The Dempseys

Posted on Thu, Feb. 23, 2006 -
           When three Tacoma, Washington musicians formed the rockabilly act The Dempseys 11 years ago, they naturally loved the music of Elvis Presley . But they probably never imagined that they'd actually get to play with Elvis.
           I know what you're thinking. "No, that's impossible. They couldn't have played with Elvis," you're thinking. "Elvis is working as a short-order cook at that greasy spoon near Atlanta, and he said his playing days are over."
           Well, you're right. Elvis' playing days are over. So in the interest of full disclosure, it's not, technically, Elvis who they played with. It's Tyler Hilton , the guy who played Elvis in last year's acclaimed Johnny Cash biopic, "Walk The Line."
           The Dempseys were cast as Elvis' backing band is probably enough incentive for many folks to come out. Fuel to the fire: They were actually hired by Elvis Presley Enterprises to be the house act at a club called Elvis Presley's Memphis a few years back.
           Just don't expect to see the trio perform that sort of laid back 1950s-style "Peggy Sue" stuff. "The music is pretty much straight-ahead rockabilly," says Brad Birkedahl . "But really our whole thing is our stage act. People describe it as 'acrobatic.'"
           Bassist "Slick" Joe Fick has as much fun as you can on a stand-up bass, spinning it on its peg, jumping on top of it, or throwing the entire unwieldy thing behind his neck while he plays.
           And Birkedahl flits between guitar and, uh, trumpet.
           The group may rip through covers of songs by Buddy Holly and Brian Setzer, then drop in a roots-rock rendition of "Classical Gas."
           When the band first formed they played things a little straighter. But it wasn't long until the band started getting its rave on.
           "We just thought, instead of just standing there, why not jump around and act like a dork?" says Birkedahl.
           The band -- drummer Ron Perrone is the third member -- moved to Memphis eight years ago and immediately landed the gig at the Elvis club.
           Their screen time in "Walk The Line" is memorable. They play Elvis' Blue Moon Boys, which is the band that Johnny Cash spies loading into a recording studio as Cash is about to launch his career. Later on, the group is on stage backing Elvis and Roy Orbison.
The Demspeys official web site.

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