A tribute fit for a king

Night of 100 Elvises includes three stages and more than 35 bands

December 01, 2005|By SAM SESSA | SAM SESSA,SUN REPORTER

Does the city's heart still flutter for The King?

Uh-huh.

There's no better testament than this weekend's Night of 100 Elvises -- a tribute that includes three stages, more than 35 bands and impersonators, showgirls, about seven hours of performances for two nights and the famous fried peanut butter and banana sandwich.

"We aim for over-stimulation," said event organizer Carole J. Carroll.

Proceeds from the show benefit the Johns Hopkins Children's Center. Held at Lithuanian Hall, the 12-year-old event is a bombardment of everything King, down to the decorations: An Elvis ice statue carved by sculptor Vivat HongPong stands in the lobby area along with Nicolas Cage's jumpsuit from Honeymoon in Vegas. Fans love to touch the ice sculpture, Carroll said.

"People rub on his legs," she said.

Most of the acts will play on the ballroom stage, the largest of the three. None of the performers may duplicate songs on this stage, and each set is timed -- seven minutes for bands and 10 minutes for Elvis tribute artists, or ETAs, Carroll said.

The two lounges present 20-minute sets in a more intimate space. The Jungle Room, the upper lounge, features bands and younger ETAs, Carroll said. Expect to see black leather, Grand Ole Opry getup and movie suits in front of rockabilly bands. Only ETAs play the lower lounge, called the Vegas Lounge. Most of these performers rock in jumpsuits and sideburns to die for, she said.

People chase their favorite ETAs from room to room, Carroll said. They relish new renditions of Elvis classics and egg the ETAs on, she said.

"It doesn't matter how old they are, they want that music just a little faster than your heartbeat," Carroll said. "You gotta breathe once in a while, but we really deliver for almost 7 1/2 hours. One should leave there vibrating almost. I think people come for that really full sensory and emotional experience."

Most arrive in style. Because parking is limited outside Lithuanian Hall, you can park at the Radisson Hotel at Cross Keys and at the Inner Harbor Holiday Inn and catch a complimentary limousine ride to the show. The limos will pump Elvis tunes, of course. Some of the ETAs stay at those hotels, and there's a chance they'll hop in the limo and serenade you for the 10-15 minute journey.

Chris Presley, an Elvis impersonator from Baltimore, will perform on all three stages. Presley, 32, portrays a younger Elvis from the '50s and '60s -- the more rare and desirable of the ETA caste. Presley said he prefers upbeat songs.

"A lot of the other guys sing ballads," Presley said. "As a rule, I won't do a ballad in a show. Some people want to hear 'em, but the majority of the people want to get up and get down. It's hard to get up and get down with a ballad."

Presley's pelvis gyrates all the while, he said. He swings, jives and shakes all over like a jellyfish. By the end of the show, he looks as if he jumped in a swimming pool, he said.

"It's like sweating to the oldies," Presley said. "It gets rough, but there's plenty of women out there to help take care of me."

sam.sessa@baltsun.com

The Night of 100 Elvises runs 7 p.m.-2 a.m. tomorrow and Saturday nights at Lithuanian Hall, 851-853 Hollins St. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $50 in advance and $60 at the door. Call 888-494-9558 or visit nightof100elvises.com.

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