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Big & Rich to headline PBR’s Last Cowboy Standing

Big Kenny - Click for more images

Big & Rich to Headline Professional Bull Rider’s Last Cowboy Standing on March 10 in Detroit, MI

The Professional Bull Riders announced that Big & Rich with special guest Cowboy Troy have been added to the PBR Built Ford Tough Series Last Cowboy Standing event at Ford Field on March 10, 2012.

Comprised of Big Kenny Alphin, and The Celebrity Apprentice winner John Rich, the duo has garnered multiple GRAMMY, ACM, CMA and CMT Music Award nominations. Their hits include their infectious smash-hit singles, “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy),” “Comin’ to Your City” for ESPN College Game Day, “8th of November” and “Lost in this Moment.”

Big & Rich with special guest Cowboy Troy will perform at 8 p.m., prior to the world’s top ranked bull riders, and the fiercest bucking bulls taking the field for an action-packed event. Together and separately, they have raised funds for many organizations and causes. Kenny has been part of efforts to combat mountaintop removal of coal mining and been part of relief efforts in Darfur. John was declared the 2011 winner of The Celebrity Apprentice and raised $1.4 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

The PBR Built Ford Tough Series event will be a progressive-elimination format with all of the Top 35 bull riders in the world riding a bull in

John Rich - Click for more images

Round 1. Riders who reach 8 seconds in Round 1 will advance to the next round, where they will each ride another bull. The elimination format continues until there is only one cowboy left. There will be a maximum of five rounds. The event winner will receive a minimum of $100,000.

It is the first visit to Ford Field for the premier bull riding organization that features the world’s highest-paid best bull riders competing against the toughest bucking bulls on the planet. Riders scheduled to compete in Detroit include 2011 World Champion and 2010 Rookie of the Year Silvano Alves, who has earned almost $1.8 million in his first 18 months competing in the BFTS, and Luke Snyder, who won the inaugural Last Cowboy Standing in front of a sellout crowd in Las Vegas in 2011, earning $216,500 – the highest one-day payout of the season, and the second-highest in history.

The event will be televised live on NBC Sports.


Getting Righteous at Thunder Valley Casino

Bill Medley - Click for more images

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member and legendary Righteous Brother Bill Medley brought a crew of extremely talented individuals to Thunder Valley Casino Resort Friday, including daughter McKenna.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Righteous Brothers. The second half of the duo, Bobby Hatfield, died of a heart attack back in 2003; Medley now tours with 3 Bottle Band and McKenna.

Kicking off the show was a video showing Medley as he made appearances in various shows throughout his career, including the David Letterman Show and the hit TV series, Cheers. As the video ended, Medley started to sing “A Song for You” while he was still offstage. After about a minute he started to make his way to the stage, providing for a nice dramatic entrance.

The 71 year old Medley’s voice has taken a beating over the years. While sounding coarser and a bit rough at times, he was able to make it work. The audience was enthralled with Medley from the start as he continued with “Ready, Willing and Able” and “Soul and Inspiration.” In between songs he would talk about life and joke with the crowd.

For his hit song, “Time of My Life,” from the movie Dirty Dancing, Medley brought out Mckenna to perform Jennifer Warnes’ part. McKenna did an awesome job and has a very melodic voice with a bit of a country/blues flavor.

McKenna went on to perform solo, singing “Silk Flowers” and “Give Me One Reason.”

McKenna and Bill Medley – Click for more images

When McKenna completed her set, Medley sat down at the keyboards and called on band member Bob Gulley to sing some songs with him and McKenna. This is where Medley shined, providing the audience a glimpse of what it’s like to jam with the best.

3 Bottle Band has been playing together with Medley for over 35 years, and it shows. This is a very talented group of musicians including Gabe Rabben (drums), Bob Gulley (bass), Tim Lee (keyboards), and Larry Hanson (lead guitar). Also a member of the band is America’s Got Talent winner Michael Grimm. However, Grimm was not present at Fridays show.

