Jefferson Grizzard’s Sophmore LP Another Solid “Modern Classic Rock” Record

Courtesy:  Back Porch Syndicate Records

Courtesy: Back Porch Syndicate Records

Singer/songwriter Jefferson Grizzard has released in his sophomore album Learning How To Lie a record that any fan of the “modern classic rock” genre will appreciate. The dozen tracks that make up his latest album instantly conjure thoughts of Bob Seeger, Joe Cocker, George Thorogood, and even Bruce Springsteen to a lesser extent. That’s thanks to the combination of his own vocal style set alongside From social commentary of sorts to songs of lost love and what would seem to be personal experiences, the songs on this album cover any number of topics. And the songs’ companion musical side serves to make each one all the better. One of the best examples of that social commentary comes in the form of the album’s title. The mournful yet powerful ballad ‘Lorelei’ is one of the best songs centered on a broken relationship. And ‘New Location’ comes across as a song that illustrates a personal experience. It would be interesting to hear from Grizzard himself on this infectious piece. Of course it and the other noted songs are but part of what makes Learning How To Lie a fit for any “modern classic rock” fan. There are nine other songs not noted here from which audiences will be able to choose their favorite(s). In hearing those other songs, those same listeners will agree that whether it be their first time hearing Grizzard’s music or not, this album is a solid work from start to finish.

One of the best examples of what makes Jefferson Grizzard’s latest record such a joy is its title track, which comes roughly halfway through the album. Grizzard writes in this bluesy rocker, “Lovers spasm up the stairs/Through cries of pleasure and despair/The pauper and the millionaire/Their fates are slowly fusing/Golems hide ‘neath plastic shields/Throw tear gas full of sex appeal/While riots make commercial reels/The cobbler slays the general/And the planet keeps on turning.” These musings come across as personal thoughts on the state of the world around us. “While riots make commercial reels” could be referencing the spots made by news agencies that tease the daily nightly newscasts. More often than not, those spots tend to feature violent stories such as riots. One look at the nightly newscasts across the “Big 4” networks proves that. He writes also that “Golems hide ‘neath plastic shields.” Anyone with any knowledge of the Lord of the Rings trilogy will get this reference. It would seem that he’s speaking metaphorically, saying that something ugly lies beneath a weak façade. Of course this could be wrong being that it is just this critic’s own interpretation. Regardless, the fact that Grizzard could create such thoughts (and likely discussions) centered on this song just goes to prove its importance on this record. Audiences can make their own decisions when they check out the song’s official video online via YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9cEtilwnn4.

‘Learning How To Lie’ is a prime example of why “modern classic rock” fans will appreciate and enjoy Jefferson Grizzard’s sophomore CD by the same name. It’s just one of so many songs on the record that boasts a solid groove sure to have audiences singing along. And its seeming social commentary only serves to make it even more enjoyable. On the exact opposite side of that musical coin, Grizzard exhibits his softer side on the ballad of lost love, ‘Lorelei.’ The words themselves are only part of what makes this song so hard hitting. The addition of gentle piano runs, alongside a chorus backing Grizzard and his band mates, and an orchestral arrangement make this song a solid tearjerker. Grizzard sings overtop of those additions, “Hear the engine roar/She’s got me running/From my own sweet home/She’s got me feeling all alone/With shots of shattered bones/That leave me stranded/Crash landed in a field/Where her voice, it never yields/You’ve got centuries to fill/With all these words you’ve crafted.” He paints a picture of a relationship that did not exactly end well. Again, with the addition of the orchestration and choir, it becomes all the more impactful for any listener.

Both ‘Learning How To Lie’ and ‘Lorelei’ are excellent examples of what Grizzard offers audiences on his latest full length release. If they aren’t enough for listeners to give this album a chance, then ‘New Location’ most definitely will be enough. Grizzard gets pretty descriptive here, writing about a person living in a situation that is less than even substandard for lack of better wording. He writes in this song, “All my books are burning/The carpet’s stained with tar/There’s Raptors rippin’ all the second strings off my guitars/Outside on my deck/The dogs are howlin’ at the moon/Jackie’s in the basement/Puttin’ fire to a spoon/I aint tryin’ to make no accusations/But I can’t lie/I need a new location.” The imagery only gets more disturbing from here. And it’s no better early on. That’s not a bad thing. As a matter of fact, the picture that he and his fellow musicians paint with their combination of lyrics and music make this one of the absolute highest of points. Audiences can download that song, the others noted here or any of the album’s other tracks now online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Learning-How-Explicit-Jefferson-Grizzard/dp/B00JRE0R6M/ref=sr_1_2?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1405712208&sr=1-2&keywords=jefferson+grizzard.

