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Jim Anderson & the Rebels bring Elvis downtown
Jim Anderson of Jim Anderson and the Rebels belts into a classic microphone during a recent performance at the Manteca Senior Center. The group will rock the main stage at the Sunrise Kiwanis Pumpkin Fair on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 3 p.m. playing a set of both early Elvis and traditional country. - photo by HIME ROMERO


• WHAT: 28th annual Sunrise Kiwanis downtown Manteca Pumpkin Fair
• WHEN: Saturday, 0ct. 6, and Sunday, Oct. 7, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days
• WHERE: Downtown Manteca in the triangle formed by Center Street, Main Street and the railroad tracks
• DIRECTIONS: From Highway 99 take the Yosemite Avenue exit and head west to downtown

Its 2,050 miles to Graceland.

Unless you’re Jim Anderson.

With the tuft of hair hanging down over the peak of his forehead and the twang in his voice, the retired law enforcement officer and former football coach radiates the early spirit of one Elvis Aaron Presley.

And when he was going to East Union High and his friends encouraged him to head across town to Manteca High and perform in a variety show, Anderson nervously took the plunge – signing up for a performance in a showcase that spanned the decades of American popular music.

He drew “The King.”

All it took for him to get hooked on the energy of the artist, somebody that he had never been interested in before, was to see the response of the crowd when he sang the first verse of “Love Me Tender” – the shrieks and the screams and the smiles that came with that rockabilly style and sound.

“People went absolutely insane. It was crazy,” Anderson said. “I saw that and then I went and found these old VHS tapes and documentaries and records and saw what this guy was all about. I thought at the time that the music was kind of cool and easy to learn, but it was the performing part that had me hooked.”

This Saturday, Oct. 6, Anderson and his crew of skilled musicians – the Rebels – will rock the main stage at the Manteca Pumpkin Fair at 3 p.m. The show will feature a heavy dose of the early, gyrating, culturally-shifting Presley tunes that Anderson is known for.

Don’t, however, expect to find the guy in the jewel studded suit with the fake sideburns and the black wig – the caricature that most people expect when they hear of somebody today performing Elvis’ music.

Not one specific music genre

Anderson doesn’t have a room full of memorabilia save for a few trinkets and license plates that people have brought back to him from their travels. He doesn’t mimic the classic, snarling lines in casual conversation and he doesn’t limit his musical taste to one specific genre.

There’s rockabilly. There’s boogie-woogie. There’s traditional blues. There’s folk. And when he throws them all into a blender and adds an all-star band – guitarist Frank Masucci, drummer Gregg Landrey, keyboardist Tom Farnsworth and bassist Mickey Yamo – he gets the sound that he wants to share with the world.

“I love being a part of something that can put a smile on somebody’s face and help them have a good time,” Anderson said. “That’s what performing is all about – maybe somebody is having a bad day and they can show up and for 90 minutes they don’t have to worry about that. They can just enjoy themselves and the music and let the worries of the world slip away.

“You get the feeling that you’ve done something great. And when reality starts to come back, at least you have a smile on your face.”

But just because he plays young Elvis – the trademark moves and the style and the hillbilly panache – doesn’t mean that he is young Elvis.

Major injuries to his knees sustained during his law enforcement career and a host of other orthopedic problems left the Manteca father of three in horrific pain after each and every performance.

Most times he can barely walk and has to stick to a regiment of medication, ice, electronic stimulation packs, physical therapy and lidocaine patches – days of recovery for a 90-minute set and a chance to do what it is that he loves.

The tradeoff – especially playing at an event that helped him get his performing career off the ground years ago – is worth it.

“I’m going to get up there and give 90 minutes of everything that I have,” he said. “And I hope that it’ll be the best show that folks have seen in a long, long time. I love being up there and I wouldn’t trade it.

“And playing the Pumpkin Fair this weekend is something special to me. I love my city, I love the people who live here, I love my friends and family and I love the folks that bust their behind every day to make Manteca function – including all of the charitable organizations, city and county employees, private business owners, and of course the residents that make us all Manteca.”