2015’s Top New Albums Come From Across The Musical Universe

The countdown is near, folks. And with the end of the year nearly here, the end of Phil’s Picks’ year-enders is officially here. We have finally come down to the last of this year’s “Best Of” lists. To close out this year’s group of year-enders we come full circle and finish where we started; back in the music world. To close out 2015, Phil’s Picks offers up its list of the year’s top new albums overall. This list was anything but easy to compile. That is because the top 10 albums and five honorable mention titles really represent so many galaxies within the musical universe. There’s some blues in this list courtesy of The Rev.Shawn Amos in this list. Salvador Santana, Carlos Santana’s son is also on this list, along with Pimps of Joytime and Fort Knox Five representing the rap and hip-hop galaxies. George Strait, The King of Country himself, is also here as are Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. Even jazz great Terence Blanchard gets a nod as do Joe Satriani and electro-rock duo NYVES. There are others included here. And they are noted in the list below. Being that each album comes from a different part of the musical universe, figuring each album’s place in this list was what really made assembling this list so tough. The ability of listeners to take in the album without skipping tracks was taken into account as was each album’s production values and combined lyrical and musical content. That goes back to the albums’ ability to keep listeners fully engaged from start to finish. So no offense was meant to any act in its placement on this list. EVERY one of the albums included in this list was far more than deserving of being included in this list. That taken into consideration the following is the final list of this year’s top overall albums from Phil’s Picks. And as always, the top 10 albums make up the main body of the list while the bottom five each receive honorable mention. Without any further ado here for your reading pleasure dear readers, is the Phil’s Picks 2015 Top 10 New Albums. Happy New Year!

PHIL’S PICKS 2015 TOP 10 NEW ALBUMS

1. BOARDWALK EMPIRE: BOARDWALK EMPIRE VOLUME 3

2. JUDITH HALL: BACK IN TIME

3. SALVADOR SANTANA: FANTASY REALITY

4. GEORGE STRAIT: COLD BEER CONVERSATION

5. WILLIE NELSON & MERLE HAGGARD: DJANGO & JIMMIE

6. SCALE THE SUMMIT: V

7. JOE SATRIANI: SHOCKWAVE SUPERNOVA

8. BLACKBERRY SMOKE: HOLDING ALL THE ROSES

9. FORT KNOX FIVE: PRESSURIZE THE CABIN

10. PIMPS OF JOYTIME: JUKESTONE PARADISE

11. NYVES: ANXIETY

12. DELTA RAE: AFTER IT ALL

13. THE REV. SHAWN AMOS: THE REV. SHAWN AMOS LOVES YOU

14. SUGARCANE JANE: DIRT ROAD’S END

15. TERENCE BLANCHARD: BREATHLESS

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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Children, Families Won Big In 2015 With So Many New DVD, BD Offerings For Families

Young audiences were given quite a number of new offerings this year on DVD and Blu-ray. Between the standalone discs and box sets, there was quite a bit of material from which children and their parents had to choose this year. Having already covered the best of the year’s box sets for kids, it is time now for Phil’s Picks to turn its attention to the best of this year’s new standalone DVDs and BDs for children and families. Kindie rock act Josh and the Jamtones released its long-awaited DVD Bear Hunt: The Movie early this year. And that DVD was well worth the wait, too. Its original presentation and story, and extra music videos made it an instand shoe-in for this year’s list of the year’s best new DVDs and Blu-rays for kids and families. Lionsgate’s new claymation movie Shaun The Sheep: The Movie is also on the list. That movie surprised with its largely family friendly story and the heart therein. PBS and Shout! Factory Kids each got in the act with new Reading Rainbow DVDs and DVDs from Discovery Family’s former series The Adventures of Chuck and Friends. Shout! Factory Kids’ Transformers Rescue Bots DVDs are each in this list, too along with other titles. That in mind, it’s time to stop rambling. Presented for your consideration dear readers, is Phil’s Picks list of 2015 Top 10 New Family DVDs/BDs. As always, the Top 10 titles make up the main body of the list while the bottom five each receive honorable mention.

PHIL’S PICKS 2015 TOP 10 NEW FAMILY DVDs/BDs

1. TURKEY HOLLOW

2. SHAUN THE SHEEP: THE MOVIE

3. JOSH AND THE JAMTONES–BEAR HUNT: THE MOVIE

4. READING RAINBOW: IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE

5. READING RAINBOW: ANIMAL CAFE

6. THE ADVENTURES OF CHUCK & FRIENDS: REV YOUR ENGINE

7. THE ADVENTURES OF CHUCK & FRIENDS: DAY AT THE RACES

8. DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD: BIG BROTHER DANIEL

9. TRANSFORMERS RESCUE BOTS: DINO BOTS

10. TRANSFORMERS RESCUE BOTS: RETURN OF THE HEROES

11. TRANSFORMERS RESCUE BOTS: JURASSIC ADVENTURE

12. CURIOUS GEORGE: SEASON 8

13. SUPER WHY: CINDERELLA AND OTHER FAIRYTALE ADVENTURES

14. WORDWORLD: BIRTHDAY PARTY

15. LETTER FACTORY ADVENTURES: AMAZING WORD EXPLORERS

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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

PBS Dominates The Documentary Ranks Again In 2015

The final hours of 2015 are officially here. And with the final hours ticking away, Phil’s Picks is helping you to pass the time with the last year-ender lists of the year for discussion. Phil’s Picks has already covered quite a bit of ground in the last week and a half or so of the year. But there is still a little bit of ground to cover before the final countdown begins. That ground includes the list presented here. As always, the Top 10 titles make up the main body of the list with the bottom five each receiving honorable mention. Enough rambling for now. Presented for your consideration dear readers, is the Phil’s Picks 2015 Top 10 New Documentaries.

