Tag Archives: Graceland Guest House Theater

Graceland Introduces Elvis Unplugged

It’s hard to believe that Elvis Week starts next Friday. Festivities kick off on August 9 and continue until Sunday, August 18. That’s a long 10-day week, and I’m always interested to see what EPE comes up with to lure fans to come to that early first weekend.

 

The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest semis and finals in the Graceland Soundstage now seem to be a permanent early fixture of Elvis Week. And last year, Graceland made them even better with the addition of After-Parties on the streets of Elvis Presley’s Memphis.

So, this year, the challenge apparently was to schedule something new and appealing during those afternoons. I think they have come up with a winner… ELVIS UNPLUGGED. I saw a long-haired hippy-looking guy named Julio at Elvis Week 2002 do this, and it was a nice change from the full band treatment.

 

2002 was the 25th anniversary of Elvis’ death, so Graceland planned some big-time stuff for the celebration. Including an incredible concert experience in the Pyramid.

 

The first Elvis in Concert was amazing and a fitting end to the week. I have no idea what they had at the beginning because I came for all the late stuff.

But now EPE has made it worthwhile for the fans to come earlier, which brings us back to:

ELVIS UNPLUGGED

 

In 2002, Graceland had little use for Elvis Impersonators. This year, there is hardly a day that doesn’t have one or two events starring ETA’s. And Graceland presents only the best of them during Elvis Week.

Here is the list of winners of the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest.

2007 Shaun Klush
2008 Brandon Bennett
2009 Bill Cherry
2010 Justin Shandor
2011 Cody Ray Slaughter
2012 Ben Portsmouth
2013 Dean Z
2014 Jay Dupuis
2015 David Lee
2016 Dwight Icenhower
2017 Gordon Hendricks
2018 Ben Thompson

The names in bold are the six champions who will participate in the Elvis Unplugged shows this year. Both nights will be hosted by Dean Z, who has been called “the best entertainer in our business,” by Jeff Lewis, originator of the After-Parties and a man who has seen them all.

Dean Z in Jailhouse Rock Prison Uniform

 

Dean Z working out on stage

 

Dean Z will be joined on Saturday night by Jay Dupuis and Shawn Klush.

Four shots of Jay Dupuis as Elvis

 

Shawn Klush off stage

I have written about Shawn Klush a few times in ElvisBlog. I saw his act at Elvis Week 2002 in the funky New Daisy Theater. It was the last event of a long day and it was called the Elvis Midnight Blues Jam. It is where I saw that fellow Julio do the Elvis unplugged act I mentioned earlier. I don’t know where his career went, but Shawn Klush certainly moved on to better things. Five years later he was crowned the first Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist winner, and his career has been on a roll ever since.

For the Sunday night Elvis Unplugged concert there will be four Ultimate ETAs on stage. Dean Z will be joined by Ben Thompson, Cody Ray Slaughter and Dwight Icenhower.

Dwight Icenhower

 

Cody ray Slaughter also has his own show on the first night, Friday August 9. He will be backed by the David Fontana Band.

 

David Fontana is DJ’s son, and of course, that’s him on the drums.

 

Ben Thompson

 

Here is Ben Thompson on stage with Jeff Lewis (right), the MC of the After-Parties. Jeff expressed this sentiment about the After-Parties being moved to the Graceland Exhibition Center this year, “Thank God we’ll have air conditioning!” Other benefits may be a lot more table seating for the party-goers, and a better dance floor surface. It sounds like it will be a wonderful night-club set-up to me.

The Elvis Unplugged shows will also have air conditioned comfort inside the Guest House Theater. This seems the perfect small venue for a show billed as:

Live Elvis music and personal stories. An intimate acoustic experience among friends sharing music, laughter and fun.

 

The price of these unplugged concerts is just $25, which seems a bargain for Elvis Tribute Artists of this caliber. The Saturday, August 10 show sold out early, and the Sunday, August 11 will probably be by the time you read this.

If I could pull it off, I would love to be in Memphis on that Saturday night, and go to the Elvis Unplugged concert at 2:00 at the Guest House Theater, The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist finals at 7:00 at the Graceland Soundstage, and the After-Party at 9:00 in the Exhibition Center. What a nice dream, but for some lucky Elvis fans, it will be a reality.

 

 

 

© 2019 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

 

Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

 

Surfing the Graceland Guest House Website and Facebook Page

Soundstage Aat Elvis Presley's Graceland

Two months ago, ElvisBlog looked at the Elvis Week events scheduled at Soundstage A at Elvis Presley’s Memphis. This includes six nightly concerts. In addition, there will be musical events at the Fedex Forum and the Elvis Week Entertainment Tent.

