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Vail: Paying homage to the king of pop

Sarah Mausolf
smausolf@vaildaily.com
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the DailyE'Casanova, who'll be in Vail, Colorado Saturday, is the new lead singer for Who's Bad. He performed for Michael Jackson in Japan during a fan appreciation concert.
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VAIL, Colorado “-Many cover band artists never meet the musicians they impersonate on stage because the real musicians are either dead or disinterested.

E’Casanova, who’ll be in Vail, Colorado Saturday, is different. The Michael Jackson tribute artist has met the real Jackson several times.

And those encounters left E’Casanova with the impression that the king of pop was a much cooler guy than the press gives him credit for.

“He looks to me almost like a superhero,” E’Casanova said. “He looks like a porcelain doll to me: small features, completely flawless and he doesn’t look like this distorted, demented freak that the press tries to make him out to be.”

E’Casanova is the latest addition to the Jackson tribute band Who’s Bad. The Los Angeles-based singer, who goes by only the one name, makes his Vail debut Saturday night at the Sandbar Sports Grill. The six members of Who’s Bad plan to revive Jackson classics like “Beat It” and “Black or White” and “Bad.”

“We try to cover all the hits that we can,” E’Casanova said.

New to the band, not new to the man

E’Casanova joined Who’s Bad about two weeks ago, replacing singer Joseph Bell. Although he’s new to the band, he isn’t new to playing Jackson. E’Casanova has been heading up his own tribute act since the age of 16.

“My mother introduced the Jackson Five to me when I was two years old by looking at the re-runs of the Jackson Five cartoons on BET. Of course, later on, I ended up being really intrigued by Michael and his innate soul presence, his voice and dance charisma, and people started telling me I looked like him when I got older.”

E’Casanova looked so much like Jackson, he won $10,000 in an MGM look-alike contest. Plus, MTV hired E’Casanova to play Jackson on an episode of “Punk’d.”

Over the years, E’Casanova has had a chance to meet his idol several times. He recently performed in front of Jackson in Japan during a fan appreciation day event.

And In 2003, he petitioned Las Vegas officials to give Jackson the key to the city. During that trip, E’Casanova got to ride around in an SUV with Jackson. As they cruised through Vegas landmarks, Jackson pointed out the casino projects he had been involved with and talked about how much he enjoyed a magician who used jumping beans in his act, E’Casanova recalled.

“(Jackson) is just so humble, and so cool, almost to a fault, almost apologetic for getting in your way. When his guard is down, he just seemed like a regular guy. You don’t even realize you’re talking to the greatest artist on the planet,” E’Casanova said.

Who’s Bad formed in 2004 when Vamsi Tadepalli, a jazz saxophonist and student at the University of North Carolina, recruited fellow musicians to play Jackson cover songs. He said the decision to cover Jackson, as opposed to another artist, was a “no-brainer.”

“I think it’s pretty obvious when you go out to any club and ‘Billie Jean’ or ‘Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough’ comes on, everyone just loses their minds,” Tadepalli said.

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2938 or smausolf@vaildaily.com.

What: Who’s Bad

When: 10 p.m., Saturday

Where: Sandbar Sports Grill, West Vail

Cost: $12 in advance; $15 at the door

More information: Visit http://www.sandbarvail.com or call 970-476-4314


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