After learning so much about the life and career of ETA Thane Dunn during our two hour phone interview, I was looking forward to seeing Thane’s live performance and meeting him in person. Considered one of the best ETAs in the business, having won two titles at the Collingwood Elvis Festival in 2009, the Moncton, New Brunswick ETA promised not just a show, but an “extravaganza”
As my daughter, Lisa, and I approached the Church on the Queensway in Etobicoke, Ontario, we were struck by the magnitude of the building. Lisa commented that, based on the size of the venue, it looked like they were anticipating a huge crowd. Since there were only a few cars in the large parking lot, we felt we had arrived a little too early for the show; so, we decided to go to a restaurant across the street where we could keep an eye on the proceedings. What we didn’t know, as we relaxingly dined and chatted, was that unlike other shows we have seen, Thane Dunn’s meet-and-greets take place before his shows—at least for this Toronto show it did. Regrettably, I missed the opportune time to meet Thane and take my own photos.
As I waited in line to enter the church, I saw Tony Busseri of ARB productions, whose insightful and interesting interview will be posted on SIDEBURNS in the weeks to come. Tony introduced me to Joe Passion, tribute artist and entertainer, who is credited for the concept and script behind the highly entertaining Gospel Hour at the Niagara Falls Elvis Festival. Joe is now in Germany performing with Ireland’s ETA, Grahame Patrick Doyle, and our favourite Johnny Cash, Jim Yorfido, in Elvis - Das Musical (Elvis - The Musical) for the month of June.
Lisa and I had great seats in the fifth row—right behind Marcus Wells and Karen Craig-Frappier Wells. On the way to our seats, we saw some other familiar faces: Lisa Lesage (Tweed Elvis Festival), Sandra Gold, Rita Caruso, Sandra’s friends, Trish and Marcello, Judy La Forme (aka “The Scarf Lady”), Dot Farr, and many more fans who frequent ETA shows.
The evening began with a jaw-dropping slideshow of magnificent images of music icons captured by rock and roll photographer John Rowlands. During his career that began on September 26th, 1960 when John connected with the sixteen year old singing sensation, Brenda Lee, John has been on the road photographing some of the biggest names in the music industry, including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Jimmy Hendrix, Burton Cummings, BB King, Louis Armstrong, Kiss, Michael Jackson, Linda Ronstadt, Rod Stewart—just a sampling of names in a plethora of recording artists captured for eternity by John and his camera.
John, who was hired by RCA to photograph 48 of Elvis’s concerts from 1972 until 1976, offered Saturday’s concert goers an opportunity to see ‘never before seen photos’ from his Elvis collection. Lisa and I, along with all Elvis and ETA fans in the audience, felt privileged that John chose ETA Thane Dunn’s show to exhibit his Elvis 70s Concert Years photos. Perhaps John chose the Extravaganza for the reveal because he considers Thane “the closest thing to Elvis being in the building, a split second away from the real thing”.
One of the most conspicuous photographs that John displayed during his slide show was The Archer. It is estimated that through websites, logs, and articles, 50,000,000 people worldwide have seen that one photo. Toronto artist, Marcus Wells, was asked to recreate the image in a painting, adding a microphone in David’s extended hand. I wish to thank Marcus for sending the following photograph of his beautiful tribute painting of David Bowie to be included in this article.
John Rowlands talked a little about each of the photos as they appeared on the two large screens that flanked the stage. Showcasing his extensive body of work could have easily filled the entire evening. It would have been wonderful if there had been time for a Q&A period after the slideshow, since I think others, like me, had a lot of questions we wanted to ask the legendary rock and roll photographer about his extraordinary career. I was delighted to have the opportunity to meet John briefly after his presentation and take a few photos. More information about renowned photographer John Rowlands can be found on his website: www.rockphotobook.com