ESPN’s Annual “Jimmy V. Week For Cancer Research” Begins Today

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Today, December 3rd, is an important day in the sports world.  The reason for the day’s importance is that it begins the annual “Jimmy V. Week for Cancer Research.”  It all kicks off tonight with a simulcast of beloved former NC State coach Jim Valvano’s  famed 1993 ESPYs speech across the ESPN family of networks.  It will also run on the ABC SuperSign in New York’s Times Square.  Good Morning America host and winner of the 2013 Arthur Ashe Courage Award, Robin Roberts, will introduce the simulcast.

Roberts and a handful of athletes, coaches, celebrities and ESPN faces will share Valvano’s words through public service announcements.  The announcements in question and “Jimmy V Week” content will air on ESPN’s Monday Night Football, NBA on ESPN games, and college football games on ABC.

The week-long memoriam wraps up with the “Jimmy V. Women’s and Men’s Basketball Classics Presented by Corona.”  The games will be broadcast Tuesday, December 17th at 7pm ET on ESPN2.  Number 1 Connecticut will face off against Number 2 Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina on the Women’s side.  On the men’s side, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati will take to the hard court at 7pm ET.  That game will be followed up by a matchup of Number 16 Florida and Number 11 Memphis at 9:30 ET.  Both games will run on ESPN and ESPN Radio live from Madison Square Garden.

The “Jimmy V. Week for Cancer Research” raised $1.6 million in 2012.  Last year’s success brings the fundraising effort’s six-year total to more than $6.5 million.  More information on this and more from ESPN is available online at http://www.espn.com and 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.

Shine And The Moonbeams Debut LP A Solid Start For Kemp And Company

Courtesy:  Waldmania PR

Courtesy: Waldmania PR

The brand new self-titled album from Shine and the Moonbeams is an easy candidate for one of the year’s best albums for kids.  With its mix of upbeat music an equally uplifting lyrics, this album is one that even parents will appreciate.  It all opens with a fun Latin-tinged piece titled, ‘The Melody in Me’ that is sure to have kids and parents alike on their feet and dancing to the music.  It starts off with a group of horns set against the band clapping in time to the music while drummer Russell Carter kicks in a light New Jack swing beat.  That alone is enough to get kids and their parents up and moving.  Singer Shawanna “Shine” Kemp’s vocals make the song even more fun when she comes in.  What she sings isn’t just some kid friendly happy happy joy joy type of song.  It’s a song that celebrates the joy of music, period.  She sings, “There’s a melody/Music in my feet/Can you hear this beat/Right here in my feet/There’s a melody/Music in my hands/Can you hear this band/Right here in my hands/And I can clap my hands/And I can stomp my feet/And I can dance and I can sing/Sing it with me.”  It’s a fun song, plain and simple.  It’s one to which the whole family will find itself singing and dancing.  Suffice it to say that it is one heck of a first impression for this band.  Things only get more fun for families as the band launches into the album’s second song, ‘Imagination,’

‘Imagination’ is just as fun as the album’s opener for a couple of reasons.  The first and most obvious of those reasons is the song’s lyrical side.  It’s a song that encourages young listeners to—in simple terms—use their imaginations.  As the years have passed by and technology has advanced with each year, young audiences have increasingly demanded instant gratification.  It’s even gotten to the point that rather than learning to use their imaginations, children can just turn on Nick, Jr. or Disney, Jr., and voila, there’s the imagination right in front of them.  It takes away their reason to think for themselves.  Here in this song though, Kemp tells her young audiences just how fun it is to not get that instant gratification; to think for themselves and reap the rewards of doing so.  She sings, “I can be a lion or a jellyfish/I can be anything that I wish/Soccer player, rocket scientist/A peanut butter sandwich/When I use my/Use my imagination/yeah/I’m in a forest with two hundred-foot trees/I’m on the ocean sailing the seven seas/I’m a river/I’m a mountain/I’m even a breeze/I’m a bee/I’m a beehive/I’m even a sting when I use my/Use my imagination/Yeah/It comes in handy/In any situation/Yeah, yeah.” This is just one of a handful of inspiring and uplifting songs that parents will have no problem playing with and for their kids.  There’s at least one more prime example of what this album offers to its listeners.  It’s one of so many for which parents will be thankful.  That song is ‘Bully Bully.’

