by Stephen Dafoe
Singer/songwriter Steve Pineo is bringing the Heebee-Jeebees, his five-piece band, and the songs and sounds of Elvis Presley to the Morinville Community Cultural Centre. The two-hour show, sponsored by Infinite Event Services, takes place Mar. 19.
Calgary-based Pineo has been performing his Elvis show for about seven years, but is quick to point out the show is not an Elvis tribute act with sequined jumpsuits and wigs. Rather, Pineo and company perform a rendition of Elvis’ career from the 1950s through to the 1970s. The singers, musicians and Pineo wear clothing suitable to the period and are faithful in recreating Elvis’ sound.
“It’s a pretty literal interpretation, but I’m not pretending to be Elvis,” Pineo said. “We try to capture his sound. We have a five-piece band: two guitars, bass, drums and piano. Then, to really capture the sound, we have a four-piece vocal group called the Heebee-Jeebees. They’re an acapella group that’s been together for 23 years.”
Pineo said the Heebee-Jeebees played the role of the Jordanaires, a group that started in the late 1940s as a gospel quartette, but who served as Elvis’ backup group through much of his career.
“It sounds just like it should with the singers and the whole band,” Pineo said. “As the show progresses, the band kind of gets bigger. We start with me, the guitarist and the bass player – sort of the way Elvis did in Sun Studios when he started out. Then we just keep adding pieces.”
Pineo’s Elvis Show starts from Elvis’ early recordings with Sun and although the sets stay mostly in the realm of the 1950s and 1960s catalogue, the show does dabble in the 1970s with My Way being the last of the King’s music chronologically.
“I don’t spend too much time with the stuff that he did in the ‘70s,” the performer said. “I mostly do the stuff that I like. I chose the tunes. It’s a lot of the ‘50s stuff, the rockabilly stuff, and stuff from his golden era. Then we do what we call the movie medley. We put a lot of the corny movie songs together in a medley, which is a lot of fun.”
Pineo grew up playing and influenced by the blues. He’s played folk, roots-rock, and even written a couple of songs that were recorded by mainstream country artists. But he considers himself a songwriter who plays the blues.
The Elvis Show began about seven years ago when Pineo got a gig in High River on what the venue owner called Dead Elvis Day, the anniversary of Presley’s death. Given the opportunity to play what he wanted with the caveat of adding an Elvis song or two, Pineo opted to do a whole show of the King’s music.
“I’ve always played Elvis songs as long as I remember,” Pineo said. “When I was a kid, the second record I ever bought was Elvis’ Greatest Hits. That was in the ‘70s, and I was listening to Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith and Queen. But for some reason everything about it [the Elvis record] was great. I liked the way he sang. I just was kind of drawn to it. Then I realized I could kind of sound like him when I sang. He was there from the beginning when I learned how to sing in front of people. He was a big influence. I had a lower voice, and doing the Robert Plant kind of screaming didn’t work for me.”
Pineo said his Morinville audience can expect a fun show. He praised the Heebee-Jeebees for being not only great singers but also great comedians. “They’re really funny. They do a lot of comedy,” he said. “There are a lot of jokes. As much as we respect the music, it’s quite lighthearted. It’s very fun and entertaining.”
Steve Pineo’s Elvis Show takes place Mar. 19 at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre. The event is a dinner and show with catering by Kelly’s Deli and Catering. Cocktails are at 6 p.m.; dinner is at 6:30 p.m., and the show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $45 per person and available at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre box office.