Jonesing for change
Published 10:39 pm Thursday, April 12, 2012
No one likes an aging Elvis impersonator.
At least, that’s what Irv Cass says. And as an Elvis tribute artist of 20 years, he should know.
So the Niles native is changing his act.
“I don’t want to become an old, beaten down Elvis,” Cass said during an interview from his Fenton, Mich. home. “So I started developing my Tom Jones character.”
Cass, a Brandywine grad, now performs an act called “Elvis Meets Tom,” in which he portrays both legendary performers in the same show.
“It’s interesting because Elvis Presley and Tom Jones were best friends. They used to party and hang out together,” Cass said. “And I do both characters in the same show.”
Cass is a top-level Elvis impersonator, having toured internationally in the 1980s with Legends In Concert, a live tribute artist production.
“You’d be amazed at the look-alikes and sound-alikes,” he said.
On the tour, he performed in England, Germany, the Philippines, Lebanon, Mexico and throughout the United States.
This month, Cass will travel to Branson, Mo., to audition for Legends In Concert again — this time as Tom Jones.
“You might say I have re-invented myself,” Cass said.
Cass said switching between Elvis and Tom Jones isn’t too difficult.
“They both have very, very powerful, strong vocal range,” he said. “Jones and Elvis could go head to head with vocal range. It’s worked for me.”
No matter which star he is impersonating, Cass always does his best to do a fitting tribute.
“I never do it as a joke. I take it very seriously,” he said. “I do it with respect for the characters.”
Cass has won multiple awards for his work, including world champion of the 1999 Images of the King Competition in Memphis.
Cass tours throughout the country as Elvis and Tom Jones, performing at casinos, theaters, car shows and weddings. He still performs in his hometown of Niles at the Apple Festival and Riverfest.