What made the tribute show held at the RHLI (Royal Hamilton Light Infantry) on Sunday, May 27th, 2018 more remarkable than the large number of scheduled performers, was the fact that all the performers donated their time and talent to raise money to buy much needed new tables and chairs for the RHLI Veterans Hall. Through ticket sales for the show, draw tickets, and a 50/50 draw, a considerable amount was raised to make the pending purchase a possibility.
Starting off the afternoon show in fine style was Tyra Johnson singing Martina McBride, Melissa Etheridge, and Donna Summers songs. Tyra worked the room, encouraging some surprised men in the audience to “scold her” during the Donna Summers’ song, “Last Dance”. At one point she dragged the chair of a reluctant female audience member onto the floor so she could dance around her seated dance partner. It was all in good fun, as seen in the above photo.
The next entertainer, ETA Chris Cooper, dressed in an Elvis speedway jacket, in red, serenaded fan and friend, Irene Lobsinger, with the song “Are You Lonesome Tonight”, followed by “Hula Rock”. In back to back songs, “Jailhouse Rock/Hound Dog”, Chris was joined on stage by surprise guest, ETA Richard Wolfe.
For a change of pace from Elvis songs, ETA Doug McKenzine sang oldies but goldies from the 60s: “Sugar Shack” and “Down in the Boondocks”. The songs brought pleasant memories of those golden days when we listened to these classics on transistor radios.
Bobby Allan, looking every bit like Neil Diamond in his dazzling blue shirt, delighted the audience with Neil’s best loved songs, “Forever in Blue Jeans”, “Cherry Cherry”, and my personal favourite, “Sweet Caroline”. Later in the show, Bobby entertained with a beautiful, and moving, rendition of Elvis's favourite song, "If I Can Dream". The talented Bobby Allan, and his cousin ETA Douglas Roy, whom was featured in one of my early SIDEBURNS blogs, are scheduled to perform at the Stoney Creek Legion on Saturday, June 30th, 2018 for a free show from 2 to 5 pm.
ETA Ed Butski, as well as performing great Elvis songs in his set, did a splendid job looking after the sound system for all of the other performers in lieu of Beverly Gribbon, and Jimmy Gribbon, (John Denver) who had to work. Ed entertained with “Memories”, followed by “Only Fools Rush In”, and from the move Girls, Girls, Girls, “Return to Sender”. Ed’s wife, Linda, helped out by selling tickets at the front door. It takes a lot of volunteers to run an event, and Linda’s help, as pointed by Joanmarie, was very much appreciated.
Brian McKenzie brought country to the afternoon’s lineup. Standing tall and wearing a straw hat, Brian looked very much like Toby Keith when he sang Toby’s hit songs, “How do You Like me Now”, “A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action”, and “I Ain’t as Good as I Once Was.”
As a fan of Kenny Rogers, it was a treat hearing Ron Provo sing “Lucille”, “The Gambler”, and “Buy me a Rose”. Ron is the other half of the dynamo duo of Joanmarie/Ron Provo who run the shows we all enjoy at the RHLI which.
For her RHLI performance, the always elegant and classy Country Rose sang “Here Comes my Baby”, “Take These Chains and Set me Free”, and “Yes, I Understand”. It was such a pleasure seeing Country Rose again after meeting her for the first time at the Fort Erie Legion on March 24th, 2018, for a show that included ETAs Matt Cage, Brent Freeman (as Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee Lewis) and Gord McNeil.
ETA Wayne Zess, whom I met for the first time yesterday, would have made Elvis proud with his polished appearance at yesterday’s show. Wayne entertained by singing “Treat me Nice”, “Little Sister”, and “Puppet on a String”. The story of how Wayne became an ETA is very interesting: “He fell into his role easily enough having worked as a disc jockey in his spare time, but it was his wife, Shirley, who gave him the little push he needed to become a full-fledged ETA. In 2003 while the couple was attending the annual Elvis Festival in Collingwood, Shirley volunteered her husband as a substitute for one of the Elvis impersonators who failed to turn up at one of the local resorts. Dressed in shorts and a sports shirt, Zess took the mic and belted out some songs and from that point on, he was hooked. Flamborough Review, April 2, 2009)
The next performer, Jeffrey Marsh, brought us back to the country by singing the energetic song “Sold” by John Michael Montgomery, followed by a request from Irene Lobsinger for the sentimental song, “Mom”, by Garth Brooks. Jeffrey followed with the patriotic song, “Some Gave All” by Billy Ray Cyrus, and then another Garth Brooks’ song, “The Dance”. Stating that he wanted to shake things up, and wondering if he should attempt a departure from the country genre, Jeffrey asked if ETA Doug McKenzie would show him some of Elvis’s hip actions. Doug jokingly said that it might be more of “broken hip” than “swivel hip” action, but in truth, Doug showed he still has the moves. He said ETA Richard Wolfe, who was watching with amusement, could show how it should be done. After a bit of encouragement, Richard joined Jeffrey and Doug for a performance of “Shake, Rattle, and Roll”.
