Elvis “christens” island school building

When Elvis walked on to the stage dressed head to toe in tight black leather, he did what any Elvis would do.

He flashed a sideways smile and turned his back to give the full view.

The old ladies blushed. The young girls screamed.

Some things never change, even if Elvis does.

“He blows your mind,” said Sally Browning. “He’s just that good. He’s got rhythm, and oh can he dance!”

It’s not Elvis she’s praising, it’s the close approximation she brought up from Puyallup to play a fundraiser at her son Ben’s school. Saturday night’s performance marked the third time Elvis performer Danny Vernon has shaken his hips to help raise money for The Island School. The show was also the first in the private school’s newly built gathering hall.

“The old gathering hall was just a slab of concrete with a sheet of plastic on it,” she said. “But here, we have a big stage and room for almost 200 people. And we’re having Elvis christen it.”
Browning, 36, was born a little late to witness Elvis Presley’s heyday. But Vernon’s Elvis show a few years ago at the Clearwater Casino made Browning swoon.

“Now I have an obsession,” she said.

During the Island School show, Browning split her time between the front row and the back of the room, where she shimmied with a group of preteens.

“You gotta wiggle those hips,” said Vernon, giving tips between verses of “Return to Sender.”

Not everyone at the show was introduced to Elvis through modern day disciples like Vernon.

“I’ve loved Elvis since…forever,” said Linda Lou Alcayaga, who spent much of the show cramming her camera with photos. “I saw the real Elvis in concert three times: twice in Vegas and once at the Seattle World’s Fair.”

The Renton resident has been to many more of Vernon’s Elvis shows than Elvis’ Elvis shows.
“Maybe 300, but I’m not sure anymore,” she said.

Doug Jamme has seen about 90 of Vernon’s shows, but he tops Alcayaga on miles traveled.
“We live in Spokane,” he said. “But Danny Vernon is why we’re here.”

While Jamme sang along to many of Elvis’ lesser-known songs, his 11-year-old son Trevor spent a good deal of the show drooping his head on his fist.

“He’s good,” he said, shrugging shoulders clad in an “I Love Video Games” t-shirt. “I’ve gone to only half (the shows) my dad has.”

Jamme wasn’t much older than his son when Elvis died.

“I remember that day,” Jamme said. “I thought the world was coming to an end.”

His love for Elvis was reborn when he saw Vernon perform at an impersonator’s contest in British Columbia six years ago.

Both he and Alcayaga say Vernon is as close to the King as they come.

“He’s the best I’ve ever seen,” Alcayaga said.

That’s because Vernon performs a natural rendition of Elvis rather than a caricature, she added.
“He doesn’t think he’s Elvis, like some impersonators do,” Alcayaga said. “When Danny performs, he pays tribute to Elvis.”

And having Elvis on The Island School’s new stage is a tribute to the volunteers and donors who helped build it, said Trish King, the school’s director.

“We have a lot of kids who love to perform and can’t wait to get on that stage,” she said. “So it’s great to have Elvis here to bless it.”