elvis presley

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Did You See the Movie?! Yes, But Real Life is Better!

Published July 30, 2019 by Maryanne

SAM_2908Me, in front of Queen tour bus a few years ago

I loved the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody.” But ever since it came out, I hesitate to wear my Queen t-shirt. Before the movie, if I wore a Queen t-shirt, true fans would speak to me about the band I loved so much since I was 12. And I’d have a conversation I’d truly enjoy; especially if fellow Queen fan was a little older than me and saw an earlier version of Queen. Or better yet, when they did the double bill with Mott the Hoople! I’m all ears to hear about that!

These days, when I wear a Queen shirt, it’s no longer about the rock band Queen, but the Hollywood movie about Queen, played by actors.

A typical conversation will go like this:

“You like Queen?”

“Yes, I saw them perform many times! Even with Freddie Mercury!”

“Did you see the movie?”

What’s wrong with that conversation? I share with you that I saw Queen perform with Freddie Mercury and you ask me if I saw the movie? I’m sorry for being a music snob, but this is just not right. A similar conversation happened regarding Elton John a few weeks ago. The song “Rocket Man” came on the radio in a store and a woman in passing said, “I love it!”

I said, “I saw him perform in concert twice. Once in Central Park, 1980; and in the ’90s at Madison Square Garden.”

I should have seen it coming…

“DID YOU SEE THE MOVIE?!”

I quickly walked away to avoid further conversation. YES, YES, YES, I SAW THE MOVIE! I thought to myself. It was a great movie! But why, all of a sudden, is a movie about an artist, played by an actor, more interesting than an live concert with that very artist performing?!  

Years ago I was working at a magazine. The vice president was an older gentleman, who happened to see Elvis Presley perform, as a warm-up act to Hank Snow! My mind was blown. I wanted details, details, details! And more details! Can you imagine seeing Elvis Presley as a warm up act?

Now imagine if I was to ask, “Did you see ‘Elvis and Me’?” What a conversation killer, right? Do you see where I’m going with this?

Don’t get me wrong, over the years I’ve seen many good movies about the lives of musicians, singers, and even criminals. But can I inspire you? Don’t stop at the movie. Instead, explore.

After I saw the movie “Man on the Moon,” I purchased anything I could get my grubby hands on about Andy Kaufman. I didn’t go around talking about the movie for months. I wanted MORE. Much more than a movie could offer. I read books written by people who knew him. I watched all the old “Taxi” shows that he was featured in. I watched Andy Kaufman in action on various television shows.

All this stuff took time to accumulate because back then it wasn’t as easy as it is today with all the internet access. Back then the internet was just taking off. Which brings me to being a young Queen fan and searching for months in the mid-1970s just to find their album Queen II in a record store. There was no Amazon back then.

But that was part of the fun! Digging for stuff about the real thing was cool. And uncovering real truths is cool. Like finding out that the REAL Mr. Arnstein wasn’t quite the charmer he was in “Funny Girl.” Like finding out the real Bonnie Parker wasn’t nearly as hot as Faye Dunaway. Like finding out the real Andy Kaufman was even more crazy than he was portrayed as in “Man on the Moon.” Like finding out the Doors concerts were much more mild than portrayed in Oliver Stone’s “The Doors” movie. In fact, I was told by a person who went to a Doors concert that they were boring.

See, this is why you can’t rely on a movie alone. Movies are often Hollywood-ized. They take snippets of a life and put them into a 2.5 hour film. It’s entertaining, but it’s not the complete picture.

When I read on a Queen Facebook page that a fan saw “Bohemian Rhapsody” over 50 times since it came out last November, I cringed. Why not spend that time exploring the real work of Queen? They have a grand library of studio albums from 1973 to the time of Freddie Mercury’s death. Plus several live albums, videos, and books. My favorite is “Mercury and Me” by Jim Hutton. I loved the book so much that I reached out to Jim Hutton, via his publishing company. This was back in the 1990s, before everyone had email. I forgot I wrote the letter and about three weeks later I received a handwritten letter from Jim Hutton himself! The letter was actually a homemade card, featuring his new kitten in a Christmas tree, since he didn’t get to keep any of Freddie’s cats after Freddie passed away.

The takeaway here is, movies are all fine and good. Yes, we all love movies. Even me.

But, don’t stop there. You can start by getting out of the theaters and going to a live show. It’s fun and exciting. Explore more of a band; not just the greatest hits. Take movies with a grain of salt. See it once or twice. If you have to see it again, wait at least a year. In the meantime you can learn more from reading books, watching interviews on You Tube, and purchasing full albums or CDs, not just the songs you like. You might just surprise yourself and say, “Real life is better!”

