Elvis Week 2013: Image of an Icon

August 28, 2013
Elvis Presley, 1968 TV special - “Little Egypt” segment. (Source: link)

Elvis Presley, 1968 TV special – “Little Egypt” segment. (Source: link)

It’s Day 5 of Elvis Week and a good day to explore historic Beale Street.

Along the way, there are plenty of reminders of the city’s rich music heritage. Then, at the corner of Second Street and Beale, you’ll find the original building of Lansky Brothers, the store that helped seal Elvis Presley’s image as a style icon.

For artists who pay tribute to Elvis Presley, a tremendous attention to detail is necessary to capture the image of the King onstage. For Elvis, however, this larger-than-life onstage persona was merely an extension of who he was.


Travis Powell captures the image of the King onstage and off

By all accounts, even before he was famous, Elvis Presley was never one to blend in with a crowd. That too can be said about Elvis Tribute Artist, Travis Powell of North Carolina. In addition to his outstanding abilities as a performer, Travis – who was a Semifinalist in the 2013 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest – projects a similarly bold style.

We had a chance to interview Travis Powell for Elvis Week 2013.

Travis Powell, Elvis Tribute Artist

Travis Powell, Elvis Tribute Artist


DanseTrack – What was it about Elvis Presley that first captured your attention and eventually led you to become an ETA?  Have there been any other performers who have similarly inspired you?

Travis Powell – Great question. It was the emotion and power that Elvis projected when he sang. He was the best entertainer the world had seen. He could hold an audience in the palm of his hand and make you believe the story he was telling. The only person that I ever got to see who would even come close would be Garth Brooks. In both of these artists, there is that unique ability to reach the person sitting the farthest away!


DanseTrack –  Elvis was known for his impeccable yet distinct style both onstage and off.  You consistently project the kind of attention to detail in your clothes that is very much reminiscent of the King of Rock ’n’ Roll, which always receives a positive response from your fans. What do you look for when it comes to what you choose to wear offstage and do you feel that it is an important aspect of your work as an Elvis Tribute Artist?

Travis Powell – Well, mostly, I look for stuff that I like. I don’t actually choose clothes because I think it would be something that Elvis would wear.  Instead, I make a choice based on whether it is something I like and feel comfortable wearing. Elvis was very fashionable and I think he just had that presence. I love jewelry and flashy clothes, always have. I like being different.


Travis Powell, Elvis Tribute Artist ( Image: Legends in Concert)

Travis Powell, Elvis Tribute Artist ( Image: Legends in Concert)

DanseTrack – As a performer, one of the most important concerns is stamina. While an ETA will sing anywhere from one to three songs when competing in a contest, this is very different from what it takes to carry a full concert like you did during Elvis Week in Memphis. How do you go about preparing for a complete solo concert, and is it necessary to alter your performance in such a way to better pace yourself so that stamina is less of a concern?

Travis Powell – Well I think you definitely have to change it up for a full show. In that case, you just have to know when to go full throttle and when to back off. It’s more about the story of the show. Kinda like a roller coaster.


DanseTrack –  Thank you, Travis! Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Travis Powell – Thank you God, my family, and thank you Elvis Presley for giving a five-year-old a dream.



Since we’ve been talking about Elvis’ unique style…

Here is a video that you must see.

It is an interview with the man who dressed Elvis Presley – Bernard Lansky


After our day exploring Beale Street…

We went to the 2013 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest Semifinals

The image below shows the large number of the competitors vying for the title this year in a contest sponsored by Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.and held at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts.

Click on the image to expand.

Ultimate Elvis Semis 2013

2013 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest Semifinalists, Cannon Center for the Performing Arts

Truth be told, there were so many talented performers that night that we don’t know how the judges were able to make a decision. Ultimately, the roster of competitors was narrowed down to ten. (See below.)

  1. Matt Cordell – Winner of the Atlantic City Ultimate ETA Contest
  2. Jay Dupuis – Winner of the Tupelo Elvis Festival
  3. Adam  Fitzpatrick – Winner of the Penticton Elvis Festival
  4. Chad Collins – Winner of the Las Vegas Ultimate ETA Contest
  5. Diogo “Di” Leichtweis – Winner of the Sao Paulo Elvis Festival
  6. Ben Thompson – Winner of Europe’s Tribute To Elvis Contest
  7. Cliff Wright – Winner of the Fill The Blue Suede Shoes Ultimate ETA Contest
  8. Jim Barone – Winner of the Food Lion AutoFair Ultimate ETA Preliminary
  9. Michael Chambliss – Winner of the Georgia Elvis Festival
  10. Dean Z – Winner of the Rockin’ Elvis Fest at Pala Casino

Congratulations to all of the competitors for a job well done!


