Friday, March 1, 2019

Remembering Rufus Thomas's Birthday Party and More!

Posted By on Fri, Mar 1, 2019 at 3:58 PM

I had the pleasure of being a guest of honor, along with Rufus Thomas, at Thomas's birthday dinner given by Eugene Phillips. Judging by my hair, this should be the late '80s or early '90s. I'm with Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Willie Bland and Ethan Taylor. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • I had the pleasure of being a guest of honor, along with Rufus Thomas, at Thomas's birthday dinner given by Eugene Phillips. Judging by my hair, this should be the late '80s or early '90s. I'm with Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Willie Bland and Ethan Taylor.

Parties given by Eugene Phillips are a part of Memphis music history many people don’t know about.


I began attending birthday parties given by Phillips for Rufus Thomas about 30-plus years ago. My birthday is around the same time as Thomas’s, so my birthday was celebrated, too.


They were amazing when I think back. Carla Thomas, Rufus’s daughter, was there and other music notables or relatives of music notables.

Phillips hasn’t stopped giving parties with music guests. In addition to celebrating Rufus’s birthday back in the day, Phillips celebrates his own birthday. I attended his recent birthday party, which was held February 10th at his Germantown home. His long-time friend Anita Ward, whose 1979 recording of "Ring My Bell" was a hit song, was among the guests.

I asked Phillips to tell me the history of his parties.

“Over 40 years ago, Sandy Lewis, who was on the board of St. Jude, took me on a tour of the hospital and I was so impressed,” Phillips says. “And, I remember, on my birthday people were always giving me a lot of gifts. Things I didn’t need.”

He told Ward, who was his next door, “I was thinking. I’ve got a birthday coming up. I’m going to ask them to take that money and donate to St. Jude. And they started doing it.”

To date, Phillips says he’s raised “over $80,000” for St. Jude.

The birthday parties for Rufus also began about 40 years ago, Phillips says. “I gave Rufus a birthday party. And Rufus told me, ‘I don’t care what’s going on on my birthday, what other people plan, I want my birthday dinner at your house.’ This is what he told me years ago. That’s why every year I always held Rufus’s annual birthday dinner. ‘Cause Rufus always enjoyed being in my home and with friends. People he felt comfortable around.”

Rufus had “two birthdays,” Phillips says. “The way that happened was he always celebrated on the 26th, and found out in later years his birthday was on the 27th.”

I remember the lavish spreads at Rufus’ birthday parties at Phillips' home. “Baked turkey and dressing and candied yams. Rufus liked real food. We had a variety of salads and vegetables and wine. We just had everything.”

Rooms in Phillips’s home are named after his friends. He’s got the Rufus Thomas music room, the Bobby “Blue” Bland room, the George Nichopoulos room, the Pat Vanderschaaf room, and hallways named after Ward and attorney Jocalyn Wurzburg, and rooms named after Kelly and Dr, Greg Hanissian, Vera and N. J. Ford, and the children of the Church of God in Christ founder, the late Bishop C. H. Mason.

I asked him to save the garage for me.

Photos of his friends line the walls upstairs and downstairs in Phillips’s home.

“It is so nice to have memories,” Phillips says.


Eugene Phillips birthday dinner. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Eugene Phillips birthday dinner.
Michael Fahr, Zeina Alwafai and Eugene Phillips at Phillips birthday party. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Michael Fahr, Zeina Alwafai and Eugene Phillips at Phillips birthday party.

Andreas Kisler with his wife, JoAnn, and son, Blade at Memphis Restaurant Association's 55th annual banquet. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Andreas Kisler with his wife, JoAnn, and son, Blade at Memphis Restaurant Association's 55th annual banquet.

Chefs Andreas Kisler and Patrick Reilly, and non-chef (at least professionally) Shawn Massey brought home the bacon this year at the Memphis Restaurant Association’s 55th annual banquet, which was held February 24th at The Peabody.

Kisler, executive chef at The Peabody, was named Chef of the Year. Reilly, who, along with his wife, Deni, own The Majestic Grille, is Restaurateur of the Year. And Massey, a partner in the Memphis Office of The Shopping Center Group (TSCG), was named Associate Member of the Year.

Ernie Mellor is Memphis Restaurant Association president. Father Nicholas Vieron gave the invocation.

As one would expect, lots of food was on hand, including the cocktail portion of the evening. And, as one would expect, Kisler was in the kitchen getting the food ready.

Patrick and Deni Reilly at Memphis Restaurant Association banquet. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Patrick and Deni Reilly at Memphis Restaurant Association banquet.
Shawn and Price Massey at Memphis Restaurant Association banquet. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Shawn and Price Massey at Memphis Restaurant Association banquet.
Lynn and Ernie Mellor at Memphis Restaurant Association banquet. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Lynn and Ernie Mellor at Memphis Restaurant Association banquet.


Taylor and Hannah Hemphill at Memphis Restaurant Association banquet. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Taylor and Hannah Hemphill at Memphis Restaurant Association banquet.
Amanda and Drew Cipala at Memphis Restaurant Association banquet. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Amanda and Drew Cipala at Memphis Restaurant Association banquet.


Nick, a St. Jude patient, and Richard Shadyac at St. Jude Spirit of the Dream. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Nick, a St. Jude patient, and Richard Shadyac at St. Jude Spirit of the Dream.


This year’s St. Jude Spirit of the Dream event honored the legacy African-Americans have contributed to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

More than 350 attended the event, which was held February 22nd in the Domino Event Center at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

A C Wharton acknowledged Dr. Rudolph Jackson, St. Jude’s first African-American doctor; attorney Robert L. J. Spence, the hospital’s first African-American pharmacist; and Dr. William Terrell, St. Jude’s first African-American resident.

A total of $110,000 was raised.

Gary Goin’s G3 Band performed.

A C Wharton and Mayor Jim Strickland at St. Jude Spirit of the Dream. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • A C Wharton and Mayor Jim Strickland at St. Jude Spirit of the Dream.
Christopher Greer and Javaris Tucker at St. Jude Spirit of the Dream. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Christopher Greer and Javaris Tucker at St. Jude Spirit of the Dream.
Kiesha Davis and Christopher Capel at St. Jude Spirit of the Dream. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Kiesha Davis and Christopher Capel at St. Jude Spirit of the Dream.


Les Passes Cabaret - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Les Passes Cabaret

……….


“Havana Nights” was the theme of this year’s Les Passees Cabaret, which was held February 23rd at Memphis Botanic Garden. That meant guests dined on mojo-marinated pork tenderloin, ropa vieja (slow cooked Cuban beef), and papas bravas (Spanish roasted peanuts).

The tradition of Living Ads - young women representing businesses and individuals - continued. This year’s Ads were Madison Elizabeth Anton, Annie Laurie McPherson and Savanna Theresa St. John.

Kacie Cooper and Missy Green were Cabaret co-chairs. Suzanne Oliphant is Les Passees president.

A total of 220 people attended.


Les Passes Cabaret - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Les Passes Cabaret


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Zachary Clark and Anna Hunigan at Madonna Learning Center gala. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Zachary Clark and Anna Hunigan at Madonna Learning Center gala.

It’s not every fundraiser where most of the audience sticks around for a live auction that ends around 10:30. But that’s what a lot of people at the Madonna Learning Center Annual Gala and Auction did.

More than 900 people attended the event, “A Night of Reel Fun,” says the center’s development director Carrie Roberts. The party was held February 23rd at the Hilton Memphis.

The live auction raised more than $72,000. And, Roberts says, Light Up the House, where “people donate money to help support us” during the event, raised an additional $40,000.

The silent auction raised $47,000.

“We’re very happy with our numbers this year,” she says.

As for this year being a record, Roberts doesn’t yet know. But, she says, “We’re neck-and-neck with last year, which was a record.”

Aggie Fratta was event chair. The Soul Shockers performed.

Katie Elliot, Jordan Bruce, Bill Frese, and Tricia Frese at Madonna Learning Center gala. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Katie Elliot, Jordan Bruce, Bill Frese, and Tricia Frese at Madonna Learning Center gala.
John Scalisi and Andria Destefano at Madonna Learning Center gala. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • John Scalisi and Andria Destefano at Madonna Learning Center gala.

…….

Phillip Hicks and Olivia Ameigh at Memphis Garden Gala. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Phillip Hicks and Olivia Ameigh at Memphis Garden Gala.

Guests were asked to dress in snow skiing attire for the third annual Memphis Garden Gala, which was held February 23rd at Teton Trek at the Memphis Zoo. “Apres Ski” was the theme.

But that day was one of those crazy February Memphis days when the weather was in the 70s.

That night, the weather still was balmy, but most people — even those bundled up — didn’t seem to mind.

The event, which drew 200 people, was a fund-raiser for Big Green, a nonprofit founded by Kimbal Musk and Hugo Matheson dedicated to building a healthier future for children through a nationwide network of Learning Gardens and food literacy programs.

The first Big Green Memphis Learning Garden, where students are exposed to life cycles of fruits and vegetables, was built in 2015. Now, 122 more have been built and another six more are slated to be built by July, 2019.

“Apres Ski” featured live and silent auctions. Dinner was by chefs Jose Gutierrez of River Oaks, Will Byrd of City Silo Table + Pantry, Patrick Reilly of Majestic Grille, and Konrad Spitzbart of The Peabody.

Lisa Ellis is Big Green Memphis regional director.

Connor Glennon and Kristen Rotenberry at Memphis Garden Gala. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Connor Glennon and Kristen Rotenberry at Memphis Garden Gala.

Emily and Mitchell Lindsey at Memphis Garden Gala. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Emily and Mitchell Lindsey at Memphis Garden Gala.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Soup Sunday, Southern Reins, Memphis Blues, Beer Bracket Challenge

Posted By on Thu, Feb 21, 2019 at 4:03 PM

The Rendezvous is a long-time supporter of charitable events, including Soup Sunday at times over the years. This photo may be at the first Zoo Rendezvous. It's when my hair was a different color and four times bigger. That's Nick Vergos (at left) and his dad, the late Charlie Vergos, who founded the Rendezvous.
  • The Rendezvous is a long-time supporter of charitable events, including Soup Sunday at times over the years. This photo may be at the first Zoo Rendezvous. It's when my hair was a different color and four times bigger. That's Nick Vergos (at left) and his dad, the late Charlie Vergos, who founded the Rendezvous.

I sampled everything from smoked tomato basil with charred kale soup from Hog Wild/A Moveable Feast to cheeseburger soup from Rizzo’s at Youth Villages Soup Sunday.

You could even get “stone soup” at the Stone Soup booth.

This is the annual event, where restaurants and other food services serve samples of soup, bread, and desserts to hundreds of hungry guests,

About 3,000 attended this year’s event, which was held February 17th at FedExForum. About $77,000 was raised.

The event also included the VIP Souper party, where guests didn’t have to stand in a soup line.

Not only was Rizzo's chef/owner Michael Patrick the recipient of the Souper Spirit Award, but Rizzo's cheeseburger soup took the best soup award upstairs at the VIP party.

The black bean with sweet potato and chorizo soup from the "Food With Class" Youth Villages vocational program at the Bartlett residential facility won Best Overall at the VIP party.

Memphis Restaurant Association's Southwestern corn chowder took the top honors downstairs in the regular event area.

During Soup Sunday, a friend showed me an old photo she found of me with extremely dark brown hair, Nick Vergos, and his dad, Charlie Vergos, founder of the legendary Rendezvous restaurant. Judging by Nick’s cap and a sticker that says “Zoo,” we must have been at an early Zoo Rendezvous. Maybe the first one. I believe Rendezvous provided all the food that year, hence the event’s name.

Rendezvous doesn’t participate every year, but Youth Villages CEO Patrick Lawler says it has in the past. He remembers when they served barbecued popcorn.

“We also did red beans and rice,” says Nick’s brother, John Vergos.

Rendezvous has a history of being involved in charitable events in Memphis. “My brother and Thomas Boggs started Zoo Rendezvous,” John says. “It used to be called ‘Rendezvous at the Zoo.’ We still participate.”

Charlie Vergos also started “Rendezvous at the Dixon.” “We also help with the Metal Museum. We feed all the employees when they do Repair Days. Still do that.”

“We don’t give to the charities that raise millions and millions of dollars. We like to be involved at the beginning and help start things.”

And, John says, they like to be involved with something where they “can feed 500 or 1,000 people and make a real impact.”

Michael Patrick, chef/ownenr of Rizzo's restaurant, won the Souper Spirit Award and best soup in the VIP area at Soup Sunday. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Michael Patrick, chef/ownenr of Rizzo's restaurant, won the Souper Spirit Award and best soup in the VIP area at Soup Sunday.

Jarod Kimble and Jennae Stevenson were at Soup Sunday. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • MIchael Donahue
  • Jarod Kimble and Jennae Stevenson were at Soup Sunday.
Myers Nobert, Patrick Lawler and Gary Nobert at Soup Sunday. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Myers Nobert, Patrick Lawler and Gary Nobert at Soup Sunday.
Soup Sunday - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • MIchael Donahue
  • Soup Sunday



Soup Sunday - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Soup Sunday
Soup Sunday - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Soup Sunday

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Rob Reetz, Kamyla Rivers and Jayla Hampton at Memphis Blues Rugby Club season opener. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Rob Reetz, Kamyla Rivers and Jayla Hampton at Memphis Blues Rugby Club season opener.

Guests — some wrapped in blankets — stood outside in 40-something degree weather and watched men wearing shorts play rugby at the Memphis Blues rugby team’s season opener, which was held February 16th at McBride Field.

Tucker McCormack, one of the guests, also wore shorts. A friend of his says she was surprised he wasn’t barefooted.

In addition to missing his long pants, McCormack also missed his beard and mustache, which would have come in handy on a cold day.

