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Las Vegas-based jump-swing party band Louis Prima Jr. and The Witnesses featuring singer Sarah Spiegel swing west across the desert to the Left Coast for special performances in Hollywood and Malibu in September, key dates on their coast-to-coast tour supporting their acclaimed “Return of the Wildest!” debut album.
On Tuesday, Sept. 11, Prima Jr., son of legendary singer and bandleader Louis Prima, and the band were guests on “Access Hollywood,” one of the only music acts to ever perform on the popular syndicated entertainment TV show. Watch the video here.
Later in the month, the younger Prima and band make a highly anticipated return to Hollywood’s Italian Feast of San Gennaro, Los Angeles. Just like the 80-plus year old New York City tradition, the event — launched by some of L.A.’s most prominent Italian-Americans in 2002 — is a celebration of Italian culture, food and entertainment featuring live music, street performers, strolling musicians, a kid’s corner and many rides and games.
Prima Jr. and his band co-headlined the festival in 2010, and they packed the outdoor street venue with their big classic/contemporary sound and crowd-pleasing showmanship and enthusiasm. My (Italian) wife Nadine (maiden name Martini) and I still talk about how great that show was, and how the band made everyone in the audience feel like they were part of one huge Italian family. It’s like they’ve had a little experience on that front.
This year, they’re set to headline the VIP-only, celeb-filled Prima Notte Opening Night Fundraising Gala on Thursday, Sept. 27, then the performance for festival fans on Friday, Sept. 28, and we can’t wait to see the band and the Prima Jr., Spiegel and Licata families again.
Both gigs will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel (chairman of the Precious Cheese Feast of San Gennaro) and Adam Carolla.
Then on Saturday night, Sept. 29, the group plays the world-famous Malibu Inn on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, starting at 9 p.m. and jumpin’ till who knows when.
Prima Jr.’s “Return of the Wildest!” debut CD, distributed by Warrior Records/Universal Music Distribution, blew my hair back when I heard an advance a couple of months ago. It’s a powerful update to the exuberant, horn-driven swing-jump sound mastered by Prima Sr. in the ’40s and ’50s, and Spiegel’s vocals are as wild and sexy as she looks in her stunning retro outfits. The album captures the buoyant, roof-raising celebration of good times the band presents onstage, and I highly recommend it.
“Return of the Wildest!” has earned some pretty stellar reviews from others as well.
Here’s a taste:
“Prima Jr. is the crown prince of swing… every track on ‘Return of the Wildest!’… snares listeners with an appealing mix of unbridled enthusiasm and self control. I cannot remember the last time that every track on a CD made me smile as it began. You do it in spite of yourself.”– F.C. Etier, Examiner.com
“Accompanied by his brasstastic band, LPjr pulls off a fine debut. LPjr does an excellent job evoking the Crescent City jazz styled swing of his dad… Front and center horns and classically dirty sax are pervasive throughout the set list. But Jr. and The Witnesses also weave rock-forward elements into the mix and drive an intensity level that might even exhaust (his) old man … it’s wild and fun stuff.”
— Steve Cox, Vocal Standards
“Louis Prima Jr. has a larger-than-life legacy to live up to, but after the first notes of ‘Oh Babe,’ comes blasting out of the speakers, you’ll have no doubt that he’s up to the task. Louis Jr. has assembled a new band of Witnesses including vocalist Sarah Spiegel… they add a razor-sharp rock & roll edge… with an energy that would make his dad proud… this album cements his place as (the) Crown Prince (of swing). This CD will blow the roof off of any party once you hit play and turn up the volume.” — j. poet, Rovi
“Louis Prima Jr., turns up the heat a few notches while adding a few blisters here and there along the way on the tracks. The musicianship of the performers is high caliber and the recording and mastering by Vinnie Castaldo is top-notch. Each and every song on this CD is entertaining and ready for any upbeat listening.” -– Dawn Laureen, LABest.com
“Louis Prima Jr… has a wicked band backing him up… the fact that he has his father’s blood running through his veins pretty much had me sold… It’s an absolutely fantastic album.” — AJ Garcia, shakefire.com
As Prima Jr. gets ready for his western swing, check out his new promo video, “Explore Your Inner Vegas,” a nod to his beloved hometown.
Get the latest news and updates at louisprimajr.com.
In addition to his “Peeples Place at KHTS” blog, Stephen K. Peeples is a writer/reporter for KHTS News (www.hometownstation.com) and SCVNews.com, and host, writer and co-producer of the weekly “House Blend” music and interview television show on SCVTV, community television for the Santa Clarita Valley (www.scvhouseblend.com). A former SCV music and entertainment columnist for The Signal (2004-2011) and drummer with SCV jazz group RainTree (www.raintreejazz.com, 2010-2011), Peeples is a Grammy-nominated record producer (“Monterey International Pop Festival,” MIPF/Rhino, 1992), an award-winning radio producer (“The Lost Lennon Tapes,” Westwood One, 1988-1990) and an award-winning online editor (The Signal website, 2007-2011). For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org visit www.stephenkpeeples.com.