet. The show also includes two self-penned numbers: the nostalgic "1944" and "If Not Now When," the latter inspired by his successful bout with cancer.

He dutifully sang his only hit, noting with pride that it rested on the charts between Paul McCartney's "My Love" and Elton John's "Daniel." "If I had another hit, I'd do it now. We'd have a medley," he joked.

True, some numbers, such as "What Kind of Fool Am I?" and Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On," suffer from bombastic arrangements that seem out of place in this venue. But any missteps are compensated for his charming and humorous stage patter, which includes affectionate reminiscences of his parents.

It takes guts for a performer to sing calypso right in front the singer who popularized it on these shores so many years ago, but Holmes pulled it off with a joyous medley of Harry Belafonte classics. It was but one of many highlights of a triumphant show that should guarantee this terrific performer a return engagement.