The gyrating hips, the pompadour, the thick sideburns, and a rockabilly singing voice that makes the ladies melt. No, that's not an apparition you've seen shaking, rattling, and rolling around Broward County. It's early-Elvis tribute performer Chris MacDonald.
"What I try to do is have a good time with the people and the music," says the down-to-earth MacDonald. "Many people think of the over-the-top impersonators, the heavyweights in the jumpsuits, the jumping out of the airplanes, Honeymoon in Vegas. I don't do that. I try to give a history lesson. I have fun with my own personality, with the audience."
MacDonald, age 32, first curled his upper lip and donned black leather pants just over six years ago, for a night of trick-or-treating with his daughter. One candy-giving neighbor took note and offered MacDonald a job with a lip-synch group. MacDonald told the man he wanted to sing instead, and he's done so ever since.
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MacDonald has performed in every venue imaginable, including Mayday's restaurant, Ford and GM auto shows, SeaEscape cruises, and Planet Hollywood. His next set of gigs will take place Friday and Saturday at Sirone's Restaurant in Pompano Beach, where he'll be backed up by his band, the Moments (bassist John Roberts, guitarist Bud Roberts, and drummer Dean Gabriel).
One of the biggest highlights in MacDonald's career thus far was playing with the Jordanaires (Elvis' original backing vocalists) and D.J. Fontana (Elvis' original drummer) at Sunrise Musical Theater a few years ago as part of Elvis' 60th birthday tribute show.
MacDonald's Website (www.chrismacdonaldselvis.com) lists the vocalist's recordings, including Elvis covers on cassette (Early Elvis and Elvis Favorites) and non-Elvis country CDs displaying MacDonald's vocal range (Deuces Wild and Today's Country). For diehard fans -- like the middle-aged ladies I saw in the front row at a recent SeaEscape show -- a concert video is also available. (Assorted soundbites include renditions of the classics "Don't Be Cruel," "Heartbreak Hotel," and "The Wonder of You.")
In a fittingly aw-shucks, early-Elvis way, MacDonald explains how he found his calling. "Some things happen in life, crossroads, and everyone picks a road, and that's what happened," he says. "Basically I get paid to have fun. It pays the bills, and I'm the luckiest, because I actually enjoy what I do.