Nation Beat Releases Carnival Caravan Today

Courtesy:  Nation Beat Music

Courtesy: Nation Beat Music

Multi-cultural music group Nation Beat releases its new EP today. Carnival Caravan will be released today in stores and online. The Brooklyn, NY-based collective’s five-track EP feature performances by not only Nation Beat but also from the Mardi Gras Indian/funk group Cha Wa. Carnival Caravan’s complete track listing is noted below.

Carnival Caravan Track Listing

  1. Casa Diamante / Sew Sew Sew (feat. Cha Wa)
  2. Vou Cantar Esse Coco (feat. Silverio Pessoa)
  3. Golden Crown (feat. Cha Wa)
  4. Canto da Ema / All On a Mardi Gras Day (feat. Cha Wa)
  5. Liza Jane (feat. Cha Wa)

‘Cantar Esse Coco (ft. Silverio Pessoa)’ and the disc’s opener ‘Casa Diamante /Sew Sew Sew,’ which also features the music of Cha Wa, are both Latin-tinged works that will have listeners instantly on their feet. There is also a Dixieland-style piece included in the record that comes in the form of the group’s cover of ‘Liza Jane (ft. Cha Wa).’ Nation Beat is currently touring in support of Carnival Caravan. Its current schedule takes it through September 17th in Hartford, CT.  The group’s current tour schedule is listed below.

Courtesy:  Nation Beat Music

Courtesy: Nation Beat Music

DATE                                               CITY                                          VENUE

August 1                                       Queens, NY                                  Queens Library

August 2                                       New York, NY                    Central Park Summer Stage

August 8                                       Bethlehem, PA                                  Musikfest

Sept. 17                                        Hartford, CT                                  Real Art Ways

Audiences can keep up with the latest updates on Carnival Caravan and Nation Beat’s tour schedule online now along with all of the group’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.nationbeat.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nation-Beat/10175932771

Twitter: http://twitter.com/nationbeat

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.

Blanchard’s New Album Will Leave Listeners Breathless

Courtesy:  Blue Note Records

Courtesy: Blue Note Records

Famed trumpet player Terence Blanchard has seemingly done it all since first becoming a household name some thirty-five years ago with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra. He has remained one of the most influential musicians in the music industry throughout that time. He has also composed and arranged some of the most beloved songs that music lovers and moviegoers have ever heard. He has also become a well-respected educator. Considering this, one would think that Blanchard would be happy doing everything that he does. Apparently he is not one to rest easily on his laurels, having released countless studio recordings and movie soundtracks throughout his career. This past May, Blanchard added to his already extensive catalogue of recordings when he released his latest studio effort Breathless. Released May 26th via Blue Note Records, Breathless is an aptly titled record. That is because it will in fact leave listeners breathless with awe with its thirteen total tracks. The songs that make up the body of the record will leave audiences so in awe primarily because of their diversity. Blanchard doesn’t stick solely to the realm of jazz in this album. Rather he expands out into other musical avenues throughout the course of the record, presenting pieces that audiences of all tastes will appreciate. The structure of the songs is also of note. That is especially the case in regards to the more jazz and fusion oriented pieces. The attention to detail in regards to those songs’ structures will keep listeners entirely engaged even despite the length of some of said compositions. Last but not least worth noting of Breathless that makes it an aptly titled album is the sequencing of the album’s songs. Just as much attention was paid to the general effect of the album in its sequencing as to the creation of the songs themselves. That element, when set alongside the structure of the songs, and their diverse nature, completes the album and shows in full why Breathless will indeed leave listeners breathless in the best possible way.

