If it is possible for an experience to be both a letdown and an exhilarating success at the same time, then that is the summary of my Elvis Week 2007. I’m not real happy about never getting over to Elvis Presley Boulevard and soaking in some of the Graceland aura. It’s hard to believe I never got down to Beale Street to party… and it was only two blocks away. But the worst thing was that I never left the Peabody Hotel for four days, except to walk across the street to restaurants each night.
Wow. Sounds like a bad Elvis Week for sure. On the other hand, I don’t know how anyone else in Memphis could have had a more Elvis-connected experience than I had. Over a three-day period, I had breakfast with Joe Esposito, sat ten feet away from Priscilla at the restaurant in the Peabody, and hung around in the Grand Ballroom backstage area with Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana, the Jordanaires, and the TCB Band. Nobody else did that.
I got people to take 30 photos of me with these music legends, and I got dozens of autographs from them, signed on articles I had written about them in Elvis…The Magazine. My mission had been to use this probable last opportunity to gather a treasure trove of memorabilia, and it worked out perfectly.
Darwin Lamm, Publisher of Elvis…The Magazine certainly got plenty of work out of me at the tables selling concert tickets, magazines, books, DVDs and T-shirts.
I’m not used to standing on my feet for eight hours a day, so my legs got plenty sore. For some reason, the sales group had the same club sandwiches and fries brought in for lunch all four days, and that was pretty lame.
The trade-off for the other workers was free tickets to three great concerts. The trade-off for me was unlimited backstage access. The reason I got the better deal is because of all the articles I had provided Darwin for the magazine and various promotional pieces.
The TCB guys got their performer badges from me, so they were comfortable around me from the start. When everybody got backstage, they seemed fine with me sitting around the table with them in one of the two rooms. I mostly just listened and laughed at their stories. They all seem to genuinely like each other, and backstage is fun for them. When the subject of Elvis impersonators came up, they called them “impersonators,” not “tribute artists.” As you might expect, the TCB guys are not too fond of Elvis impersonators. That figures; they were around the real thing and have the best possible basis for comparison.
Jerry Scheff got some grief about thinning hair, but James Burton avoided the same fate. He wore a black TCB baseball cap all week. In 2004, he had very little hair left, so the hat is a good look for him. Ronnie Tutt has been wearing a ball cap for years, but I’m betting he’s got plenty of hair. He certainly has plenty of beard.
DJ Fontana looked so smart in his shiny grey suit and red shirt and tie. He complained about his favorite men’s store in Nashville closing down. We spoke about his upcoming performing schedule. He has a continuing tour with Shaun Klush, who is probably the top ETA right now. (I have no trouble calling them Tribute Artists.) We spoke about his new podcasting venture. I want to follow up on that, because it sounds like some interesting stuff he talks about. And, all his recorded conversations so far have been with special Elvis people. There will definitely be a future Elvisblog story on DJ’s podcasting.
I have enough stories from Elvis Week to fill up several articles, so I’ll save some stuff for future posts. One thing I have to write about now is my wonderful experience with Scotty Moore. Everybody loves this man, and I got to experience hanging out with him for almost half-an-hour. Again, I mostly listened to Scotty and the other guys in the Mighty Handful band talk around the table. But every three minutes or so, I slid something over to him, along with an open Sharpie pen. I knew his arthritis problem was the reason he wouldn’t be signing autographs after the show, so I didn’t want to be a pest. But after a three-minute rest, I figured his hand was OK for another one.
I ended up with five Scotty Moore autographs: two on photographs, two on my magazine articles, and one on a reprint of an article I wrote that is posted on Scotty's website. He is always graceous and accomodating to fans, but this was something special he did for me.
The photo above is Scotty Moore as he exited the stage after “The Last Man Standing” concert. The future will determine if Scotty ever chooses to do another live performance. If not, maybe I caught Scotty’s last two seconds on a concert stage.
I guess I can give up Graceland and Beale Street for one year. Not a bad trade.
© 2007 Philip R Arnold All Rights Reserved www.elvisblog.net