Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Graceland to be "Overhauled"

Posted By on Tue, Jul 31, 2007 at 4:00 AM

AP: The thousands of Elvis Presley fans descending on Memphis for the 30th anniversary of his death August 16 won't see much sign of it, but plans are moving along for big-time changes at Graceland.

Managers of Presley's famous home want to overhaul its tourist complex -- with a new visitors center bigger than a football field, a convention hotel, and high-tech museum displays that can give a new, digital life to the King himself.

All it will take to bring about those wonders is $250 million or so; the total reorganization of CKX Inc., the New York-based company that controls all things Elvis; and a publicly supported facelift for Graceland's struggling neighborhood.

The obstacles are far from small, but the people behind the plans, led by CKX Chairman Robert F.X. Sillerman, have a history of putting together big deals and making money for investors.

Sillerman, a multimillionaire dealer in media and entertainment assets, took over Graceland in 2005 when he bought the rights to Elvis' name and image from daughter Lisa Marie, Presley's sole heir.

When Presley died, his finances were in sad shape. Led by Priscilla Presley, the estate formed Elvis Presley Enterprises, opened Graceland to the public and solidified the legal rights to make money on Elvis' name and image.

Last year, Graceland made $27 million, and the overall Elvis business brings in more than $40 million a year. That made him the second-highest grossing dead celebrity in 2006, behind only Nirvana's Kurt Cobain, according to Forbes.

More here.

Back-to-Back Stax on WKNO Wednesday and Thursday

Posted By on Tue, Jul 31, 2007 at 4:00 AM

WKNO is premiering a new documentary that takes a look into the journey of 14 Stax Music Academy students and a group of faculty members as they embark on the first ever Stax Music Academy Summer Tour.

One of the highlights of the tour featured the young musicians opening the festivities for the 19th annual Porretta Soul Festival in Porretta Terme, Italy. \

The Stax Music Academy: From Soulsville to Italy, a WKNO production, premieres Thursday, August 2 at 8:00 p.m. on WKNO/Channel 10.

As part of the Stax Music Academy, a non-profit organization that provides primarily at-risk inner-city youths with the training and technology to make music, these students, as well as many others, are learning to utilize their talents to recreate the sound that made Stax Records famous decades ago.

The film is part of a two-night celebration of Stax on WKNO. On Wednesday, August 1, WKNO will premiere Great Performances: Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story. This program, which will air at 8:00 p.m., details the story behind the legendary label that launched a whos who of soul music greats: Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, the Staple Singers, Isaac Hayes, Eddie Floyd, Carla and Rufus Thomas, Albert King and Booker T. and the MGs, to name a just a few.

Memphis to be Featured City in "Garden & Gun"

Posted By on Tue, Jul 31, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Garden & Gun magazine (no, we're not making that up) has chosen Memphis as its "City Portrait" for the Fall 2007 issue, set for newsstands August 28th. According to a press release, the magazine's third issue, called The "Mighty Mississippi", will "highlight Memphis' famous music, world-class barbeque, and renowned entertainment venues. In addition, the magazine will delve deeper into the culture and history of Memphis, and will take a look at its place in the South today."

"Memphis represents the Mighty Mississippi region in its history and also in its plans for the future," said Rebecca Darwin, publisher. "The city is known as a cultural keystone not only throughout the South, but around the world. It's more than just blues and barbeque -- and I think this issue will really illustrate that."

Memphis is the third city to be highlighted in the new magazine's "City Portrait." Asheville, North Carolina, was featured in its premiere issue, and Mobile, Alabama, was featured in its Summer issue.

For more, check out Garden & Gun's groovy website.

Elvis Impersonators, er, Tribute Artists to Gather in Memphis

Posted By on Tue, Jul 31, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Elvis "tribute artists" from all over the country will vie for the title "Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist of 2007" this month in Memphis.

In the finals competition, set to take place during Elvis Week, winners of preliminary rounds in far-off places from around the globe will be flown into Memphis to battle for the supreme title.

