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January 6, 2013 at 6:53 PM

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Northwest Wanderings: An act fit for the King


Ballard condo manager Clay Volz will never be mistaken for the real Elvis, "but what I lack in talent I make up for in enthusiasm."

"When you have that costume on, you start shaking the hips -- Oh! Yeah!"

He'd done some karaoke, singing in choirs -- all in groups. But a half-dozen years ago a friend gave him a bluesy album by Elvis Presley.

ALAN BERNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Clay Volz will be doing Elvis at the Seattle Invitationals along with 20-plus other amateur impersonators at the Experience Music Project on Jan. 12, four days after the King of Rock 'n' Roll's birthday. Presley was born Jan. 8, 1935. Volz plans to sing "Mystery Train/Tiger Man."

"I wasn't that big an Elvis fan. I liked The (Grateful) Dead, Jethro Tull, Tom Jones and the (Rolling) Stones." That album changed his view.

"Nobody sang the variety he did -- country, blues, rock, pop, gospel."

Volz thought, "I can sing that." An amateur invitational at Experience Music Project gave him an opportunity to try his impersonation skills on the Sky Church stage.

Volz bought glasses at Archie McPhee for $5. He bought a $2 costume at Target, on sale, and a wig with sideburns.

He plans on ditching the wig, using his own hair. He listens to the Elvis channel on Sirius radio while singing along in his car.

All in preparation for the next Seattle Invitationals, on Saturday at EMP, where more than 20 Elvi will compete. He'll sing "Mystery Train/Tiger Man" in his red suit.

Volz says, "I've actually finished last a couple of times. I lost to a guy who looked like Curly from the Three Stooges wearing a bad toupee.

"I was better than him."

Elvis' birthday is Tuesday. If he were alive he'd turn 78.

The King is dead. Long live the King.

ALAN BERNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Elvis, top right, is still a standup guy among celebrities. This one sells for $44.99 at Golden Age Collectables in the Pike Place Market. Elvis is joined by Marilyn Monroe, Spock, Justin Bieber, Michael Jackson and Harry Potter.

For more photos of Elvis, visit the gallery.

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