Party Line: SportsBall puts best shoe forward

Jaylan Summerall, 13, makes the scene Saturday night at the 16th annual SportsBall, a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Memphis.

Photo by Michael Donahue // Buy this photo

Jaylan Summerall, 13, makes the scene Saturday night at the 16th annual SportsBall, a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Memphis.

SportsBall is the annual event where guests wear tennis shoes with their finery and dine on hot dogs, giant pretzels and popcorn; play basketball, foosball and other games; hit the roulette or blackjack tables with play money; and bid on items in live and silent auctions.

This year’s event, the 16th annual fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Memphis, was Saturday night at Minglewood. It bills itself as “Games for Grown-Ups/Futures for Kids.”

About 700 attended, said Adrienne Bailey, the organization’s president and chief executive officer. Asked what keeps people coming back, Adrienne said, “The energy, the excitement, the diversity, there’s something there for everyone.”

Longtime SportsBall master of ceremonies Michael Blair invited guests to hit the dance floor and do the “Memphis Shuffle” to a recording of the “Cupid Shuffle.” Ryan “The Mind” Haskett, who was with Brittany Raley, was among the dancers. A professional dancer, choreographer and instructor, Ryan incorporated some of his jukin moves into the line dancing. “Jukin involves the Memphis character, the Memphis attitude,” Ryan said.

Ryan wore a pair of casual shoes, but he said you need “specific shoes” when you’re doing the “footwork-based” jukin. He mainly wears Nike Air Force Ones, which, he said, “have a strong toe box.” He stands on the tips of his toes a lot when he’s jukin. “We call it the ‘urban ballet’ ’cause we can get on our toes like ballerinas.”

Larry Miller, president of The Jordan Brand, a division of Nike, was the special host of the event. Guests at the sponsors tables were given free Nike tennis shoes and socks when they arrived at the party.

Blues on the Bluff

Gillian Grossman photographed her sister, Cecily Grossman, who was holding two pieces of watermelon, Saturday night at the 25th annual WEVL FM 89.9 Blues on the Bluff at National Ornamental Metal Museum. Asked why she was shooting Cecily with the melon, Gillian said, “Just a summer fun thing to do.”

That’s how most of the guests probably would sum up Blues on the Bluff. People in shorts and T-shirts brought blankets and chairs so they could relax, listen to live music and eat barbecue. The music began at 6:30 p.m., the cicadas began “singing” around 7:30 p.m. and the sun set over the Mississippi River not long after.

Central BBQ provided the barbecue: about 24 shoulders, 30 slabs of ribs and 35 portobello mushrooms, said Craig Blondis, one of the owners.

About 850 people attended this year’s event, said station manager Judy Dorsey,who, along with Brian Craig, was the event producer. The formula for the party basically stays the same, but, Judy said, “We tweak it a little bit every year.”

Music was by The Eric Deaton Trio, Elmo & The Shades and The Bo-Keys with special guests Percy Wiggins and John Gary Williams.

Shannon McNally from Holly Springs also sang. Her new CD, Small Town Talk, features songs by Bobby Charles and performances by Dr. John, Vince Gill, Luther Dickinson, Derek Trucks and Will Sexton.

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