John Travolta might not be strutting down Yonge Street ahead of this weekend’s Saturday Night Fever street party, but there might be more than a few people pounding the pavement in blue suede shoes.
The music and legacy of the King of Rock and Roll will be celebrated on Yonge Street between Mosley and Wellington Streets this Saturday, September 10 from 4 – 11 p.m.
A Town-run event, Saturday Night Fever is presented in partnership with the Downtown Aurora Business Improvement Association and will feature hours of live music, food vendors, and a chance to browse many of Aurora’s downtown businesses.
“The Town of Aurora is proud to present the return of Saturday Night Fever on Yonge Street with a celebration of Elvis’s music over the decades,” said the Town in a statement. “Join us as we take over Yonge Street in downtown Aurora for a night of dancing and great live music – all while enjoying the shops. Patios will be set up to enjoy the food from the fantastic restaurants on-site. A nominal fee applies for food.”
Performances are set to include sets by the Wreckroom band, Connor Russo, former Junior Champion at the Collingwood Elvis Festival, as well as Collingwood Grand Champion Bruno Nesci and the Casino Brothers Band.
“The thing about Elvis is he was so advanced for his time,” Nesci tells The Auroran. “It’s the way he created music, the way he was able to put certain sounds together, the way he was as a person – it all showed up on stage. He made everything in life – the hurt, the good, the bad, the incredible, the big energy – he put it all into his music. Everything he did was big. Today’s music is just starting, almost – it’s almost in the beginning stages of tiptoeing over what Elvis’ music did. That’s why I think Elvis’ music is still going as strong as it did back then.”
Nesci was first bitten by the Elvis bug 23 years ago when a tribute artist performed at his family’s restaurant. It all came down to the reaction he saw on the faces of patrons as the Elvis song book came to life right before his eyes.
He might have only been seven-years-old at the time and didn’t really have a full grasp of who Elvis was, but then it was all about the music.
“I was attracted to the performing aspect of it, but when I actually did research and started listening to the songs that I realized I knew them,” he says, mentioning songs he picked up along the way from film and TV but hadn’t really noticed at the time. “It started clicking: I knew this guy. The more research I did the more I fell in love with Elvis and now here I am 23 years later still paying tribute to Elvis.
“The thing that keeps me going is the Elvis fans. Paying tribute to Elvis is a love for me – a passion, a hobby, a full-time job. I get to make music with my band and we’re always learning new things. The fans are constantly teaching me as a tribute artist their love for Elvis. Every time I walk on stage there’s someone who wasn’t a fan or a die-hard ends up leaving a fan. That’s what I get out of it: I continue the legacy of Elvis’ music.”
And the legions of fans are only growing.
While Elvis’ popularity has always been perennial, the recent biopic of his life starring Austin Butler and Tom Hanks has only served to bolster the fanbase, one that is increasingly younger.
“Since the Elvis movie came out, the younger generation, closet fans if we want to call them that, they were quiet and private people. I remember being made fun of [in school] for being a huge Elvis fan and very quiet about it. Now that the movie came out I guess they’re more vocal about showing they’re Elvis fans.
“Now there are people doing Elvis reaction videos on YouTube, there are people bringing up music with rappers remixing Elvis songs, now it is very public and out there. I just got back from Elvis Week in Memphis, placing fifth in the ultimate contest, and at the candlelight vigil the thousands and thousands of Elvis fans – where it used to be 25 per cent under 20, this time it was about 50 per cent. It’s just exploding.”
For more information about this weekend’s Saturday Night Fever, visit www.aurora.ca/en/recreation-arts-and-culture/saturday-night-fever-on-yonge-st.aspx.
Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran