Elvis alive and well at Alberta's Blue Suede music festival
In six years, festival has grown to 4,000 fans and performers
Are you lonesome tonight?
Fans of the King of Rock and Roll aren't — Elvis enthusiasts will never walk alone this weekend, with thousands of them gathering in the tiny hamlet of Busby, Alta. for the Blue Suede music Festival.
The festival began in 2010 as a gathering of about one hundred Elvis Presley fans on an acreage. This year, it attracted more than 4,000. And, of course, more than a dozen Elvis impersonators from across Canada and the United States.
"Just keeping Elvis alive … the people that come out are fantastic," said Edmonton's Bob Gates, 69, who calls himself "Elderly Elvis.
"It's just a lot of fun."
Gatez said his love of Presley began one night when he was 11 years old, watching the musician perform on the Ed Sullivan show. Since then, he's been stuck on him.
"He's such a phenomenon, it's amazing that people follow his memory," he said.
While the tribute performances are the main event, the festival also boasts raffles, Elvis-themed trivia contests and vendors.
For Gatez, the big draw for Blue Suede is the chance to connect with other the performers and share their love of the artist who is always on their mind.
Brayden Black was raised on rock. The 9-year-old's grandparents fall squarely into the super-fan territory: their home includes a Jailhouse Rock-inspired bathroom and pictures of the King are hung all over their home. So he couldn't help falling in love with Elvis' music.
Black performed his first Elvis tribute on stage when he was three years old. Since then, the young fan has toured across the province and the country with his show. He doesn't care if the sun don't shine, as long as he gets the chance to get up on stage as his idol.
"You can't hear yourself at all up there. All you can hear is the music," said Black, after signing autographs in his pint-sized white jumpsuit.
Festival organizer Trudy Taphorn says the King's songs are more than just entertainment — she just can't help believin' that they resonate with people, especially those who live in rural area.
"When (Elvis) got famous, he never forgot the people that still struggled. He helped them so much. And the music, how could you not like the music?" she said.
"And he's one of the most gorgeous men to ever walk this earth."
Elvis fans will be treated to more of the King for the rest of the weekend. At least, until it's time for them to go.