Terence Blanchard’s latest full-length studio release Breathless is an aptly titled album. As noted already, that is because it will in fact leave listeners breathless in the best possible way. The main way in which it leaves audiences so in awe is in its selection of songs. Throughout the course of the album’s thirteen tracks, Blanchard and his fellow musicians–Oscar Seaton (drums), Donald Ramsey (bass), Charles Altura (guitar), Fabian Almazan (keyboards, electronics), and P.J. Morton (vocals)–do not stick solely to one style of music. Blanchard’s jazz roots are there in the form of the Miles Davis-esque ‘See Me As I Am’ and the more smooth jazz style ‘Everglades.’ ‘Shutting Down’ exhibits blatant R&B sounds, and ‘Compared to What,’ the album’s opener, exhibits a clear funk style vibe. There is even a song in ‘Cosmic Warrior’ that could be argued to have something of a rock influence. That obviously doesn’t even cover all of the songs featured throughout the course of the album’s seventy-eight minute run time. Along with everything else already noted, Blanchard and company have also included a pair of semi-spoken word pieces of sorts in the form of ‘Samadhi’ and the album’s title track. Those wanting something with a little more energy will enjoy the fusion style of ‘Confident Selflessness.’ If all of that isn’t enough, the funk/hip hop hybrid sound of ‘Soldiers’ will impress listeners. That sound combines with that of the other noted songs and that of the compositions not noted to display a variety of sounds that will impress listeners of all ages and in turn keep said listeners engaged from start to finish. That variety is within itself plenty of reason for listeners of all ages to take in Breathless. In giving it a chance, those listeners that do will agree that such a swath of sounds in itself will leave them breathless and in awe. It is just the tip of the iceberg in what makes Breathless such an aptly titled record, too. The structure of many of the songs is just as certain to leave listeners breathless.

The diverse range of sounds displayed throughout the course of Breathless’ thirteen tracks is within itself certain to leave listeners breathless and in awe by the time the record ends. Of course as key as this is to the record’s enjoyment, the structure of the songs is just as important to note. ‘Everglades,’ the album’s third track is proof positive of the importance of the songs’ structures. ‘Everglades’ runs a total of fourteen minutes and thirty-four seconds. For many listeners, that may seem like a rather long run time. However those that allow themselves to be immersed in the song will hear for themselves just why the song’s structure is so important in relation to its run time. The song is split clearly into a definitive ABC pattern over the course of its run time. Throughout the course of those three sections, the song doesn’t just switch from one section to the next. Rather it evolves as it progresses, starting softly and growing until it reaches its climax roughly halfway through. From there, it switches very quickly, gradually descending in intensity straight through to the song’s closing seconds. The song’s balance as it rises and falls makes its fourteen-minute plus run time feel much less. Simply put, it makes that run time feel like little more than a background note for lack of better wording.

The well thought out structure of ‘Everglades’ is within itself solid proof of the importance of the overall structure of Breathless’ songs in its enjoyment. It’s just one example of the importance of the songs’ structure in the record’s overall impact. ‘See Me As I Am,’ the album’s second song is another example of the importance of song structure to the album’s enjoyment. This song is in part a direct throwback to Miles Davis’ legendary album Kind of Blue thanks to Blanchard’s smooth work on the trumpet alongside the talents of his band mates. The song comes in at nearly nine minutes (8:53 to be exact). Yet its structure (its arrangement) makes that run time just as inconsequential as that of ‘Everglades.’ Its arrangement encourages listeners to close their eyes and take in the music. Those listeners that do take it in will note how time seems to simply slip by as the song progresses. That is again thanks to the attention paid to the song’s structure as it was being composed and performed. Understanding this, audiences will once again agree why the structure (arrangement) of the songs is just as pivotal to leaving listeners breathless and in awe by the album’s end as the diversity of the songs themselves.

‘Everglades’ and ‘See Me As I Am’ are both solid examples of why the arrangements, or structures, of Breathless’ songs are so important to the album’s enjoyment overall. ‘Compared To What’ is one more example of the importance of the structure of the songs in the bigger picture of the album’s enjoyment. At five minutes and forty-nine seconds, it is not the album’s shortest song. Nor is it the album’s longest. But it does exceed the standard three to five-minute run time of most mainstream songs. Audiences will note in regards to this song’s arrangement that it keeps the energy flowing from start to finish. At no one point from start to finish does it let up. Its sustained energy makes it a perfect choice to open the album and an equally solid lead-in to the more reserved sound of ‘See Me As I Am’ before the rest of the album progresses. Speaking of the rest of the album, this composition is just one more of so many included in Breathless that could be used to exemplify the importance of the songs’ structure in the enjoyment of the record in whole. The structure of those other songs together with that of the pieces noted here shows in whole why together with the choice of songs, Breathless will leave listeners breathless and in total awe of the talents of Blanchard and his band mates.

