Ben Rudnick And Friends’ New Record Is A Fun Ride Through The Musical Universe

Courtesy:  Bartlett Ave Records

Courtesy: Bartlett Ave Records

Kindie rock artist Ben Rudnick is no stranger to the world of children’s music. Over the course of his roughly fifteen years making music for the whole family, he has released no fewer than ten total recordings. The latest of those recordings, the thirteen-track album Love Is A Superpower, was released in 2012. Now three years removed from that recording, Rudnick and company (Ben Rudnick and Friends as they are more properly called) have re-issued the group’s ’09 album A Frog Named Sam in a manner of speaking. The difference here is that this “re-issue” isn’t necessarily a re-issue in the traditional sense of the term. That is because it doesn’t just re-hash that album. Rather it lifts from each of Rudnick’s previous LPs to form what is in essence a ten track album that also includes five reprisals for a total of fifteen tracks. The end result is a collection of songs that Rudnick and company have playfully dubbed A Frog Named Sam: A Musical For Children. It can be safely assumed that such a title was playful in nature since there doesn’t seem to be any actual “movie” or presentation to which this collection of previously released songs is connected from Rudnick and company. That aside, the compilation in whole is a recording that listeners of all ages will enjoy and appreciate. The central reason for that is the lyrical makeup of the record’s featured songs. The topics presented in each of the featured songs vary from one to the next and each is equally positive and important. This will be discussed at more length shortly. Just as important to note of Rudnick’s new record is the equally varied musical makeup of each song. There is just as much variance in the songs’ musical content as there is in their lyrical content. Last but hardly least of note here is the record’s sequencing. As previously noted, the ten tracks that make up the body of this record are separated out by a series of short vignettes that reprise the introductory line from the album’s title track. If Rudnick and company should actually make a whole movie of sorts to connect to this album then those segments will work pretty well in their own right. In this setting, though they serve a different yet equally useful purpose. Together with the songs’ musical and lyrical content, those short segments round out the record and make it one that will in fact leave listeners hoping Rudnick and friends actually do make a “movie” to connect to this record.

Ben Rudnick and friends’ “new” record A Frog Named Sam: A Musical For Children is an interesting new collection of songs for the veteran children’s entertainer and his fellow musicians. That is because the record is neither new nor even a traditional re-issue. Rather it presents a number of the group’s previously recorded songs in this setting for what is essentially a compilation record. Even with that being the case it is still a good introduction for those that might not be familiar with Runick’s work. That is thanks first and foremost to the lyrical content presented in each of the record’s featured songs. From a pro-literacy piece in ‘Reading a Book’ to the uplifting ‘When Something’s Got You Terribly Blue’ to the equally uplifting ‘Love Is A Superpower’ Rudnick and his fellow musicians offer plenty of reason to smile throughout this record. The latter pair of songs are both uplifting just in different ways. The first touts the benefits of having a good friend while the latter of the pair presents the power of love in every form. If those positive messages aren’t enough for fans, then the silly culinary-based song ‘Macaroni an Cheese’ and the upbeat ‘Race Car’ definitely will be. The same goes for the album’s closer ‘Coney Island Crazy.’ For those that have never had the pleasure of making the trip to one of America’s greatest theme parks, Rudnick and company paint a wonderfully vibrant picture of a trip to the park with their lyrics. The same goes for the picture painted in ‘Race Car.’ Those that have never watched a race (whether it be NASCAR, Verizon Indycar Series, F1, or other) will want to see or even attend their first race after hearing this piece. That is especially thanks to the song’s musical content. Speaking of musical content, the musical makeup of ‘Race Car’ and the record’s other songs are another reason that this new compilation is such a good introduction to Rudnick’s music.

