Wednesday, July 10, 2013 | 3:31 p.m.
Louis Prima Jr. on Access Hollywood
Editor’s Note: While Robin Leach is in London before his traditional summer vacation under the Tuscan sun in Italy — plus, the Amalfi Coast this year — many of our Strip personalities have stepped forward in his absence to pen their own words of wisdom. Bandleader Louis Prima Jr. is continuing the family legacy of thrilling Las Vegas audiences with the big band sound his father performed here years ago.
Hey, kids, LPJ here, filling in once again for the vacationing Robin Leach. It has been a long and busy year since we last touched base. And since I spoke mainly about Las Vegas last time, I figured that I would just bring you up to date on the Witnesses — where we’ve been and what lies ahead. (For those who have no idea what I’m talkin’ about, I’m Louis Prima Jr., and my band is the Witnesses ... LouisPrimaJr.com if you would like to know more.)
When I wrote the last guest column, we were on the eve of releasing our debut album, “Return of the Wildest!,” on Warrior Records/Universal Music Distribution. Released July 10, we were ecstatic about the critical and public acclaim it was given. But I would’ve never guessed that we would be on the initial round of Grammy ballots. Our debut, recorded here at the Tone Factory, did just that. I guess we ain’t that bad after all. Ha!
So, with our new material in hand (or suitcase, if you will), we hit the world runnin’, winding down last summer by being invited to be the house band on “Access Hollywood.” And I suppose that didn’t go so badly, either, as the Witnesses and I were invited back again for their Christmas show. (Check out the YouTube clips of Henry Winkler dancing; yep, the Fonz gave us a thumbs up. Ayyyy!) Then we kicked off our 2013 summer tour by headlining the VIP press event for the inaugural Bottle Rock Napa Festival: 60 bands, 30 comedians, countless vineyards, Kings of Leon, the Black Keys, and LPJ and the gang.
The highlight of the year, though, was playing near my mother’s (Gia Prima) home, giving her an opportunity to see me, and the amazing band of misfits I share a stage with every night, perform for the first time. Tears were shed, my friends, and we loved it.
Back on the home front, we performed a few public shows among various charity events. Our good friends Ava and Big Daddy Carlos, who are deeply involved in turning Fremont Street into the place to be, opened not one but two incredible venues downtown: Backstage Bar & Billiards and Fremont Country Club, the latter of which we were honored to perform for their media event and grand opening. I gotta say, when I am home and feel like venturing out of the house, Fremont Street is where I’d rather be. Lots to do, plenty to see, and some of the best music venues and bars in Southern Nevada.
“What about the Strip?” you say. What about what the rest of the city has to offer? As I mentioned, it has been a pretty busy travel year for us, but, yes, the rest of Las Vegas has some gems to offer. As always, dinner at Casa di Amore is never a disappointment. Last time I was there, with the Yat Pack from New Orleans, we had the pleasure of being entertained by Mark Giovi, one of the greatest vocalists around.
And I cannot forget my rock 'n' roll roots, with our good friends from “Raiding the Rock Vault” taking up residency at LVH this year. Thank you, Tropicana, for the lounge entertainment, a missing part of Las Vegas nightlife that is sorely needed. With performers like Skye Dee Miles, the lounge is sure to become a favorite for more than just us old timers.
And I can’t forget one of the hardest-working entertainers in Las Vegas today, Robert Nash. I may be biased to my high school alum, but be it his full act, the Robert De Niro stuff or the countless public goings-on in which he takes part, Robert is truly a talent not to be missed.
One thing I do notice, though: You don’t have to go too far in Las Vegas to find a headliner or a small act using or performing a Louis Prima song. Good music is good music; you can’t change that.
OK, so what is in store for the future? Well, besides continuous touring, we are excited to announce that on Aug. 19, we begin recording our second, and mostly original, album for Warrior Records at Capitol Records in Hollywood. That’s right, folks, you heard it here first. I get to stand in Studio B, on the same ground my father stood so many times.
Not to let the cat out of the bag too soon, but you may get to hear my father on a track or two. So stay tuned to all of our social sites for updates. The band and I have been diligently writing for this CD and are excited by the response we have been getting by the “tester tunes” we have performed so far.
Well, that’s all I got, my friends. We hope to see everyone out on the road and look forward to putting out some new Prima tunes this year. And who knows? Maybe, just maybe, Las Vegas will open up and give us a place to play for all of our local fans. Just maybe (wink!).
Be safe, God bless, and goodnight.
Check out our other guest columns today from star chef Michael Mina and Bettie Page fashion designer Tatyana, who is sewing her way to a worldwide franchise from her Las Vegas headquarters. On Thursday, it's Mirage headliner Terry Fator, “Bar Rescue” star Jon Taffer and the inside story about our Las Vegas wedding industry.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
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Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.