The Fringe Festival is a hit and miss experience. Yesterday it was a miss for me – a play in which Desdemona and Ophelia unload their men baggage not in a particularly interesting way.
“Elvis is Water” was an antidote. Not sure it quite works as a play, but it works as a musical performance. On a stripped down stage, the main character, an Elvis fan, relives Elvis’ Sun Sessions. Two young musicians back him up – a Scotty Moore lookalike and Bill Black pretender, slapping his upright bass rockabilly style. Later on, a woman keyboard player joins in.
Elvis was the greatest cover artist ever. He had such a great voice that he could make any song sound as though it belonged only to him. Before Colonel Parker got to him, he was real. Greil Marcus And Peter Guralnick wrote so eloquently about who Elvis was and what he lost when he gained fame.
Back to the play. How can one miss with this type of material – great songs, music that doesn’t let you sit still. Well, one could miss if the performers suck. They didn’t. Took me back to the rockabilly revival years. Stray Cats, Los Lobos during encores, Dwight Yoakam, Joe Ely, the Blasters, Link Wray. Jeff Beck and Dave Edmunds. Then you discover the original artists – Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent. Jack Scott and Carl Perkins playing the Brunswick. Little Richard doing the golden oldies circuit at Ontario Place (not that he would ever consider himself old). It’s music that defines being in the moment joy. Songs with words that tell stories with surprising wit, odd turn of phrase.
I remember once seeing in the financial district one of the guys who used to go to all the Bopcats gigs. He didn’t quite blend in. His pompadour was impeccable. He was missing his customary black leather jacket. Was disguised in suit.