To paraphrase Voltaire, if Elvis Presley hadn't existed, it would have been necessary to invent him. And that goes double for El Vez, the self-described "Mexican Elvis" (and former bandmate of lesbian folksinger Phranc, because the world is that small). But he isn't merely the Latino Elvis impersonator that his name suggests; instead, he takes the songs of Presley and others and gives them his own spin, which is often political, never predictable, and always equal parts funny and thoughtful.
"In the Ghetto" gets reworked as "En El Barrio," which you saw coming, but then segues into the Traffic's "Dear Mr. Fantasy," which you probably didn't see coming, before landing on the Beatles' "I've Got a Feeling," which you surely didn't. El Vez's show "MEX-mas!" is no less ambitious or entertaining, with "White Christmas" becoming "Brown Christmas" (and side trips into both John Lennon and Tears for Fears country along the way), simultaneously embracing and questioning the persistence of lily-white nostalgia for a world that never existed for people of any color. As El Vez himself put it, "Nostalgia is the opiate of the masses -- and I try to put a little Red Bull in that opiate." Gracias, Señor El Vez, y Feliz Navidad.
"MEX-mas!" starts at 8 p.m. at The Independent, 628 Divisadero (at Hayes), S.F. Admission is $15-$17.