What do you do if you’re a singer looking for your big break and people keep telling you how much you resemble the late John Denver?
If you’re Ted Vigil you thank God you’re a country boy and embrace it.
Vigil, who performs Saturday night at the Everett Historic Theatre, didn’t intend to make a career as a tribute artist.
A drummer and singer who typically sang rock, Vigil, born in Seattle and raised in Olympia, won a regional contest at the Skagit Valley Casino Resort in 2006 and was flown to Lawson, Nevada, to compete in the Talent Quest competition with acts from 28 states, New Zealand, Australia and Canada.
“I joined the country category and had prepared a Tim McGraw song, but all week people we’re telling me how much I looked like John Denver,” Vigil said Monday as he prepared to return from Denver, Colorado, where he performed for a private party alongside country singer George Strait.
Vigil listened and followed the suggestions.
“I beat out three groups by singing ‘Rocky Mountain High,’” he said.
As Vigil began to delve deeper into his doppelgänger Deutschendorf, he said he started to feel a kinship for Denver, who was a prolific recording artist in the ’70s and known for hits like “Thank God, I’m a Country Boy,” “Annie’s Song,” “Sunshine on My Shoulders” and “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” Denver died in 1997 in a crash of a small plane he was piloting.
“His songs are about real life and real people and real life experiences,” Vigil said.
Vigil once met Denver’s uncle, for whom the song “Matthew” was written.
“It’s about his uncle and how he grew up on a Kansas wheat farm. And I had a similar experience on a dairy farm when I was young, baling hay. I really could connect and see in all the songs that there was something I could relate to,” he said.
In his concerts, Vigil said, he likes to perform a variety of tunes from Denver’s songbook, typically upbeat songs, but also songs that people may not be as familiar with.
“And I do three or four of my own songs. One song is about John and about taking care of the environment,” a cause Denver was known for, he said.
Married for 26 years and with four children, a foster daughter and four grandkids, Vigil said family gatherings are very musical; he’ll break out his guitar for a backyard barbecue and karaoke night.
Vigil has performed in the region previously, including a concert at the Lincoln Theatre in Mount Vernon where he shared the stage with Denver’s lead guitarist, Steve Weisberg.
For his Everett Historic Theater concert, he’ll be joined by The Hitmen, a group of “well-seasoned” musicians he’s played with previously, Vigil said, and singer Amanda Bacon from Sequim.
And, yes, the audience is invited to sing along.
“Oh, by all means. I love it,” he said. “I’ve had a few shows where I’ve got 400 people standing up and signing ‘County Roads’ so loud I just stopped playing. It was magical. Everyone had smiles on their faces.”
A Tribute to John Denver
Ted Vigil and the Hitmen with singer Amanda Bacon and special guest Dakota perform at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Historic Everett Theatre, 2911 Colby Ave. Tickets, $15 to $30, are available at etix.com or at the door.