BOBBY KARL WORKS THE ROOM
The final awards banquet of the season was also the most elegant, intimate, warm and mellow.
On Monday (Nov. 8), the Nashville Association of Talent Directors staged its annual Honors amid the beaux arts splendor of the historic Hermitage Hotel downtown. The NATD saluted television, sports, publicity, agency, government and Music Row personalities.
The honorees were Mayor Megan Barry, the CMA’s Sarah Trahern, publicist Kirt Webster, Predators hockey announcer Pete Weber, American Pickers TV star Mike Wolfe, APA booking executive Steve Lassiter and rock manager Charlie Brusco.
The Tennessean’s Brad Schmitt and Channel 2’s Stephanie Langston co-hosted. The crowd was sprinkled with stars such as Crystal Gayle, Henry Paul, Nan Kelley and Lee Roy Parnell.
The event began with cocktails in the Hermitage’s elegant lobby with its stained-glass ceiling. Pianist Eric Bikales serenaded the crowd while servers circulated with spinach filo pockets and beef Wellington.
Producer Dave Brainard was there, with his jaw brace finally removed and on the road to recovery from the attack he suffered near Music Row. NATD president Steve Tolman had his singing daughter in tow. Jenny Tolman is working with Brainard.
David & Carolyn Corlew, BeBe Evans and Paula Szeigis were representing the Charlie Daniels office. Jeremy Westby, Jeff Gregg, Bonnie Sugarman, Bill Gatzimos, Preshus Tomes, Charles Dorris, Ray Shelide, Randi Perkins, Tinti Moffat, Moore & Moore, Mike Campbell, Teresa George, Pepper Meller and NATD executive assistant Tina Payton mingled.
We moved into the dining room. With its coffered ceiling, wood paneling, opulent drapes, gilded décor, elegant carpet and spectacular vintage chandeliers, this is one of the most beautiful spaces in Nashville. Harpist Deanna Loveland sent notes wafting through the room’s atmosphere.
Following the invocation by Father Joseph Breen, Steve Tolman introduced honoree Megan Barry. “We want to congratulate you on breaking new ground,” he said to Nashville’s first female mayor. “We are here to support you and help you however we can.”
“It’s really fitting to be honored in this room,” said the Mayor, recalling that suffragettes came to the Hermitage to lobby the legislature to make Tennessee the deciding state in granting women the right to vote in 1920.
“We have the greatest concentration of talent than any other city in the United States. We really are the Third Coast. When we think about the music, we think about the people in front. But it’s really about the people in the back,” she said, referring to the 150 elite industry workers at the NATD soiree.
The surprise honoree was Kirt Webster. Tolman gave him the Directors’ Award, because, “He keeps a lot of our legendary artists visible and out there.” Webster was saluted via video by The Oak Ridge Boys, Charlie Daniels, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers.
“I am usually not at a loss for words, but I am,” said Webster. “I do what I do, because I love what I do.
“We’re family, and that’s what is most important.” He said he was wearing a ball cap to hide his recent hair transplants.
Charlie Brusco has managed Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bad Company, Peter Frampton, Survivor, Styx and The Outlaws. He is also an Atlanta show promoter. Rod Essig, Henry Paul and Tommy Shaw appeared in his tribute video.
John Huie presented the award. “Nashville’s kind of a second home to me,” said the honoree. “We have friends from all over the place who have moved down here. I know everybody thinks this is the country music capital. But there is all kinds of great music here.”
Pete Weber has been the Voice of the Nashville Predators for 17 seasons. Partner Terry Crisp presented his honor.
“Nashville has offered us a very, very warm home,” said Weber. “The All Star Game is coming to Nashville in January, and that should be a lot of fun. Let’s get on with the show.”
Tony Conway offered a memorial to the late Tandy Rice and the late Joe Guercio, both avid NATD supporters. The audience joined him in a toast and a round of hearty applause.
Tolman announced to Schmitt that the NATD is donating $2,500 to the Nashville Prevention Partnership in his honor. The ACM’s Bob Romeo announced that his organization would match that. Schmitt recalled his two DUI arrests, being fired from Channel 2 and going to rehab at Cumberland Heights.
“Recovery is here, and it works,” he said. “I’m five-and-half years clean.” Co-host Langston said, “He’s an inspiration to all of us.”
Shaun Silva presented the NATD honor to Mike Wolfe. “I moved to Nashville in 2001,” said Silva. “I fell in love with this town. Mike has brought a lot of eyes to what’s great about Nashville.”
“I came to this community 14 years ago, riding through on my motorcycle,” Wolfe recalled. He moved to Music City four years ago. His American Pickers is one of the top shows on cable TV and a runaway ratings success for the History Channel. Wolfe also operates the Antique Archeology store in Nashville, is restoring a number of historic properties in the area and is producing several new 2016 TV series.
“I am a product of what Nashville truly embodies. I really wouldn’t have this show without Nashville. My Nashville friends gave me the courage to do that. It’s a city of dreams. A dream I had wouldn’t have happened without this community. So thank you for this.
“I think this is my first award.”
Luke Bryan, Ralph Emery and the Community Foundation’s Ellen Lehman were in the tribute video for Sarah Trahern. Nan Kelley presented the honor.
“The theme through everybody’s remarks tonight is family, passion and collaboration,” said Trahern. “I am grateful that I get to do something that I am very passionate about. How lucky we are that we get to do this for a living.”
Corlew, Evans, Gayle, Shelide, Paul, Joe Sullivan, Lee Greenwood, Rob Beckham, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt and Frank Wing saluted Steve Lassiter on video. Lassiter is an East Nashville native and an MTSU grad. He got his start in Sullivan’s Sound 70 concert-promotion office 38 years ago.
APA president Jim Gosnell joined Steve’s sons Cain, Luke and Austin Lassiter in presenting the honor. “I’ve been doing this so long I know just about everybody in this room,” said the honoree. “I do what I love, and I passed that down to these young men, right here. I am as passionate and I love this as much as I did 38 years ago.”
Founded in 1958, the Nashville Association of Talent Directors fosters camaraderie among friendly competitors. Its members generate $300 million annually for their artists. The organization began giving college scholarship funds to worthy students 26 years ago. It began staging annual Honors banquets five years ago.