RIVERSIDE, CA. It was a rockin’ 2012. I had the wonderful privilege of getting to know a lot of tribute artists and rock out at many of their shows from Southern CA to Arizona to Las Vegas. Reading through the blog I’ve picked a few highlights from the best shows of 2012.
6th Annual Rockin’ Elvis Fest. This was the first Ultimate ETA Contest I attended. It was a three day event for ETAs from Canada and the United States. Adam Fitzpatrick (Canada) won the 6th Annual Rockin’ Elvis Fest Ultimate ETA Contest and got his ticket to compete at Graceland for the title of Ultimate ETA and the $20,000 prize.
Ultimate Elvis Weekend: Fremont Street Experience. I can’t believe I forgot to write about this fantastic Las Vegas competition. It was performed live on the famous Fremont Street in front of thousands with all the glitter and glamour of a Vegas show. It was one of the best Ultimate ETA contests of the year and one of the best venues. The winner was Victor Trevino from Legends in Concert.
Dwight Lightning. The only Dwight Yoakam tribute band in the United States is fronted by Les Allen in the country superstar role. The tribute band is compromised of talented musicians and under the direction of Les they put together a great show.
Tim McGraw Tribute. Dave Hoover hung up the jumpsuit and traded it in for a pair of rugged Levi’s, T-shirt, and cowboy hat to play tribute to another country superstar, Tim McGraw. He puts on a great show backed by music tracks that one can only imagine how great the show would be with a live band. Dave has that same great, sex appeal Tim McGraw has when he performs and the gals go wild. Maybe he should hook up with Les Allen of Dwight Lightning for a double, country superstar header. Make it a triple header with Willie Nelson tribute band, Red Headed Stranger. Maybe even a quadruple header with James Kruk doing Elvis.
Not Elvis. James Kruk is one of the best ETAs peforming today. His shows are always entertaining, energetic and awesome fun. James is unique among ETAs, thus the reason for the name of his website NotElvis.com. He gets that he his not Elvis and as a result it makes him a great entertainer because he effortlessly blends the image of Elvis and his own personality into every show and makes every song his own. One of the wonderful aspects of James’ show is now and then he’ll toss in a few extra songs, not covered by Elvis, but from some of the artists from whom Elvis borrowed his songs from. James gives an idea of how the song may have been sung by Elvis had he the opportunity to record it.
Million Dollar Quartet. Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins, each in their prime, full of youthful energy, are reunited in the musical, Million Dollar Quartet. For 90 minutes we join in on the jam session, sing along with the music and rock with them all from that one historic night.
Elvis Goes Hollywood. The All Shook Up N Vegas Elvis fan club held their annual fundraiser to raise money for a charitable organization over the Veteran’s day weekend. This year’s recipient was Helping Hands.
Unchained Melody. ETA Chris Luna performs a powerful rendition of Unchained Melody. It was the first time he performed it live and he nailed it with honest emotion.
Forever Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn Monroe, standing 26 feet high, forever posed in her famous Seven Year Itch stance on the corner of North Palm Canyon Drive and Tahquitz Canyon Way in Palm Springs, CA. Elvis, portrayed by Scot Bruce, rocked the early years of Elvis’ career from 1954-1968 at the Forever Marilyn Monroe Park.
Memories of Elvis. Joe Bullock is a life long Elvis fan and a new ETA performing professionally for the past two years with Memories of Elvis tribute. It’s exciting to watch Joe as he rises among the ranks in the ETA industry. He has provided the opportunity for me to observe his progress and see him improve his talent. Joe has one of the best Suspicious Minds splits in the industry.
Elvis Extravaganza. One of the surprisingly best tribute shows of the year produced by Eddie Stephens. It was surprising because the venue was the Santa Fe Springs swap, but the show was worthy of a Las Vegas stage. It was headlined by Travis Allen and Chris Luna and only cost $1 to watch these two great ETAs rock Elvis.
The Return of Martin Anthony. After a 10 year hiatus Martin Anthony returned to the stage. He is an energetic, charismatic tribute artist whose entertaining performances show why he ranks among one of the best ETAs in the business. Martin is the only ETA who can make singing with karoake tracks look like a live concert performance.
Elvis is Found Alive, Then Murdered. Revived after a 35 year cryogenic state by Col. Tom Parker’s nephew, Chet Parker, and Vegas Network CEO, Vic Vegas, the King of Rock and Roll lives again. The King is the rock & roll musical about the return of Elvis Presley 35 years after his faked death. The story was written and directed by Maverick Theater owner, Brian Newell and produced by Jim Book. The King closed its 10 year run on September 15th.
Beautiful Contradiction. I like contradictions. Girls nicknamed Charlie or Alex. Counter tenors like Greg Pritchard. Singers like Susan Boyle. Beautiful contradictions who are expected to be one way then surprise you, sometimes incredibly surprise you, when they are unlike anything you expect. I also like women who impersonate iconic male singers like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, or Frank Sinatra. If they’re good, it works and you’re mesmerized. Unfortunately, there are very few women who can pull off Elvis, Cash, or Sinatra in the tribute arena. Mikayla Khramov is one of those women who can pull it off when she sings Johnny Cash.
Three Faces of the King. Three Faces of the King introduced me to Shawn Klush and Cody Slaughter. For lack of a better adverb to express my emotion all I can say is WOW! Cody Slaughter is a dead ringer for Elvis and 2011 Ultimate ETA winner who takes us on a nostalgic, energetic ride through the early years. Shawn was the first winner of the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist contest sanctioned by Elvis Presley Enterprises. When you see Klush perform it’s easy to see why he won.
2012 proved to be a great year for Elvis fans, ETAs, and other tribute artists. Thank you to all the tribute artists who have the guts and talent to get on stage and sing their hearts out to us.