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Highlights 2News

The Welsh Elvis has left the building

Dai Bassett ‘tough to beat for pure entertainment’

Glen Hartle
Bristol Nov. 18, 2023
The fellowship enjoyed by the St. Andrew’s Knox United Church Women (UCW) was overflowing when they were joined by entertainer Dai Bassett at the church in Bristol on Saturday evening.
Bassett is no stranger to these tides, having come across from South Glamorgan, Wales, some 50 years ago as a part of a 4H exchange. Enchanted, he never really left.
Bassett is a charming man with grey hair and a big smile. He disarms from the moment you meet and he and his deep, deep voice could likely sell ice to the frozen. He has a great deal of experience at emceeing events, has hosted his own radio show and he brought all of that, plus a guitar and mic, to the front of the St. Andrew’s Knox United Church.
The church was cozy on a cold evening, with some 100 people in attendance. Looking around the room and seeing faces he knew, Bassett borrowed from the Bible in suggesting that folks “from all corners of the Earth” were there and, of that, he was glad.
His production consisted of two sets. The first set was punctuated with popular and biblically-inspired numbers as well as ones from his own repertoire of penned tunes. The sing-along nature of What a Friend We Have in Jesus and Jesus Loves Me were lovely and all things to which community aspires. Following those, Bassett’s Shawville Fair and Beachburg and the Fair brought laughter and toe-tapping joy throughout the pews.
His full-throated vocal abilities were on full tilt with his rendition of Jim Reeves’ He’ll Have To Go and, even though it wasn’t billed as a sing-along, many in the crowd joined in.
Following an intermission full of chatter, baked goods, coffee and tea, hosted by the UCW, Bassett once again took the stage, this time as his alter or, perhaps for this event, altar ego: The Welsh Elvis. Bedazzled in buttons, bell-bottoms, dark spectacles and a wig, Bassett brought The King of Rock and Roll to Aylmer Road.
And while his moves weren’t quite as provocative as Monsieur Presley’s, they delightfully accompanied his serenade.
A curious kick-off choice for the set was In the Ghetto, not necessarily an upbeat or cheery number when compared with other Elvis fare, though it did have afford Bassett an opportunity to get fully into character and show the audience that his impressions of The King are really quite good.
Romps through Are You Lonesome, Burning Love and Glory Glory Hallelujah led Bassett to the crowd-pleasing and sing-a-long finale of Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline. For those who haven’t seen an Elvis impersonator sing a Neil Diamond tune while leading the crowd in accompaniment, this was tough to beat for pure entertainment.

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