The power of impersonation | News, Sports, Jobs


Submitted Photo Dan Wagner to bring “Danny Elvis” to the Minot Are Senior Coalition’s “Salute to Seniors” on May 10.

Elvis Presley impersonation is as ingrained in American pop culture as the man who inspired them, with ten of thousands listing it as their occupation on their taxes. Some get into it for their love of “the King” and his music or movies. Others like Dan Wagner are drawn to the magic of performance and the effect it can have on audiences all over the country.

“It all started for me doing benefit concerts and at nursing homes. I did one in Fargo that was wall to wall wheelchair to wheelchair.” Wagner said. “My brother recorded it and we sent the tape in to the Dick Clark American Bandstand Elvis contest in 2009. That was kind of a turning point for me from doing it volunteer to doing it professionally.”

A native of Watford City, Wagner is set to headline the Minot Area Senior Coalition’s “Hail to Seniors” on May 10 from 9 am-3 pm at the Minot Municipal Auditorium. Wagner has been fascinated by and been a fan of Presley since he was a child.

“I grew up a child of the ’70s and ’80s, the ‘Aloha Special’ was heavily influential. When you only have two channels it was big deal when Elvis was on the TV,” Wagner said.

At “Danny Elvis,” his career has taken him everywhere from Dick Clark’s Bandstand in Branson, Missouri, to Roxy’s Lounge in Las Vegas, Nevada, but his performances in nursing homes have proven to be where Wagner finds the most satisfaction from performing.

“I’ve seen miracles in nursing homes. Music has an intense impact on people.” Wagner said. “A couple of the nurses took me aside and brought a lady in the audience to my attention. She had Alzheimer’s and hadn’t spoken in six months. When I started performing and she heard the music she woke up and started singing along to all the songs.”

In addition to making sure his music and performance are hitting all the right notes, Wagner works with costumer B & K Enterprises to make recreations of the customs Presley wore from the original designers Bill Belew and Gene Doucette. Wagner’s act is more than just “The Man in White,” as he also portrays “The Man in Black” himself, Johnny Cash.

“My cousin invited me to perform at an event once, and said, ‘Hey you sing Johnny Cash songs pretty good too, you should do him.’ It is fitting, as Johnny Cash started out as an opener for Elvis back in the ’50s” Wagner said, “It does help that I look like both of them.”

while “Danny Cash” casts a darker mood for his audiences, it is “Danny Elvis” that really lights up the room.

“Cash is more of a somber experience, but Elvis all the way around is uplifting. No matter where I go there is a sincere joy on people’s faces when they see ‘Elvis’ on stage.” said Wagner.

Tickets for the Salute to Seniors will be $20 each at the door and includes a variety of other acts in addition to “Danny Elvis.” A hot meal and snacks are included in the price. Call 852-3398 if you plan to attend so that the organizers have a head count.



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