The lyrical content presented in Ben Rudnick and Friends’ new compilation is collectively plenty of reason for audiences to check out this record. The lyrical content presented throughout the record runs the gamut, ranging from mildly serious topics such as literacy and friendship to the absolutely silly as in ‘Race Car’ and ‘Macaroni and Cheese.’ While the lyrical content proves important in its own right to the record’s enjoyment, the record’s collective musical content is just as important to its overall presentation. That is because it is just as varied as the album’s lyrical content. The album’s opener is a semi-psychadelic piece that takes listeners back to the days of Frank Zappa and others. ‘Coney Island Crazy’ will impress listeners of all ages with its Chuck Berry-influenced guitar riffs. ‘Macaroni and Cheese’ is just as intriguing with its mix of old school disco and funk sounds in its main body. There’s even a touch of a reggae influence coupled with country/bluegrass at another point in the song. Needless to say the whole of those sounds will definitely keep listeners’ ears from start to finish. Speaking of that country/bluegrass mix, there is also a healthy serving of bluegrass, country, and even folk spread across the record in the Bob Dylan-esque ‘When Something’s Got You Terribly Blue,’ ‘Reading A Book,’ ‘My Horse,’ ‘I Got A New Friend,’ and ‘Race Car.’ There’s even a throwback to the 1960s and ’70s to a point in ‘The Adventure Song.’ Considering the amount of variety in the songs’ musical content there is plenty for audiences to appreciate in this element of the recording, too. Together with the variety of lyrical topics presented throughout the record, both elements work together to make this a compilation that will take listeners of all ages on a fun musical adventure from start to finish.

The musical and lyrical content presented throughout the course of Ben Rudnick and Friends’ new compilation make it a record that will take listeners of all ages on a wonderful musical adventure from start to finish. Of course for all of the importance of those elements, there is still one more key element to note in this record. That last element is the collective vignettes that serve as occasional separators. There are only four of these vignettes throughout the course of the record’s thirty-two minute run time. But they still help to break up the record and keep listeners engaged. That is because they are placed with some seeming strategy throughout the record. If there were actually a movie of sorts which connected to this compilation, it would be interesting to see what the vignettes’ companion video would look like in each scene. Even without that visual aid though, it can be said that they help listeners collect themselves at specific points and in turn remain engaged right to the compilation’s up-tempo closer. In keeping listeners so well engaged, listeners will in turn agree that the reprisals are in fact just as important as the record’s overall musical and lyrical content even despite each one’s short length. Each gives just enough time for listeners to collect themselves before the next song (and set of songs) gets under way. It is just one more way in which this record proves itself an enjoyable ride through the musical universe for listeners of all ages. Together with the record’s overall musical and lyrical content, all three elements prove it to be not just an enjoyable ride through the musical universe but also one of 2015’s most intriguing children’s recordings.

Ben Rudnick and Friends’ latest full length recording is an enjoyable ride through the musical universe. It is also one of 2015’s most intriguing children’s records, as audiences will learn on that ride. Over the course of that ride, listeners of all ages are exposed to a number of lyrical topics, all of which the whole family will enjoy. The same can be said of the record’s musical makeup. Considering this and the reprisals that break up the album the ride in whole proves even more to be one that listeners of all ages will enjoy with every listen. It is available now. More information on A Frog Named Sam: A Musical For Children is available online now along with all of Ben Rudnick and Friends’ latest news at:

Website: http://www.benrudnick.com

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

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.

ESPN Announces MNF Pre-Season Broadcast Schedule

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Spring is one of the greatest times of the year for sports fans. The NHL and NBA are both headed into their respective playoffs. MLB is just getting started. The auto racing world is in high gear. And in the world of football, many universities are planning their annual spring football scrimmages ahead of the annual NFL draft. It also means one other thing for sports fans. It means the annual announcement by ESPN of the network’s pre-season football coverage. And make that announcement is exactly what the worldwide leader in sports did Thursday.

ESPN announced Thursday that it has two games on tap for its 2015 Monday Night Football schedule. The first of those games is a matchup of the Browns and Bills on Thursday, August 20th in Cleveland. It will be the first chance for new Bills coach and former Jets coach Rex Ryan to put his team, which now features All-Pro running back LeSean McCoy, on display. On the other side of the ball, it is believed that Johnny Manziel will be fighting for his career as the Browns host the Bills in the AFC matchup.

The second matchup on ESPN’s Monday Night Football pre-season schedule will see Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals on the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday, August 24th. The Bucs struggled mightily in the 2014- 2015 season and will have the #1 pick in this year’s NFL Draft as a result of those struggles.

The MNF broadcast team of Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden will have the call for both games. They will be joined once again by sideline reporter Lisa Salters. Both games are schedule for an 8pm ET start time and will be preceded by an hour-long edition of ESPN’s weekly NFL pre-game show Monday Night Countdown. ESPN’s Spanish-speaking audiences will be able to catch both games on television on ESPN Deportes, ESPN’s 24-hour Spanish-language domestic sports network. ESPN Deportes will also have coverage of every regular season MNF broadcast.

Along with coverage on television via ESPN and ESPN Deportes, every MNF broadcast can also be seen online through a number of outlets including: Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox 360 and Xbox One via WatchESPN. WatchESPN is available in more than 93 million households across the country to fans who get ESPN’s networks as part of their video subscription.

