Friday, May 02, 2008

market square elvis sez: "don't be cruel," to 'suspicious minds'

The Wigshop posted on Market Square Elvis last year, and since then he has become a fixture on the Square. But apparently The Man doesn't want a soulful singer in a white jump suit to disturb the tourists.

So now our Elvis is gone.

Don't get me wrong. He had probably pushed the limits of good taste with three hour sets everyday. Probably too much of a good thing. But he was our Elvis, tolerated with good humor like an uncle who gets a little drunk at Sunday dinner. However, it wasn't the nature of his performances that got him canned by KPD- it was the electricity.

Market Square Elvis's act depends on his karaoke machine and his mic, 'cause you can't really do Elvis justice without a full backing band, or at least a recording of one. The general rule in the city is that unplugged musicians are OK, but you can't set up impromptu concerts without a permit. Because of his karaoke machine, Market Square Elvis falls in a gray area. Given a free hand, KPD would probably run off most of our street musicians for "panhandling." The city guidelines have restrained them from that, but poor Elvis gets the boot because he doesn't fit the government mandated definition of what a street performer should be. Elvis tried to stage a comeback after the Village Marketplace shop let him plug in there. But the police still ran him off. C'mon.

Market Square Elvis, aka Jeff Martin, wrote a sad letter to Metro Pulse this week:

"My fans are very upset because I can't perform on the mall. I went to the City County Building, and they will not let me have a meeting with the mayor of Knoxville. I would like to have an honorary license to perform on the mall... When I sing to my fans, it makes them happy... I am very hurt because the cops told me to unplug my karaoke machine."

Why pick on this old guy who just trying to do the thing he loves? Knoxville needs to toughen up on true panhandlers, not street performers. I get aggressively panhandled every week in downtown, yet the cops are on Market Square hassling this guy. Why? Knoxville needs more inclusive guidelines for street performers, and KPD needs to lighten up. I leave you with a few words from Market Square Elvis himself:

"When I sing to children on the mall they dance around me. Here is an important message for me to tell my fans:
Jesus loves you all and so do I!"

Save Market Square Elvis!


Anonymous said...

Boo!!! Elvis is king. I'm with we run a guy like this out of town, but yet we are going to cater to the panhandlers by building more halfway homes (5th ave motel) and all that crap! Knoxville a town with a homeless industry...

Anonymous said...

Market Square Elvis needs to get himself some batteries and sing on.

stan said...

seriously! i've got a battery operated karaoke machine i'd gladly donate... said...

Man, I'm sorry I missed family would have gone crazy for him...not me, but they would have!

Amelia said...

There should be some kind of petition for this. Rock on Elvis!