Monthly Archives: November 2011

Elvis Costello to Fans – Don’t buy

Elvis Costello - Click for more images

Elvis Costello has been pretty vocal about the issues on Wall Street since the recession started and is continuing his message by telling his fans not to purchase his new limited edition box set “The Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook,” due to the exorbitant price tag of $225.

Costello wrote in his blog post;

“We at www.elviscostello.com find ourselves unable to recommend “The Return Of The Spectacular Spinning Songbook” as the price appears to be either a misprint or a satire.”

Costello didn’t stop there and surprised everyone by recommending a collection by Louis Armstrong.

“All our attempts to have this number revised have been fruitless so we are taking the following unusual step.

If you want to buy something special for your loved one at this time of seasonal giving, we suggest, “Ambassador Of Jazz” – a cute little imitation suitcase containing ten re-mastered albums by one of the most beautiful and loving revolutionaries who ever lived ““ Louis Armstrong.

The box should be available for under one hundred and fifty American dollars and includes a number of other tricks and treats.

Frankly the music is vastly superior.”

Costello goes on to explain that the items in the package will be available separately and at a more affordable price at the beginning of the year.

Hats off to Costello!


KVIE PBS Teams Up with Blame Sally

LR - Pam Delgado, Monica Pasqual, Jeri Jones, and Renee Harcourt

So I was approached by Todd Wagner from Ninth Street Opus to help publicize an upcoming event over at Public Television’s KVIE in Sacramento. You see Ninth Street Opus represents a San Francisco all-female group, Blame Sally, who’s scheduled to perform at the KVIE TV station on Saturday, December 3rd.

KVIE and Blame Sally are working together to create a pledge program to help raise money for Public Television on a national level. KVIE will be filming Blame Sally during their performance and using the footage to produce a PBS Special, which will ultimately be used in their pledge drives across the country.

I don’t think I need to go on about the value of Public Television and what it means for the community as a whole, but I do want to make sure that everyone understands who Blame Sally is and why they were chosen to perform at KVIE.

PBS wants to use Blame Sally as a role model for women everywhere. They are an example of healthy, authentic women, proud of their age and defying the odds by forming a successful rock band in their 40′s and 50′s. What they have accomplished is an inspiration to women across America.

Blame Sally is a little bit of country, a little bit of rock, a little bit of folk, and a whole lot of heart. They have been compared to the Indigo Girls, Dixie Chicks, and even Radiohead, but forget about all that, because one day some all-female band is going to come along and they will be compared to Blame Sally.

The band is made up of four young women ““ alright – Let’s say four not-so-young women. They bring a lifetime of love, happiness, disappointment, trials and tribulations and really just a whole lot of life to the table. It shows in their music, especially in their latest album A Speeding Ticket and a Valentine.

A few tracks that really stood out for me on their new album – “Living Without You,” a hard-rocking song about a woman uncertain whether to be devastated or exhilarated by a relationships end. “Countdown,” with its driving beat and then “Big Big Bed,” which you gotta love simply because of the washboard paying in the background.

So who are these women of wisdom and why do they work together so well?

Pam Delgado (percussion and vocals) ““ Wishes she still owned the family car from when she was just a kid. It was a Lavender Pontiac Bonneville complete with a Clamshell from Sears.

Renee Harcourt (guitar, bass and vocals) ““ She’s really the talented one out of the four, but don’t tell the others that. She can juggle, ride a unicycle and whistle loudly with or without fingers, but not all at the same time and hopefully not onstage.

Jeri Jones (guitar, bass and vocals) ““ I tried to call Jeri but never did get through. All I heard on the other end of the phone was “who the *&$@%# is calling me before I’ve had my morning coffee!” I did hear she’s prone to pre-coffee accidents. Luckily all their performances are late in the day.

Monica Pasqual (piano, accordion and vocals) ““ She’s started a billion songs and never finished them. Something about being superstitious when it comes to songwriting. She has to have at least two good verses and chorus before she can walk away, otherwise it’s a lost cause. All the other songs she’s completed? One word ““ perfection.

