Thursday, March 26, 2015

CONCERT REVIEW: Fleetwood Mac - Orlando, FL (3.23.15)

CONCERT REVIEW
Fleetwood Mac
Amway Center / Orlando, FL 
(3.23.15)
_________________________

"Timeless," "classic," "iconic,"
"legendary"— the standard
rock and roll "praise and
worship" buzzwords are so
overused, they've become
tired clich├ęs  void of any
significant punch. But in the
case of Fleetwood Mac, a
truly splendid superlative is
in order. I sorta like, "ever-
majestically nut-busting."
_________________________

Concert #68 of Fleetwood Mac's On with the Show world tour brought the platinum-selling powerhouse to Central Florida on Monday, March 23. Heralding the highly-anticipated return of perennial singer / songwriter and keyboardist, Christine McVie, the well-publicized event drew an estimated crowd of 19,000 ardent followers to Orlando's super-colossal Amway Center. And as the house went black at 8:20pm, and the fully reunited Fab Five took the stage, pandemonium ensued.

The still "Mighty Mac" kicked off their spectacular two-hour-plus juggernaut with four ferocious fan favorites from the 45 x platinum 1977 Rumours album  a magnificent mini set that included "The Chain," "You Make Loving Fun," "Dreams" and "Second Hand News."

Leading the charge throughout  founding namesakes, drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie. For his part, McVie would provide the ever-stoic and dignified yin to Fleetwood's endearingly energetic and animated yang — a magical rock and roll Reese's-type combination that continues to "taste great together" — even now, after nearly 50 years.

Looking elegantly rock and roll chic — dressed in skin-tight black skinny jeans and a black velour jacket, accented by a super-fun, silver sheriff's badge, Ms. McVie was welcomed back lovingly into the Fleetwood fold in short order by the band's iconic, longtime songstress, Stevie Nicks  and the crowd goes wild! The cavalcade of classics continued with a slew of the gals' signature staples, including McVie's "Everywhere," "Little Lies" and "Say You Love Me" as well as Nicks' "Rhiannon," "Sisters of the Moon,"  "Gypsy" and "Gold Dust Woman."

STEVIE NICKS
Amway Center / Orlando, FL
(3.23.15)
Lindsey Buckingham, the celebrated songwriting / production genius who is oft credited for taking the once-struggling early version of Fleetwood Mac and transforming it into a world-renown mega force, also brought his "A-game" to the Amway stage. Possessing unparalleled musicianship and unbridled showmanship, the dashing 65-year-old guitar hero slayed the masses with his own powerful arsenal that included "Tusk,"  "Big Love" and "Never Going Back Again."

Although the band's performance was a start-to-finish tour de force, there were several stand-out "WOW" moments, including Mick Fleetwood's dynamic, front-and-center, cocktail kit demonstration during "Over My Head," as well as his show-stopping, ten-minute drum solo. Another memorable highlight was the chilling acoustic duet between Buckingham and Nicks on the much-loved Nicks standard, "Landslide."

However, the brightest gem of the set, oddly enough, was Buckingham's dark and moody, "I'm So Afraid," from the 1975 Fleetwood Mac album. As the band members all became bathed in rays of intense red, orange and purple, the electronic lighting trusses were brought down so low to the stage that it created an exciting nightclub-style vibe — effectively offering even the guy sitting in Row QQQ a bit more of an up-close-and-personal perspective.

The band wrapped the show up at around 10:30 with the 1977 Top Ten hit, "Go Your Own Way" only to turn to the stage moments later for a rousing three-song encore that included "World Turning," "Don't Stop" and "Silver Springs."

LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM
Amway Center / Orlando, FL
(3.23.15)
After soundcheck earlier in the day, Mick Fleetwood conducted a private pre-show, VIP meet-and-greet with 52 of his most faithful followers. During the well-organized, hour-long event, fans were each afforded personal onstage photo ops with the 67-year-old legend, proceeded by an insightful Q&A session. Openly sharing various "Behind the Music"-type stories, Fleetwood came across as personable, genuine and quite likable  an unassuming, old school blues / rock chap who says "shit"  a lot! He revealed that his passion for performing was first fueled by his exposure to the theater world as a young lad hanging out with his older sister who was an aspiring actress. He also recalled the rather unexpected meteoric success of Rumours as being a "mutant event." Referring to the infamous click-clack-type balls "dangling about" on the Rumours album cover, Fleetwood confessed that to this day, he never performs without them. "I've always got me balls," he added. And although he clearly had no definitive choice, Fleetwood stated that due to his pure rock and roll spirit, the guitar-driven, "Go Your Own Way," might be his favorite Fleetwood Mac tune. 

It took 40 years, but I finally made
it onstage with Mick Fleetwood! 
(3.23.15)
In sum, Fleetwood Mac currently is at the top of their live game. And based on the very broad Orlando audience demographic, it's safe to say that their music continues to breakdown generational barriers. The band members looked fantastic, performed famously, and the show was simply second-to-none. And despite the rumors (no pun intended), Mick Fleetwood maintained that is not the band's final tour. In fact, he commented that he's even looking forward to making new music with the reunited classic line-up in the (semi) immediate future. 

-Christopher Long
(March 2015)

______________________________

Check out my other
Fleetwood Mac-related
feature stories: 

Record Review:
Concert Review:
______________________________


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Monday, March 23, 2015

IT AIN'T NO JIVE — MY SITE TURNS FIVE!

IT AIN'T NO
JIVE — MY SITE
TURNS FIVE!
____________________

From pop culture and
political commentary to
family and faith features,
The Show Biz Guru 
has now been carving
up some of the coolest
content on the Net for
a 20th of a century!
____________________

In the spring of 2010, I knew very little about blogging. It was simply a viable Internet tool that other writers were harnessing successfully an option that potential publishers now were encouraging me to also explore as a means of building my platform and developing my audience. Back then, I had no clue how to launch a website, let alone how to create an eye-catching layout or compelling content. Heck, at that time, I was still living on MySpace. As a result, once my awkward-looking site went live, my initial posts amounted to little more than standard social media-type drivel regarding my upcoming appearances or what I would be doing on any given weekend. Yep, The Show Biz Guru was lame.

But six months after first launching this site, I learned how to monitor its stats. And to my dismay, I discovered that it already had received nearly 2,000 visits. It then occurred to me that if that many people were stopping by to read gobbledygook, my audience could potentially explode if I just put forth some extra effort and started creating strong consistent content. As they say, practice makes perfect, and I experimented with different design layouts and I began posting several times a week. Five years later, my traffic continues to sky rocket.

From pop culture and politics to family and faith, my array of topics reflect my own personal perspectives and real life experiences. Even after weeding out the weak crap from over the years, The Show Biz Guru currently is home to nearly 400 features. Some of my content might make you laugh. Some of it might tug on your heartstrings or simply make ya go, "Hmm." And some of it just might make you hurt yourself, getting angry. The following features (in chronological order) are what I believe to be my Top Ten all-time best. If you can possibly manage the time, I invite you to take a look. Enjoy! 

(October 18, 2011)
THE STARTLING 
REVELATION:
I Am The Creepy Guy!

Yikes — I used to be young and
hip. Apparently, not anymore.
Read it HERE.


(September 16, 2012)
LIGHTEN UP, FRANCIS!

Now, more than ever before, our
political perspectives are dividing
our country. Maybe, we need to all
relax and just hug each other.
Read it HERE.


(October 31, 2012)
BOOK REVIEW
Makeup To Breakup
- Peter Criss -

My review of this KISS
co-founder's roller coaster
memoir remains one of
my most popular features.
Read it HERE.


(December 3, 2012)
TURNING THE
BIG 5-0!

Waxing nostalgic on
my first half century.
Read it HERE.


(January 17, 2013)
THE CINNAMON 
CHALLENGE

I'll never forget the night that
I nearly died — at church!
Read it HERE.


