Ted Roddy's Tribute to the King

Though he's viewed more today as a punch line than a serious musician, Elvis Presley made a lot of really fine music in his career. The goal of Austin music fixture Ted Roddy's longtime biannual concert is to put the focus back on the songs. "This show will be a Houston exclusive, because we'll do a number of holiday songs and really decorate the club," Roddy says.

A small combo (led by ex-Wagoneer Brent Wilson) opens the set and covers the King's '50s and '60s material. Then, with the familiar strains of "Also Sprach Zarathustra," better known as the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey, the show really kicks into gear. Roddy's 12-piece orchestra covers the '70s era, complete with a full horn section and shimmying backup singers that buoy his deep, distinctive voice. But don't look for him to be wearing a jumpsuit or fake sideburns -- Roddy and crew play it straight, which makes the tribute much more satisfying.

"Elvis is a very centering thing for me, because I like blues, country, rock and lounge music, and it all comes together with him," Roddy says. "And a lot of the [players] have been with me for a while and are passionate about it. This is not an [imitation] act." Roddy keeps the show fresh by consistently changing up the set list, which includes a generous helping of the hits, covers that Elvis favored and obscure numbers for the diehards. During Roddy's last Houston stop, some gladly paid twice to see the same show back-to-back, proving that there's more than one King who inspires praise and devotion during the holiday season.

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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero