Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Elvis fans, Omni, Linda Thompson, Lisamorgan, Railgarten

Posted By on Wed, Aug 16, 2017 at 3:27 PM

Nathan Pittorf at Candlelight Vigil. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Nathan Pittorf at Candlelight Vigil.

John P. Carpenter, an Elvis tribute artist from Canada, finally took the step and bought a pair of blue suede shoes at Lansky Brothers.

Elvis’s own shoes wouldn’t be too big for Carpenter to fill. “I’m about sure Elvis wore size twelves, too,” said Carpenter, who was dressed in the King’s favorite colors - pink and black.

Carpenter was among the throng at the Candlelight Vigil, held Aug. 15 in front of Graceland. Fans of all ages turned out to honor the memory of the King on a hot summer evening.

“My hair’s melting,” said 11-year-old tribute artist Nathan Pittorf, whose slick coif accented his lavender shirt, black pants and black-and-white spectator shoes.

Nathan uses three different pomades on his hair: 360, Clubman and Aussie, said his dad, Mike Pittorf. On a “windy, rough day” Nathan uses American Crew pomade, he said.

Asked what the King meant to him, Australian Elvis tribute artist Stuey V said, “The impact he’s made on many lives.”

Stuey V described Elvis as “a humble human being and one of the greatest entertainers who ever lived.”

Keith Easom, who is from England, showed his love for the King with his tattoos. He had 17 Elvis tattoos on just his back.

Kyler Campbell has a special bond with the King. “I doubled for Elvis once,” he said. He portrayed Elvis - ‘50s shirt, slacks and all - as he sat in the backseat of a green car in the “Sun Records” TV series.

His dressing room door had a star on it and the name “Elvis,” he said.

Brian Troy, who participated in the Images of the King tribute artist contest, said this was his first Candlelight Vigil. “It’s wonderful to be able to finally come here and experience this fantastic thing,” he said.

He enjoyed his visit to Memphis, which included a booking at the Magnuson hotel. As for the Vigil, he said, “This here beats it all.”

“You are keeping Elvis alive - truly,” Priscilla Presley told the audience before fans began the walk to Meditation Garden to pay their respects.

Frankie Broyles, Doug Bleichner and Philip Frobos of Omni at Growlers. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Frankie Broyles, Doug Bleichner and Philip Frobos of Omni at Growlers.


“I love Elvis,” said Omni vocalist/bass player Philip Frobos. “I mean, there’s so many things to love about Elvis, but I really love his minimal ballads a lot.”

Frobos and his band, which includes guitarist Frankie Broyles and drummer Doug Bleichner, were in town Aug. 9 to perform at Growlers.

His girlfriend recently sent him the box set of Elvis recordings, “A Boy from Tupelo - The Complete 1953-55 Recordings,” Frobos said. “It’s some really great stripped-down versions of ‘Blue Moon’ and ‘I Love You Because.’ and stuff like that. But I also really like his Hank Williams cover of ‘Trying to Get to You.’ I even love that special where he’s wearing the black leather.”

Frobos began playing bass when he was 14. “I remember saying I would probably never learn a musical instrument or anything like that, which is weird. I was a soccer player. It was kind of my main thing.”

But he stopped playing soccer. “That kind of happened at the time I started dating girls, too. So, it’s like, ‘Music and girls are a lot more fun than waking up at 6 a.m. and running around.’”

Asked how Omni began, Frobos said he and Broyles “would write songs around the house” when they were in their own bands. Frobos was in Carnivores and Broyles was in Balkans and, later, Deerhunter. “But, really, Omni happened, I suppose, after we had written a song that sounded more like proto-punk. And we kind of liked where we went with that and followed that idea.”

The band originally was called “Land Line,” but, Frobos said, “We decided to change it to ‘Omni’ because there’s another ‘Land Line’ in Portland. We named it after the Omni Coliseum in Atlanta. It’s no longer there, but it’s where the Atlanta Hawks played basketball. And David Bowie and Led Zeppelin played there all the time.”

As for their music style when they began, Frobos said, “I don’t think we set out to do any kind of thing, but at the time we were listening to a lot of late ‘70s early rock music. So, rock and roll with a new wave influence. Rock and roll with a sense of urgency. Not necessarily punk, but rhythmic, too.”

They recorded their first album, “Deluxe,” with Trouble in Mind records in January, 2016. “The second one comes out this September. It’s called ‘Multi-task.’ I would say it seems a little more rock and roll than the first record. We definitely don’t want to repeat ourselves. But, also, I’ve never been a fan of people just abandoning their sounds. (It’s) just good rock songs. I think we tend to not be afraid to do things that some people might consider cheesy. Or bigger guitar and drums moments. A little more space in the songs and things like that.”

Frobos, who writes the lyrics to their songs, said, “I would say this new record is a lot of disenchantment and stemming from maybe just common everyday social experiences. I was in a pretty terrible relationship, so there was a lot of anger coming from that. But it doesn’t come out as anger. It comes out as clever.”

John Doyle, LInda Thompson, Pat Kerr Tigrett at Linda Thompson's book signing at Memphis Rock N' Soul Museum. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • John Doyle, LInda Thompson, Pat Kerr Tigrett at Linda Thompson's book signing at Memphis Rock N' Soul Museum.


Fans packed Memphis Rock N’ Soul Museum Aug. 13 to meet Linda Thompson and have her sign copies of her book, “A Little Thing Called Life: On Loving Elvis Presley, Bruce Jenner, and Songs in Between.”

The book recounts the years Thompson spent with Elvis and her marriage to Bruce Jenner, now Caitlyn Jenner.

The King’s first words to Thompson after he noticed her at the old Memphian theater were, “Oh, hello, honey.”

Thompson presented an award to Jenner at a charity event in 1979. They began dating and were married in 1981. Thompson never suspected Jenner was transgender.

About 200 attended the signing, said the museum’s executive director John Doyle.

They don’t do a lot of book signings at the museum, but, Doyle said,, “She was such a big draw and, obviously, the Elvis fans that are in town know her, respect her and appreciate her involvement in Elvis’s life. Needless to say, there was almost a guaranteed audience for that.

“Elvis Week presents that unique opportunity because the tourists that are here are very focused on anything associated with Elvis and his career and his life. An opportunity to have her in town and participate in a book signing with her is a great opportunity to tie in with the cool things that Graceland is doing.”


Tadd James, Dylan THompson, Mary Catherine and Muriel Gintz at Fam Jam. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Tadd James, Dylan THompson, Mary Catherine and Muriel Gintz at Fam Jam.

Tigerlake and Mellowtonin performed Aug. 8 at Fam Jam at Railgarten.

Commenting on their musical style, Tiger Lake bass player Ian Rone said, “I think we’re trying to go the indie alternative route like every other band nowadays, but I’d say it’s something different. We’re always trying to keep things different and new.”

The band also includes Wallace Leopard and Lucas Davis on guitar, Gary Leopard on drums and Jacob Tims on synthesizer and guitar.

All the band members write the songs, including “Moon Man,” the group’s most popular song. “It’s about this guy and girl in a moon colony,” Rone said. “And she has to leave and he’s sad. She’s leaving to go back to Earth or somewhere else. I’m not exactly sure.”

Asked where “Tigerlake” came from, Rone said, “I was driving in Florida and I saw it. It’s like a county or something in Florida near Pensacola. I was like, ‘That’s a cool name. Guys, let’s do that.’”

Mellowtonin got its name sort of by accident. “We thought we were going to be a band for one show, so we kind of made it as a joke name,” said guitarist/vocalist Wesley Wolffe. “We played our first show and we liked it.”

Mellowtonin also includes guitarist/vocalist Emerson Manley, Turner Wolffe on bass, Ara Hanissian on synthesizer and Grady Leopard on drums.

As for their music style, Wolffe said, “We have three or four different songwriters in the band. I listen to a lot of ‘80s music. Emerson, the other guitar player and singer, likes pop punk and stuff. All the different styles meld into one. So, you can’t put your finger on it.”

They liked Railgarten. “We normally play at our friends’ houses and stuff like that. That was definitely the nicest venue we’ve ever played. We really liked the setup and how nice the stage looked.”

Rone also liked Railgarten. “I really enjoy the space. A lot of people there. It’s a great environment for people to go watch live music for free, which I think is just dandy. It’s a very, very family friendly place.”

Chelse Rice and Javarrius Reaves at Lisamorgan soft opening. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Chelse Rice and Javarrius Reaves at Lisamorgan soft opening.


Lisa Morgan, former owner of The Cottage restaurant on Summer, held a soft opening for her new business, Lisamorgan, a boutique in Wolfchase Galleria.

The event included a fashion show hosted by Glen Allen and Jenni Graham of apparel by designers featured at the shop.

Asked why she wanted to open a boutique, Morgan said, “I wanted one for a couple of years and I couldn’t do it. Morgan (Prewett, her daughter) is into fashion and modeling, so I thought it would be good for her as well.”

On hand at the event was Lisa’s father, Billy Franks, who owned The Cottage from 2009 to 2012 before Lisa took it over. Since the store’s party coincided with Billy’s birthday, guests treated him to a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday to You.”

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Elvis 7's, Downtown National Night Out, Memphis Film Prize, Summerween, Fam Jam

Posted By on Wed, Aug 9, 2017 at 12:00 PM

Mr. Sideburns 2017 contest winner Hal Struckman at Elvis 7s rugby tournament. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Mr. Sideburns 2017 contest winner Hal Struckman at Elvis 7s rugby tournament.

“All Shook Up” played in the background as rugby players competed in the Elvis 7s tournament Aug. 5 at USA Stadium in Millington.

Some players grew sideburns for the occasion. A few of them entered the Mr. Sideburns contest, where they showed off their chops and sang a bit of an Elvis song.

“This is the unofficial start to Elvis Week in Memphis,” said emcee Larry Magdovitz, who was dressed in a white jumpsuit and wore a pair of sunglasses the King would have envied.

Magdovitz described the event as “an all-day 32-team sevens rugby tournament we’ve been doing for several decades now.

“What makes it Elvis is the sheer love of Elvis that everyone shows. It requires you to grow sideburns if you want to compete in the sideburns contest.”

