UPLAND, CA. Eddie Stephens has an enthusiastic, passionate admiration for Elvis Presley. He wears his heart for Elvis on his sleeve and will unapologetically share his love for Elvis with you. Stephens has a keen understanding of the King of Rock & Roll which is well orchestrated in the entertaining annual Elvis Extravaganza.
The Elvis Extravaganza is Southern California’s celebration of Elvis Presley’s legacy. It is held each year during the same week as Elvis Week in Memphis, TN and showcases some of the best local ETAs. However, the Elvis Extravaganza is more than just an event to showcase ETAs. It is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for Stephens. The dream is to make the Elvis Extravaganza the premiere venue to celebrate the life, music, and legacy of Elvis on the West Coast.
After last year’s Elvis Extravaganza I wrote, “I would have paid performing arts theater prices to see EE2012” because it was that good. Well, I paid performing arts theatre prices because the event was held at the Grove Theatre & Academy in a historic part of Upland, CA. It was that good, again.
Martin Anthony opened the show with his debut appearance at the Elvis Extravaganza and portrayed an early Elvis. Anthony’s interpretation of the young King of Rock & Roll captures the invigorating, youthful energy of Elvis. His unmatched energy on stage is always a crowd pleaser with a big charismatic personality to match. Anthony is the perfect audience warm up who sets the stage on fire and sets the mood for the show.
Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the gyrated moves and miss Anthony’s voice. However, pay close attention to his voice when he sings My Happiness with only a guitar. It’s beautiful. Anthony has strong, smooth, clear vocals developed from years as a professional singer and entertainer. He can be a hard act to follow.
Joe Bullock has no problem following Martin Anthony. Bullock’s bright blue eyes and boyish smile, highlighted by the 68 Comeback Special leathers, draws gasps from the gals. Maybe a little envy from the guys, but it’s all in good fun, and good taste. He has that bit of Elvis charisma which naturally draws fans to him.
Bullock isn’t afraid to sing some of the more obscure Elvis songs like Way Down and Power of My Love. Great songs which exhibit Elvis’ unique sex appeal were relived on the stage through Joe Bullock. The highlight of his performance was when he sat on the stairs and sang a moving rendition of Memories he dedicated to Elvis. There were some tears gently rolling down the cheeks of a few folks. Bullock was a great addition to show.
The Elvis legacy continued with Chris Luna portraying the concert years. This is Luna’s second year performing at the Elvis Extravaganza.
Luna has the gift for reaching deep down into his soul, connect with a song and make you feel it. My Way and Hurt are some of the songs Luna sings with a resonate passion you feel. His performance during the show echoed images of Elvis. If you let your imagination soar for a moment, you will get a glimpse of Elvis on stage.
This year, Luna took the opportunity to sing Polk Salad Annie for the first time live. He rocked the classic, electrifying song and had fun with it. The fun extended to the audience who joined in with rhythmic clapping and bounced to the quick beat of the song in their seat. We were all worn out when the song ended.
Not to be left out of the show, Eddie Stephens took the mic and treated the fans to several Elvis songs. He was dressed dapperly in a beautiful white jacket, patterned after the Raindrop jumpsuit, and designed by Southern California’s Elvis clothes designer, Traci Bottini-Zusman.
The grand finalé had all three ETAs share the stage and sing the final song, If I Can Dream. Martin Anthony, Joe Bullock, and Chris Luna each sang a stanza from the beautiful song and brought the fans to their feet and the show to a close.
Musician, singer, and producer Eddie Stephens is making his dream come true and sharing it with Elvis fans in an entertaining tribute show. Elvis Extravaganza 2013 was hugely successful and is well on its way to becoming the premiere event celebrating the music, life, and legacy of Elvis Presley for the West Coast. Mark your calendars for next year and come join the celebration. Who knows what Stephens has planned next year to keep the memory of Elvis alive.