by Leslie Ventura
Thu, Jan 21, 2021 (2 a.m.)
The sensation of sitting in a lounge and listening to live music. The singer’s charismatic banter, and the energy that builds as the band plays off the crowd. Throughout the pandemic, Las Vegans have seriously missed live music, but David Perrico has a one-night remedy. The Las Vegas-based composer will bring his Pop Strings Orchestra into living rooms around the world for on Friday, January 22.
Perrico’s two-hour show, available as a $24 livestream, will features favorites from his orchestra’s Strip residency—a longtime favorite at Cleopatra’s Barge inside Caesars Palace—plus new songs the group has been working on throughout the shutdown.
“It’ll be based on our high-energy show at Cleopatra’s Barge, but I’ve added some new music,” Perrico says. Expect to hear hits from current pop stars like Dua Lipa, sung by regulars Lily Arce (Perrico’s wife) and Fletch Walcott, plus additional vocalists Serena Henry and Noybel Gorgoy. “They’ve always been in the rotation,” Perrico says, “but I decided to have four singers on this to beef it up a little bit.”
Perrico says the pandemic has given him time to consolidate the show and work on new music—“just catching up on a lot of loose ends, mostly with producing.” A new show, String Queen, is now in the works and will feature an all-female string orchestra performing the music of Queen.
“A handful of entertainers have contacted me about tweaking their shows, so I’ve written arrangements for them, which has kept me with some compensation coming in,” Perrico says.
One of those is a lighthearted public service announcement and commercial encouraging the public to wear face masks, produced in collaboration with the UNLV Health Department and Light Forge Studios. The bit, composed by Perrico, features Pop Strings pianist Otto Ehling and vocals by Arce.
As for the Pop Strings streaming special, Perrico says the idea came from Mondays Dark host and owner of the Space Mark Shunock.
“We did a show for a family in Delaware—they contacted me through our website about doing a virtual Christmas party concert, and we did it at the Space,” Perrico explains. “After we did that, Mark approached me and said, ‘Would you be interested in doing a pay-per-view livestream?’ I said I’d been steering clear of anything like that, but [the Christmas special] went so well, and the orchestra agreed. So we thought, ‘It’s going to be this way for a while, so why not try it?’”
Perrico’s orchestra has gone from performing nearly nonstop—weekly at Cleopatra’s Barge, six shows a year at the Smith Center, plus late-night gigs at the Westgate and hired corporate events—to not performing at all during the pandemic.
“Seventy percent of our work was at trade shows and corporate events,” Perrico says. “Until this virus gets under control, until we get the trade shows and hotels at 90-percent capacity, Vegas is still going to limp along. But I’m optimistic. Through crisis comes opportunity. I look at it as time to go inward and reevaluate, hone your skills and develop new skills, and just be ready when it’s time.”
Perrico says everyone in his orchestra will be COVID-tested and cleared, and the show will be performed without a live audience. The energy, he says, will simply come from the band, working symbiotically with one another.
“With all that’s going on right now in this political climate, the pandemic, the loss of work and businesses—if someone could take a break for two hours, it’s just one way to stop and let go and watch a live performance from Las Vegas.”
David Perrico Pop Strings Orchestra Livestream January 22, $24, 6 p.m., stellartickets.com.
"David Perrico’s Pop Strings Orchestra returns for a livestream concert"
By Brock Radke
Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021 | 2 a.m.
If you’ve witnessed a Pop Strings Orchestra performance at Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesars Palace or at lounge spaces at the Red Rock Resort or the Tuscany, you know it’s all about the energy. Trumpeter and band leader extraordinaire David Perrico blends the best of retro and modern styles, selects your favorite songs and presents them in a fresh way with the power of a 15-piece band with full string section.
This party of a show returns this week for its first performance since the spring of 2020, but its audience will be a virtual one. “It’s a little different because at Cleopatra’s Barge, we’re used to playing for that packed house and packed dance floor,” Perrico says on this week’s episode of the Sun on the Strip podcast. “So the approach will be similar to what the NFL does or what other sporting events do. There won’t be anybody in the audience but we’ll still try to get that energy.”
The show is set for 6 p.m. Friday from the Space, with pay-per-view tickets available online here.
Perrico first arrived in Las Vegas in 2004 to teach at UNLV while working on his master’s degree in music. After touring with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and other bands for years, he happily settled into a busy career in Vegas working as musical director for various Strip production shows, composing award-winning original jazz and symphonic pieces, and leading the backing bands for headliners including Gladys Knight, Ben Vereen, Natalie Cole, Frankie Valli, Paul Shaffer and many other stars.
