Elvis tribute artist returns to Greenfield

  • Greenfield native Travis LeDoyt, a leading "young Elvis" tribute artist, will perform at Greenfield High School on March 17 at 7 p.m. Contributed photo

  • Greenfield native Travis LeDoyt. Contributed photo

  • Greenfield native Travis LeDoyt, the leading “young Elvis” tribute artist, will perform at Greenfield High School on March 17 at 7 p.m. Contributed photo

For the Recorder
Friday, March 09, 2018

When is Elvis coming back to Greenfield?
   That’s a question I’ve heard more than once from readers of this column, and they aren’t referring to dead Elvis sightings in the area. Instead, they are wondering about Greenfield native Travis LeDoyt who is the leading “young Elvis” tribute artist working today. LeDoyt has performed his Elvis show in his hometown many times, but it’s been seven years since he graced a stage in Greenfield — and he has been missed.

But just as this year marks the 50th anniversary of Elvis Presley's famous 1968 comeback television special, it will also mark the year that LeDoyt will bring his “Tribute to the King” show back to Greenfield.

LeDoyt will backed by his band from Nashville and will perform at his alma mater, Greenfield High School, on Saturday, March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day), at 7 p.m. The show is being billed as “A Good Luck Charm Benefit Show,” as it will benefit the Greenfield High School music program.

LeDoyt acknowledged that he has not been back to his hometown in some time, but that’s been because of his overwhelming performance schedule.

“I was on the road 215 days this past year,” said LeDoyt, calling from his home in New Hampshire where he currently lives with his wife and two children. “In the past, we were doing shows in Greenfield every year. I’d try and make them big shows where I’d write skits and all. I just didn’t have the time to do that, so I finally realized ‘Why not just do a straight out concert?’”

“So I’m coming back — now that everyone has forgotten me,” LeDoyt added with a laugh.

LeDoyt has performed his “Tribute to the King” show all over the world and has played all types of shows in Greenfield. He did a stage version of Elvis’ film “King Creole,” staged a variety show, and even performed a show of Elvis’ gospel music at Christmas one year. Many of his local shows, like this one, have benefited the Greenfield High School music department, whom he credits with helping launch his singing career.

LeDoyt did not become interested in Elvis, who died the same year that LeDoyt was born, until after he graduated from Greenfield High School. He stumbled across a documentary film about Elvis and his life was changed. Something about Elvis’ music, especially his early work, struck him deeply, and LeDoyt started listening to Elvis’ old Sun recordings and singing along.

He approached Paul Calcari, who was then the director of the Greenfield High School music department, and asked if he could join his chorus class. Calcari agreed; the class would become a major source of support as LeDoyt pursued his singing career.

Next came learning Elvis’ moves. Capturing Elvis’ look was easier, as LeDoyt bears an uncanny resemblance to the King, so all he had to do was slick his hair back and he was transformed into a young Elvis.

LeDoyt’s first performance as Elvis was in 2009 at Greenfield’s Classic Day. He was a hit, and would go on to play at various local venues, including the Franklin County Fair and Green River Festival.

“Back then people would kind of tease me,” LeDoyt recalled. “I had a friend who would give me grief, calling me an Elvis impersonator. I felt a little embarrassed at the time as people would tell me, ‘That’s fine for a hobby, but you can’t make a living at it.’”

They were wrong.

The year 2000 was a pivotal one as LeDoyt performed at the Rockabilly Hall of Fame Festival in Tennessee, where he met Elvis’ drummer D.J. Fontana, who said of his performance: “This is as close as you’re going to get to seeing an Elvis concert in the ’50s.”

LeDoyt also met his manager Dick McVey at this festival. After signing with McVey, he moved to Nashville and his career proceeded to take off.

To date, LeDoyt has performed throughout the United Sates, Canada, the U.K., Europe, South America, China and the Caribbean. He has opened shows for Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, B.B. King, Johnny Rivers and others. He was featured in a New York Times photo spread that focused on musicians that looked like Elvis. He currently has an exclusive deal with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, and plays on about 20 cruises a year, which takes up a great deal of his time.

“There are a lot of guys doing the Elvis thing, so it can be a battle to get work,” said LeDoyt, who was preparing to leave for a cruise on the day following our conversation. “I am thankful the cruises came along. I feel it was an untapped market.”

Even though he has been performing as Elvis for almost 20 years, LeDoyt continues to enjoy his work. Despite the fact that the original Elvis fans are getting older, he does not see a decline in interest in all things regarding the King.

“I love what I’m doing and I feel lucky to be able to do something like this,” he said.

And while LeDoyt realizes that the day will come when he’ll want to hang up his blue suede shoes, he’s not there yet.

“I try not to think about it, as it would probably scare me, as I think, ‘What can I do after this?’” LeDoyt said. “As I get older, I suppose I could try the jumpsuit thing and see where that goes, but there are so many guys doing that era of Elvis that I don’t know if I’d have anything to add to that. So I’m just taking it a year at a time and maybe there will be a point where I don’t want to do this anymore. But, for now, I’m always thinking, ‘What can I do new this year?’”

LeDoyt stresses that his show won’t be the same as the one he performed in Greenfield in 2011, as the show has evolved and he added more songs. He now covers Elvis’ hits from 1954 to 1969.

“I hope I’ve improved,” he laughed. “I have added some different songs as we moved up from the ’50s, and now include some of the ’60s stuff in the show — songs like ‘Suspicious Minds’ and ‘Kentucky Rain’ that the people on the cruises were requesting. It’s the ’50s music that I really love, so of course we do that.”

LeDoyt looks forward to coming back to Greenfield and playing at the new high school (although he has nostalgic feelings for the old school that he attended.)

Come enjoy the timeless tunes of Elvis as LeDoyt and his band take you on an authentic trip down memory line. His humor-filled shows are always a good time for all ages, and it’s for a good cause. Plus, you don’t know when he’ll be back again!

Tickets are $14 for adults and $8 for children under 12. Advance tickets are available at World Eye Bookshop, 134 Main St. in Greenfield.