Jefferson Grizzard currently has no tour dates scheduled. However, after downloading the songs from his new album, audiences can keep up to date with all of the latest tour updates, news and more online at http://jeffersongrizzard.com and http://www.facebook.com/jeffersongrizzard. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Tempt’s Debut EP Is A Guilty Pleasure For Any Fan Of Big Hair And Even Bigger Rock

Courtesy:  Chipster PR

Courtesy: Chipster PR

Indie rock band Tempt recently released its debut EP Under My Skin.  The New York based band’s debut record is something special, especially for fans of bands such as Def Leppard, Journey, Poison and others of that ilk.  The band’s members—Zach Allen (vocals), Harrison Marcello (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Jimmi Kane (drums), and Zak Gross (bass, vocals)—are way too young to have grown up in the 80s.  But the sound that the band’s members collectively craft is one that displays such respect for the music of the era.  It truly makes Tempt quite the rarity in the current era of rock music.  The band transports audiences back to that era of big hair and equally big rock songs right off the top in the EP’s title track.  That pomp and bombast doesn’t let up even in the slightest as the band moves into the EP’s second song.  The song exhibits something of a Queensryche influence circa Rage for Order.  And on the EP’s penultimate track, the 8-s big hair influence keeps rolling before the band closes things with a standard 80s ballad-style song.  All things considered, anyone that is a fan of big rock and big hair will agree after hearing this EP that Under My Skin is one of the best of the year’s new EPs.

The members of Tempt look to be far too young to have grown up in the 80s.  That hasn’t stopped the band from crafting an EP loaded with music that sounds like it has been kept in a time capsule for ages and pulled right from that era of big rock and big hair.  This is obvious right off the top in the EP’s opener and title track.  If one didn’t know any better, one would think this was Def Leppard, Journey, Poison, or another major name act that had its heyday in that era.  Lyrically speaking, the song centers on the standard subject of a broken relationship.  What’s most interesting about it here is not just the standard over-the-top nature of the song, but [Zach] Allen’s vocals on the song.  He sings much in the same style as other big name vocalists from the day as he sings, “Stop and start many years ago/You was a looker that I/Got to know/Now I’m sitting here/The pain won’t die/With the letter saying you’ve left my side.”  There is just a certain quality to his vocal style.  And the song’s chorus brings about even more of that classic song style with the rest of the band joining in almost the same style as the aforementioned bands.  It is pure retro rock joy for fans of that sound.

The first impression that the band makes on its brand new EP is just the beginning of the retro rock joy for fans of hair metal.  ‘Use It Or Lose It’ comes second on the disc.  Those that are more familiar with bands from the era of hair metal will hear influences from the likes of Queensryche right from the song’s opening riff and the chorus style vocals.  The song is just as good a follow-up to ‘Under My Skin’ lyrically as it is musically.  That’s because it follows a similar lyrical theme.  Allen sings here about a woman that is bad news for all intents and purposes.  He sings in the song’s opening verse, “She’ll steal your soul/Drag your mind through pouring rain/Take you down into the dark/She don’t feel no pain/But if I turn my back/Would you turn your eyes on them/Are you ready/Let the games begin.”  He goes on to sing of the woman in question in the song’s second verse, “She’s a one-of-a-kind/A storm within a name/A natural disaster/But I want her just the same.”  As with the EP’s opener, the style of Allen’s vocals and the song’s musical side together make this song sound like something right out of the 80s.  And again, that taken into consideration fans of that sound will welcome this song in with arms and ears wide open.

Both ‘Under My Skin’ and ‘Use It Or Lose It’ are impressive additions to the debut EP from Tempt. The third of the EP’s tracks, ‘The Fight’ instantly conjures thoughts of Journey and other more melodic rock bands of their time. Its forward-driving sound and infectious chorus of “It’s the fight that makes us stronger, baby/We both know you can see” will have audiences singing along in no time whether it be in their vehicle on the road or in their own living room/bedroom. Along with the previously noted songs, this song is just as much an arena anthem as them and the EP’s closing number. Allen and his band mates are seemingly singing about the fight that we have within ourselves to not give up. In this case, it seems to be the fight to not give up on a relationship. If that be the case, then the song takes quite the upbeat turn from so many songs rooted in relationship issues. It actually argues that there is hope for a relationship that would otherwise be broken. That and the song’s musical side together make this one of the EP’s best numbers. And together with the EP’s previously noted tracks, it makes the EP even more worth the listen especially by anyone that grew up a fan of the era of big hair and big rock. Audiences can listen to the title track from Under My Skin now via Tempt’s official website at http://www.temptband.com/#!listen/c1x9v.

Under My Skin can be purchased online via iTunes and Amazon.com or at the band’s next live performance. The band is next scheduled to perform live Friday, July 18th at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, New York. Audiences can keep up with the band’s tour schedule and all of the band’s latest news online both through its official website, http://www.temptband.com and its official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/TemptBand. Audiences can also keep up with the latest from the band through its Twitter page, http://twitter.com/temptband and its Reverb Nation website, http://www.reverbnation.com/temptband. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Cason’s Latest LP Has Plenty Of “Heart”

Courtesy:  Plowboy Records

Courtesy: Plowboy Records

Singer/Songwriter Buzz Cason has spent some six decades making music. He started his career by starting the very first rock and roll band in Nashville, Tennessee. He has founded his own recording studio where greats such as Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and The Doobie Brothers have recorded hit songs among many other major names. He has also spent much of his career making his own music. He has continued making his own music up to this year. As a matter of fact, Cason released his latest record, Troubadour Heart earlier this year. The album is quite aptly titled considering Cason’s storied career. And for those audiences that might not be so familiar with Cason’s body of work, Troubadour Heart serves as quite the first impression, too. The album exhibits quite the number of influences. The laid back bluesy ‘Goin’ Back To Alabama’ presents an influence from the likes of Eric Clapton, Taj Mahal, and Robert Johnson. This applies both musically and lyrically. And then there’s the southern rock styling of ‘Something I Can Dance To.’ This song shows Cason’s Nashville roots and his rock leanings at the same time. Troubadour Heart’s penultimate tune ‘Cowboys & Indians’ exhibits more of Cason’s southern rock influences. Audiences more familiar with the history of modern rock will hear tinges of Eagles and even George Thorogood to a slightly lesser extent. There are also hints of The Grateful Dead and Dire Straits peppered throughout the course of Cason’s latest release. All of these influences together make Troubadour Heart one of 2014’s more interesting new records.

Troubadour Heart is one of this year’s more interesting records. That’s because of the range of influences exhibited throughout the course of the album’s fifteen total tracks. One prime example of this comes in the laid back bluesy ‘Goin’ Back To Alabama.’ The song—the album’s only blues-influenced piece—conjures thoughts of Eric Clapton, Taj Mahal, and even Robert Johnson thanks both to its music and lyrics. Cason sings of a subject reminiscing of his younger days in Alabama. He sings, “When my world/Comes unraveled/I know it’s time/For me to travel/Going ‘round the bend/Gettin’ in that Dixieland.” He goes on in the song’s chorus to sing in semi-celebratory fashion about going back to Alabama. The most interesting aspect of this song is that not only does it exhibit classic blues influence, but that guest singer Dan Penn actually sounds just like Eric Clapton. If one were to hear this song without knowing that it was Penn backing Cason here, one would swear that one was hearing Eric Clapton. The similarity between the pair’s vocals is incredible. That and the song’s easygoing lyrics and music show just why ‘Going’ to Alabama’ is such a solid example of what makes Troubadour Heart such an interesting listen.

‘Goin’ Back To Alabama’ is an excellent example of the diversity of Cason’s talent on his latest record. It is just one example of that talent, too. Another equally impressive example of that diversity is in the more up-tempo southern rock tinged song ‘Something I Can Dance To.’ It clearly reflects Cason’s early days growing up in Nashville with its sound. That up-tempo sound and the song’s lyrics—which are slightly sexually charged in their own right—make this song a perfect fit for so many country-western style bars and clubs. The energy exuded by this piece will have listeners up and dancing in no time regardless of whether or not there’s a formal dance floor.

‘Cowboys & Indians’ is the penultimate track included in Troubadour Heart’s fifteen total tracks. It is also one more fitting example of the diversity of music presented on this record. This song presents a pretty obvious country-western influence as Cason sings about a Romeo and Juliet style story. Cason’s story here presents the love story of a Native American woman falling in love with a seemingly White male. Despite the fact that one’s parents doesn’t approve of the other, the couple doesn’t let that stop them. They end up happily ever after and having their own family together. It’s a fun story and an equally fun final blast from Cason before he gently closes out the album with the aptly titled beachy tune ‘Pacific Blue.’ That final song is a fitting closer as it is one more song showing the pure vastness of Cason’s talent and influences. Having taken in this song and those mentioned before it, listeners will agree once more that Troubadour Heart is without a doubt one of the year’s most intriguing records.

Troubadour Heart is available now in stores and online. It can be downloaded via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HGTNKAK/ref=s9_simh_gw_p15_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1RG9YQMJV0C4KG1XBKVB&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1688200382&pf_rd_i=507846. His new album can also be purchased at any of his upcoming live shows. Cason is scheduled to perform live Wednesday, Jun e18th in Okoboji, IA. He also has a pair of shows scheduled in Nashville and one in Lincolnton, North Carolina. That concert is scheduled for Saturday, August 16th. Audiences can get a complete list of Buzz Cason’s live events and news online at http://www.facebook.com/buzzcasonmusic, http://www.buzzcason.com, and http://twitter.com/buzzcason. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Eagle Rock’s New Archived Live Dio Recording Gets Four Horns High

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Niji Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Niji Entertainment

Eagle Rock Entertainment may as well be its own radio station. That’s because it just keeps pumping out hit after hit, essentially putting on an ongoing clinic as to how to put out proper live recordings. And yes that bad pun was fully intended. Next week, Eagle Rock will put out yet another of its hugely impressive live recordings in the form of Dio: Live in London—Hammersmith Apollo 1993. This latest live Dio recording follows up Eagle Rock’s 2013 release of Dio: Finding The Sacred Heart—Live in Philly 1986. Being that this is not the first live Dio recording from Eagle Rock, it would be easy to compare the two shows. But that would be quite unfair as some seven years passed between the pair. Keeping that in mind, Dio: Live in London—Hammersmith Apollo 1993 is an impressive recording all its own. It is one more that any classic rock buff and any true hardcore Dio fan will appreciate. The first and most obvious reason for this is the show’s set list. This show, the last from the band’s 1993 “Strange Highways Tour,” boasts songs not just from Strange Highways but also from Dio’s time with Black Sabbath, Rainbow, and from his own solo career. The second reason that audiences will appreciate this recording is the band’s overall minimalist approach in its performance. And last but not least, audiences will appreciate the recording’s audio and video mix. All three factors come together to make this latest live recording from Eagle Rock just one more in a very long line of certified hits and another candidate to be one of the year’s best new live recordings.

