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Elvis birthday celebration to feature Ronnie McDowell, Amber Hayes

  • Amber Hayes

    Amber Hayes

  • Ronnie McDowell

    Ronnie McDowell

Submitted by Cara Recine, spokeswoman for The Varsity
updated: 1/4/2019 1:32 PM

Two Nashville country artists are coming to Carbondale to celebrate the birthday of Elvis Presley in song.

Country music veteran hitmaker Ronnie McDowell will be making a stop in Carbondale on his national tour. Singer/songwriter Amber Hayes will be the opening act.

The Elvis Presley Birthday Celebration will be in the East Theater on Tuesday, Jan. 8, the date Elvis was born. The pair will be performing their own hits along with Elvis' most popular songs. McDowell also will perform one of his biggest hits, "The King Is Gone," which he wrote after Elvis' death.

McDowell has an amazing string of hit songs amassed over the years, but it is his riveting stage presence and genuine warmth that fills the seats again and again. After Presley's death in 1977, McDowell penned tribute song "The King Is Gone." The record took off immediately, gaining airplay on country and pop stations across the country and around the world.

McDowell has scored more than 30 Top Ten records. Two of his most recent projects on Curb Records include an album of beach music with Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Bill Pinkney's Original Drifters titled, "Ronnie McDowell with Bill Pinkney's Original Drifters." The second project is a new country album titled "Ronnie McDowell Country," a collection of six new McDowell-penned songs, and a few country standards by such legendary writers as Buck Owens, Harlan Howard and Dallas Frazier.

McDowell often tours with Presley's original sideman, D.J. Fontana, along with Ray Walker, a longtime member of The Jordanaires, staging a tribute to Elvis Presley's music. McDowell sang 36 songs on the soundtrack "Elvis," the Dick Clark-produced television movie that featured Kurt Russell. He also was the singing voice for the television movie "Elvis and Me," the ABC television series about the early years of Elvis' career titled simply "Elvis," as well as the 1997 Showtime special "Elvis Meets Nixon."

The multitalented Hayes most recently released "To a Boy" to radio, which is currently on the MusicRow chart.

Hayes, an Oklahoma native, first broke onto the country music scene after her starring role as Kathy Twitty in the 2008 Conway Twitty musical "It's Only Make Believe." In 2012, Hayes starred in the film "Cowgirls N' Angels." Three of Amber's songs were included the film, including her duet with Lonestar's Richie McDonald, "Always There for Me." Her music was also featured in four episodes of the hit CW television series "Hart of Dixie." Hayes has opened for Reba McEntire.

The Elvis Presley Birthday Celebration begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 8. Tickets are $30 and are available in advance at and at Plaza Records, 816 E. Main St., Carbondale. Tickets are not available at the venue until doors open on the night of the show.

Doors and the Varsity Bar open at 6.

• The Varsity is downtown Carbondale at 418 S. Illinois Ave. To keep up with events and more, go to