Saturday, August 19, 2017

How do you stay the course? Our first in the spotlight feature with Richie Santa !

Hello friends and fans. Welcome to the first of our new spotlight feature on ETA's.... Tying in to our story on Graceland, we will be featuring an Elvis Tribute Artist ( ETA) once a month beginning with the fabulous Richie Santa....



Before we get into all the conversation I had with Richie, let me preface this with some thoughts...

I want this to be a feature of positivity and reflection... whether or not you are an Elvis fan or not, it's about what we do in our lives, on a daily basis, to stay the course....

Many of you know that I am all about sending positive vibes into the Universe....
I am a huge Elvis fan. My whole family adored him yet I didn't realize how much of a fan I was until recently. The more I learn , the more I want to know....and when I see the likes of younger people doing the same , I know the Elvis legacy will carry on through more generations. Since my readership has been growing by leaps and bounds I wanted to get into the ETA experience. I'd like to find ETA's from all over the Country to be spotlighted in this blog.... our other 3 weeks will continue on a variety of topics yet once a month we will turn ETA.... If you know someone that is worthy of a write up...please contact me and I will arrange to check them out. I really want to capture the true honest spirit of those who loved Elvis and who emulate his kindness and love of music and performance as that is my background as well.....

I am honored to have the very first ETA be the fabulous Richie Santa....




I had the pleasure of sitting down with Richie and his manager Kathy Nicols Cossu to discuss the whole ETA experience and atmosphere....





Ritchie was most gracious and seemed so excited to speak with us. ( Myself and my videographer, Marco "The Mr." Panting) We discussed the nerves first.. I asked Richie what it felt like to be backstage and hit that stage running
as " Elvis "

He said that we wouldn't be normal if there weren't a certain amount of nerves that set in before each performance. Richie has been doing this for 10 years plus. I believe that he has gotten to a level of confidence in his role on stage yet still feels that twinge of butterflies to bring it back to reality a little.... Richie also says that he feels blessed to be able to sustain a career in this business and lifestyle. As other ttrue ETA's have said to me, "I am not Elvis" "I am paying tribute to someone that I love". The conversation turned to a love of Elvis and what his role in the industry has meant to many a performer and fan. There has to be a sincerity about what the ETA's do to attract me to them and Richie certainly fits that bill. He's been a fan of Elvis since he's 8 years old. He's been singing a long time yet doing Elvis has been the most rewarding. " What can be better then portraying your favorite artist and having an audience appreciate it. Its a bond we have with the fans ", says Richie Santa.....


Singing came naturally to Richie at an early age. Finding this love for Elvis has been so rewarding to him not only as a performer yet as a fan too ! " I've sung all kinds of music ,but Elvis fills me with such joy."


When I asked Richie about his goals down the road he told me that touring and doing bigger venues would be great. He also mentioned something that I just love....and that is getting together with other Tribute Artists... and learning and working with them. As Elvis week comes to a close today in Graceland, I've been reading stories about the camaraderie that the other ETA's form with each other and that in and of itself is a special bond. Richie also says that he is so blessed to be where he is today in his career.... I also admire that.

About 2 1/2 years ago, Ritchie met Kathy Cossu who his now his manager...


"Kathy and i met at the Richmond county fair on Staten Island about 2 1'2 years ago. We started working together a few months after that meeting . Its been a very good working relationship"

I had the pleasure of chatting with Kathy as well, no stranger to the industry, and found that conversation with her was easy and comforting. I'm so looking forward to my own special bond with Kathy and Ritchie, as well as the others I will come to meet and interview....


I, myself, found the afternoon to be so warm and friendly. I felt like I knew Richie a long time. In fact, we came to realize that we met once before yet that was just in passing at an event and it came full circle for me to start this spotlight feature and have Rtchie be the very first guest here.... This lunch and interview process, which was more of a general conversation than anything, was so heartwarming and made me feel so good about adding this feature.

So now we talk about staying the course and how you keep going....

I asked Richie about his rehearsal time etc...
He said that the best way to learn is to watch the movies and videos of Elvis .He tries to do that on a daily basis. Yet practicing in front of a mirror and looking back on his own performances is also a way he can analyze and critique himself...and ultimately become better and better at his craft.

I thoroughly enjoyed taking this step in my blog process. I am so honored to have Richie Santa , not only as my very first spotlight here, yet as a new friend and I'm so looking forward to seeing him at the Strand Theater on 8/25 !


In the meantime, Richie also said that another ETA once told him that it takes 5-6 years to grow up as an ETA in the industry.... Richie believes that to be true.

I find Richie to be a true artist, ETA and a very special person....


Let's begin this new spotlight series this August, on the last day of Elvis week... with the fabulous RICHIE SANTA !


#ETA

#Elvis
#4ASTAR

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Amaaaazing Grace-Land: Graceland/Memphis Travel Feature

All I can say is WOW !  Hello all,

This Graceland/Memphis Travel feature will set the tone for our new "ELVIS" ETA spotlight !!!
We are so excited to add this feature to our blog posts.... so here is the deal... Our blog is currently up once a week.... Of the 4-5 entries a month, ONE blog post each month will be dedicated to and ETA !
Remember what that stands for???   Elvis Tribute Artist. I know there are many ETA's out at Graceland now as the 40th Elvis week kicks off in honor of the "King's" memories. Our goal will be to feature ETA's from Across the Country so stay tuned for that..... our very first ETA will be coming up soon and you can check out his performance at the Strand Theater on August 25th in honor of the 40th Anniversary of the passing of Elvis ! Contact me for details....