The set list chosen by RJD and his band mates for this recording is key to the recording’s success. The set list chosen for this last show of the band’s 1993 European “Strange Highways Tour” balances songs from Strange Highways with numbers from Dio’s days in Black Sabbath, Rainbow and even his own solo career. Some of the best of the best from the concert include hits such as : ‘Stand Up and Shout”, “Holy Diver” and one of RJD’s biggest hits, “The Mob Rules” among so many others. Making the show even better, RJD and company—Vinny Appice (drums), Jeff Pilson (bass), Tracy G. (guitar), and Scott Warren (keyboards)—give the audience in attendance not one, not two, but three full encores—“Rainbow in the Dark”, “We Rock” and the fittingly titled final closer “Here’s to You.” Between the encores, the show’s primary fifteen song set and the bonus “Hangin’ WithThe Band” featurette, audiences of all ages get a show that is complete in every sense of the word in this recording. Not only is it complete, but it is a recording that any hard rock buff, classic rock buff and hardcore Dio fan will enjoy no less with every watch.

The set list and bonus companion featurette included in Dio: Live in London—Hammersmith Apollo 1993 more than show why any Dio loyalist and rocker in general will appreciate and enjoy this recording. Just as important to consider in this recording is the band’s minimalist approach. There was no pyro, no big gimmicks or anything else. Given, being an indoor concert, pyro was probably not permitted at the venue. But RJD and company showed throughout the show that it is possible to put on an amazing show without any of that regardless of whether the show is indoors or out. From the first note of “Stand Up and Shout” to the final strains of “Here’s To You,” the band’s music and its very on-stage presence far more than made up for any gimmicks that other lesser bands might have needed to entertain audiences. All these musicians needed was their music, the audience, and a wall of amps. Tracy G.’s searing guitar work, Jeff Pilson’s heavy bass lines and Vinny Appice’s solid timekeeping and chops together created so much energy among one another and the crowd. Add in RJD’s larger than life personality, and audiences will see for themselves just why these men are still so revered to this day and emulated by so many of today’s top rock acts. It’s yet one more reason that this concert has earned the titled of one of the best new live recordings of 2014. But wait! There’s more! Yes, that terrible pun was intended, too.

The set list and overall stage show put on by RJD and his band mates are two very important reasons that audiences will enjoy this latest live recording from Eagle Rock Entertainment. Last but not least to note of this recording is its collective audio and video mix. Audiences should note that while Dio: Live in London—Hammersmith Apollo 1993 has been presented on Blu-ray, it is in SD-Blu-ray format. That simply means that the show was obviously recorded originally in standard definition instead of high definition. Of course high definition wasn’t available in the early 1990s. Audiences will be able to clearly see the difference the quality of standard definition from high definition. At the same time, it goes to show just how far recording technology has come over the course of twenty-one years. Even more important to consider is that since this show was originally recorded on magnetic tape, it’s nice to see that the footage has held up and been transferred to DVD and Blu-ray so well.

The show’s final audio mix is just as impressive as the video mix. When one takes into consideration the size of the Hammersmith Apollo and its acoustics, one develops much more respect for those that manned the boards in the initial concert and those charged with making sure that the audio transferred over just as solidly as the video. Far too often, audiences take for granted that the video and audio mix of life recordings will be equal. But there are some cases in which that doesn’t happen. Luckily, that isn’t the case with this recording. It maintains the high standard established so many years ago by Eagle Rock Entertainment. That high quality audio and video alongside the band’s performance and set list complete this recording. They all come together to make Dio: Live in London—Hammersmith Apollo 1993 a definite candidate for a spot on this year’s list of the best new live recordings. It will be available next week and can be pre-ordered now via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Live-London-Hammersmith-Apollo-Blu-ray/dp/B00J0LGZYU/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1399495060&sr=1-1&keywords=Dio.

More information on Dio: Live in London—Hammersmith Apollo 1993 and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online now at http://www.eagle-rock.com and http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Natchez Burning Is One Of The Year’s Best New Novels

Courtesy:  HarperCollins/William Morrow

Courtesy: HarperCollins/William Morrow

Good books are easy to find.  Truly good books are far more difficult to find.  That’s especially the case considering the number of DIY books, political mudslingers and otherwise forgettable literary works that populate book stores today.  Next Tuesday, one of those rare truly good books will see the light of day when author Greg Iles’ new book Natchez Burning will be released.  Iles’ latest book and his first in five years, Natchez Burning is not the shortest of books.  It comes in at an astonishing 788 pages.  That’s not counting the book’s postscript.  That’s just the story itself.  It is a long story.  But it is a story that audiences will enjoy regardless of their familiarity with Iles’ body of work.  The story contained within the pages of this book is the crux of the book.  It centers on former prosecutor turned mayor of Natchez, Mississippi Penn Cage.  Readers that are familiar with Iles’ books will recognize Cage’s name as he has been the subject of previous books penned by Iles.  Iles’ writing is another reason that readers will enjoy reading this book.  This encompasses the story’s pacing, transitions and other related aspects.  Both elements work hand-in-hand to make Iles’ first book in five years quite the welcome return.  It is Iles at the top of his game.

