Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Next American Idol?

Brancombe Richmond and Madison Hudson

Madison Hudson is a name you may not know ““ yet.

I was first introduced to Hudson’s singing abilities at, of all places, a Doobie Brothers concert at Thunder Valley Casino Resort. Film star and singer, Branscombe Richmond brought Hudson up on stage to sing “Listen to the Music,” along with the Doobie Brothers.

Madison Hudson is a 14 year old country pop singer from the small town of Wheatland, located in rural Northern California.

Hudson and her parents realized she was a talented singer back when she was in the first grade, when she scored a solo portion of a class song.

It was soon after her first grade solo that Hudson started recording cover songs. Not wanting to simply do cover songs that others have created, Hudson teamed up with songwriter Amy Ayres. Hudson provides her thoughts and ideas and Amy puts pen to paper, while husband Rich Ayres puts it all together at River City Recording. Based on the couple of songs available on iTunes, I would say the process is working.

Hudson’s first single “I Don’t Care,” may have been a bit challenging, with several high notes interspersed throughout the song. However, by stretching her voice between the highs and lows, she pulled off a memorable performance.

Listening to Hudson’s second single “Tommy,” it’s quite obvious that she’s growing as a singer and an individual. “Tommy” has a great driving beat and allows Hudson to showcase her vocals, punctuating the reason I believe this young lady is headed for fame and fortune. You can also view the video (above) of “Tommy” on Youtube featuring some of her friends.

Her latest single “Too Shy” is due out on April 6th. Hudson says “Too Shy,” is really about her personality and how she’s always been shy. She’s going to have to get over that since she’s scheduled to perform at a number of local events throughout the summer.

I like refer to Hudson’s sound as Taylor Swift with attitude.

As Hudson matures with age and her vocals grow, so will her unique and individual sound, and someday, in the not so distant future, a throng of fans will be lined up for autographs, with the desire to sound just like Madison Hudson.

Is American Idol in her future?

Hey! You heard it hear first.

(To my readers who love to edit my work ““ I know here is misspelled ““ I’m envoking my poetic license)

 

 

Legendary Earl Scruggs Dies

Bluegrass legend and banjo pioneer Earl Scruggs, who helped change country music with Bill Monroe and guitarist Lester Flatt, has died. He was 88.

Scruggs’ son Gary said his father passed away Wednesday morning at a Nashville, Tenn., hospital. He said his father died of natural causes.

The elder Scruggs was an innovator who pioneered the modern banjo sound. His use of three fingers rather than the “clawhammer” style elevated the banjo from a part of the rhythm section, and sometime comedic prop, to a lead instrument.

His string-bending and lead runs became known worldwide as “the Scruggs picking style.” It was perhaps most prominently displayed on the iconic theme from “The Beverly Hillbillies.”

 

 

 

Danny Gokey’s New Eyewear Collection

Danny Gokey – Click for more images

Match Eyewear teams up with Danny Gokey, American Idol Season 8 finalist and philanthropist for distribution of prescription eyewear with an “edge.” The collection highlights Danny’s personal flair with 12 styles, targeting men ages 18 to 35.

The collaboration between Match Eyewear and Danny began in 2010 sparked by his love of fashion eyewear. “It has been a dream of mine to create my own brand of fashion frames,” says Danny. “I have been impressed with Match Eyewear’s designs and quality and see them as the perfect partner.”

See photos of Danny Gokey

The Danny Gokey Eyewear collection diversifies Match Eyewear’s brand assortment by delivering trend-setting designs influenced by Danny’s sense of style and personal brand of music. “We are excited to establish a partnership with Danny,” states Ethan Goodman, President of Match Eyewear. “It has been fun developing this collection with Danny and it’s refreshing to work with an artist with so much passion for eyewear.”

The Danny Gokey Eyewear collection joins other brand names at Match Eyewear, including Adrienne Vittadini, Helium Paris, Float Milan, Float Kids, Aero by Float and Match Eyewear.