The structure, or arrangement, of each of Breathless’ songs taken into consideration along with the choice of songs featured throughout the record show clearly why this record will leave listeners breathless in the best way possible. While both elements together play an important, collective role in the success and enjoyment of Breathless, they are not all that should be noted in that success and enjoyment. The sequencing of the songs is noteworthy, too. Listeners will note that from its high-energy opener to the laid back grooves of its title track to the deeper, and at times heavier sound of ‘Cosmic Warrior’ to the gentle tones of the album’s closer ‘Midnight,’ the sequencing of each of the album’s songs proves quite important in its own right to the enjoyment and success of this standout album. The energy level of each song in relation to the other makes the album’s near eighty-minute run time pass by in the best way possible, leaving. By the end, listeners will feel completely satisfied knowing that they have just heard an album that once again will leave them breathless in the best way possible.

Terence Blanchard’s latest full-length LP is a surprisingly enjoyable new release. From start to finish, the thirteen-track record shows in a number of ways just what makes it such an enjoyable collection of songs. The ways in which it does so include: its diverse selection of songs, the structure, or arrangement of said songs, and the overall sequencing of those songs. All three elements prove to be of equal importance in the enjoyment of this album. Collectively, they prove with the fullest clarity why Breathless will leave listeners breathless in the best way possible. Breathless is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct from Blue Note Records’ online store at http://bluenote.shop.bravadousa.com/Product.aspx?cp=60921&pc=BGCDBU37. More information on Breathless is available now online along with all of the latest news and more from Terence Blanchard at:

Website: http://www.terenceblanchard.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/T_Blanchard

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.

Devil City Angels Debuts New Single

Courtesy:  Century Media Records

Courtesy: Century Media Records

Rock and roll super group Devil City Angels will release its self-titled debut album this fall. In anticipation of its release, the collective of veteran talents—Rikki Rocket (Poison), Tracii Guns (L.A. Guns), Rudy Sarzo (Quiet Riot, Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake), and Brandon Gibbs (Cheap Thrill)—has debuted the latest single from its upcoming album.

Devil City Angels debuted its latest single ‘All I Need’ this week and is currently streaming the single online via Revolver Magazine. Audiences can hear the song now at Revolver’s website at http://www.revolvermag.com/news/devil-city-angels-premiere-new-song-all-i-need.html. Audiences that are fans of the rock sound of the late 80s and early 90s will enjoy this song with its lighthearted sound. Its debut follows the premiere of the video for the album’s lead single ‘Boneyard,’ which can be seen online now via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjrB0N6aBvY&feature=youtu.be. The video is a direct throwback to the classic rock videos of the 80s complete with footage of the band performing and of course the mandatory female dancer.

Devil City Angels will be available in stores and online on Friday, September 18th via Century Media Records in a variety of bundle packages as well as by itself. Pre-orders for the album begin tomorrow via iTunes and Century Media’s online store. Those choosing to pre-order the album via Century Media’s online store can do so online at http://www.indiemerch.com/cmrecords/brand/devil-city-angels. Those that pre-order the album via iTunes will get both ‘All I Need’ and ‘Boneyard’ as instant grat racks. It can also be pre-ordered via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Devil-City-Angels/dp/B01169B5NY.

More information on Devil City Angels is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at http://www.facebook.com/DevilCityAngels. 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.

Hill Street Blues Reaches One Of Its Highest Points In Its Fifth Season

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/NBC

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/NBC

Crime dramas today are a dime a dozen.  It seems like every broadcast and cable network across the spectrum today has its own crime drama original or otherwise.  The problem with this overabundance of crime dramas is that given their massive numbers it is difficult if not impossible to truly point out one as being more original than others.  For all of the cookie cutter crime dramas that are splashed across the networks every week, there are those that have and still do stand out even today.  One of the most notable of those dramas is NBC’s classic series Hill Street Blues.  Last year, Shout! Factory released the series in its entirety for its fans.  It proceeded to follow up that release with the release of the series’ third and fourth seasons in their own standalone box sets.  The reason that the company didn’t start those standalone season sets with Season One is likely linked to distribution rights.  Seasons One and Two were released in their own box sets nine years ago by 20th Century Fox.  With any luck Shout! Factory will obtain the rights in the not too distant future for those two seasons so that Shout! Factory will be able to release the series in full even in its own standalone boxes.  Getting back on track, Shout! Factory continued its series of Hill Street Blues standalone sets this past May when it released Season Five in its own box.  Five seasons into its run Hill Street Blues proved why this classic series was then and is now one of the best of its kind.  The central way in which it shows this is throughout its writing.  The writing behind this season’s run continues to expertly balance both the stories of the officers on duty and in their own personal lives without re-hashing story lines that had already been used in the series’ previous seasons.  By direct connection, the level of explicit content displayed throughout these episodes is completely unlike that of the crime dramas that fill out the networks today.  Having noted both elements, there is one more element to note of Season Five that makes it stand out.  It is the set’s packaging; more specifically, the inclusion of a full episode guide yet again with the box.  This is nothing new for Shout! Factory or for its Hill Street Blues releases.  And it is yet another welcome addition.  That element alongside the writing behind each of the season’s episodes and the episodes’ overall content rounds out the set and proves in the end why it is yet another release that fans will want to add to their own home collections.

