Costa Mesa, CA (Top40 Charts/ Orange County Market Place)
The furled lip, the intense gaze and the swiveling hips... Elvis Presley's spirit is kept alive and well via the burning desire of other men to emulate him. The King of Rock-n-Roll remains the most imitated performer on earth and many of them will come together to pay homage to him during the 12th Annual Elvis Festival August 21, 2011 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Orange
County Market Place, the weekend swap meet at the O.C. Fair & Event Center, Costa Mesa.
The Festival, which pays tribute to Elvis Presley near the date of his death anniversary: August 16, 1977, traditionally follows Elvis Week in Graceland, TN, which this year runs from August 10 - 16 honoring his life and music.
The annual event themed "Elvis in Hollywood" will have seven tribute artists performing songs from Presley's motion pictures. Though Elvis was only 42 years old when he died, there is no age cap on those who choose to emulate him. At this year's Festival they range in age from 17 to 59 years old.
Joe Banuelos of Highland turns 17 years old on August 19th, a couple days before the Festival. Performing from "Jailhouse Rock," Banuelos has been donning the Elvis costume more than half his life when first performing "Burning Love" for a class project in school and hasn't looked back. "It is not where you perform but how the fans feel after the show is done. I have received trophies and some monetary awards and a letter from Lisa Marie. But the biggest reward is knowing that I have brought enjoyment to the die-hard fans of the King and being asked to perform again," states Banuelos.
Performing from Presley's movie, "Loving You," Danny Jacobson of Long Beach, 59, is the oldest member of the Elvis tribute artist group. He's been singing like the King since age seven, a serious fan he owns 600 Elvis recordings.
"I was at home in Long Beach and was 25 years old when he (Elvis) died. I saw a bulletin on television and remember being hit hard by the news,"Jacobson said.
"Elvis was an American original. He fused the music of blues, gospel and country together into a unique style that created millions of young fans for an exciting, wild new form of music called rock 'n' roll. He added devastating good looks with the coolest dance moves, a beautiful baritone voice and a likable personality to become the most popular cultural icon of his day--the likes of which will never be seen again. His voice was one of the best ever and his timeless recordings sound as good today as they did back then, "he added.
An impressionist with over 200 legendary singer and celebrity voices in his repertoire, including Dean Martin, Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong to name a few, Jacobson has performed in The Orange County Performing Arts Center's Celebrity Series at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, and most recently for the Unite4Japan Benefit at the Warner Grand Theater earlier as well as hundreds of shows throughout Southern California.
Steve Williamson of Azusa , Elvis Festival Tribute Stage Host/Emcee who will also perform songs from "Viva Las Vegas," said if the King were alive today, he'd ask "Seeing how you are 76 years old, how do you feel about all us young punks pretending to be you?" He's been paying tribute to Elvis for three years at venues such as Commerce Casino, LA County Fair and Knott's Berry Farm, and has been an Elvis fan for over 30 years.
Kirk Wall, 54, of Fullerton, has been singing and performing like the "king of rock and roll" for 30 years, which is nearly as long as Elvis Presley has been gone. Wall has been the official Festival host since its inception, and returns again this year in the same capacity directing traffic, greeting attendees, posing for photos, handing out "I Saw Elvis at the Orange County Market Place" stickers, presenting awards and performing movie medleys throughout the day. In Blue Hawaii and Rock-a-Hula numbers he will be accompanied by Laguna Hills Hawaiian dance troupe Halau Hula Lani Ola.
A jack-of-many-personas, Wall is a regular as a prosthetic teeth wearing fiddle player of Billy Hill and the Hillbillies at Disneyland, and has also performed in professional musical theater productions, led bands ranging from rockabilly to swing ensembles and entertained as a comic-tinged singer. Generating laughter is one of his main reasons for continuing his Elvis impersonations. "Every Elvis impersonator has his own niche, "said Wall. "There are young Elvises, movie Elvises, leather-jacket Elvises, Hispanic Elvises, and Las Vegas Elvises. I've tried to make it a funnier Elvis with a lot of ad-libbing and playing with the crowd. Over the years, I think I've become more of a tribute to Elvis impersonators."
Some choose to stick to a specific Elvis era. George Thomas of Los Angeles who has been paying tribute to Elvis since 1992 when originally coaxed into entering a contest and now performs as the 1960s 'in his prime' Elvis. Thomas, who will sing from the soundtrack "King Creole," has entertained for the former Soviet Union President Gorbachev as well as opening up headline concerts for such bands as "Good Charlotte" and "Collective Soul".
It's ironic that John Reade Fisher, 46. of Claremont will be performing from Elvis' "Blue Hawaii" soundtrack. He happened to be 12 years old in his Aunt's front yard in Kaneohe, Hawaii when he had heard Elvis had died. As a child, Fisher not only met Elvis in person with his siblings on a movie set, but Elvis bought him an ice cream cone. He's been paying tribute to "The King" for seven years, performing for crowds of all sizes from 15 to 2000..."I just love being able to sing my heart out to the audience and that is a huge blessing," shares Fisher.
For 20 years, Dave Hoover, 41, of Las Vegas, Nevada has performed all over the world as the "King" both as a U.S. Marine and as a civilian. He got his start singing to his Aunt's favorite Elvis records when he was young and has been honoring his idol ever since. Having been a featured performer for over seven years and running, Hoover is the longest running Elvis Tribute Artist to play the Cannery Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV. He will be performing from the soundtrack, "G.I. Blues" and is being presented by an official Elvis Presley Fan Club, the Jailhouse Rockers of California.
The most unusual of Elvis tribute artists is likely to be Mr. Potato Head as Elvis Presley in the '68 Comeback Special Edition" which makes its Official West Coast Launch Event at the Festival. Collectors and Elvis fans will have the opportunity to buy the newest Mr. Potato Head character, clad in a leather jacket ensemble and holding a microphone, made available by PPW Toys and Elvis Presley Enterprises. Last year the same company introduced its first Mr. Potato Head Elvis clad in a jumpsuit..
Other aspiring Elvi entertainers will be participating in the Elvis Karaoke Singing Competition aka Creme de la King presented by Karaoke Scene Magazine. Four finalists will go on to compete at KaraokeFest 2011 at the Los Angeles County Fair in which a top "King" crooner will be crowned. All Elvi, karaoke singers and tribute artists, will come together for a group sing performing Elvis hits "Hound Dog" and "My Way." The audience will join in for "Can't Help Falling in Love" and Suspicious Minds."
Other entertainment and activities at the Festival include an Elvis Hollywood Trivia Bee, Jailhouse Rockers of California Elvis Presley Fan Club, stilt walking Elvis and Priscilla Presley with giant coifed hairdos, Abbit the Average Elvis performing comedy and magic, and a classic car display featuring the Cadillac Kings of Orange County.a "cotton candy pink" .
A selection of gourmet food trucks will be featuring special menu items in honor of the "King" including a Grilled Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich, one of Presley's favorites, from Spudrunners.
The Elvis Festival is held in conjunction with the weekend swap meet at the Orange County Fairgrounds, which features nearly 1,000 merchants selling a variety of products and services. Since 1969 the Orange County Market Place has been held every Saturday and Sunday. Hours are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. All events at Elvis Festival are included in the price of admission to the swap meet, which is $2 for general, and free for children 12 and under.
A complete schedule for the event is available at http://www.ocmarketplace.com. Or call (949)723-6660.