And, he says, “I shaved today and it was a huge mistake.”

Those who attended got into the action on the field. “This is organized violence,” says bystander Devon Carter.

But those big guys on the field also have big hearts. Players raised money and provided rugby gear to the Soulsville Girls Rugby Team.

“We did an angel tree type of donation,” says Memphis Blues player Rob Reetz. “We raised over $500 in donations from current and ex-players. Sent out a notice to all local high school programs and only one school responded - the Soulsville Girls Rugby Team.

Each member of the team “gave us a ‘wish list’ of rugby gear that they wanted or needed. And we raised enough money to get the girls everything on their lists. We bought new Adidas cleats, rugby shorts, socks, compression shorts, USA rugby jerseys, new rugby balls, and kicking tees.”

Caleb Johnson and Ruby at the Memphis Blues Rugby Club season opener. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Caleb Johnson and Ruby at the Memphis Blues Rugby Club season opener.
August Stevens, Anna Vo and Mungo were at the Memphis Blues Rugby Club season opener. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • August Stevens, Anna Vo and Mungo were at the Memphis Blues Rugby Club season opener.
Matt Hill was at the Memphis Blues Rugby Club season opener. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Matt Hill was at the Memphis Blues Rugby Club season opener.
Joe Temple, Spencer Hansen and Colby McKinney were at the Memphis Blues Rugby Club season opener. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Joe Temple, Spencer Hansen and Colby McKinney were at the Memphis Blues Rugby Club season opener.
John Elmore and Dawson Pappas at the Memphis Blues Rugby Club season opener. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • John Elmore and Dawson Pappas at the Memphis Blues Rugby Club season opener.


Thomas Miles, Robert Kyle, Caleb Johnson, Chloe Johnson and Ruby at the Memphis Blues Rugby Club season opener. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Thomas Miles, Robert Kyle, Caleb Johnson, Chloe Johnson and Ruby at the Memphis Blues Rugby Club season opener.

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Jockeys & Juleps kickoff reception. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • MIchael Donahue
  • Jockeys & Juleps kickoff reception.

Southern Reins says it’s time to start thinking about “Big hats, Bourbon, Bluegrass.” That’s what its annual event, “Jockeys & Juleps” will feature along with a live broadcast of the 2019 Kentucky Derby.

The announcement with details of this year’s party was at a kickoff party, which was held February 21st at the home of Kim Jordan.

Jockeys & Juleps will be held May 4th at Southern Reins at 916 Billy Bryant Road in Collierville. It will include live music, a bourbon bar, a hat contest, Southern cuisine, Derby desserts, and silent and live auctions.

Proceeds from the event will help provide equine-assisted activities and therapies to people with disabilities and hardship throughout the Mid-South.


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Representatives of participating breweries turned out for Memphis Flyer and Aldo's Beer Bracket Challenge Match-Up, which was held February 11th at Aldo's Pizza Pies Downtown. Readers were asked to select their favorite beer. The winner will be announced soon. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Representatives of participating breweries turned out for Memphis Flyer and Aldo's Beer Bracket Challenge Match-Up, which was held February 11th at Aldo's Pizza Pies Downtown. Readers were asked to select their favorite beer. The winner will be announced soon.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Marc Gasol, Works of Heart, Peabody's 150th and more

Posted By on Thu, Feb 14, 2019 at 2:04 PM

Me and Marc at Art on Fire 2018 at Dixon Gallery and Gardens. - FRANK CHIN
  • Frank Chin
  • Me and Marc at Art on Fire 2018 at Dixon Gallery and Gardens.

I’m going to miss Marc Gasol.

I’ve photographed the former Memphis Grizzlies player, who recently was traded, and I've been photographed with him several times over the past 12 years. It’s always a pleasure to see Gasol at parties, which have included the old Grizz Gala in Tunica, the opening of The Gray Canary restaurant, and the Memphis Food & Wine Festival.

Gasol always was gracious, but if he didn’t want his photo taken at that moment because the program was about to start or whatever, he’d say so. And when he was ready, he let me know. I never argued with him.

When you knew Gasol was going to be at a party, it was a big deal. He is the epitome of star power.

Here are a few photos of Gasol from parties I covered. Frank Chin took the ones of me and Gasol at Art on Fire, which was held last October at Dixon Gallery and Gardens. I took the other ones.


Marc Gasol with Alan and Susan Graf at the Memphis Food and Wine Festival  in 2017. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Marc Gasol with Alan and Susan Graf at the Memphis Food and Wine Festival in 2017.
Marc Gasol and his wife, Cristina Blesa, at the opening of The Gray Canary restaurant February 20th, 2018. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Marc Gasol and his wife, Cristina Blesa, at the opening of The Gray Canary restaurant February 20th, 2018.
Dixon Gallery and Gardens director Kevin Sharpe and Marc Gasol at Art on Fire. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Dixon Gallery and Gardens director Kevin Sharpe and Marc Gasol at Art on Fire.
Mike Conley, Michael Donahue and Marc Gasol at Art on Fire. - FRANK CHIN
  • Frank Chin
  • Mike Conley, Michael Donahue and Marc Gasol at Art on Fire.




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"The Queen of Hearts" by Younok Jung at Works of Heart. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • "The Queen of Hearts" by Younok Jung at Works of Heart.

Instead of “Be my valentine,” guests were thinking, “I want that heart,” at Works of Heart, which was held February 9th at Memphis College of Art.


More than 100 artists created works with a “heart” as the inspiration for the annual Memphis Child Advocacy Center fund-raiser.


About 350 people attended, says Beryl Wight, the center’s communications and grants manager.


“Net proceeds are $75,000,” Beryl says.

Works of Heart - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Works of Heart
Works of Heart - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Works of Heart
Works of Heart - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Works of Heart
Works of Heart - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Works of Heart
Works of Heart - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Works of Heart


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Doug Browne, Marty Belz, and Scott Boucher at The Peabody 150th anniversary reception. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Doug Browne, Marty Belz, and Scott Boucher at The Peabody 150th anniversary reception.


The Peabody kicked off its 150th celebration with a reception to announce upcoming events.

On September 5th, the hotel will host its 150th Anniversary Party and Grand Dinner. The party will begin in the lobby and will include a special guest, who will be induc(DUCK)ted into the Duck Walk Hall of Fame. Dinner will be held in the Continental Ballroom.


The Jack Daniels Tasting and Dinner will be November 7th. The dinner will be a Jack Daniels-inspired dinner.

A Skyway Sunset Serenade, a throwback big band dance party to the old Skyway and rooftop events of the past, will be held at a date to be announced.

And — if you’d like something extra fancy — try the Royal Wagyu Truffle Burger at Chez Philippe. It includes butter poached lobster, caramelized onion, St. Andre cheese, huckleberry aioli, parmesan black truffle fries on a brioche bun. It comes with a half bottle of Rombauer cabernet sauvignon. California, 2015. And it’s only $150.

Jim Holt, Kevin Kane, and Craig Unger were at The Peabody's 150th anniversary kickoff reception. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Jim Holt, Kevin Kane, and Craig Unger were at The Peabody's 150th anniversary kickoff reception.

………..

JJ Keras, Kristina McMorris, Anne Bogel, Brad Taylor, and Janie Lowery at Literacy is Key. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • JJ Keras, Kristina McMorris, Anne Bogel, Brad Taylor, and Janie Lowery at Literacy is Key.

Anne Bogel, Kristina McMorris, and Brad Taylor were the featured authors at the Literacy is Key: A Book & Author Event, which was held February 7th at Holiday Inn at the University of Memphis.

Bogel, who hosts a weekly podcast, “What Should I Read Next,” is the author of two books, including her recent, I’d Rather be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life.

McMorris is author of Letters from Home, Bridge of Scarlet Leaves, and other best-selling novels.

Taylor is author of the "Pike Logan" series, which now includes 12 installments. His books draw from his experiences in the United States Army Infantry.

The annual event is presented by the Memphis Alumnae Association of Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity.

Its primary beneficiary is First Book Mid-South, a non-profit with a mission of providing the first books to children of low income families.

............


Christine and Page Robbins Adult Day Center board president Paul Woods at the Page Robbins Winter Gala. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Christine and Page Robbins Adult Day Center board president Paul Woods at the Page Robbins Winter Gala.
.........................

This year’s Page Robbins Winter Gala, the largest fund-raiser for the Page Robbins Adult Day Center, was a record breaker. The event netted more than $195,000, which is more than the event ever raised. About 420 people attended the event, which was held February 2nd at The Guest House at Graceland.

The event included a cocktail hour, silent and live auctions, and dancing to the Soul Shockers.

Herbie Krisle is executive director of the center.

The Page Robbins Adult Day Center is a non-profit organization in Collierville that provides daytime care for adults with memory loss.

Board member Carole Williams was chair of the Page Robbins Winter Gala. With her is her husband, Dodd. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Board member Carole Williams was chair of the Page Robbins Winter Gala. With her is her husband, Dodd.
Peggy Killett and Wes Parker were at the Page Robbins Gala. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Peggy Killett and Wes Parker were at the Page Robbins Gala.
David and Rachel Wall and Laura and Charles Hall were at the Page Robbins Gala. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • David and Rachel Wall and Laura and Charles Hall were at the Page Robbins Gala.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Krispy Kreme Challenge and more!

Posted By on Thu, Feb 7, 2019 at 4:33 PM

I didn't run in the Krispy Kreme Challenge, but I did hold two of the doughnuts over my eyes to make them look like glasses. - JON W. SPARKS
  • Jon W. Sparks
  • I didn't run in the Krispy Kreme Challenge, but I did hold two of the doughnuts over my eyes to make them look like glasses.

Everybody likes to eat a dozen glazed doughnuts after they’ve run 2.5 miles, right? And then immediately run 2.5 more miles?

That was the premise of the Krispy Kreme Challenge, which was held February 2nd on Beale Street.

“We’re doing the unofficial Krispy Kreme Challenge that takes place annually in Raleigh,” says organizer/participant Brett Healey. “It’s a fund-raiser in Raleigh and, fortunately, we’ve turned it into a fund-raiser in Memphis for Breakaway Running.”

Participants had to run, eat a dozen doughnuts, and run some more — all under an hour. That was the challenge.

Karin Biggerstaff, general manager of the Krispy Kreme on Hacks Cross Road, says they donated 35 dozen doughnuts.

“I don’t mind the running, but eating a dozen doughnuts in the middle of the run is going to be a challenge,” says Richard Murphy, who wanted to run to “support the local running community.”

He ended up winning the run. He came in well under an hour.

Casey Inman came in second place, and Christian Dehner came in third.

Inman won last year’s unofficial Krispy Kreme Challenge, which was Healey’s inaugural event.

“We, actually, went to breakfast afterwards,” he says. “We went and grabbed brunch. Had some fried chicken and waffles.”


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Sara and David Thompson and Krystal and Lynn Shaw were at the Vive le Brooks! launch party. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Sara and David Thompson and Krystal and Lynn Shaw were at the Vive le Brooks! launch party.

Bradley and Emily Rice were at the Vive le Brooks! launch party. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Bradley and Emily Rice were at the Vive le Brooks! launch party.

Under the “shade” of Federico Uribe’s towering tree sculpture with its multitude of dangling socks on clotheslines in the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art rotunda, guests dined on cuisine prepared by chefs from Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman restaurants, sipped wine, and listened to David Thompson talk about the agenda for “Vive le Brooks!” at the Vive le Brooks! Launch Party. Thompson and his wife, Sara, and Emily and Bradley Rice are the 2019 Vive le Brooks! chairs.


About 200 people attended the launch party, which was held January 31st. The series of parties with new names is the rebranded Memphis Wine + Food series for 2019 for Brooks.

The series will include several events, which will be held at the Brooks: Meet the Winemaker on March 23rd, Vive le Smash March 24th, the Grand Artisan’s Dinner May 17th, and The Grand Auction on May 18th, all at Brooks.

VIve le Brooks! is the premier fund-raising endeavor of the Brooks. Proceeds will make the arts accessible to children and adults across the Mid-South. The series contributed more than $5 million in net revenue to the Brooks over the past 27 years. The money directly supports the museum’s educational and community-outreach programs.

Bryan and Courtney Smith were  at the Vive le Brooks! launch party. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • MIchael Donahue
  • Bryan and Courtney Smith were at the Vive le Brooks! launch party.

Spencer Coplan, Jordan Ayers, Grace Peterson and Chad Harrison at Vive le Brooks! launch party. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Spencer Coplan, Jordan Ayers, Grace Peterson and Chad Harrison at Vive le Brooks! launch party.
Chefs at the Vive le Brooks! dinner were Robin Rader, Brandon Matthews, Ryan Jenniges, J. R. Bearden and Jared Summers. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • MIchael Donahue
  • Chefs at the Vive le Brooks! dinner were Robin Rader, Brandon Matthews, Ryan Jenniges, J. R. Bearden and Jared Summers.

Chris McCoy and Bruce Van Wyngarden at the 20 Under 30 reception. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Chris McCoy and Bruce Van Wyngarden at the 20 Under 30 reception.
……………

Twenty-one honorees were included in this year’s “20 Under 30” Memphis Flyer issue.

This year’s “class of 2019” were the guests of honor at a reception, which was held January 23rd at Restaurant Iris.

About 150 people packed the house at the event, which was co-hosted by the New Memphis Institute and Northwest Mutual.

Flyer readers were asked to nominate exceptional Memphians under the age of 30.

Most popular photo spot at the party? Beside the blow-up of the January 24th Memphis Flyer cover, which pictures all the honorees.

Josalynne Love, one of the honorees, at the 20 Under 30 reception. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • MIchael Donahue
  • Josalynne Love, one of the honorees, at the 20 Under 30 reception.