More information on ESPN’s upcoming MNF broadcast schedule is available online along with all of the latest NFL headlines at:

Website: http://espn.go.com/nfl.mnf

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

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ESPN To Offer Extended Coverage Of NASCAR’s Season Ender All Week

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

The final round of NASCAR’s “Chase for the Championship” is officially upon us. Eight drivers have been cut to only four. In anticipation of the season’s final race, the Ford Ecoboost 400, ESPN will follow all four contenders—Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, and Joey Logano—all week. ESPN will have reporters with each team—Dave Burns with Joey Logano, Marty Smith with Kevin Harvick, Ryan McGee with Denny Hamlin, and Mike Massaro with Ryan Newman –early this week. And SportsCenter will air multiple live reports from the shops of each of the contenders’ teams Monday and Tuesday. They will air between 9:30am and 2:00pm ET. ESPN will offer extended coverage on each team and their preparations during the 6pm and 11pm editions of SportsCenter.

On Wednesday, there will be a press conference live from Miami featuring all four of the championship contenders and their team owners. SportsCenter will have interviews and reports from the day’s events. On Thursday, ESPN will head back to the shops with the championship contenders. ESPN’s reporters will follow the drivers’ pre-race preparations before things pick back up on track this Friday. Sunday’s season-ending race will be broadcast live on ESPN. It will be preceded by a special two-hour edition of NASCAR Countdown beginning at 1pm ET. The green flag is expected to fly at 3:16pm ET. All four of the championship contenders will appear on Countdown from the ESPN Pit Studio.

ESPN NASCAR analyst Ricky Craven will be on SportsCenter frequently throughout the race weekend with insight into the race and the championship contenders. He will also have an interview with the newly crowned champion after the race Sunday night.

None of the four final drivers in this year’s championship hunt have won a championship at NASCAR’s top level before. All four come from multi-car race teams. And they each represent one of NASCAR’s car makers—Ford, Chevy, Toyota.

More information on ESPN’s coverage of the 2014 NASCAR Championship week and weekend is available online at:

Website: http://espn.go.com/racing/nascar

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

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.

Daugherty, Others Staying With ESPN After 2014 NASCAR Season Ends

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN and NASCAR are parting ways at the end of the 2014 season. Despite this change, there’s good news for audiences and ESPN’s NASCAR broadcast team. ESPN announced this week that analyst and team owner Brad Daugherty will remain with the worldwide leader in sports.

ESPN announced this week that Daugherty will join ESPN’s basketball broadcast team beginning Monday, December 1st. Daugherty is a former five-time NBA All-Star and college basketball standout. He will serve as an analyst on ESPN’s NBA Tonight, NBA Coast to Coast, and SportsCenter regularly. He will also make appearances on ESPNU’s ACC Sunday Night package along with other other programming across the ESPN family of networks.

Before joining ESPN’s NASCAR broadcasts, Daugherty served as a reporter for ESPN and ABC’s college basketball from 1999 – 2001. Prior to joining ESPN’s ranks, he also served as a game analyst for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs local broadcasts. His playing career included eight seasons as a member of the Cavaliers after being selected in the first round of the NBA Draft in 1986. He averaged 19 points and 9.5 rebounds per game during his career. His love for NASCAR showed throughout his career as he wore the number 43 in honor of “The King” Richard Petty. The Cavs retired his number in 1997.

Daugherty is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill at the age of 16 and graduated from the university in 1986. He was named an All-ACC player twice during his college career and a first-team All-American in his senior year at the university. He averaged 20.2 points and 9 rebounds per game during his senior year at UNC.

Daugherty’s is not the only move that ESPN has announced in regards to the network’s NASCAR broadcast team. Veteran racer and long-time ESPN NASCAR analyst Ricky Craven recently signed a new deal with ESPN that will see him remain with the network as a NASCAR analyst for SportsCenter and other ESPN news platforms. Nicole Briscoe, it was announced last month, will serve as an anchor on SportsCenter and will also take on additional assignments. And reporter Marty Smith will stay on board with ESPN, too. He will remain with ESPN as a Bureau Reporter for ESPN. Allen Bestwick, who has led ESPN’s NASCAR coverage each week, will remain with the network, too. He will stay on to call ESPN’s IndyCar races and to cover tennis and golf coverage. He will also anchor some programming on ESPN’s new SEC Network.

