Elvis Impersonators Tim E performs at the Toronto Elvis Festival at Stage West in Mississauga on Saturday. Thousands of Elvis Presley fans gathered this weekend to share their love for the King, as 40 tribute artists showed off their best Elvis impersonations on stage.
Tim Hendry Wins Toronto Elvis Festival Tim is from London, Ontario, Canada, and has been a professional musician for more than 20 years. His awareness of Elvis came at an early age and he was always exposed to the music of the king because his father was a big fan. Tim first performed as an Elvis tribute artist in 2003. He considers it an honor and privilege to be able to pay tribute to the greatest entertainer of all time, Elvis Presley.
Two local residents will perform at Toronto Elvis Festival
By Bill Rea
Connor Russo Eric Evangelista
Connor Russo Elvis Presley may be gone, but there are many devoted to keeping his memory alive, including some local residents.
Two people from Bolton will be among the more than 40 competing April 20 to 22 in the third annual Toronto Elvis Festival, hosted by Stage West in Missisauga.
Connor Russo will be competing in the Youth Class, while Eric Evangelista will be in the main competition.
Evangelista has been performing in Elvis tributes for about three and a half years, taking part in events in the United States, Windsor and the annual Elvis Festival in Collingwood.
“I just always loved Elvis,” he explained simply.
He added someone caught him singing on the street in Collingwood one time and suggested he get involved with the festival, and later met some people who helped him get started.
“It’s really to keep the memory of Elvis alive,” he explained. “That’s what keeps me in it.”
Eric Evangelista Evangelista, 40, said he was six when Elvis died in August 1977. He recalled going to his room and crying when his mother gave him the sad news.
Evangelista said its The King’s music that holds his interest.
“I just always loved his music,” he declared, pointing out that Elvis was not known as a song writer. “He was able to take songs and make them his own.”
Evangelista has enjoyed quite a bit of success at Elvis festivals, finishing in the top five his first time out, and winning a competition in Brockton, Ontario in July 2010. And he’s come in fourth two years in a row in the non-professional competition in Collingwood.
Evangelista works in a machine shop, and is married with two sons and a daughter. They like to sing along when he rehearses.
And they aren’t the only young people attracted to the tunes of Elvis.
Connor, 7, is all ready to perform at the Festival in the Youth category.
“Connor’s first world were ‘Blue Shoes,’” his mother Stacey recalled. “So he comes by it naturally.”
He has other musical interests, including the Beatles and AD/DC, and his mother said he plays the drums.
“He has his own interests in music, but he loves Elvis,” she said.
She recalled getting Connor a jump suit, which he really took to.
“He wore it to see Santa,” she said. “He wore it everywhere.”
“I think he makes good songs,” Connor said. “I just think he’s really good.”
Connor has shown signs of being really good too. He first performed at the Collingwood festival when he was four, competed there when he was five and was Junior Youth Grand Champion at six.
“He performs in front of 10,000 people,” she said.
Artists at the Toronto festival will compete for cash prizes and trophies, as well as the right to represent Toronto in the annual Ultimate Elvis Contest, run by Elvis Presley Enterprises during Elvis Week in August.
This festival is unique in that it’s all under one roof, according to Laurie Wallace Lynch, festival co-director. There are open mic opportunities in a “Las Vegas style venue.”
The festival will include five major shows and three open mic sessions.
The Friday festival launch features an Authentic Memphis Dinner in the Haida Garden Lounge. With the contestants and fans staying at the hotel, it promises to be like an annual reunion.
Competing this year are artists from all over Canada as well as the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Australia and the United States.
The Toronto Elvis Festival was launched in 2009 by Heather and Nevin Grant to address a perceived need in the festival world.
“Elvis continues to command loyal fan gatherings . . . usually in legions, arenas, school auditoriums and community centres,” Mr. Grant said.
After 10 years of judging Elvis festivals, the Grants thought there should be a festival that would allow Elvis (at least once a year) to perform in the environment of the best Vegas lounges. Stage West was the perfect answer.