velvet elvis lives

velvet elvis: scott stoess, dan trisko, skerri mcgee, jeff yurkowski. photo by herald-leader staff photographer mark cornelison.

velvet elvis: scott stoess, dan trisko, sherri mcgee and jeff yurkowski. photo by herald-leader staff photographer mark cornelison.

It was, in short, Dan Trisko’s turn. Each time Velvet Elvis reunited, it was for a benefit to be determined by one of its four principal members.

“When we had our first reunion in 1998, we said, ‘Everybody gets one turn at this,'” Trisko said. “And I had never taken a turn.”

So the latest reassembly of the storied Lexington rock band that briefly flirted with national prominence in the late ‘80s was organized as a family affair. The beneficiary will be Trisko’s sister-in-law, West Coast visual artist Sue Trisko, who has been undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatments after being diagnosed with lung cancer last May.

“When I heard about her I thought this is the most obvious thing to do,” Trisko said. “She is married to my hippie renegade brother who quit high school, went out to California and got a record deal. He caused such an uproar in the family over the choices he made that I thought, ‘Boy, I better not do that.'”

But the younger Trisko did do that, although he signed a record contract 20 years later without leaving home. After establishing a solid regional fan base with a pair of independent recordings, Velvet Elvis – guitarist Trisko, drummer Sherri McGee, keyboardist Jeff Yurkowski and bassist Scott Stoess – teamed with producer Mitch Easter (of the band Let’s  Active and co-producer of, among other projects, R.E.M.’s Murmur and Reckoning albums) and signed with Enigma Records.

In 1988 came a self-titled album and concert bills with national acts big (UB40) and small (The Bears). Though critically well-received, the national buzz was brief. McGee left in the summer of 1989. The band folded officially in late 1990.

“When people ask me, ‘Why didn’t Velvet Elvis succeed?’ I say, ‘We didn’t catch the wave.'”

Velvet Elvis’ Saturday reunion/benefit at Cosmic Charlie’s, its first in over six years, will also mark the one-night-only re-teaming of four other Lexington bands – Two Small Bodies, Rebel Without a Cause, VelJetta and No Excuse. Their members make up the majority of the local music community as it existed two decades ago.

 “I was embarrassed to even ask these other bands,” Trisko said. “Seriously. ‘Hey would you do this for free as a favor for me and my sister-in-law who you don’t even know?’ And everyone just instantly said yes. It was great. There wasn’t even hesitation.

“I think it’s incredibly generous for everyone to help out on this.”

Velvet Elvis performs at 9:30 tonight at Cosmic Charlie’s, 388 Woodland Ave. Admission is $10. Call (859) 309-9499.

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