…………….

Joel Alexander at Incognito. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Joel Alexander at Incognito.

When you’re at the Incognito art show, The person in costume standing next to you might be the artist who painted the picture you’re bidding on.

The premise is simple. Artists exhibit their works but they don’t put their names on the piece. Someone bids on the artwork because they like the work, not because of who executed it. “Our theme has been — since nothing is signed on the front — ‘Bid for what you love, not who you know,’” says Phyllis Boger, former president of Artists Link, which puts on the show.

This year’s event, which is sponsored by Artists Link and Memphis Botanic Garden, was held January 25th.

They encouraged the artists to dress up when the show began in Memphis years ago, Boger says. “Thinking it would be fun for the artists to come incognito. Some go way out there. Just go crazy. And do a great job.”

Some, she says, just “wear a mask and come a little incognito.”

And then, she says, “Some people don’t like dressing up.”


Boger started the show when she was president of Artists Link. Originally, the art was just by members. Today, other artists participate. In past years, Jerry “The King” Lawler was one of the contributing artists.

Incognito now features the “quick bid.” People can come in and “buy something off the bat for $250. They don’t have to go through the bidding process.”

This year, Boger says, “Barbara Tigrett, Connie Lampen, and Jane Croy sold their pieces within 15 minutes.”

About $8,000 was raised in the sale of artwork and another $1,500 in ticket sales, Boger says.

WKNO’s Kacky Walton has been the emcee for the past three years.

Phyllis Boger at Incognito. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Phyllis Boger at Incognito.

……………..

Community Foundation of Northeast Mississippi Pastor Bartholomew Orr, Star of Hope Jesse Holland and Foundation president Tom Pittman
  • Community Foundation of Northeast Mississippi Pastor Bartholomew Orr, Star of Hope Jesse Holland and Foundation president Tom Pittman

Jesse J. Holland, author of "Black Panther: Who is the Black Panther?," was the Star of Hope honoree at the Crystal Ball, the annual event presented by the Community Foundation of Northeast Mississippi. The event was held January 19th at the Southaven Arena.

Holland is a native of Hudsonville, Mississippi, in Marshall County. His book was based on the comic book superhero, who also was portrayed in the 2018 movie, Black Panther.

Obviously, "superhero" was the theme of the event, which was chaired by Emily and Patrick Johnson.

,,,,,,,,,,,,,
Tawny Skye at "Enough: Me Too Exhibit." - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Tawny Skye at "Enough: Me Too Exhibit."

About 500 people turned out for the opening reception of the “Enough: Me Too Exhibit,” which was held January 25th at Memphis College of Art.

Tawny Skye curated the show and also was one of the 25 artists who exhibited work. She is owner of Femme Pots, where pottery is sold to raise money for the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).

“This is the second one I’ve done in the last year,” Skye says. “I’ve been making my art work about rape culture about four years. [It’s] basically a culture that facilitates and perpetuates the idea that rape is okay.

“For instance, I did a series — my ‘Weapons’ series — to talk about how women are being used as weapons of war. Way back, when armies would infiltrate countries, they would rape women and impregnate women so it would taint the culture. By their standards.

“I decided I wanted to make work that would talk about how strong survivors are and how coming together will help us. And finding the beauty in pain.

“I made these vessels that resembled fertility figures to kind of change the definition of women’s role. In these vessels, I fermented in wine clothing I wore when I was raped. So, they became vessels that took on my pain with me.

“From 7 to 11 my family member was molesting me. And when I was 18 I was raped. And I started remembering my childhood.”

One purpose of the “Enough: Me Too Exhibit” was to give other artists a voice, Skye says. “I was really angry and fed up with the art community not separating the art from the artists. There are some artists in the community who have assaulted women and galleries are aware of it and they’re still showing their work. And I think it’s wrong. There are so many artists out there who haven’t done those things who need exposure. As someone curating, I should be someone providing platforms for people who deserve it.

“The purpose is to provide a platform for people who deserve it, but also to help other survivors know they’re not alone in their struggle.”

Singer-songwriter Louise Page performed songs from her upcoming album.

Describing one of them, “Uncanny Valley,” Page says the term “uncanny valley” applies to “things that look very close to human, but are not and that instinctively creeps us out. It’s why people are creeped out by dolls, mannequins, certain kinds of animals. Because they fall in the ‘uncanny valley.’ Things that almost look human, but are not.“


Women, she says, “are sort of shunted into the ‘uncanny valley’ in terms of what is expected of them physically and emotionally. Like you’re almost expected to not be human.”


Another song, “Paw in the Honey,” also was relevant to the show, Page says. “It expressed the feeling of frustration about being constantly sexualized.”








Louise Page performed at the at "Enough: Me Too Exhibit." - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Louise Page performed at the at "Enough: Me Too Exhibit."
Sara Mosely was one of the artists in the at "Enough: Me Too Exhibit." - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Sara Mosely was one of the artists in the at "Enough: Me Too Exhibit."
Kyle Roberts and Beverly Fichthorn at at "Enough: Me Too Exhibit." - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Kyle Roberts and Beverly Fichthorn at at "Enough: Me Too Exhibit."
Holmes Ryan and Carla Peacher at the Enough: Me Too Exhibit. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Holmes Ryan and Carla Peacher at the Enough: Me Too Exhibit.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

901 Wrestling, Goodbye to Sears Southland Mall, Beale Street book find

Posted By on Thu, Jan 24, 2019 at 4:58 PM

It was fun catching up with some old and new friends at 901 Wrestling at the Rec Room.
  • It was fun catching up with some old and new friends at 901 Wrestling at the Rec Room.

901 Wrestling is the new name of UCPWS (Ultimate Championship Pro Wrestling South), the wrestling matches that take place every other week at the Rec Room. The name change was announced at its January 19th event.

“It’s been on our mind for a while,” says Stephen Thompson, an owner of the independent wrestling company “We never liked the name UCPWS. It was hard to pronounce and hard to remember. So, we were just trying to look for something to change to.”

They gave it some thought. “It’s kind of a rule in wrestling where you don’t want to be too local with the name if you want to branch out. But the Memphis crowds have been so good to us. And we’ve had so much success here over the year. With the 901 craze, what’s more Memphis than 901? The whole 901 craze (of) naming things you see everywhere now, we've got to get on board. What’s more Memphis than that? When someone hears ‘901,’ they know immediately it’s Memphis.

“We want to be Memphis everything. We’ve had thoughts of transitioning all the entrance themes to local Memphis artists. And the sponsors we’re going after, they’re all local. We’re trying to be 100 percent on everything.”

Their title belt also was changed to reflect Memphis, says wrestling manager Tommy Jax. “No one’s really made a Memphis belt before,” he says. “There’s been a Mid-Southern title, Southern heavyweight title, a thousand ways you can make a Southern title, but never a Memphis belt.

“So, what I set out to do when we did the design on it, I wanted to throw in themes that were Memphis-centric. So, that’s why at the heart of the belt is the city. That’s the skyline you see at the center of the belt.”

The skyline includes The Pyramid and the Hernando De Soto Bridge. “We could put our own logo there, but, to me, this is not about us. It’s about bringing something back to Memphis that shouldn’t ever have gone away. We put the city right there at the heart of the belt.”

The side plates include a tiger for the University of Memphis Tigers and a grizzly bear for the Memphis Grizzlies, which are among the “things written into the DNA of Memphis,” Jax says. “There’s music. There’s basketball. And there’s wrestling.”

901 Wrestling currently has 20 to 25 wrestlers on the roster, Thompson says. Most of the wrestlers are based in the area. “We pride ourselves on using a lot of our own local guys and not trying to bring in big names or anything," he says. "We get big crowds regardless. We’re trying to be our own thing.”


901 Wrestling returns at 7 p.m. January 26th at the Rec Room, 3000 Broad. Admission is $5.

I know it's hard to find me, but here I am with the 901 Wrestling wreslters at the Rec Room.
  • I know it's hard to find me, but here I am with the 901 Wrestling wreslters at the Rec Room.
901 Wrestling referees: Billy "You Had Your Chance" Robinson, Tracksuit Donny, Blue Shoes David Knight and Jay "No Fun" Dunn. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • 901 Wrestling referees: Billy "You Had Your Chance" Robinson, Tracksuit Donny, Blue Shoes David Knight and Jay "No Fun" Dunn.

……………………….

Josh "Next Level" Matthews - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Josh "Next Level" Matthews

Josh ”Next Level” Matthews recently has been a good guy, but he’s been a bad guy, too.

Matthews is one of the wrestlers on the 901 Wrestling roster.

“Most of the time I’m the bad guy,” says Matthews, 28. “Recently, I’ve had a change of heart and I’m doing the good guy a little bit to see how the fans like me. And get on their good side a little while.”

What does he do to become the “bad guy" wrestler? “Choking and low blows here and there. Raking the eyes with fingernails. Scratching the eyes. Running your fingernails down somebody’s throat. Hanging them over the ropes and choking them.”

A native of Tupelo, Matthews began wrestling when he was 14. His dad, Wayne “Bad Boy Burns” Blaylock, wrestled 22 years. “I actually started wrestling illegally in Mississippi. You were supposed to have a Mississippi wrestling license and be 18 and trained and all that. But I was 14. Everybody knew me. I kind of stood on my spot. I would put on some clothes over my wrestling attire and once the commissioner left, I would have my match.”

Matthews, who weighs 190 pounds, looks leaner than some other wrestlers. “I actually started working out again. One of my friends used to call me a 'wasted piece of muscle.' I was all muscle and ripped, but I would just sit around and play Playstation and eat Baconators - the real big burgers from Wendy’s with all the bacon on it. It comes with like three patties. I’ve tried to get fat, but it won’t happen.”

He also looks like he might be in a rock band. “I can break instruments. I did break a guitar over somebody’s head.”

Asked how he got the name “Next Level,” Matthews says, “When Tommy Jax started managing me. One night we had our match and he looks at me, ‘Dude, you’re on another level.’ And he called me ‘Next Level’ one night on the microphone and the crowd just fell into it.”

Matthews, who wrestled in Indiana, Illinois, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Alabama, says, “Right now, I haven’t taken any bookings other than the 901 Wrestling.”

He’s a fan of the wrestling company. “I like 901 Wrestling because we’re going with the change wrestling is going through, but we still have that old school mentality.”

They believe in “keeping it traditional” at 901 Wrestling, Matthews says. “Like keeping wrestling the way it should be and still having moves they may have not done in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Climbing on the rope and doing a 450 splash. One front flip and a half of a flip and you splash your opponent.”

Splash? “Going for the win. You splash somebody, you land on them belly to belly.”


...............
Frank Sampietro, far right, with former Sears employees at a reunion at Sears Southland Mall.
  • Frank Sampietro, far right, with former Sears employees at a reunion at Sears Southland Mall.

Sears Southland Mall
  • Sears Southland Mall

The closing of Sears Southland Mall on January 27th will mark the end of an era for the once retail giant. That’s the last Sears store in Memphis.


Frank Sampietro, who worked for Sears for 43 years, organized a reunion of former employees. About 60 retirees met at noon on January 21st at Sears Southland Mall. They took a final walk through the store, touring the sales floor and offices they used to work in.

“It’s been coming and we all knew it for a long time,” says Sampietro, 79. “But we were all happy and sad. Happy to see each other. Some we hadn’t seen in years. But sort of sad ‘cause we remember the good times. We were all together. All full-time employees. We were one big family.”

Sears at one time was “the largest employer in the city of Memphis with as many as 11 stores/units,” Sampietro says. About 4,000 people worked for Sears “during its heyday in the ‘60s and ‘70s.”

The smaller Sears stores in the Memphis area are "independently owned franchise stores. As far as we know, they will remain open."

A graduate of Christian Brothers High School, Sampietro went to work at the old Sears Crosstown in 1959 after he got out of the Air Force. “I started working in the old customer service behind the original furniture department. And I was working part time there going to Memphis State.”

He met his wife, Jo, at Sears Southland Mall. “She worked in the candy department. I was the manager of the sporting goods department. We’ve been married 47 years.”

Sampietro, who retired eight years ago, first retired as appliance manager from Sears Laurelwood, but, he says, “They called me back and I worked six years as district manager for the home improvement side of the company.”

He didn’t get a gold watch when he retired, but, he says, “I got a gold pin with a little diamond in it. That was about it.”

Sampietro described the years he and his co-workers spent at Sears at “just an unending journey from the time we started to the time each of us individually retired. As we retired, we noticed things were changing.”

For instance, they put in center aisle cashiers. Previously, individual departments had individual cash registers with people manning them.

People hated that and, after a time, they put the registers back in the departments, Sampietro says.

Millie Ungren, who taught sewing machine classes at Sears for those who bought sewing machines from the store, wrote a poem, "Sad Day at Southland Mall," to commemorate the store closing.

One stanza mentions the store’s famous Whitehaven neighbor:

 “There were the nights when Elvis shopped

We were ordered ‘stay put, do not leave’

He bought his shirts, jeans and underwear

When he left us, how we grieved.”


………………

Chuck Guthrie with his 1934 copy of "Beale Street - Where the Blues Began." - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Chuck Guthrie with his 1934 copy of "Beale Street - Where the Blues Began."

Chuck Guthrie wants to know “what are the chances” of him discovering a circa 1934 book, Beale Street - Where the Blues Began the same week the International Blues Challenge takes place in Memphis.

It was sitting in his showcase at Market on Madison, which he owns with Larry Tyger, but he never looked at it until recently. “Several times during the week someone will come through and say, ‘Hey. I’ve got such and such. Will you give me a few dollars for it?’ It may be a piece of art, might be a book, little antiques.