Help Film Mark Farner’s Life Story!

Mark Farner

Flagday Productions has started production on a documentary that will chronicle the life, successes and struggles of Mark Farner, a founding member of Grand Funk Railroad.

I’m Your Captain: The Mark Farner Story, is inspired by the life of Farner who became a rock star in his 20s and dominated the charts for 10 years. An advocate for Native American issues, military veterans and the rights of American workers, Farner has led an interesting life with wife Lesia, and their four children.

Some of you may be wondering who the hell’s Mark Farner. Some might even be struggling to recall Grand Funk Railroad. Farner was the lead singer for, and wrote many of, Grand Funk Railroad’s hit songs. The band broke The Beatles’ record for the fastest ticket sell-out (72 hours) at New York’s Shea Stadium back in 1971. They sold millions of albums and had numerous hits including “I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home),” “The Loco-Motion,” “Some Kind of Wonderful,” “Bad Time,” “Heartbreaker,” “Foot Stompin’ Music” and “We’re an American Band.”

“Rockumentaries” have been done before; describing the rise and fall of a group’s success, excessive drug use, destructive behavior, all followed by the demise of the group, due to “interpersonal” issues – which usually means someone in the band shagged someone’s significant other, or they simply disagreed on the name of their next album.

So what’s the big deal?

Back in 2010 Farner’s life took a tragic turn. His youngest son, Jesse, became a quadriplegic after an accident, causing Farner to refocus his passion on his music in order to help his son rebuild his life.

The entertainment industry, being a very giving group of people, took notice and came together, thanks to the efforts of Rock “‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp founder, David Fishof. Fishof contacted Roger Daltrey of The Who and they went on to throw a benefit concert for Farner and his family, raising much needed funds to pay mounting medical bills.

This dramatic turn in Farner’s life will add depth to the film, elevating it above the rockumentary status and provide a look into a legend in the rock star world, a family man, and a man driven to help others.

You can help make this happen and support award-winning filmmaker and director, Vincent Straggas, who will tell Farner’s story using archival and new performance footage, interviews with Farner, his family, friends, former band mates and others.

To help make this happen go to http://www.indiegogo.com/Im-Your-Captain-The-Mark-Farner-Story, where you can help fund the making of this film. The more you contribute the bigger the perks. You can contribute as little as $25. Want to participate in the a Rock n’ Roll Fantasy Camp “All-Star Celebrity Concert”, w/ Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, at the Playboy Mansion in California? You can ““ for $2,500.

 

 

Tuckered out at Thunder Valley Casino

Marshall Tucker Band - Click for more images

It was quite an evening at Thunder Valley Casino Resort Friday night as the Marshall Tucker Band and Sacramento’s own Road 88 played to an overflowing crowd in Pano Hall.

Kicking off the night was Road 88 led by Rachael Steele, whose vocals reigned supreme. Starting their set off appropriately with “Attitude,” followed by “Two More Bottles of Wine,” they were hitting on all cylinders.

Joining founding members Rachel Steele (vocals), Scott Prentice (guitar/vocals) and David Phelps (guitar) were Billy Haggard (guitar), Charlie McGimsey (drums), and Todd Prout (bass).

Road 88 was voted Best Local Band in Sacramento for 2011 by local television station KCRA’s A-list. At the time they had been together a couple of years and already had a hit climbing the charts in Europe with their song “Not Gonna Happen.”

Rachel Steele with Road 88 - Click for more images


Since that time there has been some shuffling of band members resulting in the lineup above. The move appears to be successful with some great guitar playing throughout their set, and a new level of energy, with Haggard bouncing around the stage, going from one performer to the next saying god knows what, but apparently making everyone laugh. The only question is – Were they laughing with him or at him?

Road 88 continued with a few of their original songs including “Drive” and “Child of Innocence.”

Prentice soloed with “That’s How They do it in Dixie,” followed by Steele closing their set in style with their original hard-driving “Faultline.”

