Madonna: Rebel Heart Tour Proves She Still Has What It Takes To Be Modern Pop Standard

What can be said about Madonna Louise Ciccone, aka Madonna, that hasn’t been said, seen, or written dozens of times before? Nothing really, I suppose, so I’m just going to focus on this CD/DVD set what it is and what it does.

This set shows that despite the passage of time, Madonna at 59 is still the Queen of Pop she was in the eighties, able to put on a pop show unlike any other, still the consummate professional who knows what she is doing and what needs to be done to turn an already frenzied audience into a frenzied mob. What helps makes this possible is the technical advances enabling the “off the charts” stage show that they could only hint at back in those “dark ages.”


Wizard World 2018

Wizard World comic con returned to St. Louis this past weekend. It boasted big name celebrities such as John Barrowman and Sebastian Stan (note Stan Lee was supposed to attend but canceled after being rushed to the emergency room.) But despite some of the star power, Wizard World 2018 overall was rather lackluster.

The past couple of years the con has been shrinking, fewer vendors, fewer celebrity guests, and fewer panels, all of which contributed to lower attendance numbers. And the fact that it was Super Bowl weekend didn’t help either. (Hey Wizard World, comic con attendees like football too! Just saying.) While Wizard World brought in some guests that had never been to St. Louis before, the con itself lacked its usual excitement. Even the vendors seemed concerned about lack of attendance. That said, the cosplayers yet again came out in force and did not disappoint.


Jocko Marcellino: Rock and Roll (and Ugly Christmas Sweaters) are Here to Stay

Jocko Marcellino

I grew up watching SHA NA NA as a television variety show. And I was into it. Somewhere there exist blackmail photos of me with my (brown) leather jacket, my hair slicked back with Alberto VO5, and my oversized sunglasses. I was the most bad-ass 12-year-old you'd ever seen! So I was more than happy when the offer came to interview band frontman Jocko Marcellino. But it turned out there were things about SHA NA NA I did not know.

My first introduction to SHA NA NA was the television show, and I never looked back farther than that. But you guys actually played at Woodstock! What kind of tentpole was that in the band's history?

That was an extraordinary opportunity that was given to us by Jimi Hendrix. When we were starting out, we had stayed in school that summer. Then we decided to try and make it with the act. We had done eight professional gigs, and our eight professional gig was Woodstock.


The Message Driven Music of Kaylee Keller

Kaylee Keller

In 2003, I was reviewing a music reality series called NASHVILLE STAR. It was sort of the country music version of AMERICAN IDOL, before Carrie Underwood made AI go country itself. The winner of that first season was Buddy Jewell, but I was particularly drawn to the singer who didn't win the big prize, coming in third instead--a young lady named Miranda Lambert.

That particular quality I saw then is similar to what I see now in the music of Kaylee Keller, a twenty-year-old country music ingenue with a quickly growing discography and fanbase.

With her most recent music video, "Nowhere America," Keller garnered the attention of the folks at FOX, who put her on their airwaves and introduced her to a wider audience, who might be a bit surprised to find a millenial who's not quite into millenial things.


The FLUX HiFi Sonic Electronic Stylus Cleaner: You Only Thought You Were Cleaning Your Stylus Before

As a bonafide vinyl junkie and dyed in the wool stereophile, I have seen my fair share of gizmos, tricks, and gadgets come down the pike that promise to “remove veils from the listening experience” and “open up new windows in the recordings.” While some did work to a degree, many were a bunch of hooey. Some only delivered a minute portion of what they promised. So to say I have become jaded about such things would be a fair cop.

Now, as a vinylphile, I will be the first to stand on the soap box to state you have to keep your stylus clean if you want to maintain your records and continue to get the best out of your cartridge, which in turn will continue to give you listening enjoyment.


Black Sabbath: The End A Farewell Spectacular From Originators of Real Heavy Metal

Black Sabbath The End

BLACK SABBATH: THE END is a multi-format send-off from Eagle Rock Entertainment of Black Sabbath’s final concert, held in their hometown of Birmingham, England on February 4th, 2017, available in combinations of DVD+CD, /BluRay+CD, Double CD, Triple 180gram Vinyl and a Limited Edition Deluxe collector’s set.

Reviewed here is the 2-disc DVD+CD set, containing the DVD of the live concert and studio Angelic Sessions, and the single CD of the studio Angelic Sessions.


Brady Rymer and The Little Band That Could Deliver Holiday Fun That’s Fun for all Holidays

Revvin up the reindeer

What do you get when you mix The Brian Setzer Orchestra; Sharon, Lois & Bram and The Vince Guaraldi Trio? An album that brings together several styles of music in a holiday recording you will enjoy, regardless of which holiday you celebrate.

