Jukebox: Lustre Kings to throw 75th birthday bash for Elvis

I can’t imagine Elvis Presley at 75. Can you? If he hadn’t died in 1977, at 42, he would turn 75 tom
The Lustre Kings, along with some friends, will present the “Elvis Presley Birthday Bash†on Saturday at WAMC’s Performing Arts Studio in Albany.
The Lustre Kings, along with some friends, will present the “Elvis Presley Birthday Bash†on Saturday at WAMC’s Performing Arts Studio in Albany.

I can’t imagine Elvis Presley at 75. Can you?

If he hadn’t died in 1977, at 42, he would turn 75 tomorrow.

Yes, I do remember when he hit like a bomb, of talent, ambition and charisma! Back then, he perfectly personified the raucous, rustic rebel, defined by youthful energy and openness to all the clandestine cultural cues simmering, quietly until then, under the commercial American entertainment mainstream.

Race and other restraints meant nothing to him: It was all rock ’n’ roll, and he mastered it so completely that he became its king. By his death, however, he had become another, sadder, sort of symbol — of how fame and fortune can erode the soul. By then, he had set standards that will never be matched, selling a billion records (including many millions after his death) and attracting 1.5 billion viewers to his “Aloha From Hawaii” special, the first live-by-satellite performance in show-biz history.

No wonder fans and musicians celebrate his birth rather than his death.

On Saturday, the Lustre Kings and some musical friends present the “Elvis Presley Birthday Bash” at WAMC’s Performing Arts Studio. This annual all-star fandango is actually part of an eight-show tour that kicked off in Rochester on Wednesday, hits WAMC on Saturday, the Ale House (680 River St., Troy — call 272-9740 — on Sunday, and wraps up on Saturday, Jan. 16 at Daisy Baker’s (33 Second St., Troy — call 266-9200.

On Saturday at WAMC (339 Central Ave., Albany), the Lustre Kings — leader, guitarist and singer Mark Gamsjager, pianist Jeff Potter, bassist Mike LaConte and drummer Jason Smay — will bring fellow Elvis fans and primal rockers Johnny Rabb (vocals, guitar — and bigger pompadour than Gamsjager’s), John Tichy (guitar) and Bobbie Henrie (guitar) onstage with them to celebrate the King. Show time is 8 p.m. Admission is $20. Phone 465-5233 ext. 4 or visit www.wamcarts.org.

Circus back in town

Like the annual “Elvis Birthday Bash” at WAMC (and other venues), Gandalf Murphy & the Slambovian Circus of Dreams return annually to the same place around the same time: the Eighth Step at Proctors on Saturday.


For Gazette music writer Michael Hochandel’s review of this show, click here.

These guys have played here so often that everybody knows by now there’s nobody in the band named Gandalf Murphy. It’s actually leader, guitarist and bassist Joziah Longo; his wife, cellist and accordionist Tink Lloyd; guitarist Sharkey McEwen; drummer Tony Zuzulo; bassist Chen Longo and keyboardist Orien Longo — and it’s a time-warp deluxe.

Gandalf Murphy & the Slambovian Circus of Dreams may be more 1960s than Crosby, Stills & Nash. Imagine the most mystical and altruistic impulses of San Francisco’s psychedelic Summer of Love hibernating in some dark hollow of the Catskills, Rip Van Winkle fashion, then waking up last week and grabbing their instruments. In hippie hair and Haight Street garb, and shrouded in home-made myth, they jam — loose or tight, or both at once — they write unabashedly New Age-y songs, and they disarm you utterly by playing and singing with a bullet-proof sincerity and blithe immunity to pop fashion.

Gandalf Murphy & the Slambovian Circus of Dreams perform on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Eighth Step at Proctors GE Theatre (432 State St., Schenectady). Tickets are $26. Phone 434-1703 or 346-6204 or visit www.eighthstep.org or www.proctors.org.

Guthrie/Irion return

Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion are on a shorter return cycle than the Lustre Kings with their annual “Elvis Presley Birthday Bash” and Gandalf Murphy & the Slambovian Circus of Dreams early-January Eighth Step return. Sarah Lee and Johnny — partners in marriage and music — played The Egg this fall with Sarah Lee’s father, Arlo, and their whole clan of siblings and offspring; and they return here for a Caffe Lena show on Sunday.

They evoke earlier folk-country duet harmonizers Porter Wagoner/Dolly Parton, George Jones/Tammy Wynette, Johnny Cash/June Carter Cash and Gram Parsons/Emmylou Harris. They recently reached back even further, to children’s folk, on their “Go Waggaloo” album. Their young daughters, Arlo, Pete Seeger and Pete’s grandson Tao Rodriguez Seeger join in on the album, but the two will perform as a duo at the Caffe (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs) — and they really know how. Show time is 7 p.m. Admission is $16 in advance and $18 at the door. Phone 583-0022 or visit www.caffelena.org.

Zappa tribute

Only a bit out of sync with this anniversary thing going on this week is the Frank Zappa tribute show, Project/Object, on Saturday at Revolution Hall (425 River St., Troy). They played the place last Nov. 18 (the night after playing the Iron Horse.) Meanwhile, Zappa Plays Zappa — led by the late, great Frank’s (also pretty great) guitarist son Dweezil — played The Egg on Aug. 5, 2008, then at the Palace on Aug. 4, 2009. That’s where Frank himself played his last-ever local show on Feb. 2. 1988.

If the Zappa Plays Zappa crew is the “official” Frank Zappa tribute show, Project/Object boasts singers Ray White and Ike Willis, who both played in Frank Zappa’s band, plus guitarist and leader Andre Cholmondeley, bassist David Johnsen, drummer Jim Ruffi and keyboardist Eric Svalgard. Show time for Project/Object is 9 p.m. on Saturday at Revolution Hall. Timbre Coup opens.

Tickets are $20 in advance and $22 on Saturday. Phone 274-0553 or visit www.revolutionhall.com.

Reach Gazette Columnist Michael Hochanadel at [email protected]

Categories: Life and Arts

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