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing, and motivational speaking engagements. She is the author of the following books (in which she mentions Freddie Mercury in both, and how he inspired her as a child, teenager, and still today!):

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: Ten Ways to Become Your Own Hero” will be available October 2019. To pre-order, go here: https://kicamprojects.com/shop/be-extraordinary/

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261

Rave on!

Published August 17, 2015 by Maryanne

SAM_8250Rave On!

(Photo by Maryanne Mistretta)

Last night was another one filled with great entertainment. This time we stayed local and saw Rave On! (a Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison tribute act).

Rave On is made up of Chris Roselle: Guitar and lead vocals; Pete Farley: Bass and background vocals; and Don Guinta: Drums and background vocals.

This band was fantastic! And as a treat for music lovers, they did the more obscure songs like “Heartbeat” by Buddy Holly, which I knew as a song by The Knack in the 1980s. My favorite picks of the night were both by Roy Orbison: “In Dreams,” and “Crying.” They also did some Elvis songs, “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You” and “Suspicious Minds.”

When I found the website, I didn’t know Chris’s last name … and turned out he was a friend of my husbands! A cool side note here … Chris changed my life! One night, back in 2008, we were at a car show with Chris and our other friend Danny (singer for The Characters: http://www.thecharacters.net/) Chris shared that he was self-employed as a musician since 1986. He inspired me to quit my job as a journalist at a Montclair newspaper and work for myself. Ever since I’ve written and published two books and helped at least 10 people write their own books. You never know when someone can inspire you to change your life!

But back to the music … Rave On also warmed up for Lou Christie the other night — the show we were at! However, we got there too late and missed it.

For more information, visit Rave On’s website: http://raveonband.com/main.html

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is the author of “On the Guest List: Adventures of a Music Journalist: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/162903908X

Mike Moat & Golden Reflections “Eternally Elvis Show” Paramus, NJ

Published January 18, 2015 by Maryanne

SAM_6801Mike Moat

Photo by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta

I had one hell of a week. My bank account was hacked, I slipped on ice and chipped an old filling. Then my aunt died. So, after the funeral, I was elated when my sister told me one of her friends had an extra ticket to see an Elvis impersonator. I jumped on the chance to say, “YES!” The only thing that would have made the night even better was if she had two extra tickets so my husband could have attended too, since he’s a musician and fellow Elvis fan.

Back in 1989, I originally saw Mike Moat with my sister, mother and grandmother and he was fantastic. Shame I waited 25 years to see him perform again, as it was a class act! I immediately recognized that he had some of the same musicians with him — Rich Fontana on keyboards and his wife Debbie Moat (who is still cute as a button) on vocals. Two other family members are in the group: his brother, Bob Moat on lead guitar and his daughter, Michelle Moat on vocals. Other members include: Ron Graniero (drums), Andy Paleologos (bass), Phil Rinaldi (trumpet), John Urspruch (trumpet), Mike Mullan (saxophone) and Phil Jones (trombone) — who actually played with Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton and Barbara Mandrell.

The first set was the entire “Aloha From Hawaii” album. My favorites from this were “Welcome to My World” (I went to the bathroom, called my husband and played a portion of this for him!), “Suspicious Minds,” “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” and my all time favorite, “I’ll Remember You,” which always makes me cry, big time, since it’s the song that reminds me of my beloved Grandmother (and I’ll be using the lyrics for a fictitious scene in my third book, which I’m aiming to publish in 2016).

Mike Moat wore a replica of the “Aloha From Hawaii” jumpsuit (see picture above).

During intermission, my sister and I were determined to speak with Phil Jones. He was so awesome, taking to us for a very long time and letting us take pictures and signed the playbill. We also talked with Mike Moat, Debbie Moat, Michelle Moat and Rich Fontana.

Michelle Moat, excitedly shared with us, that she wanted to sing with her father since she was a little girl.

SAM_6813

Phil Jones, trombone, played with Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton

Photo by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta

For the second set, Mike Moat returned to the stage wearing a replica of the famous Elvis “Peacock” suit. My favorite song of the second set was “How Great Thou Art,” which was powerful!

After the show ended, Mike returned to do four encore songs. The entire program was three and a half-hours!

I’ve seen so many incredible Elvis impersonators over the years, but what makes Mike Moat extra special is that he, and his wife, Debbie, truly care about their fans. Throughout the show, the two of them, acknowledged fans in the audience, pointing them out, mentioning their names, where they were from and speaking kind words about them. Mike Moat also jumped into the audience and went around from table to table to shake hands with fans. He also gave out more scarves (and Hawaiian leis) than any other Elvis impersonator I saw.

After the show ended, I jokingly told Mike Moat I’d see him again when we’re 75. But honestly, I prefer not to wait yet another 25 years to see this fine act again!