“This has been half a year ago. A gentleman came in and he had a few knick knacks and a couple of books. He said, ‘I think that one book [the Beale Street book] might be something. But everyone who comes in says, ‘It really is old and it’s an antique.’ I usually give them two or three dollars to give them lunch or bus fare.”

He put the Beale Street book in the showcase without putting a price on it. “I never looked at it. Then Sunday afternoon, I decided I was going to make things in the case look better.”

He started to arrange the books. “I picked up the book and it said, ‘Beale Street. Where Blues Began.’ I said, ‘That’ll be interesting.’”

The book, which was was written by George W. Lee, includes a forward is by W. C. Handy.

Guthrie went on line and found a copy of the book that was selling for $1,550.

If anybody wants to look at the book and talk to him about it, Guthrie says to come on down to Market on Madison at Madison and Cleveland. He still hasn’t put a price on it.

img_4708.jpg

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Tags: , ,

Friday, January 11, 2019

Jerry Schilling. And "Big Star" Recreated

Posted By on Fri, Jan 11, 2019 at 2:33 PM

After not seeing each other for a while, Jerry Schilling and I began catching up - fittingly - at the re-created Graceland staircase at The Guest House at Graceland. - JON W. SPARKS
  • Jon W. Sparks
  • After not seeing each other for a while, Jerry Schilling and I began catching up - fittingly - at the re-created Graceland staircase at The Guest House at Graceland.

It’s always great to see Jerry Schilling in town.

Schilling, a close friend and business associate of Elvis, was in Memphis to participate in events surrounding Elvis’s January 8th birthday.

“I have not been back on a birthday since I can’t remember,” says Schilling, who lives in Beverly Hills.

He was invited to be guest host, so he and his wife, Cindy, spent the weekend and into the week in Memphis.

The last time I talked to Schilling, he was in Memphis promoting “Elvis Presley: the Searcher,” the HBO documentary. He and Priscilla Presley were executive producers on the documentary, which Schilling describes as “everything I wanted and thought it would be and more.”

A high point for Schilling during his recent trip was once again seeing the first gift he ever gave Elvis.

Before his visit, Schilling got an email from Angie Marchese, vice-president of Graceland archives and exhibits. She wondered if he had any thoughts on objects they could show during the “Me and a Guy Named Elvis Show and Tell” event, which Schilling hosted January 6th at the Guest House Theater at The Guest House at Graceland.

Schilling remembered his gift. “It was the first gift I ever gave Elvis for Christmas.”

It was 1964. “I had known Elvis for 10 years, but I never felt as a young kid that I had the right to go give him a gift at the football field or at the Memphian.”

That Christmas, Elvis gave Schilling a bonus. “I only made $96 a week working for Elvis. He gave me a $1,000 bonus. I was thrilled. So, I left Graceland and I said, ‘I’m going to take this and buy Elvis my first gift.’ I went to the Whitehaven shopping center. There was a sporting goods store there.”

Schilling saw “a real unusual looking gun. Really different. A hand gun, but it looked like a customized German luger, if you will.”

He bought it. “It cost me $996. So, I think it was the whole check. And I bought this for Elvis and I didn’t know if he was going to like it or not. I’m 22 years old.”

The present was a success. “He loved this gun. Every night, he carried it to the Memphian theater.”

Schilling hadn’t seen that gun “in 40-something years.”

Until the artifact show.

Prior to his visit, Marchese sent him photos of Elvis’s guns, but none of them were the one Schilling gave the King. “He had so many guns.”

When Schilling got to Memphis, Marchese showed him more guns, which she put in a glass case. “I said, ‘Angie, I would love to say one of these is the gun, but it’s just not.’ And I said, ‘You’ve done a great job.’”

Marchese said, “Let me go out to my car and get my computer.”

She then showed him some gun photos on the computer. “I said, ‘Roll that back! That’s the gun!’ Marchese said she found it up in Elvis’s closet. And that’s one of the things I showed at my archives thing for the fans.”

Asked what he’s been up to these days, Schilling says he’s been busy working with The Beach Boys. “I’m into my third year of re-managing The Beach Boys. I managed them from 1968 to 1987.”

He originally wasn’t a big Beach Boys fan, but he got to know them when he was tour manager for Billy Joel, who opened for the group in 1975. Later, Carl Wilson of The Beach Boys asked Schilling to be their tour manager. He eventually became their manager.

It was Schilling’s idea for The Beach Boys to record an album along the lines of the “If I can Dream: Elvis Presley with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra” and “The Wonder of You: Elvis Presley with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra” albums.

“We did the Royal Philharmonic album this year for the Beach Boys with Don Reedman and Nick Patrick, the same two producers that did the Elvis Royal Philharmonic albums.”

”The Beach Boys with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,” which was recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London, came out last April. Schilling is the executive producer. “It’s the biggest selling album the Beach Boys have had in 28 years.”

I love to hear Schilling’s stories about The Beach Boys. He was a friend of the late Dennis Wilson, the drummer. “He drowned in Marina del Rey. He was looking for his furniture he threw off his boat when the IRS was coming to seize it. When he came up, he hit his head on the boat.”

Schilling went to the coroner’s office. “There was no family in town when that happened. I was having a rare dinner with my father - one of the few times he came up from Tennessee - and Col. (Tom) Parker.”

Dennis was “the balls of The Beach Boys. The Beach Boys have these beautiful harmonies and all and Dennis is back there just beating the hell out of the drums. He’s the sexy guy. He’s the James Dean of The Beach Boys. He did ‘Two Lane Blacktop,’ a movie. Look wise, image wise, I mean, he had star power. He was a wild guy, but he was a great guy.”

It’s no surprise to discover Schilling currently is involved in a Beach Boys documentary. He can’t talk about it, but, he says, “It’ll be on the lines of the Elvis documentary.”

...............

Mark Esterman, standing, came up with the idea of  recreating the Big Star painting by Lamar Sorrento at Mortimer's restaurant. With him are Chuck Olson, Aaron  Boyles and Graden Duckworth. - CHELSEA HODGE
  • Chelsea Hodge
  • Mark Esterman, standing, came up with the idea of recreating the Big Star painting by Lamar Sorrento at Mortimer's restaurant. With him are Chuck Olson, Aaron Boyles and Graden Duckworth.
"Estrella Grande" by Lamar Sorrento
  • "Estrella Grande" by Lamar Sorrento

If you’re a Big Star fan and if you read the story by Alex Greene in the current issue of Memphis Magazine, you're familiar with "Estrella Grande" - the Lamar Sorrento painting of Big Star that hangs at Mortimer’s restaurant.

A special area on the south side of the restaurant is devoted to the legendary Memphis band. The late Chris Bell, the band’s guitarist, is the son of the late restaurateur Vernon Mortimer Bell. Chris’s sister, Sara Bell owns Mortimer’s.

Well, another depiction of Big Star now resides at the restaurant. It’s a photograph - a take-off on the Sorrento painting with Mortimer’s employees and one regular from the restaurant portraying the musicians.

It was bartender Mark Esterman’s idea.

When Larry Kuzniewski showed up December 29th to take the photo of the painting for Memphis Magazine, Esterman began thinking: “I just had the idea at that point when we were moving the painting around, we could probably recreate our own ‘painting.’ We could probably recreate it over by the fireplace and make our own little tribute to the Big Star picture.”

Esterman portrayed lead singer Alex Chilton, server Graden Duckworth was bass player Andy Hummel, and Chuck Olson, a regular, was drummer Jody Stephens. Server/cook Aaron Boyles, who is a musician in real life, was Chris Bell. “‘Cause he had the guitar.”.

Esterman provided costumes, including, he says, “a couple of shirts I bought for an old ‘70s costume.”

Bartender/manager Chelsea Hodge took the photo.


Thursday, January 3, 2019

New Year's Day Firsts. And Some Old and New Friends.

Posted By on Thu, Jan 3, 2019 at 3:45 PM

I ran into Chandler Parsons and Joakim Noah at Gibson's Donuts. I shamelessly gave them a copy of the Memphis Flyer with my photo(s) on the front. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • I ran into Chandler Parsons and Joakim Noah at Gibson's Donuts. I shamelessly gave them a copy of the Memphis Flyer with my photo(s) on the front.


January 1, 2019 included a few firsts for me.

I took my first photos of Memphis Grizzlies players Chandler Parsons and Joakim Noah. I ran into them around 10 p.m. while I was getting coffee at Gibson’s Donuts. I unabashedly gave them a copy of the current issue of the Memphis Flyer, which features my profile in stereo on the cover.


Earlier that same day - around 12:30 a.m. - I took my first photos of Quintron and Miss Pussy Cat. And I saw my first show featuring the New Orleans duo at the Hi-Tone. It was fabulous. I stood near the stage, where I could see Quintron’s fingers flying across the keyboards and Miss Pussycat working those maracas.

That evening I viewed several episodes of "The Twilight Zone” I’d never seen before. I sat in front of the TV for hours watching Syfy's annual “Twilight Zone” marathon. My plan was to stop watching when I got to an episode I’d seen before and couldn’t bear to watch one more time. I did sit through - once again - the one with the woman having bandages taken off her face for almost 30 minutes. And I did learn for the first time that Donna “Elly Mae Clampett” Douglas wasn’t the woman behind the bandages during most of the show.

I finally stopped watching when the episode with the little doll that says, “My name is Talky Tina and I'm going to kill you," came on. The channel then was changed to one showing football.

Finally, I got a flat tire after driving into a sinkhole. I also bent the rim. It was the first flat I’d gotten on Shelby Drive.

So, if nobody said it yet, let me be the first to wish you “Happy New Year!”

Quintron and Miss Pussycat at the Hi Tone. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Quintron and Miss Pussycat at the Hi Tone.
img_4275.jpg

New Year's Eve at the Hi Tone.
…………….

The following is a roundup of some of the people I ran across and places I visited over the holidays and earlier.

Elf Rage was practicing during Open Studios at Marshall Arts, which was held Dec. 13. Guests toured the space, viewed art and chatted with the artists. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Elf Rage was practicing during Open Studios at Marshall Arts, which was held Dec. 13. Guests toured the space, viewed art and chatted with the artists.
Anthony Lee at Open Studios at Marshall Arts. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Anthony Lee at Open Studios at Marshall Arts.
Davey Mann at Open Studios at Marshall Arts, which was held Dec. 13. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Davey Mann at Open Studios at Marshall Arts, which was held Dec. 13.
Marq and Brittany Cobb were among the guests at The Vault Influencer Dinner, which featured cuisine from executive chef Aaron Winters. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Marq and Brittany Cobb were among the guests at The Vault Influencer Dinner, which featured cuisine from executive chef Aaron Winters.
The Vault Influencer Dinner. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • The Vault Influencer Dinner.
Lees Romano and Alden Knipe at Woodruff-Fontaine Victorian Open House. Both Woodruff-Fontaine and Mallory Neely held open houses on the same night, which was Dec. 2. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Lees Romano and Alden Knipe at Woodruff-Fontaine Victorian Open House. Both Woodruff-Fontaine and Mallory Neely held open houses on the same night, which was Dec. 2.
Mallory-Neely open house. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Mallory-Neely open house.
Konar Chapman, Elizabeth McDonnell, Mary Phifer and - Jonah McDonnell at The Sheiks show on Christmas night at DKDC. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Konar Chapman, Elizabeth McDonnell, Mary Phifer and Jonah McDonnell at The Sheiks show on Christmas night at DKDC.
Black Lodge isn't open yet, but the venue was the sight of a jam-packed New Year's Eve party. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Black Lodge isn't open yet, but the venue was the sight of a jam-packed New Year's Eve party.
Black Lodge New Year's Eve party. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Black Lodge New Year's Eve party.
Edge Alley owner/chef Tim Baker held a series of parties before Christmas. They included one for the media and a neighbor party. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Edge Alley owner/chef Tim Baker held a series of parties before Christmas. They included one for the media and a neighbor party.
Pints for a Purpose  to benefit Wolf River Conservancy was held Dec. 11 at Outdoors Inc. on Union. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • MIchael Donahue
  • Pints for a Purpose to benefit Wolf River Conservancy was held Dec. 11 at Outdoors Inc. on Union.
Pints for a Purpose - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Pints for a Purpose
Dylan Thomas and August Stevens at Pints for a Purpose. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Dylan Thomas and August Stevens at Pints for a Purpose.
Pints for a Purpoes - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Pints for a Purpoes
Wok'n in Memphis chef/owner Spencer Coplan and Jordan Ayers hosted their "Black, Silver, & Gold"  New Year's Eve party. Guests were encouraged to dress in the party colors. Hog & Hominy sous chef Josh Hunt wore gold shoes. Cooks, bartenders and severs showed up around 12:30 to 1 a.m., Coplan says. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Wok'n in Memphis chef/owner Spencer Coplan and Jordan Ayers hosted their "Black, Silver, & Gold" New Year's Eve party. Guests were encouraged to dress in the party colors. Hog & Hominy sous chef Josh Hunt wore gold shoes. Cooks, bartenders and severs showed up around 12:30 to 1 a.m., Coplan says.
Chris and Jill Williams and their family host an annual open house between 6 and midnight New Year's Eve. Pictured are Jill, Walker, Allie, Katherine, Caroline and Chris Williams. - Not pictured is son, Austin, who was celebrating elsewhere with friends. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Chris and Jill Williams and their family host an annual open house between 6 and midnight New Year's Eve. Pictured are Jill, Walker, Allie, Katherine, Caroline and Chris Williams.Not pictured is son, Austin, who was celebrating elsewhere with friends.
Lee, Audrey, Ethan, Josh and Christian Stewart were at the Williams' New Year's Eve gathering. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Lee, Audrey, Ethan, Josh and Christian Stewart were at the Williams' New Year's Eve gathering.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Remembering a Legendary Midtown Party

Posted By on Thu, Dec 20, 2018 at 3:19 PM

Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top was a guest one year at  "A Christmas Party," an annual Midtown party Peggy Burch and I hosted for about a decade from the 1970s to the late 1980s.
  • Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top was a guest one year at "A Christmas Party," an annual Midtown party Peggy Burch and I hosted for about a decade from the 1970s to the late 1980s.

