Artist Spotlight: Thane Dunn

Thane Dunn is returning to Newfoundland,  bringing his Elvis Rock n Gospel show to Holy Heart on January 5 and 6 – notable because on January 8 Elvis would have celebrated his 82nd year had he still been with us.

‘40th Anniversary’

“This August is the 40th Anniversary of Elvis’ death, and as any fans of his know, he died on August 16.  The birthday and the anniversary of his death has always been significant and no one recognizes that more than I do,” Dunn begins.

When Dunn returns in 2018, he’ll be bringing along a special guest, Bill Baize, who was part of the Legendary JD Sumner’s Stamps Quartet and performed with Elvis from 1971 to 76.  Blaze performed nightly with Elvis in Vegas and on tour across America and was featured in four Elvis movies from Elvis Aloha from Hawaii to the MGM documentary Elvis on Tour and Elvis, He Touched Me, The Gospel works of Elvis Presley.

Dunn says he’s thrilled to be bringing the show back to this island.

“I put my pants on one leg at a time, so I have to measure things when I say this, but if Elvis went to Newfoundland I don’t think he’d be treated any different than I am when I come there. I’ve been made to feel at home and everyone has been so nice, so receptive of our show and there’s so many Elvis fans. I’ve met people when I come there that have become closer to me than others I have known for years near my own home.”

‘Rock n’ Roll Hero’

But then Dunn is the next best thing to the real thing when it comes to The King. What has that been like? Dunn pauses. “What I’ve tried to do is this; there’s a zillion people with black wigs and sideburns in this business but I have tried to give people a taste of what I think it would be like to actually see Elvis. To me, Elvis is a movie star, a comic book hero and a rock n’ roll hero all rolled into one, so every song has to be amazing.” If  you’ve seen Dunn perform, then you know his shows are authentically Elvis. Each Elvis song performed by Dunn becomes a show in and of itself. “I have to be like an Olympic athlete and give it everything I have when I perform. Just imagine how much talent Elvis had when he’d just get on stage and breeze trough this stuff? To try and do the stuff that Elvis did on stage it’s trying to say the least.” But he gives it all he has, that’s for sure, and Dunn has sold 8,000 seats in Newfoundland in the last two-and-a-half years, so fans are loving the heart-and-soul Dunn brings to every Elvis performance. “People keep coming back and that’s the thing about our shows. It will never get old. I will never come back and do the same thing and the show gets better. They will probably put it on my tombstone, he gets better with age because I work at it all the time. Just this morning I’ve been getting vocal lessons from a man who performed onstage with Elvis because I’ve tried to take everything to the next level.”

Baize of Glory

The lessons have been with Bill Baize who has been called the finest tenor singer of the 20th century. Baize performed with Elvis through the 70s. “For me to be onstage with him is incredible. He does the same thing with us that he did with Elvis through the 1970s, so performing with Bill, who was the first person to sing at Elvis’ funeral; he sang When it’s my Time, there’s not a dry eye and that includes mine, he’s that good.”

Baize has high praise for Dunn as well, calling his the most authentic Elvis show on the planet.

“I’m so pumped about being on stage with Bill. The amazing thing, without sounding big headed, I have a man who had a deep love and respect for Elvis that says I’m the closest thing that he’s ever seen to Elvis. I really appreciate that.”

Dunn says he’s an actor who has to be able to dance and sing and do a little bit of everything else, but with Baize’s help, things have changed. “When someone like Bill, who knows Elvis inside and out, comes on board, it changes what we are doing.”

There’s one song Dunn is looking forward to performing when he comes. “The song we are going  to be doing called You’ll Never Walk Alone it’s a tough one to sing and it’s long been my favourite since working with bill. But I love them all.”

Elvis to Newfoundland

That has to be the case considering in 2012 Dunn won the world’s largest Elvis gospel competition. But it’s not just about bringing Elvis to Newfoundland. Dunn says he can’t wait to get here for another reason; because there’s so many talented people here, he says. “There’s a pile of talent in Newfoundland everywhere we went the waiter could sing better than most people in Nashville. Kim West-Butler will perform onstage, she will be singing backup with us, and we are really excited for that.”

Dunn says he will do every little thing he can do to make the audience feel Elvis was actually in the building. Why? “Because people who love Elvis with their last dying embers deserve nothing less.”

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