Together these women make up Blame Sally. Granted an odd bunch and not a Sally in the lot, but it doesn’t matter as long as they keep pumping out some really awesome tunes.

Get out there and show your support for Public Television and Blame Sally.

Where:
KVIE TV Station
2030 W. El Camino Ave Sacramento, CA 95833

When:
Saturday, December 3
7:00-8:30 pm “¦. AND”¦. 9:00-10:30 pm

Cost:
Regular Admission: Per Show: $25 / Both Shows: $45 150 seats available
VIP Seating: Per Show: $100. Only 50 VIP seats available!

You can get more information here.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

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The Trans-Siberian Orchestra mesmerized the audience Saturday afternoon at Power Balance Pavilion in the first of two Christmas shows.

For those of you who may not be familiar with TSO, they are a progressive rock band that incorporates classical, orchestral, symphonic and progressive elements into hard rock and heavy metal. They are famous for their series of rock operas and storytelling.

This was a high-energy show with a combination of lasers, lights, pyrotechnics and video screens all synchronized to TSO’s music.

Dressed in black, the orchestra made their way on stage while chimes were playing. As they were assembling onstage, there were clips of Martin Luther King Jr. from the famous “I Have a Dream” speech, as well as John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and others, with each round of new faces drawing applause and cheers. Once onstage they started playing “Who I Am,” with video screens and lights blazing in perfect unison.

The talented storyteller Phillip Brandon started weaving a tale of an angel coming down to Earth on Christmas Eve. Brandon’s phenomenal voice, reminiscent of the famous James Earl Jones, drew the crowd into the tale as a hush came over the audience. After the introduction, the orchestra started playing “An Angel Came Down,” complete with lights and lasers.

As the orchestra began “First Snow,” it actually started to snow in the arena. OK, not really snow, but the pretend kind of snow. You know the

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one with tiny bubbles raining down? Couple that with all the video screens filled with snow added to the sensation of real snow. It was quite breathtaking, leaving the audience in complete awe as they listened to an extremely talented line-up of musicians.

One of their screens and lighting units that made a Y shape stretching out above the audience was actually a catwalk. As the show progressed the unit started to descend on top of the audience, leaving people wondering if they should get out of the way. As it slowly made its way down, members of the band ran up it. The catwalk started to rise with band members running towards the back portion of the catwalk providing everyone in the “cheap” seats a prime view of the performance. It was quite impressive.

A new comer to TSO, violinist Asha Mevlana was off the charts rocking it with her purple high tech violin. As she ended a solo routine you could hear the crowd gasp in unison as she grabbed her bow and snapped it in half over her knee, ending the song. This was so much more dramatic than smashing a guitar to smithereens, since it was completely unexpected.

As they wrapped up the story, the orchestra treated the audience to a number of different songs including a mix from one of their albums “Christmas Canon Rock,” at which point they brought out founder, composer, and producer Paul O’Neill.

This was my first exposure to TSO and I have to say they left me wanting more, even after a 2 ½ hour performance.

Armed with an arsenal of talented musicians, singers, and special effects, TSO delivers a high energy, phantasmic kaleidoscope of fun. Oh ““ and some really good music too.

Ladies Night Out at Thunder Valley Casino and Resort

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OMG! I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to write this after the Chippendale’s performance at Thunder Valley Casino Resort Wednesday night.

It was only after taking a cold shower and having a glass ““ scratch that ““ a bottle of wine that I was able to start thinking clearly.

What? No! The water heater went out and a “glass” of wine is how I like to end my day.

My intent on writing this is to warn any unsuspecting women who may decide to take in a show like the Chippendales’. Don’t. Seriously, nobody liked the show!

It was quite obvious that every woman in the place, which was around 99.9 percent of the people, couldn’t stand the show. I couldn’t believe it! I was completely dumbfounded. They were screaming “Get off!” almost the entire show. The Chippendales never got the message. They stayed onstage the whole time!

The strange thing is when they finally ended the show and did get off the stage, all the women started screaming “More, more, more.” I know, I find women confusing, too. They say one thing and mean another. (Come to think of it, they may have been screaming “Take it off!”)

