Concert Review: Madison Hudson

Madison Hudson - Click for more images

Madison Hudson – Click for more images

Madison Hudson is quickly becoming a local favorite in the country music world, as she’s starting to play larger venues such as Toby Keith’s Bar and Grill in Folsom, Calif.

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.

The 15 year-old Hudson is country pop singer from the small town of Wheatland, located in rural Northern California. She’s been singing the national anthem at sporting events and from time to time has been making appearances with singer songwriter Rachel Steele and the band Road 88.

Rachel Steele - Click for more images

Rachel Steele – Click for more images

Opening at Toby Keith’s was a big move for the country singer as she was joined by Rachel Steele, and Road 88 band members Scott Prentice (guitar) and Billy Haggard (guitar). She also had a special guest singer Courtney Chapman, but more on that in a minute.

Kicking off their set, Hudson and Steele performed Pistol Annies’ “Hell on Heels” and Sugarland’s “Stuck Like Glue.” Hudson appeared nervous, but quickly overcame any nerves after “Stuck Like Glue.”

Hudson went on to perform solo, singing Kacey Musgraves’ “Merry Go ‘Round” and Hudson’s original song “Tommy.” She hit her stride as she began “Tommy,” and never looked back, as she performed a number of songs, both solo and with Steele, sounding more like a veteran performer than a 15 year-old up and coming star.

Scott Prentice - Click for more images

Scott Prentice – Click for more images

Courtney Chapman - Click for more images

Courtney Chapman – Click for more images

Halfway through her performance Hudson brought her special guest, and close friend, Courtney Chapman onstage to provide vocals. The duo brought the house down with a wonderful rendition of Taylor Swift’s “Mean.” Chapman did a sterling job on vocals and I was looking forward to hearing more from her, but that was not meant to be, as Chapman exited the stage after performing “Mean.”

Hudson has been hinting on her Facebook page that bigger things were coming this summer as she is scheduling more appearance and bringing Chapman along.

Billy Haggard - Click for more images

Billy Haggard – Click for more images

“Well I said 2013 would be crazy!” she wrote, “I will be working on stage with several artists working up to this summer. But I would like to introduce you all to Courtney! Courtney will be joining me starting this summer. We will be a new team and I am so lucky!! You will see us out and about together soon getting ready to rock it country style!!”

Looking forward to it!

Madison Hudson is someone to keep an eye on. You can find more information about her and Rachel Steele at the below links.

Visit Madison Hudson on:

Official Website
See Hudson perform “Tommy


Rachel Steele with Road 88 can be found at:

Official Website
Facebook Protection Status

Outlaws Take Over Thunder Valley

The Outlaws

Southern rock band The Outlaws performed in Thunder Valley Casino Resort’sPano Hall on Friday.

The Outlaws formed in 1967 and have been playing off and on since that time.

Founding members Henry Paul (lead singer/guitar) and Monte Yoho (drums), were joined by Chris Anderson (guitar), Randy Threet (bass), Dave Robbins (keyboards), and Bill Crain (guitar).

Kicking off their set with “Tomorrow’s Another Night” and “Love Song” it was evident that most of the audience was made up of diehard fans as they started singing along with the band.

They played quite a few new songs from their latest album It’s About Pride.From my past experience when older bands start playing their newer “stuff”, they tend to lose the audience, but that was not the case. Their fans remained engaged throughout their set with most of them on their feet.

The Outlaws

There was a problem with Crain’s amp when halfway through “Love Song” his guitar shutdown. After several frantic minutes of changing out the amp, he was able to resume once they started “Hurry Sundown”, one of their newer songs.

Checkout Thunder Valley Casino’s upcoming winter concert schedule!

Tomorrow’s Another Night
Love Song
Hurry Sundown
Hidin’ Out in Tennessee (new)
Freeborn Man
Born to Be Bad (new)
Grey Ghost
Main Street
Last Ghost Town (new)
Right Where I Belong (new)
Knoxville Girl
It’s bout Pride (new)
Trail of Tears (new)
Green Grass

Ghost Riders


Scott Stapp to Release Tell All Book


Scott Stapp of Creed

Scott Stapp, Grammy Award winning voice of the multi-platinum selling band, Creed, announces his first tell-all memoir slated for an October 2, 2012 release. Recognized as one of the most accomplished artists of the modern rock era, Stapp’s memoir, Sinner’s Creed, unleashes behind the scene realities about his suicide attempts, alcohol-induced rampages and intimate details about his abusive childhood.

