Horseshoe Casino August 8 & 9, 2003

Bluesville Club at the Horseshoe Casino in Robinsonville, MS

On Friday and Saturday August 8th and 9th Scotty played again with Ronnie McDowell, D.J. Fontana and the Jordanaires on Ronnie's Tribute to the King show.   The show(s) are becoming a regular event each year that kick off the annual Elvis Week festivities in and around Memphis.  Located inside the Horseshoe Casino and Hotel in Robinsonville (Tunica), MS, the Bluesville club is a medium sized venue that features major acts weekly.  Long time associate of Elvis, George Klein works at the Casino and emceed this event.

George Klein

The shows this weekend were dedicated to the memory of Sam Phillips who recently passed away and without whom many of the careers there would not likely have been launched.  George requested a moment of silence in his memory at the start of each show.

Scotty Moore

The band onstage

The band this year consisted of Scotty and Kevin Woods on guitar, D.J. Fontana and Ronnie McDowell Jr. on drums, Bob Moore on bass, Ronnie McDowell on vocals with Mille Kirkham and Gordon Stoker, Curtis Young, Louis Nunley and Ray Walker of the Jordanaires, Steve Shepherd on keyboards and Frank Michaels on baritone guitar.

Scotty, Kevin Woods, Ronnie McDowell and Bob Moore

Scotty takes a bow

Kevin Woods and D.J. Fontana

Bob Moore and Ronnie McDowell

Bob Moore, who only recently started filling in on bass with Ronnie's band when Scotty plays with them, the first time last month in Canada, is and has been a member of the Nashville A-Team.  He's played on countless hits like Patsy Cline's "Crazy" and many of Elvis' sessions since June of 1958.  In fact the bass he had that night is the very one he used on many of those sessions and it inspired Ronnie to sing a little bit of "Crazy", only in a manner as if Elvis might have done it.  Very entertaining!

Steve Shepherd on keyboards

Frank Michaels on Scotty's Baritone guitar

Ronnie McDowell Jr. (RD or Ronnie Dean for short)

Steve Shepherd is Ronnie's road manager and keyboard player and a very good friend of Scotty's.  In addition he also does a lot of engineering at Scotty's home studio.  Frank Michaels who sometimes fills in as bass player for Ronnie played Scotty's baritone guitar this weekend and also alternated on acoustic.  Ronnie McDowell Jr., who is generally referred to as Ronnie Dean or RD, was the second drummer this weekend.  He had to explain to the crowd Saturday night after the show that it was his sister who became a proud parent and not he.  Ronnie made the announcement that on Friday night he had become a Grandparent.  Congratulations Grandpa!

Scotty trading licks with Kevin Woods

Ronnie and Patsy Andersen

Ella Shepherd, Scotty and Patsy Andersen

Patsy thanks Scotty for the dance

As the band prepared to play "Blue Suede Shoes" Scotty called out for Patsy Andersen and Ella Shepherd to come up and be the gogo dancers for the song.  Reluctantly, but not very, they complied.  Patsy is a long time friend and is the head of fan relations at Graceland.  Ella, Steve's wife, was also at the show last month in Canada and won about $15,000 in the casino there on one pull of a slot machine.  Heck, I'd be dancing too!

Millie Kirkham and The Jordanaires

Ronnie McDowell and Millie Kirkham

Millie Kirkham and The Jordanaires were there providing the vocals they had recorded and performed with Elvis on many of his hits.  Gordon Stoker, the longest reining member of the Jordanaires has been with the group for 53 years and precedes even Elvis as a performing artist.  He told the story of how Elvis met them first in 1955 at the Ellis auditorium and said that if he ever made it to a major label he would have them sing backup for him.  He kept his word.  Ray Walker, the 2nd to longest member has been singing bass with the group since 1957 and told of how he had recommended to Elvis, who always liked to sing Gospel with them, that he should perform and record "How Great Thou Art".  Millie, still hitting the high notes like she's been since the '50s spoke of how Gordon had recommended to Elvis that she come in to sing.  When she came in, very pregnant, Elvis gave her his sideways grin and said, "Somebody please get this woman a chair".  The next time he saw her was over a year later and he asked "Did you ever have that baby?"