After a quick set-change the Marshall Tucker Band took the stage with 64 year old founding member Doug Gray singing “This Old Cowboy.” As soon as the flute kicked in I was reminded of why Marshall Tucker’s music has stood out for all these years.

The Marshall Tucker band members included Marcus James Henderson (flute/sax/keyboards), Pat Elwood (bass),  Chris Hicks (guitar), and B.B. Bordon (drums). The guys were the true stars of the show playing extended versions of their hits like “Hillbilly Band,” “Fire on the Mountain,” and “24 hours at a Time.”

Henderson was non-stop, playing the flute, on to the sax, over to the keyboards and then back again. He did an awesome job, earning him several well deserved standing O’s.

Marcus James Henderson with MTB - Click for more images


Gray, being the southern gentleman that he is, talked to the crowd in between songs, joking about his age and how the band has been around for 40 years. Focusing on one of the younger ladies in the front row, he joked about her not understanding what Winterland meant, referencing their legendary performance at Bill Graham’s Winterland auditorium in San Francisco back in 1973.

For their finale, “Can’t You See,” Gray had the audience singing “‘Can’t you see, can’t you see, what that woman has been doing to me,’ providing one of those “goose-bump” moments.

While Gray’s voice isn’t what it used to be, he still has that wonderful soulful sound, although a bit rough at times. The instrumentals were to die for, with soaring flute solos and hard driving guitar riffs. All executed with perfection.

The Marshall Tucker Band is truly an awesome instrumental group bursting at the seams with talent, making for a memorable performance and reminding me of a entire orchestra rather than a handful of performers.

 

HAPA-ning at Thunder Valley Casino

HAPA - Click for more images

It was a little bit Hawaiian at Thunder Valley Casino Resort Saturday night, with Hawaiian music sensation HAPA and comedian Mel Cabang bringing their Hawaiian humor and music to the stage.

As Pano Hall started filling the crowd was treated to the sounds of Ka Leo Nani, with band members Bonnie Brown (guitar/vocals), Susan Johnson (guitar/vocals), and Carla Fontinella (guitar/vocals) playing some nice Hawaiian tunes while hula dancer Pumehana Aquon danced to the music. Brown now lives in Florida and flew in for the event.

Their sound was pure and their vocals were great. The crowd thoroughly enjoyed their playing and cheered appropriately at the end of their set.

Ka Leo Nani - Click for more images

http://stockphotography.sacandbeyond.com/ka-leo-nani

Band members Brown, Johnson, and Aquon are all past students of Naomi Kalama’s, who runs Halau Hula O Kalama, where she teaches traditional Hawaiian dance. Halau Hula O Kalama also provides entertainment at parties and other events.

Entertaining the audience in between acts was actor and stuntman Branscombe Richmond. Richmond frequents Hawaii and was instrumental in putting the evenings show together. As he tried his wit out on the crowd, Richmond started tossing t-shirt, bags of Hawaiian chips and macadamia nuts into the crowd, nailing a couple of unsuspecting audience members.

Branscombe Richmond

Comedian Mel Cabang started off the show, with his sometimes graphic and outrageously funny humor,  by engaging unsuspecting audience members in the front row. Cabang had the audience laughing from the moment he arrived on stage announcing that he used to be Filipino, but was tired of it, so he quit.

After insulting most of the front row, Cabang left the stage to venture out into the audience. Giving an elderly lady his King’s Lei he had the audience eating out of his hand. As he strolled through the audience, he sang a wonderful rendition of “Unforgettable.” Cabang was able to get off a few more zingers as he exited the stage.

Bringing their mix of Pan-Polynesian music that includes a touch of American folk/rock, HAPA started off with a recording of the beautiful chanting of late band member and friend Charles Ka`upu, leading into “Haleakala Ku Hanohano”. While the played their first song the beautiful and enchanting Edieann Heali`i `O Nalani Stanley performed hula.

As duo Barry Flanagan and Ron Kuala’au weaved tales through their music the crowd cheered as they played past hit songs and a couple of new ones as well.