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Amnesty International releases Chimes of Freedom

Click to purchase

On January 24, Amnesty International USA released Chimes of Freedom, a 76-song collection of Bob Dylan covers by a very diverse group of artists from a generational as well as musical perspective.

The performers include many of Amnesty International’s longtime supporters, and range in age from Miley Cyrus, 19, to folk music legend Pete Seeger, who, at 92, records Dylan’s poignant “Forever Young,” with a children’s chorus.

The diversity of the musicians and musical genres — from rock, rap, hip-hop to pop, folk, country, jazz and blues — attests to Amnesty’s depth of support in the music community, the universal appeal of the core message of human rights, and the breadth of Dylan’s impact on culture. Almost every track on the album is being released for sale for the first time – except for the title song, Dylan’s original 1964 recording of “Chimes of Freedom.”

One of the tracks I wanted to highlight is my girl Ke$ha’s take on “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.” While some may say you can understand Dylan’s version better than Ke$ha’s, I believe she brings a whole new level to the song.

Ke$ha went out on a limb on this song too. It’s been covered by everybody and their brother. Let me see, there was Peter, Paul and Mary, Bobby Darin, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Burl Ives, Waylon Jennings, Flatt and Scruggs, Joan Baez, Indigo Girls, and even Cher. Oh – let’s not forget Clapton too!

Ke$ha kills this song ““ in a good way. She proves that she’s more than an entertainer with a little glitter and sleaze, but a true singer. Don’t get me wrong, I love the glitter and sleaze, you kidding me?

Take a listen for yourself and you’ll quickly realize that this is one helluva a tear jerker.

Read about Ke$ha’s visit to UC Davis last year.

 

Chinese New Year at Thunder Valley

Lion Dance - Click for more images

Thunder Valley Casino Resort brings in the Chinese New Year with a roar.

On Monday January 23 the Chinese will ring in the New Year welcoming the almighty dragon. Yes, it’s the year of the dragon, representing power and luck. Some say it’s akin to the phoenix rising above the ashes.

Kicking off the weekend celebration for the Chinese New Year, Thunder Valley hosted the Chinese Acrobats of Hebei , providing a stunning show of incredible acrobatics, beautiful costumes, and a great soundtrack.

Click for more images

The first act was the Lion dance, or was it the dragon dance? This dance has evolved from the traditional folk dance of China, incorporating acrobatics making it much more entertaining for audiences. This is in fact the lion dance and shouldn’t be confused with the longer more undulating character, the dragon. Yes, those were lions onstage.

Next up were three young ladies on unicycles, balancing metal bowls on top of their head and feet. They would toss the bowls to each other and on to their heads. It was quite spectacular to watch ““ at least when they completed the feat successfully. Apparently a couple of them were in training, or having an off day.

I hate to criticize such an act, since I know there’s no way in hell I could come close to doing what these women do. If I were performing this feat, the bowl would end up on some poor unsuspecting audience member’s head, while I was breaking a hip.

A Chinese acrobatic show wouldn’t be complete without the famous chair stacking. This is where an individual slowly stacks chairs one on top of the other, finally balancing on the top chair. As the stack grows the more precarious the position becomes, and the more spectacular the act.

Thankfully there were no mishaps, since there was no safety line or net involved.

Hoop Diving - Click for more images

Okay, I take back what I said earlier. A Chinese acrobatic show wouldn’t be complete without the world famous juggling hats. This act is a gem when performed by highly trained individuals. It’s fast paced and stunning to watch as five individuals juggle hats between each other in a well-choreographed routine. It really is quite spectacular.

The group went through a number of routines including a lady juggling a large clay pot and a table ““ not at the same time, but all with her feet!

A number of young men came out and performed hoop diving. This is where hoops of various sizes are stacked on top of each other while the men run and jump through the hoops. There were a few mishaps, but on subsequent tries they were able to complete it successfully.

Pole Dancing - Click for more images

Wrapping up the show was pole dancing – no, not that kind of pole dancing. There were six men, each bringing a special twist to pole dancing. Some seem to float in the air with one hand on the pole, while others would jump from one pole to the other and then drop quickly, only to stop just prior to reaching the floor.

