My stomach aches after a long stroll downtown. I approach a window vendor for a slice of pizza after dodging various drifters demanding change. It’s too salty this time. I sigh as I toss the half eaten slice in the garbage.
I’m jumping back and forth like children playing hopscotch on a warm summer day. A couple whizzes past me on their rented electric scooter, narrowly missing me like a flight attendant beverage cart. Signs and shouts from barkers and beggars clutter my path. I’m relieved when I enter Barracuda, a sanctuary from the cold and chaos in the Red River district.
The eerily macabre soundtrack Pecos Hank is performing somehow eases my tension from the chaotic streets, like watching Tales from the Crypt on late night cable. A man grooving in front of the stage in a sparkling black disco jacket stares ahead at the singer wearing Willie Nelson’s braids and Davy Crockett’s fringed-leather pants.
Splice Records Founder Shaun Brennan honored Hank with an intriguing biography about chasing snakes and storms around the country.
“One of the more interesting people I’ve ever met,” Brennan said. “If you’ve ever seen storms in a movie, you’ve seen Hank’s work. He’s the brainchild of BowiElvis, and the very person that came up with this idea.”
BowiElvis Fest started ten years ago in Houston as a tribute to the King of Rock & Roll Elvis Presley. As they celebrated, someone walked in wearing a David Bowie costume that confused them enough to ask what he was up to. They soon found out that both superstars shared the same birthday, and BowiElvis was born.
“This was pre-internet where we have all the knowledge in the world at our fingertips,” Brennan said.
Bowie stares out from a giant mural beside the stage, his haunting eyes could fit in a horror movie. A girl struts by in a technicolor-disco suit as Hank breaks into chart hits by the King, his signature flavor still stands out through the material.
Swimwear Department is next to perform hits from the 1986 cult classic Labyrinth, the wild, psychedelic fairy tale from Muppets inventor Jim Henson. Singer Matt Graham’s blond spiked wig and leather jacket is the flashiest Bowie costume in the room, though there’s some stiff competition. Graham walks around the stage holding the microphone, his eyebrows would make Spock jealous.
“We sing songs about going to the shopping mall, or going to the swimming pool,” Graham tells the crowd.
He tells a wondering story about mall kiosks before launching into some of the bands original material. The energetic group stays on message, raging a five-second song about the difficulties of selling crystals at the mall.
Graham parts the crowd like the Red Sea, singing about a mummy at the pool while he starts a dance battle. You could ask why there’s a bandaged corpse at the pool, but would it make sense anyway? They lead the audience through a limbo line as they finish their entertaining set.
Chef Lindsey Fuquen is just around the corner, cooking Presley’s peanut butter and banana sandwich and other favorites as the night grooves on. Hometown hero Brian Scartocci is warming up as the energy fills the room. His soulful numbers melt the crowd. Someone lit a stick of incense, a perfect way to find the euphoric mindset to sway to the soul.
Scartocci pours his heart out on the stage, like he does every single Monday night at the Skylark Lounge. He’s dressed like a million dollars and brings back the soul once heard on the air waves in the 1960s. It’s magic.
Henry and the Invisibles brings us out, his solo act tours the country with funky grooves that get people to wear out the dance floor. It’s one killer group of performers at BowiElvis, a bridge from the heroes of the past to the waves of the future.