It is said “no one is truly dead until they are forgotten.” Perhaps that is why so many people consider Elvis Presley to be alive. The undying love of his devotees continues to breathe life into the King of Rock and Roll through Elvis tribute shows, fan club gatherings, death anniversary memorials and events such as the annual Elvis Festival on Historic Main Street in Garden Grove slated to return Sunday, Oct. 8.
Themed “The Spirit of Elvis” this marks the 23rd year of the all-day tribute to Presley, who died August 16, 1977. As California’s only Elvis Festival, it brings together a myriad of activities and performances that honor various aspects of his life including tribute artists young and old, a King of Cadillacs & Other Elvis Classic Cars Show, memorabilia, and collectibles, strolling entertainment, Elvis fan clubs, food trucks and restaurants with Elvis themed menu items.
“It’s not so much about emulating Elvis exactly as he was but keeping his songs in the forefront that also encourage the younger generations to take note of the special talent Presley had,” said Kirk Wall, 66, of Anaheim, the Festival’s Ambassador since its inception. “We love seeing kids performing Elvis’s songs. Though they may not have been born when he was alive, we rely on them to keep his legacy alive.
The festival performers range from eight years of age to 68 years old and don’t necessarily look, shake or sing like Presley.”But that’s not important, ” Wall said, ” because there never will be another Elvis, but we can honor him in many ways.”
The youngest is Walter Schmidt of Torrance who goes by the stage name of Little Elvis and recently returned from the Graceland Performing Arts Camp in Memphis, Tennessee. Joined by 80 other aspiring little “Elvi” it was according to Schmidt, a trip of a lifetime where he felt at home meeting other children who love Elvis as much as he does. Schmidt said, “I like his style, his music, his hair styling, his attitude, his jewelry and his jumpsuit.”
Schmidt, who has been singing since he was five years old, has four jumpsuits. But it was his love of Tikis and other Hawaiian art that drew him to liking the King first when he saw a photo of Elvis’s famous Jungle Room in a book. “That made me want to know more about him, ” Schmidt said, ” and then I started listening to his music and I was hooked.”
And it isn’t just for boys, Schmidt met several girls at the special camp who love to dress and sing like the king.
So does 11-year-old Payton Jordan of Anaheim, who fell in love with Elvis when she was three years old after attending the 2015 Elvis Festival. She performed at the fest last year and will return to sing “Jailhouse Rock.”
Schmidt will sing “Teddy Bear.”
Others include 55-year-old retired law enforcement officer Mel Ruiz of Placentia singing “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” and 31-year-old Oleksandr Silaiev of Los Angeles, who fled the Ukraine shortly before the war broke out. Silaiev was inspired when he was about six years old watching Elvis’s movies in his homeland. He loves to sing both rock and roll and opera and will present both of those styles performing O Sole Mio followed by “It’s Now or Never,” which have the same instrumental bed along with other Presley hits.
Josh Crosby, 45, of Garden Grove, lead singer in the Copy Cats band who has been singing since age five and drawn to everything from hillbilly mixed with gospel, rhythm and blues to jazz , will blend it all with everything Elvis as he serenade attendees on Main Street.
Other stage shows include four bands featuring Wall along with his band Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies, regulars at Knott’s Berry Farm performing Elvis songs bluegrass style; The Decades with Lil Joe Banuelos singing the King’s rock and roll hits from the 50’s and 60’s along with other music legends; Neil Morrow and the Memphis 54 in a tribute to Sun Records’ artists and Scot Bruce and his “Rockin’ tribute to Elvis in the early years.
In addition, the multi award winning talent of Martin Anthony, 50, of Murrieta will sing with the gospel chorus Friendship which features Grammy nominated recording artist Sonya Griffin and will also perform with actress Tanya Lemani, the belly dancer from the Elvis movie “Little Egypt.” Lemani will also be on hand for autographs and photo opportunities during the festival.
Other performances will include Elvis tribute artists Anthony Alcala, 68, of Menifee, Bradley Carrow, 61, of Yorba Linda, and Gary Anderson ,63, of Lake Forest and the top three winners of Coastline College’s Show Your Spirit of Elvis High School Singing Contest.
In honor of real Hound Dogs, the Festival will be honoring the National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month in October with Pawprints in the Sand and I.C.A.R.E. Dog rescues showing the public several dogs available for adoption or fostering.
In addition to stage entertainment the festival will include the King of Cadillacs and Other Elvis Classics such as Thunderbirds, Panteras and other passenger cars from 1977 and earlier as well as any “pink” car honoring Presley’s favorite color; Elvis fan clubs: Jailhouse Rockers of California and Blue Suede Shoes of California; vendors with memorabilia and collectibles; stilt Elvis; Abbit the Average Elvis; food trucks with special “Elvis” menu items and Main Street restaurants and merchants and an Elvis Life Story display by Dignity Memorial, the Festival’s returning presenting sponsor.
Fans will also have an opportunity to win a 16-day trip for two on the Grand Princess to Hawaii for the 2024 The Princess and the King Music Cruise. Information and how to enter the drawing will be available at the JRW Group Entertainment booth during the festival.
The Festival runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and admission is free as well as parking, which is available at the Concorde Career College and Coastline College lots adjacent to the event, which is on Main Street between Acacia Parkway and Garden Grove Boulevard.
There are a limited number of paid reserved seats for stage entertainment and can be purchased online at Eventbrite under 23rd Annual Elvis Festival. A free section of seating is also available.
For more information visit the Facebook Page for the Annual Elvis Festival Garden Grove, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 714-267-4657.
Categories: Garden Grove