With all things Cirque de Soleil, it’s refreshing to see an act such as this, where taking some ordinary items such as hats, jars, and chairs, and transforming them into a great evening of entertainment.

Chinese New Year is observed for two consecutive weeks, and is popularly known as Spring Festival. It usually starts from late January and early February, depending on the track of the new moon.

So the fun at Thunder Valley isn’t over! They will be hosting a free spectacular fireworks show next Friday January 27, at 9:30 pm.

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Far East Movement Releases New Video

Far East Movement - Click for more images

Far East Movement dropped a new video for their song “Jello,” featuring Rye Rye.
I have to say these guys are funny.

The video is about FM crashing a convention for a group called B.L.O.W. (short for “Ban Low-Frequency Oscillating Woofers). B.L.O.W. is supposedly an organization wanting to ban all low frequencies from popular music, including FM’s new bass sound that is prevalent throughout their forthcoming album Dirty Bass.

As the video progresses FM infiltrates the B.L.O.W. convention in some, not so subtle, disguises. Working the obviously bored crowd DJ Virman sneaks off to take control of the audio and launches the convention into a full blown party.

Once DJ Virman kicks it into gear, Rye Rye shows up with a few of her friends, jello shots are passed around, and then there’s a whole lotta ass shakin going on.

What really makes this funny is FM’s record label, Cherrytree Records, just issued a press release about the problems they are having with the fictitious organization B.L.O.W.

The press release states:

“Far East Movement’s maverick exploration of the bass end of the spectrum and pioneering club sound has incurred the wrath of self-described ‘music purity advocacy group’ Ban Low-frequency Oscillating Woofers or B.L.O.W. The B.L.O.W. (http://www.bloworg.org) organization has filed a petition denouncing FM’s low-frequency-powered music. Cherrytree Records released an official statement in response: “While we respect B.L.O.W.’s right to their opinion, we at Cherrytree…support Far East Movement’s right to create in the low frequency spectrum and appeal to everyone to please join us in opposing B.L.O.W.’s stance by backing Far East Movement’s right to artistic, sub-bass expression, banging new track ‘Jello’ and forthcoming new Cherrytree album Dirty Bass.”

I love it!

As for M.I.A. protégé and rising star Rye Rye? She will be releasing her first album sometime this year entitled Go! Pop! Bang!

 

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Globetrotters take on the Elite at Power Balance

Globie doing his magic - Click for more images

The world renowned Harlem Globetrotters were at Power Balance Pavilion Sunday to take on the International Elite, as they went head-to-head to determine who would be the world champions.

Globie, the team mascot, came out before the show to entertain the crowd with a little bit of magic and some dance moves. As Globie set up chairs he had four boys lay flat on their back on the chair seat. Then Globie started pulling out the chairs one by one and you could hear the collective gasp of the crowd as Globie pulled out the last chair, leaving the boys laying on one another without the need for the chairs.

Afterward Globie started strutting around like Michael Jackson as the crowd went wild, with some kids jumping up to dance along with Globie.

Even though the stadium was far from sold out, the audience members made up for it in enthusiasm. Throughout the game the crowd was cheering and clapping for the Globetrotters, with a few boos thrown in for team Elite. At times the cheering was deafening with kids and their parents jumping in to help cheer the team to victory.

As with all Globetrotter games this was an audience participation sport. One couple found out the hard way, with the wife having her purse

Dad goes for a dance with Big Easy

taken, but in true Globetrotter style they were kind enough to give her a gift for participating in all the fun and games ““ her purse.

As for her husband, he didn’t fare any better. He was dragged out on the basketball court, or should I say dance floor, as Big Easy convinced him to dance along.

Kids joined in on the fun too, with several young kids competing for a team jersey. The kids were dressed up as if they were headed to bed. Their task was to dash to the other side of the basketball court, shoot a basket, dash back to the start where a makeshift bed awaited them. The first to complete the task won – In the end they all were winners.

 

Of course the game came down to the wire and with 5 seconds to go on the clock the Globetrotters made a mad dash to score at the last minute just edging out the International Elite.

