Rock N Roll Heaven – Country Roots [VIDEO]
The Wichita Theatre was packed to the rafters Friday night for Rock N Roll Heaven, a triple threat tribute show featuring Johnny Rogers as Buddy Holly, Al Nelson as Roy Orbison and Kraig Parker as the King, Elvis Presley.
In an earlier post I reminded you of who Buddy, Roy and Elvis were. (As if you needed reminding!) This time I thought I’d tell you a bit more about the performers.
The show started with Johnny Rogers paying tribute to Buddy Holly. Johnny does an incredible job of looking – and sounding – like Buddy. Born in Chicago, and growing up the son of a Radio personality, people like Hank Williams Sr., George Jones, Conway Twitty, Marty Robbins and Elvis were a normal part of his life. Then came the fateful day he first heard Rave On by Buddy Holly and he knew … It was time to get … The glasses!
A few guitar lessons later and Johnny was hooked. Next came a fake I.D. and several nights hanging out at the local music spots soaking up lessons from the performers and the result is the show we had Friday night. A Buddy Holly tribute show that would make Buddy proud.
I thought the Buddy Holly part of the show was great. Then Al Nelson got on stage as Roy Orbison. Holy turntables, Batman! This guy can sing! Give a listen to any of Roy Orbison’s music and you’ll quickly become aware that he’s not easy to imitate. From his high falsetto to a rich strong tenor, it takes a lot of talent and range just to sing one of Roy’s tunes, let alone do it looking – and sounding – like the original. Al makes it look easy!
While his music career started in Midland, Al was actually born in Wink, Texas. As Al tells it, Wink is a few miles west of Odessa, which is a few miles west of Midland, which is several hundred miles west of Fort Worth.
Wherever he started from, several hundred people were very happy he made a stop at the Wichita Theatre Friday night. Al had everyone shouting, singing and clapping along, song after song.
After a brief intermission allowing the crowd to visit the concession stand and chat with friends in the spacious Wichita Theatre lobby it was time for Elvis. OK, technically it was Kraig Parker paying tribute to Elvis, but it’s sometimes hard to tell where Kraig steps back and The King takes over. He’s that good.
Kraig is no stranger to the Wichita Theatre stage and has a strong following in the Wichita Falls area. A veteran stage performer from the Dallas – Fort Worth area, Kraig has been doing his Elvis Tribute show since 1996 playing everywhere from casinos and conventions to Las Vegas. He’s also moving up in the Ultimate Elvis competition and will be competing in the upcoming event during Elvis week in Memphis, Tennessee.
Watching all three performers on stage together at the end of the evening it’s clear that they all enjoy what they do and enjoy working with each other. That was even more obvious as you watched their interaction in the Wichita Theatre lobby after the show.
While the show is called Rock N Roll Heaven, its interesting to see how the early days of Rock N Roll have influenced today’s Country music. Ask any current performer who their influences are and the same ground breaking, outside the box thinking, rockabilly roots artists of the early Rock N Roll days will invariably come up.
Kudos to the Wichita Theatre for bringing shows like this to town, and kudos to each of the performers and the Royal Tribute Band for an incredible night of music in downtown Wichita Falls.
Here’s the promotional video for this show as it makes its way across the country.
Kraig will be back with an Elvis Christmas show in early December, and the other performers will most likely be back again, too. Keep an eye on the Wichita Theatre website for updated schedules.