An Old Sound for a New Age
By Jacob Lasky
Peter LaCascia glides across his keyboard with ease as he sings in the style of a 1940s jazz singer during a performance at the Cromwell Bound Lounge.
Next to him, Kai Brant, dressed in the style of a traditional female lounge singer, also sings and rhythmically taps her tambourine.
People at the bar occasionally look up from their drinks to glance at the musical duo as cigar smoke hovers in the air.
What sounds like a scene from an old Vegas nightclub is a part of LaCascia’s passion for bringing back the sound of old-time singers like Frank Sinatra, but with a contemporary twist.
“The song that…made me into who I am today was ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ by Frank Sinatra,” said LaCascia, who arranges both old and modern pop songs into a jazz arrangements.
The 22-year-old claims to have around 200 songs memorized both vocally and on piano.
Memorizing all of these songs took long hours practice.
LaCascia practices relentlessly anywhere from two to four hours at a time to master his arrangements.
“I never had to tell him once ‘practice the piano, [practice singing],” said Peter LaCascia Sr., the musician’s father. “I mean he always did it on his own. If anything, he always did it too much.”
Besides Sinatra, the musician has a wide range of musical influences including Michael Bublé, Bobby Darin , Hank Williams and The Bee Gees.
Many of the arrangements that LaCascia creates are reflective of his inner emotions.
“I think all my arrangements speak a little about me,” said LaCascia during a home interview before playing a rendition of the Elvis Presley hit, “Love Me Tender” on his upright piano.
Unlike the original Elvis recording, LaCascia’s arrangement has a darker, minor tone to it.
LaCascia began performing at an early age.
One of his earliest performances that LaCascia can remember was singing “Fly Me to the Moon” in front of his kindergarten class.
He began vocal lessons while in middle school and took piano lessons during high school.
The singer also graduated from the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts in 2012 with an advanced vocal diploma.
It was during high school that he made a serious decision about his musical talent.
“By the time I was a junior in high school, I was like ‘I know for a fact that this is exactly what I want to do in life,’” said LaCascia.
LaCascia has had a string of successful gigs since leaving high school.
The singer entered UNLV as a music student, and performed a few shows through the school’s jazz program.
LaCascia performed his first paid solo gig in 2014 at Silver Sky Assisted Living, a local retirement home.
Since then, LaCascia has performed a variety of different solo shows.
LaCascia has been performing a consistent number of monthly gigs at the Cromwell since December.
It was also in December that he met Brant, who regularly performs with him at the Cromwell.
“He’s one of the few singers that has the same range as me,” said Brant, who was able to help him land the monthly gigs at the Cromwell. “ We mesh really well together.”
Both take turns singing as LaCascia continuously plays piano.
Besides the Cromwell, LaCascia also plays gigs at catering events for Delightful Chefs.
LaCascia eventually switched from studying music to journalism after not feeling entirely satisfied with the music classes he was taking.
Although LaCascia is currently studying journalism at UNLV, he intends to focus on music.
LaCascia acknowledges that studying journalism has helped with his musical career by giving him more confidence in his music though.
Besides his love for music, LaCascia is a devoted fan of the Boston Red Sox baseball team.
LaCascia was also an avid baseball player in middle school before taking his music career more seriously.
While a typical person may not draw any similarities between music and sports, LaCascia explains a connection between his music and one of his favorite baseball players- former Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez.
“What he inspired me with more than anything was that he was this scrawny, small person who was striking out batters constantly. I think what I took from that was…good things come in small packages,” said LaCascia. “If you have the ‘it factor’ whether you can throw a 90 mph fast ball or you can sing pitch-perfect,…then you’re off to the races.”
He currently does not have any recorded material out yet other than some YouTube videos.
However, LaCascia plans on recording an album of some his arrangements.
While typically arranging other’s music, LaCascia wants to compose original material in the near future.
No matter what the future may have in store, LaCascia emphasizes that he has no intentions of giving up music.
“The bottom line is that I never ever, ever in a million, trillion years…see myself quitting music or putting music aside for another job,” said LaCascia.