Stapp is no stranger to controversy in the media, yet through the rise and fall of fame, has managed to maintain his status as a multi-platinum artist selling more than 50 million albums worldwide. Die-hard Creed fans continue to line up for Creed tickets to watch Stapp deliver an unforgettable rock experience.

Scott Stapp collaborated with David Ritz of Rolling Stone Magazine to write a compelling story of his life. Ritz, a notable writer of biographies, has written memoirs for Janet Jackson and the best seller, “Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye.”

“The book describes my childhood, my internal battle with drugs and depression and how I lost control of my life,” says Scott Stapp. “My memoir reveals never before released details about my life and the challenges I’ve faced before coming to grips and finding sobriety.”

Sinner’s Creed is a riveting, untold story of sex, drugs and rock and roll. Finally, Stapp reveals what it is like to be at the height of controversy due to his fame, faith and addictions and why he has tried to avoid one-on-one interviews until now. The book discloses the true story of a man living on the edge at full tilt.  Sinner’s Creed is chock-full of page-turning experiences of a rock and roll visionary who was brought down to his knees by the pressures of fame, alcohol and an uncontrollable depression disorder. Through self-discovery and conviction, Scott Stapp was able to rise up again and walk a clean and sober path. In the midst of reconnecting with his fans while on tour, Scott has finally come full circle — a turnaround he credits to his renewed faith in God. Once a sinner, always a sinner, but what was once broken, has the power to heal.

Sinner’s Creed will go on sale October 2, 2012, available in hard copy and e-book versions through Tyndale Publishing. Visit, or


Marshal Tucker Band’s Stuart Swanlund dead at 54

Concert Photography

MTB earlier this year, minus Swanlund.

Guitarist Stuart Swanlund died of natural causes in his sleep in Chicago on Saturday (Aug. 4), according to a press release.

Born in Puerto Rico in 1958 he was raised in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where he met his lifelong friend, Doug Gray, a founding member of the Marshall Tucker band.

Swanlund got his chance to play alongside Gray in 1985 when he joined the Marshall Tucker band, this after growing up listening to Grey practice across the street from where he lived.

In a prepared statement Gray said, “Stuart, or ‘Stubie’ as we called him, was the longest standing member of The Marshall Tucker Band from 1985, onward. He recently took a hiatus from the road due to health problems and even with those issues, Stuart’s enthusiasm onstage never waivered. Our thoughts and prayers are with Stuart’s family and those who knew him. We have lost a great friend.”

Gray said that one of the highlight’s of Swanlund’s time with the band just happened last winter when he performed onstage at the Grand Ole Opry’s historic Ryman Auditorium.

Gray says the news is devastating.

“The thing I’ll miss the most is he always had a smile on his face, and others walked away from him with a smile,” he added.  “He played that way.  His inspiration came from just being a wonderful guy on the inside.  His personality was so big. He was like a flower.  He just blossomed at every show.”

He is survived by his lifelong partner, Stacy Schmaren, son, William “Billy” Swanlund, three grandchildren and sister, Suzanne Spencer.




Fans Welcome Creed With Arms Wide Open


Creed – Click for more images

Friday night was a spiritual awakening of sorts as Creed brought their 2012 tour to Thunder Valley Casino Resort‘s outdoor amphitheater, with lead singer Scott Stapp providing an emotional, chest thumping performance befitting a true rock-star.

Opening band Like a Storm started the show off as temperatures hovered just over 100 degrees, with Chris Brooks (lead singer/guitar), and his two brothers, Matt (lead guitar), and Kent (bass), along with drummer Roye Robley.

The New Zealand band is no stranger to Creed, this will be their fourth tour with the band and after listening to them perform, it was obvious why Creed has them open the show.

