For more than 20 years, Frank Raines — better known by many as “Dewey Elvis,” for his weekly Breakfast with Elvis mornings at the Starboard in Dewey Beach — has been performing around the world as the King of Rock-and-Roll.
Raines, who’s based in Silver Spring, Md., but spends most of his summer months at the beach, said that, while he has “played just about everything you could imagine over the years — country, rock-and-roll, funk” — it wasn’t until one fateful Memorial Day weekend that he realized his niche in Elvis Presley.
“It was the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, and I was standing in front of the Starboard, waiting to get in, and two guy started screaming, ‘Hey, Elvis!’” Raines said.
Raines said that when his friends realized they were talking to him, he figured it must have been because his hair was “fluffed up” a bit and he had a towel around his neck, resembling Presley’s scarf and high collar.
Throughout the day, more and more Starboard patrons started recognizing the resemblance and, at one point, Raines said, there were “people chanting ‘Elvis, Elvis!’”
“My buddy said, ‘Say, “Thank you,”’ so I said, ‘Thank you — thank you very much,’” he said. “And a Dewey legend was born.”
Raines has taken his act all over the world, but there are a few memorable gigs that stick out in his mind as being truly unique.
“My wife and I were flown to Sweden to perform at the most lavish birthday party I have ever seen. It was incredible,” he said. “Other than that, performing at the White House. The first time at the White House was just an awesome thrill. I actually got canceled — after I was there and dressed — and I thought I was leaving and not doing anything, and Hillary saw me and said, ‘Are you here for the president?’ and I said, ‘Yes, ma’am, but it was canceled, so I’m leaving now,’ and she said, ‘Oh, no, you’re not leaving — you’re coming with me.’”
On his website, Raines has pictures of “Dewey Elvis” with former President Bill Clinton, who he performed for on his birthday in 1997.
Now, many of his public and private performances are in the Bethany Beach area, where he and his family spend most of their time from Memorial Day to Labor Day each year.
He said that, though he’s performed all over the country, “I really love having the gigs around the beach and having so many friends and fans stopping by to see me, enjoying the music and having a good ol’ time. That’s why I love having my shows at The Boathouse, because it makes it easier for my Bethany Beach friends to come and see me.”
He keeps a busy schedule but said that “performing gives us a great excuse to spend so much time down here during the summer.”
When he isn’t keeping fans off of his blue suede shoes, Raines works as a financial advisor for an independent brokerage firm and spends many Monday and Thursday nights officiating swim meets for his daughter Megan’s swim team, the Sea Colony Sharks.
From time to time, Megan Raines can also be found making an appearance at his local gigs and playing Rusty Martin to her dad’s Lucky Jackson in their rendition of “The Lady Loves Me.”
“She’s very talented and doesn’t have much stage fright — she does things with such personality,” Raines said. “We used to sing that song in the car. We would sing the song and she had so much personality just sitting in the car and I said, ‘Why don’t you do it with me on Saturday night?’ That first night, she was nervous, but now she’s a pro. After she did it once and stole the show, I haven’t had any problems getting her to do it since.”
His shows have also changed a bit over the years. Originally, Raines said, he tried to do a full performance as Elvis, but it just didn’t seem to work with the audience. Now, he tends to stick to a three-part set, starting with some Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Michael Bublé, and ending with a mix of ’60s, ’70s and ’80s tunes, with an appearance from “The King” in between.
Fans can catch some of the Elvis magic at one of Raines’ upcoming shows. He’ll be playing at Delaware Distilling Company in Lewes on July 23 from 8 to 11 p.m., and at the Boathouse, just south of Bethany Beach, on Aug. 19 from 6 to 9 p.m. He can also be found at the Starboard in Dewey Beach every Sunday morning during the summer, for Breakfast with Elvis, starting at 11:30 a.m.