Scot Bruce’s act is a tribute to Elvis Presley, but you won’t catch him in a high-collared white jumpsuit, sideburns and sunglasses.
“We distance ourselves from the caricature that has somehow evolved from the Elvis tribute world,” Bruce said in a phone interview. When people ask his wife what he does for a living, “their first instinct is to giggle because they think of something that is more campy than respectful or authentic. For us, it is first and foremost about the great music.”
Bruce, a spot-on lookalike for the young Elvis, and his band will be performing today through Saturday on the Touchstone Energy Stage at the Missouri State Fair. Their show is focused on the highlights of Elvis’ career from his start at Sun Records and his first appearance on the “Ed Sullivan Show” to his 1968 comeback television special. While the show works within a specific timeframe, Bruce said, “Chronologically, we do kind of shift back and forth. The show doesn’t start at the beginning and take you through to a certain era; we do kind of bounce back and forth to an extent. We try to cover the important parts of Elvis’ career.”
Recently, Heineken has been using the song “Bossa Nova Baby” from Elvis’ film “Fun in Acapulco” in one of its TV ads. While the tune is catchy and the new exposure has increased its popularity, Bruce avoids getting trapped in current trends.
“Those things come and go; we try to remain a little more constant,” he said. “We play the songs that were hits during Elvis’ career. We focus on what was big when he was alive.”
Bruce keeps a busy schedule, performing just about every weekend somewhere in the United States. He also has had a decade-long run playing about three shows a month at Disneyland.
“We love playing at Disneyland,” he said. “They care about quality, which is why we are so grateful that they continue to book us.”
Bruce’s band shares his dedication to providing a realistic portrayal of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
“They care about the quality and the authenticity as much as I do. … They approach it as respectfully as I do,” Bruce said.
The band consists of Russell Scott on acoustic bass, Kyle Walsh on drums, Mitch Fox on piano and Denny Presley on electric guitar. Bruce said Presley is a “distant cousin” to the King and jokes that Denny is “a cousin once removed, as in he was once removed from Graceland when he tried to visit his famous cousin.”
Bruce finds it “neat that this music can be enjoyed by families together,” adding that Elvis continues to have multigenerational appeal.
“When we are performing, I will look down and there are 4 year olds who know all the words to ‘Hound Dog’ and ‘Jailhouse Rock,’” he said. “It is really neat that young people are finding out about this great music.”
As much as he is a performer, Bruce also is a musical historian.
“I really do care about the quality and authenticity of what we do,” he said. “Being respectful about how we celebrate Elvis’ music is really important to me.”
But that doesn’t mean his time on stage is like a lecture.
“Whether there are two or 20,000 (in the audience), we do our best to make people glad they came to see us and we really try to rock the joint.”