As a life-long “original” Elvis fan, I consider myself very fortunate to have seen and/or met many of Elvis’ legendary musicians and singers over the years....and Elvis himself! It’s always a thrill and an honour to see the musicians who performed with Elvis, and, yes, to hear a great singer who can sing the songs with class and dignity and keep the music alive. This month I thought I’d try to capture some of that magic through three fan accounts I received after the recent shows at Casino Rama. Many, many thanks to Ronnie McDowell, Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana, the Jordanaires, and Bob Moore for making dreams come true, yet once again.

Rod Hand, a talented artist from St. John’s, Newfoundland, brought his guitar (a J200 acoustic guitar...the same as the one Elvis used in the ‘68 Comeback Special) and flew all the way from St. John’s to the show in Orillia, Ontario to have it signed and to meet his music “heroes.” Here is Rod’s account.

“Well, where do I begin? When I actually found out I was going to the show, I felt like a kid waiting for Christmas morning. I have not felt like that since I was a child. I have been an Elvis fan as far back as I can remember. I was in Grade 5 when Elvis died and I remember that my dad and I were driving somewhere in the car when I heard the news. I was so sad, because to me Elvis was the greatest thing I have ever heard. I used to watch all the TV shows and still get a chill in my bones watching him sing.

When I had the chance to see Scotty, DJ, and the Jordanaires, I was in heaven....not to leave out Ronnie McDowell, by any means, because his voice was also amazing. When I was on my way to Orillia, I still could not believe I was going to see this show. This was my dream come true.

When I saw Scotty and DJ come out on the stage, my heart almost stopped. There they were, in person! The show was almost like going back in time. I could feel the energy they produced playing each song....just as when I heard them for the first time. After the show we lined up for autographs and I was almost in shock that I was going to finally meet them. When it came my time to meet them, I felt like I was in a trance. I did not know what to say or do. They were so kind and soft spoken and they made me feel at ease. The icing on the cake was when they let me behind the table to have my pictures taken with them. I have the print that Ronnie painted framed up already. The photo of me with Scotty and DJ and my signed guitar is cut out of the mat below the looks so amazing!

The experience is one I will never forget and I am so fortunate to have seen these guys in person. I don’t know if Scotty, DJ and the Jordanaires know what kind of impact they have on people, but they left a lasting impression on which will last my whole life. My younger brother, Trevor, was so impressed when he met Ray Walker..Ray hugged him and said it was nice to see young people in the my brother has a new feeling for the music and yet another person has a respect for what these musicians do....I can go on and on about what this has done for me, but I will cut it short here.”

Alex Nugent, originally from Newfoundland, belongs to the Love for Elvis Fan Club, and lives in Newmarket, Ontario. Alex was picked at random from the audience by Ronnie McDowell, who asked what his favourite Elvis song was and if he wanted to sing it along with all the musicians/singers on stage and Ronnie, himself. Alex’s heartfelt reply, which immediately endeared him to every single person in the audience, as his sincerity came shining through, was that “it would be my dream come true.” Well, let me tell you...Alex sang a GREAT rendition of “My Way” and received a standing ovation and thunderous applause/cheers from the sold out audience of 5,200 people. Here is Alex’s story.

“I come from humble beginnings. I grew up in rural Newfoundland, an only child. I skipped several grades in school and I found it awkward to make friends among my class mates. I gravitated toward the radio and quickly learned to find stations that played rock ‘n’ roll music both in Canada and U.S.A. Like a lot of Newfoundland kids, Elvis was one of my idols. I bought his records and went to his movies. I traced his humble beginnings and knew about his early band. I have great respect for Scotty Moore as a pioneer guitarist in forming rock ‘n’ roll music. Scotty had to develop his own style. Today’s young musicians have a wealth of role models and various styles to emulate. D.J. Fontana was also an integral part of Elvis' band with the late Bill Black. And I have tremendous respect for the gospel music of the Jordanaires. They were a successful gospel group before they joined Elvis.

What would be the chances of this small town boy from Kelligrews, Newfoundland, ever seeing, let alone meeting, such talent? How can I describe the euphoria of performing with Ronnie McDowell and these artists? Let me say, also, that the sound equipment and the engineers would truly enhance any performance including my own.

It was a dream that I could not have imagined -- I will be forever grateful to the 5,000+ in attendance who gave me a standing ovation. I thank God for this experience.”

Members of the Love for Elvis fan club: Wendy King, President Ronda Marson, Alex Nugent, Bertha Hurdman.
Alex received a standing ovation from the crowd of 5,200 for his singing of "My Way" with Ronnie McDowell.

Rod Hand flew from Newfoundland to Ontario to have his guitar signed and to meet the stars of the show.

It was like a dream come true for me. The clapping, the screaming, the yelling–I did it all, along with 5,200 other people. The show was a complete sell out...the show was magnificent. Ronnie came through just like I knew he would. Every song was sung with great enthusiasm and he was just great! I did manage to give him a teddy bear and after the show, I stood in line for about 2 hours waiting to see him up close, maybe shake hands and say “good show.” I managed to get my picture taken with Ronnie. It was the thrill of my life being this close to him.

I hope he comes to Ontario again....I will be the first one to buy a ticket. This was a night I will always remember.”

And I have to add ......

It’s not every evening, after watching a wonderful concert, that I find myself sitting in a restaurant alongside the stars of the show...talking to Ray Walker of the Jordanaires, with Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana, Bob Moore, and Ronnie McDowell sitting at adjoining tables. And it’s not every evening that the multi-talented Ronnie McDowell, a noted songwriter in addition to being such a talented singer and artist, comes over to the table where I am sitting to chat and to sing a brand new song that he’s just written for LeAnn Rimes to record. As you can imagine, this was an evening I won’t forget either.....and, remember that you heard it here: LeAnn Rimes is going to have a million seller on her hands...a great new song called “Insane,” written by Ronnie McDowell!

Liz Mahoney is a life-long Elvis fan and one who has wanted to see and meet Ronnie McDowell for years. Here is her account of what it was like to finally attend a Ronnie McDowell concert.

“Sitting in the audience at the casino entertainment centre in Orillia, waiting with anticipation for the best “Elvis tribute” that I know, my heart was pounding like crazy. Finally the Elvis music started and out on the stage walked Ronnie fancy white jumpsuit or tons of makeup..just the man himself, very handsome with a beautiful smile. He was accompanied by the Jordanaires, and Elvis’s own Scotty Moore and DJ Fontana.

Elvis Tribute Artists Radio