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Filipino artists on display in new international music show

Updated June 10, 2024 - 4:30 pm

When Danny Falcone says he’s excited, your attention piques.

Falcone is a member of Las Vegas royalty, son of the late-great pianist and band leader Vincent Falcone. The elder Falcone was Frank Sinatra’s music director for a decade. Danny has opted for the trumpet, and has backed Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion, Paul Anka and Lady Gaga. He’s a member of Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns, among the finest horn bands in the country.

With that discriminate lineage and stage experience, Falcone says of an upcoming international music show in Las Vegas, “The talent is so extreme. Each of these singers are as good as anybody. I mean, they’re just unbelievable.”

OK. Let’s dive in.

The show is “Harana: An East Meets West Live Experience,” set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at The Theater at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas (tickets at AXS.com or Virginhotelslv.com).

Harana means “serenade” and is a dating tradition in Filipino culture.

Expect a lot of serenading, if not dating, on Friday.

The production tinged with talent from the Philippines is presented by the country’s acclaimed music director Troy Laureta, who was David Foster’s music director for a decade and also Ariana Grande’s music director.

The concert features a bevy of vocal talent: Martin Nievera, a Vegas mainstay for years with Society of Seven; Loren Allred, who scored a hit with “Never Enough” from “The Greatest Showman” soundtrack and has been featured on Michael Bublé’s “Love” album in a duet of “Help Me Make It Through the Night;” Pia Toscano, who has toured with Foster and dueted with Andrea Bocelli; Morissette Amon, a powerhouse vocalist from the Philippines who helped inspire the entire project; “The Voice” standout Wendy Moten (who slayed with “Come In Out of the Rain”); Jay-R, known as the Philippines’ R&B King; international vocalist Josefina Silveryra; versatile performer Dessa Salazar; and sax great Justin Klunk.

The horns are none other than the Fat City Horns (this is where Falcone, also a co-producer of the show, comes in), joining Grande’s rhythm section.

That the show has reached the point of being booked at a major Vegas venue is something of a minor miracle. The idea arrived from Vegas musician and producer Peter Ferguson, trumpet icon Maynard Ferguson’s nephew. Peter Ferguson is himself a talented trumpet player who backed his uncle for seven years.

About two years ago, Ferguson was reviewing YouTube links and was continuously drawn to the artist Morissette Amon. He clicked on a clip of Morissette — her stage name — performing “Never Enough” on YouTube.

“Her performance was literally perfect,” Ferguson said. This performance was his introduction to the artists and music of the Philippines.

Ferguson sent clips to his buddy and co-producer Falcone, who was also blown away. The two dove deeply into the Filipino entertainment culture. Ferguson traveled to Dallas for a Morissette show, then saw Nievera and Morissette co-headline at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, Calif.

Morissette then invited Ferguson to a show of all-original material in the Philippines. Ferguson scouted that one, too, and would attend two more Morissette shows in the Philippines and another hosted by Laureta. All the while he was conjuring a plan for an all-star show in Vegas.

“If I could put a fabulous horn section with this group and all of these great vocalists, we would have a fantastic headline show in Las Vegas,” Ferguson said. “I was determined to make this happen.”

Ferguson then brought Laureta to a Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns show at the Copa at Bootlegger Bistro. “Troy only took five minutes to lean over to me and say he wanted that six-piece horn section.”

It’s the type of saga that often ends with, “We are still looking for a room in Vegas.” But not in this instance. Laureta, Ferguson and Falcone found an apt venue partner.

“The Virgin Hotel agreed this was a winning show and allowed us to present it in their premier theater,” Ferguson said. “I have been beyond honored to have been welcomed by the Filipino community in the Philippines, Las Vegas, California and worldwide as I travel. I look forward to blending different cultures through the universal language of music.”

The ‘Day’ club

Mayor Carolyn Goodman has been busy issuing honorary days as her third and final term times out.

Bronx Wanderers were honored Friday, in conjunction with their 2,000th show in Las Vegas, celebrated during the act’s weekend series at South Point Showroom. June 7, 2024, was Bronx Wanderers Day in Las Vegas, and also in many areas of unincorporated Clark County (including the South Point).

Veteran Neil Diamond tribute artist Rob Garrett was honored May 22 for his decades-long Las Vegas career. Garrett is in his 44th year of performing, his 29th as a Diamond tribute artist, and in his 50th year as a Vegas resident.

Garrett headlines 8 p.m. (doors at 7 p.m.) Sundays through Wednesdays at Ahern Live showroom, where he debuted on May 19.

Cool Hang Alert

Returning to the topic of Virgin Hotels venues, Pop 40 Featuring Lily Arce plays The Shag Room from 8 p.m.-11 p.m. Saturdays. This is in David Perrico’s portfolio of “Pop” presentations. No cover, and they have it covered.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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