BARRINGTON PASSAGE, N.S. – Performer Thane Dunn says Elvis Presley was able to make connections with people he never even met. When Dunn takes to the stage with his Elvis Rock and Country Show in Barrington this weekend, he’ll be looking to do the same.
The show at the Sandy Wickens Memorial Arena on Saturday, May 26, starts at 7:30 p.m. Doors will open at 6 p.m. Regular tickets are $30 in advance or $40 at the door. Last year he performed in Barrington and Digby but this time around the Barrington show is the only one in the tri-counties. Tickets for the show are being sold at Wilson’s Home Hardware Building Centre, TLC Pharmasave Shelburne, Sandy Wickens Memorial Arena, Nickerson’s No Frills, Murray GM and online. Click here for online ticket info.
Interviewed Wednesday, Dunn, referring to the latest preparations, says he’s very excited about the show.
“We had two practices for the show and the calibre of musicians I have make it seem almost as if I am singing along with the record,” he says. “You hear things note for note and they go into the songs and they become part of the songs.”
What gets him even more excited for the show is listening to his wife Melly Dunn prepare for her opening act performance as the Rhinestone Cowgirl with her salute to the Queens of Country Music: Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette and Patsy Cline.
“As excited as I am to perform all of those amazing Elvis songs for everybody, I’m almost more excited to hear her because I think that she’s going to be the hit of the night,” says Dunn.
“You put that microphone in her hand and she becomes a veteran of music.”
Melly has been on stage with Thane as a backup singer for the last four or five years and Dunn says people were always noting she has an amazing voice and should be featured more prominently in the show. He has a huge appreciation for her love of traditional country music – music that Dunn says you just don’t hear enough of anymore.
“She’s so talented,” he says. “I think she’s going to be one of those people that you watch and you stand back and say, ‘Whoa, what just happened?’ because she’s so incredible,” he says.
The show is called Elvis Rock and Country. Dunn says sometimes people don’t think of Elvis as being a country singer, even though his music says otherwise.
“If you look into the 1970s, start around 1974, a lot of the content is what you’d call country and some of it was pure country. I think that is the music that people really feel in love with as well, but they never get to hear it anywhere,” he says in explaining why he’s incorporating it into his show. “For example, Elvis did Always on My Mind, which was a huge hit for Willie Nelson, but if you say Always on My Mind now people think Elvis Presley. It was a smash hit for him.
“I think he was a country boy from the very start,” he says, adding, again, that country music isn’t what it used to be. “A lot of the country songs that Elvis did, they really told a story and that doesn’t happen anymore. People are just trying to get their words to rhyme.”
But even with the country aspects to this weekend’s show, people are still going to get all shook up says Dunn.
“For anybody thinking we’re doing a pure country show, we’re not. We’re doing a mixture, so you’re still going to hear the standards, we’re still doing Blue Suede Shoes, Suspicious Minds and so on. I think I’m pretty good at putting set lists together that interest people,” he says.
He also says if you’ve seen his show before, you won’t be seeing the same show again.
“Thane Dunn and the Cadillac Kings never do the same show twice. I always change up the set list, I never have the same costume. “If you liked that you saw last time around you’ll like this show as well. It’s a brand new show,” he says, noting he’ll be wearing an embroidered peacock suit he’s had made that was one of Elvis’ favourites.
Authenticity is important to Dunn.
“My hair is real. My sideburns are real. If I had to wear a wig and fake sideburns I don’t actually believe that I would be doing this,” he says, yet adding it’s also his personality that he also brings to this job and to the stage. “I don’t think that I’m Elvis. I’m very safe in my own shoes. I like Thane Dunn, I like who I am.”
Still, asked if when he’s out and about he gets the, “You look familiar…” looks, he says it does happen. He describes a recent experience.
“A woman at an Irving said to me, you look familiar….you look like Elvis, and then she said, ‘Oh my God, you’re Thane Dunn’ and about five people in line started jabbering to me and talking and we were all having fun,” he says, adding, with a laugh, the moment did cause some distraction. About two hours later he was at a store and realized he had left his bank card behind. “I called back and they were all happy. There were about five people waiting to give me my card.”
Asked what he enjoys most when performing as Elvis on stage, Dunn says it is definitely the crowd.
“I love being on stage. I love the banter with the people, I love making people happy,” he says. “I think the neat thing about the show is I never get on stage and refer to myself as Elvis, or I’ll never say this is a song that we did in 1971. But there’s something there. I can’t fix your car, I can’t cook you dinner, I’m a terrible cook. But there is some kind of a fine line, we’re able to create that fantasy where during the show where they think that they could be watching Elvis. It’s a much fun for me as it is for them.”
Dunn has been doing these shows since 2009 and doesn’t foresee stopping anytime soon.
“Elvis is timeless. I have seen probably in the past three or four years people that liked our show and bring their kids or their grandkids and they keep coming back,” he says. “I think if I was doing a tribute to Justin Beiber, I wonder would I be able to do this ten years from today? “It’s different with Elvis,” he says. “Elvis was able to create relationships with people he ever had a chance to meet.”