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VOL. 114 | NO. 184 | Wednesday, September 20, 2000

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The Blues Ball plays at Gibson Guitar Factory Gibson factory site of Blues Ball encore By Sue Pease The Daily News For a Memphis business desiring to raise awareness about its products and services, having a party, or rather "the" party of the year at corporate digs is a great promotion. This years Blues Ball, a Memphis tribute to honor the blues and Memphis musicians, is Saturday at Gibson Guitar Factory, 145 Lt. George W. Lee St. The event will mark the factorys official grand opening. "We are very proud and delighted to have the Blues Ball here again this year. It allows people to acknowledge that we are here and that we are dedicated to the blues in Memphis, and we want to be a part of the music genre that goes on in the city," David Weldon, general manager, said. The manufacturing side of the Gibson Guitar Factory began in April, and according to Daniel Harf, president of the entertainment division, that aspect will continue to grow as the showcase and other details get underway. Other sections of the factory will be a showcase for live music with a lounge, an interactive Gibson experience and tours of the guitar production. "The general public will be able to tour through the factory and actually see the instruments in production and it will amaze them because they are not made too much differently than they were 100 years ago when Gibson started," Harf said. While the business manufactures instruments, it has many other aspects within its walls, Weldon said. "Thats one of the things we are looking for. Its not only a great guitar in the name of Gibson, but what we really want to do is let everybody know that this is a focal point of Gibson entertainment. Gibson is not just a guitar company, its an entertainment company. Gibson stands on many legs, the manufacturing section here is just one," he said. This year is the seventh anniversary of the event and Pat Kerr Tigrett, founder and general chairman of the event, said she likes to focus on developing areas in Memphis in order to bring awareness to the Memphis community. Last years event was at Gibson, as well, which was under construction at that time, and the year before that, it was at work-in-progress Central Station at 545 South Main St. "I like helping areas that are developing to be introduced into the Memphis community. So many of our young people who attended the ball, never even realized the train station was down there. Its a splendid area and a splendid space for young Memphians to live," Tigrett said. "So, we in some ways brought even more recognition, which is certainly well-deserved, to the South Main area three years ago when we brought the Blues Ball to the train station." Central Station includes residential and commercial space in its building. A section of the seating for this years event will be on the floor of the factory and attendees will be able to view guitars in production. "They will be actually continuing the manufacturing of the guitars during the ball. I want people to see it and see the manufacturing as its happening its fascinating what they are doing. They are so talented," Tigrett said. Along with the official grand opening of the Gibson Guitar Factory, this years happenings include Jerry Lee Lewis 65th Birthday Bash, Time Warner and VH1 Save the Music Foundation will donate $100,000 in musical instruments to four Memphis city and Shelby County public schools, the launch of Isaac Hayes new "Memphis Magic" barbecue sauce and a global silent auction, which is a partnership with eBay and UltimateBid.com. The silent auction includes unique items such as a Lear jet trip and an Ultimate Wine Tour. Hayes and Lewis will be among the performers on the ball stage. The event will honor Bobby Blue Bland as the Blues Ball Pyramid Award Honoree and Jason D. Williams as the Memphis Sound Award Honoree, plus a Gospel tribute to Billy Rivers and the Angelic Voices of Faith. The event draws about 2,500 people every year and this years proceeds will help support many Memphis charities including The Smithsonian Rock n Soul Museum, The International Childrens Heart Foundation, Variety Childrens Charities, St. Judes Childrens Research Hospital, NARAS/MusiCares and Porter-Leath Childrens Center/PaLs. The event will also help raise funds for Memphis musicians and area music scholarships. And music, as always, will be the spotlight of the festivities. "My belief is that all American music started in our area, specifically in Memphis. From the gospels in the cotton fields, the blues, the gospel in the churches, the rockabilly, the rock n roll, jazz and rhythm and blues, its endless. We are a nucleus of talent, that has been nurtured its that raw talent that I just dont think any other city has," Tigrett said. Event sponsors include FedEx, Northwest Airlines, and SunCom Wireless. For ticket information call the Blues Ball Hotline, 527-5683.
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