PHIL’S PICKS 2015 TOP 10 NEW DOCUMENTARIES

1. AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: WALT DISNEY

2. SECRETS OF THE DEAD: BEN FRANKLIN’S BONES

3. THE SIXTIES

4. NOVA: NAZI ATTACK ON AMERICA

5. THE BOMB

6. NOVA: SECRETS OF NOAH’S ARK

7. SUNSHINE SUPERMAN

8. JACO

9. I’LL BE ME

10. DINOSAUR 13

11. AMERICAN HERCULES: BABE RUTH

12. MAGICIAN

13. I’M NO DUMMY

14. NATURE: INVASION OF THE KILLER WHALES

15. NOVA: LETHAL SEAS

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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Owl Singalong Will Have Listeners Of All Ages Singing Along

Courtesy:  Rounder Records

Courtesy: Rounder Records

Veteran children’s entertainer Raffi is one of the most prolific names in the world of children’s music.  That is because over the course of his decades-long career he has made music time and again that both entertains and educates listeners of all ages, each time giving listeners something different and original.  His new album Owl Singalong is no different in that aspect.  The sixteen-track, thirty-seven minute album presents a variety of different musical styles coupled with just as many different lyrical topics for an experience that will keep listeners of all ages engaged from beginning to end.  The sequencing of the songs is just as important as the songs’ makeup.  Together with their makeup, all three elements make this record an offering that in the end proves just as important in home as it is in any early childhood educator’s classroom.  Such importance makes valid the argument that Owl Singalong is 2016’s first great album for children.

Raffi’s latest full-length studio recording Owl Singalong is 2016’s first great album for children.  The main reason for that is the musical content presented across the course of the sixteen-song record.  From the album’s dixieland rag style  opener/title track to the reggae-infused ‘Green Dream’ to the Latin-tinged ‘Somos El Barco’ right to the album’s closer, the African standard ‘Abiyoyo,’ Raffi presents listeners with quite the variety of musical stylings.  And these are just a few examples of how many different musical styles are presented across this album.  Raffi’s take on the standard ‘See The Moon’ conjures thoughts of days long gone when men would wear pinstripe suits and serenade ladies.  This is especially the case as Raffi sings an gently strums a ukulele.  There’s even a nice blues-infused tune in the form of ‘Who Hoo Could I Be.’  If the blues sound isn’t enough, there are also brief moments in this song in which Raffi tries to impersonate Bob Dylan (believe it or not).  Older listeners that are fans of Dylan’s work will appreciate that.  But they will have to listen closely to catch those subtle moments.  The subtle manner in which he included said impersonation makes the song’s musical content all the more enjoyable.  ‘Garden Song,’ which comes later in the album’s run is just as impressive with its light country/Americana sound fleshed out by the use of a guitar, ukulele and fiddle as its foundation.  For those wanting something a little more traditional in the way of standard children’s songs, that sound is included here, too in the form of ‘Dog On The Bus,’ ‘I’m Not Small,’ and ‘You May Be A Triangle.’  Whether one prefers that more standard sound or any of the various sounds presented across this record, listeners in whole will agree that the inclusion of so many different sounds forms a solid foundation for Owl Singalong and gives listeners of all ages plenty of reason to hear this latest offering from one of the greatest names in children’s music.  Of course the variety of sounds presented throughout the record is just one reason that audiences will enjoy it.  The lyrical content presented throughout the record is just as important to its presentation as the musical content.

The musical presented over the course of Owl Singalong’s almost forty-minute run time is key to the album’s presentation.  That is because much as with his previous albums, Raffi doesn’t stick to just one style of music at any point here.  Rather he switches things up from one song to the next from the album’s opener to its end.  The musical variety isn’t the only variety that keeps Owl Singalong interesting.  Raffi presents just as much variety in the songs’ lyrical content throughout.  The album’s opener/title track sees Raffi singing about (you guessed it) an owl singing in the bright light of a full moon.  That simple, fun topic coupled with the song’s equally light musical content makes it in whole a great start to this record.  ‘I’m Not Small’ and ‘You May Be A Triangle’ both present wonderful messages about self-confidence in their own special way.  ‘Green Dream’ with its reggae-infused sound, teaches the importance of caring for the planet.  It’s a fitting combination of music and lyrics.  ‘Who Hoo Could I Be’ is another good example of the importance of the lyrical content within the album’s featured songs.  It is just a fun song that asks “Who could I be?”  The seeming point of the question is the answer that “it doesn’t matter who or what I am.  I just want to sing this song to make you smile.”  And put a smile on listeners’ faces it definitely will do.  It’s just a fun, bluesy piece meant to get listeners’ toes tapping and let them know in no uncertain terms that is meant to make listeners feel good.  It is hardly the last song that could be cited as an example of what makes Owl Singalong’s lyrical content so important to the record’s overall presentation.  ‘Abiyoyo,’’Somos El Barco,’ and ‘Dans La Foret Lointaine’ could each be cited as examples of the importance of the album’s lyrical content, too.  All things considered, the lyrical content presented throughout the course of Owl Singalong’s near forty-minute run time proves in the end to be just as important as the album’s musical content.  The two elements together form a solid foundation for the album on which the album’s final important element rests.  That final element is the album’s sequencing.

