ShipRocked Cruise’s Fourth Year Its Biggest Yet

The annual ShipRocked cruise has officially wrapped.  This year’s cruise was the biggest yet for the annual event.  It saw a total of nearly 2,500 people on board the MSC Poesia.  The cruise featured the likes of:  Godsmack, Five Finger Death Punch, Korn, P.O.D., Sevendust, Geoff Tate, and a slew of other acts.  It was sponsored by General Suns, and was fueled by Monster Energy. 

The cruise’s record breaking attendance was just one high point for this year’s event.  Along with the band lineup and record breaking attendance, the cruise’s annual Cancer Sucks charity auction raised some $70,000 for cancer research.  The auction featured one-of-a-kind memorabilia from bands on both this year’s cruise and those bands who took part in past cruises. 

Plans are already in the works for next year’s ShipRocked cruise.  A pre-sale for returning guests will begin soon.  For all the latest on next year’s ShipRocked cruise and to sign up for the ShipRocked newsletter, audiences can go online to http://www.getshiprocked.com, http://www.facebook.com/GetShipRocked, or http://twitter.com/ShipRocked

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, 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 news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Rock on the Range Expands For 2013

Courtesy: MSO PR/Ashton-Magnuson Media

Organizers of the annual Rock on the Range music festival have made a big announcement.  The festival will expand in 2013.  The festival has typically been a two day event.  Next year, it will expand, adding one more day.  Organizers have announced that the festival will be a weekend long event, running from Friday, May 17th to Sunday, May 20th.  The festival will remain at the Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, OH. 

The official lineup for next year’s festival is still being firmed up at this time.  However, reports hint that some new very big name acts have been added to next year’s festival.  Pre-sale tickets for Weekend Field and Weekend Stadium will go on sale next Monday at 10am.  VIP packages, Hotel and ticket bundles, and Campaign packages will also be available.  They will be available beginning next Thursday, November 29th 10am.  Information on all packages as well as general admission ticket pre-sales is available online at http://www.rockontherange.com.  Fans can also keep up with all the latest news announcements regarding next year’s festival at http://www.rockontherange, and on the festivals’ official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/rockontherange and via Twitter at http://twitter.com/rockontherange

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, 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 news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

New Hotel Lets Guests Get Away Without Getting Too Far Away

If there’s one thing that Los Angeles is known for, it’s the high class hotels and busy lifestyle.  So who would have ever thought that it would be possible to have a taste of the country life right in the heart of one of the country’s biggest cities?  Now anyone visiting L.A. and the surrounding area can get just that thanks to the new Farmer’s Daughter Hotel.

The Farmer’s Daughter Hotel is in the heart of Los Angeles, within walking distance of the famed CBS Studios (where The Price Is Right is taped each day).  It’s also very close to Museum Row and the pedestrian friendly region of 3rd Street and Melrose.  The hotel mixes high class with country living all into one setting, letting guests get away without being too far away from it all.

And for those worried about The Farmer’s Daughter Hotel being too high class, the hotel offers guests a little video to show that things there are more laid back than one might think.  To get an idea of what to expect at The Farmer’s Daughter Hotel, just check out the link here, http://www.youtube.com/user/farmersdaughterla.

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, 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 news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Black Taxi’s New LP Good For Fans Of 80’s Music

Courtesy: Black Taxi

New York based Black Taxi has been making a lot of noise in the underground scene for a number of years.  The band has earned a “Webby” award for the video for the song, ‘Shoeshine’ off of its 2009 album, “Things of That Nature.”  The band started off 2012 in positive style, too.  The band debuted the first single from its newest album, “We Don’t Know Any Better” on AOL.  The band’s new album is good fodder for anyone that is a fan of old school 80’s acts the likes of The Talking Heads and Men at Work or for more modern acts such as Cake or The Killers.  There’s even a semi Pink Floyd style piece and some Franz Ferdinand influenced music on this disc, too.

