COSTA MESA, CA. The 14th Annual Elvis Festival was held at the Orange County Market Place (OCMP) celebrating the timeless inspiration of Elvis Presley. Thirty ETAs performed on three stages throughout the event. Many competed to qualify for the Elvis Karaoke Fest finals held at the LA County Fair. Other ETAs, such as Sean Martin, Chris Luna, Joe Bullock with Denver Brown, Joe Banuelos, and Martin Anthony showcased their talents and entertained the crowds throughout the day.
The festival is Orange County’s largest venue celebrating the life, legacy, and music of Elvis Presley. Local and out-of-state vendors set up their booths to sell their Elvis souvenirs and other wares. Fans with “piled high Priscilla hair and elevated Elvis hair” strolled about the event for pictures and participated in a contest for the “biggest and best exaggerated hairstyles inspired by Elvis and Priscilla Presley.”
This month marked the return of Bob Castro. He was back in full form as he competed for his place to sing in the Karaoke Elvis Fest finals. Castro even threw in a few karate moves during the qualifying round at the Starting Gate in Los Alamitos. He didn’t qualify at the Starting Gate or the Elvis Festival, but we are all just glad Castro is back sharing his love for Elvis and entertaining us.
This year also introduced several new acts. One of those acts was Chris Luna and Martin Anthony shedding their Elvis personas and donning new ones as the Blues Brothers.
Entertaining us from the Main Stage, Elwood (Luna) and Jake (Anthony) preached their bluesy mission from God in song and dance like a pair of Pentecostal preachers. Luna and Anthony are a perfect match with great musical and comedic timing and energy. Their act is always a hit with audiences. Mission accomplished.
After completing their mission, Elwood disappeared backstage for his next assignment. Meanwhile Jake shed the Raybans and derby and morphed into an early Elvis rockin’ the stage with Hound Dog, Jailhouse Rock, and other early Elvis hits.
Chris Luna as Elvis emerged from the backstage wearing the Tiger Jumpsuit with a Blues Brothers derby and shades; showing us his sense of humor. Laying aside the Blues Brothers props, Luna gave us a taste of Elvis in concert with his rich, beautiful voice.
One of the great things about ETA contests is discovering new talent. Joe Bullock was one of those new discoveries we saw at the 2011 OCMP Elvis Festival. He is an accomplished ETA who has taken on the role of mentor to newcomer, four year old Denver Brown. It is said you shouldn’t share the stage with either animals or children because they steal the show.
Kevin Costner could probably attest to this fact. Costner is Denver’s godfather and he brought his family to the OCMP Elvis Fest to see his godson’s debut. Costner and Denver’s dad, David Brown, are also business partners for Armstar™, a less than lethal electronic, hands-free and wearable, self-defense weapon. In addition to being a godfather, business partner and an awarding winning actor/producer/director, he is also an accomplished singer/songwriter and musician.
Denver proved the precept and stole the show from Joe on the Main Stage. Joe, of course, did not mind one bit and was all too happy to give Denver the limelight for his debut performance. They sang three songs together, including American Trilogy. Before the show Denver told Joe he had the jumpsuit, the boots, the scarves and the belt, but he didn’t have any rings. After singing American Trilogy, Joe removed his TCB ring and gave it to Denver. How can you compete with such an adorable display of entertainment and generosity? You can’t; you just can’t compete!
It was a beautiful moment.
Joe Bullock and Denver Brown personified the OCMP Elvis Festival theme: Celebrating the Timeless Inspiration of Elvis Presley. The timeless inspiration is one that is passed on from one person to another; from one Elvis fan to another. Joe passes his inspiration onto Denver; Denver then passes it on to other Elvis fans when he performs on stage. The memory of Elvis then continues to live on from one generation to the next and celebrated year after year all over the world.
Thank you to Jill Ann Lloyd and the entire staff of the OCMP for making the Elvis Festival a fun, successful family event. We extend our gratitude to the Jailhouse Rockers and the All Shook Up-N-Vegas Elvis fan clubs for their dedication to keep the memory of Elvis alive. Of course, all of this is impossible without the ETAs and their families. Thank you for entertaining us and keeping the life, music, and legacy relevant for generations to come.
(I think Denver stole the “show” for this article.)