The first time he saw Elvis Presley, Joseph Hall was transfixed.
He remembers it vividly. He was in third grade and came in from playing outside to find his parents watching an Elvis documentary.
“I was hypnotized,” Hall says from his home in Lincoln, Neb. “Elvis was in his black leather and singing ‘All Shook Up.’ It went from that to a clip of him doing ‘Suspicious Minds’ in Las Vegas, and ended with him singing ‘Unchained Melody’ at one of his last concerts. I was stoned right there and not able to move.”
That early childhood crush turned into a flaming adult passion, which landed him in the Top 10 of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” competition in 2008 as an Elvis impersonator. He’ll bring his solo show, “Joseph Hall: Elvis Rock ‘n’ Remember Tribute,” to Stargazers Theatre and Event Center on Saturday.
“His (Elvis) voice is beautiful, and the catalog of songs he sang — the rockabilly, country, R&B, pop, contemporary, ballads — his range is inspiring,” Hall says about his musical idol. “And not just his voice, but his charisma and his way of taking charge on the stage, with that raw, natural ability to go out there and go off instincts.”
Hall’s childhood was soaked with Elvis tunes, being as his father, who’s now his manager, was a big fan. But he gravitated more toward the other end of the spectrum, screaming in a high school hard rock band. After he turned 21, Hall and his dad went to Vegas, where they caught an Elvis impersonator. That was all he needed to get rehooked. He went home, dug through YouTube for old footage of Elvis, and decided to dress up as him for a Halloween party. He got on stage, sang a few songs and knew he’d found a calling.
First it was only birthday and corporate parties while he continued to work at his father’s restaurant, but after the “America’s Got Talent” appearance, requests poured in. He was soon performing in theaters across the country and Europe, and the side gig became a full-time job.
“Over time I’ve developed my Elvis look,” Hall said. “Just like I’ve developed my own Elvis voice and moves. When I go on stage, I’m an Elvis fan. I don’t turn into Elvis. I’m a fan paying tribute to my musical hero — that’s my mindset.”
The family-friendly show also stars Hall’s father as the emcee. His sister runs the sound and lights and does the media footage, and his nephew runs the spotlight.
As for Hall, who completes three costume changes during the show, including a black leather ensemble, it’s a joy to pay homage to the singer.
“Elvis is untouchable. Nobody sounds or looks exactly like Elvis,” Hall said. “My favorite era is the jumpsuit era. I love Elvis in a jumpsuit and long sideburns and sunglasses and bling on his fingers and around his neck. That to me was Elvis the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Especially the music that came out in the ‘70s. It was so much better. You could tell he was comfortable with his sound and his maturity.”
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