Thursday, May 2, 2019

Penny Hardaway, Hot Wing Fest, Hemp Fest, and more!

Posted By on Thu, May 2, 2019 at 4:07 PM

click to enlarge Penny Hardaway was the honorary chair of the FedExFamiliyHouse Gala. I was the reporter. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Penny Hardaway was the honorary chair of the FedExFamiliyHouse Gala. I was the reporter.

Alan Graf Jr. did a great job as a reporter at the FedExFamilyHouse Gala.
Graf, FedEx executive vice president and chief financial officer, interviewed University of Memphis men’s basketball coach Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway. The Memphis icon/former NBA All-Star was honorary chair at the LeBonheur Children's Hospital fund-raiser, which was held April 13th at The Peabody.

Graf asked Hardaway, who is known for his amazing calmness during games, to show him the look he sometimes gives players.

“On the inside, I’m screaming,” Hardaway says. “I’m really screaming on the inside. But, honestly, I learned that a long time ago because I’ve won six state championships as a coach. And I told the kids, ‘If you don’t see me panic, you don’t panic.’ So, I try to stay calm for them. Because if they look to the bench and see me going crazy, that’s going to keep them distracted because they’re going to be worrying about me. And I don’t want them to be worrying about me. I want them to worry about the game.”

Hardaway then showed the audience the look he gives “when kids don’t do as I say.” It could be described as a side-eyed “Are you kidding me?” look.

“And then I go right back to the game,” Hardaway says.

Hardaway’s thoughts on being U of M coach? “It was unreal to walk into the building and see that much energy in the building from the fans. And see the excitement around the city again. To see the Tiger blue being worn all over the city — it’s been great.”


click to enlarge Penny Hardaway with Alan and Susan Graf at the FedExFamilyHouse Gala. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Penny Hardaway with Alan and Susan Graf at the FedExFamilyHouse Gala.

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click to enlarge George Hill, Colin Morman, and Ronnie Rainer  - members of the champion team Sauce'd Up, which took first place at the Southern Hot Wing Festival. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • George Hill, Colin Morman, and Ronnie Rainer - members of the champion team Sauce'd Up, which took first place at the Southern Hot Wing Festival.

“Mix’d Up” could have been the name of the sauce for Sauce’d Up’s hot wings, which took first place in the Southern Hot Wing Festival, which was held April 13th on Tiger Lane.

The sauce was a mixture of two sauces, which were made by team members Ronnie Rainer and Colin Morman.

“The sauce was a collaboration between me and my teammate,” Rainer says. “What we actually did was make two different sauces. The sauce that I made was a buffalo hot sauce. And the sauce that my teammate made was a cherry habanero.

“We were playing around in the kitchen and we started combining the two sauces. The cherry habanero had a sweetness to it and the buffalo sauce had the heat and the tanginess. But it didn’t have any sweet. I wanted to keep with the traditional buffalo. We mixed them together and it turned out really well.”

Really well - as in $5,000, which was the first prize.

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click to enlarge Carla Thomas singing "Gee Whiz" at One Night. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Carla Thomas singing "Gee Whiz" at One Night.

Talk about a show stopper. That’s when Carla Thomas sang “Gee Whiz (Look at his Eyes)” at the United Way of the MId-South’s “Night to Unite” 95th anniversary party, which was held April 5th at The Columns.

“Carla hadn’t sung ‘Gee Whiz’ since the ‘60s,” says Royal Recording Studio owner Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell, who produced the music portion of the evening. “That’s the second time she sang it in almost 50 years. She just killed it, man. Amazing.”

“Gee Whiz” was Thomas’s hit in 1961. “It was one of the first hits on Stax,” Mitchell says. “It may have been their first hit.”

And, he says, “The first version of that that didn’t get released was recorded here at Royal before Stax opened. It was for the Stax label, but they didn’t have a studio at the time.”