“Two that really stand out are Donny and Marie [Osmond] and Gladys Knight. I just loved playing in that big band behind her,” Perrico says. “Her music director Benjamin Wright hired me to put together the band and he arranged all of her hits for that 18-piece big band, and that really inspired me. And you learn so much from those headliners about how to work a show, how to connect with the audience, how it’s paced and how they pick the material. There’s a lot more going into a show than people might think.”
Creating exciting new arrangements for familiar hits is the formula that has kept Perrico incredibly busy through the years. The Pop Strings Orchestra group was formed after his original Pop Evolution band, targeting a younger audience at different Vegas venues. The popularity and versatility of his acts have generated expansion and now he assembles and manages genre-specific groups of various sizes that perform at casino lounges and showrooms as well as corporate and private events.
The unexpected downtime caused by the pandemic has allowed Perrico to refocus on his assorted operations and find new ways to keep the musical machine rolling.
“It has given me an opportunity to be more creative. I was playing six nights a week, two or three gigs a night. For me, the change allowed me to get more healthy and more conscious,” he says. “And it allowed me to get a new repertoire together for all the different bands, do some more producing and more learning about this kind of stuff, the virtual side, social media modalities. It’s about what can I retool to hone some great products for when we do come back, and we will. Once we get those trade shows and corporate events driving the engine here, we’ll see the showrooms and lounges going full tilt.”
Find this week’s Vegas entertainment news, interviews and more every Wednesday with the Sun on the Strip podcast.
Did you happen to catch David (with a quick cameo from Lily) on the CBS 8 News Now broadcast this morning? If you missed it, you can watch it here (just click on the video above)!!! In the interview, they discuss Covid and the affect it's had on the music business here in Las Vegas this past year, in addition to their work on the popular "Please Don't Leave Me" Mask commercial (which you can watch HERE), as well as their upcoming LIVE STREAM concert on January 22nd (find out more at THIS LINK).
Presented by The Space and Findlay Cadillac, David Perrico and Pop Strings Orchestra will perform a LIVE STREAM concert on January 22, 2021 at 6pm (PST). Tickets are $23.50 per household/device and are available for purchase at the following link:
“The Mask Up” Covid Theme, composed by David Perrico, is currently airing on TV featuring Lily Arce on vocals!! Check it out...
“Please Don’t Leave Me” Mask Love Song. Music & Lyrics by David Perrico. 12/22/20
Vocals by Lily Arce
Studio Recording by Otto Ehling
Video by Mike Thompson / Light Forge Studios Las Vegas, NV
By JOHN KATSILOMETES
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOUNAL
Originally published Sept 28, 2020
Note: Today’s column kicks off a series — “Surviving Shutdown” — examining the effect of COVID-19 on the Las Vegas entertainment industry.
David Perrico has been playing Las Vegas long enough to know how to count in a song: 1, 2, 3, 4. The trumpet virtuoso and veteran bandleader can also count the four components needed for entertainment to reopen in the city: conventions, corporate events, lounges and showrooms. “Without those, Vegas really isn’t open,” Perrico said in a phone chat Saturday. “The city isn’t open right now, at least not how it’s being portrayed.”
Fronted by Perrico’s wife, popular Vegas vocalist Lily Arce, Pop Strings had performed a wild, no-cover residency at Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesars Palace when the pandemic shutdown took hold. Perrico’s band had also just opened a promising late-night, weekend gig at Westgate Cabaret. There is no word from either property about when a 14-piece band can return to the stage, even ambiently.nPerrico was also forced to shelve a half-dozen dates at Myron’s Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center, where Pop Strings is a lock to sell out. The musician and small-business operator finally pulled some of his equipment out of Cleopatra’s Barge last Monday and has retrieved property from Westgate. He can’t guarantee he’ll be back, either.
Perrico’s Instagram post, with video and photos of the empty room, raised some eyebrows around town. Perrico said in that post and again on the phone he has not had a serious conversation with Caesars Entertainment about his band’s status in about seven months. “I am not looking for pity. I am showing that this is what the state of entertainment is in Las Vegas,” Perrico said. “I speak for a lot of entertainers who are frustrated and who are trying to get information to deal with this.” He isn’t alone, of course. Verifiable intel from even the top entertainment officials is scarce in the often-erratic pandemic reopening.
Currently, Perrico presides over four bands in his “Pop” empire: His Pop Strings ensemble, the new Pop Soul trio, Pop Retro and Pop 40. Pop Soul is to work into the latest trend of background music currently allowed in Vegas bars and restaurants. But Perrico represents a meter of modern-day Vegas show business. His extensive experience in this city is undeniable. Perrico has headlined several on- and off-Strip venues, including the Rocks Lounge at Red Rock Resort, the old Lounge at the Palms, South Point Showroom, The Strat (then Stratosphere) Showroom, The Smith Center, Caesars and Westgate. Reaching back, he fronted Zowie Bowie’s vintage-Vegas band at the Monte Carlo and the shuttered Ovation at Green Valley Ranch Resort. He was bandleader for Paul Shaffer at the Barge, for the production “Pin Up” at The Strat, “Alice” at various venues, and was a jazz music professor at UNLV for six years ending in 2011.
