Only 80. Elvis Presley would have been only 80 on January 8: a milestone that will be celebrated lavishly in our area, including a January 10 performance at Club Helsinki in Hudson by rockabilly revivalists the Lustre Kings. Funny. Usually my favorite rockers shock me with sudden age and the downhill acceleration of the tens place: Paul McCartney being in his 70s, or Elvis Costello turning 60. But, even though I know that he hung with McCartney and that his longtime sidemen like Jerry Scheff and James Burton recorded and/or toured with Costello, Presley should be at least 100 by now. It seems like he’s from another century – another millennium, even.
As one of its most talented voices and vessels, the King embodies the original impulses, accidents and fusions of not rock but rock ’n’ roll. And to a certain sensibility – not necessarily a nostalgic one at all – rock ’n’ roll will always be more vital, authentic and meaningful than rock, precisely because it didn’t try to be all that. Contemporary rockabilly bands like the Lustre Kings invariably end up becoming historians and curators as well as performers. Across four blistering and airtight-retro records, this excellent Albany-based band has steered clear of the hits and stereotypes of early rock ’n’ roll and stayed relevant by unearthing the lost gems of the genre: the curiosities and anomalies, stuff so old that it is come new again. For the pains, they’ve been endorsed – and hired – by no less an authority than Wanda Jackson, the first lady of rockabilly.
Still, when the King turns 80, you bow. It’s what you do. And when the striking figure of the chief Lustre King, Mark Gamsjager, pays tribute to the Elvis Presley, he and his mates do it with an ease and panache that can’t be faked. Authentic, wild and without a trace of the scholarly, they play it as if classic rock never happened.
Club Helsinki in Hudson hosts an Elvis Presley 80th Birthday Bash with Mark Gamsjager and the Lustre Kings on Saturday, January 10 at 9 p.m. Other special guests from the regional revivalist scene are expected. Tickets cost $15. Club Helsinki is located at 405 Columbia Street in Hudson. For tickets and more information, call (518) 828-4800 or visit www.helsinkihudson.com.
Elvis Presley’s 80th Birthday Bash, Lustre Kings, Saturday, January 10, 9 p.m., $15, Club Helsinki, 405 Columbia Street, Hudson; www.helsinkihudson.com.