The “Sky’s” The Limit For Blue Sky Riders

Courtesy:  3 Dream Records/Alternative Distribution Alliance

Courtesy: 3 Dream Records

Pop-country trio Blue Sky Riders’ debut album, Finally Home, is a good first effort from the band.  The trio—Kenny Loggins, Georgia Middleman, and Gary Burn—have crafted a record that may surprise fans on both the pop side and that of the country music world.  The album is dominated in large part by songs of love lost, gained, and hoped for.  Of course the songs don’t’ necessarily go exactly in that order in the grand scheme of things.  The recurring themes aside, what really makes the songs successful is the trio’s ability to interpret the lyrics and add a musical backing to each that really helps to illustrate each song’s emotion.  

Finally Home is a surprisingly solid pop-country record on its musical side. The album kicks off with a song that is best described as homage to classic country in ‘I’m a Rider (Finally Home).’  It’s driving music both in its lyrical and musical side.  The combination of the song’s lyrics and its driving (no pun intended) music conjures images of someone on the open road, much in the style of so many classic country songs.  Loggins and company sing in the song’s chorus, “I’m a rider/across the great unknown/That horizon/Don’t need to get no closer/Let the wheels keep runnin’/Cause wherever I go/Across the blue/Across the sky/I know why/I’m finally home.”  The combination of the song’s up-tempo music and its equally positive lyrics is sure to make this song a fan favorite. 

Just as interesting as the album’s opener is the third entry in its set list, ‘Little Victories.’  Georgia Middleman takes the reins on this song.  Somehow, the gentility of her voice brings about thoughts of Stevie Nicks.  She sings about the hope of life after losing love, which actually goes against the grain of so much country.  The song’s chorus is that counter to the pains of lost love.  She sings, “Take it from me/These little victories/Are all the heart needs.”  The victories in question are outlined through the song.  They are important to note.  But just as important to note is the ability of Middleman and the others to interpret these lyrics and craft a musical backing that does quite the job of heightening the song’s bittersweet emotion.  The music is sad as Middleman sings about a person being surrounded by torn photos and other negative memories.  Yet when she reaches the song’s more hopeful sections, its musical side does a good job of reflecting that more optimistic view, too. 

Finally Home offers its share of entertaining and enjoyable material for its audiences through its mix of music and lyrics, as already evidenced.  It pays homage to classic country road music in its opener.  It also offers some very emotional takes on the pains of love lost throughout its fifteen total tracks.  That’s not all that it offers listeners.  It also offers brighter moments in songs of love gained.  One of the best of that bunch comes in the record’s closing minutes in the song, ‘You Took The Words (Right Outta My Mouth).’  The song clocks in at less than three minutes.  But in those three minutes, the Reckless Kelly style song will get any listener moving and smiling.  It’s one of the album’s songs of love gained.  There’s a certain energy to the song that really gets across to listeners the vibe of a young couple in love for the very first time.  It’s one of those feelings to which anyone can relate.  And it’s that ability to relate both to the song’s positive music and lyrics that makes it one more nice addition to an album that any pop-country fan will enjoy.

Fans will get their chance to hear the songs mentioned here and more when the band takes the stage at the annual SXSW Music Festival in Austin, TX.  After this week’s performances, the band has tour dates scheduled in Oregon, Colorado, and California.  Fans can get a full tour rundown and even order its new album at its official website, http://blueskyriders.com.  Fans can also get the latest on the ban on its official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/BlueSkyRiders.

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.

Cookie Jar’s Christmas Collection Is Holiday Fun For The Whole Family

Courtesy:  Mill Creek Entertainment

Courtesy: Mill Creek Entertainment

Cookie Jar TV’s Christmas Cartoon Collection” is a fun grouping of cartoons for kids and parents alike.  This single disc collection includes ten holiday themed episodes of some of the best cartoons from Cookie Jar (formerly DiC Entertainment).  This new collection includes toons from both the 21st Century and some more classic toons, too.  It all starts with a pair of episodes from the kid friendly favorite, Busy World of Richard Scarry.  The first of the episodes sees an evil mastermind stealing stuff from all across New York City.  It’s up to one man to solve the mystery of who is lifting the legendary city.  In the second episode from the show, Santa’s in danger of not making his annual Christmas run after making a rough landing.  The runners on his sled have broken and even Mr. Fix-It can’t help.  So how is Santa to get his sled flying again?  Kids and their parents will have to find out on their own when they pick up this family friendly DVD. 

 Speaking of Santa, in another of this collection’s best episodes, Heathcliff has a mystery on his hands when the mailman tells him that his and his boy Iggy’s letters to Santa have been returned.  And theirs aren’t the only ones.  So Heathcliff and Spike head off to the North Pole to figure out why everybody’s letters are being returned.  The answer to the mystery is a surprise even to Santa himself.  Although being a holiday episode, everything is worked out in the end, and Heathcliff and Squish get a lift back to their homes from Santa as a thank you for getting all the letters returned to him.  Anyone who is old enough to remember when this classic cartoon originally aired will love not just the warm, fuzzy feelings that it will create, but also the general sense of nostalgia that it will instill, too. 

Heathcliff is just one of the cartoons that will make for a great sense of nostalgia on this new collection from Mill Creek Entertainment and Cookie Jar.  Viewers who grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons on ABC will remember a short lived cartoon called Bump in the Night.  This stop motion based toon featured a certain little monster named Mr. Bumpy.  In the show’s holiday episode presented here, Mr. Bumpy is awaiting the arrival of Santa.  He doesn’t want to just see Santa.  He wants to trap him and snag his bag of toys.  It’s not his first try at trapping Santa, either.  Every year that he’s tried, Mr. Bumpy’s plan has failed for one reason or another.  He actually does succeed this year.  But in the process, Mr. Bumpy learns what’s really important during the holidays.  Audiences will enjoy this positive message.  They’ll also appreciate the pop culture references peppered in throughout the episode.  From monster style takes on classic Hanukkah and Christmas songs to a tribute to the Indiana Jones franchise and a spoof of a famous Kenny Loggins song, there is plenty for both kids and adults to love in this episode.  Even veteran actor Cheech Marin joins in on the fun as the voice of a Spanish worm who helps Mr. Bumpy and Squish along the way.  It all comes together to make this episode one more piece of the overall presentation that makes the Cookie Jar Christmas Cartoon Collection such a great collection for families this and every holiday season.  It’s available now in stores and online.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.