by VICTORIA HENLEY
Elvis Aron Presley, the undisputed “King of Rock and Roll” and arguably one of the greatest entertainers of all time, took the world by storm with his enigmatic charisma, iconoclastic signature dance moves, and inimitable, rich bluesy vocals from the moment he burst onto the music scene.
Presley’s high octane career, tumultuous and tragic personal life, and meteoric rise to superstardom have spawned countless press articles, books, documentaries, and even a blockbuster film.
Eight-eight-years after the King’s birth, the world remains unwaveringly fascinated.
Naturally, the world ardently and dutifully celebrates Presley’s birthday year and after year, and the Main Event Theater, a charming, intimate showcase space nestled on the bustling, iconic Parkway in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., proved the place to be on Jan. 8, providing an action-packed, talent-laden extravaganza to celebrate what would have been Elvis’s 88th birthday.
Featuring three tremendously talented tribute artists, each bringing to life their own unique interpretation and impression of Presley, this dynamic show paid pitch perfect homage to a legend who shaped the face of the music industry as we know it today.
Elvis’s birthday tribute began with Riley Jenkins, an accomplished 20-year-old Elvis tribute artist who embodied Elvis’s 1950’s iconic rockabilly era, when the artist belted out chart topping hits including “Return To Sender,” Let Yourself Go” and “Little Egypt.” Jenkins, a Paris, Tenn. native, beautifully encapsulated Presley’s boyish charm that brought the nation to its knees so many decades ago, donning the era’s signature bright pink blazer and hitting each high energy dance move and gyration with great aplomb.
The second tribute artist to take the stage, Matt Cordell (who can also be seen as both a swing and headlining performer at many of Pigeon Forge’s top theaters as well as the lead singer in his own band) sported Elvis’s iconic skintight black leather jumpsuit (from his famous 1968 concert special) whose unmistakable charm and palpable charisma was keenly reminiscent of the King himself. Cordell, whose vocals were deep, rich and soulful, crooned some of Presley’s most recognizable classics including “Stop, Look and Listen,” “In the Ghetto” “Walk a Mile in my Shoes,” and “It’s Only Words.”
The grand finale, Main Event Theater’s resident Elvis tribute artist, Eli Williams (an award winning performer hailing from Canada) concluded the show, donning Elvis’s stark white Nudie Suit, embellished with a variety of brightly colored turquoise stones and appliqués as he brought to life some of Elvis’s hit tunes from some of his larger than life concert specials. Williams closed out the show with a bang, bringing the nearly sold out audience to their feet as he belted out some of The King’s most renowned songs including the rousing “Burning Love,” “Poke Salad Annie,” “Return to Sender,” Let Yourself Go” and the dramatic, emotionally charged ballad, Suspicious Minds.
Years will come and go, seasons will change, and trends will rise and fall, however, one thing that will indubitably remain is Elvis’s prominent, unwavering influence on both the music industry and the world.
Special thanks to Travis and Rene James for facilitating our visit for this spotlight feature.
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