A tribute to the King
February 18. 2013 7:33PM
And after the concert, there‚??s a buffet dinner of mashed potatoes and cornbread, pork chops, meatloaf and fried peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches.
By now, you‚??ve guessed we‚??re talking about Elvis Presley. On Jan. 22, tribute artists Scot Bruce and Mike Albert will help you reminisce about songs the king of rock-‚??n-‚??roll made famous, everything from ‚??Heartbreak Hotel‚?Ě to ‚??Don‚??t Be Cruel‚?Ě and ‚??Suspicious Minds.‚?Ě
The concert is one of the first performances scheduled for the newly renovated Alice C. Wiltsie Performing Arts Center, in the former Hazleton High School, which has been lovingly known for years as ‚??the castle.‚?Ě
The show comes on the heels of Elvis‚?? January birthday.
‚??Of course, we have to celebrate Elvis‚?? birthday,‚?Ě said Cindy Garren, executive director of the arts center. ‚??I‚??ve seen this show a couple of times. (It‚??s played to sold-out audiences in Stroudsburg and Lancaster.) It‚??s a great, great family show. A lot of people will bring their 10-, 11- and 12-year-old kids. The kids have fun. People show up dressed in Elvis outfits.
‚??These guys are not campy,‚?Ě Garren said of Scot Bruce and Mike Albert, who portray Elvis at different stages in his career. ‚??They do it seriously.‚?Ě
‚??We don‚??t do Elvis in first person,‚?Ě said Albert, who portrays the more mature Elvis, from the Las Vegas days. ‚??It‚??s a true tribute. We are fans, just like the people out in the audience. We‚??re not trying to be somebody we‚??re not. We are entertainers.
‚??Elvis is our vehicle, and that‚??s a fine car to drive.‚?Ě
Recent weeks have seen an abundance of Elvis shows at regional venues from Penn‚??s Peak in Jim Thorpe to Grace Episcopal Church in Kingston to Fernwood Resort in Bushkill.
Why is he still so popular, more than 30 years after his death?
‚??My opinion is the songs are just that good,‚?Ě said Bruce, who portrays the younger Elvis from the rockabilly days. ‚??Most of the songs I do were recorded more than 50 years ago, but they‚??re just as catchy and just as relevant as when folks heard them on the radio for the first time.
‚??Each generation, once they find out about this great music, that‚??s what keeps it going,‚?Ě Bruce continued. ‚??I play at Disneyland. It never ceases to amaze me. I see 4-year-olds who know all the words to ‚??Hound Dog‚?? and ‚??Don‚??t Be Cruel.‚?? ‚?Ě
‚??Elvis was one of a kind, a brilliant entertainer,‚?Ě Bruce said. ‚??The way he delivered the songs was unique. The music really infected him ‚?Ľ the rhythm and the beat. He was very expressive. He moved the way the spirit of rock-‚??n‚??-roll moved him.‚?Ě
Does Bruce deliver the songs with the same hip-swiveling style?
‚??That‚??s something I have to work on,‚?Ě he said. ‚??It‚??s a work in progress. I wouldn‚??t presume to say I have it mastered.‚?Ě
It‚??s important to remember Elvis‚?? musical talents spanned genres other than rock-‚??n‚??-roll, said Albert, who admires Elvis‚?? renditions of ‚??How Great Thou Art‚?Ě and ‚??The American Trilogy,‚?Ě which includes ‚??The Battle Hymn of the Republic.‚?Ě
‚??The three times he won a Grammy, it was always for gospel music,‚?Ě Albert said. ‚??I think that was because he was a believer.‚?Ě
After the Jan. 22 concert, audience members can head over to Genetti‚??s on Route 309 for the Elvis Birthday Buffet, which will include the Southern specialties Presley liked to eat as well as a birthday cake. Albert and Bruce will meet and greet the guests, and an Elvis trivia contest will take place.
‚??Really, when you think about it, Elvis was probably the first worldwide pop artist,‚?Ě performing arts center director Garren said. ‚??I‚??ve been on Google looking at Elvis fan clubs. They have them in Scotland. They have them in Australia.‚?Ě