Some of the Globetrotters were in town earlier last week to visit with fans. You can read all about their visit here.

 

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Motown comes to Thunder Valley

Armed with 20 vocalists, six band members and four crew members impersonating the legends of Motown, RPM Crown Productions brought theirHitsville USA Legends of Motown Tribute Show to Thunder Valley Casino Resort on Saturday.

There was a sold-out crowd of diehard Motown fans there to enjoy some of the greatest hits from the Motown era. It was perplexing that more people weren’t up on their feet during some of the performances. However, after each performer finished their set they were met with more than a few people giving them a standing ovation.

The all-star lineup included acts such as The Four Tops, The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, and even a brief break from Motown for a little bit of Prince’s “Purple Rain.”

With the plethora of tribute shows currently playing across the country, it’s refreshing to see a solid lineup of talented individuals bringing not just one, but nine legendary acts to the stage in one spectacular show.

I was worried that with so many acts playing on one stage we’d be there all night slogging through hit after hit. That wasn’t the case. Each act played full versions as well as shortened versions of their respective hit songs, keeping the show moving at a pretty good clip.

Nick Harper

Emceeing the event was Nick Harper, a radio personality from the 60′s, 70′s and 80′s. As he introduced each act he provided a brief history and highlighted some of their hits.

Kicking off the show was The Four Tops. Decked out in white suits and moving in perfect harmony, they sang their hits, “Sugar Pie Honeybunch,” “Standing in the Shadow of Love” and “Ain’t No Woman Like the One I Got.”

Following The Four Tops were The Supremes in evening dresses singing, “Just Keep Me Hanging On,” “You Can’t Hurry Love” and “Love Child.”

Al Green was handing out roses to a number of the female audience members as he sang,  “I’m so Tired of Being Alone,” “Let’s Stay Together,” and “Love and Happiness.”

And so it went throughout the evening as nine artists entertained the crowd bringing hit after hit.

Don’t miss the next tribute show at Thunder Valley Casino Resort, the Legends of Soul Tribute Show. These shows sell out fast, so get your tickets ahead of time.

Producer: Rudolph Peters

Band members: Richard Cravalho (Lead Guitar) ,Rich Aguon (Drummer), Darrel Broadnax (Bass Guitar), Archie White (Keyboard Left),  Earnest Nation (Keyboard Right), and Glen Astine (Congo).

Below is a complete list of artists and the songs performed.

The Four Tops
(lead singer – Marion Brewer, James Hill, David Lige, and Lionel Burns)

“I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)”
“Standing in the Shadows of Love”
“Ain’t No Woman (Like the One I’ve Got)”

The Four Tops

 The Supremes
(lead singer – Regina Wood, Tracy James, and Dewanna Slaughter)

“You Keep Me Hangin’ On”
“You Can’t Hurry Love”
“Love Child”

The Supremes – Click for more images

Al Green (John Hampton)
“Tired of Being Alone”
“Let’s Stay Together”
 

Al Green – Click for more images

Smokey Robinson (Lionel Burns)
“More Love”
“Ooo Baby Baby”
“Tears of a Clown”

Smokey Robinson -Click for more images

The Spinners
(lead singer – Charles Boomer, Lionel Burns, David Lige, Rodney James, and James Hill)

Intro to “I’ll Be Around”
“Ghetto Child”
“Sadie”
“Rubberband Man”
 

The Spinners – Click for more images

Chaka Khan
(lead singer – Denise Robinson, Tracy James, Tammy Holloway, and Regina Wood)

“Sweet Thing”
“I’m Every Woman”

Chaka Khan – Click for more images

Richard Cravalho (lead guitar)
“Purple Rain”

Click for more images

 Gladys Knight and the Pips
(lead singer – Dewanna Slaughter, Rodney James, David Lige, and Elijah Sterling)

Intro to “Use My Imagination”
“Save the Overtime”
“You’re Number One (in My Book)”
“Midnight Train to Georgia”
“Neither One of Us”

Gladys Knight

Stevie Wonder (John Hampton)
“Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours”
“My Cherie Amour”
“You Are the Sunshine of My Life”
“Superstition”