This week, I’m writing about one of my favorite Christmas memories. It’s the party my friend Peggy Burch and I hosted for a decade or so between the late 1970s and the late ’80s in my old Midtown apartment on Poplar at Avalon.

We dubbed it “A Christmas Party.” The premise was to invite everybody we knew and they were supposed to invite everybody they knew. Those people also were supposed to invite everybody they knew. And so on.

Each year I roasted three or four country hams and Peggy roasted several turkeys. Guests brought side items. One year, I made pumpkin pies from scratch.

Guests brought their own drinks. The first printed invitation for December 15, 1979 read “BYOB,” but Peggy decided she didn’t want to use that term. She came up with “Bring What You Would Like to Drink” for the next party. We used the same invitation wording each year.

I didn’t want to use plastic cups, so I bought cases of highball glasses, which we used from year to year.

I did make homemade eggnog with raw eggs, rye whiskey, rum, and real whipped cream.


The party always was held on the second Saturday before before Christmas. Each year, I bought the newest Red Hot Chili Peppers and Ashford & Simpson 33 rpm albums, which I played on my stereo. I periodically interrupted the recorded music and I played carols for sing-a-longs at the grand piano.


Our party began at 8 p.m. and usually lasted into the wee hours.

The main decoration was a gigantic live Christmas tree. I always had to cut off the top of the wide Fraser or Douglas fir tree because I always bought them too tall. They looked like they were growing through the ceiling.

The first year, my next door neighbor - a medical student - co-hosted the party with us. She made a total of 12 canapes as her offering for guests. She didn’t have a clue what the party was going to be like.


The “gathering” resembled the party scene from the movie, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, with people everywhere. About 700 people or so showed up each year. People crowded into my second story apartment, which had a big living room and dining room, two bedrooms - and one bathroom. People lined the hall stairs and waited for guests to leave the party so they could get in.

Strangers I invited at Huey’s Midtown or other watering holes usually showed up. And, of course, they were supposed to bring their friends and on and on.

It was noisy with people shouting so they could be heard over the other guests and the high decibel levels of the Peppers and Ashford & Simpson. People danced, screamed, and drank.

Each year, I watched as my apartment was destroyed before my eyes. I remember seeing a guest knock over an end table, which resulted in a glass of wine tipping over and streaming purple liquid down a white wall.

One year I saw my mother walking amidst the throng picking up an empty can here and there in a futile attempt to help clean up.

Lots of stories are connected with that party. Jill Johnson Piper and John Beifuss helped host the event one year. Jill, who brought a large cheese ball, asked me during the party where it was. She said she put it in a bag at the top of the back stairs. We finally found it way across the parking lot by the garbage cans. Guests who entered the party from the rear inadvertently kicked the cheese ball down the stairs and into the garbage area.

One year, I found cigarettes smashed into one of the pumpkin pies. Someone thought it was an earthenware ashtray.

Another time, a team of athletes from overseas was staying across Poplar. They saw the action going on and showed up. One of the guys picked up a whole turkey and began eating it. The next morning, we found a turkey carcass in the front yard.

I went to bed at 3:30 a.m. one year. The apartment still was jam packed. The next morning I woke up with a hangover to a freezing apartment. I walked in the living room, which, as usual, was a disaster with glasses, cups, bottles, cans, napkins, paper plates, plastic forks, and cigarette butts everywhere. Not a soul anywhere. All the front windows were wide open. A handwritten note on the stereo read, “I turned off the Christmas tree lights.”

Celebrity guests included Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top, Bobby Durango from Rock City Angels, and Mojo Nixon, who recorded the popular “Elvis is Everywhere.” I believe John Doe from the punk band, X, also showed up one year.

Musicians who appeared that weekend before Christmas at the nearby Antenna club attended.

The party came to an end after I bought a house and moved out of my beloved apartment, where I lived for 16 years.

People still speak fondly about that Midtown seasonal event.

Probably the worst memory from “A Christmas Party” occurred one year after everyone had gone home. I walked in the bathroom. Something about the bathtub caught my eye. I looked and I saw footprints in the tub. Facing the drain.

Bobby Durango from the Rock City Angels band was a guest one year.
  • Bobby Durango from the Rock City Angels band was a guest one year.

I periodically played Christmas carols during the party. People actually sang.
  • I periodically played Christmas carols during the party. People actually sang.

Michael Finger, my Memphis magazine colleague and long-time friend, was a regular guest.
  • Michael Finger, my Memphis magazine colleague and long-time friend, was a regular guest.

Jon W. Sparks, my colleague and another long-time friend, attended "A Christmas Party." He was with Carol Sheehan and Tom Walter.
  • Jon W. Sparks, my colleague and another long-time friend, attended "A Christmas Party." He was with Carol Sheehan and Tom Walter.
Andy Hyrka dressed as Santa. Here he is  on Poplar at Avalon in front of my apartment building.
  • Andy Hyrka dressed as Santa. Here he is on Poplar at Avalon in front of my apartment building.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Stumbling Santa, Crosstown Concourse, Red Boa Ball and more!

Posted By on Thu, Dec 13, 2018 at 2:37 PM

Santas and other holiday characters, including Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Donahue the Long-Haired Reporter, were at the Stumbling Santa Pub Crawl. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Santas and other holiday characters, including Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Donahue the Long-Haired Reporter, were at the Stumbling Santa Pub Crawl.

This year’s Stumbling Santa Pub Crawl broke records. A record number of 2,750 people attended and a record number of $4,000 was raised.

The event, held December 1st (it’s always held the first Saturday of December), is when men and women dress as Santa, elves, reindeer, Christmas presents, and even Jesus, Mary, and Joseph and make the trek from Flying Saucer Draught Emporium Downtown to Beale Street watering holes.

Stumbling Santa was extra special for Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus a.k.a. Bob Wilhelm and Carolyn Rock. It was their second time to participate in the event. The last time was in 2010 — the same day Wilhelm proposed to Rock.

Wilhelm popped the question after they both ran in the St. Jude Marathon. “We finished inside the ballpark — AutoZone Park,” Wilhelm says. “We walked out on the field. I bent down on one knee. She thought I was fainting and she crouches down.”

They both were wearing shorts and T-shirts. “I had the ring wrapped in tissue in a little plastic bag pinned inside my shorts.”

Later that evening, they participated in Stumbling Santa, which Wilhelm described as “fantastic. Carolyn would show her ring and somebody would buy us a drink and they would cheer for us. It was fun.”

They moved to Chicago two years ago after Wilhelm had a job change. They returned to Memphis and participated in the half marathon. They then donned their Santa outfits and did the pub crawl.

Or part of it. “We started and we went to two more places. We didn’t get to Coyote Ugly. We probably went to bed at 11. We're old."

 

Bob Wilhelm and Carolyn Rock at Stumbling Santa - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • MIchael Donahue
  • Bob Wilhelm and Carolyn Rock at Stumbling Santa



Stumbling Santa - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Stumbling Santa


…………..

Delight at Concourse - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Delight at Concourse

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow environmentally safe artificial snow.

That’s what happened November 30th during “Delight at Concourse,” the holiday lighting ceremony at the Crosstown Concourse.

Around 5:45 p.m., 7,500 lights on 76 lighting strands measuring 8,000 feet — in the shape of a Christmas tree — were turned on inside the Central Atrium. And shortly after, snow began to fall. The fake snow is called Snowbiz, says Crosstown Arts communications coordinator Bianca Phillips.

Kids played in the white stuff as if it was the freezing kind. A few children were seen making snow angel angels. Snowbiz angels.

Upstairs, the Crosstown Arts open house was held. Today & Always restaurant, the Art Bar, the galleries, and even the residency studios and the theater were open to visitors.

The open house was “a chance for the public to come out and explore all of our Crosstown Arts spaces at the same time,” Phillips says.

Crosstown Arts open house - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Crosstown Arts open house

………….

Larry Tyger, Santa Claus and Chuck Guthrie at Market on Madison open house. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Larry Tyger, Santa Claus and Chuck Guthrie at Market on Madison open house.

It takes a village to make a village — or an enchanted forest.

The window at Market on Madison reminded folks of the old Enchanted Forest, which was a seasonal attraction at the old Goldsmith’s department store, according to Chuck Guthrie, who owns the store with Larry Tyger.

Guthrie and Tyger put the window together at their store. Lisa Faye Veto loaned them the Christmas trees and elves. “Larry has a brother that had the car and tricycles," Guthrie says. "We went out and bought a lot of cotton. We bought some large snowflakes. Larry hung all the snowflakes. I put all the stuff in the window with his help. And it just kind of evolved.

“Pretty much everybody who came in said it reminded them of the old Goldsmith’s Enchanted Forest.”

But then came the piece de resistance. “This gentlemen already had been in the store and came in the second time. He said, ‘You know, I’ve got the original Santa and Mrs. Claus from the Enchanted Forest.’ I said, ‘No way.’ He said, ‘You guys might be interested in getting them.’ I said, ‘I don’t know know whether we can afford them, but we’d give you a place to use them.’”

The man said he’d bring them and we could “put them in the window as long as we need them.”

The window - complete with Mr. and Mrs. Claus -  is getting a lot of traffic, Guthrie says. “You definitely see a lot of cars slowing down.”

The window display will be up until the week after Christmas, Guthrie says. The store, which sells antique, vintage and retro items as well as gifts, decor, and local art, is at 1399 Madison at the corner of Cleveland and Madison. Market on Madison’s open house was held December 1st and 2nd.

Market on Madison open house. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Market on Madison open house.
The Enchanted Forest from Goldsmith's now is on view through December 31st at the Pink 

Market on Madison open house. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • MIchael Donahue
  • Market on Madison open house.

Palace Museum.

Market on Madison open house. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Market on Madison open house.

…………………..

K.K. and Johnny Gross at Red Boa Ball - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • K.K. and Johnny Gross at Red Boa Ball


The Red Boa Ball, the annual benefit for America Red Cross of the Mid-South, was another record breaker.

“This year we broke a record on the most money raised the night of,” says Alice Higdon, who chaired the event.

A total of $150,000 was raised at the event, which was held November 17th at Memphis Botanic Garden. Three hundred and fifty people attended.

This is the party where guests — men as well as women — are encouraged to wear red boas.

Coletta’s provided the food and Jamie Baker and the VIPS, the music.

Daniel Reid and Alice Higdon at the Red Boa Ball. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Daniel Reid and Alice Higdon at the Red Boa Ball.
Speakeasy on the Square - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • MIchael Donahue
  • Speakeasy on the Square


The Theatre Cafe at Playhouse on the Square was turned into a speakeasy for “Speakeasy on the Square,” a fund-raising cabaret to celebrate the theater’s 49th birthday. It was held November 17th.

More than 80 people attended the event, which raised about $14,000, says Playhouse director of community relations Marcus Cox. “The funds raised will go to repairs in our scenic and costume shops,” he says.

Michael Detroit at Speakeasy on the Square - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • MIchael Donahue
  • Michael Detroit at Speakeasy on the Square

Friday, November 30, 2018

Stax, Bigfoot, Cornhole Challenge and More!

Posted By on Fri, Nov 30, 2018 at 3:35 PM

Heart Full of Soul at Napa Cafe - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • MIchael Donahue
  • Heart Full of Soul at Napa Cafe

Instead of playing bass, Andre Banks reclined in a restaurant booth.

It was his foot.

“I popped it out of place playing basketball,” he says.

And, he says, “It’s really swollen.”

He couldn’t stand up and play, but he was on hand to lend moral support to his fellow Stax Music Academy performers who played at Heart Full of Soul, the annual fund-raiser at Napa Cafe. The benefit for Stax Music Academy, which was founded by Napa Cafe owner Glenda Hastings, was held Nov. 11th.

The four-course meal included “The Tribute to Johnnie Taylor” (tempura goat cheese salad), “The Music of the Staple Singers” (seared sea scallop with melted leeks and peas), “The Soul Explosion” (shrimp and grits), and “The Music of Isaac Hayes” (braised beef short ribs, lentil stew and mashed potatoes).

Veronica Hayes and Nikki Hayes McGee, daughters of the late Isaac Hayes, were among the guests.

"Glenda Hastings put on a fabulous event honoring Stax legends," Hayes says. "The students, under the direction of Paul McKinney, were beyond perfect and engaging. The tribute to my dad brought me and my sister Nikki Hayes McGhee to tears. It was an evening filled with great food, wine and entertainment. It doesn't get any better than that."

Nikki Hayes McGhee and Veronic Hayes - daughters of the late Isaac Hayes - were at Heart Full of Soul. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Nikki Hayes McGhee and Veronic Hayes - daughters of the late Isaac Hayes - were at Heart Full of Soul.
Andre Banks at Heart Full of Soul. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Andre Banks at Heart Full of Soul.

Heart Full of Soul - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Heart Full of Soul

……….

Caitlin Motte, Dr. Brad Somer and Jason Motte at  Memphis Cornhole Challenge. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Caitlin Motte, Dr. Brad Somer and Jason Motte at Memphis Cornhole Challenge.

If you don’t know how to play cornhole, think bean-bag toss.

Two teams throw the bean bags at holes in a board 27 feet away. If they go in the hole, they score points. And you have to get to 21 or win by two points.

I attended the seventh Memphis Cornhole Challenge, which was held November 10th at The Columns.

The event was hosted by former Major League baseball player Jason Motte and his wife, Caitlin on behalf of the Jason Motte Foundation, which benefits people affected by all types of cancer.

