A Prima Farewell to Vegas

When my husband and I came to Las Vegas almost nine years ago, the Scintas were headlining at the Rio; Clint Holmes was singing nightly at Harrah’s and Lena Prima was drawing praise as the city’s top lounge performer at the Sahara.

Lena Prima and Tim Fahey
Photo by Diane Taylor

While the Scintas and Holmes still perform periodically in Las Vegas, their travel schedules are heavy with out-of-town appearances. As for Lena Prima, whose father, Louis Prima, was a mesmerizing Las Vegas entertainer, she and her musician/musical director husband Tim Fahey will be leaving Las Vegas December 16 to move to New Orleans.

Fahey explains, “People come to New Orleans to eat and hear music. Even a little hole-in-the-wall musical stage is crowded with people who want to hear the music. That’s no longer the case here. While Las Vegas audiences have always been enthusiastic for Lena, many of the current Las Vegas venues seem reluctant to support the talent we have in Las Vegas. When Lena and her band have appeared in New Orleans, she’s drawn huge crowds who love her show. Why wouldn’t we go to where live music is king, where we can earn a decent living and audiences appreciate what we do?”

Interesting isn’t it that “the entertainment capital of the world” has had the country’s best entertainers on its doorstep, but these days, skilled musicians who once were busy every night are lucky to work two or three nights a week. Entertainers who once were on everyone’s “best in Vegas” lists are going out of town for work and recognition. (New York and Florida reviews for Clint Holmes have been so glowing, Tony Bennett couldn’t have asked for better reviews.)

The good news for Lena Prima and her husband is that the iconic Hotel Monteleone, New Orleans will be featuring Prima several nights a week starting in January. For Holmes, the new Smith Center for the Performing Arts will be showcasing his work one weekend a month starting in April. The Scintas are finishing a weekend at the Suncoast before heading for appearances in Akron, OH and Warren, MI.

Lena Prima gave a farewell “Concert for the Community” at the Winchester Cultural Center in August. She was born and raised in Las Vegas and notes she will always have many connections to this town. On the other hand, New Orleans has long been a second home for the singer; she even dedicated her recent studio recording, “Since The Storm,” to the survivors of Hurricane Katrina.

A small sample of Lena Prima performing is seen in the accompanying video, recorded during a recent appearance at the Stirling Club in Las Vegas. Lena Prima performing in New Orleans can be seen here.

Las Vegas’ loss may simply be New Orleans’ gain. However, to this music fan, Louis Prima’s talented daughter leaving town is definitely not a good sign for entertainment in Las Vegas.


3 responses on “A Prima Farewell to Vegas

  1. Sent via e-mail from “Pat”

    “Good article. It seems las vegas does not appreciate many entertainers who enjoy their music and want to make a decent living. I saw her dad perform as well as lena. I wish her success in the big easy”

  2. It’s a real shame that such great entertainment is being driven out to other locations. We all know that change is inevitable but it doesn’t mean it’s good change. Good luck to Lena and her husband.

  3. It truly is a shame that Lena, as well as many other great entertainers in Vegas, are not able to perform as often as they once did. The live music scene on the strip has rapidly dwindled over the past 10 years. As sad as it is to lose her presence here in Vegas, though, it is a great thing to have the amazing Louis Prima’s legacy represented in his hometown of New Orleans.

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