As for the men onstage, I felt bad for these guys. It appeared to be a little chilly in the room, but that didn’t seem to dampen their enthusiasm. All I can say is I was feeling a tad inadequate at this point.

The biggest criticism I have of the show? It was the most disgusting display of pure

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animalistic behavior I have ever witnessed. It was really quite a sight to see. None of the women could keep it together. They were falling over in the aisles, standing on chairs, trying to get back stage, onstage, or anywhere close to those big hunks. Now hold on a minute! I’m only referring to them as big hunks because I know that’s how women refer to those large glistening bodies of pure muscle and all their gyrating ways.

I will say there was definitely an excitement in the air as the show progressed, but it’s difficult for me to explain the atmosphere. I liken it to when I receive a package from FedEx that I have to sign for because I know it’s got to be something really cool, otherwise I wouldn’t have to sign for it. Well, that’s the way all the ladies were acting, but I guess they weren’t interested in a FedEx package.

Speaking of packages ““ the Chippendales were the complete package, with eight of the most physically perfect male dancers all competing for the audience’s attention, all dressed in their trademark bow ties and shirt cuffs with bare torso, at least some of the time.

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The opening was quite dramatic with the stage dark and ominous and smoke filling the air. One by one they took center stage with a lone spotlight lighting their muscular curves and superior physique. Is it getting hot in here?

The first few routines found these delectable morsels stripping down to pretty much nothing ““ why do I keep writing like this? Delectable morsels? Now I’m starting to worry.

As each layer came off, the decibel levels in Pano Hall rose exponentially. People were gathering outside trying to get a glimpse of the show. Quite the curious crowd.

A couple of times during the show, they danced around the audience, going down aisles and over chairs. One of the Chippendales was looking for someone to give an autographed poster to. He found her when he exclaimed she deserved it for grabbing his penis. Yes ““ there you have it. I said it, now it’s out there for all to see.

Several people had the opportunity to jump onstage. In one case three ladies were in a game show where they were told to complete a task. The first one had to perform her best lap dance on one of the Chippendales. The second had to demonstrate her favorite position when making love, and the third had to demonstrate her favorite way of putting on a condom. The third won due to her technique and the timely fashion of completing her task. Oh ““ I should clarify. She put it on a banana.

This was definitely ladies’ night out. There were a few men in attendance, and you could tell which ones were straight. They were carrying a ball and chain and didn’t look all too happy. I believe my count was two husbands/significant others in attendance.

The show was so successful that Thunder Valley had to provide additional seats to accommodate the larger-than-expected crowd.

After the show, the Chippendales remained onstage so audience members could have their photos taken with their favorites. I declined. They also announced they would be going to Thunder Valley’s Falls Bar for an after-party. [Insert loud cheers here.]

So at the end of the day I feel like I was able to embrace my inner gayness and survive. As I’m sitting here writing this, I’m convinced that I have no lingering side effects from the show.

Well I have to go. I just started to redecorate the house and have to put up these curtains that are simply to die for. And if you think that’s something, wait until you see my new landscape design. We can talk about it over the nice gourmet meal that I’m preparing.

To all my gay friends, including my kids god parents – no offense! Next time Dean, your coming with.

 

 

Dia Frampton Releases First Single/Music Video

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You may remember Dia Frampton as a contestant and runner-up on the first season of The Voice on NBC.

Frampton was selected to be on the team of Coach Blake Shelton. Shelton selected Frampton and said, “When I heard her voice, I started to smile.” She made her way to the semi-finals with renditions of “Heartless” and “Losing My Religion.” For the season finale Frampton sang “Inventing Shadows,” an original song written by Fraser T. Smith.

All the above singles were the highest charting digital songs on iTunes by any of the contestants in the show, with “Inventing Shadows” topping the charts at #1.

Shelton and Frampton formed a special relationship during the show, with Shelton professing that she had become part of the family through their journey together on The Voice. He committed to helping her beyond the show, which he has in some big ways.

