Million Dollar Quartet

I sometimes think I was born in the wrong era.

Even as a teenager, it was music from the 50s and 60s that dominated my collection. I’ve visited Graceland in Memphis. I’ve played guitar at Hank Williams’ grave in Alabama. I took a road trip to trace the life of Buddy Holly from Lubbock, TX to the plane crash site in Clear Lake, Iowa. But I would give anything to travel back in time to be there in the moment when Phil Ochs played his first coffee house in Greenwich Village, or the Beatles at Empire Stadium or to find myself walking down Union Avenue on December 4th, 1956.

Fortunately for me, there are records. And Sam Phillips made some of the best of them.

Sam seized his opportunity of being in the right place at the right time, recording the best of what Memphis’s diverse music scene had to offer: blues, country, gospel, boogie, western swing and everything in-between. Before long, Roy Orbison came a-knockin, then Charlie Rich, not to mention the four young men who became known as the “Million Dollar Quartet”. When Sam hit record he wasn’t just making hit records, he was documenting a special moment in history: the birth of Rock & Roll.

Sam named his company Sun as a sign of perpetual optimism: a new day and a new beginning. When we listen to these records, we ARE travelling back in time to that day. They haven’t been tracked, overdubbed, processed and auto-tuned. These are records of musicians in a room, playing together in all its raw, imperfect beauty. More than anything else, he captured the spirit of these pioneers and immortalized them on vinyl, “where the soul of a man never dies”.

Starting this month, the Arts Club Theatre takes audiences back to the greatest impromptu jam session in rock and roll history at 706 Union Ave in Memphis, Tennessee when Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley played together for the first and only time . I’ve had such a good time putting this show together as musical director and I couldn’t be more proud of the cast.

Get you tickets today!

Back to ’59

B&W Buddy

I just want to give a quick thanks to Pete Paquette and everyone at Paquette Productions for a wonderful experience on my first tour in Ontario in several years.  The photo above was shot backstage in Chatham, ON.  The following three weeks will see me and the stellar cast of Class of ’59 touring Alberta and BC.  Check the sidebar for ticket info and dates.  Hope to see you there!*

*Please note: we are not selling any merchandise on this tour. If you are interested in purchasing a CD please visit my STORE.

Good Rockin’ Tonight!

The Arts Club’s Red Rock Diner is now rockin’ Granville Island Stage until August 2nd.  It is a time capsule of 1950s Vancouver and explores the legacy of Red Robinson. I play Val, the greaser kid from Kitsilano who idolizes Elvis, sings and wiggles his hips.  I’m very proud of this show and the team that put it together.  Get your tickets soon before they are all sold out!

 

The Rewind Button: Sunrise

Ah, Elvis.  Probably the best known pop artist in history that only needs a first name.  Sure, Madonna is big.  Sting.   Prince.  And the artist formerly known as Prince.  But Elvis.  He meant so much to so many.  Had so many looks and distinctive periods in his career.  Perfect to create a series of action figures:  Jailhouse Elvis, Wartime Elvis, Comeback Elvis, Bowel-movement Elvis.  It is such a shame that his memory has been cheesified by excessive merchandising and bad jump-suit clad caricature-style impersonators.  This, to me, obscures what makes Elvis so great.  This recording contains few of Elvis’ best known songs but it obscures not Elvis’ greatest quality: his free and natural vocal performance.  His phrasing and delivery works so perfectly with what was a fresh new sound coming out of that studio.  Combined with Scotty Moore’s sweet guitar licks, history was being made, and they didn’t even know it.  That’s the best!  Elvis before he was “Elvis”.  At this point, he was just a guy who loved music and could really sing.  That’s what I love about these recordings.

The other bloggers:

http://rebstevenson.com/
http://1throne.com
http://bettylivin.com/
http://www.musicqwest.com/
http://love-as-a-verb.blogspot.com/
http://www.gradstudentbyday.blogspot.com/
http://www.pimplomat.com/
http://reneesw.com/blog/
http://sarabynoe.com/blog/
http://sarahkelsey.posterous.com/

Long live the Kings

The reviews are in for Burnin’ Love:

“Quirky and whimsical […] a definite crowd-pleaser”

“Zachary Stevenson is pitch-perfect swagger as the “real” Elvis”

-Joff Schmidt, CBC Radio

“Riotous laughs — everybody in the whole cellblock is along for the ride”

“Stevenson brings a lovely voice and guitar work and a laconic dignity to his young, silver-suited King […]  In flashbacks he also plays Wade… a sexy colt who lights up the stage with frisky energy”

-Alison Mayes, Winnipeg Free Press

“Also all right mama was Stevenson’s singing. The young guitar man has played Buddy Holly and Hank Williams in previous productions and is a pitch-perfect Presley”

-Jared Story, Uptown Magazine

Full CBC review here

Free Press Review

Uptown Magazine

Burnin’ Love Opens!

Tonight is the world premiere of Sharon Bajer’s new play: Burnin’ Love.  It’s been a great challenge taking on the role of “pseudo Elvis” but the cast (Ric Waugh, Chelsea Rankin and Miriam Smith) has made it delightful.  Looking forward to tonight!

Read more about it in the Winnipeg Free Press:

Also, an article came out in La Liberte, Winnipeg’s french newspaper.

And the Sandbox Blog

Jailhouse Rock

It’s 30 degrees below; it’s starting to snow; where else could I go but to the Prairie Theatre Exchange to set the dance floor on fire and create a little warmth with “Burnin’ Love”.

Yes, I’m here in Winnipeg, one of Canada’s most notoriously chilly cities, fittingly rehearsing for a show with a reference to fire in it.  Winnipeg playwright, Sharon Bajer, has written a heartwarming and hilarious piece about love, death and Elvis and I’m providing the Elvis.

As if Phil Ochs, Buddy Holly and Hank Williams wasn’t enough, I feel like I’ve finally arrived doing my first “Elvis” impersonation.  This is not the path I imagined for myself, but it sure is interesting.  There has been no better way for me to learn about the roots of pop music than to really explore the lives of those who have made such an impact.

The show opens in two weeks, March 3-20th.  More info here: www.pte.mb.ca

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...