Tribute artists celebrate the king

2013-08-09T00:00:00Z Tribute artists celebrate the kingEloise Marie Valadez Eloise.Valadez@nwi.com, (219) 933-3365 nwitimes.com

There's no doubt Elvis' spirit is still alive in the Region as fans continually flock to concerts celebrating the music of the King of Rock 'n' Roll.

Next week, two tribute artists, with ties to the area, will honor Presley when they bring "That's the Way It Was...Tribute to the King of Rock 'n' Roll" to Griffith's Knights of Columbus Hall on Aug. 16.

Travis James and Bob Hamilton, along with the Tony Bernard Show Band, will resurrect the spirit of Elvis and his iconic music.

"The last time I was in the area was for our Bishop Noll show two years ago," said Travis James, who'll be performing the later Elvis concert years. James, who grew up in the Black Oak area of Gary, is a graduate of Calumet High School.

"I performed at the Knights of Columbus as a teen," James said, with a laugh. He said he's looking forward to coming back to the area. "It's exciting for me because I get to see a lot of my family."

As a performer for nearly four decades, James said he enjoys paying tribute to Elvis. He is also currently an entertainer at Memories Theatre in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., where he performs as Conway Twitty and other stars. James said he also performs throughout the country as Elvis, Neil Diamond, Hank Williams Jr. and other singers. "But I perform as Conway Twitty more than anyone," he said.

Bob Hamilton, also a graduate of Calumet High School, and a resident of the Region, is also looking forward to next week's show.

"I'll be doing Elvis from the '50s and a little bit of the '60s," he said. Hamilton has been performing on and off  for the last 30 years, he said. He also performs as John Mellencamp and Tom Jones in shows across the country. Hamilton, co-owner of Barton's Pizza in Highland, will be competing in the Ultimate Elvis Contest at Elvis Fantasy Fest in Portage this fall.

James and Hamilton said they've always admired Elvis' talent.

"I've always liked him and his style," Hamilton said, adding when he performs as Elvis he doesn't think of himself as trying to impersonate the legendary musician but stresses he's just intent on paying tribute and offering "the essence" of Elvis.

Both performers said they admired Elvis ability to cross over into various genres, including blues, country and gospel.

The tribute shows, James said, always seem to have great attendance.

"People are fascinated by tribute artists," he said. "It's like that everywhere. You always draw a pretty good crowd no matter what."

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