Washington tops field at Casa

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Robert Washington from Auburn, ME and winner of the 2017 Elvis Rocks Mesquite Competition was the first African American to win the World Championship Elvis Impersonator title. He beat out 100 other competitors and has traveled the world carrying on the memory of Elvis’s music. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

The Eighth Annual Elvis Rocks Mesquite Competition was held at the CasaBlanca Showroom on June 17 with preliminary rounds held earlier. Elvis Tribute Artists came from all over the country to compete for a total of $10,000 in prize money.

Tribute Artists were chosen by a mathematically calculated, 100-point system of judging based on sound, over-all look and movement.

During the ‘Best of’ rounds audience members could vote on their ‘Fan Favorite.’ The winner was announced at the end of the finals competition before the judge’s picks were announced. The winner of the ‘Fan Favorite’ went to the youngest member of the competition, 21-year-old, Jacob Roman. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

One tribute artist, always the youngest, first appeared three years ago and took home the fourth-place trophy and a check for $500. Two years ago, he took home the “Fan Favorite” award along with a third-place trophy and a check for $1,500. This year he’s climbed yet another rung on the ETA ladder of success and sports an appropriate name for the task.

Jacob Roman, now 21, is still the youngest of the many ETAs that grace the stage of the CasaBlanca Showroom during the competition and still the “Fan Favorite.” This year Roman took that trophy home once again as well as one for second-place along with a check for $2,000 and even more motivation to climb one higher and reach that top rung next year.

Even as Fan Favorite and the moves he displayed, he still didn’t win the judges votes for first place, that title this year went to Robert Washington from Auburn, ME. Washington took home a check for $3,000 as the Winner of the 2017 Elvis Rocks Mesquite competition.

Washington is no stranger to ERM, he’s been here several years, always makes the finals and was the second-place winner in 2016. Washington was also the only African American in this year’s ERM as well as past ones. According to a press release issued by the CasaBlanca resort in 2014, Washington was the first African American to win the World Championship Elvis Impersonator title. He beat out 100 other competitors and has traveled the world carrying on the memory of Elvis’s music. They share a common date, Washington was born on Aug. 16, the day Elvis died.

Robert Washington from Auburn, ME took home a check for $3,000 as the winner of the 2017 Elvis Rocks Mesquite competition held on June 17 in the CasaBlanca Showroom. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

Washington isn’t the only one who shares something with the King. Joining this year’s event once again and making it to the semi-finals was Mesquite’s own Claude “Doc Elvis” Nielsen.  He has performed in every Elvis Rocks Mesquite event since it began eight years ago.  Nielsen was the oldest tribute artist in this competition and having been born only 34 days after Elvis, is the same age as the King of Rock-n-Roll would be today.

Jacob Roman, 21, of Glendale, CA is the youngest tribute artist in the Elvis Rocks Mesquite competition held at the Casablanca on June 17. Roman was the second-place winner in this year’s competition and the ‘Fan Favorite.’ Roman took fourth place in the 2015 competition and third place in 2016. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

The Elvis Rocks Mesquite competition has been extremely successful in the past eight years at the CasaBlanca and Krissy Ayon, the Entertainment Director for the CasaBlanca, is thrilled by the public response to this annual event.

Elvis may be dead but his music, legacy and memories are kept alive by these men who love, honor and continue to pay tribute to the King and to entertainment venues like the Casablanca Resort who continue to hold these ETA competitions.

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