Speaking of ‘Hand’, this is one of the album’s highlights.  It’s an interesting hybrid of that old school 80’s sound mixed with a newer version of said old school style.  ‘Do What You Gotta Do’ boasts some of that same style.  The mix of the synthesizer with the guitars in this song give it a really catchy almost Cake-style sound.  There’s some of that also in the album’s title track.  Fans of Franz Ferdinand will also enjoy this record thanks to its sound.  Black taxi sort of emulates Franz Ferdinand in the catchy ‘Balloon on a Barbed Wire.’  The solid drum beats mixed with the guitar work make it an instant hit for audiences.  Fans of prog-rock masters Pink Floyd will be intrigued by the change of pace when the band moves into the more melancholy drone of ‘Holding On To Nothing.’  Thankfully, that doesn’t last long as the band kicks things back into gear right afterwards with the more catchy ‘Politics.’  The band keeps the energy up right to the album’s end from here with the blatantly 80’s style of ‘Tell Me What You Need’ and the almost hippie-esque vibe of ‘Hope I Never Know.’

While “We Don’t Know Any Better” was released back in January, the band is currently touring in support of it.  The band will be in Charlottesville, VA tonight.  Tonight’s show is followed by a pair of dates in Georgia tomorrow and Wednesday and a stop in South Carolina Thursday evening.  The band will close out the work week with a trio of dates in Florida this weekend.  Fans can go online to http://www.blacktaxi.com or http://www.facebook.com/BLACKTAXIMUSIC for a full tour run down, and to get all the latest news from the band.  

To get 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 get the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Sedaka’s Live Show Is A Simple, Beautiful Set

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Records

Neil Sedaka’s newly released live CD, “The Show Goes On:  Live at the Royal Albert Hall” is musical simplicity at its finest.  This companion CD to the musical legend’s DVD release of the same performance has been six years in the making.  Being that this performance has already been released via DVD, and now on CD, it makes one wonder if it will eventually see a blu-ray re-issue.  Until then, at least audiences have this wonderful audio record of a performance that is simple.  The simplicity of the performance makes the show fun and makes his classic hits that much more beautiful. 

Sedaka’s performance was simply him and his piano.  There was no band.  There was no pyro.  Nothing.  It’s proof positive that the old k.i.s.s. formula does work.  His vocals, and his ability on the keys, shows why he is just as respected as fellow pianist/vocalists Billy Joel and Elton John, if not even more so.  The show’s opener, ‘The Other Side of Me’ is a beautiful, gentle piece that shows Sedaka’s control of both his vocal instrument and his piano.  The dynamic contrasts throughout the piece make it flow with such ease.  The emotions of the song are perfectly expressed through those dynamic contrasts.  It pulls the audience right in.  And the airiness of the sound thanks to the size of the Royal Albert Hall makes the emotion of the song echo throughout the building.  That in itself gives the song that much more power.

Another wonderful moment from this recorded performance comes in the classic, ‘Love Will Keep Us Together.’  Sedaka explains to the audience in attendance how he came to write the classic song.  His interaction with the audience as it collectively claps to the music exhibits a chemistry between everyone involved that makes the song that much more enjoyable.  Listeners won’t be able to hold back the laughs as he talks about he writes songs, from developing a melody to experimenting with vocals and more.  His lighthearted delivery makes this such a fun song.  Of course, the song itself is just as fun as his interaction with the audience as he performs.

“The Show Goes On:  Live At The Royal Albert Hall” is loaded with great moments for any Neil Sedaka fan.  The set list is comprised of twenty-one total songs.  So it would be impossible to touch on each and every one.  But there is at least one more memorable moment in this performance.  Being that it is such a classic, what Neil Sedaka show would be complete without the one and only ‘Calendar Girl.’  Sedaka shows why the piano is considered a percussion instrument in many circles.  The way that he plays it is what really gives the song its identity, believe it or not.  His vocals match that style, too.  It combines to make just one more of what proves to be a great listen for any oldies fan.

