Music man of many faces performs at Nelson’s
Larry Elliott is a born entertainer.
As a one-man band, Elliott plays piano, guitar, foot bass, banjo, fiddle and sings a wide variety of music.
Elliott – musician, magician and actor – returns to Nelson’s Take 5 in Gardnerville on Saturday, with a 7-11 p.m. set.
“I have standard tunes that I start with and I engage people in conversation,” said Elliott, describing his plans for the performance on Saturday. “I’ll have the fiddle there, I’ll have the banjo, foot bass and of course sing and play guitar. I might bring a few quick tricks, a mini magic show.”
As for the type of music he’ll play – classic country, pop or rock – he said, “I’m kind of intuitive. I watch people’s response.”
Born in Minnesota, raised in California, a longtime resident of Northern Nevada, he has entertained all over the U.S., England, Ireland and Belgium. The Reno resident said he likes performing in Nevada the most and calls it his “home base.”
The characters he incorporates into his music are a magician “The Amazing Elliott,” a John Denver look-a-like, Santa Claus in the Hollywood Christmas Parade, Austin Powers, an Elvis impersonator in special events, a comedian or just himself – a singer, entertainer and musician.
When asked who is his favorite character to play, Elliott said, “The banjo man. Because the banjo man probably comes closest to my particular personality.
“The ones that I like basically are the ones that people like.”
Elliott likes the feeling he gets when the audience begins to believe his character is real. Once while playing an Irishman at an event in Ireland he was asked what area of the country he was from.
“You let the character do the talking,” said Elliott. “It’s that fun quality that’s been established between you and other people around you. That suspension of disbelief.”
He used the analogy of reading a book.
“Suddenly the book just kind of disappears and you’re seeing these characters and these people. Whenever somebody believes my character and I can see that, that’s what I really love.”
Elliott considers himself a ham, and gets a chance to be one in his portrayals of different characters, such as Sierra Sam.
“This is Northern Nevada where mining goes back almost 200 years,” said Elliott. “Sierra Sam is a little bit of the old codger, the old sourdough.
“There’s no bashful wallflowers over here.”
Elliott has occasionally left the stage and performed in front of the camera. He was the floor manager in the 2003 movie “The Cooler,” with William H. Macy and Alec Baldwin, for which Baldwin received an Oscar nomination. Elliott has also appeared on Carson Valley Inn commercials.
Sometimes Elliott’s work requires long hours and just as with everyone, sometimes he gets sick.
“When you do some long hours, (I get tired) a little bit,” said Elliott. “There’s just something uplifting about it. No excuses accepted. In a way (performing) kind of relieves you. After an evening of playing and stuff, oddly enough you usually feel better.”
Elliott has known what he wanted to do since he was of preschool age and remembers vividly what got him interested.
“When I was about 31Ú2 years old my teenage baby-sitter left me alone at the movies,” said Elliott.
He described his memories of when she found him:”I was up on the stage running back and forth. No act, but I got them laughing. That’s what got me started.”
When Elliott was about 13 he got into acting at his school in the Bay area. He has made a living through performing all his adult life.
“With a little bit of blarney and some entrepreneurship you can be successful,” said Elliott.
Besides working on writing a book, Elliott has never done any other type of job and has always worked for himself.
“That’s pretty much it,” said Elliott. “I tried a little real estate but just didn’t like it. The bottom line is this is what I care for. Music and entertainment and chasing that rainbow, you know.”
More information on Larry Elliott can be found on http://www.irishmusicman.com. There are sound bites of the Irish, Italian and Renaissance festival music Elliott and his groups do.
This year, his group “Verona Paisan” will be at The Sands Casino Euro Fest, Elliott will perform at the Reno Parks Concert Series and he will play “good time music” at the Gatsby Festival at Pope Mansion. He will be at the Camel Races in Virginia City and the Great Italian Festival in Reno.
As a grant winner with the Sierra Arts Foundation, Elliott does on-going school shows and assisted-living concerts in Northern Nevada and Northern California.
n Jo Rafferty can be reached at email@example.com or 782-5121, ext. 210.