Music Review

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Madison Hudson shakes it up

madisonSACRAMENTO, CA- Country singer Madison Hudson is shaking things up with her latest single “Shake It Up,” which is due to drop on iTunes sometime on Sunday.

Hudson teamed up with Michael Brandt and Fat Cat Studios in Sacramento to produce this winning song. “Shake It Up” has some great lyrics along with an awesome groove.

On the single, Hudson is joined by Brandt (drums/percussions), Stinger Davin (bass), Clint Warner (guitar/banjo) and Stephany Rae (background vocals). Brandt is also responsible for writing and producing this fun song.

As Hudson belts out this catchy tune, she has on her favorite jeans and dancing boots as she heads out the door to shake it up and break it down. The song has a perfect mix of banjo and solid driving guitar. Add to that a memorable chorus and Hudson’s pristine vocals and you have a combination for a bona fide hit.

At 16, Hudson’s vocals are truly starting to mature, sounding more like woman and less like an adolescent girl, she’s hitting on all cylinders with “Shake It Up.” Hudson’s earlier singles include, “I Don’t Care,” which was released when she was only 13, “Tommy” and “Too Shy.”

Give it a listen now at Southern Dixie Radio. If you like what your hear, let Madison know on her Facebook page.

Get it at Amazon!

Ben E. King brings ‘Spanish Harlem’ to Thunder Valley


Ben E. King
Photo: Randy Miramontez

R&B legend Benjamin Earl Nelson, better known as Ben E. King, played to a stellar crowd Friday night at Thunder Valley Casino Resort.

Prior to taking the stage King’s band played a couple of instrumentals, “Summer Shuffle” and “Don’t Mess Wit Me.” It was a very relaxing 15 minutes, but the crowd was getting restless by the end of the second song as they waited patiently for King.

The 74-year-old Rock & Roll Hall of Fame alumnus took the stage as the band started playing “How Sweet It is,” followed by “Up on the Roof.” King’s vocals were spotty at times, but for the most part he sounded great, especially after 50-something years of singing.


Click for more images
Photo: Randy Miramontez

The mostly older crowd remained seated, with some fans clapping to the beat. There were a few fans who headed to the closest aisle or to the back of Pano Hall where they could dance.

Continuing, King talked to the crowd just before heading into “This Magic Moment” and “There Goes My Baby.” In between songs a few fans would shout out a song for the singer to perform, with many shouting “Spanish Harlem,” which is one of King’s favorites.

When King finally got to “Spanish Harlem” the crowd gave him his largest round of applause, with some giving him a standing ovation.


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Photo: Randy Miramontez


King’s first solo hit after leaving the Drifters in 1960 was “Spanish Harlem” following up with “Stand by Me,” written with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. “Stand by Me” went on to be voted as one of the Songs of the Century by the Recording Industry Association of America. “Stand by Me,” “There Goes My Baby,” and “Spanish Harlem” were named as three of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll and received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award.

King finished the evening off with “Midnight Hour,” with the crowd wanting more.

Adam Ant releases new album after 18 years

Adam Ant is the Blueback Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter

Adam Ant is the Blueback Hussar in Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter

Today Adam Ant released his first new album in 18 years. The 17 song album, “Adam Ant is the Blueback Hussar in Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter,” is semi-autobiographical, according to Ant, with a few songs dealing with his mental illness.

The 58-year-old made dressing like a pirate sexy back in the ‘80s, and brought us a string of hits like, “Stand and Deliver,” “Prince Charming” and “Goody Two Shoes.”

Adam Ant

Adam Ant by Andy Gotts

In an interview with Reuters Ant says he has no television and loves to read, particularly historical books. He sports a number of tattoos with one on his left arm of Admiral Lord Nelson’s inspirational last prayer before the infamous battle of Trafalgar, and below that an image of his grandfather who served in the navy during World War One.

Another tattoo on his right arm is an Oscar Wilde quote: “Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.” Telling Reuters Adam said, “I can certainly say I have had that experience.”

After dropping out of the music world in 1995 battling exhaustion and mental illness, Ant spent most of that time raising his daughter while being treated for bipolar disorder. He finally emerged in 2010 performing concerts around London and beyond.

Adam Ant

Adam Ant, Blueblack Hussar, pc, Courtesy of Adam Ant

Ant, still sporting his signature eye liner, goatee beard, and bandana over his greying ponytail, says he missed music during his years out of the industry and started writing songs about three years ago. Telling Reuters, “It felt like the right time. I had missed it a great deal … It is almost a blessing to work in rock ‘n roll and play live.”