Natchez Burning is the first book from Greg Iles in five years.  The main reason for that is that he had been involved in a terrible auto accident so long ago.  His fans had no idea if he would ever write another book as his injuries were so extensive.  Fans will agree in reading his book that as lengthy as it is, Iles did not lose a single step.  If anything maybe it was a blessing in disguise.  That’s because this book presents Iles at the top of his game.  The first way that it shows this is through the story itself.  Iles’ story is one that has been done before countless times by countless other storytellers.  There’s no getting around that.  The whole plot centers around the story of a man forced to face a dark family secret when his father is accused of a brutal decades old crime.  It forces the man, Penn Cage (who is also the subject of previous books by Iles) to decide between family loyalty and the truth.  What sets Iles’ story apart from that told by those that have told similar stories before him is the execution of his story.  His story is more believable than so many others because it is grounded in reality without being unnecessarily gritty and dark. That’s because he uses real events.  He highlights in the story’s opening sequence, the horrendous acts that were committed against the black community in the civil rights era.  And the concept of group of hard liners breaking off from an extremist group to make its own even more hardcore extremist group is just as believable.  These aren’t the only believable elements of the story.  They are but a small sample of how much Iles gets right throughout the course of his new story. Fans of Dick Wolf’s beloved Law & Order franchises or fellow author John Grisham’s books will most definitely appreciate the book especially for this reason.

Iles gets plenty right throughout the course of his story. Within the context of the story, the pacing and transitions are used expertly. This may seem to some like a minor matter. But there are authors out there who struggle to get both of these story elements in balance with one another even today. That greatly detracts from the suspension of disbelief. The end result is the ever increasing urge to simply close said authors’ books. Iles on the other hand uses his pacing to make his story the proverbial edge-of-your-seat story even from what turns out to be the story’s flashback opening sequence. As the story progresses, Iles gives readers clear, concise transition points from one scene to the next, making it easier to follow the story. This helps to heighten the story’s tension and in turn keep readers fully engaged from beginning to end, regardless of how long it might take one reader or another to finish the book. It’s all done so well that readers can see each scene play out in their minds just as vividly as if it were on the big screen. Who knows, with any luck, it may find itself begin adapted for the big screen.

The overall writing style that Iles used throughout the course of Natchez Burning is just as important to the overall enjoyment of the book as the story itself. Every part of the writing that went into making Natchez Burning work did its part to make the story as a whole more than deserving of its applause. Together with Iles’ execution of the story, the two factors together make up for the book’s extensive length. As a matter of fact, both factors together make Natchez Burning a book that readers won’t want to put down. Iles has succeeded that strongly in his return. Simply put, Greg Iles’ new book proves to be one of the first must read pieces of the year.

Iles will hit the road on a book tour promoting Natchez Burning beginning April 29th at Lemuria Bookstore in Jackson, Mississippi. His most current book signing schedule and more is available online now at http://www.facebook.com/GregIlesAuthor and http://gregiles.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

The Okee Dokee Brothers Release Details For New Album

Courtesy:  Okee Dokee Music/Redeye

Courtesy: Okee Dokee Music/Redeye

Justin Lansing and Joe Mailander (a.k.a. The Okee Dokee Brothers) return this Summer with their brand new album.

Through The Woods, the duo’s second adventure album, will be released Tuesday, May 20th. It will be released in a special CD/DVD combo pack for SRP of $19.99. The album follows the duo’s journey along the Appalachian Trail and reflects the music that dominates the regions through which Lansing and Mailander crossed along their journey. It features guest appearances by some of the biggest names in  Americana and folk music including: Hubby Jenkins (Carolina Chocolate Drops), four-time Grammy award winner David Holt (Doc Watson/O Brother, Where Art Thou?), Rosie Newton, and two-time Grammy award winners Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer.

The companion DVD that comes with Through The Woods includes a forty-minute film that documents Lansing and Mailander’s trek. It includes educational segments, bloopers from the duo’s trip, music videos, and interviews with local mountain musicians that the duo met along the course of its journey. All hiking, songwriting, and camping footage was filmed on location along the Appalachian Mountains. It features the music of David Holt, Elizabeth LaPrelle, and Sparky and Rhonda Rucker.

More information on Through The Woods and other Okee Dokee Brothers albums, along with tour news and more on The Okee Dokee Brothers is available online now at http://www.facebook.com/okeedokeebros and http://www.okeedokee.org. Through The Woods can be pre-ordered now through the Okee Dokee Brothers’ official online store at http://www.okeedokee.org and via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Through-Woods-Appalachian-Adventure-Album/dp/B00IKCLHPW/ref=sr_1_2?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1397260142&sr=1-2&keywords=The+Okee+Dokee+Brothers. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Fozzy Announces New Tour, Single, Album, Book

Fozzy will return with a new album this Summer. In celebration, the band has announced that it will hit the road in support of its upcoming album this Spring and Summer beginning with a performance at the annual 98 Rockfest in Tampa, Florida. The band’s current tour schedule is listed below.

FOZZY – 2014 SPRING TOUR

98 ROCKFEST (with AVENGED SEVENFOLD, VOLBEAT, LACUNA COIL and more) 
APRIL
25: Tampa, FL – Tampa Bay Times Forum

WELCOME TO ROCKVILLE (with AX7, THE CULT, VOLBEAT and more)
APRIL
26: Jacksonville, FL – Metropolitan Park

CAROLINA REBELLION (with A7X, ROB ZOMBIE, VOLBEAT, SEETHER and more)
MAY
03: Charlotte, NC – Charlotte Motor Speedway

MAY
05: Springfield, VA – Empire

06: Pittsburgh, PA – Altar *

07: Lancaster, PA – Chameleon Club **

08: Rochester, NY – Main Street Armory *

09: Poughkeepsie, NY – The Loft at the Chance ***

10: Hampton Beach, NH - Hampton Beach Casino *

15: Arlington Heights, IL – Home Bar ****

16: Pontiac, IL – Freakster’s Roadhouse

* with BUCKCHERRY
** with REV THEORY, GEMINI SYNDROME & EYES SET TO KILL
*** with KYNG
**** with HEAVEN’S BASEMENT

ROCK ON THE RANGE (with A7X, SLAYER, CHEVELLE, FUEL and more) 
MAY
17: Columbus, OH – Columbus Crew Stadium

More dates to be announced soon…

 

Also in anticipation of the band’s new as-yet untitled album, Fozzy—Chris Jericho (vocals), Rich Ward (guitar), Billy Grey (guitar), Paul DiLeo (bass), and Frank Fontsere (drums)—will release ‘Lights Out’, the album’s lead single April 29th.

