Thursday, July 10, 2014





Klush happy to help hometown


February 19. 2013 5:53PM
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For Shawn Klush, two things are close to his heart: the music of Elvis Presley and his native hometown of Pittston, where he was raised and introduced to the music that would ultimately become his career. So when word spread that the Pittston Memorial Library was working on organizing a benefit to help raise funds for renovations, he had an easy decision to make when asked about taking part in the show.


It wasn't even a question, he said of the fundraiser happening this Saturday at the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre. The family is here, my cousin is the mayor of Pittston, and they needed some help. We were home and available, so we easily said 'we'll do it.'


While Klush is eager to help his native city, the Kirby Center provides a larger room than most of the other venues he has played in our area. Considering he just wrapped a tour of Canada, and has played everywhere from arenas to larger-scale theaters, he feels right at home at the nearly 2000 seat Kirby Center, which will have a much more relaxed feel for his enormous band including The Fabulous Amabassadors, Pittston's Charlie I (Infantino) and Elvis' all-female backing vocalists, The Sweet Inspirations.


The setting is different, and it's something that we're more used to, he said. The Northeast Fair we do because we're from here. When we go out and do these big shows, we're used to big theatres. We just left Canada where we were doing 2500 seats each night in those big venues.


To be able to fill a few thousand seats each night, Klush is clearly doing something right. Whether it be the spot-on interpretation of Presley's music and stage show, or his interaction with the crowd, Klush seems to receive nothing but praise wherever he performs. However, like any Tribute Artist out there, there is undoubtedly room for criticism. With all the accolades he's received there is little room for anyone to argue Klush's loyalty and respect for the music, but if anyone is apprehensive in seeing someone ‘impersonate' a music icon, Klush welcomes whatever feedback Presley's fans have to offer.


As far as criticism is concerned, you're not going to please everyone all the time, he said. I go out and do what I do, and if you like it, that's great. If you don't, that's ok too. Just go out and give it a chance before you take a bullet to it. I haven't heard anything bad. If anything, I've heard people say ‘he can't take the place of somebody like that,' which is not what I'm trying to do.


Aside from being well-respected by Elvis buffs throughout the world, in 2007 Klush garnered the attention of Elvis Presley Enterprises, including Priscilla and Lisa Marie, when he won the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist contest in Memphis, Tennessee, making him the first ever Tribute Artist to be sanctioned by EPE.


‘It's been phenomenal, he said of what the contest has done for him. Because we're affiliated with Graceland, it brings out the real fans. Not just people who are inquiring about it, but actual fans. I have people coming up to me every night saying ‘I saw him in Niagra Falls in '73', and that's what it's like with the true fans.


Along with the sanctioning of EPE, Klush has had the opportunity to have some of Presley's close friends and band mates share the stage with him. From drummer DJ Fontana and male vocal group The Jordanaires to Elvis' right-hand man, Joe Esposito, Klush is humbled to be acquainted with many of the bigger names from The King's career. Even more humbling is the acceptance he feels from those people, who are protective of their time with Presley and choose who they will perform with.


I don't think Joe Esposito or The Sweet Inspirations will just go out with anybody, he said. It's not about the almighty dollar to them. That's the kind of person Elvis was. Once he touched you or he touched your life, you felt obligated to be by his side. If someone's doing a tribute to him and they're not up to par, they won't be a part of it. I feel very lucky that almost twenty years into the business, I have Joe and the rest of those people with me. That's a big deal to me.


As far as the show at the Kirby Center, Klush is looking forward to paying tribute to what Presley and his band did best – playing music live and giving his fans a reminder of how much of an impact The King made in music.


You're going to see something you don't get to see too often anymore – fifteen or twenty people playing live music and actually singing, he said. That's the way we're bringing it out anymore because so much of today's music is pre-recorded. I'm not knocking that, but when the man came out and did what he did back in the day, it was him and the band and that was it. It's basically what we're bringing; that type of show. It's all about the music and what it used to be.


Being a Pittston native, Klush is also optimistic about the Pittston Library and what the concert can do for his hometown.


I hope the library achieves what they're trying to achieve, he said. I hope that everyone has a good time, and really enjoys themselves. We've always wanted to bring this show here, but for monetary reasons or political situations, we haven't been able. Finally we have that chance and we hope that people really get a kick out of it.


IF YOU GO


WHAT Shawn Klush Elvis Tribute Show



WHEN Saturday, Nov. 24



WHERE FM Kirby Center, Wilkes-Barre



TICKETS Kirby Center Box Office (823-4599), Ticketmaster, Pittston Library (654-9565, ext. 25)





While Klush is eager to help his native city, the Kirby Center provides a larger room than most of the other venues he has played in our area. Considering he just wrapped a tour of Canada, and has played everywhere from arenas to larger-scale theaters, he feels right at home at the nearly 2000 seat Kirby Center, which will have a much more relaxed feel for his enormous band including The Fabulous Amabassadors, Pittston's Charlie I (Infantino) and Elvis' all-female backing vocalists, The Sweet Inspirations.






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