Five Minutes, Five Questions: Ryan Pelton

Five Minutes, Five Questions: Ryan Pelton
BECCA MARTIN-BROWN
bmartin@nwadg.com

You never know who you might run into in Branson. But if you stop by this summer for a Legends in Concert show at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater, you’re guaranteed to see the Blues Brothers, Freddie Mercury, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson and Elvis — or at least, performers who pay tribute to them in appearance and song.

Ryan Pelton has been performing in tribute to Elvis Presley ever since he entered a karaoke contest in Columbus, Ohio. He says he tries “to be myself on stage while riding the Elvis vehicle, if you will.” (Courtesy Photo)

Ryan Pelton has been performing in honor of Elvis for 23 or 24 years this September — “crazy how time flies,” he says. Last week he took a few minutes to answer five questions for What’s Up!

Q. I’m assuming Elvis was gone before you were born. But what was your first exposure to his music? Were you a fan?

A. I was alive when he died, though very young. I remember the news while watching TV while my mom cleaned houses. It didn’t really connect back then, but it’s funny I have that memory. I just remember seeing that white jumpsuit during the “special report.” I had been told I looked like Elvis from a very young age. Even in the Marine Corps in boot camp at Paris Island, the drill instructors nicknamed me “Elvis,” even with a shaved head. There was no escaping it.

Q. How did you start your career in entertainment?

A. My mom faxed me an entry form to an Elvis contest in Columbus, Ohio, one day. She wrote, “I dare you to do this” on the entry form. Just to call her bluff, I entered. I had one week to prepare. It was crazy. I knew nothing about Elvis or his music, and I had never even sung karaoke before. I was a shy, quite computer geek — still am, at least a computer geek. At any rate, despite having no clue what I was doing, and having to write the lyrics to the songs on my hand, I ended up winning the contest. And boom! Suddenly a whole new world opened up for me.

Q. What are the signature things that make your performance seem like/sound like Elvis?

A. Honestly, while I became a fan, I didn’t start out as a fan. I think this allowed me to put a bit more of myself into the tribute. Knowing nothing, what first struck me about Elvis was, “Dang, this dude is actually really entertaining to watch! I’m not sure what he is going to do next!” And so I have just always tried to strive to be an entertainer in that same vein. Elvis never went on stage thinking, “Man, I really have to act like myself tonight.” He was just himself. I try to be myself on stage while riding the Elvis vehicle, if you will.

Q. What do fans say about your show?

A.My ceiling fan, or my fan in the garage? You can see for yourself if you just read comments on posts at facebook.com/ryanpelton. I really don’t read too much of that stuff. My longevity in this business can directly be attributed to not believing and buying into all the praise — as well as the criticism. Besides, it’s not about me. It’s about Elvis.

Q. How long have you been performing in Branson? How is it different than anywhere else you’ve worked?

A. I guess it’s been about 3 1/2 years now. Wow. I wasn’t sure that Branson was the right fit for me when I first got here. But it has grown on me, for sure. Is is different, yes. But I think the move here happened at the right time in my life, and now I have really come to love the place. I have developed so many relationships here, which is not always easy as a traveling entertainer. Being here is a blessing. I am so thankful.


FAQ

At Legends in Concert in Branson, you can see the Blues Brothers, Freddie Mercury, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson and Elvis — or at least, performers who pay tribute to them in appearance and song. (Courtesy Photo)

Legends In Concert

WHEN — Daily; visit the website to see who is performing

WHERE — Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater, 1600 W. 76 Country Blvd. in Branson

COST — $18.50-$46.95

INFO — 417-339-3003 or legendsinconcert.com/locations/branson-mo/

Categories: Music