And, he said, “We listen to Elvis music all day long - from 8:00 until 7:00. And we just enjoy good camaraderie and a love of a nice man from Tupelo who touched all of our hearts.”

Out-of-town teams participated in the event, but player Chris Cobb probably traveled the farthest. A former Memphian, Chris now lives in Shenzhen, China. He said he traveled 1,200 miles - 16 hours on a plane - from China to Memphis.

Why? “It’s the best, most social rugby tournament in North America,” he said. “This is my first time back in two years. (I’ve been) living in China two years.”

He doesn’t have to worry about getting a group together to play rugby in China. “There’s over 1,000 rugby teams in Hong Kong. I play rugby in China. I play for the Shenzhen Dragons and the Hong Kong Valley.”

Hal Struckman won his second Mr. Sideburns title at the Elvis 7s. He sang “Suspicious Minds.” And, in a runoff with competitor Jason Mapp, he sang “Hound Dog.”

Struckman’s nickname is “Halvis.”

Greg Todd and Bridget Lee at Summerween. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Greg Todd and Bridget Lee at Summerween.


Halloween is about three months away, but guests celebrated a similar event Aug. 5 at The Bluff.


“Basically, it’s a concept for people to have fun in the summer,” said promoter/organizer Jack Simon. “And give them a reason to dress up. Everyone wants Halloween to be twice a year, so why not help them out with that?”

Costumes ranged from “rabbits to skeletons to just funny outfits in general,” Simon said. “I don’t think we had any Trumps this year.”

Entertainment was provided by DJ Ben Murray with drummer Zach Logan. Dude Called Rob also performed.

Summerween isn’t a new concept, said Simon. “We had it three years from 2012 to 2014.”

Why did he bring it back? “People just kept asking for it.”

Paul Morquecho, Shirley Morquecho, Rebecca Garcia and Kera Shane at Downtown National Night Out. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Paul Morquecho, Shirley Morquecho, Rebecca Garcia and Kera Shane at Downtown National Night Out.


People dined on Memphis cuisine, including Jack Pirtle’s fried chicken, Aldo’s pizza and Hog Wild barbecue, at Downtown National Night Out Aug. 1 at the Memphis Farmers Market pavilion at Central Station. About a dozen food services provided the fare for the event, said Marcy Siebert, president of Downtown

Neighborhood Association, which hosted the event along with the South Main Association, Blue Suede Brigade and the Memphis Police Department.

“National Night Out is sponsored by Neighborhood Watch,” Siebert said. “All Neighborhood Watches can have one. We choose to have a celebration for our Memphis Police Department and thank them for the job well done.”

They raised $615 for Police officer L. McCoy, whose apartment burned “a few nights before Downtown Night Out. We donated our proceeds to her.”

Gregory and Heidi Kallenberg at Memphis Film Prize after party. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Gregory and Heidi Kallenberg at Memphis Film Prize after party.


Filmmakers didn’t show any nerves at the Memphis Film Prize 2017 after party, held Aug. 5 at Mollie Fontaine Lounge. The party was held after their movies were shown, but the evening before the winner of $10,000 cash was announced.

“We Go On,” directed by Matteo Servente, won the top award. The other winners were “The Game,” directed by Robb Rokk, and “Favorites,” directed by Tracy Facelli. The winners were announced at a brunch at The Arcade Restaurant.

The top three films will be screened at the Indie Memphis Film Festival, which will be held Nov. 1 through 6. Memphis Film Prize is not affiliated with the Indie Memphis Film Festival.

The Memphis Film Prize invites filmmakers from around the world to create a five to 15 minute short film. The only rule is that the film must be shot in Shelby County.

Gregory Kallenberg is founder and executive director of the Film Prize Foundation.

Julia Berger watches Jessi Dalton perform at Fam Jam - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Julia Berger watches Jessi Dalton perform at Fam Jam


Tuesday isn’t even hump day, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Railgarten at 2166 Central is holding its “Fam Jam” between 6 and 9 p.m. on Tuesdays. Live music will be featured each week.

“The idea behind it is to create a weekly event that has live music, but that also appeals to people’s kids,” said Martha Hample with Railgarten. “So, there’s stuff to do for the kids.”

They plan to feature bands that are “more kid centric,” she said. “And doing virgin drinks in the tiki bar. “Just a night adults can come and get out of the house and bring the kids.”

The Rusty Pieces played Aug. 1. The duo even captivated Julia Berger, 3, whose dad, Taylor Berger is one of the Railgarten partners. Taylor and his son, Andrew, 6, sat in the audience and watched an entranced Julia as she stood on stage and watched Jessi Dalton play guitar.

Elvis 7s from Michael Donahue on Vimeo.

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

MEMPHO Fest founder in Memphis, Royal Studios, Our Scene United, Forever Young,

Posted By on Tue, Aug 1, 2017 at 4:41 PM

Diego Winegardner and Southern Avenue at Peabody Rooftop Party. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Diego Winegardner and Southern Avenue at Peabody Rooftop Party.

Diego Winegardner was front and center at Southern Avenue’s performance July 27 at the Peabody Rooftop Party sponsored by the Memphis Flyer. The Memphis band is one of the groups selected for the upcoming MEMPHO Music Festival Oct. 6 and 7 at Shelby Farms Park. Winegardner, a former Memphian, is the festival’s founder and the CEO of Big River Presents, which is putting on the event.

“I think it’s completely refreshing to know that soul and R&B music is alive and well and kicking in Memphis,” said Winegardner, 49. “Southern Avenue, to me, reaches back into the rich history of soul music that came out of Memphis, that came out of Stax, and was so important. And it’s so appropriate they’re on the Stax label. They bring it into a modern context.”

Winegardner, who lives in Greenwich, Connecticut, was in town meeting with potential sponsors and was conducting “ongoing production work on the festival.”

HIs idea to hold the MEMPHO festival in Memphis began with his “rediscovery of Shelby Farms Park. I came up on it on this bike ride on the Greenline that took me to Shelby Farms Park with some friends last summer.”

Winegardner hadn’t been to Memphis since 2009 after the death of his father, the late Roy Winegardner, who succeeded the late Kemmons Wilson as chairman and CEO of Holiday Inns Inc. “I, obviously, was blown away by what was going on in Shelby Farms Park, but I was really energized in what I saw going on in Memphis, in general. In particular, looking at all the recent economic developments. Whether you’re looking at Crosstown, restaurants popping up everywhere or just the energy on the street, it sure seemed like Memphis was in the midst of a renaissance.”

Winegardner, who has worked in finance in New York for more than 20 years, felt the time was right for the right kind of music festival. A “lifelong avid music lover,” Winegardner said he’s attended “every music festival of note - all the major ones,” including Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits and the New Orleans Jazz Fest. “I’ve seen first hand the impact a festival done right can have on a community.”

He wanted to “create a festival that’s more than just music.” He wants people to come from all over the country to “enjoy all the sights of Memphis and do the walk through the history of Memphis music, but listen to live music in a sensational setting with the best culinary experience you can possibly garner in Memphis. We want to bring out all the flavors of Memphis.”

National acts already booked include the Grammy Award-winning Cage the Elephant and Jason Isbell and Grammy-nominated Anderson .Paak and Cold War Kids.

“We are in the midst of developing a local stage,” Winegardner said. “And that local stage will have a full complement of Memphis bands. Local bands. We’re looking to have participation from anyone from School of Rock to more recognized local bands.”

When he was in his 20s, Winegardner, a graduate of Memphis University School and Cornell University, held “super jams” that he dubbed “Bottom Feeder Ball.” “Putting together R. L. Burnside and Blues Traveler” in his garage on Wagner Place overlooking the bluff. “I’ve always been a big fan of music, like so many. I think Memphis deserves a world-class festival and experience. And something that can grow organically over time.”

Locals will be seeing a lot of Winegardner, who is married and has three children. “My plan is to spend a considerable amount of time in Memphis,” he said. “And acquire property and build our office as we evolve into an annual event.”

Charles Hodges, Howard Grimes, Leroy "Flick" Hodges and Lawrence "Boo" Mitchell at Rhythm on the River. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Charles Hodges, Howard Grimes, Leroy "Flick" Hodges and Lawrence "Boo" Mitchell at Rhythm on the River.


Pat Kerr Tigrett wore a yellow raincoat at Rhythm on the River (Poppa Willie’s Big Night) July 27 at Royal Studios.

“I wore this in honor of Ann Peebles: ‘I Can’t Stand the Rain,’” she said.

Don Bryant, who was standing nearby, seconded Pat’s response. Bryant is one of the composers of “I Can’t Stand the Rain,” which was recorded by his wife, Ann Peebles. The record was produced by the late Willie “Poppa Willie” Mitchell, Royal Studios owner.

Don “was the first vocalist that Pop ever worked with,” said Grammy-winning producer Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell, who owns Royal Studios. “Don used to sing on Willie Mitchell records. Don also was with Don Bryant and the Four Kings in the early ‘60s.”

Don and the Bo-Keys performed some of his old Willie Mitchell tunes during the event.

Entertainment also included singer Ashton London.

And starring at the event was a buffet featuring cuisine prepared by Boo’s aunt, Yvonne Mitchell. Fare included salmon croquettes, mushroom, chicken and rice; greens, black-eyed peas, homemade peach cobbler and lemon pound cake. And - the piece de resistance - “Von’s Famous Chow Chow.”

“Rhythm on the River” was one of the special events surrounding the 60th anniversary of Royal Studios. The next event will be a concert featuring local, regional and national acts Oct. 14 at the Levitt Shell, Boo said.

U901 at Our Scene United - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • U901 at Our Scene United


About 50 bands performed at Our Scene United, a three-day music fest held July 27-29 at the Hi-Tone.

“Basically, it’s all about Memphis,” said Taylor Agee, owner of Refreshing Shows, which presented the festival. “It was something that’s all about community and it’s full of diversity. All the bands were different. So many genres represented and yet everyone is in town. It’s all about bringing different kinds of music together for one great experience.”

The first Our Scene United was held in 2011, Agee said. “But that was another company - Won’t Look Back Booking. I started Refreshing Shows this year by myself and brought back Our Scene United.