Over 75 photos to look at in this blog post.... Enjoy them all as I did.... Let's start with an old iconic photo of the family.... Mom and Dad ( Gladys and Vernon) and baby Elvis....



I find it so hard to believe it's been 40 years since he passed and his music and legacy are so strong and powerful today. I was just a teenager when I remember seeing the sad news on TV and running to the phone to call my Sister.  Much of my family adored Elvis. I didn't realize how much of a fan I was until I settled into my fan-dom just a few years ago.... I see so many "things" and memories from Elvis in my life...around me.... not even realizing how much of a fan I was since I was a teenager listening to my Sister's Elvis records.... and dancing to the tunes of  Jailhouse Rock....singing to the melodies of Can't Help Falling in Love.... and we can't help but fall in Love with Elvis at some point in our lives.....
Later I became good friends with the late TED PRIOR, a huge Elvis fan himself, of course.....

Lots to cover as we kick off our new feature....this one dedicated to the New Elvis Presley's Memphis Complex and a few sights around the Memphis Area.... Let's start off with a shout out to Libby Perry of the Graceland Beat !  Thank you , Libby for making this all possible and for being the dynamic person that you are at Graceland....

First stop, The Guest House at Graceland. This is a brand new facility dedicated to the friends and fans of the late Elvis Presley.  As you can see, the hallway is done in Black and Pink beautifully...a close-up of the wallpaper shows the little sparkling touches that would suit the Elvis taste factor....






Moving to the replica of the staircase.... so amazing.... 

This first one is from inside the mansion..... 




This 2nd one is from the Guest House....got more of a view on the replica....just amazing to walk down the hall and feel like you are in the home of Elvis Presley....and then...we WERE in the home of Elvis Presley....still sinking in.....

Other shots from the Guest House..... 





these beautiful black and grey chairs were designed to look like a collar from one of the jumpsuits ! Thank you Marcia Moser for being our photographer on the scene and all around right hand 

Let's move into the actual home....one of my favorite rooms was the racquet ball area... I love the split level lounging area complete with REAL pinball machines, a bar and cool comfy furniture. The court is now back to it's original state and not being used for storage of artifacts since the expansion. I got a real feel of comfort in that room.....








Elvis was so proud of his honorary induction into many police force affiliations....
Next, I had to get the "Jungle Room"- One of his favorite places. Elvis actually recorded some of his hits from this room....




Other photos from the Mansion include renderings of a couple of the rooms ( Loved that).... some photos of the family , dining area, pool table and the keys to city that look like a guitar.....







Moving to the Meditation Garden, another one of the "King's" favorite places to be.... you can see why.... around the other side of the garden are the tombstones of the family.... seen here is the one of Elvis and the eternal flame..... just breathtaking and solemn.....




Can't forget the Lisa Marie.... How cool to be able to walk inside the plane ....


Let's now head over to parts of the new complex where you can get a peanut butter and banana sandwich ( one of his favs) at Gladys's Restaurant. 
 Another favorite area is the ICONS OF INFLUENCE
Here you can see many great musicians and entertainers with outfits on display and even a quote of how Elvis influenced them... including KISS, BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, DOLLY PARTON, CARRIE UNDERWOOD  and more..... seen here,  A Memphis boy turned star in a signature Elvis Pose...
JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE.....

 AND.....(Below) Buddy Holly


Some of the cool shots from the complex include these:






Let's head over to the famous Beale Street where we find the plaque for Lansky Brothers 
( where Elvis bought a lot of his clothing)
 and some cool street shots....






You know I love this one that reminds me of Vegas.... in fact, all of Beale kind of reminded me of a cross between Fremont Street and Bourbon Street.... very cool.... 

One of the cool shots I got came with a surprise-- here is a shot of one of the music notes that are lined up in the cement. on Beale Street... an honor to be a part of those.... so at the opening of Elvis week, President and CEO Jack Soden took the Mic.... upon leaving, he was called back and to his surprise was honored with a music note on Beale Street !  Jack has been the CEO at Graceland since 1990
What a cool honor !  Next time I go back, hopefully for Elvis week next year, I will get a shot of THAT !!!

Nothing spoke louder to me than the graciousness and kindness of all the people we met while visiting.... from Entertainers in the shops like  Wade and Donna from "Swing Shift" to the local photographer DOC to Quatrel Towers who works in one of the gift shops and to Kai who is bringing the Elvis Legacy to a whole new generation....  We also met Erma one of the tour bus guides, and fans such as Irene Hope and Karen Dillon.....
 
 
 
 
 
 








Last stop for now..... Marlowes Ribs and Restaurant... an Absolute Must do.... 
Escorted over by Marc in a Pink Cadillac.... ( if you call and make a reservation, they will pick you up compliments of Marlowes within a certain distance)  Some of the best food I've tasted out there.... Marlowe's is a MUST on the list !



Here we had the honor to meet Colin Paul, performing at Marlowe's during Elvis Week !



All in all, Graceland is a stop for all ages. It's a chance to take a peek at the legacy that Elvis has created, that others now carry on. 
 With Priscilla overseeing all... she hand picked Jack Soden to carry on the monumental task of Graceland and all that goes with it....
To see all that Elvis has influenced in his career and continues to influence....was truly amazing . 

Thank you Libby Perry


Photo credits to Marcia Moser/ Ava Holly

Thank you to all we met at Amazing Graceland !