If you close your eyes, you’d think Elvis had dropped into Riverton just to sing, “That’s Alright Mama,” but instead, it’s 20-year-old Jess Corbett of Pavillion sounding nearly identical to the young version of Elvis.
Like the “King” Corbett started playing music as a teenager.
“I started playing the guitar in church when I was 17 years old,” Corbett said. That’s only three years of work on the strings, but he has taken to it like a prodigy.
Corbett started school at Jeffrey City, but his family moved to the Pavillion area when he was still in elementary school.
“When I got to Pavillion they had brass and then added the drum line and guitar. It has improved quite a bit,” Corbett said. “I started playing at my church, we played a lot of hymns, but it was my interest in country and rock and roll that got me started, the rest of it was self-taught.”
Corbett enjoys the work of classic country and rock stars from the 1950s and 60s and covers many of the songs once performed by Johnny Cash, Merle, John Fogarty, Elvis Presley, and Carl Perkins just to name a few.
“I’m torn between classic rock and country, but I guess I’d have to go with country and then with classic rock,” Corbett said. “I play at home, and I play wherever I can get gigs, bars, and places like that. I’m hoping to start expanding this summer out of state.”
Recently he began playing in Wednesday night jam sessions at the Riverton Holiday Inn or the Riverton Senior Center.
The news with this young man is his first recorded song, now available on Spotify and Amazon Music.
Corbett wrote, “Happening to Me,” and the recording is a first step in displaying his talent as a singer and a songwriter.
In May, he will record his first album with the help of John Cox of Riverton and his studio.
Corbett now has a band, and they’ve just come up with a name for the eclectic group.
Jess Corbett and the Split Rock Boys” includes Father Drew Duncan on the drums, Dennis Wenner playing steel and lead guitar, Gail Ridgely on bass, and Corbett on lead guitar, rhythm guitar, and of course, vocals.
“It’s a neutral name, we can play either country or rock,” Corbett said.
His first recording, “Happening to Me” was made at the Riverton Holiday Inn.
“James Brost has a mobile recording studio. We set up in the Holiday Inn bar room and made a makeshift recording studio in March,” Corbett said. “It was a pretty good place to record. We’re talking about re-recoding it on the album we have coming out in May “
They have a couple of gigs scheduled in May with one at the Starting Gate in Riverton and the other at a fundraiser for the Hot Springs County High School FFA in Thermopolis.
Daryl Szymanski is the band’s manager.
“I have a bunch of songs I’ve written that we’d like to record,” Corbett said. “Thanks to everyone for listening. We’re coming up with some new stuff, and anyone who wants to listen we really appreciate it. The goal is to eventually get signed with a record company, then start touring the state and then work up to Nashville, Houston, or Los Angles, and maybe hit the big time.”