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'Elvis Week' celebrates The King

In honor of Big El's birthday on Jan. 8, Medford Mayor Gary Wheeler has proclaimed that Jan. 8-14 be dubbed “Elvis Week.”

“What this symbolizes is that the community is embracing Elvis,” says tribute artist Clint Ingbretson. “Thirty-four years after his death, people still love Elvis.”

Ingbretson has dedicated his career to advancing the image, music and fandom of The King of Rock 'n' Roll. Short of plastic surgery, the 34-year-old tribute artist gets as close as he can to being Elvis Presley.

“So people will see a slim and, hopefully, sexy Elvis on stage,” he says.

Ingbretson sports custom jumpsuits, wears sideburns and makes up for a 3-inch height difference with heels.

“It's not about me,” says Ingbretson. “It is about Elvis. It is about paying homage to a man who touched so many people through music, through financial contributions, through his life.”

The late Presley would be 76 on Saturday.

Throughout Elvis Week, Ingbretson will make appearances around town, sign autographs (“Elvis by Clint”), sing a song or two and pose for photographs.

Performances during “Elvis Week” will include Ingbretson, dressed in his “Burnin' Love” jumpsuit, at 9:30 p.m. Jan. 8 in Characters Lounge at the Red Lion Hotel, 200 N. Riverside Ave. The show will feature songs from Presley's 1972 tour, “Elvis on Tour,” including “Love Me,” “Poke Salad Annie” and “Proud Mary.” Fellow tribute artist Frank Ricci also will perform. Cover to the show is $10.

Elvis sightings will be available throughout the week at the following locations:

u Noon, Jan. 8, at Heritage Motors, 439 Central Ave.

u 1 p.m. at Pacific Diamond Jewelers, 2 N. Central Ave.

u 11:45 a.m., Jan. 11, at Howiee's on Front, 16 N. Front St.

u 1 p.m. at The Medford Visitor Center (next to Harry & David's Country Store), 1314 Center Drive

u 1 p.m., Jan. 13, at Tuxedo Junction, 134 E. Main St.

u 3 p.m. at Goodwill, 1241 S. Riverside Ave.

u 6 p.m. at Sunrise Cafe, 130 E. Main St.

u 7 p.m. at Porters, 147 N. Front St.

“Elvis Week” will culminate with “Rock 'n' Roll Journey,” a show set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 14, at the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater, 23 S. Central Ave.

The show, emceed by disc jockey Don Hurley of Kool 103.55, will include a chronological narrative of Elvis' life and music to accompany each of the chapters of his career, beginning in 1956 when he burst onto the American music scene with his stylized rockabilly and hip gyrations.

The first set of the show features Ingbretson in Elvis' popular gold lamé jacket, singing classic hits from his “Ed Sullivan Show” years, including “Hound Dog” and “Blue Suede Shoes.”

Ingbretson also will wear the iconic black leather of Elvis' Comeback Special of 1968 and sing “Memories,” “Heartbreak Hotel” and “If I Can Dream.” He'll don a corresponding two-piece white suit for the latter song.

“Sweet Caroline,” “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” and other Presley hits will fill the third set. This part of the show is reminiscent of Presley's stint at the International Hotel in Las Vegas. The fourth and fifth sets will feature songs from the 1973 “Aloha in Hawaii” concert and a 1977 CBS special. Ingbretson dons his Aloha and Sundial suits for these sets.

The performance will conclude with the favorite “Can't Help Falling in Love,” which Presley closed almost every concert with.

“He was truly what the American dream was about ... that a kid from Tupelo, Miss., could grow up to be a world star,” says Ingbretson.

In place of Presley's TCB (Takin' Care of Business) Band, will be Ingbretson's Bel Airs, featuring guitarists Merle Staten and Nathan Hutt, bassist Jesse Staten, drummer Jim Doren, pianist Cameron Stewart and horn player and violinist Gary Carlson.

“It's rewarding, and I don't mean monetarily,” says Ingbretson. “You see these people who met Elvis, loved Elvis, touched Elvis at a concert or never met Elvis but love his music. I'll never be Elvis. I know that, but if I can do it for an hour or two hours, and I can recreate it (the experience) as best I can, then I've done my job.”

Tickets to the show at the Craterian cost $15 to $30, $10 to $25 for ages 10 and younger and 55 and older, and are available at the new Craterian box office, 16 S. Bartlett St., online at www.craterian.org or by calling 541-779-3000. Will-call tickets will be held at the new box office.

For more information, call 541-821-2169 or see www.elvisbyclint.com.

In the words of Presley and Ingbretson: “Ladies and gentlemen, no political messages, just pure entertainment.”

Clint Ingbretson has taken his award-winning Elivs tribute show to Las Vegas; Reno, Nev.; Seattle, Wash.; and Salt Lake City, Utah. - Photo by Bob Pennell