News had just broken that World War II was over when a jubilant Louis Prima - playing in Atlantic City at the time - cued his band to play "When the Saints Go Marching In," and promptly led them in a march off Steel Pier and into the ocean.

Nearly 70 years later, it's a story his son, Louis Prima Jr., loves to recount as legend.

"I wish someone had a picture of it," Prima Jr. says, laughing.

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Today, Louis Prima Jr. and the Witnesses bring even more energy and attitude - "rock 'n roll with horns," as Prima Jr. describes it - to the music and style that Prima Sr. made famous. The eight-piece, brass-infused band will bring the Prima name back to Atlantic City's Steel Pier for three shows - Saturday, July 27, at 7 and 10 p.m., and a matinee show on Sunday, July 28, at 3 p.m.

And for those who expect a tribute show, Prima Jr. says, think again.

"(The audience) can expect Louis Prima-sounding music, amped up like it's 2013," said Prima, speaking before a show at The City Winery in Chicago. "We play it a little bit louder, a little bit faster, and definitely put on a show."

Prima Jr. has played Atlantic City several times since forming his band several years ago, appearing at Resorts, Trump Plaza, Trump Taj Mahal and the former Atlantic City Hilton. This weekend will mark his first time appearing at Steel Pier.

"I'm excited about it," Prima Jr. says. "As long as I don't have to open for the diving horse."

Jokes aside, the history is not lost on Prima Jr. Just a few years ago, the singer still had a day job as a food and beverage manager in Las Vegas, when a promoter friend offered him the chance to put a band together and hit the road.

While he had been experimenting with the current concept since 2005, Prima Jr. finally felt right about committing full-time to recording and performing again when he found dedicated band mates, he says - including singer Sarah Spiegel.

"We do nothing but road work," Prima Jr. says. "We don't have a place we call home. We've been touring for three years. We all get along, we all hang out. To have nine of us (in a band) that enjoy each other and have a good time is a blessing."

"I think we were all meant to do this and bring entertainment back to the world of entertainment," Prima Jr. says. "There are not a lot of people out there playing for the people. We're fortunate enough to be playing music for a living."

Prima Jr. and his band released their debut CD, "Return of the Wildest!" last July. The album is a nod to his father's famous 1956 album, "The Wildest," including the Prima hits like, "Jump Jive, an' Wail," "Just a Gigolo (I Ain't Got Nobody)," and the Grammy Award-winning "That Old Black Magic."

"You always believe you did a good job, but the reviews from fans and critics alike were phenomenal," Prima Jr. says. "(The music) is not old. It's not retro. It's brand new to a lot of people, as long as we play it like it's ours."

Momentum for the band has grown since. In August, they will head to Capital Records - using the original studio where Prima's father once recorded - to begin work on their second album. The new album will feature mostly original material with just a few original Prima hits, Prima Jr. says.

"We're playing a couple of (the songs at shows) to see how the crowds like them," Prima Jr. says.

More than just traditional big band or swing, Prima Jr. and the Witnesses infuse an updated blues and rock sound, something Prima says his father would have done if he were alive today.

"People have become accustomed to what other acts' interpretations of swing music - or my father's music - are," Prima Jr. says. "It runs the gamut, from, like, Bill Murray singing 'Star Wars' … to a guy who feels like he has to say 'daddy-o' at the end of every song."

"My dad was rooted in Dixieland," Prima Jr. says. "He changed with (the music) and was at the forefront of it. He was not swing. So now it's 2013. Let's play it like we mean it."

Louis Prima, Jr.

and the Witnesses

at Steel Pier

WHEN: 7 and 10 p.m. Saturday, July 27, and 3 p.m. Sunday, July 28

WHERE: Steel Pier, 1000

Boardwalk, Atlantic City

HOW MUCH: $30. Dinner packages are also available.

MORE INFO: Call 866-386-6659 ext. 108 or go to or


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