By popular demand, an Elvis tribute show is returning to the DeKalb County Community Center this summer.
On Saturday, August 1, a tribute to the late King of Rock ‘n Roll will hit the community center stage for two performances, featuring local personality Tom Duggin, the Tim Colwell Band, and J.D. Sumner’s Stamps Quartet, featuring four members of the legendary gospel quartet who backed Elvis on stage from 1971 until the singer’s death in August, 1977.
“When we put on the show in 2013, we actually had the official “Stamps Quartet,” who still carry the legendary group name,” noted Duggin. “The Stamps have been regularly booked on other tribute shows, particularly in Las Vegas and in Berlin, Germany, these past couple of years, so they were unavailable to us this summer.”
Fortunately, Duggin said, Sumner’s Stamps Quartet as they are known – a quartet featuring Donnie Sumner, Bill Baize, Ed Hill and Larry Strickland – were available and excited about the possibility of playing an Elvis tribute show in the Middle Tennessee area.
“All four of these guys worked with Elvis during the 70s, and have each had a prestigious musical career of their own,” said Duggin. “When speaking with Donnie Sumner, he and the group were excited to be playing in a venue close to home, as all four have ties to the Middle Tennessee area.”
Sumner, the nephew of the late, legendary bass singer J.D. Sumner, whom the group was named after, actually had two stints with Elvis. Sumner sang lead when the Stamps first joined Elvis in 1971, but left the group in 1972. However, Elvis came calling again in 1973, as Sumner had joined a group called “Voice,” which backed Presley along with the Stamps for two years. Sumner penned two Presley tunes during the 1970s, and is best remembered by fans for his stellar version of the gospel classic, “The Lighthouse,” featured in the 1972 documentary, “Elvis on Tour.”
Baize was the Stamps’ tenor singer from 1971-76, when he left the group and the music business for a number of years. Baize has written many songs over the years, in addition to preaching and singing in several churches throughout the United States. Baize has also performed at a number of Elvis tribute shows in recent years.
Hill boasts a 55-year music career, six years of which he spent with Presley as a member of the Stamps from 1971-77. Of note in Elvis circles was the rich baritone voice of Ed Hill, which always proclaimed at the end of each night’s performance, “Elvis has left the building. Thank you and good night.” He has also served as a backup performer for such acts as Tammy Wynette, Ronnie McDowell, Dottie West and Ricky Skaggs.
Strickland was brought on board with the Stamps in 1974, as a second bass singer in the group. He sang with the Stamps backing Elvis until his death in 1977. Strickland left the stage in 1989, when he married Naomi Judd, the mother in the famous country duo, The Judds. In addition to helping manage both Naomi and daughter, Wynonna Judd’s respective careers, Strickland has also returned to the stage in recent years to sing gospel music as well as participate in various Elvis tribute shows.
Duggin fronted Smithville’s last Elvis tribute show, titled “Aloha 40,” which was held in August, 2013. He will return to sing Elvis’ songs in this year’s event, being titled “From Memphis to Vegas.”
“That’s kind of how it went for Elvis,” Duggin said. “It all started in Memphis and then came the great concert years with many, many shows under the bright lights of Las Vegas. Much like last time, our show this year will have the feel of a live Elvis concert, with many of the songs he loved to perform live during the 1970s.”
The Tim Colwell Band will return to provide the music for the show, which will also feature a trio of female backup singers along with a brass ensemble. As was the case in the 2013 show, Sumner’s Stamps will open the show with a set of their own, which will likely include stories about their time with Elvis.
“That’s absolutely my favorite part of the show,” Duggin admitted. “I love sitting back and listening to them recounting their days with Elvis with their fond memories. Being the fan I am, I could listen to those stories all day.”
Like 2013, Duggin won’t don the jumpsuit or grow sideburns as is the case with many Elvis tribute artists. “I love Elvis’ songs,” he said. “I’m not Elvis. No one ever will be. The impersonators do what they do and for them, that’s fine. I will honor my musical hero by simply singing his songs and putting on a stage show to the best of my ability.”
A ticket pre-sale for the show will take place from April 1 to June 1, with tickets priced at $20 each. A minimum of 500 tickets must be sold by the June 1 date in order to ensure the show can be fully funded. If enough tickets are not sold by the June 1 date, full refunds will be given out to those who purchased tickets. After June 1, the price of the tickets will go up to $25 each, which will remain the price until tickets are sold out or the show date is reached.
“We’ve had so much demand for the show, I honestly expect the tickets to go fast,” said Duggin. “We’re again doing two shows to hopefully get as many people in as possible, but the number of tickets we can sell is limited. My hope is that people who are interested in going will purchase their tickets early, so we can be sure we can fully fund the cost of the show.”
Show times on Saturday, August 1, will be 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Ticket buyers can select which show they prefer to attend until each show is sold out; however, tickets are relatively limited for each show, so those interested in attending are encouraged to buy as early as possible. All seats are general admission and people will be seated at each show on a first-come, first-served basis. Current ticket outlets are the DeKalb County Community Center in Smithville, the Cannon County Chamber of Commerce Office in Woodbury, Koncept Kustom Werkz in Cookeville or by contacting Tom Duggin via call or text at (615) 464-3185.