GracelandManila is a tribute to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis Presley.
I was attempting to belt out my rendition of Super Freak by Rick James at the University of Washington HUB ballroom as part of an audio sound check; I think it was fall quarter 2013. Christian Carpio, a sound technician at the time, was kind enough to encourage me to keep singing as he adjusted the mids and the highs in order to attain the correct sound in the ballroom. After my exploration of the funk master’s hit song, Christian and I struck up a conversation. I told him not only was I a “super freak” for Rick James but I was actually an Elvis impersonator, or Tribute Artist. Turns out the young sound tech and a couple of his fellow Huskies had a band and were in search for a lead singer.
After many evenings and winter nights spent practicing Hound Dog, Jail House Rock, It’s Now or Never, Suspicious Minds, and more, the group and I were still just a “group”, not a “band” yet. We hadn’t yet attained the sound that we could be satisfied with. After months of rehearsals and getting to know and trust each other as musicians, Rylen on bass guitar, Ty on lead guitar, Michael on keyboard, Christian on drums and myself as Elvis, we ventured out of the UW HUB Resource Center and played our first show at a local eatery, El Quetzal Mexican Restaurant on Seattle’s Beacon Hill. As fate would have it, who knew that great Mexican street food and some down home Rock’n Roll would turn out to be a fantastic match.
The band was dubbed GracelandManila (one word) because the original name, “Tribute to the king by Tony C” was too boring as told by the young rock’n rollers of the band. GracelandManila does have a ring to it.
As time went on, GracelandManila grew from a Elvis tribute garage band to a fully-fledged Las Vegas Elvis Presley powerhouse with a horn section! GracelandManila has played at venues such as the Bite of Seattle, the Taste of Tacoma, the University District Street Fair, the Queen Anne Days Festival, the University of Washington Night Market, and many more!
GracelandManila continues to create its own Elvis vibe.