After the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Semifinals, the next stop…

The Jerry Lee Lewis Café & Honky-Tonk

Elvis fans Kathy Vance & Cathy Hall (Lake George, NY 2013)

Elvis fans Kathy Vance & Cathy Hall (Lake George, NY 2013)

Shhhh…Here’s a secret…The reason that we knew this had to be the right place was because we ran into these two amazing ladies, Kathy Vance and Cathy Hall from Florida. Ever since we first met them at the Elvis Festival in Lake George, NY, we’ve learned that – if you want to know where the best party with the best music will be–—ask Cathy and Kathy!! Just look at this photo. You can clearly see that Cathy (on the right) is plotting their next move, so be ready to keep up!!

Anyway, the concert for the night featured Cliff Wright playing his own style of rockabilly blues, accompanied by David Fontana and Wade Bernard. This show also featured guest appearances by Ted Torres, Cody Slaughter and Ben Portsmouth.

Cliff Wright, Elvis Tribute Artist (Source)

Cliff Wright, Elvis Tribute Artist (Source)

The cool thing about “Cliff’ Wright’s Rockabilly Blues” was that it harkened back to what Elvis did throughout his own career. That was to to take music that may have been written and possibly even recorded by other artist and then put his own undeniable, artistic stamp on it.

One thing that we’ve noticed during our first experience at Elvis Week is that the fans have a genuine love of music. While they enjoy sitting back and listening to the artists perform, once the music moves them, many of the fans (of all ages by the way), are ready to get up and dance right along. And dance they did. In fact, at some point, there were so many people dancing all you could see was the top of Cliff’s head above the  crowd! At one point, we believe we may have even seen the great “Images of the King” Master of Ceremonies/ETA/Tom Jones Tribute Artist: Irv Cass take a spin on the dance floor!

As a side note, who is usually one of the first people on the dance floor? That answer would be Dee Dandken, the Elvis fan from California that we introduced you to in Part 2 of our story. Just thinking about Dee reminds me of a story once told by another well-known performer about the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. Apparently, to keep time to the music and to be heard above the noise of a stadium crowd, MJ could do these handclaps that were unbelievably loud, almost like a sonic boom. Well,…so can Dee Dandken. Once the music gets started, you’d better watch out. Either she’s ready to hit the dance floor, or you’re about to be cheered on by those awesomely loud thunder handclaps! Go Dee!

Last, but not least, thank you Cliff Wright for an unforgettable ending to another unforgettable day at Elvis week.

The crowd is just warming up! Cliff Wright & his Rockabilly Blues, Jerry Lee Lewis Honky tonk & Cafe (Elvis Week, August 14, 2013)

The crowd is just warming up! Cliff Wright & his Rockabilly Blues, Jerry Lee Lewis Cafe & Honky-Tonk (Elvis Week, August 14, 2013)


Day 6 of Elvis Week 2013  

The  “Images of the King” Contest Finals – New Daisy Theatre, Beale Street

New Daisy Theatre

“Images of the King” is the original Elvis tribute artist contest, and was established in 1987 by Edward “Doc” Franklin.

Upon hearing that the contest was to be held at the New Daisy Theatre, our first question was,”If this contest is being held at the New Daisy Theatre, then where’s the Old Daisy Theatre!?” Come to find out, the Old Daisy is a smaller venue built in 1902 right across the street. The “New” Daisy Theatre, however, was built in the 1930’s.

Today, Images of the King is produced by Jason Sherry of  Sherry Management, LLC. who also produces a series of events through ElvisFestival.com. We first met Jason at the Lake George Elvis Festival in May 2013. At their events here in Memphis, we were also treated to music by the incredible Change of Habit tribute band as well as Co-MC’s Michael Hoover and Irv Cass.


One great aspect of the “Images of the King Contest” is its openness to all ages and experience levels. As a result, the performers can compete in either the professional, non-professional or youth (i.e. under the age of 12) categories.  According to talent director Terry Collins, “It is important for our future, and the future of Elvis’ legacy, to encourage young people to admire and impersonate Elvis.”

While only a lucky few may become finalists, we are reminded at “Images” that it is often the most heartfelt and enthusiastic performance that may just be the best Elvis tribute of all.


