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Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Sister’s Shaved Head Creates Row

Melanie Strandberg shaved her head to support her sister, Marisa Lowe. (SR photo: Dan Pelle)

There was no doubt in Melanie Strandberg’s mind when her sister was diagnosed with stage III ovarian cancer. She had to shave her head. She’d already done it once. Marisa Lowe, now 24, was first diagnosed with cancer in February 2012, and Strandberg shaved her hair to support the sister she calls her best friend. This time, when 25-year-old Strandberg’s employer told her she had to hide her bald head with a wig, there was no doubt in her mind what she had to do: She resigned. In a move that rapidly went viral, Strandberg quit her job as a salon supervisor at La Rive Spa at Northern Quest Resort and Casino last Thursday/Kaitlin Gillespie, SR. More here.

Question: Would you shave your head to support a friend diagnosed with cancer?

Woman Quits Job To Back Sick Sister

A Spokane woman who shaved her head as a show of solidarity for her sister who has cancer quit her job at Northern Quest Casino after she was made to feel embarrassed for shaving her head. Friends and family who shave their heads in support of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy are sometimes told to cover up because their look is offensive. In this case Melanie Strandberg wouldn't stand for it, and her stand has sparked a firestorm of support from the worldwide cancer community. Melanie's sister Marissa has cancer. First it was ovarian but now cancer has attached her sister's colon. “She's amazing; she's the most amazing person I know,” Strandberg said. Marissa's chemotherapy treatment starts this Thursday so, two weeks ago, to show her support for her sister, Strandberg shaved her head/Colleen O'Brien, KXLY. More here. (KXLY photo)

Question: Am I the only one here who thinks Northern Quest Casino botched this situation, big time?

Tribes Fight To Keep Language Alive

The unmistakable melody of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” filled the packed room at the Pavilion at Northern Quest Resort and Casino. A trio of women took the stage, executing the iconic dance moves as the lead singer, sequined hat, one glove and all, belted out the song. The tune was familiar but the words were not. That’s because the song was performed in Salish at the Salish Karaoke Contest on March 6 during the Celebrating Salish Conference/Cindy Hval, SR. More here. (Jesse Tinsley SR photo: Lawrence McDonald, a Colville and Nez Perce Indian, chats with Kaienna Noel, 3, while dancing in the Celebrating Salish Conference powwow)

Question: Was a foreign language spoken in your childhood home? Which one? Did you understand it?

Casino Features Earth, Wind & Fire

It’s time to bust out your hairspray and dust off your platform dancing shoes: Earth, Wind & Fire is coming to a casino near you. Merging jazz, R&B, soul, funk, rock, and yes, even disco, this legendary band has been together since 1969 and is still touring internationally. They are renowned as one of the most successful bands of all time, earning 20 Grammy nominations, and five members of the group are recognized in the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. But, being a big fan, you probably already knew that, right? Catch the show tonight at 7 pm at Northern Quest Casino. Tickets: $30-$60/Pacific Northwest Inlander. (Wikipedia photo of Earth, Wind & Fire performing in 2009)

Question: When did you last see an oldie-but-goodie band in concert? Were you disappointed that the old rockers had lost it?

AM: Queen For A Day Sans Latifah

After getting her hair styled, Mary Borden, left, gets her makeup done by Kara McCollum, right, at the “Let Your Crown Shine” event at Northern Quest Casino Hotel Thursday. The YWCA and several sponsors put on the event for 100 women who got hair and makeup makeovers while snacking and listening to speakers. The event was meant to be a prequel to the Queen Latifah visit, but she cancelled at the last minute. SR story here.
(SR photo: Jesse Tinsley)

Question: What would you do if you were named queen for a day?

AM: One Step Closer To Olympics

Queen Underwood goes to a neutral corner and watches as her opponent N'teeyah Sherman has her mouthpiece replaced during their Lightweight match in the 2012 US Olympic Team Trials for Womens Boxing at Northern Quest Resort Pavilion Thursday in Spokane. Underwood won a close fight and now is one step away from making the U.S. Olympic Team for female boxers. Story here. (SR photo: Christopher Anderson)

Seattle’s Underwood Battles For Glory

Papering the walls of the subterranean Howard Street Boxing Club are the usual posters from bouts and cards going back decades, and they suggest the musty odor of smoke and beer from arenas and armories long razed. Those yellowing bills were the back-in-the-day come-ons for wannabe fighters. Here’s how much boxing has changed: Converts are now made in beauty shops. It helps, of course, if a boxer is in the chair. This happened just on Monday to Queen Underwood, who by virtue of her bronze medal at the last world championships and her Seattle roots is the flag-bearer for next month’s U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Women’s Boxing at Northern Quest Resort. Booked for an awards show later this week, she made an appointment with a stylist. “I’m tired of braids and ponytails,” she said to the stylist, pinning her hair issues on her current vocation of boxing/John Blanchette, SR. More here.

Question: Would you want to see a sanctioned boxing match between women?

A really big band at the Northern Quest

A really big band has been booked into the Northern Quest Resort and Casino's outdoor venue: The Spokane Symphony, Aug. 20, 7 p.m.