And the winner gets more just a hunka hunka burnin' love from devoted Elvis fans. The title comes with $5,000 cash, a $5,000 Graceland shopping spree, a jumpsuit valued at $3,000, a championship belt, a Sun Records recording session in Nashville, and a contract to perform on the first-ever Elvis Tribute Cruise. For more information, check out Elvis' website.

Rick Ankiel: Marvel Comics Superhero

Posted on Tue, Jul 31, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Our hometown minor league baseball enterprise has announced a most inventive promotion. The first 1,500 fans through the AutoZone Park turnstiles August 10 will receive a Marvel Comics comic book with the Incredible Hulk, Superman, Iron Man, Rockey the Redbird, and, not least, ‘Birds outfielder Rick Ankiel.

"Baseball and comic books - the perfect partners; boys and girls, for generations, have spent hours reading comic books and passing countless summer hours playing baseball," Redbirds President/GM Dave Chase says. "Today's children are watching super heroes on movie screens, but the heart and soul of the big screen version is the paper and ink of comic books. Triple-A Baseball would be hard pressed to find a more perfect partner."

The smart asses at deadspin.com have already gotten hold of the news, and the blog’s cast of commenters is having a field day. Examples:

“Watch as Rink Ankiel defeats robots above 20 feet tall with the single pitch of a baseball!”

“When battling Rick Ankiel, the only way to avoid defeat is by standing in the strike zone.”

Monday, July 30, 2007

Stax Documentary Debuts Wednesday

Posted on Mon, Jul 30, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Respect Yourself: The Stax Story debuts on PBS stations nationwide on Wednesday.

The film traces the history of the legendary record label from its founding by the fiddle-playing bank employee Jim Stewart to its heydey as the premier soul label in the 1970s and through the bankruptcy in 1975 and relaunch in 2006.

The film, written by local filmmaker and author Robert Gordon, includes interviews with Stewart, Mavis Staples, Al Bell, and many others.

For more information on Respect Yourself, go here.

The airs locally at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, August 1st.

"Jerry Springer: The Opera" Set For Playhouse On The Square

Posted By on Mon, Jul 30, 2007 at 4:00 AM

The foul words on TV's Jerry Springer won't be bleeped out when the show comes to Memphis. In fact, they'll be sung.

Jerry Springer: The Opera will premiere August 10 at Playhouse on the Square, located at 51 South Cooper.

The theater's website describes the musical's plot: "As people confess to an assortment of infidelities and guilty secrets, the television host eventually finds himself in a hell of his own making and is called upon to effect a reconciliation between the two ultimate adversaries -- Satan and Jesus."

The show, which will run through September 9th, is the winner of the 2004 Olivier Award for Best Musical. For reservations and ticket information, call 726-4656.

Tennessee Sales Tax "Holiday" Set for Next Weekend

Posted By on Mon, Jul 30, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Governor Phil Bredesen and Tennessee Department of Revenue officials are reminding Tennesseans that the second annual Sales Tax Holiday begins this Friday, August 3, at 12:01 a.m.and ends Sunday, August 5, at 11:59 p.m.

This holiday provides statewide sales tax exemption for school and art supplies and clothing priced $100 or less per item and computers priced $1,500 or less.

This is the first holiday that art supplies will be exempt, which includes clay and glazes; tempera and oil paints; paintbrushes for artwork; sketch and drawing pads; and watercolors.

Visit the dedicated Sales Tax Holiday website to learn more about what items are exempt from sales taxes.

B.B. King Lauds Eric Clapton at Chicago Blues Fest

Posted By on Mon, Jul 30, 2007 at 4:00 AM

"I'll probably embarrass him, but I just need to do it, Eric,' King said, lifting his red plastic cup of water. 'I’ve been around the world. I’ve met kings and queens. But I’ve never met a better man, a more gracious man -- my friend Eric Clapton. May I live forever,' added King, 81. 'But may you live forever and a day. Because I don't want to be here if you’re not around.' The crowd roared its approval."

Rolling Stone online has the details on last weekend's Crossroads Guitar Festival in Chicago, in which Eric Clapton led a trouple of guitar legends including Jimmy Vaughn, Buddy Guy, Jeff Beck, and Robbie Robertson among many others.

