Making sure his suits are clean, shoes are polished and wig is fluffed — Christopher Blaine is ready to put on a good show in front of his hometown crowd at the Penticton Elvis Festival.
Making it to the non-professional finals in 2014 and placing second in 2015, the butterflies in the stomach will still be there, right until the very moment he sets foot on the stage.
“Always,” said Blaine. “I think all the (Elvis tribute artists) get nervous. Elvis himself would get nervous, but that, of course, also gave him a lot of energy on the stage. Once you put that jumpsuit on and get out there though, it’s kind of like Superman.”
The footwear rep by day only competes in Penticton, giving his first go at honouring the King in 2014 on a bit of a whim. He hasn’t looked back since.
“I thought I would give it a try because it is happening right where I live. Kind of one of those when-in-Rome things,” said Blaine. “I still have friends that can’t believe it. They look at me and think, ‘no, I don’t see it.’ I have to show them a picture or video. I went to the festival here and just caught that energy, that bug and that was it.”
You could say Elvis was always in his DNA. Blaine’s father was a musician, who would drive down to Graceland in Memphis at the drop of a hat and the rest of his family were big Elvis fans too. It was almost like destiny that one day Blaine would take up that passion.
“I like the thrill of it and the great fans, some who haven’t missed a festival. I also get inspired by the other tribute artists and young newcomers putting their whole heart and soul into it.”
Blaine isn’t the only tribute artist from the region competing this weekend. Darrell Douglas, from Princeton, has been at every Elvis Festival since it began in 2002 and John Van Vlack, from West Kelowna, will join Blaine in the non-professional category. Lennard Webber from Vernon is competing in the professional category.
The competition begins Friday afternoon at Okanagan Lake Park, and if there is anything Blaine is sure of after receiving and practicing his songs for the last eight months, it is one thing.
“I’m the best singer in my truck and my shower.”
The Penticton Elvis Festival takes place June 23 to 25. Opening ceremonies take place at Okanagan Lake Park at noon on Friday. At 1 p.m. the headliners and celebrities will make an appearance and sing a few songs.
That will be followed by local talent and then the first competitions begin at 4 p.m. On Saturday, the second competition will begin at 9:30 a.m. The headliner show, starring Cody Ray Slaughter and Danny Vernon, will take place at 8 p.m. at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre. Tickets are available at the SOEC box office.
A gospel show takes place on Sunday at Okanagan Lake Park from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The finals of the competition are at the PTCC at 2 p.m. Tickets for events in the park are $15 a day or $25 for a weekend wristband.
For more information visit www.pentictonelvisfestival.ca.
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