Agee was pleased with the success of this year’s event. “I went to it just hoping we’d have three good nights. We did. And I think next year it could be even bigger.”

The next Refreshing Shows event will be “Bringing Sexy Back,” a tribute to Justin Timberlake featuring Airside and Mobius Pieces, which will be held Aug. 25 at Growlers. The bands will perform Timberlake’s solo pieces as well as “some of the NSYNC classics,” Agee said.

“He’s kind of the pride of Memphis. So, that’s another local success story we’re trying to pay tribute to.”

Diane Hight, Jack Taylor and Sandra Shinault at Dreamgivers Gala. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Diane Hight, Jack Taylor and Sandra Shinault at Dreamgivers Gala.


Dr. Arie Szatkowski and his daughter, Mila, 11, visited the Beaches of Normandy, the sight of the Normandy invasion, two weeks ago.

“She was so moved by it at the end of the day she said, ‘Dad, I really want to talk to some World War II veterans,’” said Arie, a cardiologist with Stern Cardiovascular.

He called Diane Hight, founder and president of Forever Young Senior Veterans. “(I) told her that we just visited Normandy and it was incredibly moving: ‘Is there any chance you could introduce my daughter to World War II veterans?’”

Hight said, “Well, it just so happens we’re going to have a gala within a couple of weeks. I’m going to send you an invitation. And I’m going to sit you at a table with World War II veterans.”

Arie and Mila, who attends St. Mary’s Episcopal School, were among the guests at the sixth annual Dreamgivers Gala July 29 at the Hilton Memphis.

“She sat us next to a gentleman named Vince Rowell, who landed on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day June 6, 1944 and made it all the way to the Battle of the Bulge,” Arie said. “And he won three Medals of Honor.”

Mila spent time talking to Rowell and Hugh Bell, who was an Army Air Corps tail gunner on a B-29 in the Pacific during World War II.

“They were amazing,” Arie said. “At the end of the night she said it was the greatest night of her life.”

A total of 356 attended this year’s gala, said Hight. The Memphis Knights performed.

Forever Young Senior Veterans grants wishes for senior veterans 65 and older. Recipients include World War II, Korea and Vietnam veterans, said Hight, whose father and uncle were World War II veterans.

Proceeds from this year’s event will go toward sending World War II veterans to England, Hight said. “The trip to England is to honor our WWII Army Air Corps flyboys who flew missions out of England into Western Europe. We also have Army soldiers and Navy sailors who trained in England before the invasion of Normandy in 1944.”

They raised $138,000, Hight said. “We will be using the money for England. Then if we have any left over from that we will be sending our Vietnam veterans to Washington in October.”

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Blues on the Bluff, Luna, Frank Murtaugh

Posted By on Tue, Jul 25, 2017 at 4:24 PM

Neil Johnson and Sy ndney Collette at Blues on the Bluff. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Neil Johnson and Sy ndney Collette at Blues on the Bluff.

Ann Sanchez attended her first Blues on the Bluff event July 22nd on the grounds of the National Ornamental Museum. The annual event is a fundraiser for WEVL FM 89.9, a member-supported radio station.

“I came to Memphis for the blues,“ Sanchez said. “I moved from San Franciso, bought a house and I’ll stay forever.”

And, she said, “I’m a down home blues girl. I was raised with the blues.”

Asked what she thought about the event, Sanchez said, “It was wonderful. I had a great time. I’m going every year. And I became a (WEVL) member that evening. And I received a wonderful poster.

“I just love the music and history in Memphis. I just love Memphis.”

Terry Soffel, who was with her, is a Memphis drummer who performed for about 20 years with Joyce Cobb.

Blues on the Bluff celebrated its 29th anniversary this year, said station manager Judy Dorsey.

A silent auction ranged from Kroger gift cards to paintings by folk artist Lamar Sorrento.

Ghost Town Blues Band and Marcella and Her Lovers were two new bands at the event. Also performing were The MD’s (formerly Maitre D’s.”

The sunset, again, was a star. “One man told us, ‘It was worth coming just for that,’” Dorsey said.


Memphis magazine managing editor Frank Murtaugh and Memphis Flyer editor Bruce VanWyngarden at Murtaugh's book signing for his novel, "Trey's Company." - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Memphis magazine managing editor Frank Murtaugh and Memphis Flyer editor Bruce VanWyngarden at Murtaugh's book signing for his novel, "Trey's Company."

Frank Murtaugh held a book signing to celebrate the release of his coming-of-age novel, “Trey’s Company,” July 19, at Burke’s Book Store in Cooper Young.

“The novel traces one life-altering summer for 13-year-old Trey Milligan, a boy spending three months away from home with his widowed grandmother in East Tennessee,” said Murtaugh, Memphis magazine managing editor. “Three special friends come to embody love, death and the criminal element as Trey finds himself growing up faster than he’d like. The story calls to mind coming-of-age films like ‘Stand by me’ or ‘The Sandlot,’ one set in the 1980s and with a love story.“

“Why did you choose this genre,” a guest asked Murtaugh.

“Maybe it chose me,” he said.

Murtaugh has “fond memories” from his own childhood summers. “Like Trey, in Cleveland, Tenn.,” he said. “And there are some special people from that time in my life who are no longer with us. The book became a way I could bring these characters to life, even if dramatized, and share their wisdom and virtues with readers.”

“Trey’s Company,” published by Sartoris Literary Group (Jackson, Miss.), sells for $19.95 paperback and $8.95 eBook and is available at and Burke’s Book Store.

Luna soft opening. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Luna soft opening.


Guests experienced Luna Restaurant’s “new look, new image” at a dinner July 17 at the Hotel Napoleon, a boutique hotel at Third and Madison.

“We’re trying to make Luna a beacon Downtown, said Eric “Sache” Evans, a consultant on the project. “A restaurant that has a Southern fusion-inspired menu. And try to appeal to the Downtown community, the major businesses around there, including ServiceMaster, First Tennessee, AutoZone and the Redbirds ”

The menu includes chicken thigh marsala and beef tartar, tuna tartar. The “tapas”-inspired appetizer menu is called “Comets” and is described as “small plate, big bang.”

Eric Hagerman is Luna’s executive chef. “Our goal is to come in and make this place amazing,” Evans said.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Beauty Shop birthday, Sache Sunday, HEELS, Park + Cherry

Posted By on Tue, Jul 18, 2017 at 2:30 PM

Wild Magnolias with Karen Carrier at Beauty Shop - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Wild Magnolias with Karen Carrier at Beauty Shop

Beauty Shop Restaurant celebrated its 15th anniversary July 15 and 16 in style - Karen Carrier style.

Carrier, the chef/owner of the restaurant, featured items from the original menu served by women in beehive hairdos, which was part of the look when the restaurant opened in 2002.

The Wild Magnolias performed in concert as well as in a second line on Cooper.

Asked how she thought the weekend went, Carrier said, “Oh, my God. It was fantastic. A dream come true.”

Bringing those original menu items back was hard work, Carrier said. “Most of the people in the kitchen now, they didn’t know that menu. So, it was like teaching them everything.”

The servers were given appointments to get their hair done by “this woman who does retro hair,” Carrier said. “She did them every 45 minutes. Everyone played the part.”

She described the event as “a family reunion of the restaurant world. So many patrons came out to help us celebrate. And that meant the world to me.”

Carrier said she’d run back and forth from the kitchen, where she was working, to the floor to talk to customers.

As for patrons, she said, “We probably had - within two days - over 500 people easily.”

Brett "Shaggy" Duffee and his son, Nova, at Beauty Shop. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Brett "Shaggy" Duffee and his son, Nova, at Beauty Shop.


Brett “Shaggy” Duffee and his 16-year-old son, Nova, were on hand for Beauty Shop Restaurant’s 15th anniversary celebration.

Shaggy, who began his professional career at the old En Teur restaurant in Memphis, now is executive chef at Rosedale Restaurant, one of Susan Spicer’s restaurants in New Orleans. The restaurant is housed in an old police station on Rosedale Drive. “What I’m doing in New Orleans now is more of an old New Orleans cuisine. That kind of got lost in the shuffle. For instance, right now I’m doing brined catfish and dirty rice, chow chow and smothered greens. We pride ourselves on my recipe for dirty rice.”

And, he said, “We have the best turtle soup in town.”

Shaggy moved from New Orleans to Memphis in the late 1990s. He worked for several of Carrier’s restaurants, including Automatic Slim’s, which she later sold, the old Do Sushi and Beauty Shop.

His first Memphis restaurant job was working at the Arcade Cafe. “Jack Oblivian and I delivered pizzas for the Arcade,” he said.

Shaggy eventually got in Arcade’s kitchen. “I started cooking there. That’s when I fell in love with it, man.”


Christin Yates and Simba at Sache Sunday - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Christin Yates and Simba at Sache Sunday

Dog lovers spent Sache Sunday on a water slide, listening to the Grape band and playing with canines at The Street Dog Foundation fundraiser next to Sache clothing store/salon on South Main. Owner Eric “Sache” Evans and his wife, Rachel, hosted the event July 16 for the foundation.

Street Dog’s mission is to get dogs off the street - rescue, rehabilitate and re-home them.

The Vault executive chef Aaron Winters prepared - appropriately - hot dogs. Guests selected from the “Kimchi Dog” (cabbage kimchi, black sesame seeds and green onions and mayonnaise), the “Tijuana Dog” (a bacon-wrapped hot dog with green tomatillo salsa, pico de gallo, mayonnaise and cilantro) and the “Big Griller Dog” (ketchup, mustard, onion and sweet pickle relish). All the hot dogs were quarter pounders.

Club 152 provided barbecue and Old Dominick Distillery, the libations. Rizzo’s, Silly Goose and Blind Bear gave gift certificates.

Sache Sundays will be held monthly through September, Evans said. “As a member of this community, I wanted to throw back and say, ‘Thank you.’ Each month we do it to support a different charity.”

Streetdog Foundation was chosen because “animals are near and dear to our hearts.”

For June’s Sache Sunday, a total of 223 pounds of canned goods as well as cash donations were given to the Mid-South Food Bank, Evans said.

