Memphis was very hot during Elvis week this year, but it didn’t seem to slow down any of the hardy folks in town to celebrate. In spite of there being no significant event to honor (like the 50th anniversary of “That’s All Right” last year), we had dozens of cool events to choose from.
One I visited was the “Images of Elvis” tribute artist competition, and there just seems to be a new crop of these talented guys every year – they’re fun to watch. I tagged along with the manager of one of the ETA’s (not called impersonators any more). The venue’s refreshment area included Scotch and water, and their hot dogs were surprisingly good, so we had a great meal and a great show.
The Elvis Art Competition winners on display at Graceland Center included some beautiful work, but I was tickled by several of the non-winners. One person had taken a familiar picture of Elvis and created a paint-by-numbers canvas. Somebody ought to market those. My favorite was a large display, with a Swinging-Legs Elvis Clock mounted just above a stage like setting. In front of that, at a lower level, were 16 Barbie Dolls. They faced Elvis and had their arms raised, like real fans. Pretty clever.
The “Good Rockin’ Elvis Day Festival” turned out to be the bargain of the week. For $28 you got 2 hours of “Conversations On Elvis,” seven hours of the best professional tribute artists, a silent auction of very cool Elvis items, and access to a memorabilia market. The biggest item at the auction was a Gibson guitar that sold for $3100. It was autographed by Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana, the Jordanaires, all four members of the TCB Band, Boots Randolph and others. I have all these same autographs in a copy of the 27th Anniversary issue of Elvis International, The Magazine. I wonder what I could get for that?
The memorabilia market even included a vendor selling trees that are direct descendants of the ones at Graceland. They were about three feet high. One lady bought a weeping willow early in the morning, and she carried the tree in and out of the ballroom all day.
Tours of Graceland now come in three options. The new big tour includes some areas never before opened, and there is no waiting in any lines. It costs $55, but you can get 10% off if you turn in an official Elvis Week Pepsi can.
So, I experienced several new sights and sounds at Elvis Week. I also learned something else. If you go to Elvis festivals in Collingwood, Ontario and Memphis in the same month, you can expect the wife to go out and do a lot of shopping while you are gone (and feel no guilt whatsoever).
© 2005 Philip R Arnold