"If you're an Elvis fan, no explanation is necessary; If you're not an Elvis fan, no explanation is possible."

(George Klein)






Elvis does the Monster Mash!

Elvis left the building and the Earth plane a long time before the guys in the Cryptkeeper Five were born. But that doesn't stop the band from worshipping the King and his ethos. The group will be touring the South in the near future and has already set aside a day during its whirlwind schedule to make a special trip to Graceland, near Memphis, Tenn. "I fell in love with Elvis when I was 12," says drummer and founding member Dave Graves, who also names the late Roy Orbison as an influence.

Those early rock and pop stars are very important to Mr. Graves and the rest of the band, who say they picked up their musical tastes through their rockin' parents and older siblings. "I have an older sister and brother, and parents who turned all of us on to music at a young age," says Johnny, lead singer and graphic artist for the band.

"My dad had a jukebox in the basement and there were all kinds of records in it everything from the Ronettes to Santana and Black Sabbath." "James, another one of our members, has a father who was in a traveling band in the '60s called The Echomen, who played what you would call surf music," Mr. Graves says.

"In fact, they (were on tour with) Jerry Lee Lewis for a while. It's important for us to know our rock roots. Every great band in history can trace their lineage back, and they all pay homage to their rock forefathers. To cut that off to be unaware of the history is what makes things so bland in music today."

The Cryptkeeper Five will host and perform at an event that is anything but bland: "The Festival of the Dead 777: A Rock and Roll Costume Party" will take place Oct. 29 at the VFW Post 148 in Hightstown. Costumes are not required, but there's a bit of a discount on the admission price if you come "not as you are." "This is the seventh event we've put on," says Mr. Graves. "We actually started about nine years ago, but skipped a couple of years. But it's been enough times so that it's become an annual event.

We try to put as much into it as we can. It's like the Asbury shows at Christmas time it's something fans look forward to. That's what we're hoping for. Right now, (the Rock and Roll Costume Party) is one of the only shows in the area like that." The CK5, as they like to abbreviate themselves, choose only bands from the area to play at the Halloween event friends and colleagues who play the same kind of high energy music.

This year, The Riotones, The Checkers, Skullitor and Triple Threat share the bill at the all-ages event. "They're all independent (bands) and they're all amazing," says Johnny. "We won't just book any band, we're pretty picky." The CK5 is also stoked to be performing tunes from its new CD, Trenton Makes the Cryptkeeper Five (Peephole Records), which blends '70s punk rock (heavy on the Ramones), the twang of early country music, Phil Spector's "girl groups," and rhythm and blues from the '60s.

Founded in 1997, CK5 evolved from a hard-working teenage punk band. The original members, including Mr. Graves and Johnny, met at Steinert High School in Hamilton. Beginning as a quintet about 10 years ago, CK5 evolved from a stripped-down style into a sound the members call their own. They perform regularly around Trenton and the Jersey Shore and have been recognized by the Asbury Music Awards nomination committee for three consecutive years. As Johnny's skills at songwriting grew, CK5 knew it needed to flesh the band out with keyboards and Mr. Graves' favorite old-school instrument, the tenor sax, giving the band a Springsteen-esque flavor and instrumentation.

So about three years ago, CK5 added Nick on piano and Blue Madigan on reeds. Suddenly there were seven members, which is a little confusing, but adds to the mystique. "Writing just plain punk was kind of limiting," says Johnny, who does most of the songwriting. "But as we grew up, our tastes changed.

We got more open-minded about our overall sound and instrumentation." "It's sad that you can't have horns at all unless you're a ska band or something," says Mr. Graves. "Nothing beats a sax and it bothered me that the sound of a sax was gone from rock 'n' roll. (Doing away with horns) left a big hole in live music. Unless you're someone like Clarence (Clemons), it's hard for a sax player to make it in rock. But Blue is an integral part of the band." Incidentally, if the band's name has a certain Halloween ring, it's because of a line in Bobby "Boris" Pickett's seasonal oldie, "Monster Mash."

"Boris" describes a happening graveyard party scene with a vocal group "The Crypt-Kicker Five." The group moniker is actually an homage to an homage, suggests Johnny. The punk group The Misfits did a cover of "Monster Mash" and mistakenly called the vocal group from the song the Crypt Keeper Five.

The name and the association with Halloween might make the uninitiated think the group is a novelty band or associated with Goth stylings, but CK5 is really just a straight forward rock 'n' roll band much more cheerful than the average Goth offerings. The group's Web site talks about CK5's mission to make authentic rock 'n' roll, something to warm the hearts of fans discouraged by boy bands and the other manufactured, pre-packaged "music product" that seems to be blandifying the airwaves.

Because the band draws from so many influences, CK5's Utopian vision includes everyone: "...refugees from all walks of life the jock, the freak, the prom queen, the nerd freed from the shackles of musical genres and enjoying the sights and sounds of a truly phenomenal act," they write. "We never really fit with any one genre totally, we fall into so many," Mr. Graves says. "So there's something for everybody."

The Cryptkeeper Five perform at and host The Festival of the Dead 777: A Rock and Roll Costume Party at the American Legion Post 148, 895 Route 130, Hightstown, Oct. 29, 6 p.m. Tickets cost $7; $5 in costume. The Riotones, The Checkers, Skullitor and Triple Threat also will perform. For information, call (609) 259-0383. CK5 on the Web: www.cryptkeeperfive.com

(Spotlight/Article: Source: Princeton Packet)





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Elvis Odd Spot (updated 22 Sep 2004)