St. Marys Journal Argus
In recent years, Thorndale-area resident Brandon Saunders has been developing a reputation as a top-level drummer who can ably sit in for travelling and area blues and blues-rock musicians performing on stages in and around London and Kitchener.
In his most recent on-stage appearance in St. Marys, Saunders banged out the rhythms for London-based blues-rock favourite Doug Varty, when he brought his band to the Royal Canadian Legion last month.
Saunders says it’s his hope that he can continue to build his career as a drummer.
But back here in St. Marys, his musical roots are impossible to ignore. And those roots involve a VHS recording handed to Saunders by family friend Art Bage when Saunders was barely a teenager, showing the legendary Elvis Presley doing what he did best — thrilling audiences with his early rock ’n’ roll vocals and unparalleled stage presence.
As a 14 year-old, Saunders started impersonating Elvis on stage, and it soon developed into a very successful venture. And, although he hasn’t done the Elvis thing for about five years, ever since his name started popping up around the region on stage as a drummer, he has been hearing from music fans that they’d love to see him on stage once more in the sequined outfits, crooning the old hits.
“I remember when Art gave me that tape and I watched it. And I’m thinking, this guy’s awesome,” Saunders recalled of his 14 year-old self, and his reasons for starting out as a youthful Elvis impersonator.
Not too many months later, he was at the well-respected and high-profile Collingwood Elvis Festival, earning a fourth-place ranking out of about 150 hopefuls. He also placed second at an Elvis festival in Kitchener, and first at one in Brantford.
“I remember my family would get me to stand behind a curtain and start talking or singing, and people would say, ‘That’s Elvis!” he laughed.
There were well-received concerts at the St. Marys Legion, and in Thorndale. But eventually, about five years ago, Saunders decided he wanted more out of music than just performing Elvis tunes.
“I went to drumming and guitar. I knew I had more talent, musically, than just singing,” he said.
Typically, for the Elvis festival performances, the contestants sing to karaoke music. If they advance to the finals, they might be joined on stage by a band.
For Friday’s concert, however, Saunders promises the full band treatment. Fans of Varty will be thrilled to hear he’s returning to St. Marys as the guitar player for the gig. And the drummer, Steve Crew, plays with a 13-piece Elvis impersonator band fronted by Tim E.
“We’ll do 40 songs, two sets. The first set will be earlier Elvis, the last set later Elvis,” Saunders noted.
Advance tickets, at $15 apiece, are available at the Cheese Shoppe and The World’s Coolest Music Store. Admission at the door is $20, with the show starting at 8 p.m.