Hill Street Blues is one of the most original crime dramas to grace any television network broadcast or other since the advent of the genre.  It proved this for seven seasons from 1981 to 1987.  Even in comparison to the various crime dramas across the TV spectrum today, it stands proudly against those overly (and unnecessarily) violent, gritty programs.  That is just as evident in the series’ fifth season as any of its first four runs and the final pair that would come after.  It is so evident primarily thanks to the work of the series’ writers.  Instead of being a show centered purely on crime investigations, it also focused on the personal lives of the officers even five seasons into its run.  Sure, other crime dramas that have come since have tried to echo that writing style.  But few if any have truly succeeded in emulating it.  One example of how the writing continued to stand out in its fifth season comes in the form of Episode 87 “Fuched Again.”  This episode tackles the classic story lines centered on corruption within the police force and even city government.  While the story lines are nothing new to the realm of crime dramas, the way in which the show’s writers handled them here sets them apart from every other instance in which they have been presented in other shows.  One way in which it is set apart from those other instances is that there is a sort of Jack Ruby feel added in to the story as a former high-ranking officer is implicated in the killing of a would-be assassin who tried to kill the city’s mayor.  On a similar note, it just so happens that the corruption that is discovered within the force is linked directly (and fittingly enough) to a member of the squad’s narcotics department.  There is much more that goes on in this episode, proving why this episode stands out as an example of the strength of the season’s writing.  Audiences will just have to find out the other ways in which the writing stands out for themselves when they pick up this set for themselves.

The writing exhibited in “Fuched Again” is just one example of how the writing incorporated into Season Five’s episodes makes Hill Street Blues stand out yet again.  “G.Q.” is another example of how the series’ writing keeps the series so enthralling even five seasons in.  At the heart of this episode is a conflict between Hill and Renko that finally boils over.  The conflict between the pair rose from events that happened previously in the season.  The very fact that the show’s writers could carry what is essentially one story arc within the season without letting it become the center of the entire season is in itself a clear example of the writers’ talents.  In an age today when serials seem to control every aspect of mainstream television, this series shows that it is possible to have a show with its own self-contained story arcs within each season.  On another note, there is another, smaller story of police corruption being uncovered as Davenport has to take a stand against housing authority officers who framed a young African-American boy for a broken window at the O’Neil Projects.  The ability of the writers to balance this story with the episode’s two other story arcs and said stories’ originality shows again expert talent from the writers.  That talent shows in larger part again why the writing incorporated into the fifth season of Hill Street Blues is so pivotal to its success.

The season premiere, in which Jablonski is introduced to the squad, is yet another example of the writers’ continued talents this season.  New character introductions are commonplace in ongoing series such as this one.  The problem is that the manner in which they are introduced has become just as trite as other stories presented within the world of crime dramas.  Jablonski’s introduction stands out from other new character introductions as it is linked an allegedly not so pleasant incident with another officer at another station.  In other words, he was brought to Hill Street not because of a promotion but because of a re-assignment.  This isn’t typically the case when it comes to such introductions in other crime dramas.  The writers also take on the topic of capital punishment as Celestine Grey is scheduled to be executed.  Interestingly enough, not everyone is for the execution.  Both story arcs will have audiences completely engaged from beginning to end and are just as expertly balanced as those presented in the previously noted episodes.  It shows yet again the talent of the series’ writers even so deep into the show’s run and proves even more why the show’s writing is so key to its success at this point.  Whether for this episode, the other two noted here or for any of the season’s other episodes, every episode presented across Season Five’s standalone set shows in its own way the talent of the show’s writers.  All episodes considered together, they show clearly why the writing behind this season lies at the center of its success.

