You’re invited to Shikira’s baby shower!

BAvZ6GPCQAEeXFS.jpg largeShakira released a pregnant photo of her and partner, Barcelona football star, Gerard Piqué today. The 35 year-old Columbian singer, also announced today a virtual baby shower to benefit children through UNICEF.

In a joint statement the couple wrote:

“Dear Friends, Having our first baby is such an incredibly happy time for us. That’s why we want to invite you to our baby shower…with a twist. Rather than asking you to give gifts to our new baby, we’re asking you to honour him by supporting UNICEF in giving underprivileged babies around the globe a healthy start in life. It would really mean a lot to us.”

Shakira, a longtime advocate of children, and a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, launched the site yesterday, inviting fans into the couple’s virtual living room. Using social media tools, fans are able to learn about child survival issues and finding out how to purchase one of the five suggested ‘Inspired Gifts’ to give children a healthy start into life.

“You can choose an Inspired Gift from our registry – to give the gift of immunizations so more babies grow up healthy and disease free, rehydration salts to save children’s lives and therapeutic food so babies will get enough to eat,” the couple writes. “Every expectant parent around the world shares all the same hopes and dreams for their children that we do. Yet, many don’t share the same opportunities. Together, we know that we can change that.”

The couple also taped a brief message encouraging fans to lend their support.

Items you can purchase for donation include a $5 mosquito net, which helps protect babies from malaria, $10 polio vaccines, which will help 17 children, and more.

Shakira has been working on her eighth studio album and will also be appearing in The Voice next season, as she fills in for Christina Aquilera.

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Anything but Bland at Thunder Valley

Bobby “Blue” Bland – Click for more images

Bobby “Blue” Bland and his band performed to a stellar crowd Sunday in Thunder Valley Casino Resort’s Pano Hall.

The Blues Hall of Famer was greeted with a standing ovation as he was escorted center stage. Bland remained seated throughout his performance, but was quite interactive with band members as each would come up and play next to the legendary singer – with the exception of the drummer – duh!

The 82 year old Bland struggled on a few songs such as “Members Only,” as his vocals are not what they used to be. However, that did not take away from the audience’s undying love for the singer as after each song fans were on their feet cheering.

Awesome horn section – Click for more images

Bland’s unique ability to provide a sense of despair, along with his occasional phlegm clearing grunts were quite evident as he continued playing his multitude of songs.

The 7-piece band did a fantastic job with the horn section stealing the show.

UPDATE: Band members included Charlton Johnson (guitar), Louis Villery (bass), Joe Hardin (trumpet), Rick Dolan (trumpet), Sidney Ford (sax), Charles Campbell (sax), Rodd Bland (drums) – Thanks to Rodd Bland for the assist in identifying members.

While Bland struggled through some songs, the old Bland shined through on a number of songs, reminding everyone why Bland was and continues to be such a great blues performer.


Andy Williams dead at 84

Andy Williams died Tuesday after battling bladder cancer for the past year.

The 84 year old singer passed away at his home in Branson Missouri, which is also the location of his Moon River Theater. The theater is named for one of his most famous songs “Moon River.”

Born Howard Andrew Williams, he soon became known as Andy Williams as he rose to stardom in 1954 when he became a regular on the original Tonight Show starring Steve Allen.

Williams is known for hits including “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” “Can’t Get Used to Losing You,” “Where Do I Begin” and “Happy Heart.”

The Andy Williams show ran from 1962 to 1971, he also starred in movies such as “Kansas City Kitty” and “Ladies’ Man.”

The family asks that donations be sent to the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Group.

The King of the Accordion

The King of the Accordion – Click for more images

Yes!! There is a king of the accordion and his name is Ramon Ayala.

Ayala, a four-time Grammy winner packed Thunder Valley Casino Resort’s summer amphitheater for the second year in a row on Friday night.

The 66 year old Ayala is a legend of norteño music and is one of the most recognized and best-selling artists of the genre.

Ayala played to norteño and tejano fans from both sides of the border, with fans singing along to every song. While I have no idea what the hell he was singing, I found it thoroughly entertaining as he worked his magic on the mostly older crowd.

Ayala arrived on stage with his trademark green, white and red accordion. The crowd erupted in cheers and several individuals made their way up to the stage to pay tribute to the man.

Ramon Ayala – Click for more images

Now as anyone who knows me will tell you, I am NOT a fan of the accordion, but I have to say when Ayala is playing its pretty spectacular to listen to.

