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Long County man reveals his inner Elvis Presley
Elvis festival - Mike Riddle
Mike Riddle performing with the Change of Habit Tribute Band at the 2019 Georgia Elvis Festival in Brunswick. - photo by Photo provided.

Mike Riddle has worn several hats over the last few years.  Commissioner, firefighter, plumber, and writer to name a few.  This past week he tossed all of those hats in the closet and pulled out a white jumpsuit as he took part in the 2019 Georgia Elvis Festival held in Brunswick.  Riddle said this was the sixth year that he and his wife Gina had attended the event, but this was first time that he had participated as a tribute artist.

“I had been talking about doing it for about four years now, but this was the first year that I actually got the courage to enter it”, said Riddle.

According to Riddle, he had to make a video of him performing a three-song set and then submit it to Sherry Management which is based in Middlebury, Vermont.  He said from there he had to wait and see if he qualified for the event.

“I was notified about a month ago and given my confirmation of being entered in the event.  I guess they needed some extra performers to fill up the roster”, said Riddle.

Riddle said he practiced extensively over the last two months memorizing and practicing songs.  He said that even though he had to do a lot of work leading up to the event, that once he it got there, his wife Gina had the hardest job.

“Well I was older than the most of the guys in the contest, there may have been one older than me, but only one.  Gina was a miracle worker, she did my hair, put make-up on me, heck I looked at least 10 years younger and I think I looked a little like Elvis, I couldn’t have done it without her”, said Riddle.

Although Riddle was the only entry from Georgia, this year tribute artists came from all over the United States and from as far as Germany and Australia overseas, according to the Georgia Elvis Festival webpage. The festival had a professional and nonprofessional division with the top five in each division winning prize money.  

Riddle said that he and the other tribute artists performed two three-song sets, one on Friday and one on Saturday. One set was with recorded tracks and the other was with the Change of Habit Tribute Band. He said that judges scored each contestant in several areas including appearance, vocals, charisma, and showmanship. After these two rounds the top five in each division advanced to the finals on Sunday. This year Jayson Alfano was the nonprofessional winner and Mark Anthony won in the professional division. Anthony will now represent Georgia at the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest in Memphis during Elvis week in August.

Riddle said that he was very nervous about taking part in the contest, but that the other tribute artists welcomed him and that the fans made him feel right at home.

“I was probably more nervous about doing this than anything I’ve ever done, but those guys were as nice to me as they could be, and as for the Elvis fans, wow they act like they love you so much and appreciate what you’re doing, trying to keep Elvis’s memory and his music alive.  I can honestly say this week was one of the highlights of my life,” he said.

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