Thanks to our friend, Denny Yeary, we had a chance to see Jerry Presley in Elvis Live at The Jim Stafford Theatre earlier this week. Denny is the handsome gentleman that is standing far right on stage in the video. He is one of the back-up singers in the show and he blew me away with some of his bass slides. My husband and Denny have been friends for more than 30 years and of course it’s a no-brainer that I need to sit with Denny and get a little of his story. Hopefully soon.
There are three or four Elvis impersonator’s in town and I’m sure that there are a handful of other performers that sing some of his signature songs, even if they don’t try to look or act like the King. However, there is only one entertainer in Branson who purports to be a relative of Elvis Presley and that is none other than, Jerry Presley. I had a chance to meet him after the show and he has promised to give me an interview, but through the couple of words I had with him and asking Denny a few questions, I can tell you that he’s been singing and entertaining since 1970 and was the first Elvis impersonator to come to Branson in 1985. He opened his own theatre here in town and appropriately called it, The King’s Mansion.
Jerry Presley performs five days a week and highlights songs from two of Elvis’ most famous concerts:
Aloha from Hawaii
Madison Square Garden
Jerry explains early on in the show that he likes mixing it up and included songs from both shows. Something that I found extremely fascinating was the two sides that the audience got to see of Jerry. He does a great job impersonating Elvis and oft times sounds exactly like his famous cousin. Then after an energy packed number, the music ends and he talks to the audience about the next song coming up and the difference in even his demeanor is remarkable. Jerry Presley has this soft, quiet voice and even though he has a southern drawl, when he speaks he sounds nothing like Elvis. So, Jerry appears to be a very humble, mild-mannered and quiet guy when he’s not belting out Suspicious Minds or In the Ghetto.
The Jim Stafford theatre is a beautiful venue complete with red velvets and a nice sized stage. Big enough to accommodate a six-piece band that includes Clayton Watson playing the grand piano. Also on stage are four,out of this world, back-up singers. Singing bass is our friend, Denny Yeary. He does a great job holding the low end and his voice and tone actually made the floor under my feet vibrate on a few of the songs. Denny is also the emcee of the show and when he speaks you know that he’s show-biz personified.
Rounding out the rest of the amazingly talented singers are: Brett Reith, Jenny Brillhart and Tammy Beebe. What these amazing performers do for this production is brilliant and takes the show to another level. A lot of people don’t realize the importance that the back-up singers bring to each and every song. It’s more than oohing and aahing, it’s musically making the song fuller, richer, whole. Elvis had legendary singers like The Jordanaires and The Stamps Quartet and a woman that sang those incredibly high parts by the name of Kathy Westmoreland. Well, I have to say that the lovely young woman that sings those parts for this Branson show is better than Kathy Westmoreland. Yep, that good. Stand out good.
When Tammy Beebe hit the first high notes of the night, I broke out in goose-bumps and immediately identified where the sweet sound was coming from. Wow! What a voice. The reason I said that I think she’s better than Kathy Westmoreland is because Tammy not only hits every high note pitch perfect, but the notes literally come from her gut and her soul. For those of you that know me personally, you know it’s always about heart and how much you put out there. Well, Tammy Beebe puts it all out there and along with her three side-kicks they manage to elevate the show to outstanding.
So, the next time you’re in Branson and you’re in the mood for some great entertainment, go check out the Jerry Presley Elvis Live show at the Jim Stafford Theatre. You’ll leave with a smile on your face and humming all your favorite Elvis tunes.