More information on ESPN’s on-air staff and all of the latest sports headlines from ESPN is available online at:

Website: http://espn.go.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/espn

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.

Watkins Glen Hosting The NNS And NSCS This Weekend On ESPN, ABC

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Watkins Glen International plays host to the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this weekend.

The NASCAR Nationwide Series will be on track at Watkins Glen this weekend for the Zippo 200 At The Glen. JR Motorsports drivers Chase Elliot and Regan Smith currently sit 1-2 in the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver standings coming into this weekend’s race. The race will air live this Saturday, August 9th on ABC with the green flag expected to fly at 2:33pm ET. Fans can catch qualifying live at 9:30am ET the same day with qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series following at 11:30am ET.

The countdown to the Sprint Cup Series’ Chase for the Cup inches closer as the Sprint Cup Series hits the track Sunday afternoon for the Cheez-It 355 AT The Glen. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. currently leads the standings in the “Race for the Chase” thanks to his win last weekend at Pocono. Earnhardt’s win coupled with Jimmy Johnson’s troubles and Brad Kesilowski’s 23rd place finish following the race’s fourteen-car pileup helped catapult “Little E” into the top spot in the standings as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series inches closer to its “second season.” Sunday’s race will be preceded by its weekly NASCAR Countdown broadcast hosted by Nicole Briscoe. NASCAR Countdown will air live at noon eastern time. She will be joined by NASCAR legend and ESPN analyst Rusty Wallace and team owner/ESPN analyst Brad Daugherty.

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Allen Bestwick will have the call for this weekend’s races. He will be joined in the booth by fellow NASCAR legends and ESPN analysts Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree. Dave Burns will be in the pits this weekend along with Dr. Jerry Punch, Mike Massaro, and Vince Welch. More information on ESPN’s NASCAR coverage is available online at http://espn.go.com/racing/nascar. 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.

NASCAR’s Road To Homestead Begins This Weekend On ESPN, ESPN2

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

This weekend is going to be a busy one for ESPN.

The schedule is jam packed this weekend for The Worldwide Leader in Sports and its family of networks. The biggest of this weekend’s events across the ESPN family of networks is the annual running of NASCAR’s Brickyard 400. ESPN takes over coverage of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series from TNT this weekend and carries it straight through to the series’ season-ending race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. This weekend’s coverage of the Brickyard 400 events begins Saturday morning at 9am with the broadcast of Sprint Cup Series practice on ESPN2 and WatchESPN. This is the only coverage that will be carried on ESPN2. All other coverage throughout the weekend will be carried on ESPN and WatchESPN.

Qualifying for the Brickyard 400 will be broadcast at 2pm ET followed by ESPN’s weekly broadcast of NASCAR Countdown at 4pm ET and the NASCAR Nationwide Series’ Lilly Diabetes 250 at 4:30pm ET. The green flag for that race is expected to drop at 4:49 pm ET.

Sunday’s coverage of the Brickyard 400 begins with NASCAR Countdown at high noon. The green flag for the Brickyard 400 is expected to fly at 1:19pm ET weather permitting. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will serve as in-race reporter for the Brickyard 400. He will discuss all of the latest in-race happenings with ESPN analyst Dale Jarrett during the race’s pace and caution laps.

More information on this weekend’s coverage of the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races is available online now at http://espn.go.com/racing/nascar. 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.

NNS Heads North For Sta-Green 200 This Weekend

Courtesy:  NASCAR/ESPN/ESPN2/ABC

Courtesy: NASCAR/ESPN/ESPN2/ABC

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular and Hendrick Motorsports driver Kasey Khane ruined the party for the Nationwide regulars last weekend at Daytona when he won the Firecracker 250 presented by Coca-Cola. Nationwide Series regular and JR Motorsports driver Regan Smith reclaimed the NNS points lead thanks to a second place finish in the race. Elliot Sadler and Chase Elliot both had a rough weekend in Daytona, dropping each one position in the standings. This week, Sadler and Elliot look to rebound whil Smith looks to keep his lead as the NASCAR Nationwide Series comes to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Sta-Green 200.

The 200-lap race will be broadcast live on ESPN2 beginning with NASCAR Countdown at 3pm ET. The green flag is expected to fly at 3:46pm ET. Nicole Briscoe will anchor NASCAR Countdown. She will be joined at the desk by Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty. Allen Bestwick will have the call from the booth. He will be joined by ESPN analysts Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree.

More information on this weekend’s race and all of ESPN’s NASCAR coverage is available online at http://espn.go.com/racing/nascar. 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.