Are you ready to shake, rattle and roll?

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Elvis Presley may have left the building in 1977, leaving us all shook up, but the cultural impact of the King of Rock’n’Roll continues to this day.  

Women wanted to meet him, men wanted to be him, and his musical legacy continues to inspire – from Memphis in Tennessee to Parkes in New South Wales, which hosts the Parkes Elvis Festival every year in the second week in January, coinciding with Elvis’ birthday.

Now in its 28th year, the festival boasts more than 200 events across five fabulous, fun-filled days. We were lucky enough to catch up with two leading Elvis tribute artists who’ll be rocking their blue suede shoes at the festival next year…

Meet Paul Fenech

Paul Fenech Trippr

When did you decide to become an Elvis tribute artist? What do you hope to achieve?
I started performing as Elvis in 1997. It wasn’t a decision of whether I should or shouldn’t, it just happened when I was asked to perform a few Elvis songs, as everyone knew I was a big Elvis fan. I never hoped to achieve anything personally, however I did hope to bring back some great memories for Elvis fans who saw a little of Elvis in me.

What’s your favourite Elvis hit?
That depends on my mood, but my fave ’50s song is ‘Treat Me Nice’.

Have you ever received a gift from a fan? What’s been the weirdest?
I’ve received many gifts – money, framed photos of myself, original Elvis artefacts and memorabilia, T-shirts with my photo on it. One lady tattooed my picture and name on her arm and I’ve even received female knickers!

What do you wish people knew about Elvis?
Elvis was in reasonably good shape right until 1975, two years before he died.

Did you ever see Elvis in concert?
I was only nine years old when Elvis died, so I never got to see him live in concert.

Other than performing, what are you most looking forward to at the 2020 Parkes Elvis Festival?
I’m looking forward to working with the festival to bring out Dean Z [this year’s feature artist, from Lancaster, California].

Meet John Collins

John Collins Trippr

When did you decide to become an Elvis tribute artist? What do you hope to achieve?
I actually fell into it; I didn’t aspire to be an Elvis! In 1992 I took singing lessons and my teacher’s family was opening a theatre restaurant and they asked for me to go for an audition because I sang Elvis songs easily. I said I did not want to be an Elvis but they suggested I go for the experience of an audition. Then I was successful in getting the role. It was fun and then three months later I auditioned for a new concept called ‘Heroes From Heaven’; I toured Australia with them for 20 years. I then started creating my own concepts and I have never looked back – even becoming a celebrant, marrying couples all over Australia with our fun, romantic and memorable Elvis Weddings with my wife Alison, who is also a celebrant. I aim to perform in a respectful manner to the King, keep his memory alive and give joy to those who attend my shows.

What’s your favourite Elvis hit?
‘In The Ghetto’… It still has a strong meaning that is relevant today.

Have you ever received a gift from a fan? What’s been the best?
I’ve received many gifts over the years. It’s hard to choose the best… teddy bears, framed pictures, keyrings, jewellery – the list goes on. But I am a big fan of a limited-edition Elvis decanter from the ’70s, with a music box that plays ‘Love Me Tender’.

What do you wish people knew about Elvis?
How humble and generous he was – he gave so much to so many.

Did you ever see Elvis in concert?
Unfortunately I was just 13 years old when Elvis ‘left the building’. I do, however, have original tickets to his last concert!

Other than performing, what are you most looking forward to at the 2020 Parkes Elvis Festival?
Dean Z – he’s an energetic artist who creates a vibe that no other Elvis tribute artist has before! He is a talented singer, musician and artist – do not miss him! I have been lucky enough to be part of the Elvis Express team for the past 10 years, and managing the entertainment for the past five years. We hold the Rock’n’Bowl Dinner Show at Parkes Bowling Club on the Thursday night of the Elvis Express arrival, which includes all of the Elvis tribute artists who entertain on the Elvis Express. It has been identified as one of the best concerts of the Parkes Elvis Festival.

What better way to get to the Parkes Elvis Festival than onboard the dedicated NSW TrainLink Elvis Express? Departing Sydney on 9 January and returning on 13 January, it’s the best way to get the party started. Tickets are now on sale for $299* per person and include return economy train travel, a ticket to The Ultimates Show, an unlimited festival shuttle pass, a 2020 souvenir calendar and program, and more. For more information and to book, click here.

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