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“THE CODY MAGIC RETURNS!”

Thank you to everyone who attended and supported the Cody Ray Slaughter shows!

Read the recap article by Steve Knapp:

Elvis has left the building.

Happily, he’s left behind hundreds of elated fans, dozens of collectible scarves, and one giant shot in the arm for countless mountain-area individuals and families in crisis.

Swiveling his hips for three sold-out shows beginning Sep. 29 at the Lakewood Cultural Center’s exquisitely intimate theater, internationally renowned Elvis Presley tribute artist Cody Ray Slaughter was backed up by was a brilliant ensemble of fellow travelers who together made the “Ultimate Elvis Experience with Cody Ray Slaughter” both a marvelous weekend of music and memories, and a wonderfully successful fundraiser for Mount Evans Home Health Care & Hospice.

On stage, Cody’s act was enhanced by an all-star lineup starting with Cody Ray SlaughterMount Evans board member and able emcee Greg Dobbs, who kicked off each day’s feast for the ears with entertaining appetizers of good-natured groaners served with crowd-pleasin’ gusto. Behind the King-apparent ranged the red-hot Dave Fontana Band, led by the son of longtime Presley drummer D,J, Fontana. To Cody Ray’s right, vocalists Amanda Lyn and Kathy Horning helped underscore some of the best-loved pages in the Great American Songbook.

“The senior community has really embraced me,” said Lyn, a Florida-based singer and songwriter who also performed two solo numbers plus a show-stopping duet with Slaughter.

“Doing something for hospice is a way for me to support them in return.”

It’s worth noting that when most of the folks attending the “Ultimate Elvis Experience” first caught the Presley bug, they weren’t much older than Cody’s warm-up act, 15-year-old Elvis tribute artist Riley Jenkins. On stage, Riley – quite literally – vibrates with youthful energy. Off stage he’s polite, respectful and admirably self-possessed.

“Any fundraiser has meaning for me,” said Riley, a proud son of Clarksville, Tennessee, and the youth division winner of last year’s Elvis Presley International Championships in Memphis.  “I’m just really honored to be here.”

To be fair, the “Ultimate Elvis Experience” properly began long before theThe Cody Magic Returns house lights went down and the band kicked up. A reception held before each show gave fans a chance to meet the headliner up-close-and-personal, and to learn something about the very approachable man behind the rhinestones. What they learned mostly is that Cody cares about his music, cares about his fans, and cares about the mission of the Colorado mountain area’s only community-based home health and hospice provider.

“What they do is so important to so many people,” Cody said. “You may not need them now, but we’ll all probably need them someday. What would we do without them?”

Elsewhere in the lobby, several members of Denver’s superbly named “Expresley Elvis Fan Club” staged a daily silent auction featuring large baskets of first-rate memorabilia donated by club members themselves. Bidding was brisk and fiercely competitive, and in every case the real winners were the uninsured and under-insured residents of Mount Evans’ four-county service area.

“We like to do charity events,” explained club member Kathy Davies. “We’ve helped out the Rocky Mountain Honor Flight, and earlier this year we raised money for the Alzheimer’s Association. There’s nothing more important than hospice, and this event is perfect for us because it’s…well…it’s Elvis!”

Guests didn’t have to out-bid anybody to win a taste of rock-and-roll history. As in the past, Nick Andurlakis of Nick’s Café arrived before each show bearing heavy pans of Fool’s Gold sandwiches, bite-sized renditions of the massive four-pounders favored by the King. Nick was just 16 when he introduced Elvis to the great big bun-full of bacon, peanut butter and strawberry jam in 1973. The superstar took a liking to the super-sammy, and to the boy who invented it, and made a point of visiting Nick’s whenever his busy performance schedule found him in the Queen City of the Plains.

“Elvis did a lot for me back then,” Nick said. “This is just my way of repaying his kindness.”

Here, there and everywhere about the Lakewood Cultural Center could be glimpsed Bruce and Pat Thoms, busily seeing to the million-and-one tasks that make a three-day blowout like the “Ultimate Elvis Experience” possible. It was the third time in as many years the Thoms sponsored the event, and its monster success was largely thanks to the Evergreen couples’ financial generosity and tremendous personal labors.

“We’ve put in literally hundreds of hours,” Bruce laughs. “You’d be Mount Evans Hospiceamazed at all the details that go into putting on something like this.”

Ask anybody who saw the show and they’ll surely say it was well worth the Thoms’ trouble. Nearly a thousand people attended this year’s “Ultimate Elvis Experience with Cody Ray Slaughter,” and at least that many will benefit from the essential home health and hospice services the event’s box office will buy. With the nation’s senior population expected to double within the next decade, organizations like Mount Evans will be sorely pressed to meet fast-growing demand, and good neighbors like Bruce and Pat Thoms will become increasingly important to the life and health of their communities.

It was after dark on Sunday evening when Cody left the building for the last time in 2017. The question in the back of everyone’s mind was whether or not he would ever return.

“Right now I think we need to rest for a week,” Pat smiles. “But given the show’s popularity and the importance of Mount Evans to the mountain area, I think we might try to do it again next year.”