BOBBY KARL WORKS THE ROOM
If you’re a booking agent who isn’t a member of the Nashville Association of Talent Directors (NATD), you don’t know what you’re missing.
The NATD’s speaker series, annual picnics, industry workshops, Christmas party and other fellowship events are always warm and convivial. And no other awards banquet can touch the NATD’s for intimacy, visual atmosphere, cuisine and camaraderie.
The seventh annual event was again staged at the opulent, 1910 beaux-arts Hermitage Hotel. The cocktail party on Tuesday (Nov. 14) was held in the venue’s exquisite lobby, topped with its breath-taking, stained-glass ceiling.
The awards banquet took place in the sumptuous ballroom amid vintage woven carpet, brocade-draped windows, polychromed and elaborately coffered ceiling, art deco chandeliers, rare chestnut paneled walls and Tennessee presidential portraits.
The company was as delightful as the surroundings. We greeted Shawn Camp, Charlene Tilton, T.G. Sheppard & Kelly Lang, Cerrito, Dave Brainard, Steve Buchanan, Pete Fisher, Rod Essig, Bob Romeo, comedian Dick Hardwick and super promising new singer-songwriters Jenny Tolman, Cherish Lee and Lauren Mascitti.
This year’s honorees were Charley Pride, Bobby Roberts, David Corlew, Jeannie Seely, Sean Henry and Barbara Hubbard. Many standing ovations punctuated the evening.
During the cocktail reception Chaz Corzine honored Sean Henry, the president and CEO of The Nashville Predators and Bridgestone Arena. “Back in 2010, there were people who didn’t think Nashville was a hockey town,” said Corzine. “Now the Predators are the No. 1 franchise in all of sports.
“No one has combined sports and entertainment like Sean Henry has.” Stars like Vince, Tim, Faith, Charlie Daniels and Carrie Underwood regularly fire up fans at the hockey games. Henry has brought SEC men and women’s basketball tournaments to Bridgestone, not to mention a parade of superstar concert attractions. Oh, and the Preds sold out every one of their Bridgestone home games in the 2016-17 season.
“We told the sports world how great Nashville is,” said Henry in accepting his honor. “This is one of the great sports stories. We’re gonna do it all again this year!”Inside the ballroom, NATD president Steve Tolman greeted the crowd saying, “Welcome to the NATD living room for the evening.” Membership chair Zach Farnum promised, “NATD is going to have its biggest and best year yet in 2018. This will be our 60th anniversary year.”
Co-hosts for the gala were Stephanie Langston and Shawn Parr. The former introduced Charlie Daniels as, “the man I might love more than Santa Claus.” He was there to honor Corlew.
“He came to work with me 44 years ago,” said Daniels. “I have leaned on David a lot in my life. He deserves this award.”
Corlew is the star’s personal manager. He runs song publishing companies, is the president of Blue Hat Records, runs a film production outfit and co-founded the Journey Home Project to benefit veterans.
“I love this event – It’s so much fun to come here and see all of my friends,” said the honoree. “The music business has always been the center of my heart, the center of my soul and the center of my life. This is a caring business. It’s a loving business.”
Hubbard, known as “Mother Hubbard” is a veteran concert promoter at New Mexico State University. Now 90, she was presented with her honor by Doc McGhee.
“I hope all of you realize how blessed we are,” she told the audience.
The Bobby Roberts Company has represented 11 members of the Country Music Hall of Fame. Longtime client and friend John Anderson sang “Seminole Wind” to salute him. Sons Travis James Roberts and Lance Roberts presented the NATD honor.
“It’s been a wonderful journey for us,” said Bobby. “I’ve represented some of the icons in this business, my personal heroes. Music was always central to my life. We built a family business as a family. This is one more blessing, so thank you very, very much.”
Bobby Bare surprised Pride when he took the stage. “Charley is country from the tip of his toes to the top of his head,” Bare said. “You can’t fool The People — he proved it with his singing.” Bare honored Pride by performing “I’m So Afraid of Losing You Again.”
“I’m proud to be here,” Pride said. “To the many promoters…thanks. I appreciate this.”
Lorrie Morgan surprised Seely via a torrid, torchy performance of the latter’s Grammy-winning signature song “Don’t Touch Me.” Sally Williams cited Seely as the first woman to host a segment on the Grand Ole Opry. She also recalled Seely’s challenge to conservative Opry management by wearing mini skirts instead of ginghams.
“You are a bad ass, and I’m happy to call you my partner in crime,” Williams added.
She then brought on Bill Anderson, another surprise. “Fooled ya, didn’t we?” he kidded the honoree. “Jeannie described herself best. Here’s what she said, ‘They say everybody marches to the beat of a different drummer — I’m looking for a drummer who will beat to the way I march.’”
“I’m so proud to be in this room,” Seely said. “I didn’t plan anything [to say]. I never do. I’ve been flying by the seat of my pantyhose for a long time. Thanks to Gene Ward. I always needed a good lawyer and couldn’t find one. So I married one.
“This is awesome. Thank you so much.”
Each honoree was introduced with a video bio. Making video cameo appearances were such stars as Garth, Reba, Dolly, Neal McCoy, Aaron Tippin and Sylvia.
Applauding and schmoozing were Steve Lassiter, Bebe Evans, Dan Rogers, Bonnie Sugarman, Preshias Harris, Bev Moser, Ray Shelide, Paula Szeigis, Carolyn Corlew, Randi Perkins, Moore & Moore, Dick Beacham, Michael Campbell and Dolly Chandler.
In addition to being sublimely gorgeous, The Hermitage is a real hotel. Ergo, our meals were superb. Salads of artisanal lettuces, radishes and carrots were dressed with citrus vinaigrette. The main course was tender filet mignon, jumbo asparagus and potato, cauliflower and white cheddar mash with truffle jus. Layered coconut cream and vanilla cake topped with whipped icing finished the repast.
Steve Tolman, Tony Conway and Blake McDaniel announced that the NATD was presenting $2,500 to Scott Hamilton’s ScottCares Foundation, $5,000 to Hubbard’s ACTS scholarships to entertainment-industry students and a washer-dryer to Dupont Tyler Middle School.
The event had just a touch of bonjour tristesse. Farnum is evidently doing such a good NATD recruiting job that the Hermitage ballroom is now stretched to its 150-person capacity. I fear it might soon outgrow this elegant, intimate venue.