PALA – Dean Z., an Elvis Tribute Artist (ETA), who performs in the Legends in Concert show in Branson, Mo., utilized his hip-shaking dance moves and multi-range singing voice to perform “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” “One Night With You” and “Jailhouse Rock,” on March 17 to win first place in the Ultimate Elvis® Tribute Contest at Pala Casino Spa & Resort. Dean Z. won $2,000 and an automatic entry into the International Elvis® Tribute Contest that will be held in mid-August during Elvis Week in Memphis, Tenn.
The Pala tribute contest was one of 30 similar events that will be held worldwide in partnership with Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. to select the number one Elvis Tribute Artist for 2013.
Rob Ely, an ETA from Oakdale, Calif., took second place and won $1,250 for his performances of “Peace in the Valley,” “Hound Dog” and “Blue Suede Shoes.” Mark Stevens, Washougal, Wash., won third place and $750 for his Elvis interpretations of “Just Pretend,” “Suspicious Minds” and “I’m So Hurt.”
Two additional finalists were James Kruk of Redondo Beach, Calif., who performed Las Vegas era renditions of “Polk Salad Annie,” “My Way” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” and Chris Luna of Ontario, Calif., who performed Las Vegas era renditions of a medley “Havin’ Some Fun Tonight, Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On, Jailhouse Rock and Hound Dog,” “Never Been to Spain” and “How Great Thou Art.” The five finalists were backed live by the EAS Band, the official Elvis tribute artist band of Graceland.
Dean Z., 30, is a lifetime Elvis fan who grew up in Lancaster, Calif., but moved to Branson when he became the Elvis ETA in the Legends in Concert show.
“My mom was a big Elvis fan. When I was three, an Elvis special was on TV in the living room. I immediately cleared off the coffee table, jumped up and started trying to dance like the King. Not long afterward, my mom made my first Elvis jump suit,” he recalled.