tampabay.com

It's not unusual to believe he could be the real deal

By RITA FARLOW, Times Staff Writer
Published November 28, 2007


Harmik first saw Tom Jones perform when he was just 15 years old. Today, the artist - who only uses one name - wows audiences in Las Vegas and around the world as a Tom Jones impersonator. With the encouragement of his wife, the 47-year-old quit his job as an equities trader and started perfecting his act 14 years ago. Harmik has seen the real Tom Jones in concert about 150 times and even appeared in a music video with the hairy-chested entertainment legend. He'll be performing Thursday in Largo.

What does your typical audience member look like?

"They're probably somewhere 40 (years old and older), but these days we're getting all the generations coming in - the daughters, the granddaughters, the grandmothers. And I'll tell you, the grandmothers don't look like grandmothers anymore. There's (also) a lot of fellas that come to dance with their wives. The perception of the group of ladies is not so typical."

Why is Tom Jones so appealing to audiences?

"I think if I had one answer it would be confidence. You just feel like you're safe when you're watching him. You could put sexy in there, too. I think men want to be Tom and women want to be with Tom."

Why would someone choose to see an impersonator over the "real" star?

"The real (people) aren't traveling into smaller cities. And they're not accessible. I don't believe it's so much the difference in the price. I think it's more accessibility."

What makes a good impersonator?

"You shouldn't get extra points for singing well. Singing well should be a given."

Does your audience ever believe you are Tom Jones?

"If I don't, somewhere during the course of the performance, make them believe it's the real thing, I've not done my job well. That's the whole difference between a phenomenal performer and the next guy who just puts on a wig or whatever. If you're a great impersonator, you should ultimately be able to transform them from fake to, hopefully, somewhere close to real."

If you go

Celebrity Showcase Series

The first show in Largo Community Center's 2008 Celebrity Showcase Series is "A Tribute to Tom Jones" by Harmik,

from 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday at the center, 65 Fourth St. NW, Largo. Tickets are $13 in advance and $15 at the door. Group rates available.

Next up: An Ozark Family Christmas, featuring the Yearys, at Largo Cultural Center on Dec. 11. For more information, call 518-3131.

Harmik's Web site, including the video with Tom Jones, can be viewed at www.tomjonesclone.com.