Reviews have been mixed with The Independent saying, “It’s sprawling, overdue and not for everyone, but at least it’s not a play-it-safe comeback.” One reviewer at The Guardian gave it only two stars saying, “one has to question the wisdom of a 58-year-old man singing: ‘Punky young girl needs a middle-aged man whose midlife crisis you began’.”

Ant is planning a tour in the UK and a return to the United States. He’s also working on his autobiography, “Stand and Deliver” and planning a fashion line.

Tower of Power amps up New Year’s

Tower of Power - Click for more images

Tower of Power – Click for more images

Tower of Power electrified a sold out crowd at Thunder Valley Casino Resort’s New Year’s celebration on Monday night, concluding the casino’s four day countdown to the New Year.

The band started around 10:30 p.m. and the crowd immediately responded by clapping and jumping to their feet, with a number of couples spilling into the aisles to dance.

The San Francisco Bay Area based band got their start in the late 60’s when founding members Emilio Castillo (tenor sax/vocals) and Stephen “Doc” Kupka got together.  Joining the two founding members onstage were long standing members Francis “Rocco” Prestia (bass) and Dave Geribaldi (drums), along with Larry Braggs (lead vocals), Roger Smith (keyboards/vocals), Tom E. Politzer (lead tenor sax), Adolfo Acosta, (trumpet/flugelhorn), Jerry Cortez (guitar/vocals), and Sal Cracchiolo (trumpet).

Stephen Kupka - Click for more images

Stephen Kupka – Click for more images

Starting their set with “I Like Your Style” and “Ain’t Nothing Stopping Us Now,” the horn section is obviously the cornerstone of Tower of Power’s musical style, as Castillo, Doc, and Rocco started flexing their horns causing the audience to cheer even louder.

When TOP, as their fans refer to them, started playing their slower songs like “Just When We Start Making it” and “Me and Mrs. Jones,” droves of fans left their seats and headed to the aisles to slow dance.

As the New Year arrived, the band struck up “Auld Lang Syne,” as everyone donned their hats and noise makers (compliments of Thunder Valley), as hundreds of balloons started tumbling to the floor.

It was quite a sight to see, and hear, as some people popped balloons, while others were hitting them back up into the air.

Balloon drop - Click for more images

Balloon drop – Click for more images

Once things settled down, Tower of Power continued with “Young Man” and “Soul With a

Capital S,” leaving many of their fans wanting more.

Those with any energy left headed to the casino for their 1:30 a.m. drawing, where someone won a share of $25,000, including the grand prize of $10,000.

Tower of Power still has a lot of energy left after all these years. Couple the two founding members with the younger members of the band and they still have a recipe for success.




I Like Your Style
Ain’t Nothing Stopping Us Now
Having Fun
Oil in the Ground
Can’t You See
Come Back Baby
Just When We Start Making it
Maybe It’ll Rub Off
So I Got to Groove
Me and Mrs. Jones
Jame Brown Medley of songs
Hard to Go
Souled Out
Auld Lang Syne
What is Hip
Young Man
Soul With a Capital S

Air Supply in demand at Thunder Valley

Graham Russell (L) and Russell Hitchcock

Graham Russell (L) and Russell Hitchcock

Crap it happened again.

Last year Air Supply stormed into Thunder Valley Casino Resort playing all their hits from the ‘70s and 80’s, pretty much nothing but love songs, and I liked it. It was after that show, back in December of last year, that I started questioning my maleness. Was it time to turn in my man-card?

To prove to myself that I wasn’t playing for the other team, I decided to take in a Chippendales show (review) followed by a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fight (review).  That didn’t go so well. You can read those reviews and decide for yourself, but in my mind, I think I failed – not that that’s a bad thing, at least that’s what my wife keeps telling me.

Air Supply

Russell Hitchcock and Jonni Lightfoot – Click for more images

Well I got a do over as Air Supply came back to Thunder Valley Casino on Sunday night playing to another sold out crowd.

It all started out quietly enough as founding members Russell Hitchcock (lead vocals) and Graham Russell (guitar/vocals) took the stage with fellow band members Jonni Lightfoot (bass/vocals), Aaron McLain (guitar/vocals), Aviv Cohen (drums), and filling in for Amir Efrat on keyboards Davy Nathan.

Hitchcock wading through the crowd

Hitchcock wading through the crowd – Click for more images


They kicked of the night with “Even the Nights are Better” and “Just as I Am,” as their fans greeted them with deafening applause, mixed with the occasional scream.

Midway through the show, Russell went unplugged with “Me and The River,” as Nathan accompanied him on keys. All the other band members, including Hitchcock left the stage.

As Russell finished “Me and The River” he was handed another guitar for his next song, only it wasn’t working. As Nathan, the guitar guy, not to be confused with Nathan the keyboard guy, worked on the problem, Hitchcock came back out on stage and told a joke about an elephant and something about a stocking over his head. It was quite funny, but you had to be there.

Taking a bow

Taking a bow

Once Russell had his guitar functioning again, Hitchcock appeared stage left, walking straight into a sea of fans. He was handing out hugs and kisses to a number of fans, as he sang “The One That You Love,” with Russell wading into the crowd as well.

That’s when everything changed.

As the crowd was worked into a frenzy Hitchcock and Russell made their way back onstage to play “Lost in Love” and “Making Love Out of Nothing at All,” with the crowd still going wild.

Pandemonium broke out as the band left the stage, with the crowd on their feet clapping and screaming for more. After the requisite wait, the crew jumped back onstage to finish with “Goodbye” and “All Out of Love.”

By the time Air Supply finished their 90 minute set I was passing out hugs and telling everyone I loved them, like there was no tomorrow – Obviously the Mayans were wrong. It was then I realized I’d failed again.

Goodbye man-card.

These guys are pure entertainers and make for a great night out.

Even the Nights are Better
Just as I Am
Every Woman in the World
Sweet Dreams
Here I Am
Dance with Me
Power of Love
Me and the River
The One That You Love
Lost in Love
Making Love Out of Nothing at All
All Out of Love


Big Bad Voodoo Daddy roars into Thunder Valley

Scotty Morris - Click for more images

Scotty Morris – Click for more images

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy brought the roaring twenties and swing revival to Thunder Valley Casino Resort on Saturday, as the casino continues their countdown to 2013.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy has been bringing the big band era music to the masses for over 20 years. Their music takes the listener back to the days of old, when gangsters weren’t quite as scary, and a flapper was a young and trending woman, not something found in a toilet. Some say those were the good ‘ole days.

Mixing their roaring twenties attitude and big horns, the band of all things swing, fuses together some of the most prolific sounds of swing, jazz and contemporary classics to create an original and exciting array of sounds that put the likes of Cab Calloway to shame, well almost. Nobody can put Calloway to shame.

Gotta love them horns!

Gotta love them horns!

Kicking off their set with “Come On With The ‘Come On’” and “Calloway Boogie,” they had the audience dancing in their seats from the start. That was a bit strange, because at most concerts fans would be standing up in the front row dancing. Apparently this was a more subdued and polite crowd.

Thunder Valley missed out on an opportunity to provide a dance floor for the many fans wanting to get up and boogie. While a number of people were dancing off to the side, the carpet just didn’t cut it.

Still in holiday mode, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy went on to play a few of their songs from their Christmas album including “Merry Christmas Baby” and “Mr. Heatmeiser.”

Andy Rowley (L) and Karl Hunter

Andy Rowley (L) and Karl Hunter


As the band started up with Cab Calloway’s “Minnie the Moocher,” lead singer Scotty Morris led the crowd through the ho-dee ho-dee ho’s and the Hi-dee hi-dee hi’s. During the song the audience jumped in at the appropriate times as well.

This was an extremely fun concert with a high energy band. While some people may never give Big Bad Voodoo Daddy a listen due to their roaring twenties label and swing sound, others are quickly realizing that this is a band that has a sound all its own, with some very catchy tunes.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

Click for more images

Band members include Scotty Morris (lead vocals and guitar), Kurt Sodergren (drums and percussion), Dirk Shumaker (double bass and vocals), Andy Rowley (baritone saxophone and vocals), Glen “The Kid” Marhevka (trumpet), Karl Hunter (saxophones and clarinet), Joshua Levy (piano and arranger), Anthony Bonsera Jr. (lead trumpet) and Alex Henderson (trombone).