The writing incorporated into Season Five is the central point of its success.  That is clear in examining each one of the season’s episodes.  While it is central to Season Five’s success, it is just one element of the season’s success.  The overall content displayed in each episode is just as key to the season’s success.  Viewers will note that in comparison to the crime dramas on television today, the level of overt blood, violence and sexuality presented throughout Hill Street Blues’ seven-season run is far less than that of said programs.  That is just as obvious in Season Five as in any of the series’ previous seasons and the pair of runs that followed.  Considering how limited said content proves to be, it makes the show that much more worth the watch.  It proves yet again that a series doesn’t have to rely on such elements in order to succeed.  Being that it doesn’t have to rely on said elements, that lack of overt violence and otherwise graphic content  coupled with the writing incorporated into Season Five makes this collection that much more enjoyable for the show’s original fan base.

Both the writing incorporated into Season Five’s episodes and the overall lack of graphic content are important in their own right to the success and enjoyment of Hill Street Blues: Season Five.  While both elements are of equal value and importance they are not all that makes it another win for fans of the series and for Shout! Factory.  The packaging used for this season rounds out its positives.  More specifically speaking, the inclusion once again of a complete episode guide inside the set’s case rounds out the set.  As with Shout! Factory’s previous Hill Street Blues box sets (and so many other box sets from the leading name in home entertainment), audiences get a complete episode guide printed on the inside of the box’s cover art.  It is printed on the front and back of the box art, clearly outlining which episodes are on which disc.  There is also a short but concise summary of each episode included with each episode listed inside the box. Each summary gives just enough information to catch viewers’ attention and give a clear picture of the episodes’ stories at the same time. Thanks to that packaging element, audiences don’t have to waste their time going through each disc or looking up the episodes online to figure out whether or not they want to watch them. It is a great way to round out this latest full season set of Hill Street Blues. Together with the work of the show’s writers displayed across the noted episodes, and the relatively tame content (in comparison to today’s crime dramas), all three elements together show fully why Hill Street Blues: Season Five is another welcome addition to the collection of any of the series’ fans.

Hill Street Blues: Season Five offers fans of the classic crime drama plenty of reason to add this collection to their personal home DVD collections. The writing incorporated into each of its episodes presents stories that once again stand apart from anything offered to viewers by today’s crime dramas. They are more human for lack of better wording. The overall lack of explicit content once again presented here adds even more reason for fans of the classic series to add this standalone season set to their own home collections. The inclusion of a full episode listing complete with episode summaries rounds out the set’s positives. All three elements considered together, they show clearly why any fan of Hill Street Blues should have this latest collection of episodes to their own home DVD library. Hill Street Blues: Season Five is available now online and in stores and can be ordered direct from Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/crime/hill-street-blues-season-five. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

 

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.

Angels, Astros Face Off In AL Divisional Matchup Tonight On WNB

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

All eyes will be on the Astros and Angels tonight as the teams face off in an AL West divisional showdown on ESPN’s Wednesday Night Baseball.

Tonight’s matchup is the rubber match in the teams’ three-game series. It marks only the second time this season that ESPN has traveled to Houston for its MLB coverage. Lance McCullers is slated to get the start for the ‘Stros while Garrett Richards is expected to get the start for the visiting Angels. Richards’ last time on the mound was last Thursday against Minnesota. He took the loss in the game, allowing four hits, three runs, three earned runs, and three walks and one home run over eight innings pitched. He struck out five batters En route to the Angels’ loss. Mike Morin replaced Richards in the ninth, allowing only one hit, no runs, no earned runs, no walks, no home runs, and struck out two batters.

McCullers’ last time taking the mound was this past Thursday against the Red Sox. He pitched five innings in the team’s 5 – 4 win over Boston, allowing six hits, two runs, two earned runs, three walks, and one home run along the way. He also struck out two batters before heading to the dugout. While those numbers paint one picture, McCullers didn’t do too badly having faced twenty-four batters in his time on the mound, throwing fifty-two strikes in eighty-nine pitches.

The Angels currently lead the AL West division sitting near even with the second place Astros. Both teams are far better at home than on the road so far on the season with the Angels going 32 – 21 (h) and 23 – 23 (a), and the Astros going 34 – 17 (h) and 22 – 28 (a). The Angels are 6 – 4 in their last ten games versus Houston’s 7 – 3 record in its last ten games.

