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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

That old Prima magic shines again

Feb 24, 2022 03:33PM ● By Jan Weeks

That new black magic will have you in its spell when Louis Prima, Jr. swings on stage at Grand Junction’s Avalon Theatre on Thursday, April 28 at 7:30 p.m., as part of Community Concerts of the Grand Valley’s 77th season. 

Son of Louis Prima, the singing sensation of the 1930s through the 1950s, Prima, Jr. and his band, The Witnesses, bring back some of his father’s hits in addition to their own compositions. 

“We know what song we’ll start with and what we’ll end with. What happens in between is me and the crowd,” said Prima, Jr. “That’s the way Dad operated—cater to the ones you’re standing in front of.”

Following Dad’s footsteps

Prima, Jr. became a musician at age 5 when his mom taught him how to play the drums. Piano lessons followed, and though he experimented with different instruments through his school years, he knew he’d never reach his dad’s level of expertise on instruments.

Then in high school, he began sitting in with bands, and once was called up on stage to sing. He knew he’d found his passion.  

“I loved singing in the shower, and when I got that mic in my hand, I realized I was good at entertaining the crowd and being a front man,” said Prima, Jr. 

His first band started playing rock and roll, and then transitioned into his father’s swing style. The current band is called The Witnesses because, Prima Jr. said, “That was the moniker for Dad in 1950s. There were other band names along the way, but I went with that one partly for the recognition factor, and also to protect the copyright on the name.” 

Prima, Jr. was very close to his dad. 

“I spent summers with him on the road and every moment with him when he was in town,” he said.

Then heartbreak struck in 1975 when Prima, Sr. was diagnosed with a brain stem tumor. Prima, Jr. was 9. Three years later, Prima, Sr. suffered a cerebral hemorrhage during surgery and never came out of a coma.

Prima on stage

Prima, Jr. is the front man, singing and playing trumpet at times. He hand-picked the rest of the band, which includes female lead singer Kate Curran, Marco Palos on tenor saxophone, Jarrett Wingfield on baritone sax, Philip Clevenger on trombone, A.D. Adams on drums, Aj Dicharry on bass, Glenn McCallum on guitar, and keyboardist Jenny Jarnagin. 

Prima, Jr. and the band are working on the third studio album, which will be released soon. 

“Writing and recording music is a creative process. I love that, but I’m a live music guy. I love being on stage. I find my home when the lights go on,” he said. 

Prima Jr. cherishes the people he plays with, and they all play off each other. No two performances are exactly the same. 

The audience also has a firm hold on his heart. 

“My joy is seeing the face of a person who may or may not be having a good day, and watching them have a good time,” he said.  

And there’s always a meet and greet after each concert.


Submit your answer by Friday,  March 11 to be entered into a drawing for two tickets to see Louis Prima, Jr. and The Witnesses perform live on April 28 at the Avalon Theatre in Grand Junction:

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