You can catch these dapper fellows on The Tonight Show on Jan. 9, where they will perform “Why Me?”
Come On With The “Come On”
Calloway Boogie
Merry Christmas Baby
Mr. Heatmeiser
Mr. Pinstripe Suit
Hey Now
The Reefer Man
Minnie the Moocher
Diga Diga Do
Devil’s Dance
5-10-15 Times
We Three Kings
Zig Zaggity Woop Woop
You and Me & The Bottle Makes 3
I Wan’na Be Like You
Go Daddy O

Why Me?
So Long Farewell-Goodbye


Brian McKnight woos the ladies

Brian McKnight - Click for more images

Brian McKnight – Click for more images

Brian McKnight entertained a sold-out crowd at Thunder Valley Casino Resort on Friday night, kicking off the casinos countdown to 2013.

This was a stripped down version of his regular show, although this format is becoming his regular show. In 2011, McKnight set out to let America get to know more about him as he embarked on his Just Me Tour, which included his brother’s band, Take 6. During the show McKnight reflects on growing up and provides anecdotal information about his songs and life.

This being the stripped down version, it was completely solo with only McKnight playing a grand piano, guitar, or keyboards.

Big Al with local radio station V101.1 introduces Brian McKnight

Big Al with local radio station V101.1 introduces Brian McKnight

As the show began, the lights dimmed and the stage was deserted as a signal spotlight lit up the piano. Off stage McKnight started singing “Should’ve Been Loving You,” slowly working his way center stage, making for a very dramatic entrance.

After following up with “Home,” McKnight went on to explain the format of his show saying, “I write these songs, but I produce them too, and sometimes you got to produce them to be on the radio, and I don’t necessarily get to perform them the way I want to, so tonight, I’m going to give you the music the way I want to.”

McKnight continued with a medley of songs of people who most influenced him in his early years, including Nat King Cole’s “L-O-V-E,” Michael McDonald’s “I Keep Forgettin,” and Jeffrey Osborne’s “On the Wings of Love.”

McKnight woos audience member Elsa - click for more images

McKnight woos audience member Elsa – click for more images

Working just the right amount of humor into his show, McKnight explained why he doesn’t serenade his “ladies.” Because his mother warned him about using his god given talents for his own personal purposes, and God will take those talents away, referencing erectile dysfunction commercials. That’s when he asked audience member Elsa Greco to come up on stage so he could serenade her with “Crazy Love,” as he played guitar.

This was pretty much an unplugged set, at least until his last song “Fall 5.0” when he played to a soundtrack. “Fall 5.0″ is off his new album due to be released in February.

The format just didn’t work for the testosterone laden guys in the audience, but it did work for all the ladies who were captivated by McKnight’s good looks and his smooth vocals as he belted out one love song after another.

For those fans of McKnight in the ‘90s and who have not kept up with his music, they were ultimately disappointed due to the unplugged format. At times it was difficult to determine what song he was singing.

As one of those testosterone laden guys, I’d rather have seen more standup comic routines from McKnight.

Multi-talented McKnight on the piano

Multi-talented McKnight on the piano


Should’ve Been Loving You
The Only One for Me
Medley “L-O-V-E,” “I Keep Forgetting,” “On the Wings of Love,” “Overjoyed,’’ “A House is Not a Home,’’ “Rock With You”
Crazy Love
Guitar solo
Can You Read My Mind
6, 8, 12
Find Myself in You
Let Me Love You
Still in Love
Do I Ever Cross Your Mind
Missing You
You’re Like a Dream Come True
Back at One
One Last Cry
Fall 5.0

Rock concert breaks out at country bar

Rachel Steele and Jeff Keith – Click for more images

It was a magical night at Toby Keith’s Bar & Grill in Folsom, California as singer, songwriter Rachel Steele and country band Road 88 were joined by the venerable rocker Jeff Keith, lead singer for the rock band Tesla.

Keith joined forces with Steele and her band to celebrate the release of his new CD “Jeff Keith and Country Music Friends.” The Album is the result of a side project Keith’s been working on with friends Kent Goodson and Pat Boone from The George Jones band. Pat Boone is not the really old guy who likes to drink milk, but the not-so-really old guy who likes country music.

Frank Hannon – Click for more images

When Steele was halfway through her set Keith, donning a cowboy hat and blue jacket, jumped up onstage  singing several songs from his new album. As if that wasn’t enough to get everyone on their feet, Tesla’s Troy Luckketta (drums) and Frank Hannon (guitar), who were there in support of Keith, joined him to perform Tesla’s hit “Signs,” followed by a fantastic rendition of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama.”  Only Brian Wheat (bass) and Dave Rude (guitar) were missing from Tesla.

Frank Hannon and Billy Haggard

Road 88’s guitarist Billy Haggard and Hannon brought the house down with a killer battle of guitars, with Hannon finishing off the battle playing the guitar using a beer bottle up and down the neck of the guitar.

