Katie Glassman on Elvis Presley and his influence on American music
Ironically enough, singer and fiddler Katie Glassman was living overseas when she heard the early recordings of one of America's most famous singers in history for the first time. Although Elvis Presley is mostly remembered for the controversy surrounding the last years of his life, he is an important part of music history. Glassman wants to remind us of that this weekend with her performance, the Elvis Presley Sun Sessions Tribute. We caught up with Glassman to talk about what inspired her to perform an ode to The King.
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Westword: Can you tell me a little bit about how the idea for this tribute came about?
Katie Glassman: I was living in France about five years ago, and that's when I discovered the Elvis Sun Sessions recordings. And, having grown up on Western swing and old-time fiddle bands and classical jazz, hearing those recordings, I just heard all the music that I love -- rockabilly, Western swing, bluegrass, classic swing and blues. So, I don't know, most of the people who have heard me sing know that my voice tends to go in a vintage direction anyway, and these tunes are just so, I don't know, they encompass the energy of all the music that I love.
Has Elvis' music had an influence on your music since then?
I would say that elements of it have. I think Elvis' singing has had a tremendous influence on my vocals.
Can you tell me about your take on the importance of these recordings in the history of music?
I can definitely tell you within the context of, you know, my understanding. To me, most people know the later Elvis stuff, you know, "Blue Suede Shoes" and the stuff that he recorded at RCA. But this stuff just has the energy and modesty and integrity of, you know, where he came from. It's his start and it was really the start of rock and roll music.
And, when I listened to it at that point, it still had a -- and later his recordings do too -- but especially in these recordings, he really holds on to the roots of American music in every way: the blues, the rockabilly. And then his, I don't know, his energy and the flashback that was used in the sessions. I think these recordings represent really the discovery of one of the greatest singers and performers of all time. It's the beginning.
Do you have plans for any other tributes?
I would to do a Bob Wills tribute, Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. Are your familiar with them?
Oh, cool! So that's my next thing kind of cooking down the road.
Do you have any idea of when that might be, or is it still in the early stages?
I would love to do it before the end of the year. It is in the early stages, though. But it would be my life's dream, for sure.
Is there anything else you want to mention?
I'm really excited to do this show at Lannie's because I feel it's just going to create a great ambiance for the audience. The band is great. I did want to mention that we added a drummer, and his name is Dave Nichols. The band is killer, and we're really looking forward to the show.
Glassman's performance, with guitarist Sean McGowan, organist Eric Moon, upright bassist Charlie Mertens and drummer David Nichols, starts at 7:30 p.m. Sunday January 20 at Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased in advance on Lannie's website.