Interview with Will James, Executive Director of the Gram Parsons Petition Project

By Dave Carew

Earlier this week, Will James confirmed that Nashville will again this year be a site of Gram InterNational, the annual concert publicizing the grass-roots effort to induct the legendary Gram Parsons into the County Music Hall of Fame.  Will told Underground Nashville that the concert will be at the Exit/In on Friday, November 2, the Friday closest to Gram Parsons’ birthday (November 5).

In this exclusive interview with Underground Nashville, Will offers more detail about the upcoming Nashville concert, and what impact the annual event has had, thus far, on the movement to induct Gram Parsons into the Hall.

UNDERGROUND NASHVILLE:  Do you have any update regarding artists confirmed for the show?

WILL JAMES:  It’s still early, but Donna Frost—who was phenomenal last year and also helped out a lot with MC duties and general support—will be there again. And I’ve just booked Casey James Prestwood and the Burning Angels. I’m not guaranteeing anyone else this early. I will say that Walter Egan of “Magnet & Steel” and “Hearts on Fire” fame has been at all four Nashville Gram InterNationals so far, last year with the latest Burritos incarnation, and I can’t imagine one without him. But keep in mind that I like to bring in new talent every year. It’s a bit like American Idol, Americana style.

UN: This will be the fifth year in a row that Gram International will be held in Nashville. What impact have these concerts had to date?

WJ:  The concerts have brought attention to the Petition to Induct [at GramParsonsPetition.com], which started the entire movement for me, by getting mention in both local and national press. For example, Paste Magazine noticed and highlighted the petition, and locally we’ve been a “Critic’s Pick” in the Nashville Scene several years in a row, as well as receiving notice in The Tennessean and Shake! Magazine. Combined with constant social media mention, I feel we’ve made some headway toward our goal of induction. Incidentally, we’re closing in on 7,300 signatures on the online petition, with a goal of 10,000 by the 40th year since Gram’s death, which will be September 19 next year.

I’ve always assumed this to be a long-term process, but I do believe we’ve had a great short-term multiplier effect on Gram Parsons’ legacy. Every day I hear from new folks that never had heard of Gram before—many young kids—and just about all are, shall I say, very dedicated.

UN:  Is there anything else you’d like to convey at this time about Gram InterNational?

WJ:  I have a new WordPress site where you can find a lot, with links to my other sites, etc. It’s at GramInternational.Wordpress.com. There’s a blog there that I wrote on Gram’s songwriting that has received a lot of attention. Mostly, I’d just like to invite everyone out to the show, and join us for an evening that is always a total blast for performers and audience alike. See you there!


To sign the online petition to induct Gram Parsons into the Country Music Hall of Fame, visit GramParsonsPetition.com.

For additional information on Gram InterNational, visit GramInternational.Wordpress.com

David M. (Dave) Carew is writer/editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance book editor, publicist, and advertising/marketing/public relations writer.

 

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