When a local Elvis Presley impersonator swiveled his hips and winked while performing recently at Shields Crossing apartments in Seymour, several women in the crowd broke out in hoots and hollers of adoration.
Diane Caplinger of Seymour was near to fainting.
“Oh my, is it hot in here or what?” Caplinger said, using her hands to fan herself.
Her sister, Sue York, shared Caplinger’s feelings and response to seeing Travis Albertson of Scott County channel the spirit of Elvis by singing and playing the guitar.
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Albertson, 45, is known for his realistic portrayal of the King, from the garish, white rhinestone jumpsuits to the greased-up black pompadour and soul-piercing gaze that makes women swoon.
His Sincerely Elvis Tribute Show has gained recognition, and he’s even working on an Elvis documentary called “Elvis: The Legend Continues.”
But Albertson said he enjoys the small, private venue shows that allow him to interact with his audience and make the show more personal.
The free concert and pizza lunch for Shields Crossing residents was the result of the collaborative efforts from staff at Shields Crossing and the nearby Seymour Crossing Senior Community.
Albertson has performed at the nursing home in the past, but this was his first time in the community room at Shields Crossing, a low-income housing option for those 55 and older and people with physical disabilities.
Barbara Lyon, activities director at Seymour Crossing, said she was having just as much fun at the event as the residents.
“We may be old, but we’re not dead,” she said dancing along to classic Elvis songs such as “Jailhouse Rock,” “Hound Dog” and “All Shook Up.”
But Albertson also slowed it down some, too, singing ballads including “Are You Lonesome Tonight” and “Love Me Tender.”
Caplinger said she and York grew up listening to Elvis on the radio.
“My favorite song was always ‘Love Me Tender,’” Caplinger said.
York said she had always loved the 1961 song “Blue Hawaii” and a lot of Elvis’ early gospel songs.
“He was our idol,” she said.
During the performance, Caplinger’s appreciation for Albertson earned her an autographed blue silk scarf, which Albertson draped around her neck. He also wrapped his arms around her to give her a big hug.
“This is the happiest day of my life,” she said.
Other lucky audience members also received scarves and got to dance with Albertson.
Interaction with the audience is what Albertson said helps make a good show great.
“I really enjoy that. It makes the show go better because it lets me know that they are having a good time,” he said.
Born in 1935, Elvis would be 80 years old if he were alive today. He died nearly 38 years ago at the age of 42 after several years abusing prescription drugs.
Albertson gets several requests a year to perform at nursing homes and assisted-living centers in the area.
“This is his fan group now, so they would know if I’m doing it right,” he said.
He also does festivals and other public and private shows.
It all started 16 years ago when Albertson entered a talent show. At that time, he wasn’t focused on Elvis, just singing and playing guitar.
“I’ve always loved singing, and one of the judges said, ‘Have you heard yourself sing? Go get you a white jumpsuit and do Elvis,’” Albertson said.
People continued to encourage him, telling him he had the look and the sound, so he should go for it.
Albertson said he has been a fan of Elvis for a long time.
“Ever since I was 4 years old when I saw his ‘Aloha From Hawaii’ TV special back in 1973,” he said.
To perfect his act, Albertson said he has done his research and continues to study Elvis.
“Fans say it looks natural, and it pretty much is,” Albertson said. “I’m a pretty shy guy until I get on stage, and even then, it takes me two or three songs to get going. Elvis was like that, too.”
By performing as Elvis, Albertson has been able to meet a lot of people who knew and worked with Elvis in the past.
“They’ve all been nice to me, have told me stories and really helped me out,” he said.
He also has studied videos, read books about Elvis and listened to his music to try to find the mood Elvis was in when he recorded and performed songs.
Some of his favorites include “Suspicious Minds” and “Polk Salad Annie,” which he said always get the fans enthused.
He also likes “Burning Love” and “An American Trilogy,” which is a patriotic biographical song about Elvis’ life and career, Albertson said.
In order to look the part, Albertson has invested in authentic-looking costumes, including Elvis’ identifiable white jumpsuits covered in rhinestones, including the one he wore in the 1973 Hawaiian special that features a big eagle on the back.
“My wife says I spend more time in the mirror than she does,” Albertson said, laughing, of his routine to get ready for a show.
It’s not always easy to perform wearing some of the outfits, he added.
“They have silk linings, and with the belts and capes and jewels, they can weigh almost 70 pounds, so they are heavy, and they get really hot,” he said.
Portraying Elvis has become Albertson’s full-time job, and he travels all over the country to perform. He recently became ordained as a minister and will be performing his first wedding as Elvis.
The documentary in which he is involved is scheduled to premiere in January 2017.