Stevie Wonder – Click for more images

The Temptations
(Carl Douglas, Stan Lockwood, Chase Ruffin, Elijah Sterling, and Douglas Stepney)

“Getting Ready”
“I Can’t Get Next to You”
“Cloud Nine”
“Don’t Let the Joneses Get You Down”
Intro to “Super Star”
The Temptations

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Globetrotters Dribble in to Sacramento

Handles Franklin and TNT Maddox of the Harlem Globetrotters - Click for more images

The world renowned Harlem Globetrotters are scheduled to appear at Power Balance Pavilion this Sunday.

As is customary, the Globetrotters have had a couple of players in town before the big event on Sunday. They were meeting with television and radio stations in the area, but more importantly they were getting out to meet their fans.

I was able to meet up with “Handles” Franklin and one of their newest members, “TNT” Maddox. TNT is only the ninth woman in 86 years to play with the Globetrotters and the first woman since 1993.

I found the two at the Project R.I.D.E. facility next to Jesse Baker Elementary School in Elk Grove. The two Globetrotters participated in a bit of horseplay “” literally. Project R.I.D.E. offers therapeutic recreational horseback riding instruction to riders with disabilities.

When it came to mounting the horse, I have to give TNT credit. She jumped on as if she did it every day. Handles, on the other hand, was a little timid getting on his horse and looked to be a bit nervous, too.

In between horsing around, TNT talked about what it’s like being one of the few female Globetrotters.

TNT Maddox - Click for more images

“Honestly, it’s unbelievable to be only the ninth woman in 86 years to play for the Harlem Globetrotters,” she said. “What they’re about is charity, and we’re allowed to go to hospitals, schools and things like that and do things that money can’t buy. That’s something that’s special to me, and I’m happy to be a part of the organization.”

As she talked, she constantly had her basketball in motion, so I asked if she did this while sitting down to watch a little television. She said she has to in order to keep up with the likes of Handles and the rest of the team. Being one of the new kids on the block, the team is continually showing her new moves,  so she’s constantly practicing to get up to the caliber of her teammates. Trust me “” she’s already there. After only two weeks of training, she said they had her playing at a junior high school.

As for the rest of the team, it looks like this will be an exciting year with 10 new players.

The 2012 rookie class has a total of three 7-footers including 7-foot-4 Jermaine “Stretch” Middleton, the third-tallest player in team history, and 7-foot Anthony “Biggie” McClain. However, Paul “Tiny” Sturgess towers over even the tallest of the tall at a whopping 7-foot-8.

Sturgess was recently recognized by Guinness World Records as the world’s tallest professional basketball player. He is also the tallest player in the Globetrotter history.

Not only do they have the tallest player in their history, but the shortest, too. Jonte “Too Tall” Hall is the shortest Globetrotter ever to play at 5-foot-2.

Other team members you may recognize are “Big Easy” Lofton and “Flight Time” Lang who, together, made their way around the world on CBS’ “The Amazing Race.”

If you’ve never seen the Globetrotters in person, you have to get off your butts and get out to Power Balance this Sunday and take in the 1 or 6 p.m. showing. These guys (and gal) are amazing to watch and extremely entertaining.

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Coachella 2012 Lineup Announced!

Coachella, run by AEG-owned concert promoter Goldenvoice, will be held over two consecutive weekends this year, April 13-15 and April 20-22. The lineup for each weekend will be the same, with rock acts the Black Keys, Radiohead and the Shins, hip-hop and dance acts Snoop Dogg, the Swedish House Mafia and Kaskade, and many others.

The expansion is due to the overwhelming demand for tickets, selling out two years in a row with tickets selling out last year in only six days. That’s 90,000 people per day that attended the 3 day event over the last two years. That’s a lot of porta-potties!

As in past events, the festival will host a number of artists on the “reunion” circuit. You know the ones trying to avoid the one hit wonder label ten years down the road. These include Pulp, Refused, fIREHOSE, At the Drive In, and way too many to mention.

