On the Saturday before Elvis and David Bowie’s shared birthday, Pecos Hank wailed his fast-paced version of “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” then segued seamlessly into “Suffragette City,” and people dressed as Ziggy Stardust, Princess Leia and 2019 nobodies rocked the dance floor in a moment of rock ‘n’ roll magic bridging two fallen icons.
The seminal moment at the 10th annual BowiElvis Fest sponsored by Splice Records set the tone for a night of celebration that featured Brian Scartocci, Bayou City Funk, Swimwear Department and others entertaining on multiple stages at Houston’s Continental Club and Shoeshine Charley’s Big Top Lounge January 5.
Hank Schyma, the long-legged singer who ruled the stage in black leather pants and a faux coonskin hat, aka Pecos Hank, dreamed up the festival 10 years ago while celebrating Elvis Presley’s January 8 birthday.
“The first show was an Elvis tribute or birthday party at Helios [now Avant Garden, in Montrose],” he said. “It was small, I performed as a three-piece and dressed in black leather like Elvis and played Elvis covers.” One of Schyma’s friends went to the show dressed as David Bowie, and when he was asked why, replied, “It’s his birthday too.”
“From there on out I called it BowiElvis Fest,” explained Schyma. “It has grown every year since that first tribute party and every year it seems to top the year before. I love how for one night out of every year we party to honor them.”
A twin BowiElvis celebration takes place each year in Austin, with this year’s well-attended party scheduled for January 12 at Barracuda, on E. Seventh St. It features many of the same performers, as well as face-painting and food concessions. (Grilled peanut butter, banana and honey sandwiches for Elvis and Gruyere cheese, ham and fried egg grilled sandwich for Bowie.)
“Year in and year out I see music fans from ages 25 to 85 and everything in between, dressing up, dancing and having the time of their lives,” said Splice Records’ Shaun Brennan.
“BowiElvis Fest is timeless and ageless, and I love that fact,” Brennan said. “Elvis and Bowie have touched so many generations. The music fans they performed for when they were alive and the new music fans that have discovered them after their passing come out. The festival is a perfect tribute to both of them. ”
Tickets for the January 12 BowiElvis show in Austin are $15 presale, $20 at the door.
Cover photo courtesy Marlene Rivera