Middle school students cruised back to the 1950s Friday morning when rock and roll ruled the airwaves and blue suede shoes topped the list of fashion accessories.
Three cast members from the musical, “One Night in Memphis,” entertained and educated students from Mead Hall Episcopal School and New Ellenton Middle STEAM Magnet School with hits from the earliest days of rock and roll. Aiken Performing Arts sponsored the educational outreach program.
“One Night in Memphis” is “a high energy concert that takes you back to Dec. 4, 1956, the night when four of the biggest names in early rock and roll - Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash - gathered together for an impromptu jam session at the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis,” according to APA's website.
Playing guitars, piano and upright bass, Neil Morrow, as Johnny Cash; Brandon Bennett, as Elvis Presley; and Travis Daggett, as Carl Perkins, sang some of their characters' greatest hits: “Ring of Fire,” “That's All Right (Mama)” and “Honey Don't.”
Daggett explained how the singers created their own genre of music, rockabilly.
“They were listening to hillbilly country and combined it with blues music to create a beautiful noise called rockabilly,” he said. “Everything you listen to today started right here with rockabilly and rock and roll.”
The performers showed their musical talent, too, with several impromptu requests from the students, including “Footloose,” recorded by Kenny Loggins; “The Gambler,” recorded by Kenny Rogers; and even the theme song to the TV show, “Rawhide,” complete with whip sound effects and the rhythmic lyrics, “Rollin', rollin', rollin'. Rawhide! Hah! Hah!"
“You guys have the best taste in music,” Daggett said.