Scotty and Kevin Woods kick off the second night

Steve Shepherd

Scotty, Ronnie and Kevin Woods

The show on Friday night was great but the show on Saturday can only be described as phenomenal.  Generally Scotty likes to stick to the set list like the way they always performed but Ronnie on the other hand likes to sometimes change things and add a song or two on the fly.  That's not a problem though for this collection of veterans, they had it covered.  Millie Kirkham though at one point didn't come out when he decided to do a song that she had originally performed with Elvis.  Ray Walker joked that she was waiting for her queue as scheduled and reminded Ronnie that he should expect that since he's working with senior citizens.  Everyone laughed at that.

Ronnie jokingly gets read the riot act by Millie

Millie, Gordon, Curtis, Louis and Ray

During the show Ray Walker related the story of how he met an older fan from Australia who introduced him to her 9 year old granddaughter.  She told him that she couldn't understand why her granddaughter was an Elvis fan since she wasn't even alive when Elvis was performing.  Ray explained in better words than I can remember that like the many countless of other fans who were and weren't around at the time they become fans by hearing the music and/or seeing the films and videos.  That's not exclusive to any age group and is essentially timeless.  Nicely put Ray!  It really always has been about the music.

Scotty, Kevin,D.J. Bob, Frank and RD

At one point in the show Jim Ritz came out and performed a duet with Ronnie.  Jim and Ronnie have been friends for over 25 years.  He is an actor/writer and producer who has appeared in many films like "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", "Ransom", "Apollo 13", "Backdraft", "Cocoon" and "Splash".  He was also a writer for the TV show "Happy Days" and an associate producer on the TV series "Elvis".

Ronnie and Jim Ritz

Ronnie and George Klein

At one point close to the end of the show a fan went up with a gift for Ray, ladies underwear, a very large lady no doubt.  Ray called out to his wife who was in the audience that they now had the cover for the garden they had been looking for.

Ray is given a fan's underwear ( a really BIG fan)

With the shows being so close to Memphis during Elvis week it also serves as an opportunity for lots of friends and Elvis fans to see the show and to say hello.  Two friends of Scotty and Gail sitting next to me were Jimmy Page and Cindy Hazen.  Jimmy is an attorney in California who when he was just a kid in the '50s went to school dressed like Elvis.  The other kids beat him up so badly that he was hospitalized and required extensive surgery to his eye.  Elvis heard about it and showed up and paid for the operation.  They were friends for long after that.  Cindy along with her husband Mike owns the home that Elvis lived in before he bought Graceland.  It is the first home that Elvis bought and is located at 1034 Audubon Drive in Memphis. 

Jimmy Page and Cindy Hazen

After the shows the band always comes out to sign autographs and to meet the fans.  The lines are long since almost everyone wants to get a CD, picture or brings items from home to get autographed.  The guys are always happy and willing to sign and stay there until every one that wants to gets to go up.  The people are always friendly and this part is almost as much fun as the show.

The lines form after the show

Attempts are made to keep it organized and moving

Scotty and Bob Moore

Its great to see Bob out in the public eye.  The great session players like him have made such contributions to music and are almost never out and accessible to the fans.

Scotty signs a fans guitar

His guitar got signed by everyone

Scotty autographs a copy of his book

Gold lame' suits optional

The end of the line

As I mentioned, during Elvis week you never know who's going to be around.  On hand tonight was also Jerry Schilling.  Jerry was another close member of the "Elvis family" and went on to produce television shows, documentaries and also managed the Beach Boys for many years.  Until 1999 he was president and chief executive officer of the Memphis and Shelby County Music Commission and has been a friend of Scotty's for many years and was also at his 70th birthday party last year.

Jerry Schilling and George Klein

Gail Pollock, Jim Ritz and Karen Fontana

D.J. Ronnie, Scotty and Bob

Bob and Scotty have some fun at D.J.'s expense

Scotty, Jerry Townsend and Gail Pollock

Jerry Townsend was also there at the show.  In addition to being a good friend he's also done a lot of booking for Scotty and Ronnie and recently installed the cedar walls in Scotty's studio.  Speaking of the studio, Scotty and Gail had to cut an excellent weekend short and head back to Nashville on Sunday for some session work.   They would be coming back for Wednesday though for a presentation at the Grand Casino in Tunica but were at least able to help get this years Elvis week off to a great start.  If you happened to be there at either of the shows, write in and tell us about it.

James V. Roy
August 13, 2003


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