Northampton Press

Wednesday, January 16, 2019
Mike Albert, backed by the Big E Band, portrays Elvis Presley of the Las Vegas 1970s’ era, 3 p.m. Jan 24, State Theatre Center for the Arts, Easton.CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Mike Albert, backed by the Big E Band, portrays Elvis Presley of the Las Vegas 1970s’ era, 3 p.m. Jan 24, State Theatre Center for the Arts, Easton.CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Scot Bruce portrays Elvis Presley in his early 1950s era,, 3 p.m. Jan 24, State Theatre Center for the Arts, Easton.CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Scot Bruce portrays Elvis Presley in his early 1950s era,, 3 p.m. Jan 24, State Theatre Center for the Arts, Easton.CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Mike Albert, Scot Bruce in rescheduled ‘Elvis Birthday Bash’ at State

Friday, January 29, 2016 by DEB BOYLAN Special to The Press in Focus

Elvis will return to the building.

However, there will be a delay.

The “Elvis Birthday Bash” has been rescheduled from 3 p.m. Jan 24 until 7 p.m. April 23, State Theatre Center for the Arts, Easton, because of the Jan. 23 snowstorm.

Patrons were to be notified.

Tickets for the Jan. 24 performance will be honored April 23. Patrons with conflicts can contact the State Theatre Box Office for options: 610-252-3132.

Scot Bruce and Mike Albert, backed by the Big E Band, celebrate the life and music of Elvis Presley from his early days as a youthful hip-swinging “Hound Dog,” to the sequined-jumpsuit-sporting Vegas headliner of the 1970s.

The show, now in its 20th year, pays tribute to the music icon. Mike Albert performs during the second half of the program as the latter-day Elvis.

Pursuing a career as an Elvis tribute artist is not something that is a commonplace vocation, well certainly not outside Las Vegas city limits. But Ohio-based Albert has managed to make an unlikely living performing the music of the King.

“As a kid I enjoyed Elvis, especially his movies and his music, and I just thought that was pretty cool but never dreamed of being an Elvis tribute artist,” says Albert in a phone interview.

“I’ve always loved to sing along with his records and as I got older I kept singing at church, ... high school. I was the president of the choir and when I went to college I took a voice class and they taught me how to breathe.”

After completing that lone class of formal vocal instruction, and upon graduation, Albert began a career as an auctioneer and realtor. It would be his stint as a real estate salesman that would ultimately change the course of his life.

“One October, my realtor’s association decided to have a masquerade party for Halloween and I said, ‘Doggone it, I’m gonna go as Elvis.’

“My son at that time had a little Playskool cassette recorder and he liked Elvis. He saw him on TV and he saw this commercial where you could buy a set of Elvis cassette tapes and he bought them and he just played them all the time, especially in the car. I learned the words to all those songs because my son played them so much.”

Albert bought additional cassettes, which were called “sing-a-long” tapes. They had the backing music to popular songs minus the vocal track. This was during the late 1980s, right before the Karaoke craze landed on American shores from Japan.

Albert purchased a few of the tapes featuring Elvis songs and decided to bring the tapes with him to the costume party.

“When I started getting ready as Elvis, I couldn’t believe how with these fake sideburns I glued on and blackening my longer hair then, I started to look like Elvis. The suit looked pretty cool, too, kind of hokey. But I won the character contest of the costume party and they said, ‘Well, if you’re Elvis, let’s hear you sing.’”

Albert had one of his Elvis sing-a-long tapes handy. He gave it to the DJ and the rest, as they say, is history. He received calls the following week to appear as Elvis at two company Christmas parties.

“They said, ‘Could you come do your Elvis thing?’ and I said, ‘My Elvis thing?’ They go, ‘Yeah, you know. Can you sing like you did at our party?’ And I said, ‘Well, I’ll have to buy a few more songs.’ So I bought a few more songs, “ he says, laughing. “And I did that show and then another Christmas party and they paid me, and that was the first time I was ever paid to sing.

“Interest rates were about 16 and 17 percent, so I wasn’t selling a whole lot of houses at that time. So, anyway that’s how I got started.”

Press fast-forward to the present day and Albert has been performing an Elvis tribute show at the State Theatre for two decades. “At Easton that will be, I think, our 20th year that we’ve played the State Theatre and that’s with Scot Bruce and I. My band [Big E Band] plays for both of us.

“That was our first show together at Easton at the State Theatre. Shelley [Browne, State Theatre CEO] contacted her talent agent that she had hired many acts through over the years, she called her and said, ‘You know what? I think I want to bring in an Elvis tribute show. Do you have anybody? I’m thinking we do a young Elvis and a 70s Elvis.’”

The talent agent sent over several head shots and tapes of various Elvis performers and Browne ultimately decided on Bruce and Albert. Browne’s knack for spotting talent can be credited with putting the together this long-running duo that audiences have come to enjoy again and again.

“Scot does a wonderful job of bringing back the memories of the ‘50s Elvis and the moves. And my bass player plays an upright bass for him. There’s a small set of drums and it’s very nostalgic and realistic.

“Then I come out after intermission and do about an hour and ten minutes of the ‘70s jumpsuit Elvis.

“Our goal is to make people leave with a smile, tapping their feet. Our show, you know, we’re Scot Bruce and Mike Albert paying tribute to Elvis. We don’t become Elvis in a show. We are a fan right along with everybody else and I think that’s good.

“We go into character during a song, but we come back to reality and just have fun with Elvis’s fans and that’s what makes our show different.

“We’ve been asked back 20 years in a row. It’s just a more personable atmosphere. People are relaxed. My band is excellent. We’ve honed their skills and the crowd will hear the music they’ve listened to on the records.”

Of audience expectations, Albert has this to say, “They don’t have to be a die-hard Elvis fan to enjoy our show. It’s great music, and it’s fun. They’re not going to see a couple guys who think they’re Elvis. They’ll see a couple guys who love what they are doing, making people happy and we use Elvis as a vehicle.”

Tickets: State Theatre Box Office, 453 Northampton St., Easton;, 1-800-999-STATE, 610-252-3132