Courtesy:  Century Media Records

Courtesy: Century Media Records

Jericho discussed ‘Lights Out’ in a recent interview, noting that it “represents a brand new color in the FOZZY spectrum.” He went on to say of the song that it is “Dark, sexy, sleek, dirty, heavy and catchy as f*ck, this song turns a whole new page in hard rock history – it doesn’t matter if you dance to it in a club or mosh to it in a pit, ‘Lights Out’ will make you move!”

Along with the debut of the band’s new single and album, it has also been announced that Chris Jericho’s latest autobiography, The Best In The World: At What I Have No Idea will be released this fall. The sequel to his New York Times best sellers A Lion’s Tale and Undisputed, his latest book is scheduled to be released October 13th, 2014. It can be pre-ordered now via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Best-World-What-Have-Idea/dp/1592407528/ref=la_B001JSHII4_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1396335691&sr=1-1.

If all of this isn’t enough, fans also have Jericho’s podcast, “Talk is Jericho.” His podcast airs every Wednesday and Friday. Jericho interviews guests from across the entertainment world. Those that have already appeared on “Talk is Jericho” are: Howie Mondel (America’s Got Talent, Deal or No Deal, Bobby’s World), ghost hunter Jeff Belanger, Dave Mustaine (Megadeth), Ace Frehley (KISS), and M.Shadows (Avenged Sevenfold). “Talk is Jericho” has already reached the top spot in seven nations around the world and is one of PodcastOne Network’s leading programs. Audiences can listen to his show and download episodes at http://podcastone.com/Talk-Is-Jericho.

Fans can follow the latest developments on Fozzy’s upcoming record, its tour, and more online at http://www.facebook.com/FozzyRock, http://www.fozzyrock.com, http://myspace.com/fozzytour, and https://twitter.com/FOZZYROCK. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

May & Ellis’ Candlelight Concerts Recording Another Huge Hit For Eagle Rock

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision/Eagle Records

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision/Eagle Records

Eagle Rock Entertainment and its visual division, Eagle Vision, have been at the front of the line in live recordings in recent years thanks to releasing so many big, bombastic concerts on DVD and Blu-ray. So it goes without saying that Brian May & Kerry Ellis: The Candlelight Concerts is quite the departure for Eagle Rock and Eagle Vision. That’s not a bad thing, either. While it features Queen guitarist Brian May alongside one of the most powerful voices in Broadway’s modern history, the references to Queen are kept to a minimum throughout the course of the concert. That is the most important factor in what makes this latest release from Eagle Rock and Eagle Vision so worth the time. Another reason that audiences will appreciate this new recording is its audio and video mix. The high quality video and audio mix (both on the Blu-ray and CD) maintain Eagle Rock and Eagle Vision’s long-held standard of releasing only the best quality concerts to audiences. And making everything complete for this latest recording is its packaging. Brian May & Kerry Ellis: The Candlelight Concerts has been made available to consumers in a double-disc Blu-ray/CD combo pack in a single package. This allows audiences to take in the performance in whole without having to choose which one they would want more. It may be a slightly higher price. But in the long-term, it’s more cost effective for those wanting the full concert experience. All of the factors noted here make Brian May & Kerry Ellis: The Candlelight Concerts yet another huge success from the leader in live recordings.

Brian May & Kerry Ellis: The Candlelight Concerts is not a Queen concert. That’s not to say that there are no Queen songs featured throughout the course of the set’s CD and Blu-ray. As a matter of fact, some of Queen’s biggest hits including ‘We Will Rock You’, ‘Somebody To Love’, ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ and ‘No-One But You (Only The Good Die Young)’ are part of the performance. But by and large, this performance features covers of other songs, and even a couple original tunes. One of the most powerful of the performance’s moments comes in Ellis’ cover of ‘The Way We Were.’ The song, made popular by singer/actress Barbara Streisand in the 1973 movie by the same name. As Ellis notes before performing her take on the song, it’s more commonly performed with a full orchestral backing, even in the movie’s soundtrack. It gains a whole new identity in this completely stripped down setting. On the other end of the spectrum, May and Ellis presented a stripped down song in ‘The Kissing Me Song’ that absolutely cries out for a full band setting. Any drummers and percussionists out there will agree with this drummer that there is a stunning polyrhythmic drum track just waiting to come out in this piece. One can even hear a tambourine part echoing in the background. Making the song even more interesting is that it is an original piece, instead of a cover. It would be interesting to see if the pair ever re-works the tune for a full band setting. Moving on, there is at least one more high point in this performance in terms of the show’s set list that audiences will appreciate. That last high point is the duo’s take on ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love.’ Despite being in a stripped down setting, it is just as enjoyable in this setting as on record. And experiencing the audience’s enthusiastic reaction to the song makes it all the more enjoyable for viewers watching it in their homes. It has just as much energy here as in any other setting. As enjoyable as this moment is, it isn’t the last of the show’s many high points. There are plenty more moments from which audiences will get to choose when they purchase or order the combo pack for themselves.

