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Tribute to a tribute artist

RenElvis benefit slated for Friday

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As far as local celebrities are concerned, René Escharcha, more commonly known as RenElvis, is as big as they come. Since the early 1990s, he's entertained Charlotte at bars, clubs and even Chinese buffets with his act that is part Elvis tribute, part comedy. Sadly, the most unique and entertaining Elvis tribute artist to ever slip into a studded jumpsuit has been going through some tough times of late. His wife passed away in December, and he was forced to take a leave of absence from his job as a Wal-Mart greeter to take care of his daughter, who has Down syndrome and autism.

Wade Jones, friend and possessor of the famed Elvis cup, thought throwing a benefit concert would go a long way in helping René get through this financially difficult period. The way Jones sees it, Charlotte owes RenElvis. René has never been able to turn down a gig, even if that meant being skimped on the fee and going in the hole. Jones made some calls and within a day the event was booked. The quick response, Jones believes, is a testament to how beloved René is in Charlotte.

The feeling is mutual. "He told me when he found out it was one of the best days of his life," said Jones. "So many times, he takes a back seat at the shows. He's always on the outskirts; he's there, but he knows he's not the main attraction."

RenElvis will be the featured performer Jan. 27 at the Double Door, with other talented acts like the Situationals and the Truckstop Preachers also on the bill. Jones hopes the benefit will raise over $1,000 for René.

This Friday, the Filipino sensation's set will include his new song, "Go Panthers, Rock & Roll to the Super Bowl." The song relates Charlotte's kings of football with, well, you know:

Coach Fox calls the plays from the sidelines

If you don't like the Panthers,

Then you ain't no friend of mine.

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