Shelton set Frampton up with some songwriter friends, helped her produce her upcoming album “Red,” due to be released on December 6th, 2011, and now they will be touring together in Shelton’s upcoming tour “Well Lit and Amplified Tour 2012,” set to open in January.

Hmmm. I’ve got to wonder what wife Miranda Lambert thinks about this cozy little relationship. I thought on the show it was getting a little creepy, but now they are actually going on tour together. Only time will tell.

Ahead of her new album and upcoming tour with Shelton, Frampton has released a new single “The Broken Ones.” The video Features several of her sisters, including Meg Frampton, who Dia formed a band with back in 2004 and were known as Meg and Dia.

The song is about loving the faults of others. It’s a nice tune with just enough country thrown in to appease her newfound country audience.

Frampton has a great voice and a long career ahead of her. I’d like to see her break away from Shelton after the tour so she can spread her wings and have a little bit more of Dia shine through her music. I believe Miranda’s in complete agreement with me on that one.

 

British Invasion Causes Riot at Thunder Valley

Herman's Hermit with Peter Noone - Click for more images

Herman’s Hermits with Peter Noone played to a full house of old diehard Herman’s Hermits fans at Thunder Valley Casino Resort’s Pano Hall Sunday night. That’s not to say everyone in the audience was old, just older than most.

The Noonatics, those who carry around vinyl albums and old Herman’s Hermits 8-tracks, may have known what they were in for, but I sure as bloody hell didn’t.

The 64 year old rocker joined the British band as the lead singer (Herman) at the young age of 15. That’s ““ let me see ““ oh forget it, you do the math!

I went to see Herman’s Hermits to relax and enjoy some oldies but goodies, so when Noone took the stage and started singing, “I’m Into Something Good,” I was thinking, “Ahhhh, this is perfect.”

Then the bloody bloke started yapping and from that point on there was no relaxing for anyone. All we could do was laugh at the bugger. He’s completely bollocks!

He explained to everyone that a friend told him that Sacramento, Yuba City and Clarksburg were way out in the country and if he wanted to make us happy he had to play some country music. He started singing Johnny Cash’s, “Ring of Fire,” resulting in the audience laughing throughout the song.

Noone was all over the map, singing songs from Johnny Horton, Tom Jones, Mick Jagger, and of course Herman’s Hermits hits as well.

At one point, one of the noonatics in the front row pulled out an old vinyl album cover from years and years ago. Noone, the mad hatter that he

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is, grabbed the album and stuck it over his face, displaying the old photo of himself. He then started singing and marching across the stage. It was quite comical.

Another rant was about looking like Nick Nolte. He said as he was coming through the casino someone stopped him and asked about the show. They got all excited, screaming as they pointed at him, “Hey! You’re Nick Nolte.”

In between jokes he actually did sing a hit or two. This guy has a great voice and as soon as the band started up any of their past hits, the audience erupted in cheers and clapping.

Those that could still stand did.

Noone sang most of their hits including “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter,” “I’m Henry the Eighth, I Am” and “There’s a Kind of Hush.”

Prior to the show Noone went out of his way to engage people, shaking their hands and saying hi. You could tell he lives for this stuff and thoroughly enjoys it as much as the fans.

After the show, a path was cleared by the ever so diligent security staff at Thunder Valley to make way for Noone as he made his way to the exit. There he started signing autographs and chatting it up with anyone who would listen. The guy just can’t help himself ““ It’s who he is. After all, what do you expect from the son of an accountant!

Peter Noone is the real deal. Not only does he sing, but he entertains too ““ with a smile. He’s quite the riot.

Cirque Shanghai’s Bai Xi

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The Cirque Shanghai’s Bai Xi put on a breathtaking show Thursday and Friday night at Thunder Valley Casino Resort, playing to a standing room only crowd both nights.

Bai Xi translates to “one hundred amazing acts.” However, I only counted 16, but they were 16 amazing displays of physical strength and grace. The show was full of spectacular colors, talented young men, women, and a number of young girls. It was a magical night with some mind-boggling performances and a variety of visually stunning costumes.

