From grunge to Tony Bennett, A.C. swings for turkey time

Grammy Award-winner Bonnie Raitt will play Caesars on Saturday and the Grand Opera House in Wilmington on Tuesday.
Grammy Award-winner Bonnie Raitt will play Caesars on Saturday and the Grand Opera House in Wilmington on Tuesday. (CHRIS McGRATH / Getty Images)
Posted: November 23, 2013

As November draws to a close, the pop music schedule is getting busy in Atlantic City casino showrooms.

This weekend, there's a red-headed Rock and Roll Hall of Fame slide guitarist at Caesars and a formidable blues and gospel double bill at Harrah's. On Thanksgiving weekend, the action includes a veteran grunge front man teamed with an intriguing, fresh-faced folkie, a smooth R&B triple bill, and one of the all-time great interpreters of the American songbook.

Here's the lineup:

Robert Cray and Mavis Staples. The bluesman who referred to himself as "young Bob" sneakin' around on 1980s hits like "Right Next Door (Because of Me)" is now a 60-year-old éminence grise on the blues scene, a guitarist who's long been a master of saying as much with what he doesn't play as with what he does. Cray's partner on this double bill, gospel great Mavis Staples, is still a powerhouse vocal presence at 74. One True Vine, her second album produced by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, keeps up her septuagenarian winning streak, and she's also the subject of Greg Kot's forthcoming book, I'll Take You There: Mavis Staples, the Staple Singers, and the March Up Freedom's Highway.

Robert Cray and Mavis Staples play 9 p.m. Friday at Harrah's Resort Atlantic City, 777 Harrah's Blvd. Tickets: $35-$65. Information: 1-800-745-3000,

Bonnie Raitt. Last year, the former Radcliffe dropout who once lived at 17th and Lombard, serving a musical apprenticeship at the Philadelphia folk club the Second Fret, released Slipstream, her strongest album since she hit her artistic zenith in the early 1970s with albums like Give It Up and Takin' My Time. She was also a standout guest on this year's Rolling Stones tour, getting sassy on a date with Mick Jagger on "Let It Bleed," and her authority as a singer and guitarist has only increased with age. Raitt plays Caesars on Saturday with Marc Cohn opening, and the duo hang around the region to play the Grand Opera House in Wilmington on Tuesday.

Bonnie Raitt, with Marc Cohn, plays 9 p.m. Saturday at the Circus Maximus Theater at Caesars Atlantic City, 2100 Pacific Ave. Tickets: $59, $79.50, $89.50. Information: 855-234-7469,

Chris Cornell & Bhi Bhiman. Heavy-rock vocalist Chris Cornell was there at the beginning of the grunge explosion with Soundgarden (the Seattle band who reunited in 2010), and he also did time alongside guitarist Tom Morello in Audioslave. For his batch of semi-acoustic solo dates - in addition to two Borgata shows next weekend, he's playing the Scottish Rite Auditorium in Collingswood on Sunday and the Grand Opera House in Wilmington on Wednesday - Cornell will be joined by Bhi Bhiman, a Sri Lankan-American folkie from St. Louis with a soaring voice who picks guitar like Mississippi John Hurt and Blind Blake.

Chris Cornell and Bhi Bhiman play 9 p.m. Nov. 29 and 30 at the Music Box at the Borgata Casino and Resort, 1 Borgata Way, Atlantic City. Sold out. Information: 609-317-1000,

Brian McKnight, Musiq Soulchild, and Avant. So much manpower on just one stage. This triple bill teams McKnight, the multi-instrumentalist - he plays four brass instruments, guitar, bass, and drums - and 1990s hitmaker, with Avant, best known for his 2000 No. 1 R&B hit "Separated," and Musiq Soulchild, the Philadelphian also known as Taalib Johnson. The latest career twist for the silky-voiced singer, who has been nominated for 11 Grammy Awards (but never won), is 9ine, his new, reggae-flavored duets album with Syleena Johnson on the Shanachie label.

Brian McKnight, Musiq Soulchild, and Avant play 8 p.m. Nov. 30 at the House of Blues, 801 Boardwalk, Atlantic City. Tickets: $55-$75. Information: 1-800-745-3000,

Tony Bennett. Frank Sinatra has been gone 15 years now, and Tony Bennett has been elder-statesman guardian of the Great American Songbook for at least that long. The 87-year-old crooner, who scored one of his first hits with a cover of Hank Williams' "Cold, Cold Heart" in 1951, still swings on the bandstand and still has pipes powerful enough to perform the nightly trick of hushing the band, putting down the mike, and carrying the day with just the sound of his own tenor.

Tony Bennett plays 8 p.m. Nov. 30 at the Event Center at the Borgata, 1 Borgata Way, Atlantic City. Tickets: $70.50-$140.50. Information: 609-317-1000,



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