We had fun talking to several of the competitors to see how they got started. Here’s one of them.

Greg Winget – Shreveport, Louisiana

Finalist Early Years/Non-Pro Division
Greg Winget, 2013 Images of the King Finalist

Greg Winget, 2013 Images of the King Finalist

DanseTrack – How did you get started as an ETA and how long have you been doing it?

Greg Winget – Got started as an Elvis Tribute Artist when I entered a talent competition. From there, I was talked into actually competing as an ETA, and I’ve been hooked ever since.  Now, I have been performing for three years as an ETA.


DanseTrack – What was it like to perform onstage during Elvis Week?

Greg Winget – It’s always great to perform on stage during Elvis Week. The fans are truly appreciative for all of the performers, and all of the other competitors are really great guys. I go into the contests, not with the idea of winning, but rather with the idea of just having fun.

DanseTrack – Thanks, Greg, and hope to see you again next year!



The complete list of 2013 “Images of the King” Finalists can be found: Here.  Each of the finalists was awarded a cash prize.

Three of the Elvis Tribute Artists in this story appear in the photo below, which was actually taken at the Cannon Center of the Performing Arts. In the center is Dwight Icenhower, the 2013 “Images of the King” Champion flanked by Cliff Wright and Travis Powell.

Cliff Wright, Dwight Icenhower and Travis Powell onstage at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts, August 2013

Cliff Wright, Dwight Icenhower and Travis Powell onstage at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts, August 2013
(Image: My Fox Memphis)



Memorial and Candlelight Vigil 

Thursday, August 15, 2013, Graceland 

Memorial candle display created by the fans at the candlelight vigill, Graceland, Elvis Week 2013

Memorial candle display created by the fans at the candlelight vigill, Graceland, Elvis Week 2013

Elvis Week is marked by so many events celebrating the life and legacy of Elvis Presley. However, the one true cornerstone of this occasion is the candlelight vigil that occurs each year on August 15th. After an opening ceremony at the gates of Graceland, fans proceed up the driveway to Elvis’ gravesite carrying a candle in quiet remembrance. Due to the enormous number of fans in attendance, the procession continues throughout the night and into the early morning hours of August 16th, the anniversary date of Elvis’ death.

Elvis Press Conference in Las Vegas, 1969

Elvis Press Conference in Las Vegas, 1969

As members of the press, rather than file in as part of the procession, we witnessed the candlelight vigil from a designated vantage point. Although there were literally thousands of people present, all I could hear that night were the sounds of crickets, a soft hymn playing in the background and the noise of my own heartbeat. Off in the distance, we could see the horses grazing in the field. I just recall standing there quietly in awe.

Click on the image to expand.

Candlelight vigil

Candlelight vigil

Stay tuned for the conclusion of our coverage of Elvis Week 2013



Here are Parts 1 and 2 of Elvis Week 2013:

Elvis Presley screenshot from "The Trouble With Girls" (Source: link)
Elvis Presley screenshot from “The Trouble With Girls” (Source: link)

The name, image and likeness of Elvis Presley appear courtesy of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.  See official website: http://www.elvis.com

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4 Responses to Elvis Week 2013: Image of an Icon

  1. Kathy Vance
    September 1, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    Love all the articles about Elvis and the ETA’s. I have been an Elvis Fan from Day one, way back in 1955 when I was working in the record department of Kresge’s Dimestore.. Records (45’s) came in once a week and I would play them to sample them and also it was a way of drawing customers to that dept. After playing Elvis’ records both sides over and over My boss came around to see why those were the only 2 songs he hear all day…My answer was ” I dont know who this kid is but he is going to be big some day. I’ve already sold 5 of his 45’s”…And so course we know what happened after that and now 58 years later I am still a Fan…

    • September 1, 2013 at 4:05 pm

      Great story, Kathy! And Kresge’s…I remember that store!!

  2. Dee Hettman
    September 5, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    Great memories of Elvis Week on Beale St. We’ll have to go again. But in the meantime, I’m going to the Las Vegas Elvis Celebration at the LVH in July 2014. It’s just like a mimi-Memphis for 3 days! I’m not sure if everybody knows that it goes on every year. Calling all E fans in the area to spend a week end in Vegas next Summer! (Don’t worry, it’s air-conditioned.

    TCB Dee Hettman

    • September 5, 2013 at 5:05 pm

      Yeah, Dee! Las Vegas or bust!!