This year’s event raised $47,000 for the West Cancer Center.

Kevin Harlow wore a Bigfoot on his head. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • MIchael Donahue
  • Kevin Harlow wore a Bigfoot on his head.

…………….

Kevin Harlow - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Kevin Harlow


The second annual Memphis Bigfoot Festival, held November 19th at Memphis Made Brewing, is the city’s celebration of Sasquatch, a tall, hairy primate that reportedly exists in Canada, northwestern United States, and maybe even in the Mid-South.

About 300 attended the event, which included trivia, videos, T-shirts, panel discussions, and a costume contest.

Kevin Harlow wore a cap with a Bigfoot head on the back.

“I made this hat out of a golf club head cover,” he said. “I took it off and stitched it on.”

Is Harlow a believer? “No, I don’t believe in Bigfoot. But I’m here because it was a beer festival and we didn’t have anything to do.”

I asked Mark Ramsay and Betsy Prendergast why they were at the Bigfoot Festival.

“Half of us are here ironically,” Prendergast said.

“And the other half not ironically,” Ramsay said. “And we’re all happy here together.”


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Melanie Pafford at Howl at the Moon. Melanie, along with her husband, Kent, are founders of Streetdog Foundation, - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Melanie Pafford at Howl at the Moon. Melanie, along with her husband, Kent, are founders of Streetdog Foundation,

Grape, The Strayz, Shufflegrit, The Handy Band, and DJ Tree provided music to accompany guests who wanted to howl at the moon at the sixth annual Howl at the Moon fundraiser for Streetdog Foundation. It was held November 10th at The Warehouse.

A total of 1,000 people attended the event, which raises about 70 percent of Streetdog's operating budget for the year.


.................
Elizabeth Mall and Trace Austin at Ave Maria Home’s annual Wine Tasting and Art Show, - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Elizabeth Mall and Trace Austin at Ave Maria Home’s annual Wine Tasting and Art Show,

Almost $10,000 was raised at Ave Maria Home’s annual Wine Tasting and Art Show, which was held November 18th.

A total of 150 people attended. Wines were from Bill Lucchesi of Empire Distributors and food from area restaurants and food purveyors.

Art was from about 40 local artists.

Proceeds will benefit programs and services for residents of Ave Maria.

Connie Dismukes at  Ave Maria Home’s annual Wine Tasting and Art Show, - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Connie Dismukes at Ave Maria Home’s annual Wine Tasting and Art Show,

Proceeds will benefit programs and services for residents of Ave Maria.

Ave Maria Board Member David Dahler and Amy Dahler with Frank Gattuso - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Ave Maria Board Member David Dahler and Amy Dahler with Frank Gattuso

…………………

Memphis Blues rugby team captain John Elmore attended the Memphis Rugby Hall of Fame dinner with Chloe Johnson. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Memphis Blues rugby team captain John Elmore attended the Memphis Rugby Hall of Fame dinner with Chloe Johnson.
Dr. Wally Dyke, Jimmy Fant, and Marc Holley were inducted into the Memphis Rugby Hall of Fame at a dinner, held November 14th at Germantown Country Club.

The Memphis Rugby Foundation hosted the event. Guests included anyone who has been involved in or supported Memphis rugby over the years. And that included friends and fans.

Memphis Blues player Chris Lemons was at the Memphis Rugby Hall of Fame dinner. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Memphis Blues player Chris Lemons was at the Memphis Rugby Hall of Fame dinner.


Memphis Blues players Daniel Hyatt and Rob Reetz were at the Memphis Rugby Hall of Fame dinner. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Memphis Blues players Daniel Hyatt and Rob Reetz were at the Memphis Rugby Hall of Fame dinner.
Orphan's Thanksgiving a. k. a. Funky Socks party - FARA CAPTAIN
  • Fara Captain
  • Orphan's Thanksgiving a. k. a. Funky Socks party

Speaking of rugby, Memphis Blues player Chris Claude and his wife, Fara Captain, held their Orphans Thanksgiving a.k.a. Funky Socks party on Thanksgiving at their home.

The invitation read, "Wear your funkiest socks (since we have a leave your shoes downstairs rule)."

This was a “new version” of their Orphans Thanksgiving, which is a tradition for their friends who don’t have family nearby to celebrate the holiday with, Claude says. They ask people to bring a dish from their traditional family Thanksgiving. “You get to experience a little bit of everybody’s Thanksgiving,” he says. “Different stuffings. Different side dishes. Different pies.”


The “Funky Socks” idea came about because at past events people were asked to leave their shoes downstairs. “People felt awkward about their socks. Some people had holes in their socks. We said, ‘Why not next time do it as a ‘funky sock’? Make sure everybody has socks that are okay to show everybody. Make sure everybody has socks that are fun to see.”


So, what kind of socks did Claude wear? “I had my Father’s Day socks my wife gave me, which had a picture of my daughter on my socks and said, ‘I love you Daddy.’”


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Zach Thomason,  Jimmy Gentry, David Krog and Keith Clinton at Gallery 7 dinner. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Zach Thomason, Jimmy Gentry, David Krog and Keith Clinton at Gallery 7 dinner.

Multi-course meals sometimes can be long and tedious, but the Gallery dinner I participated in at the new P.O. Press restaurant in Collierville was a lot of fun. Great group of people at the event, which was held October 21st. These are the dinners hosted by chef David Krog and his wife, Amanda. Helping him in the kitchen were the restaurant’s chef Jimmy Gentry and Zach Thomason and Keith Clinton.

The dinner included scallop with mustard seeds and speck smoke and shrimp mousse and duck breast confit. Dessert was a vanilla panna cotta. I could have eaten three or four more of them.

The next one will be held in January at 64 South Main, Krog says. 

Carol Ann Jordan and Daniel Szymanek at Gallery 7 dinner. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Carol Ann Jordan and Daniel Szymanek at Gallery 7 dinner.
MIchael and Britney Christie at Gallery 7 dinner. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • MIchael and Britney Christie at Gallery 7 dinner.

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Sunday, November 18, 2018

Indie Film Fest, Grilled Cheese Fest, Adapt-A-Door and more!

Posted By on Sun, Nov 18, 2018 at 2:10 PM

Here's a scene with Bailey Inman and me from Joshua Cannon's film, "Waikiki Beach." I play a TV reporter in my first movie role. The movie premiered at this year's Indie Memphis Film Festival. - JOSHUA CANNON
  • Joshua Cannon
  • Here's a scene with Bailey Inman and me from Joshua Cannon's film, "Waikiki Beach." I play a TV reporter in my first movie role. The movie premiered at this year's Indie Memphis Film Festival.

I’m proud to say I made my film debut at the recent Indie Memphis Film Festival playing a TV reporter in Waikiki Beach, a film directed by my colleague Joshua Cannon.

I had one line, which I didn’t screw up. I thought I did a good job, but I didn’t see a slew of movie directors waiting to sign me to another movie after the film was shown at the Halloran Centre during the festival.

I loved the movie, which Cannon describes as a “drama comedy.”

This year’s Indie Memphis Festival was outstanding, says Indie Memphis executive director Ryan Watt. “I feel like it’s our best year ever based on the films and the response we’re getting from everybody,” he says. “Just through our surveys from the audience and the feedback. We did an audience survey. Four hundred people replied. It was our third year to do it and I would say it was our best feedback.”

Counting every type of film, including music videos and shorts, Watt says there were 275 movies shown. “Which is the most we’ve ever had.”

Austin Barringer and J. M. Stodola, whose movie trailer,  "Bumble," was in the Indie Memphis Film Festival. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Austin Barringer and J. M. Stodola, whose movie trailer, "Bumble," was in the Indie Memphis Film Festival.


Jonathan Clarke, Sakura Horiuchi, Robert Stodola, Hibah Siddiqui at Indie Memphis filmmakers after party. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Jonathan Clarke, Sakura Horiuchi, Robert Stodola, Hibah Siddiqui at Indie Memphis filmmakers after party.

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Van Duren, Vicki Lovelace, Wade Jackson and Diana and Jody Stephens at a showing of "Waiting: The Van Duren Story" at Malco Ridgeway. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Van Duren, Vicki Lovelace, Wade Jackson and Diana and Jody Stephens at a showing of "Waiting: The Van Duren Story" at Malco Ridgeway.

I really loved Waiting: The Van Duren Story, a documentary about Memphis singer/songwriter/musician Van Duren. It won the Audience Award for Best Hometowner Feature this year. It’s a must see if you haven’t already seen it. I did a feature story on Van Duren a couple of years ago. He told me a documentary was being made on him, but he couldn’t talk about it.

I enjoyed meeting the Australian directors Wade Jackson and Greg Cary at the festival’s filmmaker’s after party, which was held November 5th at Tad’s Indoor Trailer Park.

Wade, who stayed a while after Cary left Memphis, got up and played guitar during Van Duren’s regular Thursday night gig at Mortimer’s.

Greg Cary and Wade Jackson at the Indie Memphis filmmakers after party. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Greg Cary and Wade Jackson at the Indie Memphis filmmakers after party.

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Jack Gould and Claire O'Connell sample some grilled cheese at the Memphis Grilled Cheese Festival. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Jack Gould and Claire O'Connell sample some grilled cheese at the Memphis Grilled Cheese Festival.

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

I love grilled cheese sandwiches. My mother used to make killer ones on an electric toaster oven, which she procured after saving Top Value or Green stamps. She’d dot each sandwich with four tabs of butter before she put the sandwiches in the toaster. That’s all she ever used that oven for, as I recall.

All this is a long way of saying I’m a fan of Memphis Grilled Cheese Festival. This year’s event was held November 4th in front of the Hi-Tone.

One of the most arresting booths was the Mempops booth, which was manned by children.

“This is their third year to help,” says Mempops owner/founder Chris Taylor. “We got tired of doing it. (We said,) ‘You’ll take over. You do it.’” Manning the booth were the Taylor kids — Caroline and Harry — and their friends Anna Ratton, Anna Lauritzen-Wright, and Sarah Kate Ratton.


They grilled the sandwiches on an electric flat top, Taylor says.

He’s a Grilled Cheese Festival veteran. “We’ve been doing this since they’ve been doing it. It’s a block from my house, so it makes it easier.”

Bram Bors Koefoed won this year’s grilled cheese eating contest. He won a toaster and a pair of socks dotted with a pattern of little grilled cheese sandwiches. 

Bram Bors Koefoed won a toaster and a pair of socks in the grilled cheese eating contest at the Memphis Grilled Cheese Festival. With him is Brian "Skinny" McCabe. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Bram Bors Koefoed won a toaster and a pair of socks in the grilled cheese eating contest at the Memphis Grilled Cheese Festival. With him is Brian "Skinny" McCabe.
Young people manned the Mempops grilled cheese booth. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Young people manned the Mempops grilled cheese booth.

……………...


Cole Ellis at Wine & Dine. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Cole Ellis at Wine & Dine.

Cole Ellis, owner of Delta Meat Market in Cleveland, Miss., was one of the chefs participating in this year’s Wine & Dine fundraiser, which was held at Tower Center atop Clark Tower. The benefit was for Special Olympics Greater Memphis.

“I thought it was great,” Ellis said.

And, he says, “I’ve done a lot of those type events and it’s always nice to do stuff like that that involves my family. Lisa’s my second cousin.”

He was referring to Special Olympics Greater Memphis executive director Lisa Taylor.

I was crazy about the cuisine Ellis served. I ate several dishes. He made a carrot toast with smoked pulled Springer Mountain chicken from Georgia and smoked onion marmalade. “We use pecan wood in our smoking process. An indigenous tree in our area.”

Getting back to that carrot toast. “I made our carrot cake recipe and then baked it into logs and made it into a French toast. Instead of an egg batter I infused it with flavors I would normally use for carrot cake.”

I wish I had some right now. I also wish I could have made it to the restaurant on its fifth birthday. But Ellis says they're postponing the birthday party and having a big Christmas party. “We’re going to do steaks for the original price for when we opened and a few other odds and ends. Frogmore stew — a shrimp boil with corn and potatoes. Basically, we’re

going to have a big party.” 

Wine & Dine - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Wine & Dine
Wine & Dine - MICHAE DONAHUE
  • Michae Donahue
  • Wine & Dine
Matthew Sheppard and Taylor Story at Wine & Dine - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • MIchael Donahue
  • Matthew Sheppard and Taylor Story at Wine & Dine

Brian Thurmond at Wine & Dine. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Brian Thurmond at Wine & Dine.

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Charles Harris and Breslin Perry at LeMoyne-Owen President's Gala - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Charles Harris and Breslin Perry at LeMoyne-Owen President's Gala

The big news at LeMoyne-Owen’s President’s Gala, held November 10th at Memphis Cook Convention Center, was the $250,000 donation from the Shelby County Commission. County Commissioners Mickell Lowery and Willie Brooks made the presentation to the school's president Andrea Lewis Miller and board of trustees chair J. W. Gibson. The money will be used for scholarships and other things.

The gala, which drew about 700, celebrated the 50th anniversary of the merger of LeMoyne College with Owen College.

The Garry Goin Band and the LeMoyne-Owen Concert Choir performed. Dinner included chicken roulade with sweet potato medallions and New York cheesecake with raspberry coulis.

Not everyone was a LeMoyne-Owen, LeMoyne or Owen alumn; Perrin Crews, who attended with his wife, Jill, wore a pair of purple and gold - LeMoyne-Owen's school colors - socks. "I may not be an alumn, but I'm here to support the school," he says.

          

Crafts & Drafts - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Crafts & Drafts

 

Grady Ferguson and Crystal Brown at Memphis Tequila Festival - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Grady Ferguson and Crystal Brown at Memphis Tequila Festival

The two recent Memphis Flyer events — Memphis Tequila Fest and Crafts & Drafts —were big successes.