Starting with the first song “Revvin’ Up The Reindeer,” things get up and boogying with a 50’s big band sound reminiscent of The Brian Setzer Orchestra.


Mister G's Mundo Verde a Bilingual Rainforest for Your Ears

Mundo Verde

Latin Grammy winner Mister G brings forth a children’s album here that tells a story about nature and us all being one with the Earth—with the planet, with its animals, and with each other, bringing a message that we have ownership in this beautiful world we live in, be it adults or children.

Mister G does this by painting a pretty picture of a lush green Earth and the wonders in it. As he sings about it, he sings about how we must not only enjoy it, but do our part to keep it that way. Singing lyrics in both Spanish and English, he gives this sense of unity to children--that it’s not the languages that makes us different, but the music that binds us together. One does not need to understand all the words to hear the beauty in these songs. But whether you speak English or Spanish, you can enjoy it even more because he blends the two seamlessly throughout the album.


We Rave Over Laurie Berkner's Dance Remix Album

Laurie Berkner The Dance Remixes

Laurie Berkner’s latest, THE DANCE REMIXES, is one of those albums that took me by surprise, for a couple of reasons. I have been a long-time Berkner-holic, and as such thought I would know what to expect whenever she would put out a new album. Surprise number 1.

I also thought I knew what each of the songs on this album might sound like as a dance remix, based on the fact I knew the songs so well and also on the first fact above. Surprise number 2.

When I put the CD into the player and turned up the volume, it was instantly apparent that I was not in “Berkner-Kansas” any longer! I was in the midst of a rave! Wait, what did I just type? Laurie Berkner songs remixed into a modern day rave? Yes! And let me tell you, the remixes of these songs, while having vestiges of the originals intact, are in no way like the originals. But that is a good thing.


DeVore Fidelity's 3XL Speakers Artistic Achievement

Devore 3xl speakers

The DeVore 3XL speakers from DeVore Fidelity are a small 2-way monitor. The drive units are comprised of a .75 inch custom-made soft dome tweeter and 5 inch paper cone woofer from SEAS of Denmark. The cabinets are made out of real Bamboo (no Veneer here) and measure 15.25H X 7.3125W X 10.875D. They are 8 Ohm, 90db sensitivity rated speakers, which makes them very easy to drive by amplification of even modest wattage. The speakers are best suited to be placed on stands, and the matching bamboo stands are not only the perfect match for them aesthetically but sonically as well.

Although they are the smallest of the Gibbon line, they still incorporate the same tweeter that is used in their top-of-the-line Silverback speakers. They retail for $3,700.00 a pair, with an additional $595.00 for the stands, which should be considered prerequisite.

The speakers are made in the USA at John DeVore's facilities in the old Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York City.


Top 5 Halloween Songs of All-Time

Happy Halloween! Just for fun, I've compiled a short-list of Halloween songs, which could be considered the top songs of all-time for the spooktacular holiday. No Halloween party would be complete without hearing these 5 songs at one point or another. So without any further delay, let's get to the list!

5: Living Dead Girl - Rob Zombie

The closest thing to a modern age song you'll find on this list, released in 1999, almost anything by Rob Zombie is Halloween worthy. A super fan of horror films, Rob Zombie delivers a song with all the creepiness you need on Halloween. The opening line of dialogue: "Who is this irresistible creature who has an insatiable lust for the dead?" is the perfect intro for a song as creepy as it's title implies.


Great Rock with Real Purpose: Ricky Byrd's Clean Getaway

Ricky Byrd, Clean Getaway

Ricky Byrd, 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee (with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts) and reformed addict (over 30 years clean), has been writing songs and playing concerts at rehab and recovery clinics around the nation to bring hope to those in recovery to help give them the strength to carry on. As he puts it, he was blessed with the “gift of desperation” in 1987.

The collections of songs on his latest album, CLEAN GETAWAY, comes because of requests from people at these shows, and I can honestly say I have never heard anything else like this collection of songs before.


Absolutely Free a 50th Anniversary Remaster Actually Worth Listening To

Absolutely Free

2017 marks the 50th Anniversary of the release of Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention’s iconic, off-the-beaten-path album ABSOLUTELY FREE. Unlike another, more famous album that got a 50th anniversary remastered and rereleased, this year, this one is actually worth owning and listening to!

Whereas the “other one” was played with far too much so that it hardly resembled the original at all, the marvelous mastering here seems to have sought out and achieved making the original sound better, but not different, on that magical 180-gram vinyl.



Jeff Beck Live at the Hollywood Bowl: You've Gotta See and Hear It to Believe It!