Brennan Whalen and Josh McLane at HEELS EP release party. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Brennan Whalen and Josh McLane at HEELS EP release party.


Josh McLane and Brennan Whalen, who comprise HEELS, celebrated the release of the band’s new EP, “The Long Con,” July 16 at the Hi-Tone.

“‘It’s all about the big picture,” McLane said. “This new record is four songs that we already released in a different way on the other two records. They’re electric now - better, re-written and full. The idea of a long con? It’s a con. We’re getting you to buy a record we’ve already made. It’s a remix album to be perfectly honest. But it’s almost like a reboot of what you’ve already heard. For lack of a better term.

“That being said, it’s the best thing we’ve put out. Hands down.”

The record was produced by Alyssa Moore at her Move the Air studio in Midtown. “We were the first people she let back in the door to record a record at Move the Air.”

The EP, he said, is “the closest to us sounding live we’ve heard without it being a live record.”

Kevin and Kristi Bush and Kevin Sharp at Park + Cherry. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Kevin and Kristi Bush and Kevin Sharp at Park + Cherry.


What do you call a barbecue sandwich served at Dixon Gallery and Gardens at Park and Cherry?

The Pork & Cherry.

That’s not a joke. That’s the name of one of the sandwiches served at Park + Cherry, the restaurant in Dixon’s gift shop.

Kevin Bush (director of operations) and his wife, Kristi (executive chef), held a tasting from the restaurant’s summer menu at a July 13 luncheon. The Pork & Cherry - pork loin, cherry gastrique, chicharrones and lemon aioli - was one of the items they created. Guests also sampled the smoked turkey strip, veggie sandwich, prosciutto and peach sandwich, ancient grain salad and pickled avocado toast.

Kevin, owner of CFY catering and The Atrium at Overton Square, took over the Dixon restaurant. “They started it, I guess, a year ago with Wally Joe and then we basically reopened it,” Kevin said. “We kept the same name, but it’s essentially a new restaurant in an old space.”

Asked what direction they wanted to go in with the food, Kevin said, “The biggest inspiration for the food we’ll be doing there is ‘fresh.’ We’re going to utilize the gardens for ingredients. So, they’re going to start growing fresh herbs and other edibles we can utilize throughout the menu. They’ve got some herbs for us to utilize, but they’re going to start growing especially for us. We’ll be working alongside the gardeners in growing what we want to grow.”

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Jimbo Mathus, Gone to the Dogs Fest and Arcade wedding celebration

Posted By on Tue, Jul 11, 2017 at 5:10 PM

Jimbo Mathus and the Squirrel Nut Zippers performed at the Levitt Shell - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Jimbo Mathus and the Squirrel Nut Zippers performed at the Levitt Shell

The Squirrel Nut Zippers played Levitt Shell for the first time on July 8, but lead singer/co-founder Jimbo Mathus played at the venue many times.

He played with his own group, Jimbo Mathus, and tribute shows for the late Jim Dickinson.

“It’s a beautiful venue,” said Mathus. “So much history. I love the whole band shell style. It’s one place Memphis really comes together.”

Mathus, a Fat Possum recording artist/producer living in Oxford, also loves the lighting and sound and the “all ages aspect and the free aspect” of Levitt Shell.

“It’s one of the best places to play if not THE best in Memphis. The staff is fantastic. Just a good family environment.”

The Squirrel Nut Zippers has been revived and currently is on tour, Mathus said. The group also has a new album, “Beasts of Burgundy,” coming out in January. The music is “cabaret, vaudeville, swing, burlesque and jazz,” he said. “Same energy, but a higher level of performance.”

Also debuting at the Levitt Shell were “Booze Pops,” which sounds like a music group, but they’re actually an alcohol-added version of Mempops.

“They’re pretty much frozen drinks on a stick with alcohol in them,” said Mempops founder Chris Taylor. “We use a lot of the same ingredients we use for Mempops, but we add alcohol - rum, vodka, tequila and bourbon depending on what we’re making.”

On hand during the Squirrel Nut Zippers show were “Blueberry Mojito” with rum, “Roasted Peach and Bourbon,” “Strawberry Margarita” with tequila and the “Moscow Mule” with vodka. More flavors will be available, Taylor said.

Each pop is “give or take five percent alcohol,” Taylor said. “As much alcohol as in a beer. So, only a four-ounce serving. If you’re going to get drunk off those, you’re going to have to be dedicated.”


Eagle Claw at Gone to the Dogs Fest 3. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Eagle Claw at Gone to the Dogs Fest 3.

Gone to the Dogs Fest 3 was their most successful festival, said event founder Shawn Mullins. The music festival, held July 6 to 9 at Growlers, raised between $3,000 and $4,000 for Streetdog Foundation, Mullins estimated. “We raised more than the last two combined.”

The festival, which featured 13 bands, was based on the old Memphis Hates You Fest, said Mullins, who “didn’t really have anything to do” with that festival. “It was basically a local showcase for bands people didn’t feel like got a lot of attention.”

That festival “fell through,” but people wanted to bring it back. Mullins didn’t want to bring it back the way it was. “Something like that wouldn’t work unless it was for a good cause, so we re-tooled it.”

Dogs sounded perfect. “My wife and I have been rescuing dogs for a while and we love dogs. It seemed like the next logical step was to attach the two things we cared about.”

This year’s festival featured “mostly metal bands, but Saturday afternoon got a little more family friendly with indie rock. But I think it’s safe to say all the bands are on the heavy side. Mostly metal bands.”

Growlers manager Jonathan Kiersky will be more involved with the upcoming Gone to the Dogs festival, Mullins said. “One of the first things he spoke to me about after he got his foot in the door was, ‘Let’s do Gone to the Dogs again and do it every year. Let’s make it a consistent thing.’”

Said Kiersky: “Anything we can do to support the community, we as a company feel strongly about. The other thing is that I love dogs.”

Kiersky’s dog, Fezzik, attended Saturday night’s show.

Melanie Pafford, who, along with her husband, Kent, are founders of Streetdog Foundation, was pleased with the response. “I went all four nights,” she said. “The people who attended were all dog lovers and have an affinity for dogs. We had a donation bucket. They already paid to come in and they were very generous about wanting to donate.”

They also would “come up and talk to us about dogs,” she said.

Describing Streetdog Foundation (, Melanie said, “We take the worst of the worst dogs off the street. Our mission is to get dogs off the street - rescue, rehabilitate and re-home.”

Streetdog Foundation’s biggest fundraiser, “Howl at the Moon,” will be Nov. 11 at The Warehouse off South Main.


Kelcie and Jeffrey Zepatos at Arcade - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Kelcie and Jeffrey Zepatos at Arcade

The fourth generation of the Arcade Restaurant owners and his wife celebrated their recent marriage with a party July 7 at the restaurant, which is billed as “Memphis’s oldest cafe.”

Jeffrey Zepatos and the former Kelcie Beharelle were married June 17 on the beach in Santa Rosa, Florida. The bride wore a blush pink gown and a white veil with a rose gold crown and the groom wore a white button up and gray vest and gray suit pants. “We were barefoot,” Jeffrey said. “Very casual.”

Relatives and friends threw the Memphis party, Jeffrey said. “We just wanted to have a celebration on South Main, really,” he said. “Have all our friends from South Main, Downtown and Memphis celebrate with us. A destination wedding made it tricky. Basically, we wanted to come back here and do something fun with everybody else.”

Jeffrey's great-grandfather, Speros Zepatos, opened the Arcade in 1919, Jeffrey said.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Alexis Grace, Canvas, Trolley Night, Live at the Garden, Crescent Club, Rooftop

Posted By on Fri, Jul 7, 2017 at 11:18 AM

Alexis Grace and Thomas Bergstig were at Railgarten - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Alexis Grace and Thomas Bergstig were at Railgarten

Alexis Grace and her husband, Thomas Bergstig, were the guests of honor at a party July 1 at Railgarten.

The couple are moving to Los Angeles.

The invitation for the event - “A Trash Party for Alexis” and an “Avskedfest for Thomas” - asked guests to “Come say goodbye to the two trashiest worst humans on the planet ….Let’s celebrate their awfulness together.”

A native Memphian, Alexis was a finalist who came in 11th place on season eight of TV’s “American Idol.” For the past eight years, she was a deejay on Q-107 FM.

Thomas, who is from Sweden, is the former music director at Playhouse on the Square. He and Isaac Middleton are the tap-dancing-musical-instrument-playing performers in Swedish Gun Factory.

It was Alexis’s idea to move to LA. “I decided LA over New York,” she said. “At first it was New York, but I just know so many people (in LA) and I know a lot of people in the same industry as me. I made a lot of friends and connections from my ‘Idol’ days and a lot of them live out there. That was a big reason. I want to do more TV and film, which, obviously, is heavier out there than in New York. I’ve always wanted to live in either city and I reached a point in my life where I’m able to do that now.”

Bergstig plans to focus on his tap dancing and composing in LA. On July 11, he and Middleton will officially release their Swedish Gun Factory EP, “Chris Raines,” which includes six songs and one piano composition.

“I’m going to bring Swedish Gun Factory to Los Angeles,” Bergstig said. “I have meetings set up with producers, managers and agents and I’m definitely going to try to make that happen.”

Asked who wrote their party invitation, Bergstig said, “It was Courtney Oliver (Playhouse on the Square special events director) who wrote it. We were supposed to have it at her house. We were sitting on her porch and said, ‘Write something.’ And she wrote that.”

Maybe it’s what she was really thinking and she finally got to write it, Bergstig said.

And the meaning of “avskedfest”? “It just means ‘goodbye party’ in Swedish.”


From left, Robert Coletta, Jim Lord, Seth Cook and Juju Bushman at Canvas wedding. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • From left, Robert Coletta, Jim Lord, Seth Cook and Juju Bushman at Canvas wedding.

Guests celebrated the nuptials of Canvas of Memphis and RAWK ‘n Grub July 1 at the Midtown club.

The “bride” - Robert Coletta, who, along with Brandon Knight, co-own Canvas - wore a gown and the groom - RAWK ‘n Grub owner/chef Steph Cook wore a tuxedo T-shirt and chef’s pants.

