Black Violin Performs New Single Live On NBC’s ‘Today’ Show

Courtesy: Di-Versatile Music/Missing Piece Group

Hip-Hop violinist duo Black Violin performed its new single live on NBC’s Today show this week.

The duo, Kev Marcus and Will Baptiste, performed its new single ‘Showoff‘ during the program’s “3rd Hour” programming block.  The song is featured in the pair’s new album Take The Stairs, which was released last month through Di-versatile Music Group LLC.  The album’s track listing is noted below.

1. Rise
2. One Step
3. Showoff
4. Unbreakable
5. Lost In The Garden
6. Serenade
7. Dreamer
8. Spaz
9. New Life
10. Al Green
11. Impossible Is Possible
12. A Way Home
13. Nimrod

Black Violin will hit the road in support of Take The Stairs starting next month starting Jan. 14 in Denver, CO.  The expansive tour is scheduled to run through Aug. 19 in Chautauqua, NY.  It will feature performances in cities, such as Escondido, CA; Macon, GA and Logan, UT.  The tour’s schedule is noted below.

Tour Dates:
1.14.20 – Denver, CO – Paramount Theater Denver
1.16.20 – Idaho Falls, ID – Colonial Theater
1.17.20 – Logan, UT – Cache Valley Center for the Arts
1.18.20 – Durango, CO – Fort Lewis College Concert Hall
1.20.20 – Boise, ID – Egyptian Theater
1.21.20 – Salt Lake, UT – Kingsbury Hall, University of Utah
1.28.20 – Santa Barbara, CA – Granada Theatre – USB Arts & Lectures
1.29.20 – Las Vegas, NV – UNLV Performing Arts Center
1.30.20 – Tucson, AZ – University of Arizona Centennial Hall
1.31.20 – Chandler, AZ – Chandler Center for the Arts
2.1.20 – Wickenburg, AZ – Del E Webb Center for the Performing Arts
2.8.20 – Orlando, FL – Bob Carr Theatre – Dr. Philips Center
2.12.20 – Fort Myers, FL – Barbra B. Mann Performing Arts Hall
2.13.20 – Tallahassee, FL – Ruby Diamond Concert Hall
2.14.20 – Jacksonville, FL – Florida Theatre
2.15.20 – Macon, GA – Hargray Capitol Theater
2.20.20 – Tampa, FL – Straz Center for the Performing Arts
2.21.20 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Broward Center for the Performing Arts
2.27.20 – San Francisco, CA – Palace of Fine Arts Theatre
3.1.20 – Sacramento, CA – The Crest Theatre
3.3.20 – Turlock, CA – Turlock Community Theatre
3.5.20 – Los Angeles, CA – The Theatre at the Ace Hotel
3.6.20 – Escondido, CA – California Center for the Arts
3.7.20 – Lancaster, CA – Lancaster Performing Arts Center
3.8.20 – Monterey, CA – Golden State Theatre
3.20.20 – Atlanta, GA – Cobb Energy Center
3.24.20 – New York, NY – Gramercy Theatre
3.26.19 – New Haven, CT – College Street Music Hall
3.27.20 – Purchase, NY – PAC at Purchase College
3.29.20 – Norfolk, VA – Chrysler Hall
3.31.20 – Charleston, WV – Clay Center
4.5.20 – Dallas, TX – AT&T Performing Arts Center
4.7.20 – Houston, TX – Jones Hall, Society for the Performing Arts
4.10.20 – Austin, TX – The Long Center for the Performing Arts
4.15.20 – Providence, RI – The Veterans Memorial Auditorium
4.16.20 – Quebec City, Canada – Palais Montcalm – Maison de la musique
4.17.20 – Medford, MA – Chevalier Theatre
4.18.20 – Union, NJ – Wilkins Theatre at Kean University
5.3.20 – Bend, OR – Tower Theatre
5.5.20 – Yakima, WA – Capitol Theater
5.6.20 – Portland, OR – Portland’5 Keller Auditorium
5.7.20 – Eugene, OR – Hult Center for the Performing Arts
6.27.20 – Vienna, VA – Filene Center at Wolf Trap
8.19.20 – Chautauqua, NY – Chautauqua Institution

More information on Black Violin’s performance, its new single, album and live dates is available online now at:






To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at


Dreamworks To Debut New ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ Holiday Special

Courtesy: Dreamworks Animation

Dreamworks is bringing its hit How To Drain Your Dragon franchise back to television this holiday season with a new half-hour special.

