Gene Ferrari was a recent guest on the Dennis Bono show at the South Point Hotel, where he showed the same mature good looks, Continental charm and supple voice of a proud Italian-American, who first appeared in Las Vegas back in the early ‘80s.
It is no wonder he has been a favorite, both as a headliner and an opening act, in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and a multitude of venues large and small from coast to coast. Recently he has been on a national tour, making guest appearance at fund raisers for various “American Veterans” charities. Gene will be performing a one-night show at the Italian American Club, 2333 E. Sahara, Saturday, Oct 3.
Gene’s classically elegant style, both in performance and in attire, begs comparison to such great romantic singers as Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck. Gene’s way of delighting audiences with the music they love, and some they are enjoying for the first time, is distinctively his own. Headliners have wanted him as an opening act including stars like Bob Newhart, Joan Rivers, Dom Deluise, Rich Little, David Brenner, Pat Cooper, and Bob Hope.
He’s come a long way from Catania, Sicily, the tiny town of his birth. By the time he came to America in 1972, with $100 in his pocket, not speaking a word of English, he had clocked thousands of miles throughout the Middle East and Europe, singing for his supper. “At the Top of the Hilton in Rome, two American promoters caught the Gene Ferrari Show and offered to bring him to the United States. A year later, Gene and company were playing the lounge of the Executive Inn in Buffalo, N.Y., at a time during the summer when Engelbert Humperdinck was appearing at a local outdoor music fair. Humperdinck and his manager, Andy Anka (Paul’s Dad) were staying at the hotel. They came to the show a couple of times, Gene remembers fondly, and Englebert did something very generous: “he sent for me, sat me down, and explained to me everything I was doing wrong. He taught me how to be polished.”
Gene soon became a solo act, and worked his way to Las Vegas, as the headliner in the Aladdin Hotel show lounge. Soon thereafter, he was opening for Don Rickles, and had the amazing experience of seeing his name under Rickles’ on the neon marquee of the Stardust Hotel. Ferrari toured all over the world for seven years with Rickles.
Gene says his show is “a musical conversation between me and the audience. I don’t insult their taste by giving them clichés. Ten songs don’t make it a show. You have to establish a rapport.”
His repertoire is vast, when he is the headliner, and highly eclectic. He has a two and a half octave range and, thanks to his world travels, is fluent in several languages. On any given night, he might range from Bon Jovi to Nat ‘King’ Cole. Or he might segue from an Italian standard like “Il Mondo” to a less familiar song from a Broadway show. Musical mastery coupled with European charisma and old-fashioned dignity has earned Gene a loyal following and a reputation for excellence that endures into this fourth decade as an American.
The Gene Ferrari Show will be at the Italian American Club for one night only with show time set for 8:00 p.m. With the 12-piece Mariano Longo Orchestra on stage, Ferrari will perform songs from ballads to classics that everyone wants to hear. Tickets are $20.00, and can be purchased in advance by calling 702-457-3866