Written By Katharine W. Poole
Photography by Cilene Bosch
It may seem this review is a lane shy and a token short, but Tuesday night Kings Bowl America delivered a retro royal venue filled with high dollars for High Hopes. On only it’s second night open, this new upscale bowling alley-meets listening room-meets sports bar-meets gourmet kitchen became the host of one of Nashville’s most acclaimed early education organizations, High Hopes Development Center.
As the red carpet rolled out at 5:15, guests were greeted by cheerful staff and escorted every step of the way into a room that transformed daylight into night Hollywood style. The bustling main room sports 16 lanes for bowlers, an elegant bar with exceptional bartenders, (ask for Patrick,) and a game room with multiple game tables. Gaming includes a knock out four player Air Hockey table with a retro flair. The fun continues to the right and left – no matter where one turns there is something exceptional that meets the eye – a place for all ages!
The VIP pre-event listening room concert kicked off the night in The Whiskey Room, a perfect songwriter’s back bar, where rustic meets crystal and the sound is sweet. The private concert – hosted by Grammy, CMA & ACM winning singer/songwriter Tim Nichols – who brought with him some of Nashville’s finest to perform was a perfect start to a seamless event. The sublime and powerful Jamie O’Neal, who has co-written with Tim, opened the night with the soulful There is No Arizona – the first single from her debut album in 2000. Her stellar singing voice filled the room with sultry promises and brought tears to audience eyes. As she thanked the guests, Ms. O’Neal apologized to her bowling team in advance, bringing on comedic relief, dubbing herself “Gutter Ball Gertie.”
Next up, Platinum Artist Jo Dee Messina performing Heads Carolina, Tales California, which she and Tim cowrote, had the crowd singing along. Decked in a Country striped duster wrapped over the classic little black dress and kick-ass Rocker boots, her stunning style and joyous presence captivated the crowd. As she left the stage Jo Dee mingled and graciously spent time with guests.
Phil Vassar took the stage on keyboards with guitar player Jeff Smith, singing a beautiful harmonic version of his first Number One, Just Another Day In Paradise. When Tim prompted him to play on, Mr. Vassar transitioned to a bluesy keys intro leading the audience to believe a song was forthcoming and then joked “My mind is a blank.” With a smile he called Ms. Messina up again to perform their cowrite I’m Alright. The energy and lightheartedness of this trio lifted the crowd up in song again as Jo Dee kicked up her heals and sang with perfection.
Lee Greenwood then slid behind the keyboards and delivered a most stunning Jazz/Blues rendition of Dave Loggins’s Please Come To Boston; the lyrical piano riffs drifting just like the “drifter’s world” of the song. Mr. Greenwood expertly took a moment to speak to the “giving heart of Tennessee” and the High Hopes organization. “If you haven’t visited it – do it!” He exclaimed in praise of their exceptional work. He blended his short, poignant speech with the piano intro to his signature song: God Bless The U.S.A. – and the room became American proud in voice and stance as he concluded the opening Writers Round.
Passage to the main event was done with expertise. It is clear this self professed “family” of staff is exceptional. Kings is the new face of events in Franklin. When you check it out – be sure to connect with GM Christopher Santos and Events Coordinator Joy Williams for a behind the scenes look at their incredible establishment. The Draft Room incorporates gourmet twists on classic meals with a sports bar feel. The hidden gems – such as the private 4 Lane Room – up-the-bar for bowling creating the perfect blend of fun and elegance.
After the opening preview, guests moved to the main room with tokens for gaming, delicious scratch-made appetizers and a Celebrity Bowling Tournament. The house rocked with uplifting music and dancing staff. The event was a smashing success, with a second round of late night musical performances, including the Female Artist trio Post Monroe and Country Music Duo The Warren Brothers. The most hopeful headline of the night: 100 percent of the monies raised went to High Hopes.