Ayala was joined on stage by his band, known as Bravos del Norte. Band members were Mario Marichalar (bajo sexton and vocals), Fidencio Ayala (bass), Jose Luis Ayala (drums and vocals), David Laure (percussion) and Raul Rosales (emcee and percussion).

Lorenzo and Ayala

Ayala played a number of his hits including “Mi Piquito de Oro,” a Latin version of “Cotton Fields,” and “Un Puno de Tierra,” which had the entire audience on their feet.

Since I didn’t understand what was being said it was interesting watching the crowd’s reaction to, not only the music, but the dialog as emcee Rosales shouted out to the crowd. Apparently they were taking requests from audience members.

Midway through the performance Thunder Valley Casino gave away an autographed accordion signed the legendary performer. Audience member Lorenzo won the accordion and he was able to go onstage to collect his prize and meet the man himself.

Singing with Dummies

Terry Fator – Click for more images

America’s Got Talent winner Terry Fator and his cast of wooden characters took the stage Saturday night at Thunder Valley Casino Resort, complete with backing band and one mighty fine assistant.

Terry Fator is a ventriloquist with a twist, actually a couple of twists. Not only can the 47 year old command all things wooden, but he also has a knack for singing, and not just any singing, he can impersonate damn near any singer out there. From Dolly Parton to Lou Rawls he can belt it out just like the real thing.

Winston as the Phantom – Click for more images

Prior to the show the crowd was entertained by DJ Ben Harris and his exceptional dance moves. As he played a medley of songs, Harris was dancing from one end of the stage to the other.

Fator came out singing “Feeling Good,” to start the show as the mostly older crowd was clapping and cheering. Following up with “Phantom of the Opera,” Fator brought out Winston complete with his own phantom mask.

Winston called to Christine (the mighty fine assistant) saying he was her angel of music. That was up until she took his mask off and she ran off stage screaming.

Christine (the mighty fine nurse), Walter and Fator

As he continued, Winston informed him that he was auditioning for the Phantom of the Opera. Winston said he was qualified since he did win America’s Got Talent for Fator.

Walter T. Airedale came out singing Big and Rich’s “Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy.” Walter told everyone that he was running for president and was being attacked because people were saying he wasn’t a U.S. citizen. When Fator asked him if he had a birth certificate he said he sure does, and that was when a Home Depot receipt was shown on the big screen. Right away Fator said “So I see you got brass balls.” To which Walter replied, “Every President should have a pair.”

Audience member Rob with Fator

Fator was on fire as he continued with Duggie Scott Walker (an annoying neighbor), Wrex (the crash test dummy), Julius (the soul singer), Emma Taylor, Maynard Thompkins (an Elvis Presley impersonator who doesn’t know any Elvis songs), and Vikki the Cougar (a perpetual 49 year old who likes younger men).

Wrex – Click for more images

There was a touching moment as Fator explained how a young boy, through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, wanted to go to Las Vegas to see Fator’s show. The young boy passed away several weeks after meeting Fator. Fator regretted not playing a song he wrote called “Horses in Heaven.” Management decided that the song would not play well in Vegas, but since the boys visit Fator has put it back into his show. After playing “Horses in Heaven,” he informed everyone that the proceeds of the song goes towards Saint Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

At one point Fator singled out a married couple Addie and Rob asking Rob to come up onstage. Placing a mask over his face Fator turned him into a human puppet and starting committing to his wife that he hates sports, and she can take control of the remote.

Winston came back out onstage and they closed the show with an extremely well done rendition of “It’s a Wonderful World.”

This was a great show and I would definitely go out of my way to see him again.  Since Fator is often compared to Jeff Dunham I  have to say while Dunham can be hilarious, he tends to be pretty racial and at times crude, where Fator’s show was good clean fun. Now that’s not to say Fator’s show at the Mirage in Las Vegas is clean, I wouldn’t know,  but what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.


Forrest Day to open for Flobots at Ace of Spades

Forrest Day – Gotta love the album cover!

Flobots, Forrest Day, and Astronautalis will make their way to Ace of Spades in Sacramento on September 18th at 7:00 pm.

The Flobots will be touring to promote their new album The Circle in the Square, starting September 14th! However, the big news is San Francisco Bay Area sensation Forrest Day will be opening for the Flobots on the western leg of their tour, along with Astronautalis.

