Friday, May 25, 2018

Welcome, Dale Watson! And more!

Posted By on Fri, May 25, 2018 at 4:02 PM

click to enlarge img_7523.jpg

Now that the weather’s warm and everyone's outside, you don’t know who or what you’re going to run into when you’re out and about. I ran into a cockatoo named “Jack” in front of my office.

Van Meter and his mother Carol had two exotic birds in tow.  I was so enthralled holding the bird on my arm, I never asked why the people were walking around downtown with parrots.

I did remember my reportorial skills and taped Dale Watson’s speech when he and his wife, Celine Lee, were on stage at the "Welcome to Memphis Dale Watson Puttin' Down Roots Party," held May 13 at The Warehouse.

Watson moved to Memphis and brought his Ameripolitan Music Awards with him. He created the awards in 2013 to recognize working artists.

"I've been coming here for a long time," Watson told the audience. "And I will tell you this: There is no place that's got the soul of Memphis, Tennessee. No place. You have it. You've always had it. You've never let it go. I'm just proud to be moved here now. And I'm going to do business here. Ameripolitan is here for as long as I can see it. This is just a natural place for it to be."

The Dale Watson tribute was a group effort organized by Hal Lansky, Rodney Polk, Kris Kourdouvelis and Sharon Gray. It was held at The Warehouse.

“It was Hal Lansky’s brainchild,” Polk says. “He came to me and said he would like to throw a big welcome to Memphis party for Dale and Celine. And he got in contact with Kris and it started growing from there. We met a couple of times. Julie Lansky did the PR. I got hold of all the talent. I did the music.”

Asked why he wanted to hold an event for Watson, Lansky says, “Because he’s such a great guy.”

Food was provided by Jack Pirtle’s Chicken and Alex Grisanti’s 9-Dough-1 food truck.

The event featured performances by Memphis Jones and his band, Amy LaVere and Will Sexton, Steve Brown, Jerry Phillips and his group and Grace Askew and Landon Moore.

Dale and Celine Lee also performed. Dr. Susan Murrmann and Hal Lansky sponsored the entertainment.

click to enlarge Dale Watson and Celine Lee at the "Puttin' Down Roots Party." - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Dale Watson and Celine Lee at the "Puttin' Down Roots Party."

click to enlarge Exceptional Foundation's "Farm to Table" - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Exceptional Foundation's "Farm to Table"

I think The Exceptional Foundation of West Tennessee’s “Farm to Table” event, which was held May 12th, was a first for me, as far as locations go. It was held at Millstone Market & Nursery in Germantown. Guests dined, drank, and listened to music amidst the fiddle leaf fig, split leaf philodendron, caladiums, ferns, and Swedish ivy. And a large variety of succulents.

It's a great party venue.

The foundation’s executive director Jo Ann Fusco loved having the event at the Millstone, which is owned by Tricia and Dale Hunt. “The Saturday before Mother’s Day is such a busy weekend for them and I couldn’t believe she said, ‘Yes,’” Fusco says.

Fusco and her assistant worked on the event for seven months. “It was gorgeous. And Tricia provided all the plants and flowers and the candelabras. It was just more than I even expected. It exceeded my expectations.”

Erling Jensen and David Krog were the head chefs for the dinner. Interim restaurant pastry chef Franck Oysel did the desserts.

Susan Marshall and her band provided the music. The Team 901 singing group from The Exceptional Foundation also performed. “It was so wonderful because it let all of our donors see exactly what we do and who we work with and how much fun we have.”

Fusco’s program assistant is Memphis musician/singer Jesse Davis, who is the foundation’s music director. “He chose what songs they did. I didn’t have anything to do with it.”

“The Exceptional Foundation of West Tennessee is a day facility for individuals with intellectual disabilities,” Fusco says. “About 85 or 90 percent of our participants come from low income underserved areas. That’s why we do fundraisers. And we subsidize everyone by 50 percent because we can’t raise our prices. They can’t pay. That’s why we need the money.”

click to enlarge Cedric Burnside at "I Listen to Memphis" launch party. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Cedric Burnside at "I Listen to Memphis" launch party.

Cedric Burnside and Marcella & Her Lovers — two “I Listen to Memphis” video performers — provided the entertainment at Beale Street Caravan’s “I Listen to Memphis” launch party, which was held May 9th at the Rec Room. Guests also viewed videos at the screening.

The 14 “I Listen to Memphis” videos include performers Don Bryant with The Bo-Keys, Rev. John Wilkins, Hippy Soul, Dirty Streets, Liz Brasher, Motel Mirrors, Heels, and Negro Terror.


click to enlarge "Jockeys & Juleps" - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • MIchael Donahue
  • "Jockeys & Juleps"

Yes, there were lots of big hats at the Jockeys & Juleps party, a benefit for Southern Reins Center for Equine Therapy.

And a lot of big hearts. A total of $250,000 was raised at the event, which was attended by 800 people, said event chair Courtney Smith. Mike and Donna Glenn were honorary chairs.

The event, held at Southern Reins, coincided with the Kentucky Derby, which aired the same day. Guests watched the race on TV. They experienced Louisville in Collierville.


click to enlarge Krewes for Kids - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Krewes for Kids

I’ve been to a lot of parties, but this year’s Krewes for Kids party was outstanding. The Carnival Memphis event was held April 28th at the Crosstown Concourse. It was beautiful. More than 450 people attended. The energy in the room was amazing.

“It was our most successful auction, raising six figures for the first time,” said Carnival Memphis executive director Ed Galfsky. “The numbers for the event aren’t finalized yet, but we feel confident it’s our most successful fundraiser ever.”

This year’s Carnival Memphis Children’s Charities are Agape Child & Family Services Inc., Emmanuel Center and Memphis Athletic Ministries.

More Carnival Memphis fun was held at the Secret Order of the Boll Weevil’s annual party. These are the Carnival merrymakers, who wear masks with long snouts and dress in green. They prove it’s easy - and fun - to be green. The party was held May 12 at the new Avon Acres event center at the rear of the Central BBQ on Summer.

click to enlarge Scholar Athlete Awards Dinner - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • MIchael Donahue
  • Scholar Athlete Awards Dinner


Eleven high school students were honored at the 46th annual Scholar Athlete Awards Dinner, which was held April 30th at Rhodes College.

This year’s Scholar Athlete Honorees are Logan Barham, Independence High School; Micah Breckenridge, White Station High School; Bradley Ellis, Briarcrest Christian School; Patrick Healy, Christian Brothers High School; Ty Kimberlin, Harding Academy; Tate Kolwyck, Arlington High School; Daniel Lake, Bolivar High School; Ted Lyons, Germantown High School; Matthew Priest, First Assembly Christian School; Devon Robinson, Whitehaven High School; and Nathan Tatko, Northpoint Christian School.

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