Elvis hasn’t gotten to the building yet, but he’ll be leaving it after his show this Saturday.
The building in question is Pine Island’s Olde Pine Theatre. And Elvis tribute artist Art Kistler and The EP Boulevard Band take the stage at 7:30 p.m.
While the past year has been hard for the Olde Pine Theatre, which had to close its doors for an extended period, owner and operator Ted Galaty said he used the time to upgrade stage lighting and add HD cameras for streaming events.
Now, it's ready for a summer season full of tribute shows, including Iron Maiden and Johnny Cash.
“Our mainstay has always been live music, and we have found that people really respond to tribute concerts,” Galaty said.
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Seeing an Elvis tribute show at Olde Pine is fitting since the theater, originally intended for movies, first opened in the 1950s when Elvis was recording some of his first No. 1 hits.
No matter how they're used, Galaty said it's important for small towns to keep their theaters.
“We feel that the arts grow people and change lives,” he said. “Once you lose a theater in a small town, it will never come back.”
Kistler took the time to answer some questions for 507 readers.
What got you started doing Elvis tribute shows?
After singing solos in my church, folks would ask if I “knew how much I sounded like Elvis.” As a guy who grew up listening to Led Zeppelin and the like, I had a hard time taking them seriously.
Then, for Valentine’s Day in 1994, I was asked to sing some Elvis ballads for a church banquet. My wife, Jean, went the extra yard and put together a makeshift costume. I was a nervous wreck and felt ridiculous, but ultimately, the audience response was over-the-top, with so many people telling us that I could do this professionally. Then one thing led to another.
Jean, who among numerous other gifts is a very talented seamstress, made my first five outfits, and in the late ’90s, we even participated in national invitational Elvis Tribute Artist competitions and the like all over the country. Eventually, I started having my jumpsuits professionally made, because we were too busy for Jean to keep up!
What's your favorite Elvis song?
Tough question. Elvis was incredibly versatile, had many genres, and I have many favorites. In the ’50s era, “I Was the One”; early ‘60s, “Fame and Fortune”; in the gospel genre, my favorites would be “How Great Thou Art” and “Stand By Me”; and of the chart toppers, “Suspicious Minds” and "Kentucky Rain.”
Elvis also lent his unique style to so many cover songs that I love, like “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me,” "You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” and "Bridge Over Troubled Water.”
Do you perform with a band?
I performed primarily with customized prerecorded accompaniment tracks until six years ago, when I decided to retire from the business. I started selling jumpsuits, (and) sound and light gear. Then my friend Greg, who is an amazing guitarist and I’d been a fan of his for a long time, asked me if I would consider continuing to perform if he could put an Elvis tribute band together.
We’ve gone through some musician changes over time, but our current band members, who have been together for over five years, are amazing, talented musicians, and amazing individuals, people of true, solid character. I love them like family, and the synergy that’s created on stage is palpable.
You used to work at the U of M, what did you do there?
After earning my BA degree with summa honors at the age of 42, I landed in a career at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and stayed for 25-plus years, during which time I worked for Parking & Transportation Services as a maintenance manager and project manager.
What can your audience expect at your Olde Pine Theatre show?
One thing is that I never pretend to “be” Elvis, because as all true Elvis fans know — there was only one King of Rock-and-Roll. So I’ll always respectfully refer to Elvis in the third person.
The show starts with the six-piece EP Boulevard band performing a couple select non-Elvis (but era-correct) warm-up cover songs. Then the band creates anticipation, playing the "2001: A Space Odyssey" theme — like Elvis did in concert — then during the quintessential vamp, “Elvis” appears onstage in full regalia, and we cut loose with a variety of his greatest hits interspersed with a few of his lesser-known tunes.
If you go
What: Elvis Tribute Artist Art Kistler and The EP Boulevard Band
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 26
Where: Olde Pine Theatre, 113 2nd St. SW, Pine Island
Cost: $20 in advance (ticketleap or 507-491-2639), $25 at the door.