Thomas sang, her sister, Vaneese, sang, and both women sang a tribute to their dad, the late Rufus Thomas Jr.


click to enlarge Carla and Vaneese Thomas performed at One Night. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Carla and Vaneese Thomas performed at One Night.


click to enlarge James Alexander of the Bar-Kays was at One Night. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • James Alexander of the Bar-Kays was at One Night.
click to enlarge Lester Snell and his wife, Pat, were at One Night. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Lester Snell and his wife, Pat, were at One Night.
click to enlarge Aline Shibata and Chuck Hutton were at One Night. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Aline Shibata and Chuck Hutton were at One Night.

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click to enlarge Lee Otts at the Mid-South Hemp Fest - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Lee Otts at the Mid-South Hemp Fest

Wearing a black suit with a green cannabis leaf design, Lee Otts kept things running smoothly at the first Mid-South Hemp Fest, which was held April 20th in Overton Park.

As Otts says, “Police were there. The smell of cannabis in the air.”

And, he says, “It was the first time to throw a festival of this size and it blew up so big.”

The purpose of the event was “ to raise awareness of the benefits of the cannabis industry in Tennessee,” says Otts, who is president of The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). “The reason I say ‘cannabis industry’ is there is a common misconception that there’s a difference between hemp and marijuana. It’s all one versatile plant. The THC inside the hemp plant is what differentiates it from marijuana.”

The festival featured 100 vendors, which included “CBD companies, hemp farmers, support industries like lab processing companies,” Ott says.

The hemp for sale at the festival was “100 percent state grown legal industrial hemp.”

Hemp Fest drew vendors from as far away as Portland, Oregon, Otts says.

Otts estimates the Memphis festival drew thousands of people. “There’s been some other smaller ones that have been more business oriented. As a patient myself, I wanted it more geared to the patient and not the business side.”

In 2012, Otts broke vertebrae in a fall. “After two and a half years of traditional medication, 14 types of pills to treat side effects of the medication, I started trying cannabis. And slowly but surely the medication started decreasing and my quality of life started increasing.”

He plans to hold the festival again, but, the bad news, Otts says, is, “Where we had our festival is being taken over as a parking lot. We have to relocate.”

He’s looking at Shelby Farms as one possibility.

So, getting back to Otts' great suit. “I ordered it on line on Amazon,” he says. It’s a “Cannaboss suit” made by Opposuits. He paid $99 for the suit, Otts says, “But it was $130 worth of tailoring that made it look so good.”


click to enlarge Mid-South Hemp Fest - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Mid-South Hemp Fest


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click to enlarge Patrick and Carrie Galphin were at GreenShoe Gala. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Patrick and Carrie Galphin were at GreenShoe Gala.

Green shoes, green socks, green jackets, green dresses - all of that fit in at the GreenShoe Gala, which was held March 30th at Shelby Farms.

More than 300 people attended the event and more than $150,000 was raised, says Angie Whitfield. ”These are both records in terms of money raised and attendance,” she says.

The GreenShow Gala is Shelby Farms Park’s largest fund-raiser. It helps provide daily care and maintenance for the lakes, trails, and green spaces, access to field trips and mobile classroom visits, care for the Park’s buffalo herd, and 365 play days a year, which are enjoyed by more than three million visitors.


click to enlarge Jackie Dandridge and Lester Brown were at GreenShoe Gala. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Jackie Dandridge and Lester Brown were at GreenShoe Gala.

click to enlarge GreenShoe Gala - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • GreenShoe Gala
click to enlarge Hanna and Franck Oysel at GreenShoe Gala. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Hanna and Franck Oysel at GreenShoe Gala.

click to enlarge GreenShoe Gala - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • GreenShoe Gala

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click to enlarge Austin Kempel and J. R. Bearden at Uncork the Cure. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Austin Kempel and J. R. Bearden at Uncork the Cure.

Nick and Christine Gant hosted their first Uncork the Cure fundr-aiser, which was held April 5th at Old Dominick Distillery.

The event, which benefited the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, was a success; about 234 attended and $41,334 was raised, Nick says. And, he adds, “We had four guest chefs - Philip Ashley Rix, Cullen Kent, Kelly English, and J. R. Bearden.”

The Gants’ son, Nicholas, has cystic fibrosis. “He was five days old when the doctors told me he should survive to 18 to 21 years old,” Nick says. “He is the sweetest, happiest kid a dad could ask for, so I work hard to fund raise a cure.

