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Elvis tribute artist to perform in Grinnell


Growing up, Joseph Hall wasn’t even a fan of Elvis. He preferred ’90s music staples – rock, heavy metal and grunge – while his father played Elvis at home. Hall listened, of course, but shrugged Elvis off as just another musician.

That all changed when Hall saw an Elvis tribute artist perform in Las Vegas. “I was just amazed at his performance,” Hall said in a phone call with the S&B. “I thought to myself, you know, if he’s anything [like] what Elvis was, then I’ve got to check this out.”

After the show, Hall looked up old eight-millimeter footage of Elvis on YouTube and began listening to his original songs. “I was captured by his charisma, his performance, his vocals, his stage presence. [He] was just [a] total rock star,” Hall said.

Hall was hooked. Since then, Hall has performed across the world, from Elvis’ hometown of Memphis, Tennessee to Porthcawl, Wales. He also made an appearance on the small screen as a finalist of America’s Got Talent. He performs regularly, too, at his permanent show in Branson, Missouri.

On Saturday, May 11, Hall will bring his burning love to Grinnell. This will be his second performance in Grinnell, according to Susan Schmidt, the owner of Suzi’s Boutique, a longtime friend of the Hall family and the organizer of the event. “This is just kind of a small, intimate stop and it’s a good opportunity for Grinnell to have something different,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt first met Hall after seeing him on America’s Got Talent. She sought out his performances in Nebraska and Iowa and eventually learned how much of Hall’s support truly comes from his family. Hall’s father is his manager, and his mother helps to alter the elaborate outfits he wears for performances. His youngest sister handles the technical aspects of the performance, like sound and lighting, as well as social media, and his wife, his “rock at home,” allows him to travel without worrying too much about their three boys.

Behind the success of this business lies what both Schmidt and Hall identify as Elvis’ unique capacity to bring people together. “[It’s] Friday night, Norfolk, Nebraska, at a community center – and we have a woman who’s born in 1929, and we have a little girl who’s born in 2009, and here we all are in the same building celebrating Elvis Presley.” Hall said.

Unlike some tribute artists, Hall doesn’t seek to impersonate Elvis the entire time. Instead, he breaks character between songs and tells stories about Elvis’ life, connecting with the audience as both a performer and an Elvis fan himself.

“If you perform in Elvis mode, as [an] Elvis character what ends up happening, from what I’ve learned in my experiences, is that you put up a fourth wall and you cannot engage with the audience. … I think people can see through that,” Hall said.

Schmidt doesn’t see a problem with Hall’s ability to engage with the audience, and these days she has as much fun watching the audience as she does the performance. “Sometimes it’s like, ‘You know he’s not really Elvis?’” she said, laughing.

What Hall offers to audiences young and old is an escape, Schmidt said. “We all need to have some fun. There’s enough of negativity and bad things in the world. We all need a couple hours of just fun.”

“That’s what this whole thing is about,” Hall said. “This whole thing is about bringing happiness to people – just entertaining people. And for the two hours that they come to the show I want them to forget about all their problems, everything that’s going on, and just come out here and just celebrate the legacy of Elvis Presley – the greatest entertainer who ever lived.”

Tickets are $20 for regular admission and $25 for VIP seating, and can be purchased at Suzi’s Boutique or by calling 800-346-2427. The performance will begin at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 11 at the Grinnell Eagles Club.

Contributed photo.
Joseph Hall has performed as an Elvis tribute artist since 2006.
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