Gary James' Interview With Elvis Tribute Artist
Don Anthony is one of those rarities in the Tribute Artist business. You see, he not only does Elvis, but Sinatra, Dean Martin, Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck! But it's Elvis that people call him for. He's so popular and so successful that he was named the number one Elvis entertainer in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Don Anthony talked with us about his act.
Q - Don, you portray not only Elvis, but Sinatra, Dean Martin, Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck. You're a one-man band.
A - I do all of them, but I mostly do Elvis. When I do Sinatra, I do a Sinatra \ Dean Martin show.
Q - You're not playing Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin at the same time, are you?
A - Well, it all depends on what the client wants. If they want more Sinatrta, then I do more Sinatrta. If they want more Dean Martin, then I do Dean Martin. That's how I do it.
Q - Is there more of a demand for your Elvis show?
A - Yes. There's more of a demand for Elvis. Out of ten shows, eight will be Elvis. It's more of a demand to have Elvis there than the other guys.
Q - How'd you get into this tribute business? What were you doing before?
A - I always loved Elvis. I always sang at birthday parties or any of our events. I always sang. Then about thirteen years ago (2001) I had a Halloween party and some guys in the band said, "You know, you sound really good. Why don't you try to do that professionally?" I said, "Well, okay," and I did. I got all the music and all the songs and then I got the outfits made. Then, we started out slowly like in lodges, and we just tested it in the lodges. From there we went to the hotels and to the Westbury Music Fair. I did two shows there. That was my highlight, doing the Westbury Music Fair.
Q - On the website of yours, you've uploaded a video, but I don't see a band. So, you must be singing to tracks. Do you in fact have a band that travels with you?
A - I do have a band. Most of the time, most people cannot afford the band and myself. So what we did is, we went into the studio and we recorded all the music with the band, some of the tracks, and we put all the music, I have fifty songs with me. So, any time we travel, the band is with me. You see what I mean? This way they don't have to pay for the band. We just have the DJ play the music and I sing 'live' to it, like there's a band there. That's how we do it. Most people cannot afford the band and the entertainer, so they just hire me and we bring the music like that.
Q - You're named the Number One Elvis entertainer in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. How did you get that title?
A - Well, you know how you get that title? You get that title from all the shows that I do. If you look at my testimonials you can see what people have said about me. I'm doing so many shows in Connecticut, so many in New Jersey, so many in New York, you become the number one guy. That's how I became the number one guy.
Q - When you do have a band with you, how big of a production is it?
A - It's a four or five piece band. When I did the Westbury Music Fair, I also had the back-up singers. We rehearsed. That's only for the big, big events that I would have to do that. Whoever wants to do it could afford to pay for the band. Most of the Elvis guys, and most of the Elvis entertainers and impersonators in general, will do it with the tracks and not with the band.
Q - Some Elvis tribute guys I've interviewed will not work with tracks. They say to get that 'live' Elvis feel to the music, you need a band.
A - Well, that's right, to get the 'live' thing. With the band it always sounds the best. But, when you're doing three or four events a weekend and you're doing so many shows, it's not there to do it with the band 'cause the people are not going to pay for it. I get paid anywhere from $350 to $500 per event and then sometimes I get more if I have to travel more. When you're doing the events at that level, that's why I'm doing it with the tracks.
Q - How many gigs a year would you say you're doing?