Both the musical and lyrical content presented in the body of Owl Singalong are equally important in their own right to the album’s overall presentation.  While both elements are of the utmost importance to the album both by themselves and together, they are not the album’s only important elements.  The album’s sequencing is just as important to its whole as its musical and lyrical content.  The album opens with the Dixieland rag styling of the album’s opener and leads into a trio of children’s standards in the next three tracks.  From there, Raffi takes listeners back to the 1920s thanks to the musical presentation of ‘See The Moon’ and then down to the Caribbean in ‘Green Dream.’  That is just the first six tracks that make up the body of Owl Singalong.  He then switches gears once more from there, going back to the more light hearted children’s fare in ‘Every Day’ and ‘Dog on The Bus’ before presenting more material for older audiences in ‘Somos El Barco.’  This sort of back and forth continues through the rest of the album’s seven remaining tracks.  When it’s all said and done, listeners will agree that the sequencing of Owl Singalong’s sixteen total tracks is the finishing touch to a foundation already made strong through songs that will entertain and educate at the same time. They will agree that all three elements taken into collective consideration, they make Owl Singalong yet another impressive new collection of songs from a legendary artist in his own right and one that is also the first great children’s album of 2016.

Owl Singalong, Raffi’s latest full-length studio recording, is an impressive new collection of songs from a figure that is one of the most preeminent artists in the realm of children’s music. It is also the first great children’s album of 2016. That is made clear through the collective musical and lyrical content presented throughout the course of the album’s sixteen songs and thirty-seven minute run time. The songs both entertain and educate listeners of all ages from beginning to end through both factors. The album’s sequencing takes those songs and puts them in an order that assures listeners’ maintained engagement. Each element is important by itself to the overall listening experience in this record. Altogether, they make Owl Singalong–again–yet another enjoyable work from one of the most respected names in the realm of children’s music, and a record that is 2016’s first great children’s album. Owl Singalong will be available in stores and online on Friday, January 15th. Parents can pre-order it online now at http://www.childhonouring.org/. More information on this and other titles from Raffi is available along with Raffi’s latest news at:

 

 

Website: http://www.childhonouring.com

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/Raffi.Cavoukian

 

 

 

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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

A Chef’s Life Once Again Leaves A Great Taste In Audiences’ Mouths In Its Third Season

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS’ hit cooking/reality series A Chef’s Life has become one of the most beloved series of its kind of television since it made its debut two years ago.  In the time since it made its debut, it has gone on to produce three complete seasons.  It is also already known that the series’ fourth season is set to debut early in 2016 on PBS.  No date for Season Four’s premiere has been set, however.  Regardless it can be said that there are plenty of people waiting for that premiere.  While said audiences wait with baited breath (and watering mouths—awful pun fully intended) for that announcement, they have plenty to keep them satisfied thanks to the release of the series’ first two seasons earlier this year.  Now PBS has given audiences a wonderful third course…er…season (yes, that awful pun was intended, too) in the form of A Chef’s Life: Season Three.  The two-disc DVD set was released just last week.  And just as with the series’ first two seasons, there is plenty to appreciate about Season Three beginning with the show’s approach.  Yet again the approach taken by the show’s heads maintains its sense of humility for lack of better wording.  Yet again it avoids the pretense of those other reality shows.  This will be discussed at more length shortly.  The foods and dishes that are featured throughout the course of Season Three are just as important to this season’s enjoyment as the show’s continued humble, common sense approach.  That will be discussed later.  Last but hardly least of note in Season Three is its cinematography.  As minute as that might seem to some, it is clear and present in the presentation of each of this season’s episodes.  Together with the simple dishes, and simple, humble approach taken with the show’s approach, once again A Chef’s Life has shown why it is the only reality series worth watching on television today and one of the only cooking shows worth watching, too.  All in all, it is even more proof of why PBS remains today the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television.

