Bobby Wood, Mary & Ginger Holladay, Duke Bardwell, Jerome ‘Stump’ Monroe, Robert Washington and Carl Bradychok all arrived at Copenhagen airport earlier this week, tired after the long flights but very excited about the coming shows in Sweden, Finland, Luxembourg, Norway and Holland.
I sent tour manager Ajan Deelen an e-mail and asked him how the rehearsals are going.
Arjan Deelen: I think everybody is real pleased with what has been achieved so far. I mean, bringing a band together as diverse as ours and then getting everybody on the same page and putting a show together in a matter of two days is no mean feat. One thing that has definitely worked to our advantage is that the vibes have been great. We have really enjoyed ourselves so far. The new additions to the band are working out just great. The Holladays are wonderful women, very lively and fun to be with and so very talented. They are adding so much to our show. We all all blown away by them. And our new guitarist, Carl Bradychok, who is only 21 years old by the way, is a tremendous player and everybody seems very taken with him. He is adding a lot of youthful energy to the band, and I think everybody is inspired by his playing and by his serious no-nonsense approach to the music. Believe me, the band sounds great!
Elvis Today: What kind of show can we expect?
Arjan Deelen: As I wrote earlier, it's a very diverse group of people playing together but we all have this one big common factor: our love and respect for Elvis. And that's what makes this show work. Everybody in their own way is committed to paying tribute to him, and you can tell from the great attention to detail and the desire to 'get it right'. We will basically cover the whole spectrum of Elvis' career, from 1955 to 1977. We want to play the music with the freshness and feel that Elvis himself always went after. That's why we tried not to overdo the rehearsals. I don't believe in 'overcooking good food'. Some songs were done only once, and that was really enough - we want to keep things fresh for the live shows. The audiences can expect plenty of rock & roll, but there will also be some ballads and gospel. I am very pleased with the variety and flow of the show.
Elvis Today: Can you give us some examples of songs that will be performed?
Arjan Deelen: Some of the classics will be there, obviously, because we are playing to mainstream audiences. But we will do them justice. Wait til you hear the sound that the band has on 'Suspicious Minds'. It's just like the original studio master, and not like the later speeded up version. The tone of Carl's guitar on this is just gorgeous, and hearing the Holladays sing their parts again after more than 40 years for me was a near-religious experience. They sound just like they did all these years ago. I had cold chills all over when I heard the vocal parts that we know so well from the records being recreated right in front of me... believe me, that was incredible. But with the 'Original Elvis Tribute' we also try to take a lot of liberties, and we always include songs that a lot of people don't know about, like 'For The Heart' from 1976. And it sounds just great - it really gives you an idea of how Elvis would have done this one live, with Robert's vocals being so close to the original that it's almost eerie. The band got a great groove going on this one, I think you'll enjoy it.
Elvis Today: Any particular song or songs that stands out so far?
Arjan Deelen: For me the whole show stands out and I mean that. There are so many highlights, and it almost feels unfair just to name one or two songs. But I want to mention the Holladays singing 'Sweet Inspiration' as a tribute to the Sweets. The Holladays have always felt a special connection with them, and as you probably know, this is a song that comes out of Chip Moman's studios so it just felt right to do it. And with the Sweets' original drummer in the band, Jerome 'Stump' Monroe, it made sense to do this tribute to the Sweets, especially Myrna and Sylvia. And the Holladays sound great on it. I can tell you that Stump was very moved by it.
Elvis Today: How do the band members feel about opening in Sweden?
Arjan Deelen: We are having such a good time here, and Sweden has always been good for our music. People here are so sincere about their love for the music, and so knowledgeable. I can tell you already now that we will be returning to Sweden in 2013. Several promoters were surprised that we sold out as fast as we did, and we are now negotiating with them.
Having read the above answers from Arjan, I can't wait to watch tonight's show in Vara, it really sounds like I'm in for an incredible experience. And of course I'll write all about it in my next post. Stay tuned.