How To Train Your Dragon Homecoming is scheduled to air at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT Dec. 3 on NBC.  The story reunites stars Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Gerard Butler and Craig Ferguson for a story that picks up 10 years after the end of the property’s movie trilogy.  It bridges the span where the trilogy’s finale ended and the reunion of Hiccup and Toothless at that movie’s very end.

Hiccup and Toothless open the 30-minute special, sharing stories of their adventures with their families.There is just one problem.  With so much time having elapsed between the end of the trilogy’s climactic battle and the friends’ reunion, the vikings had forgotten about the bond between the dragons and vikings.  This leads Hiccup to come up with the idea to develop a grand holiday pageant celebrating that once unbreakable bond.

Tim Johnson (HomeAntz) directed the new special.  Jonathan Groff (blackish) and Jon Pollack (Modern Family) co-wrote the script for the brand new holiday special. Craig Rittenbaum (Dreamworks Dragons) associate produced the special.

How To Train Your Dragon Homecoming is scheduled for release on DVD Dec. 3, the same day it airs on NBC.  It will premiere on digital on Dec. 4 and on Hulu on Dec. 5.

The new special is just the latest appearance that the hugely popular franchise has had on television.  It has also spawned the animated series Dragons: Riders of Berk and Dragons: Race To The Edge as well as the previously released holiday special, Dragons Holiday: Gift of the Night Fury.

More information on this and other titles from Dreamworks is available online now at:






To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at

Shout! Factory Taking Audiences Back To ‘The Good Place’ Tuesday

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/NBC Universal/NBC

Shout! Factory is bringing the third season of NBC’s sitcom The Good Place to DVD.

The Good PlaceSeason Three is scheduled for release July 30.  The 13-episode season proved to be a critical hit among audiences, received a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on now 44 reviews.

At the end of Season Two, audiences saw Michael ( Ted Danson — CheersBeckerBody Heat) and Janet (D’Arcy Carden – Broad CityOther PeopleBarry) standing before a judge (Maya Rudolph – Saturday Night LiveBridesmaidsThe Way Way Back), arguing that Eleanor (Kristen Bell – Veronica MarsFrozenForgetting Sarah Marshall) and her friends were judged unfairly and deserve a second chance.

Enter Season Three.  Eleanor and company are back on Earth and are alive.  As Season Three opens, Eleanor and company are back on Earth and making a fresh start in the two-part season premiere episode “Everything is Bonzer!”  The group’s changes for the better don’t last but for so long, leading Michael to have to intervene, even though he is not supposed to do so.

Twists and turns ensue throughout the season, with demons from the Bad Place trying to do their best (worst) to Michael, Janet and even the humans.  Meanwhile Michael and Janet learn their own important lessons along the way.  A new group of subjects is started  as the season comes to its end as the original group returns to the Medium Place.

The Good PlaceSeason Three will feature extended episodes and episode-length audio commentaries as bonus content, as well as a gag reel and visual effects reel.

The Good PlaceSeason Three can be pre-ordered online via Shout! Factory’s store.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:






To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at

No Lack Of Confidence From Sarah Potenza On Her Sophomore LP

Courtesy: Earshot Media

Singer-songwriter Sarah Potenza released her new album Road To Rome last week.  The sophomore album from the former contestant on NBC’s hit karaoke contest show The Voice, it is more proof that the real winners from those competition shows are not always the people who win it all.  It shows in fact, that sometimes the real winners are the people who do not make it all the way.  The album’s musical and lyrical content collectively do plenty to prove that statement right from its outset in the form of ‘I Work For Me.’  This bluesy, soulful tune is one of many bold statements that Potenza makes throughout the course of the album and will be discussed shortly.  ‘Keep On Holding,’ which comes later in the album’s run, does just as much to display Road to Rome’s strength with its far more vulnerable approach.  It will be discussed a little later.  ‘Diamond’ is yet another example of why Road to Rome is such a strong new effort from Potenza.  When it is considered alongside the other two songs noted here and the rest of the album’s offerings, the whole of the album leaves no doubt that while she might not have won The Voice back in 2015, she is still a winner regardless.

Four years have passed since Sarah Potenza vied for fame and fortune on NBC’s hit karaoke competition show The Voice.  While she did not win the overall season title, Potenza still went on to success, releasing her debut album only a year after the season’s end. Now with the release of her sophomore album last week, Potenza has proven even more that sometimes, the real winners of the TV talent competitions are not those who win it all, but those who don’t take the top prize.  The album’s opener ‘I Work For Me’ is just one of the songs that serves to support that statement.  The song’s musical arrangement is a subtle, yet upbeat mix of blues and pop sensibilities that when coupled with Potenza’s soulful, gritty vocal delivery style – which can be so easily likened to the likes of Susan Tedeschi, Aretha Franklin and Bonnie Raitt — creates a sense of so much joy.  It is a positive start to the record in itself.  The joy created through the arrangement works with the confidence clearly exhibited in the song’s lyrical content to make even more clear why this is just one of Road to Rome’s strong points.

