Elvis has left the building, is one way to describe the day that Rhythm House shut down.
The music store’s managing director Mehmood Curmally exited from the back door, a plan B glinting in his bag. “It was all those silver buttons from Crawford Market,” he says, referring to the Elvis jumpsuit held close to his chest, stitched by Smart and Hollywood tailor across the street from Rhythm House.
Mr Curmally is 56 years old, and is only now, post Rhythm House closure where he worked since the 80s, finding time to pursue his “true calling”: being an Elvis tribute artist available for hire. And he’s dead serious about it too; his business card reads: Remembering Elvis. The card’s a bit inscrutable without the backstory, but there’s a phone number on it for those who are intrigued.
The party, wedding and gymkhana acts with his five piece band, The Hound Dogs is a recent spectacle, but the first trial took place five years ago at The Bombay Gym. “I found a terrible costume at Maganlal Dresswalla and a wonderful two piece band featuring Reena and Lindsay, and that’s really what got the whole Elvis business going for me.”
This is when Mr Curmally realised he has the voice and “stage presence” required to be a faux Elvis. “I was always a good singer and found that my voice was well suited for Elvis’ simple singing style.” The outfit and show tricks he picked up last year in Graceland during Elvis Week. Here he discovered a whole Elvis Presley sub-culture, and interacted with people who had varying degrees of separation with the iconic singer: his first high school girlfriend (“she’s 85 now!”), his back up singers and 1950s RJs, all talking about kisses and key notes.
In this pack of Presley doubles though, Mr Curmally’s DIY costume appeared drab and his wig, limp. And so he found out a couple in Charleston, South Carolina, who made him a smashing American Eagle Elvis jump suit, a vast improvement over Smart And Hollywood’s. “Although Masterji did help with the measurements that needed to be mailed out,” says Mr Curmally, who also sells LPs and turntables under the label JnY Entertainment on Amazon.
Now suited and suitably booted (with tassels), Mehmood Curmally And The Hound Dogs play a 1.5 hour set of Elvis tracks when hired for events. If you can’t afford the whole lot, he can come all by his lonesome too, supported by backing tracks.
But at age 56, Mr Curmally reckons he doesn’t have more than 3-4 years left of being Elvis, so we suggest you plan a retro party sooner rather than later. “I’m already 20 years older than the popular Elvis tribute artists. Lucky for me, I’m a live wire on stage.” The rest can be hidden with “a little bit of make-up”, and the haters can be dismissed with a swish of his American Eagle cape.
Still think the music died when Rhythm House shut down? Don’t, which is incidentally, the name of Mr Curmally’s favourite Elvis track.
Getting there: For enquiries about Remembering Elvis and to order LPs, call 9821872006, prices start at Rs 35,000.
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