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The best kept secret in music


"That's all right, mama"

The Star Bar, Jan. 6 -- "He lives" read the chalkboard behind the stage at the Star Bar. Smoke and people had filled the tiny club to an uncomfortable capacity by 9:30 p.m., and the chattering masses had one thing on their mind: Elvis. Patrons lined up to pay their respects at the club's world-famous kitsch-filled Elvis Vault.

The candles in the lovingly tacky memorial vault flickered in glowing tribute, and the portrait of his mama, protected deep within the glass shrine, beamed proudly. It was, after all, her boy's birthday. Well, two days before his actual birth date, but an Elvis Saturday night at the Star Bar is always a night fit for the King.

In stark contrast to the crowded and swelteringly hot bar, the cold backstage area was warmed by only one overheated body: Mike Geier. Herding up his band members, the bald crooner was sweatin' Kingsized bullets waiting for late arrivals. So, to kick off the evening, he lumbered out front to lead the impatient crowd in a rowdy version of "Happy Birthday." Geier then showered lucky ticketholders with royal gifts including votive candles, bacon and even a golden toilet seat with, appropriately, Elvis' "Takin' Care of Business" logo.

With the nearly complete lineup of Kingsized finally gathering on-stage at 11:30 p.m. to a taped "2001" fanfare, all irreverence ceased. Geier, swanked-out in black with a snazzy medallion hanging from his neck, grabbed the microphone and launched into Elvis' typical concert-opener, "C.C. Rider," as the crowd roared its approval.

Aided by the heat, Geier's version of "Burning Love" was indeed a sizzler. With two soulful backing vocalists, reminiscent of Elvis' own Sweet Inspirations, Geier had the crowd in the palm of his beefy hand. The hits just kept on a-comin': "Can't Help Falling in Love," "Viva Las Vegas" and more, all met with a hearty welcome and joyously slurred sing-alongs.

Leaning heavily on Elvis' '70s live staples, Geier and company even handled the bloated King's choice of cover tunes with slavish respect. The Beatles' "Something" was given a sincere reading as Geier exchanged glances with his new wife.

By "American Trilogy" the evening totally belonged to Geier. He worked his band and the crowd with the smooth precision of a highly seasoned lounge lizard as his family and in-laws watched from the bar. His rich baritone wrapped the tunes with a surprisingly earnest admiration, quite refreshing considering the kitschy icon that Elvis -- especially the cartoonish late-period version approximated here -- has become.

After ending the Elvis portion of the evening with a reprise of "C.C. Rider," the nine-piece Kingsized took a short break before returning to do a lengthy set of crowd-pleasing early-'70s nuggets. Harking back to the time when Elvis played the Omni and WQXI-AM was the hottest radio station in town, the band trotted out a set of horn-driven anthems: "Spinnin' Wheel," "Vehicle" and, yes, even Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds' "Don't Pull Your Love." (The show also marked former Lost Continentals guitarist Jeff Passifume's last gig with Kingsized.)

Rather than goof on Elvis' iconic image by donning a wig, sunglasses or an embarrassing Eagle-sequined jumpsuit, Geier managed to bring the tribute to life in a far more convincing way: by just being himself. Stripped of the garish accessories, the Elvis hits presented by Kingsized managed to show just how lasting the Mama-lovin' Southern boy's legacy really is. Letting the music speak for the legacy of Elvis was a most welcome and satisfying bow to the King.

As a tired visitor paid one last respect to the vault, was it one too many PBRs or, past all the partiers and the odd Elvis knick-knacks and tabloids, was that a tear of joy rolling down from Mama Presley's cheek? u

- Creative Loafing


Spending the better part of January in the studio with Marty Kearns resulted in two separate recording projects – a solo EP, "Mr. Kingsized", containing 5 tracks filled with swaggering pop anthems and a full-length cd titled "For Emotional Reasons" with piano legend and Jazz Hall of Famer, Johnny O'Neal. This project which features 8 exquisite standards: "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning", "Shadow of Your Smile", "Hum Drum Blues", "The Days of Wine and Roses", "Moon River", "Smack Dab in the Middle", "Charade" and "You Don't Know What Love Is" will be released early fall.


Feeling a bit camera shy


Big Mike Geier is KINGSIZED. But his 6'8" stature isn't the only thing that gives him such commanding stage presence. His booming voice is even larger.
Big Mike moves mountains with his microphone, whether he's crooning a Sinatra ballad, belting out some Count Basie, or mining for sentimental profundity in pop gems like "Dancing Queen". He has even been known to channel some Johnny Cash and can sing the pu-pu out of a Don Ho song, too! But it is his soulful and powerful treatment of the works of Elvis Presley for which Geier is perhaps best known. His bi-annual Vegas-style Kingsized Elvis Revue complete with 12-piece orchestra and one dozen dancing girls has performed to sold-out crowds for the past 10 years.
Garnering Creative Loafing's "Best of Atlanta" award year after year, Kingsized is a favorite of Atlanta and beyond. From Nantucket to San Francisco, New Orleans to Berlin, Kingsized performs in all sorts of venues for all types of events.
This fall, Big Mike takes his Kingsized talent from the stage to your living room when he and two of his Kingsized cohorts appear each week as the snappily dressed house band “The Slacks” on Cartoon Network’s new series “Sunday Pants”. Geier also lends his operatic croon to another cartoon when he sings the Aqua Teen Hunger Force Theme Song on the upcoming ATHF DVD.
Whether on screen or in person, Big Mike’s luminous persona and powerful vocal abilities radiate an irresistible energy. When Kingsized toured Germany, the Germans coined a phrase for him “Ohne Geier keine feier”, meaning “without Geier, there is no party.” And they’re right!