Dave Flemming will have the call for tonight’s NL showdown. He will be joined in the booth by analyst Rick Sutcliffe. Fellow analyst Doug Glanville will be in the outfield covering both teams’ defense while analysts Eduardo Perez and Eric Wedge will be in the Astros’ and Angels’ dugouts respectively with all of the latest from both teams. Perez is a former Astros coach and Angels 1991 first round pick. Tonight’s game will be simulcast on television and online via ESPN, ESPN3, and WatchESPN. More information on tonight’s game is available online now along with all of the latest MLB headlines at:

Website: http://espn.go.com/mlb

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

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 Sets Its Sights On NL Playoff Race Sunday And Monday On SNB, MNB

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

August, for most people, is part of what is known as the “dog days of summer.” It is one of the hottest times of the year weather-wise. It is also one of the hottest times of the year for Major League Baseball. That is because things really start to get heated in the race for the playoffs. And this weekend things will definitely get hot in the Big Apple as the Mets host the Nationals on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell in a National League showdown that will definitely have playoff implications for both teams.

Sunday’s game will be the closer in a three-game series between the NL East foes. The series kicks off Friday evening at Shea Stadium. Noah Syndergaard is expected to take the mound for the hometown boys while Jordan Zimmerman is expected to start for the Nats. Syndergaard’s last time taking the mound was Tuesday against the Padres and was credited with the win in that game. He pitched eight innings, allowing only three hits, no runs, no earned runs, and no walks En route to the win. He also struck out nine batters and allowed no home runs.

Zimmerman’s last time on the mound was Tuesday against Miami. Zimmerman took the loss in Miami’s 4 – 1 win over the Nats. He allowed eight hits, three runs, three earned runs, and two walks over six innings and struck out only two batters before being pulled in the seventh.

The Nationals currently lead the National League East division with the Mets trailing in second place by only a single game. Right now the Mets sit precariously in seventh place in the National League standings only a spot ahead of eighth place Arizona, who sits right now at 48 – 51 on the season. New York currently sits 52 – 48 on the season and split its last ten games going 5 – 5 along the way. However, the team is currently in the midst of a three-game win streak that includes a win Tuesday night against the Padres in New York. Tuesday’s game is part of a three-game home stand against the Padres that wraps Thursday night at Shea Stadium. By the numbers, the Mets are much better at home (35 – 16) than on the road (17 – 32). That bodes well for the Mets as the team continues its home stand this weekend against the Nats as they, too are better at home than on the road, going 28 – 19 at home and 24 – 27 on the road so far this season.

Dan Shulman will have the call for Sunday night’s game between the Mets and Nats. He will be joined by his SNB cohorts-analysts Curt Schilling and John Kruk—in the booth. Reporters Buster Olney will also be on hand with all of the latest news and updates on the game and from around the league. Broadcast is scheduled to begin at 8pm ET. It will be preceded, as it is each week, by Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown presented by Chevrolet, at 7pm ET. Karl Ravech will anchor the broadcast and will be joined by analyst Rick Sutcliffe and reporter Nicole Briscoe. Those that won’t be near a TV Sunday night can still catch both broadcasts online via WatchESPN. Sunday’s game will be simulcast in Spanish via ESPN Deportes for ESPN’s Spanish-speaking audiences.

*             *             *

Monday night on ESPN’s Monday Night Baseball presented by USAA, the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates open a three-game series between the NL Central foes. This series, too has playoff implications as both teams are in the hunt for the post-season with Pittsburgh currently sitting second in the National League at 58 – 41, five and a half games back from the NL-leading Cardinals. Chicago sits sixth in the National League standings at 52 – 47. Pittsburgh has split its last ten games, going 5 – 5 along the way and has won its last two games. Before hosting the Cubs next Monday, Pittsburgh looks to finish off the Twins tonight in the teams’ two-game series before heading to Cincinnati to face the struggling Reds in a four-game series that wraps this Sunday night. While Pittsburgh is far better at home than on the road, the team’s series against Cincinnati could improve its road record if the Reds’ struggles continue. And that could play into Pittsburgh’s momentum as it opens its series against the Cubs Monday night. Dave O’Brien will have the call for Monday’s game. He will be joined in the booth by analysts Aaron Boone and Dallas Braden for additional commentary and coverage.  Monday’s game will be simulcast on television and online via ESPN, ESPN Deportes, and WatchESPN. Currently there is no information regarding who will take the mound for the Pirates or Cubs for Monday’s game. Fans on both sides of the ball can keep up with that information online now along with all of the latest baseball news at:

 

Website: http://espn.go.com/mlb

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

 

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.

