The King Lives On, Nashville Elvis Festival

by Missy Wolf / 2563 days ago / Comments

Everyone can agree that Elvis is the most well-known artist of all time. Whether you are a fan of rap, rock, country, blues, folk, or any other type of music, you know the name, Elvis. This was one of the most common statements heard throughout the Nashville Elvis Festival.

Though I was born after the King's death, Elvis was a huge part of my life. From road trips with my dad to the noticeable "Elvis Lip" that I was blessed with at birth, Elvis was very much alive during my childhood. While I would never claim to be the biggest fan, I loved every piece of his work that I came in contact with, often finding myself trying to mimic his voice as I sang along to "Blue Suede Shoes" in front of my bedroom mirror.

Having never been to any type of Elvis festival, I was not at all prepared for what I was about to experience. Thankfully, Brian Mayes and Tom Brown allowed Center Stage Magazine take part in the 1st Annual Nashville Elvis Festival hosted by the Franklin Theatre in Franklin, Tennessee. Brown was not only very informative during my brief interview with him before the event, he provided many stories and opportunities for fans to feel a little closer to their beloved Elvis throughout the entire weekend of events.

Not knowing that Brown could sing or deliver jokes with impeccable timing, I found myself enjoying this festival more than I had anticipated, and we hadn't even gotten to the ETA's (Elvis Tribute Artists) or celebrity guest appearances. 

Sitting in the Theatre, I could not help but notice the clothing that each of the guests wore. Each fan was unique, though the majority were adorned with Elvis pictures, buttons, and sequins. Not only were these outfits well thought out and executed, the smiles they were combined with were infectious. In just moments, those smiles would turn into shrieks as the ETA's took the stage one by one. 

There were fourteen Elvis Tribute Artists in total. Each competing for the chance to represent Nashville at the upcoming Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist competition in Memphis this August. I am not quite sure how the judges, Brenda Lee, Wink Martindale, Sandy Martindale, Mary Sarah, and Gina Keltner, were able to make their decisions, as the level of talent each of these artists possesses left me with chills. For brief moments, it felt like Elvis was, in fact, alive and up on that stage. Some spoke more like him, some sang more like him, some looked more like him, and some moved more like him. Each of those artists may have been different, however, each of them brought the King back to life in small glimpses. 

Michael Cullipher, Bruno Nesci, Ryan Pelton, David Allen, Mark Anthony, David Hendrix, Zach Peddie, Di Light, Jim Barone, Cote Deonath, Doug Church, Richard Wolfe, Tim E, and Al Joslin are all fantastic ETAs. Each of them had special fans in attendance as well. I do not wish to disclose who my favorite ETA is, but I will tell you that I was beyond thrilled to have my picture taken with him before I had to return home. 

If you have not yet been to one of these festivals yourself, I encourage you to go. This event was unlike anything I have ever attended and far exceeded any expectations I may have had. I was immediately hooked, and I cannot wait for the next one. Keeping the King's memory alive and allowing a new generation to experience the legend of Elvis Presley is simply remarkable. 

Be sure to follow the Nashville Elvis Festival on social media, and remember to search for a festival near you if you are unable to travel to Tennessee. I promise you will leave with a new appreciation for the legend that was taken from us too soon, even though he left us with more than a lifetime of work to enjoy. ~Missy


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About Missy Wolf

Missy Wolf Co-Founder, Editor, Journalist & Vice President of the American Country Music Association

From an early age I knew music and entertainment were in my blood. I have always been enamored with the idea of being in this industry, though I never wanted to be a front and center "Star". Taking the audience behind the scenes for up close conversations with the artists they love is where I want to be. Life in lyrics has always been my style, so as my favorite country artist Wade Hayes sings, I am living my life and chasing my dreams! Conducting interviews, meeting talented people and sharing stories and adventure are my passion. My new favorite hashtag is #iaskyouanswer, so stay tuned for more interviews, articles and adventures!