Guests tasted and learned about 30 exotic tequilas at Memphis Tequila Fest, which was held October 19th at Overton Square. Among the brands included at the event were Casamigos, Maestro Dobel, and Tres Papalote Mezcal. A mariachi band, face painting, cigars, and cuisine from Babalu, Laura’s Kitchen, and Regina’s Cajun Kitchen rounded out the festival.

About 950 people attended. Proceeds benefited Volunteer Memphis.

Crafts & Drafts, which was held Nov. 10, featured 85 local artisan and craft vendors in front of the Crosstown Concourse. About 3,000 people attended. Proceeds benefited Crosstown Arts.


Memphis Tequila Festival - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Memphis Tequila Festival
Memphis Tequila Festival - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • MIchael Donahue
  • Memphis Tequila Festival

Crafts & Drafts - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Crafts & Drafts

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Midtown Halloween party - on Halloween. Plus Burger Fest, RiverArtsFest and more!

Posted By on Wed, Nov 7, 2018 at 3:42 PM

People dress  like me on Halloween, so I know what Dracula, Frankenstein, Spiderman and Spongebob must feel like on Oct. 31. This year, Coliseum Coalition president Roy Barnes .dressed as me and he and filmmaker Mike McCarthy passed out candy on McCarthy's porch on Halloween. - JON W. SPARKS
  • Jon W. Sparks
  • People dress like me on Halloween, so I know what Dracula, Frankenstein, Spiderman and Spongebob must feel like on Oct. 31. This year, Coliseum Coalition president Roy Barnes .dressed as me and he and filmmaker Mike McCarthy passed out candy on McCarthy's porch on Halloween.

I wondered if anybody still celebrated Halloween with a party on Halloween. Not the weekend closest to Halloween, but on Halloween.

So, on a whim, I asked some costume-clad revelers leaving Kroger at Union when I was in there October 27th if they knew of a Halloween party taking place on October 31st.

Sarah Thompson said residents at University of Tennessee were having a party on Halloween night in Midtown. I asked if I could cover it. She texted a few days later and said the host would love for me to attend.

On a dark and stormy night, I parked near the house. The party was at the home of Travis Kauffman and Jill Palchinsky. Spooky lights and headstones graced the front yard.

Palchinksy said she and Kauffman and most of the other guests were pediatricians.

“We’re not pediatricians,” Kauffman told Palchinksy. “Because you’re a maid and I’m a bellhop.”

He explained their costumes to me. “We’re Disney-themed characters. I’m the bellhop from the House of Terror. She’s the maid from the Haunted Mansion.”

When he got out of character, Kauffman said they all love children - obviously - and they have lots of trick-or-treaters.

This is the third year they’ve held the Halloween party, he said.

I took a photo of their great-looking front yard, got in my car and drove off - only to find out I had a flat. That was my Halloween surprise. Three nails in the tire. I called my insurance company and they sent Mow Decher with Flash Roadside Service to change my tire. Wearing a Halloween costume, Decher put on the donut.

I rounded out the evening by watching the second episode of “Chilling Adventures of 

Sabrina,” gratified people still celebrate Halloween on Halloween.

Jill Palchinsky and Travis Kauffman - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Jill Palchinsky and Travis Kauffman
Mow Decher of Flash Roadside Service wore a Halloween costume while she worked on Oct. 31. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Mow Decher of Flash Roadside Service wore a Halloween costume while she worked on Oct. 31.

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Meat Me in Memphis - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Meat Me in Memphis

Meat Me in Memphis is an event I look forward to each year. It’s not your average party.

It’s the sole fundraising event for the Monogram Loves Kids Foundation, which was created as part of the commitment by Monogram Food Solutions to give back to the community.

Area chefs served dishes made from one Monogram Foods product as well as signature items from their restaurants.

Silent and live auctions were included. Entertainment was by the extremely talented members of Sound Fuzion from University of Memphis.

This year’s event was October 25th at The Columns. The Memphis grant recipients included Girls Inc., Palmer Home for Children, Memphis Child Advocacy Center, and Church Health.

Over the last seven years of Meat Me in Memphis events, almost 90 percent of all funds went directly to the charities selected by the team members.

And, according to Monogram Foods communications coordinator Alix de Witt, this year’s event was a success: “We had about 700 attendees and we raised over $60,000.”


ASBEE Kosher BBQ Competition and Festival - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • ASBEE Kosher BBQ Competition and Festival

……………..

I’ve been a judge many times at the ASBEE Kosher BBQ Competition and Festival at Anshei Sphard-Beth El Emeth Congregation. This year I judged the brisket. I had a blast, as usual.

Apparently, this year’s event, which included Kosher dill pickle eating contests, set records. It was held October 21th.

They had a record number of barbecue teams, says Martha Wagerman, chair of the judging tent. They had 40 this year. “That’s more than normal,” she says. “Usually, it’s around the 35 mark.”

And, says Wagerman, former executive of Anshei Sphard-Beth El Emeth women’s congregation, “As far as guest visitors there, my understanding is that it was one of the biggest crowds they ever had. They said something about 6,000 or 7,000.”

ASBEE Kosher BBQ Competition and Festival - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • ASBEE Kosher BBQ Competition and Festival
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Pat Kerr Tigrett and her guests watched the bridge lighting from her penthouse. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Pat Kerr Tigrett and her guests watched the bridge lighting from her penthouse.

Pat Kerr Tigrett held a soiree at her downtown penthouse apartment to watch the unveiling of the new lights on the Hernando de Soto Bridge.

The invitation to the October 27th soiree read, “Please come to cocktails at sunset! To celebrate the bridge and its exciting new look.”

And, it read, “Ol’ Man River got lit - (for the first time) - 32 years ago creating a bright, welcoming iconic bridge for our great river city. This memorable evening was co-chaired by Henry Turley and Pat Kerr Tigrett.”

It was her idea to light up the bridge more than three decades ago, Tigrett says.

“It was,” Tigrett says. “I was living in London and all the bridges were lit beautifully. And Paris and all over Europe. And they’re so pretty. And that ‘M’ bridge was built in ‘73, the year John (Burton Tigrett) and I married.’”

She thought: “This is ridiculous. The only lights on the bridge at night - it was so black and dark - were the Memphians returning at 11 from the racetrack. That was it.”

Tigrett says she said to then city mayor Dick Hackett, “We really need to put some lights on the bridge.”

She also mentioned it to then state senator Jim Sasser one evening when he was visiting at her penthouse. “He walked out on the patio and he was talking about the expanse of the river and the view. It really is spectacular and it changes every day.”

Tigrett said they really ought to have lights on the bridge.

She says Sasser told her, “You know, I believe this will be a menace to aviation if we do not light this bridge.”

“He was teasing,” Tigrett says.

Hackett told Tigrett the next day, “OK. Are you ready to be in charge of this?”

He said, “Henry Turley is going to help you.”

Asked what she thought of the new, colorful LED lights on the bridge, Tigrett says, “I like this, really. They have a lot of energy and excitement about them. I just love the whole thing. I particularly like the way that they’ve left the lights where the original lights were. So, when it isn’t in colors and doing things and celebrating holidays or whatever it is - football or basketball wins - it reverts back to the simplistic, sort of charming lights like it’s been for 32 years.

“They invited me to come down to see the early rendering of it. I said, ‘I have one request."

She wanted them to put the LED lights in the same places they put the old sodium vapor lights.

They originally sold 1,000 lights at $200 a piece, Tigrett says. A plaque near the escalator at Mud Island River Park lists the names of those donors, she says. “ A couple wrote the sweetest letter to me saying, ‘I cannot thank you enough. We come down every night and sit in Tom Lee Park where it’s very peaceful and watch our son’s light come on.’”

When they began replacing the old lights with new ones, Pat asked if she could have the old ones. “What I want to do is to have something for all the people and give them back their light.”

Tigrett treated guests to a colorfuly-lit buffet to match the colorfully lit Hernando de Soto bridge. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Tigrett treated guests to a colorfuly-lit buffet to match the colorfully lit Hernando de Soto bridge.
A colorful sunset preceded the colorful Hernando de Soto bridge "unveiling." - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • A colorful sunset preceded the colorful Hernando de Soto bridge "unveiling."
RiverArtsFest - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • RiverArtsFest
...........

Pittsburgh-based artist Matthew Naftzger was impressed with this year’s revamped RiverArtsFest. Instead of scattered about on South Main and its side streets, this year’s event lined up the booths side-by-side on both sides of North Riverside Drive.

“It lets the show be the show,” says Naftzger, whose paintings were for sale. "People get to fully experience the show for itself. Instead of looking at six booths and going, ‘Oh, let’s go to a restaurant,’ I felt it became a more enveloping experience - the show and the river.”

RiverArtsFest creative director/scholarships coordinator Chuck Mitchell says, “I think it went great with the new location. I’m not sure yet if it’s a record. Everybody loved it. We hated to lose our community we had grown with - South Main - all those years, but with hotel construction and trolley construction, we lost 50 or 60 booths and really had to move somewhere.”

Artists were pleased with the new location, he says. “It didn’t hurt we had great weather both days.”

RiverArtsFest will be at the same location next year, Mitchell says. After that? “We’re going to evaluate and see.”

Jeremy Klubeck and Matthew Naftzger at RiverArtsFest - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Jeremy Klubeck and Matthew Naftzger at RiverArtsFest

……………..

Jeff Ayers at Burger Fest - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Jeff Ayers at Burger Fest

The slider eating contest at this year’s Burger Fest, which was held October 27th at Tiger Lane, was a bit different. Memphis area high school coaches were the contestants.

Chris Clark, assistant coach at Germantown High School, was the contest winner.

Mayor Jim Strickland and Slider-eating champion Chris Clark at Burger Fest. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Mayor Jim Strickland and Slider-eating champion Chris Clark at Burger Fest.
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Lexi Perkins - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Lexi Perkins

…………..

Members of Kappa Sigma fraternity from University of Memphis held its "Autumn Leaves" fundraiser for St. Jude's Up Till Dawn. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Members of Kappa Sigma fraternity from University of Memphis held its "Autumn Leaves" fundraiser for St. Jude's Up Till Dawn.

Bayley Shields, president of Kappa Sigma fraternity at University of Memphis, loves pumpkin latte and “pretty much anything pumpkin,” he says. “Anything harvest theme.”


And, he says, “I’m all about Fall.”

So, it was fitting that Kappa Sigma’s fundraiser, which was held October 26th at Pimento’s, was titled “Autumn Leaves.”

It featured artwork by Lexi Perkins, Cheeto Ryan and Kyle Owens.

Proceeds from the event went to St. Jude Up Till Dawn, says Doug McClew, Kappa grand master of ceremonies.

Cheeto Ryan - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Cheeto Ryan


Kyle Owens - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Kyle Owens

       

Friday, October 26, 2018

Art on Fire and more!

Posted By on Fri, Oct 26, 2018 at 3:10 PM

FRANK CHIN
  • Frank Chin

If getting your photo taken with Marc Gasol and Mike Conley of the Memphis Grizzlies isn’t enough to get you fired up in a good way, Art on Fire also included a giant bonfire and fire dancers, who twirled fire-lit torches and breathed fire.

Art on Fire, which was held Oct. 20, is the annual fundraiser at Dixon Gallery and Gardens. This year’s event drew more than 1,200.

The ground was damp after rain. Cory Weldon had on boots, but, he said, “It’s starting to get to my socks right now.”

The weather was pleasantly chilly. But there was fire water; guests warmed up with the appropriately named Jack Daniels Tennessee Fire. They also downed brews from Ghost River Brewing Co.

Area restaurants and food purveyors provided the cuisine.

Fire is synonymous with heat, so watching members of the Memphis Fire Tribe perform with their dancing flames was enough to warm up just about anybody.

Musical entertainment was by Blackwater Trio and Mighty Souls Brass Band.

Art on Fire also included a silent auction and the Hot Off the Wall Art Sale, which featured paintings, prints, and photography by emerging and internationally-known artists.

Proceeds from the event support Dixon's education outreach program.


Art on Fire - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Art on Fire




…………...

Cooper-Young Beerfest - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Cooper-Young Beerfest


The words to that old song, “Downtown,” easily could apply to Cooper-Young Beerfest: “When you’re alone and life is making you lonely you can always go - Downtown. When you've got worries all the noise and the hurry seem to help. I know. Downtown.”

Just substitute “Beerfest” for “Downtown.” This, to me, is one of the most fun events of the year. There’s a lot of noise and a lot of hurry as a lot of people rush to the next beer station to sample another brew.

A total of 1,075 tickets were sold to the sellout event, says Sheree Stubblefield with Cooper-Young Community Association. This year’s event, which was held Oct. 20 at Midtown Autowerks, featured 37 vendors plus two home brews, she says.

The event is a fundraiser for the Cooper-Young Community Association. Mark Morrison, the association’s president and Beerfest organizing committee chair, said, “This was our biggest in terms of number of breweries that came and the number of tickets that we sold. We’ve been pretty cautious, I would say, in growing. We don’t want it to be too crowded and lines getting too long. This is our ninth year and we’ve slowly gotten to this point. We heard nothing but good things from attendees. And brewers like to come to our event. Which makes it easier for us when we call them to invite them next year.”

So, what makes this event so much fun? “There are several ways we’ve differentiated ourselves when we started. It’s paid off well. There are so many beer festivals.”

Selling a limited number of tickets is No. 1, Morrison says. “We’re not trying to just make money here. We want it to be a good experience. Most people would agree there are hardly any lines at our event. Of, if there are, they’re pretty short. Unlike others where you stand in line all night and wait for the next shot of beer.