(August 16, 2013)
TOP TEN PEOPLE I WANT
TO HAVE COFFEE WITH

From Ted Nugent to
Ann Coulter, the title
alone speaks for itself.
Read it HERE.


(September 5, 2013)
Top 10 Items NEVER to
Buy at a Thrift Store!

Simply put, I love thrifting.
However, some items are
just meant to be bought new.
Read it HERE.


(November 23, 2013)
The LAST Movie Night

For many parents, the experience
of our kids leaving the nest is a
harrowing one, indeed. For me,
it flat-out sucked, dude.
Read it HERE.


(February 10, 2014)
HAPPY 40th
BIRTHDAY 1974

A heartfelt tribute to
the greatest year ever!
Read it HERE.


(August 2014)
LET THERE BE ROCK!
On Tour with 
The RockNRoll Chorus

At 51, I couldn't believe
that I went back out on tour
again with a rock band. But
what an awesome ride it was.
Find the entire three-part series: 

I'm proud of all of the work presented on The Show Biz Guru especially the features that have been created and submitted by my glorious gaggle of "Guest Writers." You can find those HERE.

What started out as a meager blog with minimal traffic now has blossomed into a popular Internet destination. And I'm extremely grateful to everyone who has stopped by since 2010 and taken the time to read my work. Be sure, I'm just getting started, and the best is yet to come!

-Christopher Long
(March 2015)


The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.

Currently in development...

Saturday, March 21, 2015

CONCERT REVIEW: Black Oak Arkansas (Indialantic, FL - 3.8.15)

CONCERT REVIEW
Black Oak Arkansas
Lou’s Blues - Indialantic, FL (3.8.15)
____________________

Arguably the most
authentic band of the
southern rock era,
Black Oak Arkansas
has inspired generations
of platinum-selling artists.
And recently, they
performed (practically)
eight inches from my
house on Florida's
east coast. Ah,
ain't life grand?
____________________ 

A picture perfect spring afternoon on Florida’s Space Coast  78° and sunny skies. The surf was rolling out, as the Harleys were rolling in. Be sure, this was not gonna be your typical Sunday at the world-renown Lou’s Blues oceanside club and concert venue. In fact, the huge LED sign facing highway A1A at the edge of Lou’s property said it all: TONIGHT 7PM – BLACK OAK ARKANSAS.

This was the band I’d been waiting more than 40 years to see. As a wide-eyed church boy growing up “back thar” in Missouri’s Ozark Mountains during the early ‘70s, I felt somehow connected to them hell raisin’ fellas from “over yonder” in Arkansas. To me, Black Oak’s music seemed louder, their hair was longer and their pants fit tighter than any other band of the day. Jeepers, THIS is rock and roll! And whenever my elementary school friends would all gather around the cafeteria lunch table, swapping their (older brothers’ and sisters’) concert stories, the most outrageous tales always involved recounting the onstage fury and shenanigans of Black Oak Arkansas. 

Black Oak Arkansas - circa 1973
“Dude, c’mon  Jim Dandy’s inside, signing stuff!” Even through the clatter of eager concert early birds, the impassioned cry of my "hog"-lovin' baby brother, Greg, cut across Lou’s Blues crowded outdoor deck like a set of Serpentine pipes on a ’74 Sportster. “Oh, heck yeah,” was my knee-jerk response. “Let’s go!”

Through a sea of Lou's patrons, and a half dozen of his beefiest bouncers, Greg and I hustled our way into the club, in short order. And there he was  standing at a table near the bar, just ten feet away  one of classic rock’s all-time greatest icons  the one-and-only, Jim “Dandy” Mangrum. Sporting an impressive, patch-covered, knee-length, sleeveless, black leather jacket, the legendary blue-eyed and (still) blond-haired frontman sucked down a glass of ice water like he’d just come off a week in the desert. And as he finished signing a stack of Black Oak LPs for a middle-age woman who may or may not have been still wearing her Walmart smock, I went in for the kill. 

