WOODSTOCK, New Brunswick — For the past decade, a Moncton, New Brunswick, native has kept the songs and memory of Elvis Presley alive and well.
Thane Dunn has performed for thousands of fans over the past 10 years, earning rave reviews for his show “Thane Dunn and his Cadillac Kings.” His show comes to the McCain Community Theatre in Woodstock, New Brunswick, on Saturday, March 16, at 7:30 p.m. (Atlantic time).
“I got my start as an 8-year-old kid performing as Elvis in a talent contest at school,” he said. “I went to Las Vegas as an adult and got asked a million times where my show was. This was before the black hair and sideburns, but people always told me I looked like Elvis so I guess it was fate.”
Dunn grew up in the city of Moncton, about 180 miles from the Houlton border, and spent many summers in nearby Woodstock, New Brunswick. “We made frequent trips to Bangor as my mother had the ‘shopping fever’ as my my dad would say,” Dunn recalled “I still remember watching Eddie Driscoll and the ‘Great Money Movie’ and when it was Elvis week we always watched.”
He has performed as Elvis full time for the past 10 years. In 2009, Dunn won the “World’s Largest Elvis Tribute Artist Contest,” quit his day job and never looked back.
Surprisingly, Dunn said he was kicked out of the school choir as a youth, but that did not stop him from singing. Later in life, he pursued vocal training.
“Elvis’ voice was very velvety smooth, but also very powerful with great vibrato, so I studied under an opera coach until I met Bill Baize, high tenor singer with JD Sumner and the Stamps Quartet who played with Elvis for many years,” Dunn said. “He’s my best vocal coach ever. He knows Elvis’ voice like no one else.”
Dunn said his family has been very supportive of his venture. He estimates that he has performed roughly 1,000 shows in theaters and casinos. He also has headlined a Royal Caribbean Flagship cruise ship and recently was booked to perform at the Pensacola Interstate Fair in Florida.
Dunn’s favorite song to perform is “An American Trilogy.” “It’s a true showstopper that everyone loves,” he said. “If you do it right, you hear complete silence until it’s over and it’s the complete opposite of “Suspicious Minds” which gets everyone going crazy.”
The largest attendance he has had at one of his shows is 2,700. The average show draws between 600 and 1,200.
Dunn’s new show features not only Elvis’ iconic rock songs, from “Blue Suede Shoes” to
“Suspicious Minds,” but because Elvis sang plenty of Country music, songs like “Always on My Mind” and “Kentucky Rain” have been added to the mix.
The opening act, “The Rhinestone Cowgirl,” performs some of the top hits from many of the “Queens” of country music such as Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette and Patsy Cline.
“Things have been very busy lately, said Dunn, we’ve been performing with Bill Baize of Elvis’ original Stamps Quartet and he is actually my vocal coach,” said Dunn. “We are doing this show because not only do I love Elvis but have always loved Classic Country, that sadly, rarely gets radio play anymore. People want to hear it. We are very blessed to make a living helping people relive memories. Our show is now popular with not only baby boomers, but we also have entire families who come out to our shows which is really nice.”
According to Dunn’s press release, Blaize previously stated “Thane Dunn is the closest thing I’ve ever seen to Elvis.”
“My wonderful parents taught me to follow my dreams,” Dunn said. “I feel I have a great sense of humor, love exercise, music and drawing, but singing and theater have always been my strong points.”