PBS’ hit reality/cooking series A Chef’s Life just recently wrapped up its third season and plans are already in the works for the show’s fourth season.  It has already been confirmed that A Chef’s Life will return for a fourth season early in 2016.  No definite date has been set.  But fans of the series can rest easy knowing that it will be back.  Luckily for fans, PBS and PBS Distribution have given fans a way to pass the time while they wait for the premiere of Season Four with the home release of Season Three on DVD.  The third season of A Chef’s Life continues on exactly the same path that it followed over the course of its first two seasons in regards to its overall approach.  That is the central element of Season Three’s success.  The highs and lows set before Vivian, her staff, and her family throughout Season Three give every opportunity to create drama much in the same vein of all of the other reality series across the broadcast and cable spectrum.  Yet at no point does the show ever go that route.  The highs include Vivian’s visit to NBC’s Today show, her invitation to a special event in South Carolina in the two-part episode “Gone Clamming” and finally getting a new chef for The Boiler Room.  The lows include problems cooking the shrimp for her dish in “Gone Clamming,” having to balance running Chef and the Farmer while trying to write her new cookbook and her increased responsibilities as a celebrity.  Again through all of these ups and downs, there was plenty of chance for A Chef’s Life to take that all too often traveled road and be like all of the other reality series out there.  But thankfully Mrs. Howard—who is one of the show’s heads—never allows that to happen, nor does anyone else behind the lens.  Instead audiences see the everyday struggles and triumphs and how they are handled.  For those that perhaps are not so familiar with this series, this approach proves that instead of being stranger than fiction, truth is actually more entertaining than fiction.  It’s just one part of the show’s continued simple, humble approach that makes it so entertaining in its third season, too.  The fact that Vivian continues to get ideas and ingredients from people in and around her community instead of some flashy, high-priced distributor or cook maintains the show’s down-to-earth feel and in turn makes it that much more accessible and believable for viewers.  Because of this, it ensures that audiences will remain fully engaged from one episode to the next regardless of whether or not they have seen any of Season Three’s episodes yet.  Keeping all of this in mind, the fact that A Chef’s Life uses the same approach in its third season as in its first two seasons is a key element in Season Three’s success.  It is just one element that makes Season Three a success, too.  The foods and recipes presented across Season Three are collectively another element that makes Season Three a success.

The continued simple, humble approach taken by A Chef’ Life in its third season is an important part of the season’s overall success.  That is because it shows that those behind the lens continued to stand against the obviously scripted, overly dramatized garbage on other networks claiming to call itself reality TV.  It is just one of the elements that make this season a success.  Just as the approach taken in season three is simple and relatable so are the foods and recipes presented throughout each episode.  That is exemplified right from the season premiere episode “Stop, Squash, and Roll.”  Mrs. Howard makes what is labeled “Scarlett’s Squash and Onions with Crumbled Bacon” in this episode.  It is of course centered on bacon and diced onions mixed with squash.  It is exactly as it is titled.  It is a simple (there’s that word again) three-ingredient dish that can be made easily in anyone’s own kitchen.  It goes right into Mrs. Howard’s statement that she wants her cookbook to consist of ingredients that anyone can make.  The homemade cubed steak with rice and gravy in “What’s Your Beef” is another example of the simple foods and recipes presented in Season Three.  Audiences get to see beginning to end how the steaks are made and cooked.  And it is as simple as simple can be.  While not necessarily as simple as some of the other featured dishes, Frank Lee’s Clam Hash is easy enough in its own right.  This dish, taken from the two-part “Going Clamming” episode incorporates parsley, saltine crackers, a single onion, sliced bacon, and about a dozen clams.  Shelling and cooking the clams is the most time intensive part of this dish.  But for those that enjoy shellfish, the time taken to cook and then shell them will be worth it in the end.  Other than that part of the dish, everything else is relatively simple to accomplish.  Yet again it is one more example of why the foods and dishes presented throughout Season Three are just as important to its overall viewing experience as the overall approach taken to the show this time out.  Together with that continued simple and humble approach to story-telling, both elements give audiences plenty of reason to add the third season of A Chef’s Life to their own home DVD libraries.  And even as enjoyable as they make Season Three’s viewing experience, they are still not all that completes said experience.  The cinematography incorporated into each episode adds its own element of enjoyment to the show’s overall presentation.

Both the overall approach taken in the presentation of A Chef’s Life in its third season and the foods presented throughout play their own important part in the show’s continued success here.  While both elements are important in their own right, they make up just a portion of what makes A Chef’s Life: Season Three work as well as it does.  The series’ cinematography is just as important this time out as it is in the series’ first two seasons.  It is really one of the aspects of the show that deserves more attention than it gets.  There are great shots of Eastern North Carolina’s sunlit farms and back roads in every episode.  And the footage capturing the crew of Chef and the Farmer at work is just as impressive.  The camera crew does a wonderful job of staying out of the way of the kitchen staff yet still being part of the action so to speak.  They, along with the show’s editors, wonderfully capture the hustle and bustle of the work behind the scenes that makes Chef and the Farmer such a favorite.  These are just a few ways in which the cinematography shows to be integral in the overall presentation of A Chef’s Life in its third season.  There are plenty of other examples that audiences will see for themselves when they watch Season Three themselves.  Those many examples combine with the delicious dishes presented across each episode and simple, humble approach taken to the show in whole to make the third season of A Chef’s Life just as enjoyable as the series’ first two seasons.  They show collectively why A Chef’s Life is the only reality series on television worth watching and one of the only cooking shows worth watching.