Lest we forget, Perrico was a backing player at The Act at The Venetian’s Grand Canal Shoppes (where he was once asked by Act partner/producer Simon Hammerstein to play a note as if the trumpet were coming down from a cocaine binge). Perrico was also a costumed musician in “Viva Elvis” at Aria, so he has Cirque experience, too.
Even with his vast experience in town, Perrico’s career is built on the shows you might never see. He has a coveted corporate- and private-gig operation, estimating that 75 percent of his business is from shows not open to the public. In Las Vegas, the system is symbiotic, as fans who have waded into Pop Strings’ late-night shows at the Barge for the past four years were eager to book the band for private shows. Westgate, too, with its convention business, was leading to additional corporate bookings before the shutdown.
“The lounges at Caesars and Westgate has allowed people to see is, and want to book us, and that has given us steady work on the corporate side,” Perrico said. “It generates a lot of awareness for musicians in Las Vegas, and we help drive convention business in this city.” Overall, Perrico has hired 45 “gig” workers whose workload is equal (at least) to a full-time job. The number blooms to 77 overall when you add the musicians Perrico has hired for select performances. These are the 1099 tax filers largely left in the dark through the state’s unemployment-insurance process.
“Those musicians are all out of work,” Perrico said, “and that’s just in my own little world.” Perrico has been able to sustain many out-of-work musicians through the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan. He’s offered some work through studio recording and promotional videos. But those projects are nothing close to the type of work he can provide when the engine is at full steam. “We have had PPP help, but it’s a one-off payment,” Perrico said. “It’s not meant to last indefinitely. It’s to help sustain us until we can go back to work.”
As a businessman and musician, Perrico had grown mentally spent of receiving email messages from fans who had seen Pop Strings at the Barge. “They had seen that Caesars was open, and saying, ‘I can’t wait to see you Oct. 3!’ or whenever,” Perrico said. “It’s sad that I have to explain to them that we are not playing.” Those overtures finally led him to shoot video and stills inside his now-former venue. “There has been a lot of response,” Perrico said. “I think it’s starting to hit people just how long this has gone on.”
Perrico’s most recent show was March 14 at Westgate. His band hasn’t played Caesars since the last weekend in February. The Barge might well move to a full-time, ticketed venue when reopening. With its tight design, packed at 165 capacity, the venue presents unique social distance challenges.
Customarily, Perrico is prepared for most any outcome. Aside from Pop Soul, he’s mapped a new project, Queen Strings. This is a nine-piece ensemble featuring four violins, with Arce again at the front, unspooling Queen classics. “The concept is a tight, 75-minute show,” Perrico said. “A real show. I think it will do well.” It sounds like a good fit for a corporate, private, lounge or showroom gig, for whenever this town opens up.
INTERVIEW by John Katsilometes
David Perrico & Pop Strings Orchestra has been selected to perform as part of the iVoted Concert nationwide event on election night, Nov 3rd! The performance will feature the following 4 video studio recordings:
Visit www.ivotedconcerts.com to receive updates and more information via email!!
Be among the FIRST to hear Rabbits for Alice, one of 11 original compositions written for David Perrico's latest creation, Pop Symphonic, soon to be released on CD.
The music for Pop Symphonic will feature varied musical styles and instrumentation, ranging from 34-70 piece ensembles with a strong presence of solo trumpet and flugelhorn.
As each piece for the album is recorded, the "in the studio" process will be documented on video, culminating in a full-scale, formal video production featuring ALL the Pop Symphonic originals (this first CD is only one of FOUR volumes that are planned for the future)!
Check back regularly to preview even MORE original pieces by David Perrico...
"Rabbits for Alice" CREDITS:
Copyright 5/6/20 ASCAP
David Perrico and Pop Strings Orchestra took a few weeks off from their regular engagement at Cleopatra's Barge to play the Westgate Cabaret at The Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino. If you missed them the first 2 weekends, it's not too late...they still have 2 more LATE NIGHT performances left, March 13th & 14th. Doors open at 11:30pm. BONUS: You can also watch a quick preview of some video footage of their recent performance right here!! Click the play button above...
DAVID PERRICO IN THE NEWS
Here's where you'll find all the latest news about David Perrico, Pop Strings Orchestra, and Pop Evolution.