The show was to begin at 7:30, so when Like a Storm took the stage at 6:50, the crowd was pretty sparse.  Kicking off with “Chemical Infatuation” and “Never Surrender,” they did a good job of getting the crowd up on their feet.

Like a Storm

Like a Storm – Click for more images

As Eve to Adam took the stage the seats were quickly filling in anticipation of Creed. With band members Taki Sassaris (lead vocals/guitar), Alex Sassaris (drums/backing vocals) and Gaurav Bali (guitar/backing vocals) they kicked off their set with”151″ and “No Regret.”

I would have preferred to see Like a Storm in the second slot. I thought they were far superior than Eve to Adam, and it would have been great to hear more songs from them.

The stage was dark as Creed band members Scott Stapp (lead vocals), Mark Tremonti (guitar), Scott Phillips (drums), and Brian Marshall (bass) quietly took the stage.

As the band started “Are You Ready,” the lights blasted on, bathing the audience in their brilliance, making it next to impossible to see what was happening onstage.

Eve to Adam

Eve to Adam – Click for more images

While the lighting on band members, including Stapp, was somewhat dark, the rest of the stage was lit up in various colors, with the audience getting the occasional dose of lights.

As the band went on to play “Torn” and “Wrong Way,” Stapp, who was already sweating profusely, continued pouring his heart and soul into each and every song. Stapp had total control over the audience as he would reach for the heavens with pained expressions and the occasional guttural scream.

Creed stuck to the music that got them where they’re at and only played one song, “A Thousand Faces,” from their latest album Full Circle.

Many fans believe Creed is a Christian band, but Creed has never seen themselves as a Christian band. In an interview Stapp was asked if he was a Christian artist, to which he responded, “I’m an artist who’s a Christian, because I don’t write music to be evangelical. Now, if that happens, it happens. My dad’s a dentist, and he’s a Christian. Now, does he put in Christian fillings? No, that’s just part of his three-dimensional life. Now, there are people that are Christian artists, because they have a purpose to be evangelical for Christ. I don’t feel I’ve been called to that yet. Now, that could change. There’s no telling what kind of call God will put on my life.“


Creed – Click for more images

I had the opportunity to ask Creed fan Angela Williams what she thought about the Concert. While she didn’t get a chance to see Like a Storm, she did see Eve to Adam and thought they rocked. As for Creed  . . . “Amazing, and they left us wanting more!”


Many fans after all these years were still comparing Creed to Pearl Jam and how much Stapp sounds like Eddie Vedder. Get over it people!! Creed has their own sound, their own personality, and their own legendary status ““ stop with the comparisons.

There’s still some great summer concerts left for Thunder Valley Casino’s Summer Concert Series.



A little bit of Country at Thunder Valley

Trace Adkins

Trace Adkins – Click for more images

Trace Adkins brought his Songs and Stories Tour to Thunder Valley Casino Resort’s outdoor amphitheater Friday night.

As Adkins made his way down center stage the sold out crowd went wild with cheers – There was some hootin and hollerin too, after all it was a country music concert.

Kicking it off with “Days Like This,” Adkins had the women eating out of the palm of his hand, maybe a few guys too. Driving that point home, as soon as he finished “Days Like This,” he stopped and said in his deepest, throatiest voice, “Good evening Thunder Valley, it’s nice to be here.” He said something after that, but I couldn’t hear a damn thing he was saying with all the women screaming.

I don’t get it! Here’s some guy who’s tall in a rugged way, long flowing hair, muscular, has a deep voice, and comes across as a tough, but nice guy. So why do all the women simply love this guy? Oh well.

Trace Adkins

Click for more images

He started by welcoming everyone to his Songs and Stories Tour and letting them know he wasn’t beginning the concert in his usual manner saying, “This show is a little different from what we usually do, where we come out and put a boot in your ass right off the get go. You will leave with a boot in your ass, but I aint going to do it yet.”

Adkins continued to play songs from his latest album Proud to Be Here, including “Poor Folks,” “Love Buzz,” and “It’s Who You Know.”