RAWK ‘n Grub is a “food truck specializing in gourmet sandwiches and burgers and unique dishes,” said Cook.

The marriage was “a union of two businesses,” Cook said. His food truck will provide the fare for Canvas seven days a week from 5 p.m. until 3 a.m. He’ll use Canvas’s kitchen as the prep area and he’ll cook the food in the truck.

“We’ve added a lot of our favorites,” Cook said. “In the past we couldn’t stay on top as a truck because we didn’t have the proper facility to hold product, which we do now.”

The menu includes “Kung Fu Al Green” (collards and kimchi) and “Fried Fleetwood Mac” (four cheese breaded and fried macaroni and cheese).

Asked why he wanted to join together Canvas and RAWK ‘n Grub, Coletta said, “Food is not my best forte.” He wanted to showcase creative food as well as paintings and other works by artists at Canvas. “Food should be art.”

Juju Bushman performed at the “reception.”

Snowglobe performed at Peabody rooftop. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Snowglobe performed at Peabody rooftop.


Snowglobe, which celebrates its 16th anniversary this year, performed June 28 at the Peabody rooftop party.

“I think the overarching thing that’s held us together is just our friendships,” said drummer/songwriter Jeff Hulett. “Some of us have known each other since we were kids. Brandon (Robertson) and Brad (Postlethwaite) have known each other - literally - since kindergarten.”

The band performed some of its well-known songs, including “Waves Rolling,” “Playground” and “Ms. June.”

“The other thing that’s kept us together so long are the friendships we’ve made with our fans. And the people singing along and coming up to us and telling us how much those songs mean to them and how they feel like they’re a part of the band.”

Memphis Flyer sponsored the June 28 rooftop party, which included a special cocktail appropriately titled the “Fireflyer.”

Boston at Live at the Garden - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Boston at Live at the Garden


Boston met Memphis July 1. Or at least a good portion of the city.

About 6,400 attended Boston’s performance at Live at the Garden, said Memphis Botanic Garden executive director Mike Allen. “That’s a good number,” he said.

About 2,800 of those people were in the VIP area, which held 300 tables, Mike said.

“I thought the huge video screen, the technology in the background, which is so current, juxtaposed against the music, which is 40 years old or something, made for a current and fun show. But still a throwback to the day, if you will.”

And, he said, “They’re from my era when I was in college. When they sang, a lot of memories came flying back.”

Gabrielle Pappas and Stephen Duckett at Trolley Night. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Gabrielle Pappas and Stephen Duckett at Trolley Night.


Music was on track June 29 at Trolley Night.

“I had more music on the street between Green Beetle and Central Station down to St. Paul,” said South Main Sounds owner Mark Parsell.

He also held his South Main Sounds Songwriter Night, which featured Low Society Band, blues player Danny Green and singers Claire Radel and Levi Smith.

Earnestine and Hazel’s house band performed a tribute show to the late E&H manager Keenan Harding.

This wasn’t your typical trolley night. Joan Robinson with the Downtown Neighborhood Association “organized a committee to ramp it up a little bit,” Parsell said. “She had the Grizzline and the Second Line band.”

Adding to the energy of the evening were SuperLo on the Go’s steaks, which were grilled outdoors, and the Amurica photo booth.

The Trolley Tour committee included South Main Association president Don Williams and Penelope Huston with the Downtown Memphis Commission.

Bridges Phillips, Michaelyn Bradford, Stan Gibson, Cynthia Thompson, Angel Fisther, Charles Thompson were at Farm to Table Wine Dinner at the Crescent Club. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Bridges Phillips, Michaelyn Bradford, Stan Gibson, Cynthia Thompson, Angel Fisther, Charles Thompson were at Farm to Table Wine Dinner at the Crescent Club.


How difficult is it to pair wines with a dinner?

Bridges Phillips, on premise sales representative for Southern Glazers Wine and spirits of Tennessee, took on that job at the four course Farm to Table Wine Dinner June 29 at the Crescent Club.

"Since it was warm outside, being on the patio, I wanted to do more white 'cause I knew it was going to be a little warm," Phillips said.

He doesn't do a taste testing. "I get the men from Stan (Gibson, Crescent Club executive chef). I pair the wines based on the menu. I don't eat everything. I've tasted all the wines before. He gave me the menu one day. I had them paired the same day."

Gibson's dinner began with an amuse of roasted beets and gorgonzola with white balsamic vinegar and continued with free range chicken tortilla soup, farm-raised catfish-stuffed portabella mushroom, a local Tennessee beef tenderloin in cabernet sauce and smashed potatoes and a peach and preserve crepe. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Big Wig Ball, Recording Academy, Old Dominick Distillery and Hole-in-One

Posted By on Wed, Jun 28, 2017 at 2:53 PM

Jeremy and Sky McEwen and Nichole and Peter Stein at Big Wig Ball. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Jeremy and Sky McEwen and Nichole and Peter Stein at Big Wig Ball.

Liza Routh could be considered one of the bigwigs at the Big Wig Ball.

“I was on the committee the first year we did it,” she said. “And then I chaired it for two years.”

Routh and Kyle Cannon were co-chairs at this year’s event, which was held June 23 at Annesdale Mansion.

The fundraiser, which drew 250 people, benefits Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. Most of the guests wore some type of wig.

Routh wore a big wig, one of the many she owns.

“I get a new one every year and I’ve collected a lot of other ones over time. We’ve passed a bunch of them around to friends each year. So, I have a big wig collection.”

Her husband, Stephen, also wears a wig each year. “He probably has six to seven men’s wigs.”

Richard Hightower and Richard Saigeon at Old Dominick dinner - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Richard Hightower and Richard Saigeon at Old Dominick dinner


Corn is one of the ingredients in the whiskey and vodka made at Old Dominick Distillery. It also was an ingredient in the dishes served at a special dinner, held June 23 at the distillery on Front Street.

Chefs from restaurants owned by Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman served corn-inspired cuisine to 150 guests at five stations on the first and second floors.

Listing the restaurants and what they served Catherine and Mary’s chef de cuisine Ryan Jenniges said Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen served polenta stuffed with porcini and corn, Porcellino’s Craft Butcher served Roman gnocchi made from cornmeal, Hog & Hominy served tarragon creamed corn and Catherine and Mary’s served braised corned beef on a savory corn pancake.

Dessert was the corn-less chocolates provided by Phillip Ashley Chocolates.

Old Dominick sales director Clark Schifani described the event as “a friends and family dinner” for Old Dominick and D. Canale & Co. Another purpose was to announce the partnership between Old Dominick and Ticer and Hudman. The chefs will operate the distillery’s restaurant, which is slated to open in late November or early December.

The dinner kicked off the distillery’s celebration weekend, which included “Memphis Spirit Returns,” held June 19. About 800 attended that event, which featured cuisine from area chefs, Schifani said.

Sam Barnett, Brandon Abraham, Jennifer Jones, Lilz Chiozza and Lee Chiozza at St. Louis Catholic Church Men's Club's Hole in One Charity Festival - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Sam Barnett, Brandon Abraham, Jennifer Jones, Lilz Chiozza and Lee Chiozza at St. Louis Catholic Church Men's Club's Hole in One Charity Festival

Bailey Childress was the big winner at this year’s St. Louis Men’s Club Hole-In-One Festival, which began on Father’s Day and ended June 24 on the grounds of St. Louis Catholic Church.

He accumulated the most points, which meant he won the Cardinal Cup. This is the first time the cup has been awarded at the event, said the event’s fundraising chair Wes Kraker.

It’s no surprise Childress won; he’s a consistent winner at the event, which benefits St Louis school's athletic, Scouting and youth programs and the Blue Streak Scholarship Fund for students in the Jubilee Schools.

Each night, golfers try to win cash and prizes after they make shots closest to the hole. Qualifying golfers take part in the Mercedes-Benz of Memphis-sponsored shoot-out for cars. The top 10 golfers who accumulated the most points during the week took part in the million dollar shoot-out on the last night of the event. The top golfer wins the Cardinal Cup.

The Hole-In-One is close to Childress’s heart. He participated in the tournament immediately after he and his wife, Keely, were married. “We got married at St. Louis the last night of the Hole-In-One four years ago," he said. "Since I played college golf, the groomsmen and I came down and hit golf balls before we went to the reception.”

Their son, Jackson, was born one year on “the first day of the Hole-In-One. Father’s Day.”

And Childress won a car. “I hit a hole in one for the car the same year Jackson was born.”

He won a Ford Focus, but traded it for a gray Ford F 150 truck.

Coming in second, third and fourth were Austin Bennett, David Moran and Frank Lewis.

I.  B. Dat Guy and Keelyn Ellis at Recording Academy Memphis Chapter's  Memphis Membership Celebration. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • I. B. Dat Guy and Keelyn Ellis at Recording Academy Memphis Chapter's Memphis Membership Celebration.


If you wanted to rub shoulders with some of Memphis’s music greats, the Recording Academy Memphis Chapter’s Membership Celebration was the place to be. Al Kapone, Frayser Boy, John Paul Keith and Matt Ross-Spang were on hand at the event, held June 19 at the Halloran Centre for Performing Arts & Education.

Performances were by Don Bryant and the Bo-Keys, Julien Baker and Marco Pave and Alfred Banks.

“The is the chapter’s largest annual event,” said event publicist Elizabeth Cawein. “It’s an opportunity for the chapter members - the chapter stretches from New Orleans to St. Louis - to get together. Then we also do live performances and we screen music videos. Share the latest music that’s coming out of the chapter. In year’s past we’ve done listening parties. It's a great opportunity to network and catch up."

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Margarita Fest, Seth Walker, LGBT Legend Awards and Le Youth

Posted By on Wed, Jun 21, 2017 at 10:04 PM

Dylan Anderson, Mayce Moore, Britney Hassel, Tom Moore and Trisha Cason at Margarita Fest - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Dylan Anderson, Mayce Moore, Britney Hassel, Tom Moore and Trisha Cason at Margarita Fest

Overton Park - at least part of it - was transformed into Margaritaville June 17 at Memphis Flyer’s Margarita Fest.