A Chef’s Life: Season Three shows in so many ways to be the only reality series on television today worth watching and one of the only cooking shows worth watching, too. In all it is yet more proof of why PBS remains today the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television. It shows this first and foremost through its continued simplistic, down to earth approach. Rather than allow itself to be one of those obviously scripted shows overly laden with drama at every turn, it keeps itself a rather believable presentation. That is because it doesn’t capitalize on those opportunities for drama. The delectable yet simple dishes and their simple ingredients add to that down to earth approach. They are dishes that for the most part could be made in any American kitchen, not just those of some snooty, overpriced bistro type place. The show’s cinematography is just as impressive throughout Season Three’s run as those of the series’ first two seasons, too. The camera crew captures some beautiful footage of Eastern North Carolina’s countryside and its farms. Its ability to capture the hard work put into keeping Chef and the Farmer running day after day is just as impressive especially considering the camera crew’s ability to almost become part of the kitchen crew rather than be just another observer getting in the way of daily operations. Each noted element plays its own key part in the overall presentation of A Chef’s Life’s third season. Altogether, they show again why this series remains such a hit even among those audiences that might not otherwise watch PBS, reality TV or even cooking shows. It is an original and an impressive original at that and it is available now online via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/search/index.jsp?kwCatId=&kw=a%20chefs%20life%20season%203&origkw=A+Chef%27s+Life+Season+3&sr=1. More information on A Chef’s Life, including recipes and episodes of the series, is available online now at:

Website: http://www.achefslifeseries.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AChefsLife

Twitter: http://twitter.com/chefsouth

 

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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Lionsgate, Others Offer Solid Alternatives To Hollywood’s Power Five Studios In 2015

Looking at numbers from the box office this year, one would imagine that theaters did quite well. In terms of financial figures, they did. But in terms of really worthwhile offerings, theaters and studios clearly did not do that well. That is because much like 2014 the major theatrical offerings churned out this year were prequels, sequels, and remakes. Next year looks to be sadly much the same in that aspect. Luckily for all of the brainless, unoriginal content churned out by Hollywood’s major studios this year, audiences were offered some viable alternatives. Many of those alternatives came courtesy of Lionsgate and other independent studios. Magnolia Films’ dramedy Life’s A Breeze is just one of the noted films that proved to be one of the year’s best new movies. The independently released buddy flick A Walk in the Woods is another of those great alternatives. IFC’s Match and Manglehorn aso proved to be viable alternatives to all of the prequels, sequels, and remakes churned out by Hollywood’s Power Five Studios. And who would have thought that Shaun The Sheep: The Movie would prove to be so enjoyable, too? There’s no dialogue at all. What’s more it’s a claymation flick. But it has so much heart. It is one that the whole family should see together at least once. It is just one more movie that made it onto this critic’s list of the year’s Top 10 New Movies. Speaking of that list the following collection of titles makes up the Phil’s Picks 2015 Top 10 New Movies. And as always the top 10 make up the main body of the list while the bottom five each receive honorable mention for a total of fifteen titles. Enough rambling. Without any further ado, here for your consideration dear readers, is the Phil’s Picks 2015 Top 10 New Movies.

PHIL’S PICKS 2015 TOP 10 NEW MOVIES

1. A WALK IN THE WOODS

2. MATCH

3. SHAUN THE SHEEP: THE MOVIE

4. TURKEY HOLLOW

5. MR. HOLMES

6. LIFE’S A BREEZE

7. SPIKE ISLAND

8. LIFE’S A BREEZE

9. BELIEVE ME

10. SPARE PARTS

11. MANGLEHORN

12. SHIPS

13. GRACE

14. WHILE WE’RE YOUNG

15. DOG YEARS

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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN Networks Release Game Times, More For This Weekend’s CFP Semi-Finals Coverage

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

This weekend, the 2015 college football post season is nearing its finale and the ESPN networks will have full coverage of the games leading up to the national championship.

The semi-final round of the college football playoffs begins this Thursday, December 31st with a triple header schedule. It all starts at noon eastern as #18 Houston and #9 Florida State face off in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA. The game will be simulcast on ESPN, ESPN Radio, and ESPN Deportes. Dave Pasch, Brian Griese, and Tom Luginbill will have the call for ESPN. Jerry Olaya and Robert Abramowitz will have the call on ESPN Deportes. And Dave Flemming, Mike Bellotti, and Allison Williams will team up for the game’s broadcast on ESPN Radio.

ESPN will follow up coverage of the Peach Bowl with the broadcast of the Capital One Orange Bowl at 4pm ET on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, and ESPN Radio. #4 Oklahoma will take on #1 Clemson in that game. #3 Michigan State and #2 Alamaba round out the day’s semi-final coverage as they face off at 8pm ET in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. That game will be simulcast on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Radio, and ESPN Deportes.

Coverage of the semi-finals continues Friday afternoon at 1pm with the Battlefrog Fiesta Bowl. The fighting Irish of #8 Notre Dame will take on #7 The Ohio State Buckeyes in that matchup. It will be carried live on ESPN, ESPN Radio, and ESPN Deportes. Sean McDonough, Chris Spielman, and Todd McShay will have the call for ESPN while Jerry Olaya and Robert Abramonwitz will be back again for ESPN Deportes. Adam Amin, Kelly Stouffer, and Olivia Harlan will be on the call for ESPN Radio’s broadcast of the game. Following the conclusion of the Fiesta Bowl, ESPN will switch over and head to the west coast for the annual Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwest Mutual. #6 Stanford and #5 Iowa will take to the field for that game. #16 Oklahoma State and #12 ole Miss round out the day’s events in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. That game is scheduled for an 8:30pm ET kickoff. It will be carried live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes, and ESPN Radio.   The full schedule for this weekend’s semi-final round of the 2015 college football playoff is listed below.