‘Bully Bully’ is a fitting song in the current era as the country continues to tackle the ongoing bullying epidemic of childhood bullying.  Kemp and her band mates sing straight forward about the problem of bullying, “It won’t stop until we all say stop/So STOP/Stop bullying me/Stop bullying me.”  This is a simple statement.  But it’s such a powerful statement at the same time.  It’s a true statement.  Rather than letting children be victims and in many cases become martyrs of sorts, all it takes is simply standing up to bullies and telling them to stop.  It’s incredible what someone standing up to a bully can do for a person.  The force that Kemp and company use when they say “STOP” really drives home the importance of not being mousy about standing up to bullies, either.  One doesn’t have to be as mean as the bullies.  One needs just stand up to a bully and be firm.  Tell that bully in a voice that lets them know a person means business plain and simple, “STOP!”  They’ll typically back down pretty quickly.  This is just one more of so many outstanding songs on this debut effort from Shine and the Moonbeams.  It’s one of so many songs that again, makes it one of the best albums of 2013 for both children and parents alike.  The album is available now.  It can be ordered online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Shine-Your/dp/B00DDBEBE4/ref=sr_1_cc_2?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1371757895&sr=1-2-catcorr&keywords=Shine+and+the+Moonbeams.

The band is currently touring in support of its album.  Its next performance is at the River Celibration Day festival at West Harlem Piers Park on June 29th.  Fans can get a complete listing of the band’s tour dates and all of the latest news from the band on its official website at http://shineandthemoonbeams.com and on its official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shine-and-the-Moonbeams/234481786657193.

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.

From Dust To Dreams A Concert Dream Come True

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

Las Vegas is typically known by its nickname, “Sin City.”  The other “city that never sleeps” is dominated by gambling, girls, and much more.  Because of that reputation, few people would ever associate the famed city with a center for the performing arts.  But there is in fact a center for the performing and cultural arts in Las Vegas now in the Smith Center for the Performing Arts.  Thanks to PBS, audiences that weren’t able to be in attendance at the celebration of the center’s opening can now re-live the concert event any time that they want.

from Dust to Dreams: Opening Night at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts chronicles the celebration held in honor of the center’s opening.  What can be said of this performance but it was an impressive show from a who’s who of the music and entertainment community.  Performers the likes of Jennifer Hudson, Mavis Staples, John Fogerty, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and more than can be named here took part in the two-hour long celebration of the arts coming to Las Vegas at long last.  Host of the Tonys and star of CBS’ How I Met Your Mother served as emcee of this presentation.  What’s interesting to note about his presence in this performance is how much different it was in comparison to what audiences have become accustomed to from the actor.  This isn’t a bad thing, either.  If anything, it only serves to heighten the enjoyment of the overall presentation.  Add in expertly mixed audio and video, and audiences get what is in retrospect one of the best live recordings of 2012.

The very first thing that can be noted of from Dust to Dreams is that it opens and closes in fine fashion.  The opening number performed by trumpet player Arturo Sandoval.  Sandoval’s performance was an outstanding opener for the two-hour event.  His control over his instrument shows the result of his years of training.  This is especially the case when he hits the final high note of his opening number.  Far too often, some overzealous performers hit high notes in songs, thinking they sound good.  But in reality the performers in question are blasting out the notes, resulting in a very harsh sound.  That wasn’t the case with Sandoval’s performance.  His performance got the energy flowing and set the bar for what was to come through the rest of the show’s performances.

The performances that follow that of Sandoval hold the bar quite well.  Whether the medley of songs from Man of La Mancha and West Side Story, the classic country of veteran artist Willie Nelson, or even the more rocking sounds of John Fogerty, this show spans the musical spectrum and will entertain audiences of all ages and musical tastes.  Adding to the enjoyment of the concert is the presence of emcee Neil Patrick Harris.  Yes, Harris was more subdued in his hosting duties here than as host of the Tonys.  But this was an entirely different event.  Even the performers had their time on stage limited as there were so many performers.  What’s more, Harris did offer his share of pretty funny jokes when he was on stage.  Audiences need to keep this in mind in considering his performance as emcee of this event.  In doing so, those same individuals will enjoy the laughs that Harris shares when he is on stage.

The performance of host Neil Patrick Harris and that of the show’s performers make from Dust to Dreams quite the enjoyable live recording.  One would be remiss though, to ignore the importance of the show’s audio and video mix.  Going back to the show’s opening number by Arturo Sandoval straight through to the show’s closing number, the audio and video have been expertly mixed.  There are some songs that absolutely soar throughout the course of this program.  And then there are other, more subtle pieces that were captured so well.  Whether one has a home surround sound theater or not, one can still experience so much.  Those that do have home theater systems will appreciate the performances even more.  That’s because the picture will look crystal clear on an HDTV and the sound will sound just as clear.  This is especially true for those with surround sound.  It is these aspects that make the overall presentation on this DVD so enjoyable.  In retrospect, it makes this collection of performances one of the best live recordings of 2012.  From Dust to Dreams is available now.  It can be ordered online direct from the PBS online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=13233132&cp=&sr=1&kw=from+dust+to+dreams&origkw=from+Dust+to+Dreams&parentPage=search&searchId=1374600.

Fans of PBS and its programming can keep up with all of the latest news, releases and more from the network online at http://ww.facebook.com/pbs and at http://www.pbs.org.

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.