Copyright 2002 Linda Marcas - All Rights Reserved

Crank's Corner

The Russians Are Coming!  The Russians Are Coming!

    I've been writing this column pretty much every other week for a few
years now, and being "paid" with a free subscription to the paper, a rate
which works out to less than $2.00 per Crank or something between fifty
and twenty-five cents an hour, depending on how long it takes me to write
each column.  Obviously, I'm not in this for the money; this is what I can do
by way of "civic participation" without having to comb my hair or leave the
building.  If you think I'm overpaid anyway, read no further, but if you like
good music and you think I've "earned" the chance to give My Favorite
Band some more free publicity, read on.
    The Red Elvises are going to play in Toledo!  We're so excited!  This
will be the first time since July 3, 2000, (the first time we saw them "live")
that hubby and I won't have had to travel more than 300 miles, one way, to
see them.  Better than that, they'll be close enough that we'll be able to
coerce most of our friends (whom we've been subjecting to Red Elvises
music at any opportunity for years now) to stay up late on a Monday night to
come hear them play.  We don't mind that some of them will be doing this
just to stop our endless litany of "you really have to see them in person to get
the full effect," because we know that after they do, they'll be fans, too.  We
don't expect our friends to make the band their mid-life hobby, as we have;
we just want them to have a chance to understand why we're so obsessed.
    To refresh your memories, or to bring you up to date if you haven't
seen earlier columns where I mentioned them, the Red Elvises are three
former Soviets who are now naturalized American citizens, live in Southern
California, and work very hard touring in this country and in Russia, playing
ROKENROL.  Imagine an eclectic mixture of surf guitar, rockabilly, Texas
swing, Mid-Eastern, klezmer, disco, and Russian folk music, with a touch or
two of classical, the Andrews Sisters, and (of course!) Elvis thrown in for
good measure.  They are definitely not "Elvis impersonators," even though
from time to time I'd swear that Igor is "channelling" Elvis, especially during
the infrequent times the band performs "Blue Moon."  But for talent,
showmanship, charisma, and the devotion they inspire in their fans, I'd put
the Red Elvises up against Elvis Presley any day.
    Devoted fans........ yeah, that describes us, I'd guess.  First, we saw the
Red Elvises in the movie Six-String Samurai, which features their music on
the soundtrack.  We were so impressed, we bought one of their CDs, and a
CD of the movie soundtrack; I looked up the website for the movie that I'd
found printed on the videotape cassette, and from there I linked to the Red
Elvises site and the RE fan club site, and signed up for their e-mailing lists.  
A few weeks later, we saw them perform live at a small club in Detroit,
where they cheerfully autographed our CDs and chatted with us and other
fans, and we bought more CDs, a T-shirt, a bowling shirt, and a poster.
Next, the fan site started a Tuesday night "Red Chat," where I met another
hardcore RE fan, Willie, who was going to drive from Chicago to
Allentown, PA, to see the band; he was willing to stop in NB, pick us up,
and take us along for the ride.
    That was in October, 2000; during the long, Redless winter that
followed, we started converting a spare room into our home theater and
party room, and decided to decorate it with a Red Elvises theme.  A friend
needed to sell a small red Toyota MR2, so we bought it and turned it into
Harriet, the Little Red Zippy Car, decorated to match the Elvises' Big Red
Van and to act as another rolling billlboard for the band.  As Oleg says in
their video, "Display advertisement, ladies and gentlemen, is the key to
success..."  On my own initiative, I ordered 1,000 promotional pencils with
the band's name, mottos, and website printed on them, that I could hand out
to people along the road and at clubs, and we set out in April. 2001 to
basically stalk the Red Elvises down and make them our friends.
    Rabid devotion paid off; three road trips, many breakfasts and
suppers, and thousands of miles and pencils later, we've had lots of fun and
accumulated many stories, photos, and memories.  We look forward to our
Red Elvis-based vacations; the guys are sweet, funny, smart, tolerant, and
extremely talented and hard-working.  We've never seen a bad show; even
when we knew that a couple of them had bad colds and felt miserable the
rest of the time, while they were on stage, they delivered the same full-out
energy that distinguishes all of their performances.  This is a working band,
folks, and they deserve your attention and support.
    For the Toledo show, and a couple others "near" here, we asked the
Red Elvises' manager Vladimir G. to send us promotional materials that we
can take around to the clubs they'll be playing and to local radio stations,
college campuses, and music and record stores.  We don't get paid for this, at
least not in money; we're amateurs, which means we do it out of love.  I
picked up an order of 2,000 pencils today, and you can get one of your very
own at Cyber Solutions on South Main St.
    The Red Elvises will be at Mickey Finn's, 602 LaGrange St., Toledo,
on Monday, Oct. 21, 2002, at 9:00 PM.  We'd like to make that the best
Monday night that club has ever seen, so put on something red and come
along to the show (usually a $10 cover).  If you can't make that show, they'll
be in Ann Arbor on Thursday, Oct. 24, at Heidelberg, 215 N. Main, at 10:00
PM.  Check out their website,, for updates and further
details, because dates and times are subject to change.  Once you've seen
Zhenya, Igor, and Oleg, you'll never be the same, I guarantee.  Hey, even my
mother-in-law is going to be there; she recognizes good music when she
hears it.
The Russians are coming!  Red on!

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