By Marv Kohlbeck
Elvis Presley and Leroy Petersen have a number of things in common, but the most noticeable is the similarity of their musical voices.
Most people know of or remember how Presley became an overnight sensation with his voice, good looks, and gyrations that he brought to television sets on the Ed Sullivan Show in the late 1950s.
Elvis is still an icon in the entertainment world even though he passed away in 1977 at the young age of 42.
With that being said, you might ask, “Who is Leroy Petersen?”
We know that there are many “wannabes” with singing talent that have entered contests and tried to impersonate Elvis and his voice.
As my wife and I enjoy country music, we try to attend performances by Maggie Mae and Her Heartland Country Band in the central Wisconsin area. They occasionally appear on RFD-TV and put on numerous performances around Wisconsin and neighboring states. The group calls Oxford, Wisconsin, its home base and specializes in holding barn dance dinners. All of the musicians are from central Wisconsin.
My wife and I were in attendance at the band’s Christmas show held at the Wisconsin Rapids Performance Center last fall. We were totally impressed with the show, especially the inclusion of Leroy Petersen, who thrilled the audience with his renditions of a few Presley and Johnny Cash hits. If you were blindfolded, you would have guessed that Elvis Presley was performing on stage.
A portion of the proceeds from that event was earmarked for The Highground Veterans Memorial Park near Neillsville. Visiting after the show with Kirk Rodman, volunteer general manager of The Highground, I suggested that we need to get Peterson to be part of the show that the group will be putting on in Pittsville on April 8. Rodman totally agreed.
Like Presley, Petersen is growing up as a country boy. Leroy is the 19-year-old son of Jerry and Debbie Petersen from Kendall, Wisconsin. Home schooled, Leroy’s mother noticed his musical talent and desire to perform with her when they sang in church choirs, school, and community groups.
Leroy’s wishes for a guitar were answered; intense lessons followed; and again, like Presley, he expanded his entertainment to community, school, and church groups, civic organizations, nursing homes, or small parties. It was at one of Leroy’s solo performances at a nursing home in Tomah that I met up with him again to interview him further, and he called me the other day to say that he will be performing with Maggie Mae when the group comes to Pittsville.
Call The Highground Veterans Memorial Park at 715-743-4224 for reserved seats to the Pittsville performance on April 8. Once again, Maggie Mae will donate a good portion of the proceeds in support of the park.
You will not be disappointed with this full two hours of musical entertainment and comedy. Take my word for it.