HASTINGS, Minn. — A rockabilly icon will take center stage this weekend.

Musician David Keiski will perform as the iconic singer, Roy Orbison, complete with black clothing, a black wig and dark sunglasses Saturday, Feb. 29 at Hastings Arts Center. The tribute show will feature around 20 songs with stories about “the Big O” sprinkled throughout.

While some Orbison songs will have the audience wanting to get up and out of their seat to dance, others are more somber and will give the audience a glance into his life. Keiski will share stories from Orbison’s life, stories that influenced Orbison’s song writing, some charming while others tragic.

“It’s a little theatrical, because I'll go back and forth between talking like Roy and then talk about Roy dressed as him,” Keiski said.

Two shows will be hosted Saturday, a matinee solo at 2 p.m. and an evening show complete with Keiski’s band at 7 p.m.

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Although the Hastings Arts Center has been the venue of cover bands, this event will be its first tribute show.

“It is something we haven’t really done yet, we are always looking for something new,” Hastings Arts Center Director Sarah Lockwood said. “I think so many people miss Roy Orbison and he has a following still."

David Kieski has performed across the United States and has even performed out of the country in Nicaragua. This Saturday he will perform as Roy Orbison at the Hastings Arts Center. Photo submitted by David Keiski
David Kieski has performed across the United States and has even performed out of the country in Nicaragua. This Saturday he will perform as Roy Orbison at the Hastings Arts Center. Photo submitted by David Keiski

Meet the man behind the shades

Keiski was just 17 when he had his first show at a piano bar. He has since spent a little over 40 years as a musician performing across the country in places such as Los Angeles, New York, Nashville and Houston.

“I enjoy playing anytime, anywhere,” Keiski said.

He has worked solo, in duets, in trios and with a band. He says he has even played and recorded with famous people. When asked if he still gets nervous on stage, he replied, “the only thing that makes me nervous is if I’m not prepared and you also have to react when things go wrong, humor solves things.”

When things do go wrong, Keiski says the audience is usually forgiving and it is just a reminder that he is human just like they are.

He says his favorite part about performing is entertaining the audience.

“It's all about the fact that people work hard all day and you never know what people might be going through ... and you have the opportunity to just take them away from all of the troubles,” Keiski said.

"It's a great show and we love doing it," Keiski said about him and his band performing the Roy Orbison tribute show. Photo submitted by David Keiski
"It's a great show and we love doing it," Keiski said about him and his band performing the Roy Orbison tribute show. Photo submitted by David Keiski

Keiski's has impersonated Orbison for about a year now, after someone made the tribute suggestion to him. He found that Orbison's voice type came rather naturally, so he threw on a pair of shades and did his first show. He said it went well.

“I just fell in love with his voice, his songs, his style of writing and some are just really short, but they are super dramatic and they are just amazing with the orchestration,” Keiski said.

Both Keiski and Orbison play a similar type of music influenced by classic rock, blues and soul which was another reason Keiski was drawn to Orbison.

If you go…

Lockwood says to get tickets before Friday, as they run out fast. She says the best way to get tickets is through email or the website.

What: Roy Orbison tribute show

When: 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 29

Where: Hasting Arts Center, 216 Fourth St. E., Hastings

Cost: 2 p.m. matinee is $12 at the door, $9 presale online and free for children 12 and under with a paid adult. The 7 p.m. show is $20 at the door, $15 presale online and free for children 12 and under with a paid adult. Credit card fees apply.

More info: Email — hastingsartscenter@gmail.com; website — hastingsartscenter.org; phone — 651-437-4320