More a Legend than a Band: Velvet Elvis Reunites for a Good Cause, the Ace Holiday Party CD tour

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Ace December 9, 1998
It was only a matter of time. Sooner or later, Velvet Elvis had to reunite. Their public demanded it.
Or maybe, as drummer Sherri McGee puts it, their forthcoming gig is just part of a larger national trend? Sort of like…Donny and Marie?

“I think the idea of reunions has been the trend of the 90s for bands, sitcoms, movies, fashion, and cigars. Even Donny and Marie have a new show. Mmmhmmm, good stuff. ‘Re-do’ and ‘re-surface’ seem to have taken the place of creativity in this decade. Then again, I think the focus has been on ‘how fast can we make tons of money with very little effort?’ Hence, bringing back something that has already proved successful in the past.”

She says, “with the Velvet Elvis reunion, however, none of the aboe applies. It’s just me babbling my opinion. I think we’re just doing it for fun. While on tour last summer in New Orleans, I happened to call up [Dan] Trisko [singer-songwriter] and he came to our show. We hadn’t seen each other in years and we reminisced a bit about the old days with the band. Now that the guys all live here in town, and I happened to be coming home [from LA] for Christmas, we figured it might be a hoot!”

As for the more serious motivation behind McGee’s willingness to take part for this show, she adds, “Due to the charity involved, I’m excited to be a part of the Ace Holiday Party CD promotion. My 16-year-old brother is diagnosed with autism, so I’m glad that Velvet Elvis can do our small part in raising public awareness about autism, and the Autism Society of the Bluegrass.”

And in a totally unsolicited burst of enthusiasm, she insists “EVERYONE should buy this CD! I only wish we could have been on it! Maybe next year?”

When asked about what he looks forward to about the upcoming reunion, alum Jeff Yurkowski replied “it’s gonna be worth it just to see Scott Stoses on stage again. Not to mention the grand entrance of Sherri McGee.”  (While McGee has continued her musical efforts, Stoess “hasn’t picked up a bass in years. One thing’s for sure — I plan to use earplugs this time. Let that be a warning!”

Asked how his current musical goals compare with his goals during the Velvet Elvis years, Yurkowski commented, “my plan has been to do more TV and movies!”

On a more serious note, he adds “Velvet Elvis always had a country edge to their musical style and since then I’ve been playing with The Yonders,” (a country-ISH outfit). “The only difference now is that I’ve picked up the accordion and play some pedal steel.”

Scott Stoess, though reportedly excited about the reunion gig, could not be reached for comment — as he was “in hibernation/seclusion, adamantly trying to relearn his bass lines.”

Dan Trisko reflects on the good old days saying, “Well I finally kicked the bottle blonde habit, my pants fit tighter, and I’ve tripled my Hot Wheels collection.”

Currently, he’s “co-producing and playing on tracks for an upcoming CD by Larry Kennedy at Reel to Real Studio in Nashville, as well as trying to keep up with My Three Sons (Travis, Nick, and Marlon) — number four due in May!”

He’s duly excited about the reunion, “I haven’t played or listened to these songs since I first moved away from Lexington in 1992. On the road as an opening act, we played essentially the Enigma Velvet Elvis LP every night for over a year, so it’ll be cool to revisit the What in the World tunes, as well as a handful of songs we had written for the ill-fated sophomore Enigma LP. And, being the Christmas season, we’ll dust off a few of our fave Holiday tunes. A Led Zeppelin/Veljeeta reunion is rumored; current members of Taildragger and the Yonders were members of those two Velvet Elvis spinoffs, so get ready for really fab retro rocket ride circa 1987. Big hair, shoulder pads, and spandex recommended but not required!”

Velvet Elvis reunites for One Night Only (as far as we know) December 18, 1998 at the Millennium. The show is part of the Ace Holiday Party whirlwind promotional tour of Lexington.

THEN….and now

Started in 1985 by singer-songwriter Dan Trisko along with drummer Sherri McGee and two others, Velvet Elvis built a following in and around town, eventually releasing an independent EP. Trisko, however, had wanted the EP to be a full-blown album, something some of the members apparently had no interest in. So after they left, Trisko and McGee recruited bassist Scott Stoess and keyboard player Jeff Yurkowski and went on to more local success, eventually releasing an independent album, What in the World.

That record wound up in the hands of noted indie producer and pop sympathizer Mitch Easter, then of the group Let’s Active, and Easter enthusiastically produced Velvet Elvis’s shot at the big time, a self titled album on Enigma Records.

Velvet Elvis turned out to the be band’s pinnacle as well as its nadir. They felt Enigma did a lousy job promoting the record, and after successfully extricating themselves from their contract, the band tried to get another deal — unfortunately, never scoring one. McGee was the first to officially defect, followed soon after by Yurkowski. Trisko and Stoess attempted to carry on with others, but called it quits in 1990.

A crass description of Velvet Elvis’s career might read: local heroes blow their only shot at stardom. The band members, while having some understandable regrets and a universal distaste for the record industry, see it differently: looking back, they pretty much concur that they did the best they could with what they had — and there’s no failure in that.

–borrowed from Ace, December 1994, Where Are They Now?



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