Sounds Local: Travis LeDoyt to perform second annual GHS benefit

  • Greenfield native Travis LeDoyt, who is well known for his Elvis Presley tribute act, will perform at Greenfield High School on March 16 at 7 p.m. Contributed photo

  • Greenfield native Travis LeDoyt, who is well known for his Elvis Presley tribute act, will perform at Greenfield High School on March 16 at 7 p.m. Contributed photo

  • Greenfield native Travis LeDoyt, who is well known for his Elvis Presley tribute act, will perform at Greenfield High School on March 16 at 7 p.m. Contributed photo

  • Jazz and blues vocalist Samirah Evans performs with the rock band Trailer Park for their first-ever Mardi Gras show at the Shea Theater Arts Center last year. Evans and Trailer Park will be returning for another Mardi Gras celebration on Saturday at 8 p.m. Contributed photo/Richard Buida

  • The five-member rock band Trailer Park will perform a Mardi Gras show on Saturday at the Shea Theater Arts Center, accompanied by jazz and blues vocalist Samirah Evans. Contributed photo

  • Wild Bill and the Flying Sparks, a roots rockin’ country music band, will perform at Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield on Sunday, accompanied by outlaw country rockers Josh LeVangie and The Pistoleros. Contributed photo

  • Outlaw country rockers Josh LeVangie and The Pistoleros, left, will perform at Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield on Sunday, accompanied by Wild Bill and the Flying Sparks, shown at right. Contributed photoS

  • HUNTER

For the Recorder
Published: 3/6/2019 4:49:44 PM

We all know the value that music programs play in our public schools, yet whenever budget cuts are needed, music programs seem to be prime targets. Greenfield native Travis LeDoyt, who is well known for his Elvis Presley tribute act, knows firsthand the importance of music in schools, and as a result, has been a longtime supporter of Greenfield High School’s music department.

The training that LeDoyt received as a GHS student under the guidance of then Music Director Paul Calcari proved crucial in launching his successful music career.

Because he has never lost sight of where it all began, LeDoyt has long given back to the music program that helped boost his singing and performing chops. Over the years, he has played numerous benefits for the GHS music program and will do so again on Saturday, March 16, when LeDoyt and the Nashville Boys play “The Good Luck Charm Benefit Show” at the Greenfield High School starting at 7 p.m.

LeDoyt’s involvement in the GHS music program came in a rather roundabout way. When he was a high school student, he was busy earning his title as class clown (like pretending to deliver pizzas to a classroom) and wasn’t all that interested in music. He remembers when Calcari approached him in the cafeteria and asked if he could sing or play an instrument.

“I was worried I’d embarrass myself and I said, ‘No,’ and he moved on,” LeDoyt said. “It’s kind of funny to think that the class clown had a fear of embarrassment as I was more than willing to throw myself down a flight of stairs, or ‘accidentally’ trip and send my lunch tray flying across the cafeteria.

“Anyhow, I remember later that year walking by the auditorium and hearing the band rehearsing a song. It gave me goosebumps how all those pieces worked together and sounded so beautiful,” he added. LeDoyt eventually joined the music program and started to learn trombone, but, fearing failure, he quit.

After graduating in 1995, LeDoyt fell in love with the early music of Elvis Presley. He started singing these songs and discovered that this was something he wanted to pursue. Performing came naturally to him, but he needed help with his singing. LeDoyt suddenly found himself needing the music program he had shunned as a student.

“I needed guidance,” said LeDoyt, who now resides in New Hampshire. “I had just graduated from high school and I approached Mr. Calcari at the end of a school day and shared my new interest in music. I asked him if I could join his chorus classes to work on my singing. He considered it for a moment and said yes, with the condition that I show up to every chorus class — even the early morning ones — and participate in all performances as well.”

LeDoyt totally committed to the classes and it paid off. He made his debut performance at the school singing not Elvis, but The Mamas and the Papas. He later performed at a school talent show, where he sang Elvis songs “Hound Dog” and “Teddy Bear.” He not only nailed Elvis’ sound, but also had his look and moves down. It was at this show that he grabbed the attention of then Greenfield Chamber of Commerce President Ann Hamilton who asked him to perform at the Greenfield Classic Day in 1999.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of that performance and the beginning of a career that has led to him performing his “Tribute to the King” show, in which he sings Elvis songs from the early days (1954 to 1959) all over the world. And he’s never forgotten where it all began.

“I’ll always feel a connection to the GHS Music Department and Mr. Paul Calcari. They welcomed me into the fold. They inspired and motivated me to be as good as I can be. They gave me the confidence to step out on the stage,” he said. “I may not be the person that will nail it every time, but I am no longer the one that’s afraid to even try. And if I fall on my face, well, I learned how to do that in school, too.”

LeDoyt brought his tribute show to GHS last year and it sold out, with concert-goers being turned away at the door. Advance tickets are strongly recommended.

Advance tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for children under age 12. Tickets are available at World Eye Bookshop, 134 Main St. in Greenfield. Tickets will be sold at the door, if they’re available. Doors open at 6:15 p.m.

Shea to celebrate Mardi Gras

The upcoming weekend is a great one to shake off those winter blues by doing some serious shakin’ on the dance floor. Not only are there some terrific events coming up, but this weekend we move the clocks ahead, one of the first signs that spring is on its way.

If that’s not enough reason to celebrate, it’s also Mardi Gras time. Mardi Gras was on Tuesday, and while that concludes the celebrations in New Orleans, the party is still going on here in western Massachusetts.

The Shea Theater Arts Center, 71 Avenue A in Turners Falls, will host a Mardi Gras party on Saturday at 8 p.m., with music provided by jazz and blues vocalist Samirah Evans and local rockers Trailer Park. Evans, who spent years performing in New Orleans before settling in Vermont, has played many Mardi Gras shows over the years.

She first teamed up with Trailer Park last year for their first-ever Mardi Gras show, and it proved to be a match made in music heaven. Their debut was such a hit that Evans and Trailer Park were asked to perform at the 2018 Green River Festival, where their music proved even hotter then the sweltering weather.

Look for Evans and the band to play an infectious combo of dance music that includes New Orleans R&B, rock, blues and originals from both their respective repertoires.

Audience members are encouraged to dress in costume or Mardi Gras apparel. Guests with the three best Mardi Gras costumes will receive prizes contributed by the Shea Theater and event sponsors, the River Valley Co-op, and Turn It Up! Records.

Advance tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the River Valley Co-op (330 King St., Northampton), Turn It Up! Records (85 Main St., Brattleboro, Vt.), or online at sheatheater.org. Tickets are $20 at the door. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.

Hawks & Reed to host country, dance night

In January, Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center, 289 Main St. in Greenfield, hosted a country show that packed the place with two-step dancers.

Country music returns to the venue on Sunday. The music will be provided by local bands, the roots rockin’ group Wild Bill and the Flying Sparks and outlaw country rockers Josh LeVangie and The Pistoleros.

Dance lessons, which begin at 1:30 p.m., will be provided with admission. Music kicks off at 2 p.m. Doors open at 1 p.m.

Tickets are $10 in advance at bit.ly/2UkScK5 and at the door. For more information, call 413-774-0150.

Sheryl Hunter is a music writer who lives in Easthampton. Her work has appeared in various regional and national magazines. You can contact her at soundslocal@yahoo.com.




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