"I guess you would say that I'm pretty true to the 1972 Elvis," says Russell Brooks. Brooks is Elvis Encore, from the jewel-encrusted jumpsuit down to the white boots. "I loved Elvis as a little kid," Brooks says. "He's actually why I started playing music in the first place. I've been doing Elvis for almost a year now, and I'm having so much fun I don't want to stop doing it."
Originally from North Hampton, Mass., home to Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr. and Fountains of Wayne, Brooks discovered his new hometown of Chapel Hill when his former band, Aloha Steamtrain, came through a few years back. "It's very similar to North Hampton except it's a hell of a lot warmer."
As Elvis, Brooks favors the early '70s. "He was still thin then, and his voice was the best it had ever been." "Little Sister," "Hound Dog," "Suspicious Minds," "American Trilogy"(the "Glory Glory Halleluiah" song) and the Righteous Brothers' "Loving Feeling" make it into Brooks' set.
Brooks, who works at a veterinary clinic part time, says that the Elvis thing is getting enough business that six months from now he hopes to be doing the Elvis thing full time. "It's crazy. It's great. Everyone loves Elvis so much down here. And so do I."
Elvis Encore is just one of the 20 bands in the two-day celebration held at Local 506 each year around Elvis' Jan. 8 birthday.
"It's just about celebrating the King," says Elvisfest founder David Quick, who also puts on the rockabilly themed Heavy Rebel Weekender event in Winston-Salem.
To qualify, the bands have to play at least a couple of Elvis songs if they want to get paid. "That usually does the trick," Quick says. "If you can't cough up at least two Elvis songs, then you're not a rock 'n' roll band."
The only other band playing all Elvis material will be Quick's own outfit, TCB, which he says runs the gamut from Sun sessions to E's late periods. Buckshot Bill, a Toronto one-man band, does a Bob Log thing without the helmet. "He's a little more Hasil Atkins, inspired by Hasil but he does it a lot better now and he's a lot more reliable." The hard-rocking Tombstone Daddys and Octane Saints rub shoulders with NASCAR redneck rockers Nekkid and the psycho garage sounds of Psychocharger. Buck Owens country is represented by 4 on the Floor.
"It's a convenient time, it's the week after New Year's, everybody's wonderin' what to do," Quick says. "So I just kind of decided for everybody."
Check the Local 506 Web site at www.local506.com for lineups and details.
Celebrate the King on Friday, Jan. 7 and Saturday, Jan. 8. Shows start at 8 p.m. $10.