Monday, October 11, 2010

Return Of The Original Elvis Tribute

The other day I received an e-mail from Arjan Deelen, who's the man behind "The Original Elvis Tribute" that has been touring Europe in both 2009 and 2010. Here's some of what he wrote:  
'The Original Elvis Tribute 2011' will be touring again in May '11, and for that tour this topnotch production will include the legendary Bobby Wood on piano, the elusive Johnny Christopher (first time in Europe!) on guitar & vocals, and the charismatic Duke Bardwell on bass. Three men who all played a key role in Elvis' career, brought together for the first time for this remarkable tribute show featuring some of the finest singers and musicians in the music business. This is one of the most authentic touring Elvis shows - and the only one featuring his original musicians.
I couldn't help but notice that this time around songwriter Michael Jarrett, who wrote "I'm Leavin'" and "I'll Be Home On Christmas Day" for Elvis, wasn't part of the band. I sent a reply to Arjan, asking him why.
Arjan Deelen: Michael Jarrett is a remarkable man, and a great songwriter & musician. He has been an inspiration to me on many different levels, especially personally. He adds a great deal to the shows, and that’s why I have brought him over to Europe for 19 shows so far. I have always felt that some  people that played a role in the Elvis story never really received the credit they deserved, and Michael is definitely one of them. Fortunately, the show has corrected that, and he is receiving far more credit now for his tremendous songs than he ever did.

For the next tour, we wanted to highlight more musicians like Michael, who deserve to be better known by the fans. I am very proud of the fact that we will be bringing a.o. Johnny Christopher this time, who played rhythm guitar on the STAX sessions in ’73, and who wrote or co-wrote songs like “Always On My Mind”, “Mama Liked The Roses” and “If You Talk In Your Sleep”. Johnny has never been in Europe before, and he’s never done an Elvis tribute show.  Johnny will be playing guitar on the show, and he will also be singing his own songs, just like he did on the original demos for Elvis.

That’s what our show is really about. We want to bring the fans something fresh, a new angle on the Elvis story. Johnny will also be bringing his old buddy Bobby Wood from American Sound Studios. As you know, Bobby played on Elvis’ arguably finest moment, the FROM ELVIS IN MEMPHIS album. We’re all looking forward to working together with Johnny and Bobby, and we all believe that they will add a great deal to the show. Bobby has even promised me that he will be singing “If I’m A Fool (For Loving You)”, a song that he originally recorded in ’64 that Elvis later covered at the Memphis ’69 sessions.

Elvis Today: I think it's exciting that you combine musicians from different periods of Elvis' career, as well as live/studio musicians. What does this mix of musicians bring to the show, in your opinion?

Arjan Deelen: I think it brings a lot of freshness to the shows. I have been involved in the organization of Elvis meetings for many years, and in my honest opinion many of these shows featuring original musicians are in a bit of a rut, because they want to play the same old songs again and again. It seems to me that they are unwilling to take any chances. I also feel that it’s a pity that many fanclubs book the same acts again and again. I think that’s one of the reasons why the interest in Elvis shows in general is dwindling. I mean, how many times can you present the same show to people before they get sick and tired of it?

My aim is to present original musicians that people haven’t seen, or at least those that haven’t been overexposed, and I try to present them in a different context. Instead of letting them play with the musicians they’re used to, I present them together with top session players that are still eager to impress. Believe me, it makes the original guys work harder too! That’s why the shows that we have done so far have such a tremendous energy to them. To give you an example, just take a look at this clip from a show we did at a castle in Poznan, Poland last May:

"My Babe" (May, 2010)

We want to generate some of the original excitement and energy that Elvis himself created at his concerts, and I think it works. The crowd reaction at the shows has been amazing. It’s very satisfying to see that the show is doing so well all over Europe.
Sounds exciting, doesn't it? If you want to more information, I can recommend a visit to "The Original Elvis Tribute" website. There you'll find, among other things, details about the band, tour dates and rare audio including Bobby Wood's own 1964 recording of "If I'm A Fool (For Loving You)."


Wilvis said...

Great Blog man! I will enjoy digging into your older posts. I got a lot of reading ahead it looks like!

Keep A swivel in your hips and a sneer in your lips.

Thomas said...

Jess Wade: I've just removed the comments from savita, marking them as spam, so now, hopefully we'll hear no more from that direction. Thank you for your comment.

Wilvis: Glad you found Elvis Today, hope you'll contintue to visit!