“Hey Jim,” I blurted, displaying all the street cred of a 12-year-old girl at a One Direction meet-and-greet. “Can we get a couple of pictures with you?” “Uh, yeah. I guess so,” the now 66-year-old Mangrum replied graciously, yet with noticeable trepidation. And immediately upon procuring our pics, Greg and I allowed our hero to escape and join his bandmates outside for what was morphing into a full-blown pre-show parking lot hoo-ha with the host of hometown “A-list” musicians who also were on-hand to experience the night’s big show.

One of the patches on the front of
Mangrum's jacket read, "Jesus Forever."
RIGHT ON, BROTHER!
Clearly, Jim "Dandy" Mangrum couldn't
have been happier about meeting me.
Accompanied by original guitarist, Rickie Lee Reynolds, Mangum led the current Black Oak line-up that also features lead guitarist Arthur Pearson, bassist George Hughen and drummer Johnnie Bolin to the stage at 7:30. And kicking off with “Plugged in and Wired,” a high-energy rocker from the band’s latest album, Back Thar N’ Over Yonder, the 16-song cavalcade of southern-fried classics ensued.

Front row just wasn't close enough 
for me. Hence, I created my own
VIP seat -- right on stage!
Black Oak Arkansas holding
court at Lou's Blues.
Mangrum proved to be an entertaining ringleader throughout the near-two-hour set sharing jokes, backwoods commentary and personal recollections, such as the engaging story of first meeting Frank Zappa, during the intro for the band’s longstanding concert staple, “Hot & Nasty.” Other show highlights included the washboard-driven “Uncle Lijiah,” the turbo-charged “Hot Rod,” the laid back “High ‘N’ Dry” and the down & dirty fan favorite, “Happy Hooker.”

Me (L) and my baby brother (R)
with Rickie Reynolds, (C) following
Black Oak's set at Lou's Blues.
Musically, the band was in fine form from start to finish. The onstage camaraderie between Mangrum and Reynolds seemed genuinely heartfelt and Pearson’s guitar work was particularly ball-busting. However, it was the tribute to former Black Oak back-up singer and “kissing cousin,” the late Ruby Starr, during a chilling remake of Grand Funk Railroad’s “Heartbreaker” that made for the show’s most powerful moment  matched only by the band’s raucous, show-closing anthem, “Jim Dandy to the Rescue.”

-Christopher Long
(March 2015)

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is available NOW on Amazon.

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

THRIFT STORE ADVENTURES (PT XV): Friends and Family Edition

THRIFT STORE
ADVENTURES
(PT XV)
Friends and Family Edition
____________________

Wow, it's been nearly
year since my last
installment. But this one
was well worth the wait!
____________________

I was delighted to hear that my friend Sandy and her son Zack were planning a Spring Break trip to Florida this week — an escape excursion from their home up north where it's "wicked" cold. Sandy and I have been friends for nearly 30 years, and much of her family has been family to me for most of my life. So I wasn't surprised when she called me immediately upon their arrival in "The Sunshine State" and inquired, not about discount Disney tickets, but about the area's best thrift store locations. "I've got this totally covered," I assured her. "I'll pick you two up in the morning at 10:00 sharp." 

The weather was perfect  sunny skies and 83°. Our mission was simple  score as much awesome crap as possible in just four hours. Our destination  a few of my favorite haunts: The Women's Center / Furniture and More (Melbourne), Holy Name Thrift Shop (Indialantic), Second Wind (Indian Harbour Beach), and The Lamb Shoppe (Satellite Beach). Let the games begin!


Sandy spotted this fabulous little
number, straight out of the gate.



While some phones are rather
serious, others are flat out...



The guys from my Bridge 
club would be SO jealous of
this "Pepto" pink raincoat!



I've heard of zebras, tigers and
bears — oh my! But just what the
heck this creature is — you got me.



Simply put, Sandy and Zack scored 
big time today at the Lamb Shoppe.



It wasn't the 8-Track format
that I'd been searching for, but
I was still psyched to pick up
my ninth copy of Foghat Live.
"You know the rhythm is right!" 