About 800 attended the annual event. This year’s festival featured 12 restaurants and three food trucks.

And lots and lots of that famous frozen concoction.

“Man, we have a cucumber margarita,” said Michael Illenberger, who mixed margaritas at the Bonefish Grill station. “It’s garnished with a sugar Jalapeno rim. It’s the best one here in Memphis, man. You’ll love it.”

Asked how many he served so far, Illenberger said. “It’s gotta be over 250, 500 margaritas, man. We’ve given away so many margaritas.”

Janique Byrd attended the event with Venicellon Williams, Desiree Lyles Wallace and Elaina Norman. “This is our third year supporting the Memphis Flyer’s margarita festival,” Janique said. “It’s a great event. We’re having a great time. Keep it up. Keep it up.”

Seth Walker and his band and, on right, Justin Rimer at Seth Walker concert at The Bluff. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Seth Walker and his band and, on right, Justin Rimer at Seth Walker concert at The Bluff.


For their last song at their June 16th show at The Bluff, Seth Walker and his band and the opening artists gathered on stage to perform Hank Williams Jr.'s  “All My Rowdy Friends are Coming Over Tonight.”

A throng of friends and fans showed up at The Bluff, Walker’s second show at the Highland Strip venue.

“This basically was his follow-up to his first sell out at The Bluff,” said Walker’s producer Justin Rimer. “They stopped letting people in the door. They cut it off. We hit their cap, that’s for sure.”

People still were standing in line outside after the show began. “I thought it was great,” Rimer said. “I thought the turnout was phenomenal. The crowd was really into it. All the opening acts were great. All in all I thought the vibe was cool.”

Audience members sang along to Walker’s originals.

“I think we sounded pretty good,” Walker said. “We played a lot of tough songs. I’m really proud the way the people came out and were loud during the show. They were loud and energetic.”

And, he said, “I’m honored to put a smile on somebody’s face.”

Opening for Seth Walker and his band were Seth Austin, Brad Walker, Emily Sheets and Ethan Willis and the Long Goners.

Larry Clark, LGBT Legend Awards co-chair - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Larry Clark, LGBT Legend Awards co-chair


Guests gathered for the LGBT Legend Awards presentation June 18 at The Guest House at Graceland.

“The purpose of the event was to bring the LGBT community together to recognize the hard work some of the people have actually put into the community on a day-to-day basis,” said Larry Clark, event co-chair with Carl Norvell. “We’re acknowledging those individuals who put so much hard work into the art form of female impersonation and different avenues of the community.”

Retired club owner Harold Buckner, who owned Club 901 and Club Lipstick, was honored. He provided “an avenue to female impersonators to go out and have fun,” Clark said. “He was the reason why people had a place to go and enjoy themselves.”

Minister DeVante Hill opened the ceremony with a prayer. “The LGBT community reached out to me to make sure the Black Lives Matter fight included the transgender community because of the recent violence against transgender individuals that has sparked across the country,” he said.

Courtney Boyd and Cole Jeanes at Le Youth - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Courtney Boyd and Cole Jeanes at Le Youth


Chef Cole Jeanes and food blogger Jonathan Cooper hosted their first Le Youth Supper Club dinner June 17 at Jeanes’s apartment.

Jeanes is owner of Amelia Mae caterers and Cooper owns the “Memphis Food and Drink Culture” blog.

Le Youth is designed to bring “young minds my age group - up to early 30s - together,” said Jeanes, 27.

The young people “are moving toward owning their own business or already own their own business.”

He and Cooper also want artists, photographers and other creative types to take part. “We want all the young people who are making a name for themselves and passionate about what they do to come together and talk.”

Food and fellowship is encouraged, Jeanes said. Each month, they will invite 20 people to dinner.

For the June dinner, Jeanes prepared a four-course dinner that included braised boar’s belly tamales, hickory smoked trout and butter pecan creme brulee.

The show-stopper was “The Southern Garden” salad made of watermelon, strawberry, tomato, chamomile ricotta, watermelon rind mostarda, basil-lemon-Jalapeno vinaigrette, cornbread pana gratta, turkey crackllngs and opal basil.

Margarita Fest from Michael Donahue on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

He was Batman!

Posted By on Thu, Jun 15, 2017 at 10:14 PM

Shamefinger paid homage to Adam West at 901 Comics Anniversary Celebration. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Shamefinger paid homage to Adam West at 901 Comics Anniversary Celebration.

Adam West, who played Batman in the 1960s TV series, was remembered June 10 at the 901 Comics Anniversary Celebration. West died June 9 at age 88.

The week-long celebration of events, which commemorated the first year anniversary of the store at 2162 Young Avenue, included performances by Shamefinger, Gloryholes and The Turn It Offs June 10 in the gazebo at the corner of Cooper and Young. The event coincided with the Blythe & Young Block Party, which included Goner Records and other participating businesses.

The members of Shamefinger wore DC Comics superhero masks in honor of West.
“We’d already planned to dress up as superheroes in some form, but we decided to go with DC superheroes for Adam West,” said bass player Farmer Zanath.

Their costume was “a little $5 cardboard mask pack that we bought at Party City. It was a pack of Justice League superheroes.”

Who wore the Batman mask? “That would be me,” Farmer said. “I wanted it, but I left it up to the band.”
Asked why he was selected to be Batman, Farmer said. “I tend to write the darker, faster songs for the band, I guess.”

The band members didn’t wear the masks during the entire set, which opened with Nerf Herder’s theme for TV’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” “We found out the masks muffled our voices for the mike. (We) took off the masks and played the rest of the set.”

The 901 Comics store owners Shannon Merritt and Jaime Wright learned about West’s death from a customer. “I just thought how big of an impact he was on my life,” Shannon said. “I used to come home from school and watch Batman. And my friend across the street and I would grab towels from the linen closet and run around and play Batman. We didn’t have capes, so we would take towels and we’d safety pin a blue towel and a yellow towel on our shirts so we’re like Batman and Robin.”

One of the 901 Comics events was a show featuring art work by Memphis artist Dean Zachary, who drew Batman in “Batman: Day of Judgement” in 1999 for DC Comics. “I’d been working toward drawing Batman ‘cause that’s always been my favorite character,” said Dean, 54. “I’d done work for DC along the lines of Green Lantern and Superboy. Various showcase pieces.”

Asked why he liked the Batman character, Dean said, “The fact that individual was self disciplined and focused. And sort of that idea of someone who was not a superpower like a lot of the other heroes in the Spandex universe.”

Batman was “a good guy who trains constantly and stays on that level of excellence as far as training physically and mentally and keeping on the edge of technology. What attracted me was he was just a human being trying to make a difference. Protecting the innocent, putting the bad guys away.”

Dean was a fan of the Batman TV show. “I loved it. I was a little kid then. And that was my first introduction to superheroes. I would watch it on a black-and-white TV in my room. And when you would see that flame come out of the back of the batmobile and they slid down the bat pole, jumped in and drove off - I knew it was campy and silly then, but when you’re 5, you don’t really care.

“I thought Adam west brought a charm to the role. A playful, suave, lighthearted charm not unlike Roger Moore did in the Bond films. He was lighter and more playful, but he managed to ground the character enough to where, as a grade schooler, I was impressed and excited and entertained, but I thought it was the right look for Bruce Wayne and Batman.”
And, he said, West “had this unforgettable voice. You always knew when Adam West was talking. A singular voice very much like William Shatner. Not question who it its. For the time and for the stylization of that particular incarnation of the character, he was perfect.”

Rodney McDowell was at Fourth Bluff Fridays - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • MIchael Donahue
  • Rodney McDowell was at Fourth Bluff Fridays

Rodney McDowell kicked back in a red plastic Adirondack chair at the Fourth Bluff Beer Garden, part of the Fourth Bluff Fridays weekly gathering. The Sheiks band was about to play at Memphis Park, formerly-named Confederate Park.. Other people staked out chairs or lolled on the grass under shade trees.

Fourth Bluff Fridays wasn’t the first time Rodney had been to the park. “I used to come down here before they ever had it when I was a little boy,” he said. “We’d ride down here on a bicycle.”

Fourth Bluff Fridays, which began last year, started the 2017 season in May and will conclude June 30.

“Fourth Bluff Fridays is part of the national initiative Reimagining the Civic Commons,” said Fourth Bluff Project programming curator Andria Lisle. “In Memphis, the project scope is four blocks of Downtown, including Cossitt Library, Memphis Park, Mississippi River Park and the promenade behind the University of Memphis Law School.”

The event includes games, food trucks, the TapBox beer trailer and bands. “All local bands and all local vendors,” said Blake Lichterman, who is managing Fourth Bluff Fridays.
Fourth Bluff Fridays is sponsored by Downtown Memphis Commission, Riverfront Development Commission, Innovate Memphis and the Mayor’s office.
Fourth Bluff Fridays is for people to “just just join for a common, peaceful event,” Blake said. “Essentially, this is just a party.”

Winchester and the Ammunition: Front row: Jana Misener, Victor Sawyer, Ben Church, Graham Winchester - Back row: Bill Mard, Seth Moody, Daniel McKee, Jacob Church.
  • Winchester and the Ammunition: Front row: Jana Misener, Victor Sawyer, Ben Church, Graham WinchesterBack row: Bill Mard, Seth Moody, Daniel McKee, Jacob Church.

Graham Winchester brought 200 little bits of paper to his band’s album release party May 26 at Young Avenue Deli. The paper included the download code for Until the End, the new album by Graham’s band, Winchester and the Ammunition.

“Each one had a picture of the album cover and it had just a little code written on it that you punched in on line to get a free album,” Graham said.

By the end of the concert, 180 of the little sheets of paper were gone, he said.

Graham, who said he had a blast at the concert, was impressed with the audience’s reaction. “Three out of the 10 songs on the album were kind of slower or more medium paced. To be able to play those kind of songs in a rowdy Friday-night bar and have everybody listen and absorb the music was really refreshing. I felt like people were listening closely.”

