An Evening at Elvis’ Makes Television Debut

Student-Producer-Ashley-Dill-courtesy-NECAT

A new music series set in one of rock ‘n’ roll’s hidden treasures makes its television debut August 1st. An Evening at Elvis’ features intimate performances by a diverse lineup of rock, blues, jazz, roots, and alt-country artists in the living room of 1034 Audubon Drive – the house Elvis Presley bought with the proceeds from his first gold record (“Heartbreak Hotel,” RCA, 1956).

Each thirty-minute episode features performances by rising and established artists in front of a live audience seated in Elvis’ living room, dining room, and foyer inside the 2800-square-foot mid-century ranch, fully restored to authentic 1950 period decor.

“Being right there with an artist in this intimate, perfectly-restored living room is like watching a concert in the most vivid dream ever,” said Alexandra Greenway, co-producer for the series. “We can’t go back in time to see the music Elvis created during the pivotal 13 months he lived here, but we can capture the raw spirit of the place, and connect the world with that Memphis mojo that’s been a piece of all rock, pop and blues music since the first guitar strum and piano plink.”

Since its launch as a web series in 2012, An Evening at Elvis’ has hosted a diverse array of musicians, from rising artists (Valerie June, Marcella Simien, Mason Jar Fireflies, PreauXX) to nationally renowned acts and Grammy-award winners (Rosanne Cash, Bill Frisell, Charles Lloyd, Bobby Rush). Due in part to being an entirely student-run production, the series has also gained significant local and national recognition, including a feature in USA Today College.

The thirty-minute show made its television debut on the public arts channel of Nashville’s NECAT Network (Comcast channel 9 in Davidson County, AT&T U-verse channel 99 throughout middle Tennessee, livestream, and On Demand at www.necatnetwork.org) in August, thereby entering the system of public arts/public education TV stations known as PEG.

“I can’t believe our series will be on three times a week at NECAT,” said co-producer Ashley Dill. “You can watch us on Sundays at 5:00 pm, Tuesdays at 11:30 pm, and Thursdays at 2:00 pm—that’ amazing!” The series is currently being distributed to countless sibling PEG TV stations nationwide.

An Evening at Elvis’ began in 2012 as a long-term project of Rhodes College’s Mike Curb Institute for Music, established on campus in 2006 by Nashville record executive Mike Curb to create opportunities to research, preserve, and promote the music of Memphis.
As part of the Institute’s mission, Curb purchased Presley’s home in 2006. Although not open to the public, the house is at the heart of student inspiration. Capturing the events and work taking place in Elvis’ home as a web series and television program gives Rhodes students opportunities to share what they learn with the world.

And they have done exactly that: Students are responsible for the bookings, promotion, production, artistic direction, and strategic development, sleeves rolled up, thinking caps on, vision sharply focused on the endless possibilities the production allows. Professionals, faculty, alumni, and community members offer ample resources, but An Evening at Elvis’ is absolutely the fruit of student efforts responding to the generous opportunity provided by Curb and the college.

Rhodes leadership is delighted with the drive and achievements of the student producers. “We’re not interested in creating museums, but using history to inform the present,” said Dr. John Bass, director of the Curb Institute at Rhodes. “It’s a powerful experience seeing a young person talk to someone like Charles Lloyd and know they have a connection to them that they’ve never had before.”

If Elvis were alive today and we were back in 1956, the scene in the living room at 1034 Audubon might not be that different from what it is today: several enthusiastic 21-year-olds noodling on guitars, imagining their futures, huddled around the TV, hoping one of them has the drive, luck, and talent to make it to The Ed Sullivan Show.

Two of the show’s career-minded student producers, Alexandra Greenway and Ashley Dill, both college seniors, spent the summer working in Nashville with an alumna mentor, TV exec Trish Crist, polishing and recutting the web series for its television debut. Crist brought together a volunteer team of industry pros to answer the girls’ questions and help them see around corners they might not have anticipated yet.

“You can either further a young person’s endeavor or you can squelch it,” said Crist. “I’m a furtherer. Rhodes College is part of me, Memphis is part of me, Elvis and music are part of me —and somewhere in my core is still a 21-year-old with a thousand big ideas.”

NECAT is proud to be the nonprofit, public arts station for the show’s leap to television, a sentiment echoed by countless professionals from Music City Roots, Bluegrass Underground, Sony Records, CBS, VER, and more who’ve lent advice along the way, just happy to pay it forward to a new wave of souls with a great idea.

Find out more about An Evening at Elvis’ at www.eveningatElvis.org and NECAT at www.NECATnetwork.org.

Pictured: Student Producer Ashley Dill (photo courtesy of NECAT)