The award for "Find of the Day"
went to Zack — hands-down.

Although I wasn't privy to Sandy and Zack's official tally, I will reveal that I personally scored three super-fun T-shirts, one amazing pair of purple skinny jeans, a groovy knit hat and three CDs. My grand total — $9. Spending a beautiful Florida spring day out thrifting with friends and family priceless!

-Christopher Long
(March 2013)


The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...
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Saturday, March 14, 2015

LIVING SOBER: "Before and After" Snapshots

LIVING SOBER:
"Before and After" 
Snapshots
_______________

March 17, 2004.
I remember it well.
The day I beat the
bottle — for good.
_______________

We've all seen them  those fascinating "Before and After" segments presented on TV and in print media typically depicting an incredible personal makeover or an amazing transformation. However, I believe that if we could be privy to certain honest "Before and After" examples on the front end, prior to making some life choices, there would be fewer "snapshots" on the back end.

Sobriety is something that's very personal to me  I take it quite seriously. And I'm proud to say that this week marks my 11th anniversary of being completely clean and sober. I don't offer this "Before and After" testimonial to brag, or as a means of judging or condemning anyone. My desire is to merely offer candid "snapshots" for folks on the front end — before they make the same mistakes I made. I also want to offer encouraging "snapshots" for those who find themselves currently in a battle with the bottle. It is a battle that can be won. If I did, so can you.

Sad but true.
I was DJ-ing a 2004 St. Patty's day event at a nightclub located in Palm Bay, Florida. The house band that night was a piano / drum / vocal duo known more for their drunken onstage shenanigans than for their recreations of frat house party anthems. At age 41, I was still wrestling with an alcohol demon that had been haunting me for many years. Hence, I was an easy target for the marksmanship of the duo's drummer, a happy-go-lucky fella who had successfully encouraged me to join him in a holiday shot. But as I felt the burn of the unknown, green concoction sliding down my throat, I experienced a moment of clarity. I noticed suddenly that I was surrounded by a host of "like-minded" characters whose behavior I now perceived to be offensive and reckless. The "light" finally had come on. "This is stupid," I said to myself, as I licked my chops and tossed the plastic shot "glass" into the trashcan at the end of the bar. Three points! Instantly, I'd been somehow freed miraculously from the bondage of alcohol. I've not had a drink since.  

Trust me.
I've said it before, but it's a message worth repeating — alcohol is “soul poison” — plain and simple. It's designed to destroy lives and wreck families and other personal (and professional) relationships. And be sure that the bijillion-dollar-a-year alcohol industry does NOT want this reality revealed or embraced. Related advertisements to the contrary are nothing more than crafty lies sent straight from the pit of Hell. I mean, c'mon, you know that it requires one heck of a smooth and savvy pitch(fork)man to market a dirty diaper and sell it successfully as a pristine Prom gown. Don't be conned!

The truth will set you free.
Oddly, much of my professional life continues to play out as a DJ, working in nightclubs. And I was recently criticized on social media for my "inconsistent" lifestyle. But it's that very environment the dark and smokey, drama-filled bar scene that actually helps to keep me sober. It's a compelling, constant reminder of who I used to be — reinforcing my desire to never return to that life. I'm certainly not suggesting that getting sober and maintaining my sobriety makes me a better person than anyone else  it just enhances my quality of life. I encounter a lot of hurt, broken and lonely people in the bar biz, and often, I'm now the only guy that some folks have to turn to for guidance at 2am — and I'm humbled and honored to be that guy.

TRANSFORMATION!
(Yeah, I'm pretty shocked too.)
If anyone currently finds themselves struggling with this demon and desires personal encouragement regarding living sober, I welcome you to reach out to me anytime through my personal email address. Remember, I’m NOT a licensed counselor, but I am a nightclub DJ, which is kinda the same thing.

AuthorChristopherLong@yahoo.com

-Christopher Long
(March 2015)


The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.

Currently in development...