Potenza sings in the song’s lead verse, “I work for me/Oh yes I, yes I do/I work for me/They told me I was nothing/Told me I was trash/They told me I was too young/To ever make it last/You gotta earn a living/How are you gonna pay/But I blew it all off and I did it anyway/I don’t need your jive/I got my own/I got cat eye nails and a glitter phone/When the bills roll in/I…got everything…/I work for me.”  That confidence continues in the song’s second verse as she sings, “They said that I was too much/I shouldn’t even try it/They said that I was too big/’Cause right now, I’m a giant/They told me keep on dreaming/So that’s just what I did/I’ve been collecting water from my well/Ever since I was a kid/Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will hurt me more/I turned your words into my songs and now I go to war/I don’t need no ballpoint/I can write my own joint/I’ve been signing five checks/With my blood and my sweat/I work for me.”  Potenza puts it all out there, leaving nothing to doubt. She puts right out there, her story of her having been held back and pushed down, but refusing to let the naysayers keep her down.  That clear confidence serves as a reminder that no one should let anyone be stopped from chasing their dreams.  What’s more, being that Potenza delivers this message without feeling the need to be artsy and metaphorical makes the song that much more engaging and entertaining.  When this portion of the song joins with the song’s musical arrangement, the whole of the two elements makes the song in whole, without doubt, a work that is certain to appeal to plenty of listeners.  To that end, it is a clear example of what makes Road to Rome a truly viable record from Sarah Potenza.  It is just one of the album’s high points.  ‘Keep On Holding’ is yet another of the record’s strong points.

‘Keep On Holding’ is the polar opposite of ‘I Work For Me.’ Where the album’s opener is a proud, no-nonsense work, ‘Keep On Holding’ is a far more vulnerable piece that shows a completely different side of Potenza.  The song opens with a gentle piano line that eventually is joined by a choir and drums for a composition that creates a very gospel style sound.  Again, Potenza’s vocal delivery throughout can be compared to the likes of Franklin, Tedeschi and Raitt.  At the same time, there’s a certain quality to her delivery here that also leads one to – believe it or not – compare Potenza’s style of singing to that of Gregg Allman.  It’s in that gritty delivery that she could so easily be the female counterpart to him.  The way in which her vocals grow along with the rest of the arrangement – which eventually reaches its peak almost three minutes into its nearly five-minute run time – creates so much emotion in the song.  That emotion is the core of the song’s musical arrangement, and in itself is certain to keep listeners engaged.  It is just one part of what makes the song another of the album’s strong points.  The song’s lyrical content couples with that deeply moving musical arrangement to make the song even stronger.

Potenza sings in this song’s lead verse, “I’ve been running down these roads/For decades at a time/Like a misfit runaway…the path then led me to my dream/I was wrong again/These roads go in circles/The beginning is the end/Stickers on the side board/Some bands you recognize/Some bands you never heard of/And some you idolize/And it makes you think that maybe/If they played here, too/Maybe there’s a chance/They were once like you/So keep on holding/Onto your heart/It’s a long road/Honey it’s a long shot/Keep on holding/Onto your heart/It’s a long road/But we got a good start.”  She goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, about the club in question filling up with people.  Not having liner notes to reference, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly who the guest vocalist is in this verse.  However, if one did not know any better, one would imagine it was Dolly Parton.  That could of course be completely wrong, but it sure sounds like her.  From there, Potenza returns to the song’s chorus, reminding listeners again not to give up on anything in life, even one’s dreams.  This is very similar to the theme of the album’s opener, just delivered in a different fashion, managing to keep the theme at least somewhat fresh in turn.  When that familiar message of determination is coupled with the song’s hybrid gospel/southern/blues rock arrangement, the whole transforms into a song whose mix of confidence and vulnerability makes it stand out as yet another of the album’s key entries.  It is not the last of the album’s key compositions.  ‘Diamond’ which comes a little bit earlier in the album’s run, is yet another of the LP’s strong points.

