Bedford performer hopes to turn success as Elvis tribute artist into wider career

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BEDFORD, Va. (WDBJ7) Outside Bedford's El Cazador Mexican Restaurant, you might notice a sign advertising the talents of an Elvis Tribute Artist.

Taylor Rodriguez has entertained local audiences for more than six years, performing the King of Rock and Roll's biggest hits.

Taylor's parents Hector and Donna own El Cazador and for many years their business was home base for Taylor's concerts.

"To come back home is a great feeling," Rodriguez told WDBJ7.

These days you won't find Taylor performing at the restaurant very often. He's busy sharing his talents in other parts of the country.

"I love performing and entertaining, and bringing joy to so many people," Rodriguez said.

As an Elvis Tribute Artist, Rodriguez has found tremendous success. Earlier this month he won the top prize at the Tupelo Elvis Festival, a prestigious contest in Presley's Mississippi hometown that was judged by the King's peers.

"It was different from any other competition I've done before," Rodriguez said of his recent win. "These were Elvis' people. These people sat, ate, and breathed right next to the King of Rock and Roll. It was one of the most amazing feelings I've ever felt."

In August Rodriguez will compete in the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest in Memphis.

For all the accolades he's received performing the King's music, Rodriguez is hoping to one day receive wider recognition with work of his own.

"I still do shows as an Elvis Tribute Artist, but I've kind of moved away from the concept of putting on the jumpsuit," Rodriguez explained.

Rodriguez has been cast in several stage performances. He'll play Ritchie Valens in an upcoming production of The Buddy Holly Story in Texas.

As his career blossoms, Rodriguez remains a celebrity back at his parent's restaurant.

"Bedford will always be my home," said Rodriguez. "No matter what, it will always be my home."

You can see Taylor Rodriguez performing as Elvis at Jefferson Forest High School this Saturday night at 7:30. Proceeds will benefit the high school's theater program.