Wednesday, August 13, 2008

EW Day 4 report by ElvisSessions

First up for us was the Shawn Klush concert at the Cannon Center. We're pretty ambivalent about the whole ETA scene, but we gave it a shot back when EPE first endorsed such acts in 2006. We were mightily impressed with Klush, even if we remained somewhat perplexed by the impersonator scene overall.

It certainly was no surprise to us when Shawn won the competition last year, though we didn't attend any of the performances. We'd expected to see Shawn on the Elvis Cruise, but a scheduling conflict prevented him from attending.

Tuesday being a fairly slow day, we went ahead and ordered the tickets for his show. We certainly had a good enough time, though the audience's swooning adulation remains a little misplaced, in our opinion. But to each her own, we suppose.

As tribute, impersonation, performance art, call it what you will, Shawn is pretty amazing. On the outside edges of his range, he strays off model, but many of his mannerisms, physical and vocal, are eerily familiar -- and sometimes downright chilling.

There was a lot of fun risque banter with the audience members who were straining for kisses and scarves, and if you don't let yourself get too uptight about the whole thing, it can be a lot of fun.

Shawn's a good performer, and he had a strong Chicago band behind him. Some of the cheesy reputation of ETAs comes from the often-substandard karaoke they have to contend with. But Shawn put on a professional show, for sure.

Ray Walker of the Jordanaires shared the stage briefly, and it was fun to hear him actually handling some of the LEAD vocals on It's Now or Never. Ray was his usual cut-up self, and he fit right in with the light mood of the show. Joe Guercio was in attendance, too, and he cheerfully posed for photos with the ladies afterward.

One ETA artist is enough for us, and that's all for the week.

In the evening, we attended the second Music and Movie night. Steady rain into the afternoon may have had some folks worried about a muddy evening, but the skies cleared up in time to give the grass a chance to dry.

We enjoyed another cool night on the Graceland lawn as Terry Mike Jeffrey and his band -- along with members of the TCB band and the Imperials -- put on an excellent show.

Terry is such an Elvis Week regular, there may not be much more we can say about him after several years of reports. It's a credit to his professionalism, though, that he doesn't let the concert fall into a rut. He always throws in a few rare numbers along the way (Drums of the Islands, for example!) But of course, all the usual highlights were there, too, including the traditional American Trilogy closing.

Carlee Goins, the MySpace Elvis Week karaoke contest winner, got her chance to perform a number with the band. We'd seen her dancing with her boyfriend at the first Club Elvis, and we were happy to spot her at the second one so we could congratulate our fellow Texan on her excellent performance. "Dynamite," was one one attendees assessment. (To read more about Carlee, here's a link to the Memphis Commercial-Appeal article about her, which includes information on how to listen to her entries in the contest. )

After Terry Mike Jeffrey left the stage, we enjoyed That's the Way It Is (the special edition version, as usual, of course). This movie really holds up well in the outdoor setting, and though we'd seen it from exactly the same spot last year, we still enjoyed it immensely -- as always. The sound system was plagued by some dropouts in the right channel, unfortunately, but of course when you have every moment memorized anyway, you hardly notice.

We had our first chance of the week to talk to some friends after the concert so we didn't make our usual nightly check of the Graceland grounds. After helping the dancing diehards close up Club Elvis, we retreated to our hotel to get ready for the start of Day 5 -- and the Insiders Conference.

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