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That's the way it is, says 'Elvis' Friskie

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Randy Friskie brings his That's the Way It Is tour to Kelowna next week.
Special to eVent

Every time Randy "Elvis" Friskie takes the stage he gets a chance to pay homage to what many consider the greatest singer and performer of popular music, Elvis Presley.
But he also makes an important distinction about what he does, too.
The performer, who calls the Lower Mainland home, is careful to point out he considers himself a tribute artist and not an impersonator and while that may be semantics to some, it's not to Friskie.
"I don't go up there and try to pretend I'm Elvis on stage," he said. "I mean, people will come up to me and say 'Those moves are exact,' but you know, I just move to the music and I feel the music and I believe that's what Elvis did."
The distinction is important for Friskie because he believes the combination of things that made Elvis so appealing then and now can never be duplicated, no matter how closely anyone tries.
While Presley sadly passed away in 1977 at the age of 42, his memory lives on as strong as ever and it's partly through performers like Friskie, who also considers himself a fan and that the spirit of The King survives.
Friskie will be bringing his 10-city That's The Way It Is tour to Kelowna Feb. 9 for a show at the Kelowna Community Theatre. The tour is named after the celebrated 1970 documentary that caught Elvis at the height of his Las-Vegas era powers. Friskie's show will draw heavily from the music of Elvis' studio movies, of which there were some 31 over the course of his career, all the way from Love Me Tender in 1956 to 1969's Change of Habit.
A short list of film hits includes songs such as Jailhouse Rock, Can't Help Falling in Love, Follow That Dream, G.I. Blues, King Creole and Viva Las Vegas.
With so many film song credits, Friskie said they had to be selective about what to put in the show, but he's confident Elvis fans will find plenty to like.
"We had to narrow it down … so we picked the more popular ones and the ones that are just good harmony songs," he said. "If we did them all we'd be there for like, 20 hours.
"If I had my way, we'd be doing that."
The fact Elvis is still as popular as ever and an icon of popular culture speaks volumes about him and Friskie has an idea of what made him a one-of-a-kind star.
"The first thing with Elvis is he was cool," Friskie said. "He was cool beyond cool."
Friskie, who comes from a musical family - his dad and his brother were performers - knew he was destined to pay tribute to The King from an early age.
"I knew I was going to be doing this since I was a kid," he said.
Over the years he has honed his performance and has an uncanny ability to bring to the stage some of the genuine excitement, energy and love of the music Elvis the singer himself felt and gave to his fans.
"It's about the emotion and feeling," he said. "Something that was great about Elvis was the way he let you know he was human. If he made a mistake, he would laugh about it, joke about it.
"He (Elvis) lived to perform and that's what I was put here to do, too."
Having seen Elvis live in concert in 1973 in Niagara Falls, Friskie said he remembers the experience well all these years later.
"That show was phenomenal," Friskie said. "When he walked on stage, you could just feel the charisma."
Besides Friskie's award-winning performance as Elvis through the various stages of his career in film, the evening will feature a guest performer in the person of Friskie's daughter, Cassandra.
Taking after her father, the 23-year-old singer has made a career of paying tribute to female artists from a similar era and is famous for her portrayals of stars such as Ann Margret, Marilyn Monroe, Shelly Fabares, Reba McEntire and others. In keeping with the theme of the show, she'll be joining her father on stage for some movie duets made famous by Elvis and his leading ladies, Margret and Fabares among them.
With her father's encouragement, Cassandra Friskie started singing at the age of eight, and it wasn't long before she was performing in the style of some famous ladies of song.
"Dad got me doing Cher and Patsy Cline when I was pretty young," she said. "And then he started getting me involved in the big shows when I was around 10 or 11 years old."
While she wanted to keep some things a surprise for the audience, she'll definitely be joining her father on stage to perform some duets from the films as well, likely including The Lady Loves Me, which Elvis performed with Ann Margret in Viva Las Vegas.
Although Elvis has been gone for more than 35 years, if Friskie, has his way, he'll be giving his all keeping the memory of The King's alive for many more years.
"I've always concerned myself with doing my best and putting on the best show that we can put together," he said. "I guarantee when you come to our show, when we leave that stage, there's no energy left in us; I can promise you that."

QUICKFACTS
Who: Randy "Elvis" Friskie and his Las Vegas show band on the That's The Way It Is Tour with special guest, Cassandra Friskie
When: Sunday, Feb. 9 at 7 p.m.
Where: Kelowna Community Theatre
Tickets: $33, available online at OnTourTickets.com or by calling
1-855-411-7500
More info: RandyElvisFriskie.com.

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