Prior to starting “Semper Fi,” he wanted everyone to know that this was his “pathetic” attempt at writing a song about the marines, in particular a friend of his. After hearing the song, I’d say it was well written and definitely not a pathetic attempt – Is his manly charm rubbing off on me? Did I scream during that song? Oh crap! I think I need to go to an MMA fight!!

After singing one of his number one hits, “(This Ain’t No) Thinkin’ Thing,” Adkins and the crew took a break for about 15 minutes, which was a good thing, since it appears many of the concert goers were parched ““ they all headed to the bars!

Continuing after the break with “Ladies Love Country Boys,” “Chrome,” and “This Aint No Love Song,” much of the crowd continued to mingle with each other and cheering at just the right parts.

The boot in the ass came when Adkins started singing “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk,” with the crowd going completely crazy. Apparently they were waiting for a boot in the ass all night and finally got it.  And for those of you out there as clueless as me, Websters defines badonkadonk as a well shaped female buttocks.

Adkin’s ended the show with “Ride,” which was a letdown coming off the heels of “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk.” It would have made for a more climactic ending.

Adkins sounded great and put on a great show. I’m sure he now has another fan or two smitten over him.

Next week Foreigner comes to Thunder Valley Casino Resort’s Summer Concert Series, followed by Steve Miller the following week!

See you there!


Berlin Invades Thunder Valley Casino

Terri Nunn - Click for more images

Berlin Featuring Terri Nunn performed their first concert of 2012 at Thunder Valley Casino Resort’s Pano Hall on Friday. Nunn put on an electrifying performance that had the crowd singing and dancing throughout the show.

First up though was Larisa Bryski, a Sacramento area native. Bringing her signature mix of classic rock, drizzled with a dollop of pop, Bryski kicked it into high gear from the start with “Butterflies.”

Joining Bryski onstage was Willy Seltzer (guitar), Tommy Armstrong-Leavitt (guitar), Andrew Houston (bass), and Darrell Hale (drums).

Bryski did an awesome job getting the crowd jump started for Berlin. The band performed flawlessly with Tommy Armstrong-Leavitt  stealing the show with his guitar work, as he effortlessly blasted out riff after riff.

After Bryski exhausted the crowd there was a quick intermission to make way for Berlin.

Larisa Bryski - Click for more images

The new wave group Berlin took the stage with Nunn singing “Masquerade.” As Nunn made her way to the front of the stage, I realized she was much taller than I remember ““ if anyone has seen Nunn perform, you will realize this was a joke. For everyone else, let’s just say she’s small in stature, but makes up for it in personality and singing ability.

Nunn “‘s vocals were pristine and downright awesome, sounding much like she did years ago when she originally recorded Berlin’s chart topping “Take My Breath Away,”  from the movie Top Gun.

Talk about a ball of energy. She continued back and forth between band members, including the drummer, the whole time belting out hits including “A Matter of Time” and “The Metro.”

The temperature in Pano Hall started to rise as things started to get steamy between Nunn  and guitarist Carlton Bost, with Nunn sidling up to Bost and getting very in your face, or should I say in his face. It was quite a show and well worth the price of admission!

Carlton and Terri in the moment

In addition to Bost there was Dave Schulz on keyboards and Chris Olivas on drums.

There was a touching moment when Nunn performed “Mom,” a song she wrote and dedicated to her mother. She wrote the song after her mother had passed away.

Afterwards Nunn kicked it back up a notch and had the audience on their feet as she made her way through the crowd. Being a tad short, Nunn had some assistance getting up on a chair in the middle of Pano Hall so everyone could see her. As she made her way back to the stage, she asked a strapping young security guard to lift her up on stage. Once Nunn was safely on the stage, the security guard was rewarded with a big hug from Nunn.

Nunn’s the real deal and is still going strong after all these years. She sounds and looks great and at 50 she’s still a little hotty.


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.


Lost in the 80’s at Thunder Valley

Friday night was quite the ride down memory lane for everyone who listened to the radio back in the ’80s. The Fixx, Wang Chung and Naked Eyes all played to a packed Pano Hall at Thunder Valley Casino and Resort.

You could say this was a British invasion of sorts, since all three bands hail from England. They were a smashing success in the ’80s, all with No. 1 hits. It was quite an impressive lineup, with only one concern: What time will I get home? There’s a whole lotta hits to be played from each band.