For more on Mike Moat & Golden Reflections, visit: http://www.mikemoat.com/

Elvis Birthday Bash 2014! Count Basie Theatre, Red Bank, New Jersey

Published January 18, 2014 by Maryanne

SAM_3420Scot Bruce as Elvis

Last night I treated my husband Dennis to The Elvis Birthday Bash at Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank.

We saw this show twice before in the past, with the double bill of Scot Bruce and Mike Albert — and I must stay, this one was the best of all!

Scot Bruce, who does the “Sun Years” or “early” Elvis was phenomenal. I loved that this time around he did some of the Elvis songs you don’t hear as much and he did a Bruce Springsteen song, as Elvis which was really cool. My favorite part of his act was hearing “Don’t Be Cruel.” The audience went nuts for him, as if he was really Elvis.

Mike Albert, the “Las Vegas Elvis” was on fire! Lots of love and audience participation — he totally wowed them. He also brought his mother on stage to sing “The Wonder of You” to her. Then a song you rarely hear an Elvis impersonator do — “Let’s Pretend” sent chills up my spine! He wore an extraordinary costume that had a peacock stitched on it.

SAM_3452Mike Albert, the Las Vegas Elvis

SAM_3453“An American Trilogy” was the grand finale.

After Mike Albert performed “An American Trilogy” Scot Bruce came onstage to perform “Hound Dog” with him.

As always, there was a meet and greet in the lobby and the two Elvises took pictures with fans. It was fun meeting them again!

SAM_3454From left: Scot Bruce, Dennis, Maryanne, Mike Albert

Happy Birthday, Grandma! (Aug. 14, 1918 to Jan. 27, 1995)

Published August 14, 2013 by Maryanne

grandma 1918Grandma

GrandmaGrandma’s wedding picture

This is what I wrote on Face Book in Grandma’s honor this morning:

Happy Birthday to the coolest Grandma ever! Rest in Peace, my beautiful Grandma (Aug. 14, 1918 to Jan. 27, 1995) the person who taught me to be fun, positive and to live each day to the fullest; the person who had the best quote, “Take a chance, Columbus did” and when she was mad at you, “Don’t be so sour-castic!” To the Grandma I could wake up in the middle of the night and tell her I met Johnny Rotten and she’d be happy for me. To the Grandma who made the best linguine and clam dish. To the Grandma who loved and forgave unconditionally. To the Grandma who loved and accepted every one of my friends — and kids would rather talk to her at my parties than be with other kids, that’s how great she was! To my Grandma who loved Elvis, flirted with Elvis impersonators and was buried wearing her Elvis watch. To my Grandma who everyone talked to, even strangers, because she was so beloved. There will never be another Grandma like you! I miss you more than you’ll ever know!

I received so many wonderful comments, even sharing memories with my two cousins Laura and Michelle, which was awesome. My good friend Todd put this touching Elvis song on his music page for her:

Loving Arms

And this is my own special Elvis dedication to her. I listened and had a good cry in her memory.

I’ll Remember You

And Grandma, the angel, gave us the most lovely day in New Jersey today.

A Hank Snow Story

Published August 3, 2013 by Maryanne

Hank-Snow-Movin'-On---30-Songs

Last night my husband and I were in Vintage Vinyl and I found a case with a TON of Hank Snow CDs — dirt cheap. I was wondering, “What is up with all these Hank Snow CDs?” figuring someone donating or a Vintage Vinyl worker went to a garage sale and found them.

In my vast music collection I had no Hank Snow, so I figured I’d pick up one. They were only $1.99 each. I got one with three songs I love: “Movin’ On,” “Now and Then, There’s a Fool Such As I” and “I’ve been Everywhere.”

I got to the register and the cashier said, “We have a lot of Hank Snow!”

I said, “Yeah, what’s up with that?”

She said that a Hank Snow fan passed away and his family donated the CDs.

She also added that the man was such a fan that he was buried wearing a suit, previously owned by Hank Snow!

I thought that was the coolest, wildest thing! (As my late grandmother was buried wearing her Elvis Presley watch!)

Wishing You a Star-Spangled Night, Tonite!

Published July 4, 2013 by Maryanne

Fireworks (photo by me!)

LOVE AMERICAN STYLE!

Wishing everyone a most amazing Fourth of July!

Maryanne with Barbara Harris and The Toys

For the past several years it’s been a Fourth of July tradition for my husband and I to go to a local park and see the same amazing two bands – 1910 Fruitgum Company and Barbara Harris and The Toys.

Here’s the song I look forward to dancing to tonite:

1910 Fruitgum Company “Simon Says”

And if this most gorgeous love song doesn’t bring tears of you to your eyes, you’re probably dead:

Barbara Harris “Lover’s Concerto” (How Gentle is the Rain)

I’m excited to do it once again this year — with our AMAZING friends Diane and Mike (cutest couple ever!)

diane-mike-maryanneDi, Mike and Me!