As the show opened the performers started in the back of Pano Hall dressed in spectacularly colorful costumes. Working their way through the audience with a winking parade style dragon and waving giant flags, they were saying hi to audience members and shaking hands as they made their way to the stage.

Once onstage they immediately started in with their incredible balancing act with a unicycle riding on top of a red umbrella and then appearing to fall off stage. These guys had everything from contortionists to roller skating, including juggling pottery and even hats!

The contortionists, dressed in yellow, ranged from little girls to young women. They started by arranging themselves in a single file row from front to back, with the smallest in the front as they spread their arms out. They started climbing over each other, bending into unimaginable positions. It was quite the spectacle.

Next up was a number of young men and women balancing on a single ladder. As one man made his way on stage he was balanced on a ladder, wiggling his way to center stage. Once there another man climbed on from behind and made his way to the shoulders of the first man. They finally ended up with four men balanced on the ladder.

At one point a number of young kids came out stuffed in colorful barrels, and I mean stuffed. These kids were very bendable and at one point there was one in one end of the barrel and another in the other end and then they would trade off balancing each other on the one end. Crazy!

There was an awesome hat routine that was very well choreographed. These guys made their routine look deceptively easy, until they called a few audience members onstage to help them out.

That’s when I noticed Rachel Steele, lead singer of local country rock band Road 88sitting in the audience. As they were looking for volunteers it

Rachel Steele of Road 88 - Click for more Road 88 images

was obvious that Steele did not have her hand up, but one of the men went right to her and insisted she come up onstage. It was funny watching Steele, who is used to leading, having to follow these guys as they directed her, and three other audience members through several routines.

I’m thinking with fellow Road 88 band members Scott Prentice and Billy Haggard in attendance that they somehow had a hand in arranging Steele’s selection. Steele was definitely caught off guard.

Steele was doing a great job and you could tell she felt this was in the bag when they had her dancing and clapping her hands above her head, nothing she wasn’t used to. However, once they started showing her their hat routine she had quite a bit of difficulty duplicating their moves.

The other two audience members didn’t fare any better than Steele, but kudos to the young lady who actually did a cartwheel, much to the audience’s delight.

This was a fast paced show with stunning acrobatics, gymnastics, and a whole lot of grace. The only downside of the night was the height of the stage. During several acts the stage was so low that it was difficult to see what was going on. Luckily there were only a few parts where it was difficult to see.

I’m sure they will be back to perform at Thunder Valley again and if they do, you won’t want to miss it! I have a feeling Rachel will.

Meredith McHenry – Karaoke Done Right!

This past week I was lucky enough to attend The Sleeter Group’s 2011 Accounting Solutions Conference held in Las Vegas, where they talked about all things ““ well ““ accounting.

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Why do I say I was lucky to attend?

First, these accountant types are really nice people. Now I’m not just saying that. It’s true!

For example, every single time I purchased something with one of my new found accountant friends, they would let me know how the purchase would benefit me from a tax perspective, or warn me about a possible IRS audit if I were to write it off. Way more information than I ever want to know when buying a 5th of Jack.

Second, and most importantly, I was able to catch a glimpse of 29 year old Karaoke sensation Meredith McHenry as she performed a couple of songs for the pencil pushers. McHenry is best known for her success on ABC’s Karaoke Battle USA, taking the West Coast Championship and moving into the semi-finals of the show.

McHenry treated the group of dapper QuickBooks types to a couple of songs including her rendition of “It’s a Man’s Man’s Mans’s World,” which won her a standing ovation from the calculator toting audience.

That says a lot since a standing ovation from these people is not easy to come by. As McHenry was ending her song you could hear all the laptops, PDA’s, and smart phones being shuffled to the side so they could stand, cheer and clap.

“It’s a Man’s World” also helped win over the judges on ABC’s Karaoke Battle USA. Judge Carnie Wilson, of the famous trio Wilson Phillips, told  McHenry “Serious, serious, serious singing woman. That was the most commanding, most believable most fantastically fabulous soulful performance.”

McHenry has a phenomenal voice with just the right amount of soul, blues and a little bit of jazz. She’s a mix between Christina Aguilera and Adele all wrapped into a bubbly and gorgeous package that takes no prisoners once she hits the stage.