Click for more images of Naked Eyes

Naked Eyes – best known for their first single, “Always Something There to Remind Me,” kicked off the evening with “Voices in My Head.” The band’s original members were Pete Byrne on vocals and Rob Fisher on keyboards. Fisher died in 1999, so Byrne is touring with three new members. When Byrne’s took the stage, he started searching the crowd as if looking for someone. I thought it a bit odd, but he may have been trying to size up the crowd.

During his set he kept telling the audience that it was OK to get up, dance and have a good time. The audience was slow to respond. However, by the end of the set he had a few people on their feet dancing, but only a small fraction of the audience.

Byrne had a good stage presence and was very energetic, but the lack of vocals on some songs hurt his performance. He sounded great on some of his older hits but not so good on others, as he seemed to struggle on the higher notes, and at the end of the set he only managed to get a small percentage of the audience on their feet.




Click for more images of Wang Chung

Wang Chung followed with a number of their hits, including “Everybody Have Fun Tonight.” Original band members Jack Hues (vocals, guitar) and Nick Feldman (bass, guitar) were simply awesome. Hues worked up the crowd with his theatrics and excellent vocals, while Feldman did it with pure energy and total absorption in his performance.

The amazing story here is how awesome the band sounded, despite only rehearsing together for one day. I spoke to young keyboardist Dave Appelbaum, and, needless to say, he was quite ecstatic about being able to play a couple of gigs with the talented Wang Chung.

Appelbaum explained his involvement with the band, that it was one of those friend of a friend type of scenarios, and, before he knew it, he was hooked up with the band along with the drummer who happened to be in the same circle of friends. On Saturday they headed to Fresno to play another gig with the band, and they hope to hook up with them at future concerts.

Each of the “newbies” were armed with MacBooks and referencing their sheet music often. Regardless, they appeared to be playing effortlessly, as if they had been playing the songs for years. Appelbaum looked totally immersed in the moment, pounding on the keyboard and just plain rocking it. I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of these guys in the future.

Wang Chung had the crowd worked up in a sweat. Most of the seats were empty, with people filling the aisles dancing. They didn’t sound just like they did when they were younger, but they still sounded awesome with Hues’ deeper, more mature vocals taking center stage. They played “Rent,” a new song off their latest CD, “Abducted by the ’80s.” The song is a very catchy tune reminiscent of the “’80’s with Feldman throwing a bit of Prince-like vocals into the mix.


Click for more images of the Fixx

With such an exceptional set by Wang Chung, I started to wonder how The Fixx was going to be able to follow such a performance. I didn’t have to wonder long. Front man Cy Curnin was just as animated, if not more so, than Hues. As Curnin sang, his hands were always on the move, telling their own story.

The Fixx stills tours with all its original members: Curnin, keyboardist Rupert Greenall, guitarist Jamie West-Oram, drummer Adam Woods and bassist Dan K. Brown. The band’s dynamic style and high energy immediately created a connection with the audience, bringing the majority of people to their feet. By night’s end there wasn’t a single person sitting.

Towards the middle of their set they played a new song, “Piccadilly,” which will be included in their upcoming CD. It will be their first original album in more than 25 years!

It was a fun night for all. Pano Hall started out full, but by the end of the night, about a third of the audience had left. I’m sure that was because the concert went past 11 p.m.

Thunder Valley Casino and Resort’s summer concert series runs through September so there’s still time to grab some tickets.


Naked Eyes set-listVoices in My Head
When the Lights Go Out
Fortune and Fame
I Could Show You How
Promises Promises
Piccadilly (new song)
In the Name of Love
Always Something There to Remind Me
Wang Chung set-list Wait
Fire In the Twilight
Let’s Get Along
Space Junk
To Live and Die in L.A.
Rent Free
Let’s Go
Dance Hall Days
Everybody Have Fun Tonight
The Fixx set-list
Red Skies
Are We Ourselves
One Thing Leads to Another
Yesterday, Today
How Much is Enough
Driven Out
Stand or Fall
Deeper and Deeper
Saved by Zero
Secret Separation



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