They're calling this a “Sizzling Summer Concert With the Spokane Symphony” and it will feature Eckart Preu conducting the symphony in a show that ranges from the “Superman” theme to John Phillip Souza. It will be a spectrum of light classics and popular music.

Tickets are now on sale, $20 and $25, through TicketsWest.  

Lynyrd Skynyrd added to Northern Quest outdoor lineup

Lynyrd Skynyrd, the band that helped make Southern rock a big-selling genre, has been booked into the Northern Quest Resort and Casino's outdoor venue, on Sept. 18, 4 p.m.

This announcement just came through. Tickets are not yet on sale and prices have not yet been announced. I'll post the ticket info as soon as I get it.

This will be the eighth — and final — concert in the Northern Concert's inaugural outdoor summer season. 

A “Survivor” audition call at Northern Quest

Let me start this off by stipulating that I would rather be in Dante's 14th circle of Hell than be a contestant on “Survivor” (and Dante only had nine). 

But here's an opportunity for the rest of you: A “Survivor” audition call, July 8 at the Northern Quest Resort and Casino.

Here's a link to the application and eligibility info.

A sneak preview of Northern Quest’s outdoor venue

I took this photo Saturday night at the Northern Quest Resort and Casino's tuneup concert for its new outdoor venue, this one featuring local acts Soul Proprietor and the Ryan Larsen Band.

As you can see, it's a flat expanse of lawn between the parking garage and the hotel. Folding chairs are set up and numbered (seating is reserved). There are booths and tents selling food, drink and merchandise.

The acoustics? OK, although we were distracted by the Monster Trucks roaring at the speedway next door.

As you can see, the crowd was not huge for this test-run concert. The first big test will come June 25 with the Judds, followed by the Steve Miller Band on July 14, Willie Nelson on July 31, the Beach Boys on Aug. 6, Toby Keith on Aug. 18 and Santana on Aug. 26,

A ‘break-in’ concert outdoors at tne Northern Quest

The Northern Quest Resort and Casino’s big-name outdoor schedule doesn’t begin until June 25 with The Judds, but on June 11, the resort has scheduled a “break-in” concert at its new outdoor arena.

Two local bands, Soul Proprietor and The Ryan Larsen Band, will play a show there on June 11, 7 p.m. Tickets are only $5, available at the Northern Quest box office, (509) 481-6700 or TicketsWest outlets.

Soul Proprietor plays funk and R&B and The Ryan Larsen Band plays country.

Steve Miller, Santana, Willie will play outside at Northern Quest

I have to admit: I didn't think the Northern Quest Resort and Casino's new outdoor venue would be having acts of this magnitude. Here's the summer lineup they just announced this morning.

As part of The Last Encore Tour, The Judds will perform on Saturday, June 25.

On Thursday, July 14, the Steve Miller Band takes the stage.

Willie Nelson and Family will perform Sunday, July 31.

The Beach Boys take the stage on Saturday, August 6 as a part of their 50th Anniversary Tour.

2011 Country Hall of Fame Inductee Reba McEntire performs on Friday, August 12 with special guest Sunny Sweeney.

Toby Keith will perform with special guest Eric Church as part of his Locked and Loaded Tour Presented by Ford F-Series on Thursday, August 18.

 Santana, along with special guest Michael Franti, performs on Friday, August 26.

This new outdoor venue will be in the grassy area between the hotel and the parking garage. It will have a covered stage and seating for around 4,000 or 5,000. It's still under construction.

All seats will be reserved. Tickets to Keith are already on sale; tickets to the Judds go on sale today (May 4) and tickets to remaining shows go on sale May 17 at 10 a.m. Call (877) 777-5252 or go to TicketsWest.

They are calling this the Pepsi Outdoor Summer Concert series, having obviously landed a corporate sponsorship.

The Northern Quest says “people will be able to see performers in Spokane they would otherwise have to travel to Seattle or Portland to see.”

To which I would say: Or at least to The Gorge.

Dueling Casinos

Plans by the Spokane Tribe of Indians to build a casino in Airway Heights ignited criticism from another area tribe during a closed-door Thursday meeting held by a federal agency that oversees Indian gaming.

The Thursday afternoon “consultation” was organized by the Office of Indian Gaming, a division of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The group is hosting six meetings between now and Nov. 18 to review rules that decide when tribes can build casinos on nonreservation land.

The Spokane Tribe hopes to build a 2.2-million-square-foot casino complex in Airway Heights on land that’s not part of its reservation. A change by the Office of Indian Gaming on its current rules would simplify that process.

If approved, the Spokane Tribe casino would be several miles from the Northern Quest Resort and Casino, opened by the Kalispel Tribe in 2000. Tom Sowa, SR Full Story. 

The only casino I’ve been to is Northern Quest. I loved the resort aspect, and the spa is divine, but the casino? Row after row of elderly folks staring at machines. Frankly, it creeped me out. Do you enjoy casinos? Why? And what do you think about this effort to build another casino a few miles away from an existing one?