‘Diamond’ presents is a mid-tempo piece that puts on display once more, Potenza’s blues/southern rock influences, yet does so in a subtle fashion.  The song is driven in large through its drums, which almost create a feeling almost, of a heartbeat as Potenza courses through the song.  The addition of the choral element to the song along with the equally subtle bass line rounds out the song’s arrangement for a whole that creates more than its own share of entertainment and engagement.  That portion of the song is just one part of what makes the song stand out.  Its familiar lyrical message of self-confidence – which very much permeates this album overall – gives the song even more punch.

Potenza sings in this song, “Once I was a young girl/I was foolish/Foolish with my heart/I listened to it closely/When all they told me was who I was/And who I was not/I went chasing after boys/Refused to recognize/They can’t f*** with girls like me/I blamed myself/I cursed my gifts/Why did I have to be like this/I was just too young/Too young to see/I was born to be a diamond/The whole damn world’s gonna see me shining/I ain’t gonna keep on hiding/I was born to be a diamond.”  She goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “The thousands of days/And thousands of miles/I carried all those words upon my back/I let them defy me/I let my doubt blind me/But honey I’m done/I’m done f****** with all that.”  From here, Potenza returns to the song’s chorus again before reaching the song’s third verse, which follows in a fashion very similar to that of the first two verses.  Yet again, the message here leaves zero doubt as to its message.  This is someone who is fully self-assured.  It’s hardly the last display of self-assurance featured in Road to Rome.  The album’s remaining seven songs each put that self-confidence on display in their own unique fashions.  Keeping that in consideration along with the confidence exhibited in this song and the other two more directly noted works, the whole of Road to Rome can be said to be the real start to Sarah Potenza’s career, and a powerful start at that.

While it is her second full-length studio recording, Sarah Potenza’s Road to Rome can be argued to be the real start to her professional career.  That is due to the clear display of confidence exhibited from the record’s beginning to its end.  From one song to the next, Potenza is fully self-assured, and presents that confidence in various ways in each song, both musically and lyrically.  The songs featured here are just a few examples of the varied ways in which that confidence is displayed.  When they are considered alongside the record’s seven remaining songs, the whole of Road to Rome once again proves to be more proof that sometimes, the real winners of all those TV karaoke talent contests are the people who don’t win on the shows.  Road to Rome is available now.  More information on the album is available online now along with all of Sarah Potenza’s latest news and more at:










To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at

‘Saved By The Bell’ Rings Loud In Phil’s Picks 2018 top 10 New DVD/BD Re-Issues List

Courtesy: Shout! FactoryNBC

Box sets and standalone DVDs and Blu-rays are always critical to examine each year when it comes to year-ender lists.  That is because they really are their own categories.  They are not the only important categories to examine, though, when developing year-ender lists.

One of the most under appreciated lists that every critic should consider is the list of the year’s top new DVD and Blu-ray re-issues.  This critic’s list is chock full of interesting titles this year, such as the Blu-ray re-issue of the classic action series MacGuyver‘s debut season, Saved By The Bell and even the classic biopic The Glenn Miller Story. Yes, this critic even included a biopic in the list, despite not exactly being a fan of the genre.

The top spot on this year’s list goes easily to none other than Saved By The BellThe Complete Series.  The original series has been released previously, however, never to the extent that it was presented in this new box set.  Add in solid pricing and extensive bonus material, and fans of the classic NBC series get a top notch set.

The second spot on this year’s list goes to the Blu-ray re-issue of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.  This so-campy-that-it’s-great modern classic is incredible in its story, acting and special effects.  The addition of its bonus material makes it an even greater investment for movie buffs.

Third Place in this year’s list of top new DVD & BD Re-Issues goes to the re-issue of MGM’s Get Shorty.  The spoof of Hollywood’s many mob movies and Hollywood insider flicks couples with enjoyable bonus content and an affordable price point for a presentation that every movie buff will enjoy.

Also featured in this year’s list are re-issues of Bill & Ted’s Bogus JourneyDragnetBill & Ted’s Excellent AdventureCity Slickers and The Wasp Woman just to name a handful of titles.  The list’s top 10 titles are the best of the year, while the five that follow are honorable mention titles.  Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks 2018 Top 10 New DVD/BD re-issues.


  1. Saved By The BellThe Complete Series
  2. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes
  3. Get Shorty
  4. Dragnet
  5. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
  6. Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey
  7. Cold Turkey
  8. The Wasp Woman
  9. MacGuyverThe Complete First Season
  10. City Slickers
  11. Dr. Detroit
  12. GarfieldNine Lives
  13. Garfield’s Halloween Adventure
  14. The Glenn Miller Story
  15. The Sandlot

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at



No Joke, Time Life’s Robin Williams Retrospective Is 2018’s Top New Box Set For Grown-Ups

Courtesy: Time Life

The final hours of 2018 are upon us, and with those final hours nearing their end, so do Phil’s Picks’ annual year-ender lists.  One of this year’s final yea-enders examines the year’s top new box sets for grown-ups.