“The pace of medical breakthroughs is astonishing. Nicholas is only two years old and already is receiving treatments that did not exist when he was born.”

Uncork the Cure will be an annual event, Nick says. “This was our kickoff event.”


click to enlarge Nick and Christine Gant at Uncork the Cure. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Nick and Christine Gant at Uncork the Cure.

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click to enlarge Hoedown for Hope - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Hoedown for Hope

Hope House’s annual Hoedown for Hope was quite a throw down. A total of $40,000 was raised at the event, which was held April 12th at Propceller.

“It was the highest we’ve ever raised,” says Allie Lindsey, who chaired the event with Lenox Warren. “We’ve done this event for a few years. It’s just people coming back and bringing their friends.”

“Red, White and Boots” was the theme of the event, which included music by DJ Nugget, dancing, barbecue, beer and wine, a silent auction, a photo booth - and a mechanical bull, which was adept at bucking the braver guests.


click to enlarge Hoedown for Hope - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Hoedown for Hope
click to enlarge Chelsea Lumpkin and Doug Browne were at Hoedown for Hope. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Chelsea Lumpkin and Doug Browne were at Hoedown for Hope.
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click to enlarge Dr. Reginald Coopwood, president and CEO of Regional One Health, and his wife, Erica, at the One Night Gala. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Dr. Reginald Coopwood, president and CEO of Regional One Health, and his wife, Erica, at the One Night Gala.

Grammy-winning artists Chaka Khan and Billy Ocean performed at the ONE Night Gala, which was held April 13th at Memphis Cook Convention Center. The annual event benefits Regional One Health Foundation.

Jennifer Hobson and Suzana Lightman chaired the event, which included cocktails, dinner, and dancing.

ONE Night is the largest annual fund-raising event in support of Regional One Health.


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click to enlarge Linda Pelts, Barry Pelts, and Tricia Pelts Woodman at Venue 901 opening. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Linda Pelts, Barry Pelts, and Tricia Pelts Woodman at Venue 901 opening.

A new event place - Venue 901 - opened with a party, which was held April 9th.
The space, which is part of Corky’s Ribs & BBQ, is next door to the Corky’s at 5259 Poplar.

The 2,200 square-foot-space can seat up to 80, says Corky’s co-president Barry Pelts.

Venue 901 includes valet parking with all events. “Great menu options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and cocktails,” Pelts says.

Chris Allen and Justin Moore performed during the event.

Brandon "Nosey" Marshall worked on a large "Memphis" mural during the party.


click to enlarge Chris Allen and Justin Moore performed at the Venue 901 opening. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Chris Allen and Justin Moore performed at the Venue 901 opening.
click to enlarge Venue 901 opening - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • MIchael Donahue
  • Venue 901 opening
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click to enlarge img_6822_1_.jpg

This year's recipients of the Mojo of Midtown awards were Ballet Memphis- Dorothy Gunther Pugh, First Congo - Rev Cheryl Cornish, Sonia Walker, and Julia Hicks; Onie Johns - Caritas Village; Dr. Mike Kirby - V & E Greenline; Otherlands Coffee Bar- Karen Lebovitz; and Overton Park Conservancy - Tina Sullivan.

The awards were presented March 26 at Circuit Playhouse.

Mojo of Midtown awards recognizes individuals or organizations who have, through talent, motivation, innovation, and mojo, made a significant difference in promoting and 

click to enlarge Mojo of Midtown awards. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Mojo of Midtown awards.

preserving Midtown Memphis.

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click to enlarge William N. “Bill” Morris at “Bill Morris: A Legendary Life” book signing, which was held March 28 at Novel. The book documents his life of public service as the Sheriff of Shelby County and his four consecutive terms as Shelby County mayor.  With him is his co-writer Darrell B. Uselton. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • William N. “Bill” Morris at “Bill Morris: A Legendary Life” book signing, which was held March 28 at Novel. The book documents his life of public service as the Sheriff of Shelby County and his four consecutive terms as Shelby County mayor. With him is his co-writer Darrell B. Uselton.

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