Elvis Tribute Artists Shawn Klush & Donny Edwards along with Elvis' Sweet Inspirations have recently been touring Australia together in concert.
Since 2007 when EPE named Shawn Klush (right) as the “Ultimate ETA” he has become one of the World's most sought-after Elvis tribute artists.
Similarly Donny Edwards regularly features in the top “Ultimate ETA” contests held in Memphis and he is renown for his remarkable authenticity.
The Sweet Inspirations need no introduction - only to mention that thankfully they are still continuing to perform under the guidance of Estelle Brown after the untimely death of Myrna Smith.
The group also helped out by joining with the Joe Esposito fundraiser that had been organised by Australian ETA Mark Andrews.
EIN's Sanja Meegin was there at both concerts to check out the atmosphere...
As we are all acutely aware, there is only one - and will only ever be one- Elvis Presley. Nobody will ever look, sound and move exactly like the King – but there are those who will come close.
I had the privilege of seeing two of the world’s best Tribute Artists this past week, on their visit to Melbourne as part of their Australian tour. EPE Ultimate Tribute Artist contest winners Shawn Klush and Donny Edwards (both from the United States) were in town to show fans Down Under just why they are considered to be among the best of the best when it comes to imitating the King. Their visit began with a 50’s/60’s music cruise departing Sydney, included a brilliant show at Melbourne’s Crown Casino and continues with a string of shows throughout Australia in the coming weeks.
(Crown Casino photos above by T.Ziino - with thanks)
I had seen both Shawn and Donny several times in and around Memphis, however had never actually had the chance to see them perform. And I have to say, I was pretty much blown away with their performances at Melbourne's Crown Casino last week.
The Palms is a great venue and with its tiered booths, has a real Vegas showroom feel about. With an enthusiastic crowd of around 600 (majority being 40-65 year olds) there was a buzz in the atmosphere as the crowd eagerly awaited the commencement of the show.
Donny Edwards (above left) played the first half and nailed his performance as a 1950’s Elvis – amazing energy, some slick moves and a truly magnificent voice – particularly during his rendition of 'Unchained Melody'. I must admit, when anyone ever attempts that song, I of course wait in anticipation to see if they are going to hit those high notes! Donny did, with complete conviction. It was obvious the audience was enjoying every part of his performance, particularly the fast paced "Too Much" and "Mean Woman Blues".
After a brief intermission, the remaining members of Elvis' back up group The Sweet Inspirations - Estelle Brown & Portia Griffin - took to the stage & mentioned how they had recently lost two of their members, Myrna Smith & Sylvia Shemwell. After singing their hit "Sweet Inspiration", the excitement had well and truly escalated as the first strains of Also Sprach Zarathustra rang out.
With ringing anticipation in the air Shawn Klush made his entrance to the stage. He looked very much the part of 70's Elvis (in a new Concho jumpsuit- above right-) and his stage presence was quite endearing . The six piece band was tight - and sounded fabulous accompanied by a brass section and 4 male and 3 female back up singers. Local drummer Jason Russo (who is always in demand for any Elvis shows in Australia) was fantastic.
Shawn Klush is of course, renowned for his likeness to Elvis not only in appearance but also with an amazing voice. It was nice to see him introduce gospel into his set, with breath taking renditions of How Great Thou Art and Amazing Grace - with the backing prowess of the Sweet Inspirations. Softly As I Leave You was also an unusual but welcome addition to the show.
Both Shawn Klush and Donny Edwards left the audience literally screaming for more, however disappointingly, an encore was not to be. But as we all know, Elvis never gave encores either!
While the guys were in town they also attended a special fundraiser evening (Taking Care of Cancer) that was organized by Australian ETA Mark Andrew. The benefit was for Joe Esposito’s wife Martha, who is very unwell at the moment and undergoing some incredibly expensive medical treatment.
Elvis fans in Melbourne showed their support with approximately 400 people attending the fundraiser at the “Trak” nightclub in Toorak last Tuesday. What an amazing night, a great venue, some fabulous entertainment and some great live Elvis music. Several local Elvis ETA's performed including Mark Anthony, Damian Mullen, Elias Jamour & Mark Andrew, who after many years as Australia's most well-known ETA, had a huge following in attendance on the night.
Clips of Elvis played all night on 3 huge screens as Elvis fans mingled and eagerly enjoyed the performances from the Aussie ETAs as well as Shawn Klush (shown above) & Donny Edwards and a couple of comedians. As Klush and Edwards were a last minute addition to the schedule of events, they only performed briefly, 2-3 songs each, and in casual attire.
Shawn Klush once again had the backing of the Sweet Inspirations and his band, and did a spine-tingling rendition of Bridge Over Troubled Water - the very song that won him the EPE Best Tribute Artist award. There was no rivalry amongst the local and international ETA's (didn't Elvis always say there is room for everyone in the music world?) - however it was evident that Shawn & Donny ( above) are not only universally known, but masters of their craft.
After a quick chat in the Green Room with Estelle & Portia from the Sweet Inspirations, it was great to see my old buddy Joe Esposito again.
Joe was nice enough to make time for me and we talked about the hard times he is going through at the moment with his wife being so very ill.
It was impressive to see such a great turn out of Elvis fans to help raise money for Martha's treatment and several Elvis items were auctioned on the night.
(Right;EIN's Sanja Meegin with Joe Esposito)
A beautiful Ed Bonja photograph of Elvis bought in $2,200. A pajama top belonging to Elvis (donated from the amazing collection of Greg Page) - really got the bidding wars started - and finally sold for $3000. A pair of Elvis' rust coloured trousers from the late 60's (from Mark Andrew's collection) also sold for over $2200.
Those items along with tickets to the Elvis cruise in 2012 and an autographed Chuck Berry guitar helped to raise around $15,000 - which will be proudly handed over to Joe Esposito on behalf of his friends and Elvis fans here in Australia.
For those who were unable to attend on the night but would like to donate to help Joe & Martha, you can do so by visiting www.tcbjoe.com
As for Aussie fans who are in need of a good dose of live Elvis music, be sure to catch Shawn Klush and Donny Edwards while they are still doing shows around Australia - you will be in for a real treat.
Information for both Shawn Klush and Donny Edwards can be found at www.shawnklush.com and click here to www.donnyedwardslive.com .
For some more photos of the guys performing and all the action at the Taking Care of Cancer Fundraiser night, CLICK HERE to this special Facebook Photos Page
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Article by Sanja Meegin.
-Copyright EIN November 2011
EIN Website content © Copyright the Elvis Information Network.
Charity Event for Joe Esposito in Melbourne, Tuesday November 15 2011.
The night included performances by Australia's best ETAs, Mark Andrew, Mark Anthony, Elias Jamour & Damian Mullin, & Special Guests, The Sweet Inspirations, Shawn Klush plus Donny Edwards! and a special appearance by Joe Esposito himself.
Joe Esposito is known for being Elvis Presley's personal close friend & road manager. His wife Martha is suffering from a brain tumour and the money raised will go to her cause.
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