ETA Nick Policelli, whose bio was recently posted on SIDEBURNS Magazine, and has a nice tone to his voice, did an admirable job of singing “Teddy Bear”, “Blue Suede Shoes”, and “Only Fools Rush In”. You can check out Nick’s interesting story on www.sideburnsmagazine.com
Nick was followed by ETA Al Eagle, who, according to his Facebook page, has been paying tribute to Elvis for 38 years. Decked out in an Elvis ladder jumpsuit, Al sang “I Can Help”, “Love me Tender”, and “What Now my Love”.
Al and his wife, Debra, have volunteered their time in the past by providing music therapy to patients with Alzheimer's disease. Al had this to say about his volunteer work as an ETA: "When I sang Elvis songs, seniors would sing along with me...very emotional. I look forward to singing to people with Alzheimer's disease in the Hamilton area very soon." Al can be reached at email@example.com.
Doug McKenzie continued his walk down memory lane with “Cherry Hill Park”, and the Pat Boone classic, “Speedy Gonzales”, a song that Doug admitted, always make him laugh.”
Ella Frida, classical and modern ballet dancer, professional singer, actress, York University performing arts alumni, and belly dancer, was the next performer. The charming Ella, accompanied on the guitar by Peter Mathers, sang “Now or Never”, “Amore” from Blue Hawaii, and “Surrender”. Congratulations, Ella, on your well deserved win of the 2018 People’s Choice Award for the Arts and Culture Category at the Waterfront Awards - Celebrating Outstanding Women.
Entertainer and tribute artist, Gus Cino, waited patiently for his term to perform. Handsomely dressed in a black tuxedo with a red pocket hanky, Gus took the stage holding a glass of wine as part of his performance. Appropriately, Gus’s first song was Dean Martin’s much loved song, “Little Old Winemaker, Me” that delighted the audience. His second Dean Martin song selection, “That’s Amore”, had everyone swaying in their seats. As a special treat, Gus sang the Al Jolson classic“ Mammy”, and got down on one knee, with arms spread wide, just like Al himself. Gus’s tribute was so well received, that the audience enthusiastically requested an encore. With his singing of “Toot Toot Tootsie, Goodbye”, Gus brought the audience to its feet with his amazing rendition. Gus shared with the audience that he used to perform at the Dumaurier Theatre, now Theatre Aquarius, with a seniors group. Gus’s professionalism as an artist shone through in yesterday’s performance.
Hamilton born Richard Wolfe demonstrated his talent as an award-winning ETA by performing “Love Letters”, “Runaway”, and “Hunk of Love”. Richard shared with the audience that he is a regular at the RHLI because his grandparents, who are members of the club, run karaoke every Thursday night from 7:30 to 11:30. Richard added that he often joins them when he is home, and not touring; but he does not sing Elvis on karaoke nights! Richard, however, will be performing as Elvis on June 16th, 2018 at the RHLI, along with Brent Freeman as Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee Lewis, and Marcus Wells as Sir Elton John. Tickets information is available by calling Joanmarie at 905-870-1069.
Closing out a day of wonderful entertainment, Doug continued the trend paying a wonderful tribute to Roy Orbison, by singing “Pretty Woman”, “In Dreams”, and “Crying”. Doug did fine performances throughout the day, but his tribute to Roy Orbison, or me, and others, was his finest. Not only did Doug look the part with signature dark-lensed sunglasses and black suede jacket, his vocals were so convincing that one audience member commented that when she closed her eyes, she could hear Roy’s voice. Doug was joined on stage by his son Brian during the last song—a great father/son duo.
We all missed Jimmy and Beverly Gribbon, Paul Truman, Cathy Carbone and Anthony Joseph, who were scheduled, but unable to attend; however, we can all look forward to seeing Anthony, along with ETAs Colin Dexter from Michigan, and Aidan Iannandrea from Welland at their show on Saturday, June 2nd, 2018, at the Polish Hall in Burlington, Ontario.
It was lovely seeing fans from as far away as Trenton, Brantford, the Niagara Falls region, and New York State. Dan and Jeannine Buckingham learned of the show on Facebook, and travelled from the USA to see Joanmarie and Ron Provo’s show. Dan and Jeannine are holding a competition on October 5th and 6th, 2018 at the Moose Lodge #118, Westfield, NY. Further information can be found on their website: www.reflectionsoftheking.webs.com
Fans, Friends, and Fun Photos
A Thank You Plus Photos
A special thank you to Ed Butski, Tyra Johnson, Doug McKenzie, Chris Cooper, Wayne Zess, Brian McKenzie, Ella Farida, Bobby Allan, Jeffery Marsh, Country Rose, Ron Provo, Gus Cino, Al Eagle, and Richard Wolfe for generously giving their time for a worthy cause, and to Joanmarie and Ron Provo for hosting the event with the help of their wonderful volunteers and contributors.
Cheers, everyone! Carolyn