New Year’s Six Schedule

Date Time (ET) Game, Matchup and Commentators Networks
Thu, Dec 31 Noon Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl:
No. 18 Houston vs. No. 9 Florida State

TV: Dave Pasch, Brian Griese, Tom Luginbill
ESPN Deportes: Jerry Olaya, Robert Abramowitz
Radio: Dave Flemming, Mike Bellotti, Allison Williams
ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio
  4 p.m. Capital One Orange Bowl:
No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 1 Clemson
ESPN: Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge, Holly Rowe
ESPN Deportes: Eduardo Varela, Pablo Viruega
Radio: Bill Rosinski, David Norrie, Joe Schad
ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio
  8 p.m. Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic:
No. 3 Michigan State vs. No. 2 Alabama
TV: Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Heather Cox, Tom Rinaldi
ESPN Deportes: Kenneth Garay, Alex Pombo
Radio: Brad Sham, Danny Kanell, Ian Fitzsimmons
ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio Radio
Fri, Jan 1 1 p.m. BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl:
No. 8 Notre Dame vs. No. 7 Ohio State
TV: Sean McDonough, Chris Spielman, Todd McShay
ESPN Deportes: Jerry Olaya , Robert Abramonwitz
Radio: Adam Amin, Kelly Stouffer, Olivia Harlan
ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio
  5 p.m. Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual:
No. 6 Stanford vs. No. 5 Iowa
TV: Brent Musburger, Jesse Palmer, Maria Taylor
ESPN Deportes: Eduardo Varela, Pablo Viruega
Radio: Dave Pasch, Brian Griese
ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio
  8:30 p.m. Allstate Sugar Bowl:
No. 16 Oklahoma State vs. No. 12 Ole Miss
TV: Bob Wischusen, Brock Huard, Shannon Spake
ESPN Deportes: Kenneth Garay, Alex Pombo
Radio: Bill Rosinski, David Norrie, Joe Schad
ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio

 

 

More information on the ESPN networks’ coverage of the 2015 college football post season is available online now along with all of the latest college football headlines at:

 

Website: http://espn.go.com/college-football

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CFBonESPN

 

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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

CBS, NFL Partner With ESPN Deportes For Super Bowl 50 Broadcast

Courtesy:  NFL

Courtesy: NFL

Superbowl 50 is almost here. On Sunday, February 7th, CBS will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the NFL’s biggest game. It is certain to be a big broadcast for the network. Now a new announcement from ESPN has made it even bigger.

CBS and the NFL have worked out a deal that will allow Super Bowl 50 to be broadcast live in Spanish on ESPN Deportes. The deal marks the first time ever that ESPN Deportes will have ever carried a Super Bowl broadcast.  It regularly carries Monday Night Football broadcasts, a wild card matchup and the Pro Bowl. It even carries in depth NFL news and informational programming including in-studio shows NFL Live and NFL Esta Noche. Alvaro Martin and former NFL kicker and Super Bowl Champion Raul Allegre will have the call for ESPN Deportes at the Super Bowl. Sideline reporter John Sutcliffe will also be on hand for additional commentary.

In the days leading up to the Super Bowl, ESPN Deportes will feature comprehensive coverage across multiple platforms beginning February 1st. That coverage includes a special 90-minute pre-game special on February 7th beginning at 4:30pm ET and a complete post-game show after the confetti falls and the trophy is awarded.

Sean McManus, CBS Chairman of CBS Sports discussed CBS’ deal with ESPN Deportes noting that the deal between the networks was especially important this year because of the anniversary. “As the broadcaster of Super Bowl 50, it was a priority for us to find a Spanish-language partner to televise this historic broadcast  and reach the NFL’s Hispanic fan base,” he said. He added to his statement noting the addition of ESPN Deportes to the broadcast saying, “The ESPN Deportes presentation of Super Bowl 50 will be a great complement to our broadcast on CBS.”

Freddy Rolon, ESPN Deportes VP of Programming and Business Initiatives echoed McManus’ sentiments adding his thoughts on the importance of the broadcast for ESPN Deportes. “Super Bowl 50 is one of the most anticipated events of the year, and this agreement with CBS and the NFL presents a unique opportunity for ESPN to further connect with the growing U.S. Hispanic NFL fan base,” he said. “The Super Bowl’s golden anniversary is a great addition to our diverse portfolio of events for 2016.”

NFL Executive VP of Media Brian Rolapp spoke on behalf of the league also noting the importance of reaching the NFL’s Spanish-speaking fans saying, “We are excited to partner with CBS and ESPN Deportes to broadcast Super Bowl 50 domestically in English and Spanish.” He explained in more depth noting, “We are committed to delivering our games in customized ways to serve our growing Hispanic fan base and look forward to connecting with our fans on Super Bowl Sunday on CBS and ESPN Deportes.”