Forrest Day has been accused of sounding a lot like rock, jazz, reggae, and even rap, as he passionately sings about everyday issues. His meticulously crafted tunes will have your toe tapping, your head bobbing, and your mind reeling as he lays out life’s struggles in a high energy show.

Forrest Day is coming off of a highly successful release of their self-titled debut album, Forrest Day. With a second album in the works, fans may get a sneak peak of what to expect when they play Ace of Spades.

You won’t want to miss this exciting night, and trust me when I say that you’ll walk away from the show talking about Forrest Day and the meaning of life, or you’ll just be scratching your head asking yourself, ‘What just happened in there?’ Either way it’s bound to be one hell of an experience.

Embrace Your Funkiness

Morris Day – Click for more images

That’s what fans did at Thunder Valley Casino Resort Friday evening, when it turned into one funkalicious night as old school favorites Morris Day and the Time, S.O.S., Kurtis Blow, and Midnight Star tore it up for over three hours playing to an overflowing and extremely energetic crowd.

As Midnight Star took the stage and started playing “Electricity,” the crowd jumped to their feet and started dancing. There were very few occasions during the three hour show when the audience wasn’t standing.

Last time I saw Midnight Star I felt they were a little flat, but not tonight. They definitely brought their A-game as they continued with “Wet My Whistle” and “Midas Touch.”

Midnight Star – Click for more images

Band members consisted of Belinda Lipscomb (vocals), Melvin Gentry (guitar/vocals), Bo Watson (keyboard/vocals) and Bill Simmons (keyboards), Kenneth Gant (bass), and Bobby Lovelace (drums).

As they infuse pure energy into the crowd after ending their set with “No Parking (On the Dance Floor),” many in the crowd headed to the amphitheater bars, or remained standing and dancing to the music in between sets.

Kurtis Blow, The first rapper to ever be signed by a major label, came out blasting “If I Ruled the World” as he fully engaged the audience by saying ‘Say Yo!’ and then pointing the mic to the audience as they all screamed in unison ‘Yo’.

Kurtis Blow – Click for more images

Blow (ha! I said blow.) just wouldn’t shut up as he kept shouting out to the audience as only a true rapper can. In between songs he would continue rapping about being in Sacramento and giving a shout out to the audience. Some of the audience members started mingling more than paying attention to Blow, as a number of people headed to the bar, or bathroom, probably both.

Sounds Of Success (better known as S.O.S.) got everyone’s attention as they started up “Just the Way You Like It” and continued with “The Finest,” as fans were back on their feet dancing and singing. The crowd was on their feet bouncing to the music for the remainder of their set.

Founding member and lead singer Mary Davis was on fire as she blasted through their hits and finished with a flourish with the song that catapulted SOS to stardom back in 1980, “Take Your Time (Do It Right).” Fellow members included original member Abdul Ra’oof (vocals/trumpet), with Celia Georgie  (background vocals), Sultan Muhammad (saxophone), Reginald Ward (guitar), Ben Smith (keyboards), Allen Smith (keyboards), and Crystal Martin (drums).

Mary Davis with SOS – Click for more images

After a brief set change, Prince Classmate and protégé, Morris Day made his way on stage with his personal assistant in tow. As only Day can do, he was continually checking himself in the mirror as he strutted around the stage.

Starting off with “Get It Up” Day had the crowd singing through most of his songs as he worked the crowd with his signature moves, classic sound and his stylish attire.

Decked out in a yellow paisley patterned suit the 53 year old Day continued with “Cool” as his assistant followed him around mimicking his moves as he spelled out the chorus C.O.O.L.

For the fans that still had their butts glued to their seats, band members would shout out for everyone to get on their feet and wave their hands in the air. The band member names I did catch were Ricky “Freeze” Smith (bass), Torrell “Tori” Ruffin (lead guitar), and Jellybean Johnson (drums).

Morris Day and The Time

Part way through his set Day explained that he was still cool regardless of sweating. He said it was condensation which cooled him down, meaning that he was still cool. It was at this point he headed off stage to cool down. When Day came back out he flawlessly sang “Gigalos Get Lonely Too,” which had many in the crowd dancing with their significant other.

Towards the end of his performance Day had a large number of fans up onstage to strut their stuff. You could see the excitement in many of their faces as they attempted to groove with the likes of Day.

While a few people left the show early, the amphitheater was still packed as Day completed the night with “Jungle Love,” leaving people dancing in the aisles and wanting more.

This was one of the more high-energy shows at Thunder Valley Casino Resorts Summer Concert Series.