It gave more than a few people the goosies!

Road 88’s members include Scott Prentice (guitar, vocals), Billy Haggard (guitar), Charlie McGimsey (drums), Todd Prout (bass), Paul Southerland (lap/pedal steel, dobro) and Maggie Keith (backup vocals).

So how did Keith get mixed up in all things country?

Jeff Keith (center) and Road 88

Apparently Goodson and Boone met Keith after a Tesla concert in Canada and the next thing you know, the three of them are paddling around in a pontoon boat somewhere in the middle of Nashville, slamming down sasparillas, and singing country songs – go figure.

The album is solidly in the country genre with song titles like “Same Ol’ Cowboy,” Oklahoma Bound,” and my favorite “Oh Hell.” You can read the complete review here.

Keith also wants to assure all of his Tesla fans that he’s not quitting his day job –  or would that be his night job? He remains with Tesla and they are currently planning out their 2013 schedule, including the Monster of Rock Cruise in March.


Gemini Syndrome’s got a new video!

Aaron Nordstrom – Click for more images

The sometimes serious, sometimes mysterious, and always mystical Gemini Syndrome has just released a new video of their new track “Pleasure and Pain.”  This should placate their fans who are waiting patiently for the release of their new record due out in 2013 – not too much longer!

Alessandro Paveri – Click for more images

This band of lyrical geniuses comprised of Aaron Nordstrom (lead vocals), Rich Juzwick (guitar), Mike Salerno (guitar), Alessandro Paveri (bass), Brian Steele Medina (drums) have totally killed it with this video.

“Pleasure and Pain” is a great song with some heavy lyrics and some heavy guitar playing, as Nordstrom pounds out some awe inspiring guttural verses with just the right amount of his softer side, if there is one.

“Pleasure and Pain” is a testament to the talent of Nordstrom’s vocals, and the great guitar work that can be heard throughout the piece by Juzwick and Salerno.

The video really brings “Pleasure and Pain” to life with some fantastic graphics and some nice close-up and gritty footage of band members playing their instruments – not those instruments!!

Have a listen and enjoy the video!



Rick Ross brings his posse to Sleep Train Arena

Rick Ross (Rozay) – Click for more images

Rick Ross brought his MMG Tour to Sleep Train Arena on Saturday.

This is Rozay’s (Ross’s nickname) first headlining tour as he brought a supporting cast of characters including, Meek Mill (Robert Williams), Wale (Oluboware Victor Akintimehen), Omarion (Omari Ishmael Grandberry), and Machine Gun Kelly (Richard Colson Baker).

Opening the show was MGK storming the stage and daring the fans to have fun as he dove into the crowd on several occasions. Pro-skateboarder Ryan Sheckler was in attendance for MGK’s show and was invited backstage after his performance.

Machine Gun Kelly – Click for more images

While Rozay and crew put on a great show, MGK is the real story. Bringing his high energy and lightning fast rap, which earned him the nick name Machine Gun Kelly, this kid stole the show. If anyone in attendance didn’t know him before the show, they certainly knew who he was after the show.

Following MGK was Omarion. He was met with a lukewarm reception, which may have been because he was following a blistering performance by MGK. I don’t believe Omarion brought his A-game and luckily only played a brief set.

Omarion – Click for more images



I thought it was strange as each performer was represented by a cardboard cutout with their name displayed on it, which was being held by a couple of stage-hands. As if the audience needed to be reminded who was onstage. Not sure what that was about.

Wale followed Omarion and was met with cheers and screams. Wale won the crowd over and had fans on their feet. Wale also performed a pretty brief set, saving some time for the big man Rozay.

Meek Mill – Click for more images

Meek Mill followed Wale with “Racked Up Shawty” and “Young & Gettin’ It”  as the crowd started getting more intense and loud. Was it Wale’s performance, or the wildly good California weed?

When Rozay took the stage it could have been independence day as fireworks were going off all around. The ruler and king of MMG ripped through his hit’s including “Hustlin’ ” and “I’m Not A Star.”

Wale – Click for more images

Following Rozay’s lengthy solo set, Wale and Mill joined Rozay onstage to perform a number of songs including “Bag Of Money” and “Tats On My Arm.”

Rozay has put together quite a line-up for his first headlining tour and made a brilliant decision to include Machine Gun Kelly. I’m looking forward to seeing bigger and better things from MGK, including his own headlining act. The kids got talent!



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