Along with ESPN Deportes’ upcoming coverage of the Super Bowl and the events leading up to the big game, ESPN Deportes Radio will have full coverage of the Super Bowl for the third consecutive year. That is part of a separate agreement between ESPN and the NFL. ESPN Deportes is the only 24-hour Spanish-language sports radio network. More information on ESPN Deportes’ upcoming Super Bowl 50 coverage is available online now along with all of the latest headlines from ESPN Deportes at:

 

Website: http://espndeportes.go.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ESPNDeportes

 

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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Jaco Is One Of 2015’s Top New Music, Overall Documentaries

Courtesy:  MVD Visual/Iron Horse Entertainment

Courtesy: MVD Visual/Iron Horse Entertainment

“He was our Hendrix.”  That one simple statement sums up what made bass legend Jaco Pastorius one of the most legendary figures to ever pick up the bass guitar if not the most legendary. It is a statement made by one of the interviewees in MVD Visual and Iron Horse Entertainment’s new documentary on Jaco Pastorius, or John Francis Pastorius III (as audiences learn in watching the new documentary about the famed bassist) and quite the powerful statement, too.  In watching through the nearly two-hour documentary audiences will agree that it is just one of the important statements made in reference to the brilliant yet troubled figure.  Speaking of the many statements made throughout the course of the documentary, the story presented via those statements lies at the center of the documentary.  It is just one of the elements that make the program worth the watch.  The footage and music incorporated into the story makes Jaco all the more engaging.  The bonus interviews included in the documentary’s second disc round out the program.  Together with the program’s central story and the footage and music used to flesh out the story, all three elements show in whole that Jaco is one of the year’s most important music documentaries and one of the year’s best documentaries overall.

MVD Visual and Iron Horse Entertainment’s new profile of Jaco Pastorius is one of 2015’s most important music documentaries.  It is also one of the year’s best documentaries overall.  The main reason for this is the very fact that it centers on a bass player — one of the most prolific bass players in modern music history no less.  That is just one part of what makes this documentary so important.  It is rare for bassists to get their own profile.  So that makes his presentation even more important.  At the center of the presentation is the story of a man with a brilliant yet troubled mind.  It was a mind troubled not by drugs and alcohol but by a mental disease.  To be more specific, he suffered from bipolar disorder.  As is noted in the interviews it wasn’t just bipolar disorder in general but a specific branch of bipolar disorder.  Considering this revelation made late in the program, the erratic behavior that those closest to him described make much more sense.  What’s really interesting to consider here is whether or not Pastorius himself knew that he suffered from the disorder or if anyone around him even had an inkling of it.  Considering that one of his friends alleges that Pastorius had told him that he [Pastorius] wanted to die, one can only assume that Pastorius knew that something was wrong with him.  Whether or not he knew specifically what it was and whether or not knowledge and treatment of bipolar disorder was available at the time is a whole other story in itself. These are just a couple aspects of the program’s main story that make Jaco such an interesting watch. There are also stories about an alleged rift between Pastorius and Joe Zawinul and some apparent issues with singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell, too. Those are just a couple of the side stories featured in this documentary that will keep viewers engaged. Together with the main story of Pastorius’ brilliant yet troubled mind, the whole of Jaco’s main presentation gives viewers plenty of reason to watch it.

The central story presented in Jaco is in itself more than enough reason for music lovers and lovers of music history to watch the documentary. That is because it paints a rich picture of a brilliant yet troubled mind. The thing is that his was a mind troubled not by drugs and alcohol but by mental disorder. While his battle with bipolar disorder obviously complicated his life, it also led to some of the most brilliant and innovative works that the music community in whole has ever had the pleasure of experiencing. And audiences learn all about that through the course of Jaco’s nearly two-hour run time. Of course the story centered on Pastorius’ impact on the music community is just one part of what makes this documentary such an important addition to this year’s field of documentaries. The combination of the program’s footage and music makes up another of the program’s key elements. In regards to the footage that accompanies the interviews, the footage gives audiences a look into Pastorius at different avenues of his career both onstage and off. It serves to help illustrate the highs and lows that he experienced and how they affected both him and those that were closest to him. The use of music from Joni Mitchell, Weather Report, and from Pastorius himself helps in its own way to give some insight (in hindsight that is) into the struggle that Pastorius must have fought throughout his life. That is especially the case as it is finally revealed late in the program that he suffered from bipolar disorder. Pastorius is shown sitting in front of a piano at a live venue playing a rather interesting piece that really heightens the importance of the revelation. It is just one example of how the music serves its own important purpose in Jaco’s overall presentation. The changing styles exhibited throughout the course of the program both before and after the revelation of his diagnosis shows in hindsight the intensity of the battle going on inside Pastorius’ mind. When coupled with the footage used to flesh out the story of Pastorius’ life and career the two elements together work with the documentary’s main story (told through collected interviews with those closest to Pastorius) to exhibit even more exactly why Jaco is such a rare and important gem of a documentary. Even with all of this in mind, there is still at least one more element to examine in Jaco’s overall presentation. That final element is the bonus material included with the program.

Both the central story of Jaco Pastorius’ story life and career and the material used to flesh out the story (I.E. the music and footage, which also includes home movies of Pastorius and his family) are integral parts in their own right to the whole of Jaco. While both elements are equally important to the whole of the program, the bonus material included in the presentation’s second disc cannot be ignored in its importance. The bonus material in question is an hour and forty minutes of bonus interview footage in which those closest to Jaco and even those who were more acquaintances share their memories of Pastorius. They share insightful thoughts and happy memories of the legendary bassist. Joni Mitchell shares her thoughts on having to hunt down Pastorius in one interview, revealing that he was at a “rehearsal” with members of Weather Report. In reality, he was where she expected to find him. But he wasn’t practicing. Instead he was playing Frisbee with one of his fellow musicians. There is also a funny anecdote from Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea in which Flea outlines the reach of Pastorius’ body of work as he discusses a young Australian teen that made a bet with him about learning Pastorius’ work. While the bet that Flea and the young gentleman made is itself pretty funny, the outcome of the deal is just as funny. There are also some insights that are at times thought-provoking and at others moving from those that knew him best. Together with the other noted interviews, the whole of those interviews makes Jaco’s bonus material just as important as the presentation’s other noted elements. Audiences will especially agree with this sentiment as they realize that the interviews in question are extensions of the interviews featured in the main body of the documentary. This adds even more interest to the interviews as it allows audiences to get a fuller view of the picture painted by those interviewed. Together with those interview segments and the material that accompanies said segments (the footage and music), all three elements combine to make Jaco a program that will keep audiences completely engaged from beginning to end. And in keeping audiences so solidly engaged, audiences will agree that Jaco proves, in the end, to be one of this year’s most important music documentaries and one of the year’s best new documentaries overall.

