'A Night to Remember' a tribute to Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Carl PerkinsElvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis tribute artists will perform at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Corn Palace on “A Night to Remember.”
By: Candy DenOuden, The Daily Republic
Maybe Elvis hasn’t left the building? In fact, it looks like he has company.
Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis tribute artists will perform at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Corn Palace on “A Night to Remember.” Though Corn Palace Director Mark Schilling said the Palace has the capacity for as many as 2,000 people for the show, he expects a crowd of 750-800.
“There will be plenty of tickets at the door,” he said.
The concert is part of the Corn Palace’s efforts to bring in more entertainment throughout the year, rather than just a blitz of headliners during the summer Corn Palace Festival. And, despite a Billy Currington/Jake Owen concert in September and the first-ever indoor bull riding event last weekend, Schilling said he thinks people are still excited about more entertainment options.
“I think people are definitely ready to see things at the Palace,” he said. “We just need to make sure that we’re hitting a different demographic than what we hit last week or weeks ago.”
Sunday’s show should hold special nostalgia for music lovers, history buffs and fans of Americana. “A Night to Remember” refers to Dec. 4, 1956, when the four legendary solo artists met at Sun Studios and had an impromptu jam session.
John Mueller (Perkins), Neil Morrow Cash), Blair Carman (Lewis) and Travis Ledoyt (Elvis) will join forces to pay tribute that night, and to their musical inspirations. Ledoyt, who also does his own show, said had worked with Mueller previously, so, when Mueller called to ask if he’d be interested in a tribute to the “million-dollar quartet,” he jumped at the chance.
“It seemed like a good fit,” he said. Not just for the chance to play Elvis, either. Ledoyt said even though he’s still not sure what a Corn Palace is, it’s the type of venue that lends an air of authenticity to the tribute concert.
“I still don’t have all the details on what it is,” he said, laughing. “It sounds like something Elvis would have played in the ’50s. It sounded like a good fit.”
Schilling said that’s no accident. “When they were playing at Sun Studios, this would have been the perfect type of place to play in front of a crowd about this size, just to hear the music and the energy that these four will have,” he said.
Neil Morrow, who portrays Johnny Cash, said he also is excited to play the Palace. “The first thing I did was look it up online,” he said, upon hearing about the “World’s Only” Corn Palace.
“I thought it was great. It’s fun to go to a place that supports playing all kinds of music, especially country music and early Americana. “Living in southern California, there’s not enough venues like the Corn Palace.”
So how does a “city boy” develop such a love for early country music? Interestingly enough, his inspiration was the King of Rock n’ Roll. “For me it started with Elvis, and then I got to discover Johnny Cash,” Morrow said. “It’s just something I consider a major part of my life. It’s just a natural fit for how I grew up.”
He said he developed a passion for Sun music when he was only 8 or 9 years old and has never looked back.
“At that time, Michael Jackson was king of the music world and I was going back to music that had been recorded 25 to 30 years earlier,” he said. “It’s just happy music for the most part. You hear it, you want to dance.”
Morrow, who also has a Ring of Fire tour in which he and his wife, Jamie, pay tribute to one of country’s first famous couples, Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, said during his shows he tries to transport audiences back to when Cash was on stage.
“I put that sound in my voice, the Johnny Cash voice. I re-enact his mannerisms,” he said. “I’m definitely in character.”
Ledoyt shared similar reasons for his love of Elvis.
“Elvis is the reason I got into music at all,” he said. As a 17-year-old unsure of what he wanted to do for a career, he said a documentary of Elvis in the 1950s caught his attention.
“It showed a clip of him on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show,’ and I just got captivated,” he said. “I just started actually singing along to his songs.
“It happened by accident, really, but I’m glad it did.”
He said he’s tried to stay true to that ’50s portrayal. “It is the ’50s Elvis, it’s not the jumpsuit thing,” he said. “There won’t be any of that.”
And, like any good fans, both Ledoyt and Morrow said they are very familiar with the famous 1956 recording session and are excited to recreate it.
“What we’re really trying to do is pay tribute to that night and the music that came out of Sun Records,” he said. And, like that night, it will be four independent artists coming together for a special event.
“Just like the original four guys that got together,” Ledoyt said. “Maybe we can capture that magic.” “We’ll see what happens.”
Ledoyt, Morrow and Carman have not played together previously; Mueller is the common link. “We all have heard each other before, but have actually never played together,” Morrow said. But, each person will perform individually, until the main event — the jam session.
“There will be some ad-libbing and just having fun, and that’s something I think people like to see,” Ledoyt said. Schilling said a videographer will be there to capture the initial collaborative performance of the long-time tribute artists.
“This is really a test for them, as well — this is one of the first shows that they’re doing of this makeup,” he said. “We’re just trying to make sure we have a nice crowd.”
General admission tickets, which provide a seat in the raised section, are $20. Tables of eight, which are reserved seats, are $200 per table or $25 per ticket. Doors open at 5 p.m., and the concert will start at 6 p.m. “It’s a great time to come enjoy a show at the Corn Palace,” Schilling said.