 

Guesthouse at Graceland Theater

Three months ago, we looked at some musical acts presented at the Graceland Guest House Theater. But a few days ago, I realized that all the Graceland Insider emails made no mention of any Elvis Week shows at the theater.

I couldn’t believe they would leave that beautiful new theater unused during Elvis Week, so I did some digging on www.guesthousegraceland.com.

Graceland Guest House Website

Then I clicked on EVENTS in the upper right, which brought me to this:

What's happening at Graceland

So, I clicked on DOWNLOAD MONTHLY ACTIVITIES CALENDAR.

Ongoing Events at Graceland Guest House

This is the top half of the July calendar with two musical events highlighted in yellow. The July 1 show was T.G. Shepherd, which we covered in the April blog post. The show on July 3 was the Memphis Ukulele Band.

Memphis Ukulele Band

 

Here is the bottom half of the July events calendar along with the image that follows — a promotional graphic of other diversions happening at the hotel.

Guest House Event Schedule - bottom

You will note there are no music events highlighted on the theater calendar for the rest of July.

However, you can play these lawn games: ping pong, cornhole, shuffleboard & foosball. There’s a catch -– you need to have a valid ID and credit card to rent the stuff you need from the Guest House Gift Shop. I wonder what they charge for the beanbags you use for cornhole.

 

Guest House Live Music

Depending on when you stay at the hotel, you can listen to one of these two acts in the Lobby Lounge. Something tells me they don’t play much Elvis music.  If anyone knows, please let us know in Comments.

 

EP's Happy Hour

EP’s Bar & Grill was advertised in the graphic. So, a draft beer costs $4.00 at Happy Hour. What do you think it is the rest of the night? I hadn’t seen much about EP’s in the emails from Graceland, so I looked elsewhere for pictures.

EP's Bar & Grill

EP's Bar & Grill at Graceland Guest House

If I stayed at the hotel, I would probably eat here. Photos of the other restaurants make them look really, really pricey.

 

Then I got back to my hunt for Elvis Week concerts at the Guest House Theater. I found a little calendar icon showing July, but with an arrow to click on for the next month. Look what I got.

No Upcoming Events at Graceland Guest House Theater

I added the circle around the news that there are no events in August. This was just too hard for me to accept, so I searched elsewhere and found two daytime concerts.

Bourke Performing at Graceland

Ultimate Tribute Artist Contest Showcase

This tribute artist showcase is interesting. If you bought tickets in the $209 section of the Ultimate ETA contest, you get a bonus of free tickets to a concert by the semifinalists.

Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest

So, there are two daytime music events at the hotel theater during Elvis Week, but nothing at night. I don’t get it. Maybe they want everyone to head over to Elvis Presley’s Memphis and spend more money.

 

Find us on Facebook

There was something at the bottom of that promotional graphic we looked at earlier. I didn’t know the Guest House had a Facebook page, but I figured it had some different pictures than the website, so I clicked on it. I was right, so here are a few.

Karaoke Night at EP's Bar at Graceland Guest House

This must be popular with the fans. I wonder if the song list on the karaoke machine is 100% Elvis hits.

 

These dramatic drapes at the Guest House at Graceland are a favorite spot for selfies

The caption under this picture is, “These dramatic drapes at the Guest House at Graceland are a favorite spot for selfies.”  It seems like there would be dozens of more interesting backgrounds for selfies to mark your trip to Graceland.

 

Inside Portico at Graceland Guest House

This is a nice shot from the front door out through the portico.

 

The deviled egg appetizer at EP’s Bar & Grill

They even show a photo of the deviled egg appetizer at EP’s Bar & Grill.

 

Above the pool table at Graceland Guest House.

The caption under this picture says, “If you’re playing billiards at The Guest House at Graceland, be sure to look up.” The pool table is located in EP’s Bar and Grill.

Guest House Pool Table at EP's Bar

 

Pool at Graceland Guesthouse

It looks like it would be cold if you tried to take a swim. Notice there are no leaves on the trees.

 

Heart-Shaped Fireplace at Graceland Guest House

Great caption: “Stop by for a little burning love by our heart-shaped fireplace.” I guess it is outside on the grounds somewhere.

 

This last photo from the Graceland Guest House Facebook page was obviously posed, but it’s very well done.

Happy National Martini Day at EP's Lounge

It promoted National Martini Day at EP’s Bar & Grill. That place is really starting to sound good to me. I wonder why they don’t give it more mention on the website.

 

 

© 2017 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.