Jaco is a rare gem of a documentary. It is just as rare in the realm of music documentaries. That is because of how few documentaries have ever been produced about bass players. That is just part of what makes this presentation so important. The story presented within the documentary makes it even more important. It isn’t just another run-of-the-mill bio piece. It doesn’t follow Pastorius from birth to death. Rather it picks up in his young adult life and goes from there. And unlike so many other music documentaries it reveals a man that was troubled not by drugs and alcohol but by mental disorder. Audiences get more than just a bunch of interviews here, too. They also get a well-edited program that utilizes both home movies and pictures from Pastorius’ life and career, and samples of his music to help better illustrate the story of who Jaco Pastorius was. There are even complete interview segments included as bonus material to make that picture whole and clear. Whether through said interviews, through the noted music samples and footage, or through the program’s main story, audiences get so much from this new profile of one of the music industry’s most prolific performers. All things considered Jaco proves in the end to be without argument one of the most important music documentaries to be released this year and one of the best overall documentaries to be released this year. It is available now in stores and online via MVD Visual’s online store at http://mvdb2b.com/?q=Jaco&s=t&site_id=search&boolean=IN+BOOLEAN+MODE. More information on this and other titles from MVD Visual is available online now at:

 

 

Website: http://mvdb2b.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MVDEntertainmentGroup

 

 

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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Shout! Factory Shines Again In Phil’s Picks’ 2015 Top New DVD/BD Re-Issues List

Every year, dozens of albums get the re-issue treatment courtesy of record labels (and sometimes bands) that are either trying to fulfill contractual obligations or just trying to make a quick buck off of consumers gullible enough to blindly pick up copies of said albums. Sadly most of those albums are anything but worth the price. Though, there are some diamonds in the rough. The same applies in the realm of DVD and Blu-ray re-issues. Every year just as many DVDs and Blu-rays hit store shelves all over again. And just as with the noted albums, most are not worth the price. On the other hand there are some that surprise and show to actually be worth the purchase. This year is no different. Warner Home Video re-issued the classic Peanuts TV specials Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don’t Come Back) and Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown. Both are good specials. But considering the overall lack of bonus material (save for a bonus documentary included in the prior) neither are outstanding. Though, for real Peanuts fans that might not already own either one, they are both at least somewhat worth the purchase if not entirely. On the other end of the spectrum, Timeless Media Group (which is part of the Shout! Factory corporate family) re-issued Gerry Anderson’s classic Supermarionation series Thunderbirds both on DVD and Blu-ray. In comparison to the series’ previous release on DVD back in 2008, this one shines both in terms of its packaging and overall presentation. So it is definitely a great new re-issue. The same applies to CBS DVD’s re-issue of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.: The Complete Series and MPI’s re-issue of My Favorite Martian: The Complete Series. These are just some of the re-issues that made the Phil’s Picks 2015 Top 10 New DVD/BD Re-Issues. They explain how this critic went about deciding on this list. Packaging was taken into effect along with pricing, bonus material, and the presentations’ production values. Also on this year’s list is Shout! Factory’s re-issue of The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, 20th Century Fox’s new BD re-issue of Garfield: The Movie, and Cohen Media Group’s re-issue of Alfred Hitchcock’s little known thriller Jamaica Inn among others. These titles and others are all on this year’s list of the year’s top new DVD and Blu-ray re-issues. As always the Top 10 titles make up the main body of the list while the bottom five were all worth mentioning for at least one reason. They each received honorable mention. So without any further ado I offer for your consideration dear readers the Phil’s Picks 2015 Top 10 New DVD and Blu-ray Re-Issues.

 

PHIL’S PICKS 2015 TOP 10 NEW DVD/BD RE-ISSUES

  1. THUNDERBIRDS: THE COMPLETE SERIES 

    2. GARFIELD: THE MOVIE

    3. JAMAICA INN

    4. STAR TREK THE ORIGINAL SERIES: THE COMPLETE SERIES

    5. MY FAVORITE MARTIAN: THE COMPLETE SERIES

    6. GOMER PYLE, U.S.M.C.: THE COMPLETE SERIES

    7. I LOVE LUCK: THE ULTIMATE SEASON TWO

    8. THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE

    9. THE LEGEND OF THE LONE RANGER

    10. ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT

    11. I LOVE LUCY: THE COMPLETE SERIES

    12. ROBOT JOX

    13. ALADDIN

    14. BON VOYAGE, CHARLIE BROWN (AND DON’T COME BACK)

    15. RACE FOR YOUR LIFE, CHARLIE BROWN

 

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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.