Patrons, raise your glasses. Let us be honest: When we watch an entertainer in an intimate, local bar and restaurant, like the Roadhouse Grille in Skippack, the first thrill is akin to watching a boxer enter the ring. Does tonight’s entertainer have the combination of talent, guts and personality needed to take on the evening’s performance and secure a victory of applause, cheers and laughter? There are no security guards to shield him, no separation exists between the stage and seats. We the audience, sitting in barstools or at tables, get to be judges at ringside, holding beers and mixed drinks as we tally the score.
Such were my thoughts this past New Year’s Eve at the Roadhouse Grille. Dean Garofolo, vocalist and Elvis Presley tribute artist had asked me to press a button on his sound system to start the music that announces his entrance as Elvis. How will the rowdier-than-usual New Years crowd react, I wonder, as Dean walks out to the bar area to the sound of recorded trumpet fanfare in his sequined, red jumpsuit?
As I wait for Dean to appear, I am starting to get nervous about hitting the wrong button. Or am I worried about Dean going over with the crowd, now that I am getting to know him as a friend? For the past two hours, he has been singing as himself in street clothes, warming up the audience. Now they want Elvis. I hit the play button. The pre-recorded Vegas-style drum roll starts.
Walking out in Elvis regalia and capturing the Elvis spirit with gesture and voice, Dean quickly proves his barroom cred as a performer with a knockout voice and style. His approach to the capture of the crowd is fearless: Belting out the songs That’s All Right Mama (Elvis Presley’s first hit) and Suspicious Minds, he climbs atop the bar and poses as Elvis, makes us laugh (“there goes my back”), he jumps down, performs from behind the bar, dances with groups of revelers, and then sings an Elvis-style happy birthday to a young woman. The crowd soaks up joy, lets go and becomes fully engaged in his performance. Score a New Years victory for Dean Garofolo and Elvis in Skippack.
A Tip from the Skippack Blogger
When you, dear reader, go see Dean/Elvis, don’t get completely lost in the revelry. The man has a beautiful voice and can interpret a ballad with soul and sensitivity. When I see him perform I always ask him to slow it down for a personal favorite, also sung and recorded by Elvis Presley: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s You’ll Never Walk Alone. The simple message of the lyric, “when you walk through a storm hold your head up high and don’t be afraid of the dark,” cannot be heard too often in this lifetime.
From Contractor to Crooner
Dean is a full time musician and entertainer who started out as contractor and construction laborer but in his late twenties began making a living performing songs he loved and sang since the age of nine, when he started imitating records. In addition to Elvis, he counts among his musical influences classic country singers such as Johnny Cash and Conway Twitty and a range of artists, including Dean Martin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and John Denver. He makes his home in nearby Harleysville and performs at private parties, restaurants, corporate events, senior living facilities, and on behalf of charities such as the Make–A-Wish Foundation.
Dean has been performing in Skippack for about four years. “Skippack is my Las Vegas,” he says. He adds laughing, “What happens in Skippack, stays in Skippack.”
Viva Las Vegas. Viva Skippack. Viva the musicians and entertainers who make evenings in our town fun and special.
Update: Skippack’s own Dean Garofolo, vocalist and Elvis Presley tribute artist, is featured on Kirstie Alley’s 100 Days of Dance, a national grassroots campaign to get America fit and healthy by encouraging everyone to dance for 100 consecutive days. Check out the Video for Day 8; Dean’s appearance is in honor of Elvis’ birthday and the video was shot at the Sheraton Hotel in Frazer, Pa.
Dean’s next Skippack appearance: To find out when Dean will appear next at the Roadhouse Grille, contact the Roadhouse: 4022 Skippack Pike, (610) 584-4231.