Elvis is alive – he was spotted in Gimli on a recent weekend – eight times.
Eight Elvis impersonators from across Canada converged on the town of Gimli for the 13th Elvis Festival August 8, 9 and 10, including the winner of this year’s European Blackpool Elvis Championship, Adam Fitzpatrick, which qualifies him to represent Europe in the Ultimate Elvis Championship in Memphis later this month. Fitzpatrick of Penticton, BC, is also the winner of the Las Vegas Elvis Festival and people’s choice overall winner.
The festival kicked off on Friday night outdoors at the Gimli Dock, featuring ‘Karaoke with the King.’ Saturday was the main event where the eight impersonators from across Canada performed at the Gimli Recreation Centre, keeping the memory of the King of Rock’n’Roll alive.
Filipino Jon Baunsit of Winnipeg, who goes under the moniker Elvisaya (a combination of Elvis and the Visayan Islands, his birthplace in the Philippines) was unable to perform due to a family medical situation.
Miss Elvis Lee from East Selkirk , billed as the only female Elvis impersonator, was up first in her suit of gold.
Her passion and love for the King showed as she delivered a fiery performance. She recently did a performance at Gilley’s Treasure Island in Las Vegas and ‘blew the suede shoes’ off the large crowd.
Mayor Lynn Greenberg welcomed the crowd of about 425 (the festival attracted about 1,000 people one year). He talked about what an honour it was to be here at this wonderful festival. Gimli is also home of the very popular Icelandic Festival and the Gimli Film Festival, where films are shown on a screen that’s mounted in the water on the main beach.
The second performer of the evening was 8-year-old Jackson Tarnowski, also in a suit of gold. He performed a few songs and had the moves down. You could say he’s following in his father’s footsteps.
His father, Adam T. Elvis, celebrated his 20th year as an Elvis impersonator this year. Jackson began performing on stage with his father when he was three and made his first solo performance at a CFRY Talent Contest last winter.
Dave Greene, from Moosehorn, MB, and his wife Joanna Clemenson, are the primary organizers of the event. Greene, who has been involved with the festival for the past 12 years, sang a few tunes next. His set included a tribute to the memory of Joanna’s parents, Hermann & Lauga Fjedsted, where he sang Lauga’s favourite ‘How Great Thou Art’ which her late husband used to sing so well.
Edmonton native Brayden Elvis Black, another eight-year-old, has been singing Elvis tunes since he was three. His performance was wonderful and he even had that Elvis lip twitch thing down. He was joined by Adam Tarnowski for an Elvis duet. Brayden won third place in the youth division of the 2011 Collingwood, Ontario Elvis competition and knows more than 45 Elvis hits.
After intermission, where the fans were able to meet and get their photos taken with the entertainers and enter the draw for the many pieces of Elvis memorabilia, Adam T. Elvis took to the stage. Adam was in the 50’s vibe, dressed in his black leather outfit. He certainly had a lot of the moves and hand gestures down, and his set was well received by the audience. Winning many awards over the years, Adam was personally asked to perform with Elvis’s band ‘The Jordanaires’ on stage.
“Remember ladies and gentlemen, we all started out as fans like you before we started doing this,” said Steinbach’s Mix 96 morning host, Corny Rempel, in the middle of his set. A 14-year veteran of carrying on the King’s legacy, Corny (who also voices cartoons) has performed across Canada and as far south as Mazatlán, Mexico.
Corny was wooing the ladies in the audience and wrapping scarves around their necks as they got near the stage. A young fan held up a sign which read, ‘Go Corny’, and he even went into the audience and danced with a few ladies. Recently, Corny had the honour to perform with ‘The Imperials’ and ‘The Stamps Quartet’ (who were Elvis’s original backup singers) in an Elvis gospel competition where he won 2nd place.
Daylin James came from Thunder Bay to be a part of the show. He was voted by the Jordanaires in 1997 as the Canadian and International Elvis Tribute Artist Grand Champion, and was crowned Grand Champion in the 2011 Elvis Tribute Artist Gospel.
He did a wide range of Elvis tunes and delivered a very high energy, powerful performance. A very talented individual. During his rendition of ‘Teddy Bear’, he threw out little teddy bears into the audience. Daylin also does a Tom Jones tribute.
The evening closed with Adam Fitzpatrick of Penticton, BC. Adam performed on the same stage at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel and Resort, where Elvis performed 837 sold out shows. Daylin was also giving out scarves and many of the women were kissing him in the tradition of a typical Elvis show.
It was plain to see why Adam has won so many awards for his Elvis tribute shows. He delivered a sincere performance of the Elvis hits that have made Elvis Presley the top selling musician in history, even surpassing the Beatles.
At the end of Adam’s set, all of the Elvis’ got on stage to sing ‘Suspicious Minds’. A nice ending to a wonderful event that keeps the memory of ‘The King’ alive. Elvis does live on through his music.
The festival continued on Sunday with the Elvis Gospel show.
All photos by Doug Kretchmer
Check out these videos of the show on YouTube:
More videos can be seen by clicking on the following links: