75°F
weather icon Clear

David Perrico is Paul Shaffer’s go-to man on Las Vegas Strip

Asking David Perrico for the highlight of performing with Paul Shaffer is something of an unfair question.

“The highlight? The whole gig is a highlight,” says Perrico, the trumpet virtuoso and acclaimed bandleader. “The experience with Paul is the highlight.”

Shaffer and the band Perrico built for Vegas, the Shaf-Shifters, are coming back to Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesars Palace. The engagement’s first shows are Sept. 6-8, followed by Oct. 11-13, Nov. 29-Dec. 1 (tickets start at $49 and go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday).

The Shaf-Shifters most recently performed nine dates at the Barge in late December and early January. Shaffer clearly delighted in playing the famed, moated entertainment enclave, donning a blue suit splashed with gold and green glitter and announcing he was performing “on the corner of Sin and City!”

Shaffer rolled out some old video clips (including reviving his role as Artie Fufkin on “This is Spinal Tap”) and paid tribute to James Brown with a staggering “Please Please Please.”

Shaffer was at home onstage — and his keyboard solos were something to behold — but he needed a hand in creating the right collection of musicians for this exclusively Vegas show. Perrico, who once toured with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, was a natural fit; his Pop Strings ensemble plays that very room at 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

“Paul is the consummate leader, he makes changes on the fly and you have to follow and adapt,” Perrico says. “He’s demanding, but not in a bad way. You just need to deliver.”

Perrico has signed up most of the Shaf-Shifters from last winter’s band: Vocalist Noybel Gorgoy, guitarist Jim Buck, bassist Keith Nelson, Andrew “The Fury” Friedlander on sax, Neil Maxa on trombone and Pepe Jimenez on drums. All are highly regarded, veteran Las Vegas artists.

“Paul made sure to call out and showcase the musicians,” Perrico says. “He expects excellence, and he rewards it, too.”

Shaffer had envisioned some drop-in performers, in the spirit of the Vegas of yesteryear, and that did happen. Bill Medley and Bucky Heard of the Righteous Brothers, Martin Short, bassist Will Lee (who played with Shaffer for three decades on David Letterman’s World’s Most Dangerous Band), Sonny Charles of the Checkmates and Martha Walsh (of The Weather Girls, who sang “It’s Raining Men”) were among those jammed with the Shaf-Shifters.

Perrico has again sold out Myron’s Cabaret Jazz on Saturday night for his latest Pop Strings show at The Smith Center, with Las Vegas Tenors, Lily Arce, Mark Boals of “Raiding the Rock Vault,” and Gorgoy as guest stars. Pop Strings is taking this weekend off at the Barge, returning July 20-21.

Perrico chuckles as he talks of working as Shaffer’s bandleader.

“He introduces me as his music director, and I shake my head,” Perrico says. “As far as I’m concerned, he’s the music director of everyone.”

The would-be Hawk

With NBA Summer League in town and (temporary) renaming of SLS Las Vegas to Grand Sahara Resort, we recall hotel owner Alex Meruelo was once very close to becoming an NBA owner.

Meruelo nearly snapped up the Atlanta Hawks in 2011, reportedly making an agreement to buy the majority stake in the team for $300 million. But talks unraveled late in the negotiations, and Meruelo announced in November 2011 the two sides “were not able to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement.”

Had he made that purchase, which included the team’s Philips Arena, Meruelo would have been the first Hispanic majority owner of an NBA franchise (his parents are Cuban immigrants). But he doesn’t sound like a guy regretting his dashed hoop dreams.

“This purchase, to me, is bigger than owning a sports team,” Meruelo told the L.A. Times in a rare interview in April (he consistently resists interviews). “There are over 120 sports teams you can buy, but there is almost zero real estate on Las Vegas Boulevard. It’s one of the most unique purchases in the world.”

All that bacon

Jerry Lewis and Jerry Seinfeld chatted over breakfast at the Omelet House for Seinfeld’s Netflix show, “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee.” It was no ordinary breakfast. Lewis asked for three fried eggs “up,” and a large order of “very, very, very stiff bacon.”

A platter towering with stiff bacon was summarily delivered to the comics’ table.

It was a real request. Lewis was known to ask for very, very, very stiff bacon on his visits to the Omelet House. He even ordered stiff bacon to-go, sending assistant Gary Smith to Omelet House on regular pick-up missions.

“I even ran a tab for him, for the bacon,” Omelet House owner Kevin Mills says. “He’d have five or six orders of bacon, well-done, and then pay it off.”

Mills went for comedic overkill when Lewis and Seinfeld ate at Omelet House.

