International tribute artists in town for the Collingwood Elvis Festival 0
(From left) Johnny Lee Memphis from Scotland, returning 2011 champion Pete Storm from England, and Henrik Busborg from Denmark come to Collingwood for the festival.
Elvis tribute artist from around the world are excitedly congregating in Collingwood this weekend for the 18th annual Elvis Festival.
Festival organizers invited international champions to the festival this year. The tribute artists arrived throughout the week, ready to perform, compete, and interact with adoring fans.
Returning festival champion from 2011, Pete Storm, is back. The British tribute artist went on to place third in Memphis and won 'Images of the King' after winning the Collingwood festival last year.
“I was always an Elvis fan as a small child,” said Storm.
After gravitating towards “The Wonder of You” in karaoke, Storm decided to become a tribute artist.
“I specialize in the 1970 year - “That's the way it is,” said Storm. “I've worked hard at it.”
Storm is now a full time tribute artist, mainly Elvis, but he also whitens up his sideburns to do Dean Martin.
Scottish tribute artist Johnny Lee Memphis is competing in Collingwood for the first time.
“My mom's younger sister was the Elvis fan,” said Memphis. “I was exposed to it as a young kid.”
The love of performing and nostalgia inspired Memphis to become a tribute artist.
Memphis claims he doesn't look like Elvis, so he focuses on trying to sound like him in his performances. He performs the concert years – from '72 to '77.
“My vocals lend themselves to that style,” said Memphis. “Elvis was a baritone singer, my voice follows in that category.”
Memphis is also a full-time Elvis tribute artist, and is starting to do some Elton John tributes.
Dannish champion Henrik Busborg will be competing in the professional category alongside Johnny Lee Memphis and 18 other tribute artists.
Busborg usually performs Elvis throughout the years, but will be performing the concert era for the competition.
“I think that's what I do best,” he said. “There's something about the concert era. I just like it.”
This is Busborg's first time to Canada.
“I love Collingwood already,” said Busborg on only his second day in town. “We had the grand tour by a festival committee member. We saw the beach and the mountain.”
Busborg has been a long-time Elvis fan.
“When I was 10 years old, this was my dream,” he said.
Busborg teaches Grade 4 back home and is reporting back to his students on the festival experience.
Fan favourite Dean Vegas from Australia is back in Collingwood.
Vegas has been coming to the Collingwood Elvis Festival off and on for the past 10 years.
He won the competition in 2001.
“The vibe here is different to anywhere else in the world,” said Vegas. “The fans are unbelievable.”
And he would know. Vegas has gone all over the world as an Elvis tribute artist.
He doesn't compete anymore, but still enjoys the performance.
“I love making people happy,” said Vegas. “To put a smile on peoples' faces is amazing.”
The Collingwood Elvis Festival runs this weekend at various venues. Visit www.collingwoodelvisfestival.com for more details.
Hurontario St. between Second and Third will be closed for the duration of the festival.