The Background and inspiration
After listening to the music of Elvis Presley for over three decades, Dave took the step in 2007 to become an ETA by competing in both Lake George and Collingwood Elvis festivals. In 2008, he participated in the Windsor Festival and once again returned to Collingwood. Back in Lake George only two years later, Dave was a finalist in the 50s/60s competition. Since then, he has gone on to be a finalist in the King of Kitchener (2011), the Penticton Elvis Festival (2011), the Lake George Elvis Festival (2011), and more recently, the 2014 Collingwood Elvis Festival (runner-up concert years), reputedly the world’s largest Elvis festival.
Dave was also invited to perform at the Blue Suede Music Festival in Busby, Alberta in 2012, 2013 and, 2014. At the 2013 festival, he was fortunate to sing with the Grammy Award winning Blackwood Quartet.
Dave also sang in Memphis and has met such Elvis notables as Joe Guercio, the Sweet Inspirations, James Burton, Joe Esposito, Sonny West, D.J. Fontana, Ann Helm, Cynthia Pepper, as well as Ultimate Tribute Artist winners Shawn Klush, Justin Shandor, and Brandon Bennett, plus the ‘True Voice of Elvis,’ Doug Church. Dave has had several related Elvis highlights including singing in Sun Studios in 2010, visiting Elvis’ birthplace in Tupelo, Mississippi, and paying homage to his Graceland home. Dave was one of the many tribute artists featured in Joseph Clough and Teresa Winston’s 2011 book, “Next Generation Kings” (Coffee Table Press).
Although Dave’s interest in music has been largely influenced by Elvis, his singing has also been impacted by the likes of Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Robert Johnson, Ray Charles, Bruce Springsteen, Sarah Brightman, the Doors, Jeff Martin, Led Zeppelin, K.D. Lang, Sammy Davis, Jr., plus a variety of female and male blues and jazz greats.
“I really like all kinds of music, from opera and musicals, to new/old country, rock—all forms, hip hop/rap, blues, rhythm and blues, folk, and new age/relaxation. The unique thing about Elvis’ music is that there is almost something for every one. Whether we want to feel inspired or at peace, we can simply pop in a CD and just sit back and let the music do the rest. And although each of these artists and musical genres influence what I do on stage, it’s the ‘original’ that I try to remain in sync with.”
Earliest recollections, favourites, and show structure
While he enjoys performing in all eras, Dave is particularly fond of the 60s and the 70s. His earliest recollections were of ‘Spinout’, the 1968 Singer Special, better known as the ‘Comeback Special,’ and the Hawaiian concert. In paying tribute, Dave plays a 70s set, interspersed with original coverings from the 50s/60s. Dave also puts on a Christmas/Inspirational/Gospel/Rock show, blending a range of better known and obscure songs that help set the mood. According to Dave, “There’s a lot of fantastic studio and movie music that the world should hear, if only for the first time. The songs Elvis made famous are fantastic if not elaborate; they’re also melodically pleasing! But the others, the obscure ones, are not to be missed. There really isn’t a genre or style of music that he couldn’t sing. From rock, country, and gospel, to rhythm and blues; he sang it all. His place in musical history should not be underestimated.”
Reliving and recreating the magic
According to Dave, “One of the most mesmerizing events that I’ve been fortunate to witness was Elvis’ former band, the TCB or ‘Taking Care of Business’ Band, playing in Toronto’s visual production of Elvis onstage; it was fantastic, surreal, though quite realistic. In addition to getting a feel for a real Elvis concert, which was quite exciting, humbling, fascinating, and highly enjoyable at the same time, I realized that in paying tribute to him, it is very important to be accurate and detailed. When you sing the music, it’s more than just about slipping on a jumpsuit and singing a song. In the end, I would have difficulty doing anything that casts his image in a disrespectful light. It’s the music, memories, the fun, and his onstage persona that in part, the fans come to see and hear. In this sense, their motivations for attending and participating in an Elvis event are each unique. One other way to look at it is that the closer I am in performance and song to the original, the more I can rekindle or trigger the memories.”
Despite this, the process of recreating Elvis is both challenging and humbling. “I really try to be authentic, from the looks, to his stage attire and presence, to his mannerisms and gestures, to how he walks, to his voice and all its idiosyncrasies (e.g., vibrato, pronunciation); really, the whole package. It’s ongoing as you learn every time you watch a video or listen to a song. While it’s clear that there will never be another Elvis, and I don’t assume to be, it ‘s important to create the illusion from the moment I walk on stage to the time I leave. To prepare for each performance, I typically watch his onstage performances for countless hours, rehearse for days while focusing on song diction and style; choreography is integral as well. I’ve even briefly studied acting and other aspects of film making in order to help develop an overall perspective for each show as well as for each song. In the end, engaging in these practices helps to recreate the great memories that he gave to so many of us. This being said, it’s also important to create new ones, especially for those who are less familiar with his music and image. I also try to bring some fun into the show. Elvis gave a lot to various communities, whether friends, family, or strangers. Similarly and apart from being a tribute artist, part of what I do involves giving back; gratitude is important as we’re all in this together.” A sampling of testimonials can be found on the Availability page.
Dave currently resides in Fredericton, New Brunswick.