Downtown Music

Share this:
May 2, 2005 // UPDATED 1:54 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Holly Day
Holly Day

Translating Elvis

"I don't mind being called an impersonator, but I suppose I am more like an Elvis translator, translating Elvis in to my culture," El Vez said. "I love my Elvis brothers and I don't mind being lumped in with them, although I am in a different field."

As a teen growing up in Los Angeles, El Vez, a.k.a. Robert Lopez, played rhythm guitar and sang for the seminal SoCal punk band The Zeros with his brother, Javier Escovedo (as well as sitting in with the short-lived Catholic Discipline, who were strangely immortalized in the cult film, "Decline of Western Civilization").

El Vez was conceived in 1988, while Lopez was the curator and publicist at the iconclastic La Luz de Jess Gallery on Melrose Avenue, and made his official appearance at Weep Week in Memphis, Tenn. Lopez scammed his way into a booking at the Elvis-impersonators' Mecca, Bad Bob's of Memphis, as the prizewinning "Mexican Elvis." He soon found himself the darling of the local and international media, appearing on several late-night television shows and featured in the Los Angeles Times.

Flanked by the lovely and versatile Memphis Mariachis and the Lovely Elvettes, El Vez has made an admirable career of transforming the King's oeuvre into "Mexamericana" with songs such as "You're Nothing But a Chihuahua" and "Blue Suede Huaraches." Displaying a showmanship that's equal parts Las Vegas and Plaza Garibaldi, El Vez's shows feature as many as six costume changes during a set, including an orange bell-bottom jumpsuit made of Mexican blanket fabric, a white 1972-style suit with a sequined Virgen de Guadalupe stitched on back, a patriotic red-white-and-green outfit with the Mexican-flag eagle and serpent conveniently hovering over his crotch, and, of course, the obligatory gold lam leisurewear.

- Sa May 7, 6 p.m.
First Avenue, 701 1st Ave. N.
$12. 338-8388, first-avenue.com

Take the week off

They're back again, those atonal, atempo, atypical godfathers of what the kids pass off as art rock and emo these days. Despite having no new album to peddle, Doug Martsch and company - Built to Spill - are having a good enough time performing live that they're doing not one show while here in town, but two. These guys are worth catching for both shows, too. Built to Spill's concerts are so high-energy and fantastically unpredictable that you could be in for two completely different shows on the two nights.

- W May 4, at 9 p.m., Th May 5, at 6 p.m.
First Avenue, 701 1st Ave. N.
$15.
338-8388, www.first-avenue.com.

The price is right

Dollar Store is "Deano" Schlabowske of the Waco Brothers on guitar and vocals, Alan Doughty of the Waco Brothers on bass, Joe Camarillo of the Waco Brothers on drums, and Tex Schmidt of The Roughnecks on second guitar. They sound a bit like the Waco Brothers, too, but they're not them, OK? It's something completely new. They look a lot like the Waco Brothers, but I've heard rumors that they plan to dress completely different than that band did so as not to confuse audience members. I'm a big Waco Brothers fan myself, so I'm not worried - I suppose if you're not, you should be.

- Sa May 7, 9:30 p.m.
Lee's Liquor Lounge, 101 Glenwood Ave.
$8.
338-9491, www.leesliquorlounge.com.