Some people have commented on the “airy-ness” of the performance’s audio.  Given, the Royal Albert Hall isn’t a small building.  But that “airy-ness” is part of what makes this show so spectacular.  This show is just Neil and a piano.  The manner in which his vocals and his music echo throughout the hall add so much to the show’s simplicity.  It’s one more bonus to what is a great show simply from the set list.  But keeping that in mind, one can only hope that it will eventually see a blu-ray re-issue.  Audiences will appreciate the concert that much more seeing the dichotomy of how simple Sedaka’s stage set was versus the size of the hall.  That visual image alone makes it all that much more powerful.  Until then, audiences at least have this new audio recording of Sedaka’s show.  “The Show Goes On:  Live At The Royal Albert Hall” is available in stores and online now.  It can be ordered online at http://www.eagle-rock.com.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go 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 all the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Gwar To Tour This Fall

 

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Gwar is returning to the road this Fall.  The intergalactic metal mutants will take to the road along with Devildriver and Cancer Bats for the Fate or Chaos Tour.  The tour will kick off October 12th at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania alongside Devildriver, Cancer Bats and Legacy of Disorder.  Cancer Bats addition to the tour follows its recent string of U.S. dates with Demon Hunter.  The band is touring in support of its new album, “Dead Set on Living.” The Fate or Chaos tour stretches thirty-four dates across the country, including a date at Amos’ in Charlotte, North Carolina on October 22nd.  Fans can get a full list of Gwar’s tour dates online at http://www.gwar.net, http://www.facebook.com/gwar, http://www.myspace.com/gwarofficial, http://www.gwarjapan.net and http://www.youtube.com/gwar.

More information on Cancer Bats is available online at http://www.facebook.com/cancerbats and http://twitter.com/cancerbats.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go 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.

Staind Still Strong On New Live Release

Courtesy: Armoury Records/Atlantic Records

Nineties aggro-rock band Staind has released its very first official live CD.  “Live From Mohegan Sun” is a career retrospective that covers songs from across the band’s current catalogue of seven albums, dating all the way back to 1996’s “Tormented.”  The show is the first in a series of releases documenting the band’s November 25, 2011 performance at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Montville, CT.  A DVD and blu-ray portion will follow this release August 14th. To check out ‘It’s Been A While’ from the upcoming DVD and blu-ray release, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9tA6mErJNU&feature=youtu.be.

The show opens with the driving, ‘Eyes Wide Open.’  Drummer Sal Giancarelli gets the audience moving with his beats, with the rest of the band following immediately after.  The band keeps the energy moving on ‘Falling’, before slowing things down just a little bit on ‘Right Here.’  The band really slows things down right after that with the darker, more moody, ‘Throw It All Away’ before kicking the show back into high gear on ‘Spleen.’  Fans will love that the show also includes some of the band’s biggest hits including, ‘So Far Away’, ‘For You’, It’s Been A While’ and ‘Mudshovel.’    

The show’s set list is a solid example of the band’s body of work.  What makes the songs better is one of the key’s to any good show.  Rather than just playing them exactly as in the studio, the band switches things up here and there.  The audio transfer on the show is relatively solid, too, from start to finish.  It makes the whole experience that much more enjoyable.  For fans that grew up with Staind from its early days, this live show really brings back memories of their youth.  For less initiated fans, it’s a way to experience the band in a way that they perhaps haven’t yet had.  Speaking of having the opportunity to see the band live, Staind will be out on the road this Summer on the Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival.  Fans in North Carolina will get the opportunity to see the band live as the Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival will be making a stop at the Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion at Walnut Creek on Tuesday, September 11th.

Fans can get a full list of the festival tour dates online at http://www.rockstaruproar.com, http://www.facebook.com/RockstarUPROAR, http://twitter.com/RockstarUPROAR, and http://www.myspace.com/uproarfest.  Staind fans can get the latest news and more from the band online at http://www.staind.com, http://www.facebook.com/Staind, and http://twitter.com/staindmusic.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page at 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.