Top billing for Friday goes to Black Keys, Saturday will be Radiohead, and on Sunday Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg will pair up to close both weekends.

For more information and the complete lineup head over to coachella.com

 

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Chubby Checker Plays Thunder Valley

Chubby Checker - Click for more images

My evening got off to a bad start and I was thinking I’d end up like Jason Derulo, who recently broke his neck after landing on his head during a concert rehearsal.

You see, Chubby Checker has been performing for over 50 years! His fans are ““ how do I say this ““ well, they are on the old side of old.

So to make a short story long, I was walking to my seat in Thunder Valley Casino Resort’s Pano Hall and tripped over some old guy’s cane that was sticking out in the aisle. Trying to maintain my balance, I grab for a chair, which turned out not to be a chair, but a walker ““ a walker with wheels no less. As I found myself tumbling forward, in a not so gracious way, the walker rolled forward with me on it. Luckily I was able to find the brakes just before piling into a row of wheelchairs. However, the brakes must have been recently serviced, because once I hit the brakes I was sent head over heels into the row of wheelchairs.

I couldn’t have planned it better! It looked like I was in complete control the whole time, relying on my great physical strength and coordination to land gracefully on a well maintained and very nice looking wheelchair ““ it even had pinstripes!

As I’m breathing a sigh of relief, I noticed everyone’s attention on me as they were chanting “Go girl!” over and over. Okay, I get it. I have long hair and have been known to paint a nail or two, so they’ve mistaken me for a girl. That’s when it hit me. No, not an idea, but a long stick in the form of a cane! I guess the Mrs didn’t take too kindly to me tripping over her husband’s cane.

So on to the show .  .  .

As soon as the paramedics cleared the area, Checker’s band, the Wildcats, jumped onstage and started playing some background music in anticipation of Checker’s arrival.

Chubby Checker - Click for more images

I was expecting the 70 year old singer to come out hobbling across the stage, holding the microphone stand for balance, and attempting to sing. No way!

Checker bounced onto the stage like a 50 year old man on Viagra ““ not that I know what that’s like. Needless to say when he started belting out “Good Good Lovin,” I was floored. This guy has got one hell of a voice, not only that, but a great stage presence too.

As Checker started “Twist it Up,” he stopped the band telling them they were too loud.  He motioned over to the soundboard guy saying, “Chubby’s too loud.”

Before getting back to “Twist it Up,” Checker said to the crowd, “This is the first show that we have done in 2012 and I am so glad to see you.”

Checker got the crowd cheering with “Dancin Party,” as he started performing some of his classic moves from the twistin era.

This was definitely an audience participation show with a number of young ladies being asked to go up on stage to show off their moves. One of the moves was Checkers classic hucklebuck, aptly named for his song “Hucklebuck.”

Prior to starting “Hucklebuck,” Checker told the crowd, “Back in the 60′s you could never hucklebuck, only in the privacy of your own room. You couldn’t do the huckbuck, it was too nasty. But now it’s 2012, everything’s nasty.”

Chubby Checker getting up close and personal

Checker headed off into the audience on a number of occasions. As he made his way through the sea of blue hair, he was greeted with hugs and kisses from the women, and good ole gentlemanly pats on the back from the men.

Checker was so impressed with the audiences vocals he decided to lead them in a chorus of Mickey Mouse’s goodbye song “It’s Time to Say Goodbye”. Damn him! Now I can’t get it out of my head.

“M-I-C, See you real soon, K-E-Y, Why? Because we like you. M-O-U-S-E.”

Towards the end of the concert Checker asked all the men to come up on stage to do The Twist. Due to the number of men heading for the stage, security had to step in and stop some of the men trying to get on stage.

This was an extremely enjoyable night out. While I’ve been joking about the “older” crowd, there were plenty of young people in the audience too. In fact, one of the younger ladies landed onstage dancing with Checker.

Chubby Checker and a young lady dancing on stage

 

It didn’t matter if you weren’t familiar with Checker’s music. Checker is an entertainer through and through, having great vocals, stage presence, and an AARP card. And come on, who else could get the audience to sing Mickey Mouse?

 

 

 

 
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