Originally created 07/12/01

Long live the King

You could say Jason Sikes is an Elvisangelist.

"I want to bring Elvis to a new generation, keep him going," the Gloverville man says.

Mr. Sikes is only 23 years old - he hadn't even been born when Elvis Presley died in 1977. But he watched and listened to Elvis while growing up, and he has won Augusta's Elvis Impersonator Contest for three consecutive years. He was a finalist in an annual competition in Memphis, Tenn., and appeared on MTV two years ago when the cable music channel was filming there.

He'll try to keep competitors from stepping all over his blue suede shoes Friday and Saturday when Augusta's annual competition takes place at the Honky Tonk club on Gordon Highway.

"You've just got to take it seriously - but not to the point that you think you are Elvis," he says, talking about the strategies for being the best Elvis out there. "You have to do it in a respectful way. Don't get out there and do it to make fun of it. A lot of people do it for a joke."

It's serious business for some of the people performing. The field of 24 Elvises includes impersonators from Louisville, Ky.; Monroe, La.; Cottage Lawn, Minn.; and Orlando, Fla. They'll bring costumes and makeup and recorded music. The stakes are a $1,000 prize and automatic entry into the Images of Elvis competition in Memphis in August.

"You have your look-alikes, your wannabes and your never-bes," said Bobby Wylds, who has competed the past two years but will sit in one of the judges' chairs for this year's competition. "You know what to look for - how their voices sound, how their moves look, if they're moving too fast for the music. It helps to have done it before because I know what I'm looking at."

While the outfit, the hair and other details are important, it takes inner groove to make a good Elvis, Mr. Wylds said. Appearance counts for only 10 points out of 50 in the contest. Vocals and stage performance count for 20 points each.

Mr. Wylds, 33, also grew up listening to Elvis and was singing in clubs when someone asked him to do an Elvis song. From there, he was hooked, not just to the music, but also to the entire mystique that has grown up around the Mississippi boy who grew up to wiggle his hips and shake up the world of rock 'n' roll.

"There's an aura around him," Mr. Wylds said. "If you've ever been to Graceland, you can feel it. There's the airplanes, the cars and the clothes, the mystique about the Memphis Mafia. And he had a unique and powerful voice."

On stage

What: Elvis Impersonator Contest, presented by the Honky Tonk and B&K Enterprises

When: Preliminary rounds 7 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday; finals 8 p.m. Sunday

Where: The Honky Tonk, 1602 Gordon Highway at Tubman Home Road

Admission: $5 for preliminary rounds, $10 for finals

Phone: 560-0551

Reach Alisa DeMao at (706) 823-3223 or ademao@augustachronicle.com.


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