Eagle Rock sets the bar again with Muddy Waters, Rolling Stones archived live show

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Rock and roll shares a very special relationship with the blues.  If not for the blues, there would likely be no rock and roll.  Any music historian would agree with that sentiment.  Now, thanks to the good people at Eagle Rock Entertainment and Eagle Vision, music lovers everywhere get to experience what is arguably one of the greatest moments in the history of both genres in the new DVD and DVD?CD release of “Muddy Waters & The Rolling Stones Live at the Checkerboard Lounge.”

Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Lefty Bizz and the Rolling Stones all came together in an impromptu show at the famed Checkerboard Club on November 22nd, 1981.  The weather outside may have been cold.  But as it was documented in this new release, the energy of this one off mega show warmed the house and everyone in attendance.  The vibe is set from the very first notes of the piano led, ‘Sweet Little Angel.’  Pianist Lovie Lee shines not only on the keys, but vocally, too.  His talent shows through on ‘Flip Flop and Fly’, as well.  Muddy keeps the positive vibe set by Lee coming when he enters on ‘You Don’t Have to Go.’  And his chops on the guitar are unlike anything that any other guitarist did then or does today.   Things really get moving when Muddy coaxes Mick Jagger and his band mates Keith Richards and Ron Wood to come up and join in.  This is just one of many impromptu moments that make this show such fun.  Audiences will thrill at seeing Mick Jagger in his trademark “Chicken man” stance, hands on his hips, head stuck out.  He, Wood, and Richards show their love and respect for the blues while they play.  It’s proof of what makes the Rolling Stones one of the world’s most beloved bands.

Even when Muddy and Mick take a break, the energy is maintained by fellow bluesmen Buddy Guy, Junior Wells and Lefty Dizz.  The trio take over on ‘Got My Mojo Workin’ ‘, ‘Next Time You See Me’ and ‘One Eyed Woman’ before Muddy comes back up on ‘Clouds in My Heart.’

Audiences get one amazing show from the vault in this newly released concert.  It’s only made that much better with the addition of an audio portion in the bonus CD included in the double disc DVD/CD set.  This inclusion will allow audiences to listen to the show anywhere they go.  The audio transfer from the master tapes was seamless.  In short, the experience is just as grand on CD as it is on DVD.  All involved in bringing this show back to life on CD are to be commended.  The same should be said of those who dusted off the original video tapes of the show, and brought it back to life for DVD presentation.

Eagle Rock Entertainment and Eagle Vision have once more set the bar for live recordings with this latest release.  And while Muddy Waters and the Rolling Stones take top billing, it’s obvious that this performance is less about either one, and more about celebrating the power of music.  It joined two members of the same musical family for one special night.  What’s more it has given eagle Rock and Eagle Vision one more of the year’s very best live recordings. 

The single disc DVD and double disc DVD/CD set are both available in stores and online now.  Fans can order it online at http://www.eagle-rock.com.  There will also be a triple disc DVD/ 2-LP Vinyl release on September 11th

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

PBS’ “Mexico: The Royal Tour” is a fun family adventure

Courtesy: PBS

Forget the passports.  Forget the plane tickets.  Forget the packing and currency exchange rates.  Thanks to PBS, now viewers can take a trip to Mexico from the comfort and safety of their own home.  And this tour of our neighbors to the south isn’t one of those standard guided history tours that viewers might expect.  Rather it’s a special tour through some of the most amazing and beautiful points across Mexico guided by CBS’ Peter Greenberg and now former Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

The tour doesn’t begin right away.  Greenberg first sits down with Calderon and discusses Mexico’s image thanks to the ongoing drug war between the cartels in Mexico.  Thos interested in politics will find this discussion interesting.  The pair’s interview consisted of more than politics, though.  The disc’s bonus features include Greenberg’s full interview with Calderon in which he describes his upbringing and influence in getting involved in politics.  Because the full interview is saved for the bonus features, viewers are given more time to tour the country with the pair.