Krall Enthralls

Diana Krall

Diana Krall – Click for more images

Grammy winning jazz singer/pianist Diana Krall transformed Thunder Valley Casino Resort’s outdoor amphitheater into a concert hall, as she brought her sultry and sexy smooth voice along with several, very talented, musicians.

It was amazing to watch the audience as Krall kicked off the show with Nat king Cole’s “I Just Found Out About Love” and her own “Lost My Mind.” After giving her a standing ovation to start, the audience was completely silent. You could have heard a pin drop, it was that quiet. If fact, the bars around the amphitheater were dishing out ice as quietly as possible, which isn’t easy.

There wasn’t a bad seat in the house as the hypnotic sounds traveled throughout the amphitheater reaching into the farthest corners, and sounding as if you were sitting center stage. The quiet calm of the crowd was interrupted a couple of times. The first interruption was by a passing train, and the second was caused by someone backstage, who accidentally hit the horn on a golf cart.

Anthony Wilson

Anthony Wilson – Click for more images

As the 47 year old Krall continued with “So Nice” and “You Call it Madness,” her trio of musicians poured their heart and soul into their instruments, taking the music on an emotional roller coaster. Included in the quartet was Karriem Riggins (drums), Robert Hurst (bass), and Anthony Wilson (guitar), and of course Krall on the piano.

The gracious Krall introduced the band members a couple of times during the performance, to ensure they received the credit they deserved.

In particular, Wilson’s guitar playing was nothing short of breathtaking as his fingers flew up and down the neck of the guitar, bringing the guitar to life and providing some very dramatic solos.

There were several shouts of “I Love You Diana,” with her responding in kind, causing the audience to erupt in applause.

Diana Krall

Diana Krall

The atmosphere was better suited for an intimate evening complete with a candle lit dinner rather than at an outdoor amphitheater, but Krall pulled it off as she continued with more of Nat King Cole’s works “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” and  “The Frim Fram Sauce,” captivating the audience as they hung on every note.

Next month Krall will be releasing her newest album Glad Rag Doll. According to Krall, “It’s not coy. It’s not ‘peel me a grape,’ little girl stuff. I feel this album’s very womanly – like you’re lying next to your lover in bed whispering this in their ear.”

Krall, with the help of some really talented musicians, put on a tremendous show. I have never seen an audience so quiet and completely immersed in the music and the moment.

A little wine, a little music, add some major league talent, and you have one hell of a magical evening.


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


Smokey Robinson

Concert Photography

Smokey Robinson – Click for more images

Over 4,500 fans braved the 100 plus temperatures to see the legendary Smokey Robinson at Thunder Valley Casino Resort‘s outdoor amphitheater Saturday night ““ you could say it was a smoking show due to the heat, but that would be a lame joke.

Despite the heat, the 72 year old Motown legend and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee arrived on stage decked out in a white suit and tie, as the audience jumped to their feet welcoming Robinson to Thunder Valley Casino.

Robinson, known for his high tenor voice, has accumulated more than 4,000 songs to his credit, so his set-list for the evening was anyone’s guess.

Smokey Robinson

Smokey Robinson

He kicked it off with “Going to a Go Go” and “Second that Emotion,” both hits made famous by the Miracles in the mid-sixties, with Robinson as lead singer.

The audience was in full participation mode as fans sang along with songs like “You Really Got a Hold on Me,” “Ooh Baby Baby,” “Tears of a Clown,” and “Tracks of My Tears.”

After hearing the audiences response as he finished singing “Ooh Baby Baby,” he said he probably should have started the show with that one.

Gratuitous dancing hotty

Throwing a bit of local humor into the show Robinson said he really appreciated everyone taking the time to come out and see him, especially in a town like Lincoln, where there’s so much to do on a Saturday.

Robinson talked about a show called the Motown Review, where you could see the likes of The Temptations, The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and others, all for a $1.60. This lead into a medley of Temptation hits.

At one point he brought audience members Lisa and Porsche onto the stage and assigned sections of the audience to each one. The goal ““ Cheer their section on to be the loudest. I believe Porsche’s group was the clear winner, but I’m sure Lisa would have something to say about that.

Robinson is a true entertainer and after over 50 years of performing he still knows how to put on a great show and keep the audience entertained. It was a smoking good show ““ I just had to.

Checkout the remaining outdoor concerts at Thunder Valley Casino. Next weekend is ZZ Top and Diana Krall.

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