Monday, August 11, 2008

EW Day 2 report by ElvisSessions

note from SeattleSusieQ: I'm thrilled that the weather is so perfect! Hope it lasts.
ES's report:

Well, what a fun day -- even if the pace is a marked contrast to 2007.

"Leisurely" best describes the mood of this year's Elvis Week so far, with plenty of time between activities to relax and enjoy the sights.

We had a chance to pick up our tickets at Graceland and were delighted when, upon, giving our last name, the EPE staff member remembered the first name. "Oh, you have a lot of tickets. You're hardcore." After pulling all the little envelopes, we had to laugh. "OK, they're all here ... except for the big packet for the concert." Oh, and you have THAT package, too," she said in surprise.

Yes, we'll pretty much see and do it all this year ... and we'll try to report on it all. (We weren't able to attend the memorial luncheon for Bill Burk; can anyone fill us in?)

First up for Sunday was the gospel "brunch" at the Car Museum. We have to confess that until late Saturday, we had assumed this would be a concert like the one at the old EP Memphis restaurant back in 2003.

It was until we thought about the fact that the event was scheduled to last only an hour that we realized what it really was.

Now, let's be clear here: A chance to share breakfast with fellow fans and listen to Elvis perform gospel music is a great idea. Quite pleasant.

But surely you can understand that with a ticket price of $33 apiece, we might have expected something more than the 20- to 30-minute loop of Elvis gospel performances we got.

The food -- scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy and grits heavy with cheese -- was good enough, kept warm and ready for us.

But a ticket price of $15 would seem a little more fair. At $15, you might draw a hungry crowd every morning and it could make a nice daily start for the Elvis Week regulars. (Just an idea )

Nothing really to report on the music. Just the clips you'd expect, the gospel medley from the '68 Comeback, Sweet Sweet Spirit and the informal gospel recordings from Elvis on Tour, Peace in the Valley from the Sullivan Show, etc.

We joked in our Day 1 report about the misnamed Elvis "brunch." Well, it appears EPE figured it out for itself sometime after it published the schedule, because the commemorative coffee cups they gave us for the event were marked "Elvis gospel breakfast 2008." Inside were samples of the Elvis house blend coffee from Ugly Mug. Thanks, EPE.

A non-Elvis aside: After the gospel brunch, we visited Shelby Farms with our puppy -- his favorite part of Elvis Week. If you travel to Memphis with your dog, give him a treat at Shelby Farms -- probably the greatest off-leash dog park in America. And what a great place to enjoy this beautiful Memphis weather. That's right: beautiful Memphis weather in August. After being brutalized by the heat last year, we have been rewarded with temperatures in the 80s this year. Marvelous!

After dropping a worn-out dog off at our hotel, we raced to the Bears on Tour scavenger hunt. We've been boosters of this event since it started because of the opportunity to wander Graceland at our own pace without the usual crowds. Last year, being the 30th anniversary, drew a larger than average crowd. But this year, much like the first couple of scavenger hunts, we never had more than a couple of people sharing the rooms with us. What a different feeling you get when you can spend time in the mansion alone.

And best of all, our loyalty to the scavenger hunt was rewarded this year. That's right, we won the first-place drawing. (Sooner or later, our number had to come up .) So, now we have the fun of trying to make up our minds how to spend the $300 -- that's right, three hundred dollars -- in Graceland gift certificates we won.

If you haven't tried the scavenger hunt before, give it a shot your next Elvis Week. It always draws your attention to new little things you might never have noticed before (like the St. Francis statue hiding in the corner of the Jungle Room -- have you spotted that one before? ) Plus you might end up a few hundred dollars richer!

After a quick dinner, we zipped off to this year's first Club Elvis, at the Car Museum. Club Elvis has grown a lot since its slow start years ago. Now there's a core enthusiastic crowd that dances the night away. This year, they twisted and kicked right up until the traditional American Trilogy closing. (The first of many for the week, we're sure!)

A lot of the new remixes got spun, but to our ears a number of them are pale follow-ups to the three officially released in the U.S. so far. We'll get a chance to hear and see more of Spankox later this week, so we'll reserve the rest of our comments about all his remix attempts till after that.

For those who chose to party outside in the beautiful cool weather -- or didn't want to pay the Club Elvis admission fee -- there was plenty going on at the Graceland Crossing tent. Just like Saturday night, the seats were still full after midnight, and the amateur singers were going strong.

But we had to head on to bed. We want to be fresh for the Fan Club Presidents' event, which we assume marks the much-appreciated return of the Fan Forum, albeit in a different guise. Also up tomorrow: Night One of Music and Movies.

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