Ben Klein has more than a little history with the Penticton Elvis Festival, it’s both where he met and proposed to his wife.
The Elvis tribute artist headlining this year’s festival made his first Penticton appearance in 2005 where he won the tribute contest.
The festival has become a bit of an extended family reunion for him now.
“There’s always a consistent fan base who comes to this show, but there’s new people as well. It’s definitely a neat business to be in,” Klein said. “And Penticton is like a hub for people I’ve met and spent time with.”
A lot of people he still spends time with today.
“You look forward to seeing them and a lot of these people you only see once a year,” Klein said. “It’s really nice to reconnect with people. When you feel the fan base and the people who support you it’s really nice to reconnect with the people you don’t get to see all year long.”
He has been an Elvis tribute artist for 15 years, but he wasn’t always a fan, or as Klein recounts, he was “poorly educated.”
“I just didn’t have any interest because I didn’t really know who he was,” Klein said.
Being born in 1981, Elvis had the many music genres emerging during the decade to compete with for Klein’s attention.
“To make a long story short, I borrowed a CD I got for my dad for his birthday. I had just gotten tired of my music. It had become stagnant and I thought I need a change,” Klein said.
The Elvis greatest hits CD opened his eyes to something he hadn’t paid much attention to before.
“I really got into the rockabilly scene and that’s what I really fell in love with first, but now I’m in love with all of it,” Klein said.
He won a local look-alike contest in his hometown Spokane, WA. in 2002. He was under the impression that it was a look-alike contest only and upon his arrival, Klein was asked what song he was singing.
“I ended up writing Love Me Tender on my hand and singing it A capella and I got first runner up,” Klein said.
He watched the winner perform his show and thought “if he can do it, I can do it.”
Years later, Klein is a full-time musician.
“This whole door was opened up for me. It’s a blessing,” Klein said.
Klein will perform with the other headliners on June 24 at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre.
For more information on the festival visit www.pentictonelvisfestival.ca.