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Vegas vet David Perrico set as Raiders band leader

Updated August 28, 2021 - 8:54 pm

Well, David Perrico’s band has finally found a new venue.

Big time.

The veteran musician and bandleader is front man for the Raiders House Band led by David Perrico. This is in fact the Raiders’ house band for the 2021 season. The lineup debuts Saturday during the Raiders’ preseason home opener against the Seattle Seahawks at Allegiant Stadium.

“This is an incredible opportunity, and a great honor, to fulfill Mark Davis’ vision for a band to perform at Raiders games,” Perrico said Wednesday morning. “I am excited. The band is excited. The interaction with the Raider Nation staff has been fantastic, all the way through.”

Davis has sought a contemporary version of Del Courtney’s band from the Raiders’ infancy. The Courtney crew first played Raiders games at Frank Youell Field in 1963, later moving with the team to the Oakland Colosseum.

“We are looking at options for something like that — a house band to play before and after the game and during commercial breaks,” Davis said in February as the team’s search for musicians intensified. “Something like what Paul Shaffer’s band was with David Letterman.”

The legendary Vegas band Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns, was actually the first act ever to play Allegiant Stadium, beating everyone to the stage on Feb. 28.

Perrico’s bolstered, 19-piece band can actually be called an orchestra, combining Perrico’s Pop Strings and Pop Evolution projects. Pop Strings was among the acts whose shows closed when Caesars Entertainment shut down several of its smaller venues in May. Cleopatra’s Barge, where Perrico had headlined late Friday and Saturday nights, was among those small-capacity rooms.

But Perrico and Pop Strings were invited to test out Allegiant Stadium in June, and returned last weekend to evolve its performance. The band built its horn section to a total of four (Davis is very fond of horns, and a Tower of Power vibe), and ran through a set list peppered by Metallica, Bruno Mars, AC/DC, Earth Wind & Fire, James Brown and The Who.

Of course, the Raiders theme, “Autumn Wind,” is a must, and is to be uncorked in the pregame set and also after the home team scores a touchdown.

Joining Perrico is his wife, vocalist Lily Arce. The band also features singers Noybel Gorgoy, Serena Henry and Fletch Walcott; Charles McNeal on alto sax; Rocco Barbato on tenor sax; Steve Meyer on trombone; Mat Schumer on baritone sax; Otto Ehling on keyboard (and keytar); Keith Nelson on bass; Steven Lee on guitar; Miguel Jimenez (subbing for his father, Pepe Jimenez, temporarily out for non-COVID health reasons) on drums; and a string section of Crystal Yuan, Adrianna Thurber, Monique Olivas, Chandra Meilbalane, Zuzana Engererova and Sarah Chaffee.

Perrico has lived and performed in Las Vegas for 17 years. He has headlined at myriad venues, on and off the Strip, including Rocks Lounge at Red Rock Resort, the since-closed Lounge at the Palms, South Point Showroom, The Strat (then Stratosphere) Showroom, Myron’s Cabaret Jazz at the Smith Center, Caesars Palace and Westgate Las Vegas.

When Paul Shaffer was seeking a bandleader for his Shaf-Shifters show at Cleopatra’s Barge, he sought Perrico, who has also a jazz music professor at UNLV for six years ending in 2011.

Suffice to say Perrico certainly understands the historic relevance of his Raiders gig. Over the decades, Las Vegas has been home to several iconic, trumpet-playing band leaders. Louis Prima, Doc Severinsen, Harry James and Bill Chase held the role in earlier eras.

The tradition more recently has been advanced by Lon Bronson, dating to the days of Le Bistro Lounge at the Riviera through to the Smith Center; and Lady Gaga’s band leader Brian Newman, moving back into NoMad Library at Park MGM this week.

Perrico remembers his first gig in Vegas, performing with Bronson’s band at Naughty Ladies Saloon at Arizona Charlie’s Decatur in 2004.

Bronson told Perrico, who originally is from Youngstown, Ohio, and grew up a Cleveland Browns fan,”Welcome to the dark side.” He had no idea.

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 Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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