Cody Slaughter is a entirely different animal. A 20-year-old from Harrison, Ark., he embodies the young Elvis at his most vital, sexy and rock ‘n’ roll in looks moves and sound.
When I hear the words “Elvis impersonator,” I envision one of those paunchy guys in glued-on sideburns and a polyester jumpsuit who seem more of a Presley mockery than tribute.
Cody Slaughter is a entirely different animal. A 20-year-old from Harrison, Ark., he embodies the young Elvis at his most vital, sexy and rock ‘n’ roll in looks moves and sound. I saw Slaughter in the touring Broadway musical “Million Dollar Quartet” during its recent Cleveland, and for a tingly moment I felt as if the actual Elvis circa ‘56 was there onstage.
Slaughter’s beginnings as an impersonator of Elvis were humble. “The first time I performed him music I was in second grade. I did ‘Hound Dog’ in a two-piece jumpsuit with a terrible wig,” he recalls with a chuckle. “It was at a talent show for the whole school. It wasn’t quite eye-candy yet but it was fun and everybody through it was great.”
By age 12, he was doing an Elvis act at Branson, and he’s not looked back. He won the 2011 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist contest, sponsored by Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.
Slaughter is returning to Cleveland to appear in “The Elvis Birthday Tribute,” a stage show on Jan. 8 at the State Theatre in Playhouse Square Center. He will portray the leather-clad Elvis from his comeback TV special in ‘68, highlighted by such tunes as “Trouble” and “Little Sister.” The 7 p.m. show also stars to more top-flight Presley tribute artists. Donny Edwards will play the ‘50s rockabilly Elvis and Shawn Klush as the jumpsuited “Aloha From Hawaii”-era ‘70s Elvis.
“The birthday show is going to be great, with a lot of energy and spirit, and I’m proud and happy to be a part of it,” says Slaughter, who was part of last year’s show in Cleveland. “It’s about two hours of rock ‘n’ roll. You’re gonna hear all the hits. The band is humongous. Donny Edwards is just fantastic, and Shawn Klush gives you chills.”
Also part of the tribute will be vocal group the Sweet Inspirations, who backed Presley in concert, and D.J. Fontana, Presley’s original drummer, who will host the show and share Elvis anecdotes. “D.J. and I have kind of bonded,” Slaughter says. “The first time we met, he said, ‘Where are you from?’ I said Arkansas, and he said, ‘Me and Elvis played every joint in Arkansas.’ We just kind of clicked from there.”
Asked if he ever feels bits of Elvis slipping out when he’s going about his everyday life, Slaughter says, “Every now and then, sure. I think everybody’s got a little Elvis in them.”
Tickets for “The Elvis Birthday Tribute,” priced from $10 to $45, may be ordered at www.playhousesquare.org and 216-241-6000.
Page 2 of 2 - NEW YEAR’S TV.
Staying in for New Year’s Eve this year? Here are some TV highlights.
• The Dick Clark’s Rockin’ Eve four-hour celebratory marathon on ABC, starting at 10 p.m., and hosted by Ryan Seacrest, will feature musical guests Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, The Band Perry, Blink-182, LMFAO, Nicki Minaj, Gym Class Heroes and Florence + the Machine.
• ”American Country New Year’s Live,” at 11 p.m. on Fox, will feature performances in Las Vegas by Rodney Atkins, Joe Nichols, Lauren Alaina and Toby Keith with Rodney Carrington as host..
• Carson Daly’s New Year’s Eve special on NBC, live from Times Square, will feature Drake, Jessie J, Blake Shelton, Cee Lo Green, the Roots and Tony Bennett.
• MTV’s live-from-New York City festivities, starting at 11 p.m., will feature performances from Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, Jason Derulo, Mac Miller and J. Cole.
• Coldplay will headline a special New Year’s 90-minute edition of “Austin City Limits” at 11 p.m. on PBS.
• CNN will once again have Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin presiding over the Times Square festivities from 11 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
IT’S NOT ME!
On last week’s Ticket cover, to promote our New Year’s Eve party guide, was a funny photo of a goofy drunk guy that I obtained from a stock-photo service. To my shock, some readers and even a few coworkers thought it was a photo of yours truly.