Mel Cabang - Click for more images

Obviously missing from the group was Charles Ka’upu who passed away last year. As a memorial for Ka’upu they carry with them a photograph that’s displayed at all their concerts.

Both Flanagan and Kuala’au were pounding out one great riff after another on their guitars, with Kuala’au pulling out a ukelele, and later playing slack-key guitar. At one point Kuala’au had to restring his guitar due to a broken string.

Audience participation is always a plus, they had the normal sing along to “One Love,” followed by some audience members hula dancing onstage.

Believe me when I say HAPA has taken Hawaiian music to a whole new level. I’m not much of an Hawaiian music fan, but this was some great music with just the right mix of Hawaiian and folk. With HAPA’s powerful guitar playing coupled with smooth silky vocals, it was one hell of a performance.

 

 

Longtime Drummer for Doobie Brothers Dies

The Doobie Brothers in 2011 - Click for more images

Longtime drummer for the Doobie Brothers Michael “‘Big Mike’ Hossack died at his home after battling cancer in Dubois, Wyoming, on Monday at the age of 65.

Big Mike was a member of the Doobie Brothers between 1971 and 1973, during which time he played on several of the Doobie Brothers best-known hits, including “Jesus Is Just Alright,” “Listen to the Music” and “China Grove.”

Returning to the band in 1987 he remained until his health took a turn for the worse in 2010

The Doobie Brothers had released a statement in January letting Hossack’s fans know that he was improving slowly.

The Doobie Brothers Tom Johnston remembered Hossack, “Mike has always been a part of my musical life and the life of the Doobie Brothers; from our earliest singles, like China Grove and Blackwater to our most recent single Brighter Day.   He was an incredible musician, a studio quality drummer.  The last few years, he was brave and determined to keep on playing in the face of ill health, and I will always admire him for that.  He was a terrific dad and family man, and we will all miss him.”

The Doobie’s Pat Simmons, who was a close friend of Hossack’s, said, “When my kids were little, they used to call him Big Mike, because to them he was such a big guy.  But to me and those who knew him, he had an even a bigger heart.  We were friends for 43 years and we shared some wonderful adventures together, times I will never forget.  Thanks for all those wonderful memories Mike, and all the great music. We love you.”

 

He will be missed.

 

Sucks to be John Mayer

The Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter and musician John Mayer has canceled his recently announced U.S. tour and will take an indefinite hiatus from performing live due to the return of a granuloma in his throat. The 34 year old Mayer was treated for the same condition just last year. This would have been his first tour in the US in two years.

He has a new album Born and Raised which is due to be released on May 22, 2012.  The album’s first single “Shadow Days,” debuted March 5.

Mayer sent a message to his fans via his tumblr blog;

“Nothing feels worse than having to break the stage down before the performance, and I mean nothing.  I love this band you were going to hear, I love the guys and girls I work with, and the only thing that stops me from devolving into a puddle of tears is knowing that it’s a long life, and the greatest gift in the world is being able to create music no matter what the circumstances.”

Canceled concert appearances include:

Thursday, March 15: Oklahoma City; Global Events Center at Winstar World Resort
Friday, March 16: Oklahoma City; Global Events Center at Winstar World Resort
Monday, April 9: Bloomington, IN; the IU Auditorium
Tuesday, April 10: East Lansing, MI; the Wharton Center for the Performing Arts
Thursday, April 12: Grand Rapids, MI; DeVos Performance Hall
Friday, April 13: West Lafayette, IN (Purdue University); Elliot Hall of Music
Saturday, April 14: Detroit, MI; Fox Theatre
Tuesday, April 17: Orono, ME (University of ME); Collins Center for the Arts
Wednesday, April 18: Providence, RI; PPAC Providence Performing Arts Center
Thursday, April 19: West Point, NY; Eisenhower Hall Theatre
Saturday, April 21: Buffalo, NY; Shea’s Performing Arts Center
Sunday, April 22: Wallingford, CT; The Oakdale Theatre
Tuesday, April 24: Richmond, VA; Landmark Theater
Thursday, April 26: Tuscaloosa, AL; Tuscaloosa Amphitheater
Sunday, April 29: New Orleans, LA; Jazz & Heritage Fest
Monday, April 30: Memphis, TN; The Orpheum Theatre
Wednesday, May 2: Kansas City, MO; Starlight Theatre
Friday, May 4: Albuquerque, NM; Sandia
Saturday, May 5: Las Vegas, NV; The Joint
Sunday, May 6: Phoenix, AZ; Comerica Theatre