Graham described the band as “very sort of late ‘60s early ‘70s style with multiple layers of instruments. We’re definitely influenced by the latter era Beatles album and Beach Boys albums and Harry Nilsson. Stuff like that. Solo George Harrison. Stuff that’s got a big production going on. Even sometimes strings and horns.”

Graham has been in “about 40 bands” since he began playing drum at age 12. “It was just the instrument that matched my energy levels,” he said.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

From Punk Fest to Italian Fest

Posted By on Tue, Jun 6, 2017 at 5:12 PM

Scotty Theunissen, Daniel Felts, Logan Dickerson, Kristen Marchese and John Kelton at Memphis Punk Fest 5. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Scotty Theunissen, Daniel Felts, Logan Dickerson, Kristen Marchese and John Kelton at Memphis Punk Fest 5.

More than 50 bands and five venues took part in Memphis Punk Fest 5, which began June 1 at the Hi-Tone and ended June 4 at Growlers.

“It’s more like a gift I do for the Memphis community,” said founder Tyler Miller. “Just bring people together to see what we can accomplish when we work together.”

Tyler is the one-man band who keeps everything running smoothly. “The entire festival is done by myself except for friends who give me rides and let me borrow stuff here and there.”

He credits Bristerfest founder Jack Simon for giving him the idea for the festival. They were hanging out at Jack’s house listening to punk rock when Simon said, “Man, you should have your own festival like Bristerfest and call it ‘Punk Fest,’” Tyler said.

About 20 bands were featured at the first festival, which was held over two days at the old Memphis Rehearsal Complex.

Tyler made up “Memphis Punk Promotions” as the “organization” putting on the festival. It later became a reality. “It just became an underground DIY booking company,” Tyler said.

This year will be the last Punk Fest - at least with Tyler at the helm. “I’m a musician at heart and I never get to work on my own craft. I play in a couple of bands here and there, but I never get to do my own songwriting or go on the road much at all.

“After this, I’m trying to chase the dream. I’m going to sign myself up to to play with a bunch of bands in a bunch of cities as a fill-in musician and travel the country in the next couple of years.”

He’s putting a team together to continue Memphis Punk Promotions to keep doing year-round booking.


Barrett Folk at Memphis Italian Festival - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Barrett Folk at Memphis Italian Festival

“Penne Hardaway” was a Memphis Italian Festival team that obviously included basketball fans.

“It was either ‘Penne Hardaway’ or ‘Rigatoni Allen,’” said team member Barret Folk.

“We were one of two new teams,” Barret said. “We got a bunch of buddies that live in the neighborhood. It’s walking distance. We wouldn’t have to drive anywhere.”

Former Tiger Penny Hardaway and Memphis Grizzlies player Tony Allen probably would be honored to be part of one of the newest teams at the three-day festival, which ended June 3 at Marquette Park. Guests, including singer Lil Wyte, stopped by, DJ dudecalledrob (Rob Graham) kept the music going at night and chef Cole Jeanes, chef/owner of Preacher & Hunter caterers, cooked the spaghetti.

A graduate of L’Ecole Culinaire who worked at Porcellino’s Craft Butcher and Acre, Cole made a “classic Bolognese” spaghetti gravy. “But instead of white wine I used red wine and I used venison - local deer meat,” Cole said.

Red wine? “I like the richness it gives to the venison gravy. Then I added a sachet of rosemary and sage.”

Cole wished he had time to let the sauce sit for a day. “Something that simmers - a sauce or a gravy or short ribs - when you have the mirepoix - the carrot, celery and onions - with all that juice and herbs, if they sit for a day in the cooler temperature I feel like everything comes together and it’s a whole different experience.”

Penne Hardaway team members Joel Moss and Deven Onarheim - won first place in the grape stomping contest.

Joel credits their win to Deven, a University of Memphis graduate and former Tiger football player who played five years. Deven wears a size 15 shoe. “So, he pretty much cleared that bucket for me,” Joel said. “He’s six-foot seven. We each had to stomp for one minute and they measured how much juice was produced. He went first and made it very easy for me to win.”

“That was the first time I’ve ever done a grape stomp,” Deven said. “It felt good. I liked it. It was super hot outside. The grapes were nice and cold so it cooled me off a little bit.”

Asked how long it took him to stomp the grapes, Deven said, “It didn’t take me long. It’s almost like I’m cheating with these size 15 feet I’ve got.”

Sarah and Zach Nicholson at Lucky Cat Ramen - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Sarah and Zach Nicholson at Lucky Cat Ramen


Zach Nicholson is one lucky cat. His Lucky Cat Ramen, which opened to the public June 2, was a hit. Including the soft opening on June 1, the restaurant at Cooper at Peabody drew “in the neighborhood of 500, 600 people,” Zach said.

“Honestly, I was surprised. I knew that we had a strong following, but I did not expect us to have such a strong opening weekend. There are such popular competitors in the area. I thought we would do OK, but I think we surpassed our expectations.”

Actually, it’s not really luck; Zach has worked for chefs, including Erling Jensen, and at restaurants in Austin as well as Memphis during his almost 10-year career. He and his wife, Sarah, served ramen at their pop-up restaurant for several months at The Cove.
Their brick-and-mortar restaurant is Lucky Cat Ramen’s temporary location until the permanent Lucky Cat Ramen restaurant opens around November or December in Crosstown Complex.

The present location is open 5:30 to 10 p.m. Thursdays and Sundays and 5:30 until 11 p.m. or later on Fridays and Saturdays. The current menu includes pork bowls: spicy tan-tan, bacon shio, shoyu and miso, and the yuzu- veggie bowl. They also served steamed buns: grilled eggplant with nori yogurt and Memphis barbecue with sesame slaw.

So, how much ramen did Zach serve last weekend? “The ramen noodles are 5 ounces per serving. So, doing that math, we served about 150 pounds of noodles.”

Jordan Tubbs at Trashion Show - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • MIchael Donahue
  • Jordan Tubbs at Trashion Show


Someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure. That was evident at the 2017 Trashion Show, held June 4 at - appropriately - ER2 - Electronic Responsible Recyclers. Clothing modeled at the Memphis City Beautiful Commission event was made from bottle caps, rubber tires, soft drink cans and plastic shopping bags.

About 40 artists, including students and professional designers, created clothing for the show, which drew more than 300 people.

“I thought it was better than ever,” said Memphis City Beautiful Commission executive director Eldra White. “Better than any of the shows we’ve had so far. It’s continued to grow.

“I think folks loved the venue once they got there. And the designers and the participants continue to wow the folks that attend. It’s amazing how much creativity we have in the city. And the willingness of the designers to to go to the extent they do to make things for us is amazing. They aren’t just paper doll creations; they are elaborate outfits that are made from all sorts of materials.”

Trashion Show did a great job of getting folks "to think about what they throw away, which is the main goal.”

“When they asked us to host this, we couldn’t say, ‘Yes,’ fast enough,” said ER2 CEO/co-owner Chris Ko. “It fit very well with us.”

His company is “focused on making a positive impact in the community.”

Memphis City Beautiful is “a light in the community we can highlight and support.”

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Summer Symphony and album release parties

Posted By on Tue, May 30, 2017 at 6:25 PM

Colleen Radish, Beth Wilson, Liza Rauth, Locke Isaacson and Kristin Smith at Summer Symphony at the Live Garden at Memphis Botanic Garden. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Colleen Radish, Beth Wilson, Liza Rauth, Locke Isaacson and Kristin Smith at Summer Symphony at the Live Garden at Memphis Botanic Garden.

Transformers began exploding over an hour after the last firework exploded May 28 at “Summer Symphony at the Live Garden.”

The fireworks display and Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture,” the final selection performed by the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, were finished at 9 p.m. The storm hit around 10:30 p.m.

A total of 2,310 attended the event, said the garden’s executive director Mike Allen. “With the support of the Symphony we decided prior to the show to eliminate the intermission, which was 22 minutes, and one number, which was nine minutes, so we could get people out early and home safely,” Mike said. “Which was wise.”

The audience didn’t get to hear that one selection, which Mike thinks was the “Vienna Waltz,” but they left with their coolers, blankets and chairs before the strong winds arrived.

“There was no damage in what’s called the ‘Live Garden.’ There was one large tree along the eastern edge by Audubon Lake that we lost. The Live Garden, the stage, all that was unaffected. Thankfully.”


Chris Milam and Elen Wroten at Chris Milam's album release concert. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Chris Milam and Elen Wroten at Chris Milam's album release concert.

Toward the end of his outdoor concert, Chris Milam said listeners to his songs probably were thinking, “Maybe this has a happy ending,” and “Maybe this relationship will work out.”

Chris on guitar and Elen Wroten on cello performed songs from Chris’s new album,”Kids These Days,” May 27 on the front porch of the record store on Madison.

“The album itself comes from basically one year of my life that was an especially trying time,” Chris said. “While there are moments of hard won optimism, a lot of the songs are about a dark time. And so, yeah, sometimes if people haven’t heard the songs before or are new to my music, I can see over the course of a concert maybe they’re looking for some comic relief or a bit of levity. I’ll provide it if I can.”

Kyle Bors-Koefoed at The Warehouse. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Kyle Bors-Koefoed at The Warehouse.


Kyle Bors-Koefoed paid homage to Memphis at his album release party May 27 at The Warehouse near South Main.

A native Memphian now living in Nashville, Kyle said the event was the “official album release” for “Becca’s Mix Tape.” “I wanted to launch it in Memphis because Memphis is where I have my roots for music,” he said. “That’s where I started in music.”

He described the album as “a range of singer-songwriter style music that is blues heavy. It’s got a bit of Pink Floyd, John Mayer-ish-type stuff. Very modern sounding.”

Blues artist Blind Mississippi Morris was among the guests. “He’s the one that I followed,” Kyle said. “I shadowed him for about five years. He’s the one that really taught me how to play the blues harp the way I play it. He’s like family now. We love Morris.”

Asked if he planned to move back to Memphis some day, Kyle said, “There’s possibly not more exposure, but a different kind of exposure here in Nashville for my singer-songwriter stuff. So, that’s why I’m still staying out here.”

But, he said, “If it wasn’t for Memphis, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I wouldn’t have learned to play the 

music that I play the same way. Memphis has that soul that I haven’t been able to find in Nashville.”

