to show off unique talent
at Rising Sun convention
(April 2006) For years Mike Owens of Louisville,
Ky., listened to people say, Hey, you look like Willie Nelson,
or Wow, you sound just like Willie Nelson. He tried his
best to stay away from anything to do with the famous country music
singer. Being a musician himself, Owens, 53, wanted to be known for
his own work. However, a night performing on the Grand Ole Opry, in
Nashville Tenn., changed all of that.
Owens loves being Willie
Nelson for the night.
Owens is one of several celebrity impersonators who will
be featured at the Rising Star Celebrity Impersonators Convention on
April 2-5 at Grand Victoria Casino in Rising Sun, Ind. The public is
invited to attend a show on Sunday, April 2 beginning at 7:30 p.m. Other
shows also are open to the public throughout the convention.
Close to 30 years ago, Owens was performing for the first time on the
legendary Grand Ole Opry. He had been performing on the stage when country
music superstar Roy Acuff motioned for him to follow him. Apparently,
Acuff was going to introduce Owen to several other well-known performers.
Because Acuff couldnt remember Owenss name, he referred
to him as Little Willie. The name stuck.
Owens gave up trying to steer clear of the Willie Nelson
image and began performing as an impersonator. Because his work comes
naturally, he seldom practices for his impersonations. He said the only
time he ever rehearses is when he is learning a new Nelson song.
Owens performs seven nights a week. He travels throughout the United
States and Canada entertaining audiences. He will soon be traveling
to Canada to perform as Nelson at a birthday celebration for a Canadian
Supreme Court Justice.
Although he impersonates Nelson much of the time, he also does work
by other singers, as well as his own material. He said that when he
is hired as Nelson, he shows up in full Willie gear, complete
with the bandana.
Not only does Owens work as a singer, he owns Rogues, a small recording
company in Louisville. His company helps musicians who would not be
able to afford a larger recording company. Rogues not only does the
music recording, it also helps with the printing and packaging of CDs
Owens has never met the real Nelson, but early in his career he went
to several Nelson concerts. He has no idea what Nelson thinks about
impersonators, but Owens said he has considered writing to him and sending
him a CD of his music with a picture. He would be interested in Nelsons
Along with Owens, there will be a variety of other impersonators and
tribute artists at the Rising Star Celebrity Convention and the Sunday
showcase of impersonated stars. Cher, Rod Stewart, Alan Jackson, and
Whitney Houston impersonators are among the talents that will be featured.
Bill and Phyllis Duke are the promoters for the convention. They previously
operated the Scottsburg Jamboree in Scottsburg, Ind., and continue to
promote shows in the region through their Rising Star Promotions.
Phyllis Duke said the convention was organized to entice talent agents,
buyers and producers come to a central location to watch the various
Performers from as far away as New York, Florida and Las Vegas are hoping
to attract the attention of promoters and agents.
The convention starts on Sunday evening with a show featuring the impersonators
and a live band. The show is open to the public for $20 a ticket. Duke
said the evening promises to be a fun-filled and fantastic show. Each
of the impersonators at the convention will perform for approximately
15 minutes. Rod Stewart and Cher will even be performing a duet together.
There will be showcases on the Monday and Tuesday of the convention
in which the industry professionals will be able to watch the performers
work with soundtracks. Information about each artist will be available
to those agents, buyer, promoters and producers who have registered
and paid for a full-access ticket to the convention.
The showcases are open to the public for $10 each day, but spectators
who do not have the proper credentials will not have access to the promotional
information. Agents who wish to attend the showcases only may do so
free of charge if they register and present an Agent ID card. However,
they will not have access to the brunches, dinners, parties and other
For more information about the convention, call
Bill and Phyllis Duke at (812) 883-9141 or visit: www.risingstarconvention.com.
Back to April 2006 Articles.