Visit http://www.lakegeorgeelvisfest.com for ticket information for this week’s show!
There’s the curled lip, the jet black pompadour and, of course, the hips. It’s all part of Elvis.
And for tribute artists that’s the part that can’t be faked. You can get the mannerisms down, you can detail the jumpsuit and throw the scarf in just the right way. Nailing the vocal range is something else entirely.
It might be on “The Unchained Melody,” it might be on “If I Can Dream” or “The American Trilogy” but it’s certainly on the early 60’s recordings. Songs like “Such A Night”, “Are You Lonesome Tonight” and “Surrender.”
Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Jim Barone.
“For me, what made Elvis special was his vocal range. He’d take a number and bring it up real high, then take it low and go back and forth. That’s a unique talent. Even some of the 70’s songs you can just belt out and get it right. The songs from his early years can be more challenging,” Jim Barone says.
Johnny Ray and The Drifters recorded the song “Such A Night” before Elvis did it. When you hear Elvis’s cut you begin to realize the breadth of his musical genius. He takes the song where the other artists couldn’t go.
Jim Barone can do justice to Elvis’s version. That’s saying a lot.
“I consider myself kind of an intellectual Elvis fan. A true fan knows the man had so many different voices and such a great sound. When that Elvis would nail a song like “Such A Night” and he’d go high note, mid note, low note that’s the hardest Elvis to sing. You really have to have the vocal control to do the young and middle Elvis,” Barone says.
Jim got started after a friend’s dad turned him on to the finer points of Elvis’s music. Having just known Elvis as the voice behind “Jailhouse Rock”, Barone’s eyes and ears were opened when he began to study the intricacies of Elvis’s singing. A tribute act became a natural extension to a young man who was already experienced on the stage doing Conrad in Bye Bye Birdie.
“I’ve been doing my show for 19 years and I really specialize in the vocal end of it. Elvis’s range really comes natural to me. I do all eras but my favorites come from the period when Elvis’s range was being showcased.”
That drive for authenticity extends beyond the vocals. You can’t pay tribute without getting the movements, the stage presence and the charisma. For Barone, though, a little goes a long way.
“I try to keep the movements to what Elvis really did. He was very classy with what he did. I’m paying tribute to him and I don’t go over the top and make a mockery out of how he moved. That’s important to me.”
This almost twenty year journey for Jim Barone peaks later this year. He has qualified to compete for the Ultimate Elvis Championship in Memphis during Elvis Week. Clearly, he’s done his homework, he has the talent and when it comes time it will be in the hands of the judges. They should listen closely. It’s about the voice.
For Barone, paying tribute to Elvis Presley is centered around paying tribute to one of the most gifted vocalists music has ever heard.
“When you start to dig into Elvis’s catalog you start to realize how great he was. He shouldn’t be remembered just as the guy who did “The Wonder of You”– which is a great song. There are songs he did that are just amazing in terms of his ability as singer.”
This June 5 at the Lake George Forum, thanks to Jim Barone, fans will get a chance to appreciate the finer points of Elvis’s unique musical stylings.
The Elvis Breakdown–Jim Barone answers a few King-like questions
You’re allowed five Elvis songs when you’re marooned on an island—which ones do you take?
Are You Lonesome Tonight
Like A Baby
Favorite Elvis “Guilty Pleasure” song?
Favorite Tour Year?