I have had the great honor of being friends with Jesse (aka Garon) Perkins for, well, a while, and with his brother Colonel (aka Meatloaf) as well. Let’s just say that Ball Holler Kentucky may never be the same. I caught up with my friends and finally saw their variety show, The Perkin’s Family of Stars with Elvis and Meatloaf. I had a smile on my face the whole time. I mean what could be better, one stage, one night, and I got to see all my favorites, Elvis, Meatloaf, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Waylon Jennings, Garth Brooks, …. I always knew there was talent in this family but I never knew how many of them were famous! Using my friendship to my advantage, I corner Jesse for a brief moment in his busy schedule to tell my readers a little about his show and his troop.
DL: “So Jess, what exactly do you feel is the difference in tribute shows and being considered an impersonator?”
Jesse: “I am an entertainer with a dictionary!” (Your librarian is proud of you Jesse.) “So I looked up impersonator in the dictionary: im·per·son·a·tor…1.a person who pretends to be another. 2. an actor who impersonates specific persons or types of persons as a form of entertainment. 3. female impersonator.
Since I don’t do drag, number three is out. Hard to just call us number one, because we are THE PERKINS BROTHERS, and named after famous people not really pretending to be them, but to be inspired by or even in the very old since, MARKED by them. 2 might be closer to our act.
There is now a fancy name TRIBUTE ARTISTS. I can accept it but it really is a funny thing that seems to exalt the person doing the impression instead of the Artists being paid tribute to. If you look at the fancy new name it makes the impressionist the “ARTIST”. It is a little hard for me to call this art. Craft? I can really agree with that statement. If there is really any art in what we do it is in the staging and presentation. We have referred to ourselves as a recreation and re-imagining of the original.
DL: “What is it like having your little brother working with you?”
Jesse: “Little “BIG” brother: It is great to have little brother back singing with me. He missed 8 months work last year and is still recovering from some less than perfect medical care. Colonel had Thyroid Cancer and is now “cured” of that but many complications after the surgery meant he suffered through most of last year.”
DL: “Why do this, what led you to this career?”
Jesse: “I had an aunt comment to me: ‘we knew you were not going to be a farmer. You were always putting on plays, and singing, even as a little kid.’ I don’t believe it occurred to me that people did anything else but be entertainers. Growing up in Ball Hollow, Ky. the TV was the link to the outside world and most of my “friends” growing up , lived inside that box.”
DL: “Why Elvis?”
Jesse: “I do remember a very life changing moment the first time I ever heard Elvis sing. It was a song called LONG BLACK LIMOUSINE. Very sad song about big dreams and plans and a life lost. What a long road that song started me down. In fact I am still on that road today.”
DL: “How do you define your show?”
Jesse: “Our show is a musical version of ABBOTT AND COSTELLO. We always say we don’t care if you laugh at us, or with us. Just as long as you’re smiling when the show is over then we have done our job. Are we serious about the music, yes. We want the songs right but we know the audience could get perfect songs on a cd. They expect something more from us. Maybe they even expect the unexpected, and we do try to give it to them.”
DL: ” You have a show coming up on April the 16th at Pritchard Community Center. Can you tell us a little about what to expect to see.”
Jesse: “This will be our first all country show. It will also be the first show for us in Elizabethtown, without our characters ELVIS AND MEAT LOAF. So expect us to be a little nervous as we kind of ascend to the high wire this time without a net.”
DL: ” I am sure you will be great. You have a really loyal following. Is there something you would like to say about or to your fans?”
Jesse: ” WE DO NOT HAVE FANS, we have friends! My phone number is published. I am not a “star” in hiding. If you call to do business with us or to chat, you get me. My email is public. I answer emails personally. Yes, it takes time but it is worth it to me.
DL: ” Okay, for those that want to know….how old are you and are you single?”
Jesse: “Age is all about attitude. Jack Benny was famous for being 39, including on his 80th and last birthday. It kept him young at heart and his audience entertained. So until the day I leave this world I will be “39” and I hope the audience will smile , a sly, coy, knowing grin, every time they hear it. I overheard someone that asked Colonel how old he was the other day and he replied: “Let’s, see, I am the younger brother, so if Jesse is “39” I must be “38”! ” (what a great line, I wish I had written it, and in memory of Milton Berle, I am claiming I did.)” (For all you wondering still, Jesse is taken!)
DL: ” So where do you go from here.?”
Jesse: “Continue to do the same thing for a long, long, time. I play the lottery. If I ever hit the jackpot for millions, I would buy more costumes, more music equipment, and maybe a better vehicle to travel the world. Other than that, I would not expect much to change. Now if they sold TIME, then I would spend every dime I had because time is the one thing we are all short on. LOL I really do love what I do and I don’t want it to end, but for every entertainer there comes that last curtain call. It even happened to another of my heroes, George Burns, but he kept on performing until the end, and we kept smiling. ”
DL: “Thanks Jess, I hope for you only the best. ….till we meet again….”Thanks for the memories” and “Goodnight.”
The Perkin’s Family Show will be appearing at the Pritchard Community Center on April 16 at 7 p.m. in Elizabethtown, Ky. on HWY 62 just off the 31w bypass.
Tickets may be reserved in advance or purchased at the door the night of the show. Don’t miss this chance for a chance for fun with the whole family! All ages welcome and stay and meet with artists after the show. The Perkin’s brothers are booking now! http://elvisandmeatloaf.com/