Last night the Hot Springs Village Concerts' Association introduced me to The Many Characters of Pete Peterkin and I was delighted. The third offering of the 2014/15 season was another success. This season just keeps getting better.
Pete Peterkin is a 60 year old dynamo you will think is 25 years younger with his endless energy and his James Brown dance moves. Last night Peterkin took the stage in his Ray Charles persona and rocked the house. I was lucky enough to see Ray Charles in concert twice, once on aisle three and now I consider that I have seen him in concert again, complete with the Rayettes. I was stunned by the performance. Peterkin nailed Ray Charles' every signature move and sounded just like him. If you love classics like You Don't Know Me, Hit the Road Jack, I Can't Stop Loving You and Georgia you will be in Ray Charles heaven.
Interspersed in the Ray Charles segment of the evening were glimpses of other period crooners. As Ray Charles, Peterkin talks about how his handlers want him to smooth out his voice to make more money and off he went singing snatches of tunes in dead-on imitations of the originals. There was Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin with a Jerry Lewis tag and my favorite, Louis Armstrong singing What a Wonderful World.
Stevie Wonder made an appearance on the Woodlands stage last night singing For Once in My Life. Again the character came to life with Wonder's brand of humor, characteristics and signature harmonica tunes. We saw Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson, the Tops and the Temps and even Michael Jackson strutted his signature dance moves.
For a good portion of the second act Peterkin was in the Little Richard groove talking about all the people Little Richard influenced over the years giving us snippets of Elvis, Tina Turner, Cher, Neil Diamond, Garth Brooks and Tom Jones. I was lucky enough to get a personal in-your-face rendition of Jones' Delilah, too much fun. Yes, Peterkin did stroll into the audience several times to catch a dance move or croon to an audience member.
The highlight of the evening was Chuck Berry. Peterkin grabbed up a guitar and broke into Johnny Be Good complete with playing the guitar behind his head and between his legs. He did the kick walk across the stage made famous by Berry and immortalized for all film goers as Michael J. Fox nailed his performance in Back to the Future.
Instead of being exhausted, the audience was exhilarated and welcomed Peterkin's James Brown's Good Golly Miss Molly. It was perfect as were all of Peterkin's reincarnations.
We were lucky enough to have two encores last night, Peterkin singing Unchained Melody as himself, powerfully moving, and Shout, what a way to end the evening.
The combo playing with Peterkin was a pick-up band led by Villager Clyde Pound. The professional musicians were just that, professional. The sound was tight like they had been playing together for years. The women vocalists of the Rayettes were also Arkansas musicians and sounded as good as they looked.
This was one for the books, a great night out. If you've got tickets to this show, don't miss it. If you don't have tickets you can buy tickets for what's left of the season for $17 a ticket or you can buy a ticket for this show for $27. It's well worth the investment. For tickets call 922-4231 or go to hsvpoa.org.
Pete Peterkin will be here for three more nights. The rest of the season includes Adam Trent, illusionist in February and 100 Years of Broadway in March.