I’ve just returned from seeing The Ultimate Elvis Tribute show featuring two of the greatest Elvis impersonators ever and I’ve seen a lot of them, Cody Ray Slaughter and Shawn Klush at the Welmont Theater in Montclair, N.J. We’ve never been to this theater before even though it’s only ten minutes from our house. Montclair is a very wealthy town with lots of artsy stores and sidewalk cafes and restaurants which is very quaint, but we had to park in a parking garage that was well lit and equipped a few blocks away. The theater itself is very old, but similar to other theaters we’ve been to in the North Jersey area and I’ve read stories online that it is up for sale.
The show started about 8:15 p.m. Cody came out first doing the early Elvis dressed in black pants, black shirt and shiny gold Lame’ blazer. He started out with “Mean Woman Blues” and “Heartbreak Hotel,” but really impressed with the gospel song “Peace in the Valley” and “Teddy Bear.” Cody has all the early Elvis moves down pat with the hip swinging, leg twitching and gyrations and arms flailing just like Elvis did. I often wonder how many Elvis movies do these guys watch over and over to get Elvis down right. (See links below)
Later Cody returned as Elvis from the “ ’68 Comeback Special” dressed in the one piece skin tight black leather jumpsuit Elvis wore from then. He had a five piece band consisting of three guitars, keyboards, and on drums D.J. Fontana who was Elvis’ original drummer. On background vocals were two of the original four Sweet Inspirations, Estelle Brown and Portia Griffin who were Elvis’ back-up vocals. Two others died in 2010. They were with Elvis from 1969 -1977 when he died. Although they are elderly they looked great and can still belt out those tunes with perfect harmonies. Estelle said that when she tells people she sang with Elvis they say, ”You were soooo lucky” to which she replies, ”No, honey I wasn’t lucky I was blessed.”
Although D.J. Fontana is 83 years old he can still play a mean drum set, but walked slowly off the stage and needed help. Cody went into songs such as “Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock,” and “Heartbreak Hotel” again amongst others.
Following Cody’s set was Shawn Klush who I really came to see even though I really enjoyed Cody too. Shawn did the Vegas Elvis. The band which now added a trumpet and trombone opened with the famous “Zarathustra “ theme Elvis always had as Shawn came out dressed in a white tight fitting jumpsuit with silver studs down the pants legs and forearms and shirt opened to the mid section of his chest. He immediately went into “See See Rider” and ”Polk Salad Annie.” Shawn looks and sounds exactly like Elvis and you’d swear Elvis ‘spirit was in him as you can see in the videos below. He’s been named the world’s best Elvis impersonator and has performed all over the world. In fact the band recently added their lead guitarist when they found him performing on the street in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Shawn had every move down perfectly as he went from inspirational with such songs as “Bridge Over troubled Waters” and “Daddy Don’t You Cry” and the ever popular “Suspicious Minds (Caught in a Trap)” and the rockin’ “Viva Las Vegas.” While singing these songs and many others he also did the Elvis gimmick of tossing scarves from around his neck to the women and young girls who rushed the bottom of the stage. :D.
Shawn told the audience that just the other night he and Estelle and Portia were watching the Elvis concert film “That’s the Way It Is” (which Estelle and Portia were in as Elvis’ back-up singers) and marveled at seeing Elvis on the big screen. Shawn then went into ”Just Can’t Help Believin’ “ from the film.
Shawn also joked with the audience at one point saying “Ladies and gentlemen we have 651 more songs to do for you.” 😀 Shawn closed his set with two of my all time favorite Elvis songs, “American Trilogy” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” If you ever get a chance to see them at a theater near you, by all means see it. The entire show lasted 2 ½ hours with a fifteen minute break.
I am including some links to Shawn’s and Cody’s songs you can check out below. 😉