Maryanne and Dennis by JeffWas that fireworks? Or did my hubby just kiss me?

retro fourth of julyRetro cutie!

vintage-fourth-of-july-card_thumbGrand Funk Railroad “We’re An American Band”

Simon & Garfunkel “America”

David Bowie “Young Americans”

Elvis Presley “An American Trilogy”

AmericanTrilogyElvisP

Snuggly Rainy Day!

Published June 7, 2013 by Maryanne

Bambi Rain

I love rainy days when I could be inside all day!

I have the whole day free to work on my book – yay!

Here’s some comforting rainy day songs to enjoy on this gorgeous day:

Partridge Family – “Walking in the Rain”

Cowsills “The Rain The Park & Other Things”

All About Eve “Shelter From the Rain”

The Beatles – “Rain”

Elvis “Kentucky Rain”

 

 

Fool!

Published April 1, 2013 by Maryanne

The Fool

I LOVE LOVE LOVE April Fool’s Day!

I just love jokes, and fun and making people laugh, so today will be super fun for me!

Every year I trick people and pull fun jokes. It’s hard when you work at home, alone, but I will definitely get my husband.

The best trick someone pulled on me was when I was working in Hoboken. A young stranger asked me where “Sesame” was.

Hoboken is a fairly big city and I was confused … where is “Sesame”? I didn’t know. I was stunned, trying to think of where it could be.

He looked at me and started laughing. He said “What day is this?”

Okay … April Fool’s Day! He was going with the old, “Can you tell me how to get … how to get to Sesame Street.” (Of course there was no Sesame Street!)

Here are some foolish songs to enjoy today:

Elvis – FOOL’s Rush In

Elvis – FOOLS Fall In Love

Elvis – FOOL Such as I

Daniel Ash – FOOLISH Thing Desire

Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers – Why Do FOOLS Fall in Love

Elvis – FOOL

Elvin Bishop – Fooled Around and Fell in Love

Foreigner – FOOL For You Anyway

Angel – You’re Not Fooling Me

Styx – Fooling Yourself

Led Zeppelin – Fool in the Rain

Stone Roses – Fool’s Gold

Cinderella – Nobody’s FOOL

Are You Elvis Tonight?

Published February 8, 2013 by Maryanne

Elvis Hawaii

We’re having a snowstorm here in New Jersey, a cold and snuggly day and still a long way from the outdoor summer concerts my husband and I love to go to so much. Each year we always seem to catch an Elvis impersonator at these outdoor shows and they are always great. Other times we’ll actually splurge and see an Elvis impersonator at a dinner show, a concert hall, or even an local dive bar. When it comes to Elvis impersonators, the King will live on forever!

One of my favorite Word Press blogs is Pompadour (http://elvistributeartist.wordpress.com/) a tribute to Elvis impersonators.

In honor of Elvis impersonators, I’d like to bring attention to three who are real characters, but characters with a lot of substance.

ENJOY!

andy kaufman as elvis

Andy Kaufman, as Elvis

The late Andy Kaufman adored Elvis and was impersonating Elvis when he was still alive. The real Elvis Presley saw Kaufman’s act and said he was the best Elvis impersonator at the time.

Here’s a video of Andy as Elvis. If you watch this one, please watch to the very end to really get the gist of Kaufman’s humor. It’s legendary and Kaufman never fails to make me laugh and smile.

Orion Elvis ImpersonatorJimmy “Orion” Ellis

Jimmy Ellis, best known as Orion sounded just like Elvis, but as for looks, not so much, so he created a mystery by performing masked. Because he sounded so much like Elvis, some who believed that Elvis was still alive thought Orion just might be Elvis!

What I loved most about Orion was that he did some songs that Elvis never did, but he made them Elvis songs, such as “Honey” by Bobby Goldsboro. If Bobby Goldsboro’s version of “Honey” didn’t make you cry, Orion’s definitely will!

Sadly Orion died tragically. He was gunned down in his pawn shop in December 1998. Both Orion and his ex-wife who were working together both ended up dead.

In honor of Orion, please enjoy his gorgeous version of “Honey,” from his CD “Reborn.”

El VezEl Vez

El Vez is a kitschy Mexican American artist. He’s still alive and has about 12 albums worth of satire Elvis songs. He performs with the El Vetts ladies who are his back up singers.

Check out El Vez doing “Suspicious Minds” as “Immigration Time”‘: “Ready Steady Go”; and “Kids of America.” Sounds nothing like Elvis, looks nothing like Elvis, but a helluva lot of fun!