TRIBUTE! THE CONCERT
THE CAROLINA OPRY


Not long ago, Tribute! The Concert, a new legends-style tribute show, opened in Myrtle Beach, and we’ve been hearing lots of good reports from fans who have attended. So -- it was time to learn a little more about the show, how the tribute artists are selected, Gilmore Entertainment, and, of course, Calvin Gilmore, the successful entrepreneur/entertainer behind Tribute! The Concert and The Carolina Opry, who has definitely made his mark on the entertainment industry in South Carolina. Read on!

Calvin Gilmore grew up on a farm in Lebanon, Missouri, a small Ozark Mountain town. He attended a one-room school and he sang in a small country church each Sunday. He quickly developed a love of music, and by his early 20's, he’d moved to Kansas City and was performing in restaurants and night clubs, pursuing a professional music career. Before long, a Nashville record label asked him to do a demo tape. To cover the expenses that his musical goals would entail, Calvin decided to try his hand at real estate also -- never guessing this venture would be so successful that he’d soon be buying the real estate company for which he worked!

Although music was still his greatest love, Calvin, with a successful business and a family, had no desire for a musician’s life “on the road.” He came up with the idea of a live country music variety show to be located in Myrtle Beach -- a resort area where the tourist audiences would come to him, rather than having to tour himself. And thus the Carolina Opry was born! As Calvin says, introducing an unknown concept to the Myrtle Beach market was a high-risk challenge as no-one really quite understood what the show was about until they attended it -- in addition, there was the personal upheaval of moving his family, children age 4 and 8, and risking his modest net worth.

The success of The Carolina Opry could hardly have been predicted. Over the years, Calvin Gilmore and his casts have entertained millions of Myrtle Beach visitors, and his success has spurred the growth of an entirely new entertainment industry along the Grand Strand of South Carolina. His Carolina Opry is the only show to have won the South Carolina Governor’s Cup, the state’s highest tourism award, and to have been voted the state’s “Most Outstanding Attraction” and “The Best Show” year after year by the readers of the syndicated Myrtle Beach
Sun News. Calvin has also been named South Carolina’s Official Country Music Ambassador and he has his own star on the Walk of Fame. Under Calvin’s leadership, The Carolina Opry has received accolades from national media, including NBC Nightly News, USA Today, New York Post, CNN, and more. The company has also expanded into other fields such as recording, television production, and print media.

When asked for the keys to his success with the Carolina Opry, Calvin replied, “Attention to detail, choosing the right material for the show, and gifted talent, both on and off-stage.”

Still entertaining, Calvin recently performed at the Grand Old Opry in Nashville, sharing the stage with artists such as Travis Tritt and Marty Stuart -- and he’s been invited back to perform several more times over the next two years. There, Calvin performed one of the songs from his new album "Better Late," recorded in Nashville with award-winning producer Barry Beckett, who has also worked with Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan and Hank Williams, Jr.

As if all this wasn’t enough, Calvin Gilmore’s second all-live show in Myrtle Beach has been attracting the crowds and receiving great reviews!
Tribute! the Concert features “celebrities” of today and yesterday portrayed by a rotating cast of top tribute artists from around the country, backed by a talented cast of musicians and dancers (examples of recent acts: Elvis, Rod Stewart, Cher, Little Richard, Charlie Daniels, Tina Turner, Dolly Parton). Each show features six acts, and the 1000-seat Tribute! Theater, which Calvin originally built for another show in the early 90's, has been extensively refurbished for the Tribute! production.

As we have a lot of tribute artists and fans reading and listening to Lady Luck Music, I asked Gilmore Entertainment several additional questions about the new Tribute! The Concert production.

With similar shows already established, why did Calvin decide to open a new "legends style" tribute show?
Because it is a concept which he believes should be taken to a higher level production-wise, and it can be successful in multiple markets.

How is the talent auditioned or selected?
First, Calvin and his production teams view a video, and then in live performance. There are levels of tribute performers - 'A', 'B' etc. We only use the top, or 'A' artists.

Are certain acts chosen for certain seasons (for example, to appeal to a younger or older crowd depending on the season)?
Yes. And for the Christmas season we have selected tribute artists who lend themselves to holiday music, or are known in some way for holiday music.

How are the acts rotated?
Most acts are contracted for three months, and then cycle out to make room for a new one. Some of the iconic acts, such as Elvis, remain with semi-permanence.

How has the crowd reaction been? Age range of audiences?
Crowd reaction is great - they are really fun crowds, loud and enthusiastic. They appear to be pretty much all ages.

How might a tribute artist arrange an audition?
Send an audition videotape to:
Tribute Audition
Gilmore Entertainment
11000 Ocean Hwy
Pawleys Island, South Carolina 29585

What makes a good tribute artist and/or entertainer?
A natural gift, and a passion to perform.

Is talent developed (both shows) or do the entertainers come to you as fully fledged performers?
Talent has been and is developed at The Carolina Opry. They have to be great or we wouldn't hire them to begin with, but some of them have room to polish their craft, and this occurs particularly in a showmanship sense. We build them up with the best costuming, the best lighting, the best dance, the best intro's, etc.

Tribute! The Concert is different. Those acts come to us complete and our direction of them is more in the area of choosing from their set repertoire, and editing any talk that they do in the act. Tribute performers basically make their living "doing" one individual and they travel with their own costuming, which is meticulously recreated from the original costuming. We provide a great band and great dancers - far above the level of talent usually offered in similar shows. We create the ambience of a beautiful, pristine facility and top-notch theater management to showcase them.

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Do you have "scouts" looking for talent or do most of the cast members approach you?
We scout the Tribute artists. At the Carolina Opry, we have more high quality auditions than we can possibly even consider - it is a highly desirable position in the industry, rare for the fact that it offers very high production values, enables the performer to live in one place with his/her family, and includes benefits such as health insurance and 401K programs.

Do you have any advice for aspiring tribute artists and entertainers in general?
Love what you do. Make it your passion, and work at your craft. Don't give up. Network.

What is Calvin Gilmore’s administrative role in both shows (The Carolina Opry and Tribute! the Concert)?
Calvin is the hands-on producer and director of The Carolina Opry. He establishes the show line-up, determines what material will be performed by each artist, where dance will occur, works closely with the sound and lighting engineers to achieve the look and sound that he wants. He has a capable production staff that work under him in these capacities, as well. While Calvin is very active in all of the large-strokes aspects of the business, the day-to-day business is managed and directed by the president of his company, David Olive, along with a talented staff of managers and accountants. Tribute! The Concert is under Calvin's production aegis, but is more directly overseen by Brad and Jennie Moranz (both former Broadway performers), and Jeff Gilmore, Calvin's son, who recently joined the company.

Calvin’s upcoming projects?
Calvin always has the new ideas popping, and has an exciting new television project in the works. He is also studying other markets, and it's possible that the company will make a foray in another direction within the next year. The timing for the release of Calvin's new CD depends on other events, such as the television series, and an announcement will be forthcoming. In the meantime, it is available only through the Carolina Opry and Tribute! giftshops, and at www.CarolinaOpry.com.


Many thanks to Gilmore Entertainment for this very informative interview. And..if you’re planning a trip to Myrtle Beach, be sure to add Calvin Gilmore’s Tribute! The Concert and The Carolina Opry to your list of shows to see!


All photos copyright Gilmore Entertainment 2004


For current schedule, ticket, and casting information:
www.TributeTheConcert.com
www.CarolinaOpry.com

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Calvin Gilmore pictured here during an appearance at the Grand Old Opry