A near-capacity crowd laced up their blue suede shoes and showed their love for all things Elvis at Temple’s Cultural Activities Center at Saturday night’s two-hour concert.
Elvis impersonator Kraig Parker — “He’s actually one of the top ETAs (Elvis Tribute Artist) in the country,” corrected Maude Colomby, of Killeen — two female backup singers and his six-piece “Royal Tribute Band” channelled the King to the delight of an audience made up largely of over 60, visibly moved women.
Accolades from fans and the media have followed Parker’s 12-year, rhinestone-studded jumpsuit sojourn. In 2010, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram declared “Parker is simply electric,” and even the normally reserved London Times proclaimed him the “greatest tribute performer in the world.”
Stints at major Las Vegas venues including Suncoast, Aladdin, Mandalay Bay and the MGM Grand have polished his concert appearances.
With guitar chops, vocal chops and mutton chops to rival the King, Parker was gracious with his fans in a preshow meet and greet.
“I traveled here from Dallas,” said Ruby Wilson. “My friends and I are die-hard Elvis fans.” Beaming, with Parker’s autograph clutched in hand, she took her reserved VIP seat in the Mayborn Auditorium.
This isn’t the first CAC Elvis sighting, however: Parker headlined a 2009 fundraiser presented by The Contemporaries, the womens’ group that has raised almost $2 million for the nonprofit center. That Harley-Davidson-themed soiree was notable for Parker’s “wonderful performance,” according to CAC marketing director Jane Boone.
Though he may be one of the vast legion of faux Elvii, Parker presented a smooth, slick performance, and had two tables of merchandise for sale in the Saulsbury Gallery, including items of his own plus collectables that harken back to the genuine King.
Tempos and interpretations chosen by Parker and his band varied from the most familiar, iconic versions imbedded in popular memory, but never veered too far from the recognizable spirit of Presley’s original performances.
And, yes, the trademark scarf tossing was included early in the show. As befits Parker’s well-oiled machine, the routine has been codified and was well rehearsed — women lined up in front of the stage to receive their very own pink satin scarf, accompanied by a kiss from Parker.
Elvis may have died in 1977, but for his Central Texas fans, Saturday night at the CAC, he hadn’t left the building.