Any question about how Lena Prima chooses to embrace her family bloodline is answered in the title of her latest album: “Prima La Famiglia.”
The Las Vegas native and daughter of swingin’ lounge legend Louie Prima and singer Gia Maione is embracing her entertainment royalty. Backed by 13 Vegas musicians and rolling through her father’s famous numbers (among a wide range of numbers), Prima headlines Myron’s Cabaret Jazz at the Smith Center at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Prima moved to New Orleans eight years ago but is maintaining a strong connection to Las Vegas, where her father made history by tearing up the lounge scene with Keely Smith and Sam Butera and the Witnesses.
Prima was as childlike as her father during his shows at such haunts as Sahara’s Casbar Lounge and, later, the lounge at the Sands. That makes sense, as she began singing in public as a little girl.
“I think I was 5 when I first when to his show and was in the audience,” Prima says. “It had a real effect on me, watching my father literally blowing the roof of the place.”
Prima continues, “I remember that spotlight hitting me and it was like, ‘Wow!’ I want to do this!’” She describes her father in those days as “a big kid, like a cartoon character, funny and joking all the time.”
Prima’s new album charted at No. 10 in its first week on the Billboard charts — sharing top listing with such superstars as Tony Bennett.
For the Vegas show, she says, “We’re using all local musicians, playing some tracks from the album and some of my dad’s hits, too.” Expect “Sing, Sing, Sing,” “Just a Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody,” “Jump, Jive An’ Wail,” and “I Want to Be Like You.”
“Those songs still resonate,” Prima says. “I never get tired of them.”
Power of Horns
So, a trombonist who bears an uncanny resemblance to Fonzie backed Snoop Dogg on the Strip on Saturday night.
Yep, the Vegas music community was effectively represented in the band that played the Keep Memory Alive Power of Love gala at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Column faves Isaac Tubb and Dan Foster (on trumpet), Neil Maxa (who can double as Henry Winkler and plays trombone) and Adam Schroeder on sax backed the assorted superstars playing homage to Lionel Richie.
Speaking for the collective, Tubb says, This was definitely one for the books!”
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts.Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.