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September 21, 2014

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MUSIC:

Former ‘Idol’ joins her childhood idols

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STEVE LEE / PUBLICITY PHOTO

They’re like my seven uncles,” Jasmine Trias says of the men of Society of Seven.

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Trias' first album went platinum in the Philippines.

If You Go

  • What: Society of Seven, featuring Jasmine Trias
  • When: Opens tonight, 3:30 and 7 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
  • Where: Gold Coast Showroom
  • Tickets: $29.95; 251-3574 or goldcoastcasino.com

When “American Idol” finalist Jasmine Trias was growing up in Hawaii, her parents sometimes took her to see one of Honolulu’s most acclaimed show bands — the Society of Seven.

Trias never dreamed that one day she would co-star with the troupe in Las Vegas.

Society of Seven returns to Vegas tonight, opening a run at the Gold Coast. Trias replaces Lani Misalucha, who has her own show, “Voices,” at the Hilton.

“Whenever a member of our family would come in from out of town, we took them to the show,” Trias says. “I always thought that if I became an entertainer I wanted to do that type of show, performing in that way.

“I love performing with them. They’re like my seven uncles. We have a great time.”

Since coming in third in the 2004 season of “Idol,” the 23-year-old entertainer has become a major star in Asia, especially the Philippines, her parents’ native country.

After “Idol,” she released a self-titled album that sold 14,000 copies in the United States but went platinum in the Philippines.

Society of Seven co-founder Tony Ruivivar is impressed with Trias’ talents.

“With Jasmine we have a lot of new stuff in the show,” he says. “She is an amazing talent. She never stops getting better and better and she’s getting into all kinds of comedy, dancing and impressions.”

Ruivivar and Bert Sagum founded the group, which is known for its diverse musical skills, comedy and impersonations, more than 40 years ago. Once known as the Fabulous Echoes, Society of Seven arrived in Vegas from the Philippines in the mid-’60s. In 1969 the band took its act to Hawaii, where it performed for more than 30 years. In 2001 a second SOS troupe stayed in Hawaii and the band returned to Vegas, where it has performed at the Las Vegas Hilton, the Golden Nugget, the Aladdin, Bally’s and the Flamingo.

Its run at the Flamingo ended 18 months ago. Since then SOS has been performing at Indian casinos and other venues across the country.

The cast consists of Trias; Ruivivar, who is the host and sings; Sagum, vocals and percussion; Hoku Low, bass; Roy Guerzo, keyboards; Wayne Wakai, saxophone; Vince Mendoza, drums; and Michael Laygo, vocals. Gary Bautista, who had been lead vocalist with the group for 22 years, died in 2006 at age 54.

“Since Gary died we’ve been through two or three singers,” Ruivivar says. “I think we may have found the permanent replacement with Michael. He has a powerful voice and he can do anything — R&B, pop, Broadway, even some operatic stuff.”

Ruivivar says the showroom at the Gold Coast, which seats about 450, is perfect. Except for occasional stints by dance bands, the room has been dark since the musical “Forever Plaid” ended its run there in December 2006.

“The resort is perfectly located to bring in locals as well as tourists,” he says. “It’s a very visible intersection, with the Rio and the Palms nearby.

“We’re very excited. It’s good to be back in a permanent place again.”

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