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'Thank you, thank you very much'

'Elvis' performers shake rattle and roll in birthday tribute

'Elvis' performers shake rattle and roll in birthday tribute

January 28, 2007|by ALICIA NOTARIANNI

HAGERSTOWN - Let's hope Elvis Presley's pleas to "Love Me Tender" in 1956 were sincere.

The roughly 600 people who poured into The Maryland Theatre Saturday night for the Elvis Birthday Tribute concert stood as yet another indication that his followers are still lovin' him tender, lovin' him true and certainly have no intentions of letting him go anytime soon.

Brian Sullivan, executive director of The Maryland Theatre, said audience members came to Hagers-town from as far away as Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida to see the show.

"They knew it was on the East Coast and they didn't want to miss it," he said.

Sullivan said based on past experience, he expected "some characters" to attend the show.

"You have your 'Star Trek' people, you have your 'Star Wars' people and you have the Elvis fans," Sullivan said, referencing the devotion of Elvis tribute followers. "They are great people who very much admired what (Elvis) did and who he was."

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Ray Haines, 50, of Damascus, Md., went to the show decked out in a flaming red shirt, bejeweled black pants with flared-legs and a sequined studded belt.

"I love Elvis," Haines said. "I mean it. He was it."

"He was legend alive," said Haines' sister, Pat Hodson, 60, of Germantown, Md.

Logan Stambaugh, 5, of Martinsburg, W.Va., was one of many budding young Elvis fans in the crowd. Logan, who went to the tribute with his father, Scott Stambaugh, 40, said he likes Elvis' music and was hoping to hear "A Little Less Conversation" and "Too Much Monkey Business."

Last night's concert was the last in an 11-city national tour. Promoter Omar Farag described the show as a "tribute to Elvis and the multi facets of his music as they pertained to his life."

Farag said one way the show stands out from other Elvis tributes is that D.J. Fontana, Elvis' original drummer, performs in the concert.

"D.J. brings a credibility to the concert," Farag said. "The music is kept the way Elvis did it."

Moments before the show, Fontana, 75, spoke about the widespread and enduring appeal of Elvis.

"He was a good-looking guy, first of all," Fontana said. "But he had charisma. He lit up the room. A group of guys could be sitting around grumbling, 'Oh, we have to go do this.' Then he would show up and everyone would change and say, 'Oh, Elvis is here. Let's go do this!'"

Fontana commended the performances of Donny Edwards, who portrays Elvis in his younger years of rockabilly, movies, black leather and the military, and Shawn Klush, who renders his later "jumpsuit" years.

Edwards, of Las Vegas, erupted onstage for the first act. His boyish good looks, velvety voice, lively moves and pursed lip seemed to resonate with the audience members, who applauded, catcalled and danced in their seats.

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