“As a gag, I had 12 orders on one plate sent to their table,” Mills says, adding that each order has four or five strips of bacon. “They laughed. It was great. I think it was the last time Jerry was in the restaurant, so it meant a lot.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Heavier traffic expected from EDC festival attendees
Electric Daisy Carnival attendees began to vacate the Las Vegas Motor Speedway starting before 5 a.m., the majority heading south on Interstate 15.
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
DJ Steve Aoki visits Las Vegas comic book store
DJ Steve Aoki visits Torpedo Comics in Las Vegas Friday, May 17, 2019, for a signing for his new comic book series "Neon Future." (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas Smith & Wollensky opens at The Venetian
After 18 years, the Smith & Wollensky location on Las Vegas’ south Strip closed in 2017, to be re-born two years later with a rib-cutting — instead of a ribbon-cutting — in The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Colin Cantwell, Creator Of Iconic Star Wars Ships Visits Vegas
Colin Cantwell, who created and designed such "Star Wars" ships as the X-Wing fighter, and Death Star, met fans at Rogue Toys in Las Vegas today. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Beauty & Essex in Las Vegas makes an EDC Wonder Wheel
In honor of the Electric Daisy Carnival, Beauty & Essex at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas makes its Wonder Wheel party-worthy. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Giada talks Vegas Uncork’d
Giada De Laurentiis talks during Aperitivo Hour, a Vegas Uncork'd event, at her Caesars Palace restaurant, Pronto, May 10, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Scenes from Vegas Uncork’d 2019 on the Las Vegas Strip
The 13th edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit brought four days of food, wine, celebrity chefs and parties to town, May 9-12. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three ingredients Gordon Ramsay can’t live without
Bon Appetit's Andy Baraghani interviews the "Hell's Kitchen" chef during a Vegas Uncork'd event at Caesars Palace, May 11, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Uncork’d launches wiith bubbles and a blade
Dozens of chefs representing some of the Strip’s top restaurants gathered Thursday at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas to launch the 2019 edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bunky the Clown at the clown convention
Bob "Bunky the Clown" Gretton talks about his life as a clown and the Clown Convention which was in Las Vegas at Texas Station this week. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Frying soft-shell crab at Lola’s in Las Vegas
At Lola’s: A Louisiana Kitchen in Las Vegas, soft-shell crab is breaded and fried and served either as an appetizer, po’boy or platter. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
The Stove in Henderson makes Pecan Pie Pancakes
At The Stove in Henderson, chef/partner Antonio Nunez stacks buttermilk pancakes with pecans and dulce de leche and tops them pie crust crumbs. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vinnie Paul remembered at Count's Vamp'd
The late rocker's favorite table at one of his favorite clubs in Las Vegas. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
4DX movie experience at Red Rock
4DX movie experience during a demo reel at Red Rock. (Christopher Lawrence/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What To Do On May The 4th
There are plenty of events going on May the 4th this year around Las Vegas. Celebrate Star Wars and Comic Book Day all at once. The Rogue Toys, the 501st, Rebel Legion and Millennium Fandom Bar are all hosting fun events to help celebrate your geek-dom. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Water Sports Introduces New Attraction At Lake Las Vegas
Las Vegas Water Sports will debut its new aqua park attraction at Lake Las Vegas Days this weekend. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Making the Space Invader at Greene St. Kitchen in Las Vegas
Lysa Huerta, pastry cook at Greene St. Kitchen at the Palms in Las Vegas, starts with angel food cake, Fruity Pebbles ice cream and strawberry sorbet to create a space creature engulfed in flashing lights and swirling mists. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Pools
The M, Park MGM and NoMad are just a few great pools in Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jose Andres explains Iberico pork
(Al Mancini/Las Vega Review-Journal)
Inside Life is Beautiful
Craig Asher Nyman explains how Life is Beautiful festival is booked and talks about this year's line-up. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America Pops Up In Vegas
Tattoo'd America, a new pop-up attraction on the Linq Promenade, had their grand opening Friday. The attraction is dedicate to the culture of tattoos. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Jose Andres gets key to the Strip
Chef Jose Andres was presented with a Key to the Las Vegas Strip and a proclamation declaring April 26 Jose Andres Day in Clark County by County Commissioner Tick Segerblom on Friday. The ceremony took place at his restaurant Bazaar Meat in the SLS Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sadelle’s in Las Vegas makes a grilled cheese with an inverted bagel
Michael Vargas, executive sous chef at Sadelle’s at Bellagio in Las Vegas, inverts an everything bagel and grills it with Swiss, cheddar and Muenster cheeses to make the Inverted Bagel Grilled Cheese. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures
Kassandra Lopez at Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Prime rib is carved tableside at Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Las Vegas
Dave Simmons, executive chef of Lawry’s The Prime in Las Vegas, which plans special cuts for National Prime Rib Day, demonstrates the restaurant’s service from rolling tableside carving carts. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making gluten-free pizza at Good Pie in Las Vegas
Good Pie owner/pizzaiola Vincent Rotolo makes his gluten-free pizza.
Rockabilly fans enjoy Las Vegas weather poolside
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender runs Thursday, April 18th through Sunday, April 21st with a huge car show on Saturday featuring The Reverend Horton Heat, The Delta Bombers and The Coasters. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
Celine Dion’s lounge gig a boon to Las Vegas act

Celine Dion performed “Because You Loved Me,” “Ashes,” Beauty and the Beast” and “My Heart Will Go On.” Her arrival drew a roar from the 300 VIPs in attendance, who were not informed of the night’s entertainment.