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

GRRL FEST celebrates women in music

Posted By on Wed, May 24, 2017 at 11:19 AM

Kirby Gross and Louise Page at GRRL FEST - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • MIchael Donahue
  • Kirby Gross and Louise Page at GRRL FEST

GRRL FEST, a festival featuring bands that included women, was a success, said founder Allison Kasper.

“A lot of people weren’t on their phones during the show,” she said. “Everyone was paying attention to the bands.”

The event, held May 20 at the Hi Tone, featured 10 bands and NYA, a woman deejay.

A total of 298 people paid to get in, but about 350 attended, Allison said. That included the bands and “people that snuck in and that were on the guest list,” she said.

Allison got the idea to do the show two years ago. “I heard Knots for the first time and fell in love with them - their music, everything about them. I wondered if there could be something in Memphis. Get a bunch of bands together to play for a good cause and give recognition to women that are making really, really good music in town.”

Finding bands that included women was “very easy,” she said.

Knots headlined the show, which raised $2,115 after production costs.

GRRL FEST lasted until the wee hours. “People were still there at 3 a.m.,” Allison said. “It was kind of hard to get people out.”

Louise Page, one of the performers, said, “I thought it was a really really great idea. I think there are a lot of industries in which the role women play are marginalized, harder for women to break in the industry. Women don’t always get the same recognition in the music industry. And to have an event that acknowledges that with great female musicians is awesome. And necessary.”

Jo Gray and Matt Isbell at Peabody Rooftop Party. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Jo Gray and Matt Isbell at Peabody Rooftop Party.

Matt Isbell’s three-piece tie dyed suit lit up the Peabody Rooftop Party, held May 18 on the Plantation Roof and inside the Skyway.

The white suit, in shades of green and blue, made its debut at the party, said Matt, lead singer of Ghost Town Blues Band, which performed at the weekly event.

“I’d just gotten it that day so I was excited to wear it,” Matt said. “Take it for a test drive.”

He got the suit idea after he saw a jumpsuit worn by blues vocalist/harmonica player John Nemeth. Matt originally told John about Kate Lynn Stout, who does tie dyes at her Psychedelic Sass store in Arkansas. John commissioned Kate to do the jumpsuit. Now, Matt said, “He’s got this cool looking jumpsuit with the ace of ace of spades tie dyed on the back. I just thought it was too cool. I was like, ‘Well, I need to answer this.’”

Matt went on line and ordered a white linen suit, which Kate tie dyed. Comparing his suit to John’s jumpsuit, Matt said, “This is my ‘Their Satanic Majesties Request’ to his ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.’”

Matt and the rest of the Ghost Town Blues Band, which includes Preston McEwen, Matthew Karner, Suave Jones, Taylor Orr and Tim Stanek, will be in Las Vegas as well as in New Mexico and Arizona this weekend. Asked if he was going to wear the tie-dyed suit, Matt said, “I don’t know. It’s going to be one of those things where I’ll have to catch the vibe of the festival before I pop it on. It’s not going to be my uniform. It’s going to live in the van. When it’s time to wear it, I’ll know.”

The Memphis Flyer sponsored the May 18 event.

Matthew Wrage and Will Vestal at BBQ Fest. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • MIchael Donahue
  • Matthew Wrage and Will Vestal at BBQ Fest.

The Memphis in May World’s Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest could be considered one big birthday party for Kert Kaiser. He was born 23 years ago on the Thursday night of BBQ Fest.

“I’m a barbecue baby,” said Kert, who spent part of his birthday Thursday May 18 with the Cadillac Grillz team at the festival.

His mother, Ashley, and his dad, Edward, have different stories about exactly what happened the night Kert was born. “I don’t remember actually making it down there,” Ashley said. “He swears we were down there and I went into labor. I remember I was on my way. I was half way down there.”

Either way, Kert was born at Baptist Memorial Hospital on Walnut Grove the Thursday night of the festival. And, Ashley said, “For his next 10 years, he thought every time we were at BBQ fest celebrating, he thought it was his birthday party.”

For that first decade of his life, the Kaisers celebrated Kert’s birthday with the rest of the family on Thursday night at the Sons of Bacchus booth at the festival. They served cake made in the shape of a pig, Ashley said. But Thursday night also was the festival’s kids’ night so people dressed up like Batman and other characters were featured along with games. All of which Kert thought strictly were for his benefit.

“We’ve got great pictures of them sucking on bones before they should have been eating ribs,” Ashley said.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Big Llou's blues after party rocks

Posted By on Thu, May 18, 2017 at 11:29 AM

Michael Roy Birdcap and Chris Reyes at  Artery. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Michael Roy Birdcap and Chris Reyes at Artery.

Rain, rain went away and the Artery Alley Party took place two weeks later.

The party, originally scheduled for April 26, was postponed to May 10 because of rain that hit about 6 p.m., said Penelope Houston, vice-president of marketing and communications for Downtown Memphis Commission, which sponsored the event.

Artists showed their works on the walls on the South side of Local and the old Oshi, Penelope said. “We probably had 30 submissions for what was eventually six artists we chose for phase one,” she said. “And there is a phase two we will launch later this year.”

About 350 people attended the event “over the course of the evening,” Penelope said. In addition to the art, the event featured table tennis, corn hole games, chalk for sidewalk drawling an Amurica photo booth, Mempops and music by Djanga and Southern Avenue.

Big Llou Johnson at  Big Llou's Blues Hall of Fame Tribute Jam. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • MIchael Donahue
  • Big Llou Johnson at Big Llou's Blues Hall of Fame Tribute Jam.

Big Llou Johnson hosted his fifth “Big Llou’s Hall of Fame Tribute Jam” in Memphis May 10, but it was the first time he held it at the Warehouse in the South Main district.

His event is the after party for the Blues Hall of Fame induction ceremony. It’s held the night before the Blues Foundation Blues Music Awards.

Llou remembered attending the induction ceremony five years ago. “After that ceremony we just left and went back to the hotel,” he said. “Everybody did their own thing. There was no music there. There was no camaraderie or back patting.
He was concerned. “Me coming from Chicago, a party town and a blues music town, I was not having it.”

So, he said, “Let me throw a party.”

The first event, held at B. B. King’s Blues Club, drew “a good hundred,” LLou said. “Everybody who was inducted in the Hall of Fame that night - we just had a ball.”

The event was held at Hard Rock Cafe for three years until it moved to the Warehouse this year. About 350 attended this year’s event, Llou said.
Since it began, the jam has raised more than $20,000 for the Blues Foundation, Llou said.

Asked the origin of the unusual spelling of his first name, Llou said he changed it because he’s a member of organizations, including the Screen Actors Guild. “It’s a well known fact you can’t have two actors with the same name in the actors’ union.”

His real name is “Louis,” but “Louis,” “Lou” and even “L. Johnson” were gone, he said. “I’m sitting in the union office going, ‘What can I change my name to? I don’t want to be ‘Lou Stone,’ ‘Lou Riprock’ or ‘Lou Granite.’”

Since his mother’s name is “Lora,” his father’s name is “Louis” and his grandmother’s name is “Lillie,” Llou just added another “l” to his name. “Everybody who meant anybody to me in my family, (their) name started with ‘l.’ Let me stick another ‘l’ in my name. If I ever get to see my name up in lights, those ancestors will be up there with me.”

Jim Hines at Gossett. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Jim Hines at Gossett.

Gossett Porsche unveiled its 2017 Panamera at a reception May 11 at the dealership on Covington Pike. The silver 550-horsepower Porsche that can reach a top track speed of 190 drew applause from the crowd when the drape was removed.

Wayne Ashford, one of the guests, has owned 27 Porsches over the past three years. He trades them in every “three to six months,” he said. “I never put 1,000 miles on them,” he said.

“He’s never had to check oil,” said his Porsche salesman Saad Baddar.

He even owned the Porsche that was unveiled. “Here people are waiting to see it and I’ve already driven it,” he said. “And traded it in.”

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The King at MusicFest

Posted By on Tue, May 9, 2017 at 3:19 PM

  • Michael Donahue

Jerry “The King” Lawler and his fiance, Lauryn McBride, were in the audience at the Kings of Leon show Saturday May 6 at the Beale Street Music Festival.

Jerry recalled the time the band members wanted their picture taken with him. “They were first getting started,” Jerry said.

He was in Arlington making an appearance at the time. The Kings of Leon also were at the venue with their amps and musical instruments in a trailer, he said. “They saw that I was there and they came out and said, ‘We want a picture of you with your crown.’ I took the picture with them. I never thought anything about it until they became famous.”

Rick Gardner and Dike Bacon at HBG Design - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Rick Gardner and Dike Bacon at HBG Design

HBG Design (formerly Hnedak Bobo Group) showed off its newly-designed office space at a reception May 4 at 1 Commerce Square.

The architecture and interior design firm invited friends to see the new offices, said HBG Design marketing manager Dana Ramsey. The firm moved from its old offices at 104 Front Street on Nov. 1.

“Along with our new office space, we also rolled out our new brand - a new logo, our new name and branded information,” Dana said.

Grinder, Taber & Grinder construction worked with HBG Design to create the new space. The closed office and workstations on the 23rd and 24th floors were demolished to create an open floor plan. The 23rd floor ceiling was cut through to create a stairway to connect the two levels.

Star & Micey provided music and Another Roadside Attraction prepared hors d’oeuvres for the reception, which drew about 120 people.

Marcus Bell and Romeo Khazen at Susan B. Komen - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Marcus Bell and Romeo Khazen at Susan B. Komen

The 2017 community health care grants were announced at the Memphis-Mid-South affiliate of Susan G. Komen annual grant reception May 4 at The Westin Memphis Beale Street. “We have 10 community health care grants,” said executive director Elaine Hare. “We presented $402,000 to eight health care providers and two support groups.”

The recipients provide breast health and breast cancer services in the Mid-South.
The money for the community grant recipients is from the 2016 Race for the Cure, which was held Oct. 29.

About 75 people, including grantees, Race for the Cure sponsors and winning team captains, attended the reception.

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