BSO To Release Its First Holiday Album In A Decade This Fall

Courtesy:  Surfdog Records

Courtesy: Surfdog Records

It may be summer. But that doesn’t mean that some people’s minds are already on the holidays.

Brian Setzer announced this week that his band The Brian Setzer Orchestra will release its new holiday album Rockin’ Rudolph on Friday, October 16th. The album, which will be released via Surfdog Records, will be the first holiday record to have been released by the band in ten years. The twelve-track record will feature updated renditions of timeless classics including: ‘Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree,’ ‘Carol of the Bells,’ ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,’ ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem,’ and others alongside new pieces such as: ‘Yabba-Dabba-Yuletide,’ ‘ Rockabilly Rudolph,’ ‘Little Jack Frost,’ and ‘Swingin’ Joy.’ The complete track listing for Rockin’ Rudolph is noted below.

Standard ROCKIN’ RUDOLPH track listing:

 

  1. “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”
  2. “Yabba-Dabba Yuletide”
  3. “Most Wonderful Time of the Year”
  4. “Rockabilly Rudolph”
  5. “Here Comes Santa Claus”
  6. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”
  7. “Swingin’ Joy”
  8. “Carol of the Bells”
  9. “Little Jack Frost”
  10. “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”
  11. “O Little Town of Bethlehem”
  12. “Yabba-Dabba Yuletide” (extended)

 

Rockin’ Rudolph was produced by Peter Collins (Rush, Bon Jovi, Alice Cooper, etc.). Along with its standard presentation, fans can also get their hands on a special Limited Edition numbered Deluxe presentation can be purchased online at http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/thebriansetzerorchestra. The special edition includes everything noted below.

 

The ROCKIN’ RUDOLPH DELUXE BOX SET includes:

  1. Brand New Rockin’ Rudolph album on CD
  2. Commemorative Sheet Music / Guitar Chart to “Nutcracker Suite” (just as Brian reads on stage!)
  3. Custom Brian Setzer Die-cut Christmas Tree Ornament (3″ tall, alloy metal)
  4. Brian Setzer’s Own Murray’s Pomade (Hair Product)
  5. Commemorative BSO “Martini Logo” Stainless Steel Guitar Pick
  6. BSO Christmas Album Cover Drink Coasters
  7. Six Polaroid-style BSO Concert Photos
  8. “Live in Nashville” 10×10 print
  9. Reusable 8GB USB Credit Card w/ Extras, including:
  • Hi-definition .wav files of full 12-track ROCKIN’ RUDOLPH album
  • 2 New Bonus Instrumental Tracks Not Included on Album:  “Deck The Halls” & “Little Drummer Boy”
  • Album Cover Rough Sketches by Artist Derek Yaniger
  • Brief Behind-the-scenes video footage of BSO’s Rockin’ Rudolph recording session (House of Blues studio in Nashville, TN.)
  • “Jingle Bells” – Live Performance by BSO (previously released)
  • “Nutcracker Suite” – Live Performance by BSO (previously released)
  • Behind-the-scenes look at Brian writing entire big band arrangement from scratch (previously released)
Photo Credit: Russ Harrington

Photo Credit: Russ Harrington

When asked why he waited so long to make his new holiday album, Setzer noted primarily the span of time between its upcoming release and that of his last holiday album. “It’s been about 10 years since I made a Christmas record,” he said. In regards to the track listing chosen for the record, Setzer noted the popularity of the genre and all of the songs that he hadn’t yet touched on saying, “It [Christmas music] just seems to get more popular every year. They’re classic songs and you wonder after a couple records how many of them are left. Once you dig in you find, wow! I’ve haven’t done ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,’ you know. I’ve never done ‘Here Comes Santa Claus!’ Ones that everyone knows and are still out there. These songs are great songs. It doesn’t matter if they’re holiday songs or when they were written, they’re just great songs.” He added that in working up the new renditions, he paid attention to their style, making sure that they would be appealing to audiences of all ages saying, “The trick is to make them sound hip. Some of them are eternally hip, you know, so you don’t have to do too much.”

Rockin’ Rudolph will be released in stores and online on Friday, October 16th via Surfdog Records. More information on the upcoming compilation is available online now along with all of Setzer’s latest news and updates at:

Website: http://www.briansetzer.com

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

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