Grown-up audiences have quite a few options from which to choose this year in regards to box sets.  From the multitude of dramas turned out by CBS to the wider variety of titles released via PBS to material released via Time Life, audiences had plenty to enjoy this year.

This year’s list was actually relatively easy to develop even with the number of titles released for grown-ups.  Taking the top spot in this year’s list of best new DVD/BD Box Sets for Grown-Ups is Time Life’s Robin Williams retrospective, Comic Genius.  The multi-disc set, which spans two separate volumes, offers hours of entertainment while chronicling Williams’ evolution as a comedian.  This set is well worth the money and time.

The second spot in this year’s list goes to the second season of PBS’ British import crime drama Endeavour.  From its debut season years ago to this season, the prequel series to Inspector Morse has proven to be so infectious and head and shoulders above its American counteraprts.  That is thanks to its strong writing.

The bronze in this year’s list goes to the debut season of The CW’s Black Lightning.  The CW is filled out by so many superhero series today that it should re-brand itself as “The DC/Superhero Network” — note the sarcasm here — and even with all of the shows that it airs, this series stood out proudly in its first season thanks to its writing, acting and bonus material.

Along with these three titles, is a bevy of other wide-ranging titles, such as the second season of NBC’s The Good Place, the debut season of PBS’ new cooking series Milk Street and the fourth season of the network’s family history series Finding Your Roots along with Shout! Factory’s recently released Super SentaiGojin Sentai Jetman — The Complete Series and plenty of other titles.  As always, the top 10 titles on the list are just that, while the five that follow are honorable mentions, making a total of 15 titles.

Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks 2018 Top 10 New Grown-Up DVD/BD Box Sets.


  1. Robin WilliamsComic Genius
  2. EndeavourSeason Five
  3. Black LightningSeason One
  4. Finding Your RootsSeason Four
  5. Milk StreetSeason One
  6. The Good PlaceSeason Two
  7. Super SentaiGojin Sentai Jetman — The Complete Series
  8. The Durells in Corfu: Season Three
  9. Rowan & Martin’s LaughInThe Complete Series
  10. Star Trek DiscoverySeason One
  11. Rowan & Martin’s LaughInThe Complete Second Season
  12. Rowan & Martin’s LaughInThe Complete Third Season
  13. Rowan & Martin’s LaughInThe Complete Fourth Season
  14. Rown & Martin’s LaughInThe Complete Fifth Season
  15. Rowan & Martin’s LaughInThe Complete Sixth Season

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at

NBC Sports Previews 2019 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Season Today

Monster Energy Supercross will launch its new season soon, and in anticipation, NBC will air a pre-season preview show today.

The Monster Energy AMA Supercross FIM World Championship 2019 season preview is scheduled to air at 3 p.m. today on NBC.  It will re-air Dec. 29 on at 8 p.m. on NBCSN.  A trailer for the preview show is streaming here.

Courtesy: NBC/Feld Entertainment

This afternoon’s pre-season preview show is just the start of NBC’s Monster Energy Ama Supercross coverage for the 20019 season.

Regular season coverage launches Jan. 5 with live Round One coverage from Angel Stadium of Anaheim in Anahaim, CA.  Qualifying will air at 4 p.m. exclusively on NBC’s NBC Sports Gold Supercross Pass.  The race will be simulcast live at 10 p.m. via the NBC Sports Gold Supercross Pass and NBCSN.

Round Two’s coverage will air live Jan. 12 from Glendale, AZ.  Round three brings the series back to Anaheim, CA on Jan. 19.  Round Four is scheduled for Jan. 26 in Oakland, CA.

From California, the series heads to San Diego for Round Five, Minneapolis, MN for Round Six and Arlington, TX for Round Seven.  Round Eight takes the series to Detroit, MI, while the two-wheeled wonders head south to Atlanta, GA for Round Nine.

Round 10 brings the series to America’s motor racing center, Daytona, Florida.  Seven more rounds follow, that take the series across America, with Round 17 closing the season in Las Vegas, NV on May 4.

The full schedule for the 2019 Monster Energy AMA Supercross FIM World Championship is available here.  All television broadcasts will be on NBCSN.

More information on the Monster Energy Supercross FIM World Championship is available online along with all of the sport’s latest news and more at:






To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at