- Associated Press - Friday, November 4, 2016

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - It all started on a dare.

One night while hanging out at a club in Wichita, Marshall Matthews was playing pool with a friend - a psychologist who doubled as an Elvis Presley entertainer.

“Somebody put some Elvis songs on the jukebox and we both started singing along,” Matthews said. As he remembers, the friend remarked how much better Matthews sounded and suggested he try performing on stage someday.

Matthews passed.

Although he was a fan of Elvis’ music from a young age, he’d chosen his career path long before, according to The Hutchinson News (https://bit.ly/2ewB1Rb ). But the allure of bringing “the King” back to life was too good to resist, and after a 30-year career in law enforcement, Matthews traded in his police blues for “Blue Suede Shoes.”

It’s been about a decade since the switch. The California-born Matthews bills his show as an “accurate representation” of Elvis’ 1970s Las Vegas extravaganzas - as close to the real thing as an audience could ask for, he says - performing all of the major hits in the artist’s repertoire.

When he appears at Hutchinson’s Historic Fox Theatre, he’ll be joined by his 11-piece backing band, The Memphis Kings, made up of “some of the finest musicians in Kansas.” Oklahoma rockabilly performer Brian Lee Dunning will open the concert.

“When it’s over, everybody on stage is exhausted,” Matthews said, explaining that each show is about two and a half hours long and includes an intermission. “If we’re successful, the audience is as tired and pleased as we are.”

It’s an attempt to duplicate what he experienced at an Elvis concert in high school.

“I’ve never been to one that had as much energy and electricity in the air, and that’s what we try to recreate,” he said.

Like Elvis, Matthews was introduced to music as a child, first taking piano lessons and then learning other instruments. He quickly took a shine to Presley, the handsome Southerner with the slick hair, swoon-inducing dance moves and flashy wardrobe.

“He’s an American icon,” Matthews said. “Right along with every kid in America, that whole style was really appealing to me.”

Along with the Beatles, Presley has inspired countless musicians to follow in his footsteps, assimilating his look and sound into their own acts. Matthews estimates there are around 2,000 Elvis tribute artists currently in operation in the U.S.

While it’s impossible to take Elvis’ place, Matthews has found immense joy giving it a try.

“It is a lot of fun,” he said. “It has been a lot of hard work to bring the act to this level. But when you see the laughter and the tears in the audience from people who grew up loving that music, it’s all worth it.”


Information from: The Hutchinson (Kan.) News, https://www.hutchnews.com

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