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C. Paul Luongo's Published Columns

Monday, January 01, 2007

Louis Prima, Jr.


In the fifties I went to see LOUIS PRIMA with KEELY SMITH at the old RKO BOSTON theater on Washington Street, with my mother and older sister and afterwards treated to dinner at LORDS, famous for their fried clams. This was before LEGAL SEA FOODS! (Such a treat for me who is addicted to these bivalves.) Louis is gone and Keely Smith is a friend of mine. Having seen her in New York at the REGENCY HOTEL. I was so impressed with her performance that I recommended her to Fred Taylor who books the talent at SCULLERS in Cambridge. Since then she has appeared there yearly. She’s 76, a recent widow, and her voice is as good as new!

To bring you up-to-date, now there is LOUIS PRIMA JR he lives in Las Vegas, of course. He is the product of Louis Prima’s marriage to another singer who replaced Keely Smith after their divorce. Her name is Gia Maione. She also recorded with Louis, Sr. and now lives in Florida.

Anyway, all this by way of the fact that LOUIS PRIMA, JR. is a dynamic, explosive entertainer who comes on stage with a six-piece orchestra (the Witnesses) and female vocalist, Emerald Yancey. Louis never stops moving. His arms and legs are in constant motion, he wears a business suit and tie and three earrings on each lobe. He is of medium height and 42 years old. At the early age of five he began playing the drums and by eight also played guitar. In the 80’s he formed a rock band and by 1995 returned to his father’s music.

Today, in addition to managing restaurants at Las Vegas airport, he recreated THE WILDEST SHOW set by his father in Vegas which was a top attraction for many years. He sings and plays trumpet (like his father) with all the LOUIS PRIMA hits including SING SING SING, JUMP JIVE AND WAIL, ANGELINA, JUST A GIGOLO, THAT OLD BLACK MAGIC (a favorite of mine) BUONA SERA and WHEN YOU’RE SMILIN. Louis duets beautifully with Emerald Yancey in I’VE GOT YOU UNDER MY SKIN, CRAZY and OLD BLACK MAGIC. I AIN’T GOT NOBODY receives a standing ovation and he ends the 90 minute show with WHEN THE SAINTS GO MARCHING IN where all of them parade through the audience playing and singing the title song. It was a bravura performance at the CABARET sold-out show for 350 excited guests, $30 cover.

Afterwards, I met with Louis backstage and asked if he was on amphetamines, and he said no, that he’s always this energetic. I also asked if he had seen many of his father’s TV shows and he hadn’t but screened some scenes of them for his show at MOHEGAN SUN. I told him we’d like to see the show in Boston and he’s willing to come! I immediately placed a call to Fred Taylor, Master Booker at SCULLERS in Cambridge to act on it.

Tommy Amarto is the Musical Director and terrific saxophone player and all of the musicians do solos on trombone, sax, trumpet, piano and guitar. From now on every time I hear the word “jump” I’ll do it just as Louis, Jr. does when he sings the word. Don’t miss this show wherever you are! And tell Louis C. Paul sent you.

Pompeii and Caesar

Dinner at Mohegan Sun - POMPEII AND CAESAR

It was the best FRITTO MISTO ($17) I’ve ever had! It’s an appetizer but let me tell you, it’s so big. You don’t need an entrée. And delicious? My, oh my! Succulent pieces of scallops, swordfish, fried shrimp, salmon, bass, and calamari were marinated 20 minutes in buttermilk and a secret spice blend, than rolled in part semolina wheat flour and fried in clean oil. FRITTO MISTO is the Italian version of the Japanese tempura.
It was followed by SPAGHETTI BUCANIERA ($23) which was a Brobdingnagian serving of pasta. It was done to perfection, not hard or very soft, just right. Instead of al dente, which often is under-cooked, it was in a perfect tomato sauce and served in a open Foccacia Bowl (edible) with oodles of shrimp, calamari and scallops. I ate it all except for the bowl. I was by now fully sated!

My companion devoured the night’s special which was a boneless breast of chicken filled with roasted red peppers, oven-dried tomatoes with sautéed spinach wrapped in prosciutto pan seared and served with a jumbo lump crab and lobster risotto ($36).
A Burgenland Riesling from Austria is ($13) per glass. Desserts included a wonderful, warm pineapple upside down cake with caramelized brown sugar sauce and coconut ice cream and tiramisu with kahlua flavoring ($8).

We didn’t have a chance to sample the entire carte du jour which included appetizers Oysters Napoleon ($16) Lobster Salad and Avocado Tier ($16) and entrees with Osso Buco and Farro ($28) Rack of Lamb ($32) and Seared Beef Tenderloin ($34).
Dennis Young is the Chef (formerly of Biba and Rialto) and I can’t wait to return for more!