A pair of Kings

The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Show
By JIM SULLIVAN  |  September 4, 2007
DJ Fontana

Elvis loved Elvis tribute acts. He often snuck out to get a peek at the better ones. And though he (may have) left the building long ago, the tributes are still very much alive. So is Elvis’s long-time drummer, DJ Fontana, who at 76 was at the Regent Theatre on August 24 for The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Show. Fontana was playing with the Boston band Velvet Elvis, who did a smashing job backing Donny Edwards (as the young Elvis) and Shawn Klush (as the Vegas Elvis). Both Elvises looked and sounded very much like the real thing: Edwards was lean, Klush a tad stocky. They played three sold-out sets.

Near the conclusion of the three-hour marathon, Klush, who delivered an incendiary “Suspicious Minds,” took a pause to note that Elvis is “bigger now than he ever was.” Klush, who’s been honing his craft for nearly two decades, was just named 2007’s “Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist” at Graceland by Elvis Presley Enterprises. Among those he bested was Edwards, who finished third. Edwards also came in third on ABC’s The Next Best Thing: Who Is the Greatest Celebrity Impersonator? He’s been in the Elvis biz for five years, and he says he keeps studying tapes of Presley in action. “If you don’t take it seriously, you’re gonna be at some cheeseball birthday party.”

Klush takes it seriously as well. When a fan told him to “break a leg!” before he took the stage, he responded, “I wanna break two legs!”

This was no place for Elvis kitsch. It was a night that invited suspension of disbelief — a night to recall why they called him the King. The music — “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Hound Dog,” “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” “My Way,” “Burning Love,” “In the Ghetto,” “Viva Las Vegas,” “All Shook Up,” “Love Me Tender” — rocked and swayed timelessly. Edwards suggested to the crowd that “Stuck on You” would’ve been great for an Elmer’s Glue ad; Klush kissed dozens of women and gave away myriad sweaty scarves. When one woman asked for a scarf rather than a peck, Klush sighed, “I just work here.”

Related: Elvis, The Big Hurt: Neglected press-release roundup, Unauthorized!, More more >
  Topics: Live Reviews , Elvis Presley
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