After taking the stage for the first time as the King of Rock and Roll last year, Penticton resident Chris Blaine is coming back for more.
While he admits it was a step out of his comfort zone, after seeing the performers in the 2013 Pacific Northwest Elvis Festival, Blaine was struck by inspiration.
“I saw the show in 2013 and have always liked music and whatnot, I come from a musical family,” Blaine said. “I thought, when in Rome, basically. Since I’m here why not give it a try? It looked like a lot of fun.”
He discovered a Nanaimo business at the festival in 2013 that made Elvis jumpsuits and decided to dive in headfirst.
“After listening to a few of the singers I thought ‘I think I can do this,’” Blaine said. “So a year later I entered.”
Blaine said he had never pursued anything like this before, but Elvis fever now has a hold on him.
“Now a year later I can say my confidence is there and I’m definitely more into it. It will always be a hobby, but I’m serious about the hobby,” Blaine said.
He became an Elvis fan when the King’s acting career was taking off, and his favourite era of Presley music comes out of the late ‘60s and ‘70s.
“Although he wrote very, very few songs, I think he did the right songs for the right time,” Blaine said. “The songs that he did were so successful because that generation or that time and it was just perfect. It’s something that a true Elvis fan understands more than anything. Not too many out there can go over three generations.”
The festival, celebrating its’ 14th anniversary, hosts a kick-off party on June 26 and runs through the weekend with the windup after party on June 28.
The tribute artist competition Blaine is competing in starts at 9 a.m. on June 27 at Okanagan Lake Park. Each Elvis does four songs, two in the morning and two in the afternoon and they will be judged on their look, presence, voice and moves.
The look is an important factor with the authenticity of the costumes being a big point of judgement according to Blaine. Making sure the costume is authentic and getting glamoured up like the King pre-show takes up the most time for him.
“The longest time is probably the hair and the make up and things like that,” Blaine said.
This year Blaine says there will be a lot more blue and black outfits, as opposed to the signature white jumpsuit that’s become synonymous with the name Elvis, however there will be plenty of those jumpsuits and colourful costumes on display as well.
“Some of his bright costumes were the most popular,” Blaine said.
Blaine said his favourite part of the festival is talking to the fans, some of which he says come a long way and are very dedicated, as well as the kick-off and after parties.
“It’s a great group to be a part of. Everybody is very complimentary, they give each other tips. It’s not like shark waters, we all have a lot of fun with this — win, lose or draw,” Blaine said. “You get to know people from all over.”
Headlining this year’s festival is tribute artist Donny Edwards, who is the only Elvis tribute artist to be allowed a performance in Graceland. Edwards is performing at the Pentiction Trade and Convention Centre the evening of June 27.
Sunday, June 28 features the Gospel Music showcase in Okanagan Lake Park at 9 a.m. followed by the finals for tribute artists at 2 p.m. in the Convention Centre.
The winner in the professional category will represent the Penticton Elvis Festival at the ultimate Elvis Competition in Memphis later this year.
“It just gets better and better every year,” Blaine said.