"If you're an Elvis fan, no explanation is necessary; If you're not an Elvis fan, no explanation is possible."

(George Klein)



"History has him as this good old country boy, Elvis is about as country as Bono!"

(Jerry Schilling)






Almost the real thing

You’d think it was almost Elvis, as Jason Netherton takes to the stage with his impersonation of Elvis Presley during his young and lean years. Contributed By Glenna Turnbull, Showcase contributor There’s no mistaking those side burns. Or the long strands of black hair that continue to fall forward onto Kelowna actor Jason Netherton’s face.

One look and you know he’s either someone who doesn’t get out much and takes his fashion advice from 45-year-old magazines or he’s an Elvis impersonator. Jason laughs, “Yeah I get a lot of feedback on the sideburns, I usually keep them trimmed a little closer than this,” he says, running his fingers over the inch thick face fur, “and we’re actually not called impersonators anymore, we’re called tribute artists.”

Born in Kelowna, Jason grew up in Penticton and was working as an actor in Vancouver for several years before venturing back to the Okanagan to see the Elvis Festival two years ago. He recalls, “I saw this guy do a phenomenal show! He had a 10-piece band, and with all the lighting and everything, you thought it was really Elvis up there.”

“I was sitting beside my Mom watching it and she said, ‘You’re an actor, why aren’t you doing this stuff?’ and I thought, yeah, it was kind of fitting! I’ve been listening to Elvis ever since I was a kid, he’s been one of my favourite musicians of all time…I started thinking about it and realized it wasn’t too different from the acting I’d been doing in Vancouver, it was just getting into character and going on stage to do a show.”

After a year of working on production (and sideburn growing) and getting the right mixture of musicians together for his tribute band, Jason, a.k.a. Almost Elvis, was ready to start shaking it up – well, almost. “Yeah, it took a little while to get the WD-40 into my hips to get them moving right,” he laughs. He certainly does move them right, as can be attested to by the dozens of women who lined up for hugs when Almost Elvis played to the largest attended Parks Alive! concert of the season this summer, attracting some 1,200 fans.

“It was crazy!’ admits Jason, as we watch scenes from the video shot at the gig, and fans actually came running onto the stage to hug him during the show. So how is it, someone who’s been dead for more than 20 years can still cause such a stir in people, particularly in women? “For me, it’s his voice,” answers Jason.

“Elvis’ music always came from his heart and that was a really good skill. His voice, his timbre, and of course the ladies really like the hip shaking.”

Many of us, however, remember the tabloid Elvis, the blimp featured on trashy gossip papers, and Jason wants people to know, they don’t focus on that part of Elvis’ life in their show.

“We do the young fit Elvis from the 1968 to 1972 era…and hopefully I stay fit so we don’t have to do the big Elvis,” he laughs. In order to get their show completely authentic, they spent countless hours studying videos and documentaries and have come up with two full shows: One based on the 1968 Comeback Tour and the second on the documentary from 1972 entitled, That’s the Way it Is.

“We studied the shows for the last year and a half from the DVDs and videos and we mimic them to as close as we can get. There aren’t too many other tribute bands who have taken the time to get down all the music transitions and musical parts of the show. We’re trying to completely recreate the live version of what they’d see on the DVD.” Even the costumes are completely authentic.

Jason says, “There’s only one place that’s authorized from Graceland to make authentic Elvis costumes…this costume, (he says of the black leather ensemble) cost $3,000, and the other one (his white suit) was about $2,000. They’re actually stitched by the same guy that stitched Elvis’ costumes.” So, if you want to hear those old hits like Heartbreak Hotel, Teddy Bear, Jailhouse Rock, Love Me Tender, Burning Love and Don’t Be Cruel, slip on your old blue suede shoes and get ready to get all shook up as Almost Elvis enters the building this holiday season.

Almost Elvis has two shows coming up at Kelowna Community Theatre. The first one is The Vegas Show on Nov. 27 and the second, Dec. 4 featuring the Rutland Senior Secondary Choir, is called Elvis and Friends’ Christmas Show. Tickets for both events are available at Ticketmaster, 860-1470 or on the Web at www.ticketmaster.ca

(Almost Elvis, Source: Yahoo News)

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Elvis Odd Spot (updated 17 Nov 2004)