Presley, Perkins, Lewis and Cash: A Night To Remember

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Chris Diver, News Editor

The Kirkland Fine Arts Center was recently visited by the rock and roll tribute group Presley, Perkins, Lewis, and Cash: A Night to Remember. The group pays tribute to four of rock & roll’s most influential musicians and pioneers: Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash. Together, they have been famously referred to as “The Million Dollar Quartet”.

The group was inspired by a well-known encounter between the four musicians in late 1956 at Sun Record Studios in Memphis, Tennessee before the individual artists achieved most of their successes in the music industry. After leaving Sun Record Studios and  being signed to different record labels, each of the four artists achieved great success and influenced many other musicians. Not only do some of their songs still appear in popular culture today, but their influences are still around in music today.

Over the course of the show, each artist performed between three and five songs that were made famous by each member of the quartet while the other members joined them on stage. The show opened with Zach Ryan portraying Carl Perkins playing electric guitar on stage with a bass player and a drummer. After three songs that were made famous by Perkins, he was joined onstage by Lance Lipinsky on piano who was portraying Jerry Lee Lewis.

After performing four songs by Jerry Lee Lewis, Benjamin Hale joined the duo on stage portraying Johnny Cash on acoustic guitar and went on to perform three well-known songs by Cash. After a brief intermission, they were joined by Victor Trevino Jr. portraying Elvis Presley who went on to finish the show performing several of Elvis’s most well-known songs.

The show ended with a double encore of Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock” and Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Whole Lotta Shaking Going On”. During the show, when each performer wasn’t performing their own songs, they were still on stage playing different instruments that each artist was known for playing, such as Lewis on piano or Perkins on guitar.

Over the course of the show, each performer managed to not only match the musical stylings of their respective artists, but the energy and the characteristics that each artist famously had on stage. Lipinsky’s portrayal of Lewis matched the onstage antics and high energy that Lewis would show when performing, including playing the piano standing on the bench. Similarly, during Trevino’s performance as Elvis, he got the audience involved as he moved and danced around the stage in a similar manner to the way Elvis would move around.

On the contrary, Hale and Ryan were able to mimic how Cash and Perkins would frequently not move around on stage and performed with a more serious tone. Being able to truly capture the character of the performers made it a tribute show and not just a cover performance.

Besides performing hits from the late 50s and early 60s, the performers also gave historical context for some of the songs that were performed. Sometimes, they explained how the artists came up with certain songs, as well as some stories that happened backstage with a few of the artists during their careers, such as Ryan explaining how Perkins first got signed with Sam Phillips at Sun Records or Lipinsky explaining how Jerry Lee Lewis changed the method in which music television was filmed after Lewis performed for Dick Clark on American Bandstand. Not only did this provide entertainment during the show, but it also showed the background for some of these songs and artists.

Overall, the show was high-energy and highly memorable. It was certainly one not to be missed.