Gordon Rebel (left)

Gordon Rebel (left)

Tribute artists bring back old-time rock

Crescent Beach Legion set to host Summer Night music event Sept. 20

What better way to offer a farewell salute to summer 2014 than with an old-school, multiple-bill rock n’ roll show?

That’s what host Michael Roberds and three noted tribute artists are asking with their upcoming show, Summer Night of Rock & Roll, which threatens to shake, rattle and rock South Surrey’s Royal Canadian Legion Crescent Branch 240 (2643 128 St.) to its foundations, come Saturday, Sept. 20 at 8 p.m.

The evening, co-organized with Surrey’s Gordon Rebel (saluting Roy Orbison) and Eli ‘Tigerman’ Williams (channelling ’68-Vegas-era Elvis), and Burnaby’s Aaron Wong (evoking young Elvis), will bring back the distinctive sounds and performance styles of two of the most legendary and enduring hit-makers of the last 60 years.

Tying it all together in old-time MC style will be Roberds (well known for numerous appearances as actor, comedian and media host, including his long stint as Uncle Fester in The New Addams Family), with partial proceeds from the evening going to the Royal Canadian Theatre Company.

Putting together the show was pretty much a natural, Roberds said, explaining that he has known Rebel for some years, and that the latter was instrumental in bringing onboard Williams and Wong, with whom Rebel has worked frequently on the same bill over the last few years.

“I was a fan of all the acts, and I thought we could maybe present them and bring them to a wider audience,” he said, adding that he is developing an “old-fashioned comedy routine” to blend with the acts appropriately.

“I’m a huge fan of old rock n’ roll. I’m not a singer, but I enjoy the music a lot. We’re going to have a really fantastic night.”

The modest, down-to-earth Rebel explained that while he and his colleagues manage to capture the look and evoke the sound of Orbison and Elvis, they’re not doing “impressions” per se.

“There’s only one Elvis and only one Roy Orbison,” he acknowledged.

He looks on their performances as a recreation of the excitement generated by the original artists – and he’s seen the music, and the live experience forge an immediate, electrical connection with audiences across B.C.

“In some of the communities, like Salmon Arm, Enderby and Kamloops, it’s like you’re a real star – everyone knows you’re in town and who you are,” he said.

He is quick to credit the appeal and dynamism of  both Wong and Williams – the latter a frequent competitor at the annual Elvis World Championships in Memphis.

Their ability to work audiences contrasts nicely with the more shy approach Rebel takes in evoking the real-life Orbison, he said.

“That’s their strong suit. Aaron brings a lot of energy to his performance that conveys the young Elvis – he’s a good dancer,” he added. “And Eli, if he’s doing the `68 Special with his leathers, or the Vegas years with the white jumpsuit, he’s got all the women drooling.”

Rebel said he first got into singing as a karaoke performer, but got into performing Orbison’s material after a well-received Halloween appearance eight years ago, turning professional in 2010.

Ironically, he said, he was a bigger fan of the Beatles, growing up, although he accepts his natural alto-tenor range is better suited to Orbison’s songs.

“I was really into the British Invasion, but I remember listening to Orbison’s voice and realizing he was unique.”

He’s learned a lot about Orbison along the way, he added.

“Ringo Starr said he was the only performer the Beatles did not like to follow. He’d opened for them, but they knew that while they held the record for so many weeks in the number one spot on the charts, the one who broke that record was Orbison.”

He also discovered that Orbison’s trademark dark shades look came about while touring England, when he lost his regular eyewear and had to wear his prescription sunglasses instead.

Rebel, naturally, includes all of the key Orbison hits in his set, including Pretty Woman, Only The Lonely, Running Scared, In Dreams, and the singer’s latter-day success with The Travelling Wilburys, You’ve Got It.

The music still has potent appeal, he noted, and there’s a mystical something about the persona that adds another dimension to performing it.

“When I put on the dark glasses, I don’t even recognize myself in the mirror,” he said. “And people are very forgiving – about 80 per cent of it is visual. If you look the part, you’re dead-on.”

But performing a tribute is about much more than cashing in on an artist’s appeal – in many cases it’s reaffirming and extending it, he suggested.

“I enjoy Roy Orbison’s music – and I want to keep it alive for a younger generation.”

“If this all works out well,” quipped Roberds, “I might come back in the spring with my personal tribute to Madonna.”

For tickets ($20 each) call 604-582-6111.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The volume of visitors to White Rock’s Marine Drive over the weekend has led council to consider special measures this week. (Aaron Hinks photo)
White Rock council rejects resident-only parking for waterfront

Other health and safety measures to be considered in a special meeting Wednesday

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

Vehicles line up for the Greater Vancouver Drive-Thru Food Truck Festival at the Chilliwack Coliseum parking lot on March 27. The touring event comes to Cloverdale this weekend, April 24-25 (Photo: Jenna Hauck/Chilliwack Progress)
Here are the food trucks coming to Cloverdale for a drive-thru festival this weekend

Nine trucks will be parked Saturday, nine Sunday during event at fairgrounds

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Parts of Surrey, North Delta to get AstraZeneca vaccines for people ages 40+

A total of seven communities in Surrey and Delta will be targeted

The Braidwood Band performs for the seniors at Zion Park Manor in Surrey, as part of a music program planned by Rick’s Heart Foundation. (submitted photo)
VIDEO: Surrey charity brings distanced concerts to care homes, with prop pink firetruck

Familiar tunes performed for seniors during pandemic-era ‘Heart for Music’ program

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

A man has died after being shot at Coquitlam’s Town Centre Park the evening of Monday, April 19. (Twitter/IHIT)
1 man dead after shooting at Coquitlam park: IHIT

The gunman is still at large, according to the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
B.C. health authority seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

Chakalaka Bar and Grill plans to continue serving customers without public health compliance

Most Read