By Darwin Manning
Elvis may be dead, but Grinnell played host to the next best thing on Thursday night: a talented Elvis impersonator by the name of Joseph Hall. Hall, who is probably best known for his participation in NBC’s America’s Got Talent competition in 2008, stopped by the Grinnell Eagles Lodge for a 7 p.m. performance in front of a lively crowd of community members.
Hall took the audience through a tour of some of Elvis’ most popular hits, like A Little Less Satisfaction, and the classic dance moves that made this performer irreplaceable. Decked out in a full-body black leather costume with his jet-black hair slicked back, Hall was accompanied by a slew of female sidekicks and a cowboy guarding the stage.
Throwing teddy bears and blowing kisses to the audience, Hall mystified the crowd, steam rising off him as his leather-clad thighs shook. All were given the chance to travel back to the era of vintage rock and roll and release their inner Elvis.
While Hall grew up listening to Elvis’ music with his father, it wasn’t until his 21st birthday, when he saw his first Elvis impersonator at a concert in Las Vegas, that he began to appreciate Elvis with the reverence he feels today.
“I have truly loved Elvis,” Hall said. “I don’t think there will ever be another entertainer like him.”
His career as an Elvis impersonator began about a year later when he attended a Halloween party dressed as his new idol.
“I went dressed as Elvis, the King of Rock and Roll, [and] there was a woman who asked me to perform . . . at her restaurant,” Hall said. “People in my hometown started talking and saying there’s this young Elvis kid, check him out. And I got calls for every kind of event.”
From that point forward, he began to receive so many opportunities to perform that he was able to quit his job at a restaurant six months later and go into the Elvis impersonation business full-time.
In 2008, Hall auditioned for America’s Got Talent and ended up making six television appearances on the program, ultimately placing in the top ten of competitors. Based on this national exposure, he began getting phone calls from all over the nation and embarked upon a coast-to-coast tour. After ample time on the road he settled down with a regular slot at the Americana Theater.
“In 2010, I was given the offer to come down to Branson, Missouri, at the Americana Theater and give a performance there,” Hall said. “Over the last three years we have been here doing a tribute show.”
For Hall, his most memorable performance was his stop in MGM Grand Las Vegas, as part of the America’s Got Talent competition.
“To see 5,500 people screaming, it was one of the coolest things and the best rock star moments of my career,” Hall said.