During the Summer of ’16, something monumental happened…

Jeff Beck, one of the greatest guitar players rock has ever known, celebrated his 50th anniversary in the business by having a concert at the celebrated Hollywood Bowl amphitheater, along with some very special guests he’s worked with over the years.

At 72 years of age at the time of the concert, you would think it more of just a tribute concert. Not so at all. This was no going-through-the-motions event. Jeff was in perfect form, and played as astonishingly as he ever had. Think about what I just said: one of the greatest (in anyone’s list of greatest guitar players ever) played as good as I have ever heard and seen him--at 72 years old!

Now, if (like me) you didn’t know about this, or couldn’t even go if you did, the music lovers at Eagle Rock Entertainment wove their magic and were smart enough to capture it for all of us to see and hear.


Sticky Fingers Grabs You And Doesn't Let Go

Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers Fonda Theatre 2015

This Blu-ray/DVD/CD set from Eagle Rock Entertainment covers the Stones in an intimate setting at the Fonda Theater in LA in 2015, at the start of the North American Zip Code tour, and captures the first time the band had ever (and, so far, has ever) played the entire STICKY FINGERS album in concert (along with some other great Stones' songs).


Spirits Moving Musically: Edgar / Alice / Purple Rock the Hollywood Casino Amphitheater

Edgar Alice Purple concert

Edgar Allen Poe once penned a line, “Quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore.’” Well, last Friday night in Maryland Heights, MO, three of classic rock’s most talented and prolific stars from the 1960’s to present, whom I deem “Edgar Allen Purple,” came together once more, for an outdoor concert at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheater.


"Welcome to My Nightmare" A Dream Come True for Alice Cooper Fans

Alice Cooper Nightmare DVD

Okay kids, here it is! For you fans of Vincent Furnier who remember the pre-MTV days, Eagle Rock Entertainment has brought back not just the1975 “Welcome To My Nightmare” Concert Video but also the 1975 TV special, “The Nightmare” complete with special guest star, the indomitable Vincent Price, all in a single DVD video offering.

Eagle Rock has been releasing many great videos and CDs of important rock music from the second generation of rock, many of which feature the members performing recently or in the past 10 to 15 years. With this DVD, they are releasing in one of the most important concerts and specials from what I would call the “Golden Age of Alice.” It’s important for a couple of reasons: one, because it was his first solo tour and two, because it was ground-breaking. Remember, this was before MTV and it was the first time a concert special was filmed to support an entire album in long form.


A Renaissance of the Renaissance. Blackmore’s Night: To The Moon And Back, 20 Years And Beyond

Blackmore's Night To the Moon and Back 20 Years and Beyond

The Beatles once said, “It was 20 years ago today Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play.” Well, it’s been 20 years since Richard Blackmore and Candice Night taught the minstrels to play, bringing a renaissance to the Renaissance, so to say. And it’s funny to think that the music they play today technically predated the music he played decades prior by centuries.

Now, I have been a huge fan of the Renaissance (the time, not the band (but I do like the band’s music too)) since I attended my first Medieval festival. My friends and I would truck up to the Renaissance Fair in Tuxedo, New York and, closer to home, in nearby Huntington Long Island. I just felt I belonged.


Paul McCandless' Morning Sun an Ear-Opening Experience

If you’re like me--and I would suspect there are as many that are as aren’t--your take on the oboe is that it is an instrument that is part of the orchestra, an instrument that contributes to the total sound but not one that ever takes the lead, or is as famous as, say, the cello, the French horn, the violin or the flute; sort of the second rhythm guitar or third back-up singer in a rock band. You know it’s there, but you can’t really make out what it sounds like. Couple that with an old saying attributed to the instrument: “The Oboe is an ill wind woodwind that nobody plays well.” You’re left wondering, “Why would anyone want to have an ensemble that features such a blasé instrument?”

One of the most enjoyable experiences in reviewing music is that, occasionally, you get to listen to something you might otherwise have never come across, thought about listening to, or were aware even existed.

With MORNING SUN, I have had such an experience!


Lizzy Small's Big Night: Live at The Mint, August 23

Lizzy Small

Actress. Dancer. Singer. Songwriter. Is there anything in the entertainment field that Lizzy Small can't do? From the precocious tyke who played the baker elf in THE SANTA CLAUSE 3 to the studious collegian who distributes her distinct sound on SoundCloud, Lizzy has established herself as a creative force in the industry.

This coming Wednesday, August 23, Lizzy is preparing to rock the house at The Mint at 6010 Pico Blvd in Los Angeles. We caught up with the artist on the phone to ask her a few questions about her music and her upcoming acting performances.

There isn't any clear cut division between the music and the acting--you grew up doing both at pretty much the same time. Was there a family influence in the performing arts at work?


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