Tribute artist shows the evolution of Elvis
Jumpsuits, glitz, great music and more; Adam Fitzpatrick is coming to Vernon June 19 and he’s bringing the King of Rock ’n’ Roll’s Vegas-era music with him.
Declared first runner-up in an international Elvis tribute contest last year, Fitzpatrick will have the full-band backing of the Cadillac Kings.
High from a recent 10-stop tour across western Canada, Fitzpatrick says he thinks people will be blown away by the quality of the 10-piece band, back-up singers, the Uptown Hornz and what he describes as “the best Elvis drummer around.”
“We had our first kick at the can together and it worked out good,” he says of the tour.
Fitzpatrick, who got his start as an Elvis tribute artist by winning a contest in Penticton, toured with the Louisiana Hayride, whose creators Lori and Gil Risling recently moved to Saskatchewan.
“The timing was good because I am now getting so busy, I couldn’t commit to the Hayride,” he says, noting he will always have a soft spot for the show and performers. “I love our schedule now, we’re getting lots of shows and that’s the main thing.”
But Fitzpatrick is still competing.
“I haven’t had too many bites from being second in the world so I guess I still need to get my name out there,” he says. “I love doing the competitions, they’re a lot of fun and you meet a lot of people.”
Competing will take him to Blackpool, England from July 4 to 6, a qualifier for the ultimate world contest.
“My schedule is very tight so I can really only enter two to three (qualifiers) a year,” he says, pointing out he heads to Vegas for another qualifier one day after he returns from England. “Just in case, I’m also going to Collingwood, Ont. where they hold the biggest Elvis festival in the world.”
Winning a qualifier is essential to gaining entry into the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest held annually in Memphis. Whether he wins a berth in the ultimate, or not, Fitzpatrick has booked a show in the Memphis Hotel during the week of the competition.
He has twice gained entry into the world competition, coming in 15th on his first try in 2012 and second last year. He says the other Elvis tribute artists are “awesome guys” and competitors are supportive of each other.
“You can’t take competitions too seriously; there’s always politics,” he says, noting winning one year doesn’t mean a shoe-in for the following one. “It depends on what the judges are looking for, and last year, I had it.”
While he’s striving to satisfy the judges, Fitzpatrick is also having to learn how to fend off inappropriate touching by some female fans.
“I’m a pretty tame guy, I’ve always been a one-girl guy,” he says, noting he figures he’ll likely have to deal with the issue for at least another 15 years as an Elvis tribute artist. “If people grapple, I just back away and move to another part of the stage.”
Fitzpatrick is already working on possibilities for his post-jumpsuit career.
He will release a four-song, country CD June 16 in Penticton, his hometown.
“The name of the album and title song is Thank You and is a dedication to family, friends and fans,” he says. “When it starts with a dare and becomes a dream it’s never done alone.”
Fitzpatrick, who had never written a song before, says he penned Thank You on the way home from a Hayride tour. Nor had the young talent sung in public before he entered the Elvis competition on a dare. Having now spent so much time learning every Elvis nuance, Fitzpatrick found it tough to find his own voice.
“I’m trying to sound like Adam now,” he says, heaping praise on Jimmy Leguilloux, who produced the album. “He’s an amazing coach, musician and producer.”
The album includes covers of John Denver’s Country Roads, Forever Amen by Randy Travis and George Jones’ Whose Gonna Fill Their Shoes?
“My No. 1 thing for a very long time will be Elvis,” he says. “I’ll write another song when I feel like it. It’s not a priority, I’m having a lot of fun.”
Fitzpatrick also has high praise for Mike Schell, his manager and member of the Uptown Hornz, the sanctioned Elvis Presley Enterprises horn section.
Joining Fitzpatrick and the band will be special music guest Joe Kelso, with his impressive vocals as Roy Orbison. Also performing will be “Diamond Jones” with his Vegas tribute to Tom Jones and Neil Diamond.
The Bringing It Back tour stops at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Thursday, June 19 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $35, available at the Ticket Seller, 250-549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca.
– Written by Barb Brouwer, reporter at the Salmon Arm Observer.