McHenry has been entertaining karaoke fans since she was 21 in such places as The Mint in the Castro District of San Francisco as well as Gallagher’s in the East Bay, where she qualified for the regionals of Karaoke World Championships USA. She’s releasing a new song “Nobody’s Fault But My Own.” You can get it on Amazon.com

To all the Sleeter attendees ““ All joking aside, you’re all a great group of people.

As I always say – {{xà ½ (-a ““ 8-a2 *a)}, {x à ½ (-a-8-a2 *a)}} + The Sleeter Group = Chunkification done right.

 

About the Sleeter Group

 The Sleeter Group was established in 1994 and is based in Pleasanton, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Sleeter Group has trained over 30,000 accounting professionals in accounting software solutions. The Sleeter Group has built a national reputation for high quality materials and instruction, and in doing so has become the “Graduate School” for QuickBooks and small business accounting professionals.

Sacramento’s SactoMoFo 3

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UPDATE: The location has changed to the spot of the Sunday Farmers Market on W and 6th Street. While there won’t be beer, it’s now FREE admission!!! There will have even more local and Bay Area trucks as well. It’s still chairty drive for the Sacramento Food Bank and Toys for Tots as well, which could really use the help this time of the year. Thanks to our friends at SactoMoFo for this update!

Who’d have thunk it. Years ago when I was eating off the local roach coach, I never would have imagined these meals on wheels turning into a variety of culinary delights.

Long gone are the microwaved breakfast burritos and the two day old readymade sandwiches. Now trucks serve a cultural hodgepodge of international treats such as South African stew, escargot, and hot dogs wrapped in bacon – My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

They have quite the following too. Patrons can follow their favorite truck via Twitter, Facebook, or websites like sactomofo.com where you can also read up on the latest news about SactoMoFo (Sacramento Mobile Food).

While cities across the nation, including Sacramento, have started restricting trucks to a mere 30 minutes in one location, they are more popular than ever. Why else would Power Balance Pavilion be hosting 12 of the hottest trucks from Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area?See above for the new location!

And it doesn’t stop there! They will also have 30 micro brewery’s on tap and 20 of the most popular food carts at the show.

The price is right too! Only $10 gets you in the door, or grab a $25 VIP ticket and get early entry starting at 11:00. Designated driver tickets only $5 and kids 12 and under are free! Save even more money by bringing a food donation and get free parking. Soon you will be able to buy your tickets from your favorite truck.This event is now free with a new location!

So get out there and show your support for SactoMoFo!

SactoMofo HoHoHoliday Brewfest

Saturday December 03, 2011 1:00pm ““ 8:00pm (VIP tickets 11:00am to 1:00pm)

Sacramento trucks:
MiniBurger
Drewski’s
Wicked Wich
Chando’s Tacos
Heavenly Dogs
Pizza Guys

San Francisco trucks:
Hapa SF
Bacon Bacon
Chairman Bao
JapaCurry

Booth/Cart/Grill
Fat Face
It’s Corn Cake
Esther’s Cupcakes
Emma’s Tamales
Tacos La Piedad
Volkswaffle
Leila’s Lumpia
Open Rice Kitchen
Jimboy’s Tacos
El Porteno Empanadas

GWAR Guitarist Found Dead on Tour Bus

Stock Concert PhotographyCory Smoot lead guitarist for the heavy metal band GWAR was found dead Thursday on its tour bus following a concert in Minneapolis.

At this point it’s unclear what caused Smoot’s death.

There’s no word yet on how this will impact their current concert tour. They were scheduled to perform in Edmonton and Calgary on Friday and Saturday with upcoming performances in Seattle.

Smoot has been performing with the band since 2002 under the name “Flattus Maximus” and produced their last two albums.

Gwar is a satirical heavy metal band formed in Richmond, Virginia, in 1984. The band is best known for its elaborate science fiction/horror film inspired costumes, obscene lyrics and graphic stage performances, which feature humorous enactments of politically and morally taboo themes.

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