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His spirit, and party, survive

January 05, 2006|Richard Cromelin

Elvis Presley would have turned 71 this Sunday, and for a while there it looked as if the occasion might also mark the swan song of L.A.'s institutionalized observation, the Elvis Birthday Bash.

Once a must-do highlight on the rock calendar, able to pack the House of Blues on a Sunday night, the annual concert hit bottom last year after a series of reverses. It found itself booked into an impossible 4 p.m. start time at the Henry Fonda Theatre, an insult compounded by the onset of torrential rains.

The Elvis Birthday Bash has been a labor of love for organizer Art Fein, but he lost a chunk of his own money in that episode and seriously wondered whether the show -- in which 30 to 40 performers take their best shot at some Elvis songs -- would survive beyond its 20th edition, on Sunday at the Fonda (at 7 p.m., thank you).

But now Fein is feeling brighter about things.

"It looks like it's coming together," says the veteran writer and entrepreneur, who cites the support and assistance of L.A. City Councilman Tom LaBonge, a frequent Bash attendee in his civilian days. "I was kind of discouraged [earlier], but I think it's going to work out OK. We hope for a good turnout to keep the thing going."

Ray Campi, the Blasters, Candye Kane and Carlos Guitarlos are among this year's performers. Over the years, the Bash has hosted such artists as Dave Edmunds, Johnny Rivers, Dwight Yoakam and Dave Alvin, alongside local rockabilly bands and roots-rockers.

"Every act, whatever the fame, was great," Fein says. "Elvis inspires musicians."

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Richard Cromelin

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Elvis Birthday Bash, Henry Fonda Theatre, 6126 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. 7 p.m. Sunday. $20. (323) 464-0808.

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