Three returning professional champions are taking a second crack at the Penticton Elvis Festival.
“We have several professional competitors that haven’t competed before as well, which is really good news,” said Elvis festival organizer Terry Michaels.
There are 21 entries in total for the professional and amateur categories this weekend, a small boost over last year’s 15. Included in the returnees is Dino Macris (2006), Jeff Bodner (2007) Ben Klein (2008) and local Adam Fitzpatrick who won the amateur division in 2008.
Klein was the second place winner at the 2011 Ultimate Elvis Competition in Memphis.
Michaels said he has been seeing a change of the demographics at the festival as more 30 to 40 year olds become interested in The King’s music.
“His music will never die. It is clean music. People don’t realize how important Elvis’s songs were in history. You will find songs that were done by Frank Sinatra or other amazing artists and find Elvis’s version and every time his is better. That doesn’t happen very often that an artist can pick up someone else’s song and do it better.”
The festival endured a steady downpour of rain last year, but the weather forecast for this weekend is expected to be sunny and hot.
“We believe Elvis is up there looking after us,” said Michaels.
A new house band will be backing up the tribute artists this weekend called The Legends, who are out of Vancouver, and the headlining guest act is Chris Connor.
“He is very, very good and has never played in Canada. We’ve had the No.1 man in the world, Shaun Klush, here twice; this guy is very close,” said Michaels. “A couple of our people go down to the Memphis competition every year and someone saw him and immediately said we have to book him.”
Connor, who is from England, is recognized worldwide for his tribute to Elvis Presley. Having only been performing for four years, he is already known as one of the world’s best tribute artists.
Fans have nicknamed him “Elvis’s twin” because of his vocal range and electric, authentic moves. Connor focuses on Presley’s two landmark appearances, the ‘68 Comeback Special and Aloha from Hawaii.
Tickets to his show, at the trade and convention centre at 8 p.m. on Saturday night, and for the whole weekend can be purchased at the South Okanagan Events Centre, Penticton Visitors Centre, online at www.valleyfirsttix.com or by phone at 1-877-763-2849.
The festival kicks off on Friday with opening ceremonies at Okanagan Lake Park at 6 p.m. and the tribute artist competition starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday.
Sunday is the gospel music showcase starting at 9 a.m. at Okanagan Lake Park and the tribute artist finals at the trade and convention centre at 2 p.m.
Competing in the professional division:
Competing in the amateur division:
Vic De Sousa