The set list chosen for this penultimate performance of May and Ellis’ “By Candlelight Tour” is central to the enjoyment of this recording. Those hoping for a stripped down Queen set will be sadly disappointed since it isn’t a Queen set. For those more open-minded, they will deeply appreciate the variety of songs included in the show. The songs would be nothing without the expert work of those behind the cameras and soundboard. Eagle Rock Entertainment and Eagle Vision have maintained a high standard for their live recordings for some time. And this recording is no exception to that rule. The picture and sound are both crystal clear. And the angles used in the camera work expertly capture the emotion of both performers in the rather intimate setting. It adds so much depth to the overall presentation, making it even more worth checking out.

The set list and overall production values of Brian May & Kerry Ellis: The Candlelight Concerts are both pivotal elements to the overall presentation of this recording. Both go hand in hand in making the whole thing worth the time and money. There is still at least one more element worth noting about this set. That aspect is the recording’s packaging itself. Eagle Rock, Eagle Vision, and Eagle Records have come together to make the set available to the masses not as separate release, but as one entire package. On the surface, this might drive up the price of the set a bit. But in the long run, it actually saves money and the time trying to decide which is more important. Eagle Rock is actually serving its customers by combining the CD and Blu-ray into a full double-disc set. What’s more, each of the two discs gets its own spot on either side of the Blu-ray’s case. That saves space and in turn, helps to keep the cost of the set down. And that combined with the show’s outstanding production values, and equally outstanding set list makes it one more huge success from the company that more than deserves the title of being the leader in live recordings.

Brian May & Kerry Ellis: The Candlelight Concerts is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Candelight-Concerts-Live-Montreux-Blu-ray/dp/B00I60VY56/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1396512611&sr=1-1&keywords=brian+may+kerry+ellis. More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment, Eagle Vision, and Eagle Records is available online at http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt and http://www.eagle-rock.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

This Is Your Life Is Not Just Another Throw-Away Tribute Album

Courtesy:  Rhino Records

Courtesy: Rhino Records

Tribute albums are a dime a dozen. So many tribute albums are released each year that one can’t help but feel that the labels that release them care more about their bottom line than about actually celebrating said artists being given tribute. That being the case, one can’t help but wonder why This Is Your Life, the new tribute album to iconic rock front man Ronnie James Dio, would be any different from those records. The answer to that is not a simple one. One reason that this tribute album stands out is the list of performers and bands that recorded songs for the compilation. It’s a who’s who of hard rock from the past, present, and even future of the genre. Another reason that this compilation stands out is its track listing. This record boasts some of the most beloved songs of RJD’s career. And last but definitely not least important to consider in this record is the fact that it isn’t just a means for the label distributing it to make money. It actually doubles as a fundraiser for RJD’s Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund. So it’s actually a record crafted to essentially help give back. How many bands, artists, groups, etc. can say that they have crafted an entire album simply to raise funds for charity? That–along with the list of songs and performers, bands, etc. on this album–makes This Is Your Life an album that stands well above the rest of the otherwise throw-away albums claiming to be tribute albums.

Courtesy:  Rhino Records

Courtesy: Rhino Records

The primary aspect of This Is Your Life that makes it stand out against all of the other tribute albums out there is the list of performers drafted to record songs for the record. The list of performers drafted for this record is a who’s who of hard rock’s past, present, and even future. It wasn’t just a mish-mash of bands, artists and groups tossed together. Everybody tapped to record for this tribute record is either a counterpart to RJD or someone that grew up idolizing him and his talents. Veterans such as Anthrax, Motorhead, Scorpions, Biff Byford, and Rob Halford perform alongside younger acts such as Adrenaline Mob, Killswitch Engage, and Halestorm over the course of the record’s fourteen total tracks. That collection of bands and artists singing Dio’s hits is in itself a musical history lesson. It introduces younger audiences that might be more familiar with the latter grouping of bands and artists to the veterans and to the music of Dio. To that extent, This Is Your Life quickly earns major points. Even more points come from the sampling of Dio’s music in question chosen for this compilation.

The list of bands, artists, and groups tapped to record RJD’s music for This Is Your Life is in itself a major boon for the record. As noted, it isn’t just a mish-mash of bands, artists, and groups. It is a collection of bands, group, and artists that played alongside Dio during his career, and those that have come since, growing up with the music of Ronnie James Dio. In short, it’s a collection of individuals that have the utmost respect for Dio and his music. Speaking of that music, the songs chosen to be included on this record are another part of the whole that makes it so enjoyable for listeners. Every song on this record is a classic in its own way. From the more well-known pieces such as ‘The Mob Rules’, ‘Neon Knights’ and ‘Holy Diver’ to slightly lesser known songs such as ‘Straight Through The Heart’, Egypt (The Chains Are On’, and ‘Temple of the King’ This Is Your Life does quite the job of chronicling the career of a man that was and is still even in death, one of the greatest vocalists and performers in the history of hard rock.

