Elvis lives on at 6th annual tribute artists competition at Mesquite's CasaBlanca Resort and Casino

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'Elvis Rocks Mesquite' brings tribute artists from across the nation for $10,000 prize competition at Mesquite Gaming's CasaBlanca Resort and Casino

Elvis Rocks Mesquite

"Elvis Rocks Mesquite" tribute artists competition | Flyer courtesy of Mesquite Gaming

Claude “Doc Elvis” Nielsen, 80, voted most inspirational and oldest Elvis tribute artist, said he prefers '70s competition because "it's pretty flashy"

Several Elvis Tribute Artists, or Elvi as they are called, from all over the country are about to descend on Mesquite, Nevada, as the CasaBlanca Resort and Casino, 950 W. Mesquite Blvd., gets set to host the sixth annual "Elvis Rocks Mesquite" tribute artists show and competition Thursday-Saturday featuring three days of events centered around paying tribute to "The King."

Hosted by professional tribute artist Corrie Sachs the "Elvis Rocks Mesquite" competition will see each of the Elvi rocking it out on stage as they vie for $10,000 in prize money.

Meet and greet

The fun-filled weekend will begin Thursday at 7 p.m. in the CasaBlanca's Skydome Lounge where guests can mingle with the Elvi while enjoying a few drinks and live entertainment.

Thurday night's social gathering is a great opportunity to meet the tribute artists and really start to feel their energy, Christian Adderson, corporate sales manager for Mesquite Gaming, said.

The meet and greet is free to the public 21 and over.

Elvis through the decades

Do you remember when you first heard Elvis Presley or felt the thrill a little hip swivel could give you?

Whether he was crooning "Falling in Love with You" or rocking the jailhouse down, Elvis Presley was and continues to be a deep-rooted part of American musical history.

"Elvis has fans everywhere," Adderson said, adding that with its close proximity to Las Vegas where Elvis had such a presence, Mesquite's CasaBlanca Resort provides the perfect venue to honor Elvis' legacy.

"Elvis Rocks Mesquite" will feature competitions highlighting Elvis throughout the decades starting on Friday with two competitions showcasing tribute artists honoring Elvis from the '50s and '60s.

The event will culminate on Saturday with artists performing classic Elvis tunes from the '70s and will close with a final showdown made of finalists from each decade's competition.

Some of the Elvi stick to one decade, Adderson said, while others will cross over and compete in more than one.

Participating artists include:

Anthony "Anthony as Elvis" Alcala | Fontana, California
Randy "Randy Love" Black | Melrose Park, Illinois
Steve Botello | Modesto, California
Fred "Fred as Elvis" Cisneros | LaVerne, California
Ryan Collingwood | San Marcos, California
Kevin Conley | St. George, Utah
Dave Hoover | North Las Vegas, Nevada
Gassan "James King" Haddad | Long Beach, California
Shawn "Shawnvis" Hughes | Alameda, California
Will Humbarger | Queen Valley, Arizona
Tyler James | Las Vegas, Nevada
Claude "Doc Elvis" Nielsen, Mesquite, Nevada
Jacob Roman | Glendale, California
Bruce Andrew Stewart | Tiny, Ontario, Canada
Ken Yuvienco | North Hills, California
Daniel Jenkins | Las Vegas, Nevada

"This is a great opportunity for these artists to pay homage to an entertainer like Elvis," Adderson said, "and for the guests, it transports them back to when they first heard or experienced him."

Claude "Doc Elvis" Nielsen, 80, of Mesquite, Nevada has competed in every "Elvis Rocks Mesquite" competition since its inception, he said. He has been voted "Most Inspirational Elvis Tribute Artist" and was recognized in 2014 as the world's oldest Elvis Tribute Artist, Nielsen said.

Nielsen prefers to pay tribute to the Elvis of the '70s, he said, because that is when the jumpsuits came into play.

"It's pretty flashy," Nielsen said.

Nielsen began singing in 1991, he said, and got serious about Elvis tributes in 2001. Nielsen feels a close connection to Elvis whose birthday is a mere 34 days before his own; and, he said, he loves performing on stage to a packed house.

"I feel really good being in the competition," Nielsen said. "My biggest goal is to make the people who came to the show walk out feeling like they had a great time."

New to the event this year will be a live band for the final show, Mesquite Gaming Entertainment and Event Coordinator Krissy Ayon said. The band is comprised of professional musicians from Las Vegas and will be led by musical director Vita Corimbi who is currently starring in Las Vegas in "Menopause the Musical."

The Elvi will be judged on a scale of one to 10 in the following categories:

Vocals: Overall singing ability
Appearance: Ability to create a look and style that represents Elvis well
Stage presence: Ability to recreate the charisma Elvis created when performing on stage
Overall performance

Three judges, all of whom have experience with either tribute artists, Elvis or both will rate the contestants during the competitions to determine which "King" will reign supreme.

"Our judges know the tribute artist world," Ayon said, "and what it takes to celebrate and bring out the spirit of that person these artists are paying tribute to."

Saturday night will end with a free aftershow, "Copy Cats" karaoke party, during which the tribute artists will have a chance to show off other musical acts in their repertoire. The DJ and host for the aftershow will be Jimmy Zito.

The after party is limited to guests 21 and over.

Tickets can be purchased individually for each show or in a discounted four-show package online, by telephone to 1-800-585-3737 or in person at the CasaBlanca Resort and Casino. Tickets for the package deal must be purchased in advance and do not include VIP booth seating.

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Shane Brinkerhoff

Christian Adderson