After the initial interview is completed, Greenberg and Calderon head out on the tour of the country.  First Calderon takes Chiapas, where the men tour the Temple of the Inscriptions.  Calderon shows Peter the tomb of an ancient Mayan ruler inside the temple.  It’s interesting in seeing this, to note how similar this burial method was tot that of the ancient Egyptians.  From the temple in Chiapas, viewers follow the pair to Chichen Itza, where they climb the famed El Castillo pyramid.  The duo has to climb it in a serpent like style.  Viewers will find it just as funny as they did.  After reaching the top, Greenberg is shown the “Jaguar Throne” at the top of the pyramid on which it is believed that a ruler would sit.  The columns in the Temple of a Thousand Warriors are absolutely amazing.  They’re proof that not only were the Mayans expert architects, but apparently just as proficient in ornithology and audiology.

The tour has barely begun after the pair visit Chichen Itza.  From Chicen Itza, viewers are whisked away to Michoacan, where the men encounter the annual migration of the Monarch butterflies.  To say that seeing this is stunning would be an understatement.  Audiences are then taken to Calderon’s home town of Morelia, where he introduces Peter to his family, including his mother.  He explains that Morelia was originally established as a colony in 1541.

The stay in Morelia is short, as the next day, the pair makes their way to the Baja Peninsula and the Laguna Ojo de Liebra.  Calderon is joined by his wife and children here.  This is perhaps the most intriguing stop on the entire tour of Mexico.  That is because as they are whale watching, Calderon explains that the grey whales that migrate there each year are drawn by the sound of children singing.  And sure enough, as soon as Calderon’s children begin to sing, the whales come over as if on command.  They are so docile, letting everybody touch them.  It’s absolutely amazing to behold.

The whale watching at Laguna Ojo de Liebra is an amazing moment in the tour across Mexico.  But there is so much more for viewers to see in the roughly hour long presentation, thanks to Calderon and PBS.  Viewers get to see what’s it’s like to go cave diving, and even scale the wall of one of the world’s deepest spots, along with even seeing the famed Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan by hot air balloon.  Add in the equally enjoyable bonus features, and viewers have what is one of the best guided tours of the world to be released in a very long time.  Rather than simply being a tour guided by a faceless narrator, audiences go right along with Greenberg and Calderon on the journey across the country.  It all has such a different feeling from other presentations out there.  It’s more adventure and less documentary.  That makes it perfect for the classroom and the home viewer.  The DVD is available in stores now and online at http://www.shoppbs.org

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go 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.

Otherwise’s ‘Soldiers’ making big waves

Courtesy: Century Media

Las Vegas based rock band Otherwise has plenty fo reason to celebrate today.  The band’s new album, “True Love Never Dies” has garnered major applause across the music industry.  Now, its newest single, ‘Soldiers’ is adding to the band’s reasons for being excited.  It’s been announced that ‘Soldiers’ has officially enterd Active Rock’s Top 20.  And sales of the single have surpassed 50,000 copies sold.  Adding to the reason for celebration is that “True Love Never Dies’ has now sold over 10,000 copies.

Fans can also get a behind-the-scenes look at the process of making “True Love Never Dies” online.  Just follow this link to check it out:  http://youtu.be/gKDU4RKptf4

Fans can also catch the band live on tour now.  Otherwise will be playing at the Roxy with P.O.D. next Wednesday in West Hollywood, California.  From there, the band will be performing all acorss the country.  To check out all the latest tour dates and Otherwise news, go online to http://www.weareotherwise.com and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/otherwiseofficial.  Fans can also keep up with the latest from the band at http://twitter.com/weareotherwise and http://www.centurymedia.com.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page at 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.