The music and performers chosen for This Is Your Life are both key components of the success of the album. As important as they are to the success of the record, there is still one central aspect of the recording that makes it so worth picking up. That aspect is the fact that a certain portion of the sales of the album will go to benefit Dio’s Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund, which was established by Dio’s wife Wendy Dio. Bands, groups and artists go out on tour every year or they take part in fundraising concerts. How many artists can say they were part of a recording project that was also meant as a way to pay tribute to one of their own, too? It’s just like bringing home a hard rock festival without having to pay the exorbitant prices for tickets, souvenirs, sodas and more. And at the same time, audiences that purchase the album will actually be helping to fund an organization that works to research and promote awareness of cancer, as well as educate people about early detection in hopes of one day stopping it.

This Is Your Life is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Ronnie-James-Dio-This-Your/dp/B00IACUO8S/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1396440364&sr=1-1&keywords=dio+this+is+your+life and can be downloaded via iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/ronnie-james-dio-this-is-your/id829325064.

More information on Ronnie James Dio, This Is Your Life and other RJD releases is available online at http://www.facebook.com/OfficialRonnieJamesDio and http://www.ronniejamesdio.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Count On Count Me In! To Be One Of 2014′s Best Children’s Albums

Courtesy:  Waldmania PR/Little Rockers Music

Courtesy: Waldmania PR/Little Rockers Music

The Little Rockers Band is back with yet another fun, family friendly record in Count Me In!, the band’s latest release.  The new album, the band’s second, is certain to have young listeners on their feet in no time flat and keep them dancing right to the end of the album’s closer.  The album’s musical and lyrical mix is one more that proves that more often than not, children’s albums actually bear more originality and creativity than even any album for grown-ups.  Not convinced?  The band’s twist on Old McDonald puts Mick Jagger in the place of the beloved elderly farmer in ‘Old Mick Jagger.’  And the Country-Western feel of ‘Wild Wild West’ will take young listeners back to the days of cowboys traversing the open plains.  If that’s still not enough to convince listeners, ‘Morning Train’ will do just the trick.  Just like ‘Wild Wild West’ it will entertain young listeners both for its musical and lyrical content.  There are plenty of other songs from which parents, teachers, and students can choose on this album as proof of what makes it so enjoyable.  They will be able to do so when the album is released nationwide on April 15th.

Most young listeners likely don’t have the slightest clue as to the identity of The Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger.  That being the case, one can’t help but applaud the husband and wife duo of Chris and Jessie Apple for including the song, ‘Old Mick Jagger’ on this latest release.  It is just one example of the duo’s continued originality on its sophomore release.  Chris and Jessie—and their band mates Liam Moroney (lead guitar) and Billy Papenberg (drums)—replace everybody’s favorite elderly farmer with ever y rock purist’s favorite front man.  Jessie sings in the song, set to the tune of ‘Old McDonald’, Old Mick Jagger had a band/yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah/And in his band he had a guitar/yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah/With a strum strum here/And a strum strum there/yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah.  Of course the song continues on in this fashion until each member of the band is covered.  Kids will love it because it is all set to the classic children’s tune.  Parents will love the inclusion of the guitar riff from the Stones’ hit song, ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ and the kid friendly lyrics.  It’s a wonderful way to get young listeners started early on as fans of the single greatest band in the modern history of rock.  No other children’s act out there today has done what The Little Rockers Band has done here.   And it serves to prove even more just how original this record stands.

If ‘Old Mick Jagger’ doesn’t convince listeners as to the originality and creativity of The Little Rockers Band on its new record, maybe ‘Wild Wild West’ will win over some listeners.  This song will take listeners of any age back to a better time.  It will take them back to a time of cowboys and cowgirls riding the open plains, blue skies and stars over their heads instead of massive skyscrapers.  Chris Apple perfectly paints the picture of that age along with this band mates, singing, “If I could be whatever I choose/I think I’d like to be/A cowboy from the wild wild west/Nothing to lose/My trusty steed and me/No fences/No match upon my vest/I’d like to find a happy home that’s right for me.”  Jessie follows singing about the joys of being a cowgirl in the Wild Wild West.  The whole time, the band offers listeners an old school almost Gene Autry style country western musical vibe.  The two together make this song another wonderful addition to The Little Rockers Band’s new album.

Both ‘Wild Wild West’ and ‘Old Mick Jagger’ exhibit the creativity and originality of The Little Rockers Band on its new album.  There is at least one more example of that originality and creativity that listeners will love on this album.  That song is ‘Morning Train.’  The song’s semi-rockabilly feel and lyrics make the song a complete joy.  Mr. and Mrs. Apple sing about the sights and sounds of a train station early in the morning.  From the sound of the trains’ whistles to the trains clickety-clacking in and out of the station to the hustle and bustle on the platform, it’s all there.  The duo paints a vivid picture of a single day at a train station with its words alone. The Apples’ band mates add their own touch to the song, too.  The rhythm of guitarist Liam Moroney makes the musical picture even more vivid.  His driving energy helps to make seeing the trains coming and going even easier.  Drummer Billy Papenberg works with Moroney to make the visual even clearer.  Altogether, The Little Rockers Band show once more in this song just how creative and original it is once more.  There are many more songs throughout this record that exhibit the band’s creativity and originality.  Listeners will get to hear them for themselves when the band releases its new album April 15th.  It can be ordered online via Amazon, iTunes, and the band’s official website, http://www.LittleRockersMusic.com.  Listeners can also go to the band’s official website to check out all the latest news from the band, as well as sign up for classes and more.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.