It’s paradise – Presley style
Release the hound dogs and dust off your blue suede shoes – Australia’s first official Elvis tribute festival swings into Surfers Paradise tomorrow, writes Maria Lewis.
World-renowned Elvis tribute artist Mark Anthony F you see loads of men in tight, bejewelled jumpsuits walking around Surfers Paradise over the weekend don’t be alarmed – just be prepared to rock, jailhouse style.
Australia’s first official Elvis tribute festival begins tomorrow night in celebration of what would have been The King’s 77th birthday. The Elvis Birthday Bash runs across three nights and features live concerts from some of the best Elvis impersonators in the world, art exhibitions, film screenings and more.
Among the hip-gyrating crooners performing is Adelaide local Mark Anthony, one of the top five Elvis tribute artists in the world. Anthony spends 10 months of the year performing in the US and returned to Australia for the festival.
‘‘This is the first festival in Australia to be sanctioned by Elvis Presley Enterprises (official custodians of Elvis’s legacy) and so I’m excited to be a part of it,’’ he says.
‘‘Depending on how it goes, it would be great to do it again next year.’’
A former jazz drummer, Anthony says he considered becoming an Elvis tribute performer after he started to tire of playing ‘‘the same styles of music’’ over and over.
‘‘First and foremost I was an Elvis fan and always will be,’’ he says.
‘‘I wanted to do something I knew I wouldn’t get tired off and people had pestered me to do the Elvis thing for years but I was hesitant. I thought if you wanted to see Elvis you could just put on a DVD and watch him. Then my views started to change and I saw there was a way to present Elvis to a younger crowd and keep his spirit and music alive.’’
Anthony says educating the ‘‘next generation’’ about the Memphis-born music legend is one of the key reasons he was been performing as Elvis for over eight years.
‘‘Every show I do someone brings their kids along and afterwards they come up and talk to me,’’ he says.
‘‘They go there not knowing who Elvis is and they leave having learnt about him. ‘‘If I can convert one kid every show, that’s my payment.’’ Despite his Aussie origins, Anthony has been converting even the most hardcore Elvis fans and in August won the prestigious Spirit of Elvis award.
Another highlight of the Elvis Birthday Bash will be a photo exhibition featuring the best pieces from Elvis’s official photographer and tour manager Ed Bonja.
Bonja will join the event as an official judge alongside Gold Coast mayoral candidate Dean Vegas for the ultimate Elvis tribute artist competition.
The Elvis Birthday Bash plays Surfers Paradise beach and foreshore from 6pm tomorrow until Sunday. Festivities begin at 1.30pm on the weekend.