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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Tale of Two Elvii

     Saturday night at The McPherson Opera House and there were not one, but two Elvis impersonator's on stage.  The only place that you can see multiple Elvis performances in one night is Las Vegas, so McPherson hit the big time Saturday night.

     Up first was Brian Lee Dunning who kicked off the evenings festivities with Elvis from the 50's.  He had the look, the sound, and the moves.  He appeared to be made of Jello as he gyrated around the stage.  Dunning had more moves than the real Elvis.  I have seen quite a few Elvis impersonators but I've never seen any of them dance like Dunning did Saturday night.  He threw himself, quite literally, into his performance.  And that guy can move!  Maybe he's double jointed.  I don't know but it was an experience to watch him dance.  He can sing too.  He sounded so much like Elvis that if you closed your eyes you'd swear the real Elvis was in the house.  Of course, then you missed the dancing which would be a shame.  Dunning is sure to make a name for his self in the Elvis business.

     Time for the main event and Marshall Matthews as Elvis from the 70's.  Matthew's came out attired in the classic white jump suit that Elvis is known for with all the sparkles.  He sang a wide range of Elvis songs from the various eras; 50', 60's and 70's.  He sang my two favorite Elvis song's: Kentucky Rain and Suspicious Minds.  He also sang a few covers that Elvis sang during his Las Vegas shows; Unchained Melody (Righteous Brothers) and Proud Many (Credence Clearwater Revival and Tina Turner).  He sang a lovely rendition of Are You Lonesome Tonight, a 1926 Al Jolson hit. One of the best performances of the evening was when Matthews sang It's Now or Never.

     During the intermission, Brian Lee Dunning returned to the stage in a different outfit but still in character as a Rockabilly Elvis.  I'm not sure what songs' he sang, I remember singing along, (in my mind), he's just so much fun to watch!  Dunning has so much energy and he is in character the entire time he is on stage.  Such fun.  I think it's safe to say that if he were to appear on Ed Sullivan with those moves back in the 50's, he would have gotten in as much or more trouble as the real Elvis did back in the 50's.

     Matthews returned to the stage after intermission and continued with his spot on performance, now dressed in a black jumpsuit full of sparkles. Throughout the evening Matthews was accompanied by a full band, The Memphis Kings, which is comprised of music teachers and others from around the state, including Denny Brunk, from McPherson, who was on hand to help out with trombone and back-up vocals. Elvis with a full band and back-up vocals was impressive.  In fact, Matthews and Dunning even did a song together on stage.

     An evening of music, feel good songs, incredible dancing, and Elvis.  Matthews has two upcoming dates in Oklahoma in November.  I'll leave you with an Elvis fun fact, I was told that if there are two or more Elvis impersonators on a show together, they are called Elvii which is considered the plural for multiple Elvis.

     Coming up in November at The McPherson Opera House, on November 6 The Mike Steinel Lone Star Jazz Quintet will perform and then the following night on November 7 The Wrinkle Neck Mules will perform.  Jazz on the 6th and something called, heavy folk metal, among other things, on the 7th.  I can't wait.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Author Talk

     I had a chance to hear two different authors discuss their work this past week.  The first one a self-published author with her first book, E.J. Willis and the second one a well-known mainstream author with over 16 books to her credit, Anne Lamott.

     Last Monday night at the Hutchinson Public Library, E.J. Willis introduced a small but enthusiastic crowd to her first book, Battle For The Throne.  The story is set in medieval times and it the first of a series. It is geared towards the young adult audience, but Willis acknowledged that more adults are reading it than her target group.  It says a lot about a work of art when it appeals to a wider audience.  J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame didn't write the Harry Potter books for adults. 

     Willis prepared a powerpoint presentation which covered her journey through writing, revision, and self- publishing.  She shared some of the pitfalls she faced, as well as her success's.  She provided valuable information on how to obtain reviews for your book, how to go about finding illustrators for cover art, and information on self-publishing.  Primarily her message was, if you have a dream, follow it, you never know where it might lead and who you might meet along the way that God has placed there to help move you along.  She stayed on point with her discussion and even provided a variety of ways to contact her if anyone in the audience needed additional information. 

     Last Thursday night at The Stiefel Theatre in Salina I had the chance to hear Anne Lamott speak about her journey.  I'm a bit confused by it.  I spoke to some other folks that were at this event and they had the same reaction.  Lamott was all over the place.  I had hoped to hear about her writing and get some tips, pointers, inspiration.  She acknowledged at the beginning of her talk that she had planned to discuss writing and that was what she was there to do, but then she got lost.

     I'm not sure what happened.  She spoke about a lot of different topics and just kept getting lost.  It was interesting, but not worth the price of admission.  I don't know if she was having a bad night, or what was going on.  She said that she had just returned to the U.S. from a trip to Greece, so maybe she was tired and jet lagged.  I don't know.  The one thing that stood out for me was a quote by E.L. Doctorow, she mentioned several times: "Writing a novel is like driving a car at night.  You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."  Perhaps that was simply why I was there, to hear that quote.  It seems to be my only take away from the evening.  Lamott signed books at the end of the night, and I was first in line, and she signed my copy of Bird By Bird.

     Interesting week, filled with two different authors at opposite ends of the publishing scale.  If you are interested in a copy of Willis' book, she works in circulation at the Hutchinson Public Library and would be happy to sell you a copy of her book and personally autograph it for you.  It's also available on Amazon if you'd prefer to purchase it there.  Lamott's books are available at Hastings Books and Music, if you'd like to purchase them locally, and they are also available on Amazon.  The Hutchinson Public Library also has these books in their collection for checkout.