 

 

Rex Navarette Stops Filipino’s From Gambling

Rex Navarrete - Click for more images

Yes! It happened Friday night at Thunder Valley Casino Resort, as comedian Rex Naverret set out to do what few people have done before, stop Filipinos from gambling – at least long enough to watch his show.

As Florante De Leon warmed up the crowd with his unbelievable music ““ unbelievable because I couldn’t understand a damn thing he was saying since it was all in Tagalog. As he was playing, Florante  also bantered with the audience as they slowly filed in to catch the headlining act of Navarette.

Florante continued as the room filled with reluctant Filipinos who had to leave their seats at the tables and slot machines. However, by the end of Florante’s performance the place was packed with a sufficiently warmed up crowd whose minds had drifted from winning the next big jackpot, to enjoying a noteworthy performance.

Florante De Leon - Click for more images

There were many spouses of non-Filipino descent that didn’t understand Tagalog, so Florante didn’t catch on to about a quarter of the audience.

English speaking Navarette enjoys lamenting about his life growing up, so he started the show letting everyone know that, as a kid, he never saw his parents. While his parents were always away gambling in Reno, they would have his World War 2 veteran Grandfather watching him.

So off Navarrette went on tales of his adventures with his Grandfather. One such adventure landed them in the middle of Oakland buying fish and chips at a black owned shop, only for his Grandfather to be misunderstood when he told the store owner that they wanted two vinegars. The owner had thought he said ““ we just want to be ni##ers.

After his adventures with his Grandfather, Naverrete went on to complain about Filipino food and how even he was afraid to eat the food, sometimes only being able to eat it in the dark.

And so the rest of the evening went as Navarette did his best imitations of varying Asian accents while providing a very entertaining view of life as a 1st generation immigrant from the Philipines.

Thunder Valley has more great comedians coming up during their summer concert series including Gabriel Iglesias and Jeff Dunham and Louie Anderson. Be sure to get your tickets early, these shows are going to sellout fast!

X Factor Close to Signing Britney Spears

Britney Spears - Click for more images

From the beginning, the X Factor has been on shaky ground with lower than expected ratings throughout the first season. This resulted in what some now refer to as, ‘The X Factor’ Monday Massacre, when judges Paula Abdul, Nicole Scherzinger, and host Steve Jones were fired.

I do believe Scherzinger wasn’t cutting the mustard, and Mr. Personality himself, Steve Jones, was a jerk. Jones has got to go down as the worst host ever. He had lousy timing, talked over the judges on a regular basis, and asked the most ridiculous questions. Probably the worst question he asked of a losing contestant, “Your dream is dead. What will you do now?” ““ Brilliant!

Cowell, being a master of keeping his name in the news, has been rumored to have been in negotiations with a number of celebrities including Janet Jackson and the late Whitney Houston. As I’m sure Cowell has hoped, this has caused a fervor around the show, which may ultimately provide the ratings boost it needs.

Now it’s rumored that Cowell’s close to signing pop-star-gone-wild Britney Spears as one of the new judges. While Britney has calmed down and isn’t in the headlines like she used to be, I think Cowell is banking on her eccentric side to come out on the show.

As we all wait in anticipation to see who the new judges will be, we can sit back and enjoy The Voice and American Idol.

In the end, I don’t think America is going to vote for X Factor and I’d rather listen to Iron Maidens album X Factor anyway.

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