But, as might be expected, Memphis' own B.B. stole the show.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Have You Voted Yet?

Posted on Sun, Jul 29, 2007 at 4:00 AM

It's been touted as the most important vote of the year. It's the Flyer's Best of Memphis Readers Poll, and, of course, we're the ones doing the touting.

Vote now.

South Main: The Way It Was

Posted on Sun, Jul 29, 2007 at 4:00 AM

The pictures are pretty bleak, but it's the way South Main was back in the mid-'80s. It's also the way Robert McGowan, former art critic for the Flyer, founder of the art journal Number:, founder of the late (and lamented) Memphis Center for Contemporary Art, and an artist (and writer) himself, saw it.

See for yourself in McGowan's photo essay documenting South Main in the latest issue of Culture Grits: A Mouthful of Memphis, a biweekly online magazine, featuring essays, fiction, business news, food news, and a "soul series" on Memphis music.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Elvis Spotted in Hawaii

Posted on Sat, Jul 28, 2007 at 4:00 AM

"His hair is slicked back, vest plastered on, microphone tilted toward his lips and flared pants draped to the floor."

On Thursday, a bronze statue of Elvis was unveiled in Honolulu. The statue was commissioned by TV Land to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Elvis' death. The statue shows Elvis as he was during the 1973 concert "Aloha from Hawaii," the first to be broadcast in satellite.

"It's about time. Elvis gave so much to Hawaii," said impersonator Jonathon Vonbrana, who had carefully sculpted black hair and wore dark sunglasses. "It's excellent. A lot of the statues don't even look like him."

Read the rest of the AP account here.

My Little Pony Fans Convene in Memphis

Posted on Sat, Jul 28, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Fan of the toy ponies of many colors and the silky, brushable manes will be gathering today at the Cook Convention Center for the My Little Pony Fair.

Most girls discover My Little Pony in preschool, but my daughter was a latecomer, eschewing the trend until her early teens when, in a DIY frenzy, she started customizing the pastel prancers. Her passion for the craft was unstoppable, sending her to thrift shops to rescue discarded ponies, to crafts stores for Sculptey and beads, and to online forums for detailed instructions on how to reroot pony manes one strand at a time. To this day, my most treasured gift is a custom garden pony with messenger bag, flower tattoo, and jaunty straw hat. I call her Miss Bloomer.

If you don't know that every MLP has a name, then the My Little Pony Fair Collectors Convention isn't for you. But if your love for the little ponies is, well, a little obsessive, head straight for the Memphis Cook Convention Center for a national gathering this weekend of like-minded enthusiasts. Now in its fourth year, the convention is finally endorsed by Hasbro, which introduced the first generation of ponies (now there are three) in 1982.

The convention includes a custom pony swap, pony "Jeopardy," and lots of cool pony merch. But perhaps the thing that's got MLPers chomping at the bit the most? Hasbro will unveil a new pony at the show.

For more information, go here.

--Pamela Denney

Friday, July 27, 2007

Shelby Farm Buffalo Babies Named!

Posted on Fri, Jul 27, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Shelby Farms has just announced that their three brand-new baby buffalo have been named. Lisa Reed suggested “Simba” for the boy buffalo, Terre Gorham came up with “Shelby” for the second male, and Jason Nabors suggested “Buffy.”

No word yet on how the heck you’re supposed to tell them apart.

For more information about the buffalo naming contest, go here.

Get to Know The Bouffants

Posted on Fri, Jul 27, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Cover bands are often overlooked. Members can change from one day to the next, and people tend not to notice so long as they keep on cranking out familiar hits.

But thanks to mile-high bouffant wigs, flashy sequin gowns, and lots of makeup, Memphis’ Bouffants aren’t the average party band. Their presentation is nearly as important as the Motown and Stax soul covers they perform at special events around town.

Get to know the ladies behind all that hair in “The Bouffants Undressed” at Theatre Memphis Friday and Saturday night. They’ll be leaving their clothes on, but the wigs will stay backstage as the four-piece female outfit performs in a relaxed cabaret-style setting.

For more on the Bouffants, go here.

Get the details in the Flyer’s searchable listings.

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