“Another thing that sets us apart is we require any of the breweries coming to send an employee of the brewery. We provide volunteers to help them, but we require them to send an employee so there is somebody here who knows about the beer they’re pouring, knows about the brewery. Many times it’s the brewer himself or herself.”

Finally, he said, “We’re focusing on our region of the country. We don’t invite brewers from California, for example. We want to focus on our area and, really, it’s more about quality than quantity, in general.”

Cooper-Young Beerfest - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Cooper-Young Beerfest



…………….

Graham Winchester and Justinedword at Lamplighter Lounge. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Graham Winchester and Justinedword at Lamplighter Lounge.

Graham Winchester released his single, “Prisoner of Love,” just in time for Halloween.

“It’s supposed to be a Halloween song,” Winchester says. “I released it as a Halloween single. I did it early - October 5 - because Christmas is celebrated all month long. Lots of people I know like Halloween more than any other holiday.”

Graham and his band, Winchester & the Ammunition, performed the song at the Lamplighter Lounge.

The song doesn’t mention black cats, witches, and skeletons, but it's got other scary stuff. “It’s Halloween in the sense that it’s got all the imagery. It doesn’t say anything about Halloween, but it makes the metaphor of being in a dungeon in a castle with the trees and the wolves and all that, but it’s a metaphor for being a slave to somebody in a relationship.”

Winchester wrote and recorded the song himself. “I released it under the band’s name, but I did the songs all late at night by myself. It was mastered by Jacob Church.”

The drums and piano were done at American Studios. Winchester “added everything on top of it in the middle of night at home.”

What time? “Probably midnight ‘till 3 in the morning.”

Midnight. The witching hour. Very Halloween appropriate.

Winchester released the song in conjunction with an art show by Justinedwords.

“It was a collaboration in a way,” Winchester says. “We just wanted to use his artwork to create a different kind of vibe for the Halloween song release. We wanted to cover all the walls of the Lamplighter with his art so when you walk in it’s an attention grabber. A different atmosphere there that night to go along with the Halloween theme. A lot of his art is psychedelic and surreal. I liked the idea of having his art in there the night I was doing a Halloween song. It kind of helped that Halloween atmosphere.”

Justinedwords describes his work as “colorful word spirals that intersect in spontaneous places.”

Calligraphy formed a big part of this process, he says. “Many of the word choices are dictated by their glyphs and curvatures. Most of the works are on paper, but they’re mixed media collage. So, it can be ink, acrylic, sometimes oil. Usually it’s pen that I use.”

His work is very spontaneous, Justinedwords says. “It’s process-oriented art. So, I’ll be doodling freehand. Usually with a calligraphy pen. A parallel pen. It’s a pen that uses cartridges. You don’t have to dip it like most pens. The line width is dictated by the angle width of the way you hold the tip of the pen. The pen looks like a little razor.

“When I first started doing this I was more focused on poetry. I’d write poetry with calligraphy. When I say ‘calligraphy,’ I wasn’t doing it as a strict, by-the-book calligraphy. I was making up fonts and making things look frilly. Really a lot of curls. A lot of things that would curl around. And I usually would use a circular pattern, which is still evident in my work.”

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Sally Jones Heinz, Rev. Dr. Dorothy S. Wells, Norma J. Oliver, Lucia Crenshaw, - Sehrish Siddiqui - STEVE ROBERTS
  • Steve Roberts
  • Sally Jones Heinz, Rev. Dr. Dorothy S. Wells, Norma J. Oliver, Lucia Crenshaw,Sehrish Siddiqui

MIFA celebrated its 50th anniversary with a “Golden Gala,’ which was held
Oct. 11 at the Hilton Memphis.

A total of 650 people attended the event, which included a seated dinner and music by the Jim Spake Quartet and The Soul Shockers.

The main speakers were MIFA president and CEO Sally Jones Heinz and MIFA board chair and St. George’s Episcopal Church rector Rev. Dr. Dorothy Sanders Wells.

The event included an announcement of MIFA’s anniversary gift to Memphis: MIFA Center for Community, an interactive website, which will be devoted to volunteer service. It will connect volunteers with engagement opportunities and feature educational material, training tools, and advocacy resources related to seniors, poverty, homelessness and interfaith for families, individuals, and faith groups.



Brian Brenner (son); Taylor Brenner (Grand Daughter), Henry Brenner, Frank Gattuso at Gala Celebration. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Brian Brenner (son); Taylor Brenner (Grand Daughter), Henry Brenner, Frank Gattuso at Gala Celebration.

……………..


Ave Maria supporters were honored at the “Gala Celebration” presented by The Ave Maria Foundation and Wings of Ave Maria. The event was held Sept. 30 at TPC Southwind.

“Our Gala Dinner is a wonderful opportunity for us to recognize and thank our honorees - Dave and Donna Nelson, Dr. Bob and Bea Wilson, and Henry Brenner who have been involved with Ave Maria as donors, family members, board members, and volunteers for many years,“ says Ave Maria Home executive director Frank Gattuso.

The recipients “have given generously of their time, talent, and treasure and are truly helping to make our community a better place for seniors to live and thrive.”


Friday, October 19, 2018

Science of Wine and more!

Posted By on Fri, Oct 19, 2018 at 2:52 PM

Science of Wine celebrated its fourth anniversary at the Memphis Pink Palace. - JON W. SPARKS
  • Jon W. Sparks
  • Science of Wine celebrated its fourth anniversary at the Memphis Pink Palace.

I’m very glad Jonathan Magallanes didn’t make black bean tostadas at the fourth annual Science of Wine, which was held Oct. 12th  at Memphis Pink Palace Museum.

I’m sure it would have tasted terrific, but the pineapple guacamole tostada he served instead was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.

“We were going to make black tostadas,” says Magallanes, who owns Las Tortugas restaurant. “And since pomegranates are just now in season, maybe do a new style of black bean tostada and maybe a little green salsa and cheese. But folks at Pink Palace were worried about using a propane burner to heat the dish.”

Magallanes told them it was no problem. “But this is two days before the event. So I came back and told my wife. And I was so frustrated. I really thought this was going to be a great dish.”

He told his wife, Lauren, “I think we’re going to do a tostada with avocado. Something simple.”

“My wife said, ‘Well, it better be delicious and not too simple because this is a great event.”

She reminded him of the pineapple guacamole tostada he once made for her. So, he made that and added fresh basil, cotija cheese, and pomegranate seeds. “As a chef you always have to have a plan B.”

This time, plan B was better than plan A, Magallanes says. The tostadas were extremely popular. “Some people came back four times.”

I was one of those people who ate four of the tostadas. I sort of hung around the food station asking for more. I loved the sweetness of the pomegranate seeds and the pineapple mixed with the savory ingredients.

I heard lots of accolades. One woman said she’d never eaten at Las Tortugas, but since eating his pineapple-guacamole tostada, she was going to visit the restaurant.

“It was slow going for a while," Magallanes says. "And then we were doing them non-stop for about an hour. It ended up being great because I think it was easier to serve those. It was just as delicious and looked really pretty. It had a lot of color.”

So, is the pineapple guacamole tostada going on the Las Tortugas menu? “I think so." he said. "When you have that kind of reaction I think it’d be wise to consider offering it on the menu.”

What would you drink with a pineapple guacamole tostada? “(It’s) lush, creamy, tropical, juicy. And that pairs perfectly with champagne.”

About 500 attended Science of Wine, where guests sipped wine, talked to wine experts and attended mini-lectures and wine-themed activities.

A total of $28,000 was raised. The money goes to the museum’s education department.

Jonathan Magallanes at Science of Wine - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Jonathan Magallanes at Science of Wine

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Ruben Webber and Haki  at Legends are Born in October Birthday Bash - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Ruben Webber and Haki at Legends are Born in October Birthday Bash



Ruben Webber, owner of The Wing Factory, celebrated his birthday with a “Legends are Born in October Birthday Bash.”

This wasn’t just a few people gathering around and wishing Webber well. This was 100 people at a party, which was held Oct. 12 in a tent in front of The Wing Factory on Park with the street closed between Bruce and Philadelphia.

Guests paid $20, but 15 percent of the proceeds went to Melrose High School.

“I feel the need in the community,” Webber says. “The kids need supplies. The kids need football jerseys, basketball jerseys. They need washers and dryers at the school. It was on my heart to go meet their needs.”

Webber didn’t even go to Melrose; he went to Hamilton High School. “I’m in the Orange Mound community and Melrose and Orange Mound actually support my business. Melrose and Orange Mound combined together actually made Wing Factory. We plan on making it an annual event.”

On Nov. 5, The Wing Factory will have been in business 14 years, Webber says.

His famous fare wasn’t included among the party food offerings. “We didn’t serve wings. We served chicken salad, chicken Alfredo, meatballs. Stuff like that.”

The cake, a “Versace and Gucci cake combined,” bore the Versace and Gucci logos. “The cake was matching my outfit,” says Webber, who had on brown Gucci shoes with a floral design, Gucci jeans and long-sleeved Gucci shirt.

His buddy, Haki, also celebrated his birthday at the party. He wore Versace shoes, shirt and Versace accessories.


                                                       QUICK PIX

Tancie Lewis and Harm Thomas at Gibson's Donuts. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Tancie Lewis and Harm Thomas at Gibson's Donuts.
Sea Sea Battle at Gibson's Donuts. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Sea Sea Battle at Gibson's Donuts.
Carter Lane and Kasey Hill at Sakura on Poplar. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Carter Lane and Kasey Hill at Sakura on Poplar.
Seen at Freddy's  Frozen Custard & Steakburgers: Shawn Tillman, Felicia Tillman, Jamie Tillman, Jennifer Lantrip and Jacob Lantrip. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Seen at Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers: Shawn Tillman, Felicia Tillman, Jamie Tillman, Jennifer Lantrip and Jacob Lantrip.
McCheyne and Saxton  "Kidd" on Front near Union. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • McCheyne and Saxton "Kidd" on Front near Union.
Cornelius Meadows on Union near Main - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Cornelius Meadows on Union near Main
                                                     

Friday, October 12, 2018

Mempho Fest rocks

Posted By on Fri, Oct 12, 2018 at 4:12 PM

Kirah Ply and Ian Danchenko at Mempho Fest - MICHIAEL DONAHUE
  • Michiael Donahue
  • Kirah Ply and Ian Danchenko at Mempho Fest

I visited Mempho Fest for the first time on Sunday, Oct. 7.

I loved it.

I think Aaron Glazer summed up the two-day festival the best: “You’ve been coming to Shelby Farms your whole life and you’ve never had this vibe.”

The weather was beautiful. The people were beautiful. The music was beautiful. The food was beautiful.

I ran into Vince Black and John Grillo shortly after I arrived. Black wore a T-shirt with the words “I Am Proof Aliens Exist.” Grillo wore a stuffed toy chimpanzee on his back.

Black was barefooted. “You’ve got to feel the Earth, dude,” he says. “You can’t have the foot prisons on. My feet will be cut up and dirty after this, but it’s worth it.”

More than 15,000 people walked about the grounds along with Black and Grillo at Mempho Fest, which began Oct. 6.

I ran into Mempho Fest founder Diego Winegardner at the Flyer’s Best of Memphis party a few days before the festival and asked him about the event.

“Mempho Fest is in our second year,” he says. “We did our inaugural year last year. It was a great success so we’re going to build on that. We have bigger programming, bigger artists, more production. We have camping for the first time - probably the most notable add-on from last year.”

The festival features local as well as nationally known acts. “We’re trying to support as much of the Memphis and local talent as we can. Create a platform for them, but also bring the hottest artists of today.”

So, why did Winegardner choose Memphis as the site for a music festival? “That’s easy. Memphis is the birthplace of blues, soul, and rock-and-roll. To me, Memphis is as important to the history of American music as Washington, D.C., is to the founding of this great nation."

It’s important for today’s kids and “kids of the future to understand that history. To me, it

really matters a lot. It’s an opportunity for us to retell that Memphis story and that rich legacy to a broader audience, to the rest of the country.”

And, he says, “We’re just trying to add a chapter of our own to this great story.”

Diego Winegardner at Mempho Fest. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Diego Winegardner at Mempho Fest.
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Kenny Wayne Alexander. Julien de Casablanca and  Emily Ballew Neff. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Kenny Wayne Alexander. Julien de Casablanca and Emily Ballew Neff.

Following an outdoor party with food trucks and music, Julien de Casabianca completed his “Brooks Outside: Outings Project” installation on the facade of Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.

Brooks Outside, a curatorial program launched in conjunction with the museum’s 2016 centennial, consists of a series of outdoor installations, which are made to enliven the museum’s grounds.

Casabianca’s installation consisted of paper that was wheat pasted to the wall.

Brooks director of education/Brooks Outings curator Kathy Dumlao explains the process: “A ‘character’ from a work of art from our collection was selected, photographed, blown up in photoshop and printed on regular copy paper. (Casabianca used) wheat paste, applied to the wall first, then sticks the paper to the paste and wheat pastes over top of it. The ‘character’ that’s pasted to the facade of the Brooks is a portrait of our founder, Bessie Vance Brooks, by the American artist Katherine “Kate” Carl.”

The circa 1890 “Portrait of Bessie Vance" is an oil on canvas.

.........

Hampton Sides at this Novel book signing/talk. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Hampton Sides at this Novel book signing/talk.

I was impressed with the book talk by Hampton Sides as well as the jam-packed crowd that showed up that evening at Novel. Sides gave a lively talk about his new Korean War epic, On Desperate Ground, at the event, which was held Oct. 7.

I wondered how many people were there and if that was a record at Novel.

“We had about 200,” says Kat Leache at Novel. “And the record actually belongs to Rick Bragg ("The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma's Table").

But, she said, "Hampton's is definitely the second most."


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