Nashville Elvis Festival Coming to The Factory in Franklin on March 30th: ‘There’s Something There for Everybody’

Mar 20, 2023

Live from Music Row, Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed the founder of Nashville Publicity Group and the Nashville Elvis Festival to the newsmaker line to describe the world’s best tribute to Elvis.

Leahy: On the newsmaker line right now, Brian Mayes, the founder of the Nashville Publicity Group and the organizer of the Nashville Elvis Festival. Welcome, Brian Mayes.

Mayes: Hey Michael. How are you?

Leahy: The seventh annual Nashville Elvis Festival will be held next Thursday, March 30th to April 2nd at the factory in Franklin. Are you the fellow who came up with this idea of a national Elvis festival?

Mayes: Yes. My business partner and I, Tom Brown who for many years, 20 years was the vice president of Turner Classic Movies has also worked for decades as the face of Graceland. So if you check into the hotel, he is on your screen welcoming you to the hotel. If you’re on the tour, he’ll pop up all over the place.

He hosts a lot of events there. He and I have worked with Graceland in different capacities for years, and we said, why is there not a festival in Nashville? And seven years ago bit the bullet and did it ourselves and it has grown into a little bit of a monster.

Leahy: A little bit of a monster. That’s an interesting way to describe it. Why do you call it a little bit of a monster?

Mayes: I’ll tell you, we thought it would be a fun event for Elvis fans here in Nashville, but what we have learned over several years now is that we’ve got people coming in from all over the world to celebrate the music and the legacy of the king of rock and roll. We’ve got performers that are going to take our stage.

We’ve got 30 of the best tribute artists in the world that are coming to perform. We’ve got guys coming from Brazil, Japan, all over Great Britain, Australia, Canada, and all over the United States. It really is one of the best. And it draws the fans as well.

Carmichael: What venues are included?

Mayes: We are at we were at the Franklin Theater for years. We’re now at the Factory of Franklin, in Liberty Hall. We’ve got 10 shows that all take place inside that venue. 11:00 am 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm each day. And the shows cover just about anything you could want as an Elvis fan.

We’ve got a 55th-anniversary recreation of the iconic ’68 Comeback special from NBC. We’ve got a career retrospective called Elvis through the years, which is a little more of a theatrical presentation. On Sunday morning, we’ve got Elvis Gospel Live which really is a throwback to all of the great gospel hits that Elvis recorded. And it’s the 50th anniversary this year of Aloha from Hawaii. So we’re recreating that on stage as well.

Leahy: Do you have to pay to have a contractual relationship with the Elvis estate or how does that all work?

Mayes: We do. We are a licensed event. Tom and I both work with Graceland in different capacities as well. So we’ve got a great relationship there and they’re really supportive of our festival each year.

Leahy: Has this been impacted at all by the death of Lisa Marie Presley and the conflict, shall we say, between Elvis’s wife Priscilla Presley, and her granddaughter, Riley Keough, the daughter of Lisa Marie?

Mayes: Yes. As you can imagine we’ve had a lot of conversations about that leading up to this year. Losing Lisa was a massive loss. She was an incredible talent and I think underrated. She never really had the opportunity to reach her potential because she was dealing with so many things throughout her life.

There’s a lot going on with the family, a fight over the estate and everything else, and we just came to the conclusion that we’re gonna let the family deal with the family stuff and we’re just gonna celebrate Elvis.

Leahy: Is the entity that licenses you, are they the ones that are involved in this dispute, or is that a separate situation?

Mayes: No. It’s just a family situation. It’s a fight over, as I understand it, the trust and Lisa’s final wishes for the estate. And so the Graceland as an entity, Elvis Presley Enterprises, the future there will end up being determined by the court.

Leahy: Are you licensed by the trust or is there a separate legal entity?

Mayes: No, it’s Elvis Presley Enterprises. We’re licensed through them.

Leahy: And that’s separate from the trust, is that right?

Mayes: It’s all in the trust, at the moment. But the work continues.

Leahy: This is an aside. I’ve been watching the series Daisy Jones and The Six which features Riley Keough the granddaughter of Elvis. She’s very good. Have you ever reached out to her about participating in some way in the now in the Elvis Festival?

Mayes: We have not. Riley has been acting and directing now for years. She’s been a little under the radar. I think she’s really coming into public awareness now with this series because of the series, the hit. It is a big show and it’s a great show.

It’ll be interesting as she becomes more involved with the Elvis world in the years to come as she now is, next in line how her relationship with Elvis starts to maybe grow a little bit. She hasn’t been part of the Elvis world up until now, but things are changing, I believe.

Leahy: Yes, exactly. It’s a little bit expensive to go to this event. Tell us why it’s worth the money.

Mayes: We’ve got a lot of options. We’ve got festival passes so that you can come to every show. We’ve got VIP festival passes, which give you a front row and a lot of extra perks. But we’ve got individual show tickets as well.

And tickets start at $49. So if you’re only in town for a day or you just want to and you really like the ’68 comeback special, and that’s what you want to see there’s something there for everybody.

You can come in and pick a show on its own, but you will not see a better collection of Elvis tribute artists on a single stage anywhere in the world. It is not the guy who shows up at the office party, he’s not the caricature of Elvis. These are guys who literally dedicated their lives and study every move, every ring is in place, every jump stick suit is coordinated, and every movement is right.

We’ve got guys on that stage that even the biggest Elvis fans will do a double-take without question. (Leahy chuckles) It’s the best of the best. We’ve got a lot of special guests too. Last year, Winona Judge showed up and surprised the audience on stage performed.

We’ve had a ton of people, John Schneider, Brenda Lee, Collin Ray, T.G. Sheppard, and our mutual friend Gary Chapman, who is a regular at the festival. And we’ve got a lot of people that have worked with Elvis and that have lived with Elvis’s best friend. This year we’ve got Sam Thompson, his bodyguarded and friend, and we’ve got Terry Blackwood, who toured with him for years and sang background vocals for him.

Legendary Blackwood Quartet. We’ve got Sloane Avery, who’s starring on Amazon in The Consultants right now. She’s coming in as a special guest, so we’ve got a lot of things. We’ve got stuff for everybody.

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Elvis Festival” by The Nashville Elvis Festival