Ken Nelson, a regular at the "Branson-on-the-Brazos" show in Waco, was destined to have a career in music. His mother sang with a big band, his father was a trumpeter, and their home was filled with the music of Frank Sinatra. Nelson's own calling began with his cabaret show of Pal Joey. Afterward, he recorded a four-song demo and got gigs as a vocalist for the Gary Lee Orchestra and the Bill Bolman Bands. Then he struck out on his own -- singing, recording, and producing his debut album, a full hour of Sinatra hits complete with Nelson Riddle-style arrangements and a California big band.
His story reads like a Broadway musical, the perfect setup for songs by Rodgers and Hart. Or it could be a 1950s Hollywood musical. Or perhaps a '60s drama about a swinger trying to make it in a rock-and-roll world. But this is 1999. Sinatra is dead, and Nelson is a guy from Bedford trying to get by while having some fun with his music. Well, actually, Sinatra's music.
After a summer of teenyboppers making millionaires out of unseen songwriters, there couldn't be a more perfect time for Nelson to release his debut Let's Swing...A-Ding-Ding!, that is except for any time before 1970 or immediately after Harry Connick Jr.'s big break. While this year's singers are likely to be as disposable as the bubble-gum trading cards bearing their smiling mugs, Sinatra's hits are classic. "I think a lot of people want a new Sinatra to come out and fill that void," Nelson says. "Some people say I sound like him; some people say I don't. People say I look like a young Sinatra; others say I don't. I think it all depends on what they expect from me."
Forever Young Records locations and by calling (817) 571-2303
Call 1-888-413-4064 for information about "Branson-on-the-Brazos"
If they expect a Sinatra imitator, Nelson says they'll be disappointed. He doesn't imitate; Nelson just sings Sinatra's biggest hits, including "I've Got You Under My Skin," "The Lady Is a Tramp," and "Witchcraft." He is proud of his debut, which he released on Hobo-Ken Records, but admits it won't do as well as that other Sinatra tribute, Manilow Sings Sinatra.
Event #34 Super Satellite Guaranteed Main Event Seat
TicketsThu., Jul. 27, 10:00pm
Event #35 Mega Satellite for Event #31C
TicketsFri., Jul. 28, 9:00am
Event #31C ONE MILLION DOLLAR Guarantee Monster Stack (2-3 Day)
TicketsFri., Jul. 28, 12:00pm
Vans Warped Tour Presented By Journeys
TicketsFri., Jul. 28, 12:30pm
In addition to releasing the album, Nelson has landed a gig opening up the "Branson-on-the-Brazos" show at the Texas Playhouse in Waco. Nelson will be accompanied by a tape of a big band, warming up sold-out crowds every fourth Friday and Saturday for performers imported from Branson, a countrified Las Vegas in the Missouri Ozarks where Nelson hopes one day to perform. If he can make it there, he can make it anywhere.
Get the Things to Do Newsletter
Sign up for our weekly guide to events in Dallas, and never be bored again. With suggestions for every day of the week, our recommendations will keep you busy on any budget.