Bobby Karl Works The Room

Lisa Marie Presley made her Grand Ole Opry debut with a rousing welcome from the audience. Backstage she added, “I grew up not far away and am a huge fan of so many who have been here. I know how important this is.”

Chapter 405

A few observations about Lisa Marie Presley – First of all, she is strikingly petite. I’d be surprised if she’s 5’3” in heels. Also: She may be a millionaire, but she’s no diva.

There was no Grand Entrance at the BMI luncheon (8/20) celebrating the release of her CD Storm & Grace. In fact, she was already there when we arrived. She was extremely humble, posing for pictures with anyone who asked, even people with cell-phone cameras. Although she is internationally famous as the daughter of Elvis and Priscilla, she seemed almost intimidated about being in Music City.

“It’s an honor for me to be here,” she said. “I’m really proud of this record.” She should be. It’s a cool-sounding Americana production by T Bone Burnett that transforms her from her prior rock persona.

“BMI has hosted a lot of events,” said Clay Bradley. “But this is the coolest event BMI has ever had….We’re here to celebrate Storm & Grace.It’s the songs by Lisa Marie and her soulful voice that make it so special.” She co-wrote all of the songs on the Universal Republic/XIX Recordings project.

Her video of the groovy thumper “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” was screened. Then she showed us a video she made from home-movie footage of her as a child with her dad. Through the magic of modern technology, the audio was a duet by Elvis and her singing “I Love You Because.”

On Tuesday (8/21), she staged her Grand Ole Opry debut. She sang “Over Me,” “Storm of Nails” and “Weary” from her album and wowed the sold-out audience. See the video below.

Her similarly wowed BMI party people included Elvis associates Tony Brown and Joe Moscheo, plus Billy Burnette, Clay Myers, Carla Wallace, Tamara Saviano, Steve Buchanan, Debbie Linn, Hank Adam Locklin, Ray Sells, Sherod Robertson and Whitney Daane.

I asked Hunter Kelly if he talked to Lisa Marie about her love life with Michael Jackson and/or Nicholas Cage when he interviewed her. He did not. We all begged Shawn Camp to do his famous Elvis impersonation for the guest of honor. He did not.

Lunch, by the way, was fantastic – chicken fingers, marinated asparagus spears, orzo salad, fresh tomato slices, breads and finger-food desserts.

This was our second sighting of Shawn Camp of the week. We also caught his sensational set at “Woofstock,” the pet-adoption event at Fontanel (8/18), hosted by Emmylou Harris. His band included Mike Bub and Sam Bush. Also excellent was Ella Mae Bowen, who commanded the stage with just her voice and guitar. It’s hard to believe she’s only 16.

Gathered around were Hugh Bennett, Steve West, Jon Randall Stewart & Jessi Alexander (with kids), Sharon White, Tracy Gershon and Phil Kaufman. Also on the bill were Buddy Miller, The Whites, 12 South and Mike Farris, plus Emmy. It was a beautiful day. This was the “first annual” such fest. If you weren’t there, go next year.

Last night (8/22) the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum hosted a reception for its new exhibition Patsy Cline: Crazy for Loving You. The exhibit opens to the public on Friday, Aug. 24 and runs through June 10, 2013. Pictured (L-R): Curatorial Director Mick Buck, Museum Director Kyle Young, VP of Museum Services Carolyn Tate, Julie Fudge, Charlie Dick and Randy Dick. Photo: Donn Jones

The Exhibition Opening Reception for “Patsy Cline: Crazy for Loving You” at the Country Music Hall of Fame (8/22) was extremely well attended. The stellar guests included Brenda Lee, Gordon Stoker, Jim Foglesong, George Hamilton IV, Jan Howard, Victoria Shaw and Hege V.

The museum’s Kyle Young called Cline, “one of popular music’s greatest and most influential singers” and said her records are “among the most powerful singles in music history.” Widower Charlie Dick and daughter Julie Fudge, who also spoke, gave the new exhibit an especially personal and intimate tone.

Included are the late star’s earrings and salt-and-pepper shaker collection, letters, sheet music, Julie’s baby book, Patsy’s career scrapbook, Charlie’s bracelet with her photo in it, Billboard awards, costumes, the “Dixie” cigarette lighter and airplane clock recovered from the fatal crash, a replica of her Hollywood Walk of Fame star, show programs and other memorabilia. There is also rare video footage and striking audio of Patsy singing, stripped of backing music.

In Patsy’s memory, Mandy Barnett performed “Bill Bailey Won’t You Please Come Home” and “Crazy,” the No. 1 jukebox record of all time. She was accompanied by Hall of Fame guitarist Harold Bradley, plus bass player Brad Albin and lead guitarist Andy Reiss. “What an honor it is to be here tonight,” said Mandy. By the way, she was the last artist to be produced by the legendary Owen Bradley, who also produced Patsy.

The capacity Ford Theatre crowd included John Lytle, David Conrad, Greg & Barb Hall, Jay Frank, Lon Helton, Melanie Howard, Mary Ann McCready & Roy Wunsch, Barry Mazor, Tim Wipperman, David & Susana Ross, Suzanne Kessler, Bonnie Garner, Jerry & Ernie Williams, Steve Turner, Steve Betts and Seab Tuck.

From there, it was a quick walk to the Schermerhorn Symphony Center for an album-launch performance by Little Big Town (8/22). The main hall was standing room only.

I had been wanting to sample the fare at the new The Southern restaurant around the corner at the Pinnacle building. Steve Moore is a partner in this venture with the fabulous Tom Morales. As I had heard, the food is delicious, whether you choose the steaks or the seafood. Miss Mary and I had the grilled grouper salad. Also try the Apalachicola oysters, the shrimp appetizer, the broccoli soup and the bread-pudding dessert. And don’t miss the huge wall of celebrity photographs. Down at the end are two featuring a much younger Bobby Karl with Earl Scruggs in one and with Dottie West in the other.

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