Saturday, January 17, 2015

NIGHT OF THE CLASSICS: Recreating Vintage Rock

NIGHT OF THE CLASSICS:  
Recreating Vintage Rock
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Concert ticket prices continue to soar, 
while more and more legendary artists 
are touring less and less frequently 
 if at all. Hence, live rock and roll
tribute productions have become wildly 
popular among fans in recent years.
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With award-winning singer / guitarist Adam Sikora leading the charge, the southeast production upstart, Night of the Classics first launched on Florida's Space Coast in 2013. Since then, NOTC has staged several successful events that have brought the classic music of such legendary artists as Pink Floyd and The Beatles to thousands of enthusiasts.

In an exclusive interview with "The Show Biz Guru," Sikora recently shared his passion for vintage rock and roll, as well as his enthusiasm for producing NOTC concerts  including the upcoming "day of Woodstock" at Cocoa, Florida's Cocoa Village Amphitheater on March 7th.

Adam Sikora
Nick Hildyard
"My goal for Night of the Classics is to keep doing 
shows more frequently and to eventually bring the 
recreation of these great bands across the nation."
-Adam Sikora

Night of the Classics presents the music of The Beatles.
Brandon Rapone
However, Sikora was particularly jazzed about his next NOTC production. Pairing the classic crunch of AC/DC with timeless tracks from Led Zeppelin, the event takes place at The Gleason Performing Arts Center on the campus of the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne on Friday, January 23rd. The group's lineup will once again feature members of such popular Florida-based bands as Red Tide and Hot Pink, PLUS, internationally-known frontman Nick Hildyard. Tickets are affordable — ranging from $15-$20.  Doors open at 6pm and the show kicks off with a bang at 7pm.


Sikora's long-term vision is bold, but Night of the Classics already has a proven track record. And given his outfit's current popularity, the future appears bright, indeed.

-Christopher Long
(January 2015)


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is available NOW on Amazon.

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Saturday, December 27, 2014

2014: THE YEAR IN REVIEW

2014: THE YEAR IN REVIEW
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Well, here we are again   bidding (hopefully) a fond
farewell to another year gone by, and prepping to
embrace all the promise of the new one rolling in.
So, how was your 2014? I was kinda busy...
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I kicked off 2014 with a bang — attending the January 2nd Melbourne, Florida concert performance of rock legend, Gregg Allman. I celebrated a milestone on St. Patty's Day  a full decade of sobriety. And in May, my third book, SHOUT IT OUT LOUD, was released and it has been thus far receiving glowing reviews. BTW, I currently have two additional book projects in development, including my upcoming fiction debut, entitled SUPERSTAR.

Entitled SHOUT IT OUT LOUD, my third book was released in May 2014.
The summer was a total gas. I served once again as an adult leader at East Coast Christian Center's week-long (Invasion) youth camp, held near Gainsville, Florida. As they say, "Never say 'never'," and by the end of July, I'd done the unthinkable — I actually went back on tour with a rock band — The RockNRoll Chorus. I recounted the entire incredible experience in a three-part series last August. You can read my story here: Pt. I, Pt. II, Pt. III.

Last fall, my award-winning band, Dead Serios, was snatched from the jaws of retirement after a near four-year hiatus. And on September 26th we appeared onstage alongside such national chartbusters as Great White, Faster Pussycat and Enuff Z'nuff at Florida's annual outdoor '80s In The Park rock festival. (Get the skinny on the 30-year Dead Serios saga HERE.)

It felt great to once again be back onstage with Dead Serios in 2014.
By year's end, I was back in the missionary field, spreading the "Good News" of Jesus Christ throughout my favorite Third World nation of Nicaragua. During my team's eight-day excursion, the sick were healed, the hungry were fed and hurting folks everywhere were blessed. I look forward to sharing my full story with readers in the new year.

Q: What's cooler than missionary work?
A: Nuthin'
But "The Show Biz Guru" has become a wildly popular entertainment-based Internet destination for a reason. So let's swoop in and take a look at some of the music, movies, books and concerts that made 2014 such a memorable year...

 THE RECORDS THAT ROCKED

ACE FREHLEY 
Space Invader

For the last 40 years, I've maintained a soft spot in my heart (and my head) for the music of the rock band KISS, as well as for the solo projects of its various past and present members. Although Frehley's 2009 Anomaly record fell short of matching his longstanding level of excellence, "the Spaceman" was redeemed with the release of his latest, Space Invader. "Ace is back," indeed with the best rock record of 2014. Other notable releases in 2014 include Queen - Live at the Rainbow '74, Dennis DeYoung - Live in Los AngelesJake Hamilton - Beautiful RiderChicago - Now (Chicago XXXVI), and She and Him - Classics.


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TOPS ON TOUR

PAUL SIMON w/ STING
Amway Center / Orlando, FL (3.16.14)

Two legendary singer / songwriters together, live onstage. It was a magical, once in a lifetime combination that made for my best concert experience of 2014. Other great shows this year included Soundgarden, Taking Back Sunday, and Jonny Lang.


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BOX OFFICE CHAMP

GOD'S NOT DEAD

Given the mind-numbing and often moronic, lowbrow content currently clogging my local cineplex, this film truly was a breath of fresh air when it arrived in theaters last March — the best of 2014, by far. Yet despite the slim pickins, I did enjoy a couple of other box office winners this year, including Heaven is for RealSt. Vincent and The Gambler.


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BEST IN BOOKS 
(Non-Fiction)

LEFTOVER PEOPLE
Brent Jensen

I discovered a fistful of fascinating non-fiction titles this year. KISS co-founder Paul Stanley revealed a riveting read with the release of his long-awaited autobiography, Face the Music, while Galadrielle Allman offered a deeply personal story of her father, Duane, in the pages of Please Be With Me. However, it was Canadian author and rock journalist, Brent Jensen, who truly gripped me with his latest, Leftover People. Jensen has been building a loyal international audience since the release of his 2012 debut, No Sleep 'Til Sudbury. He completed his third book recently, and I'm eagerly anticipating its tentative 2015 release.


(Fiction)

SKY ZONE
Creston Mapes

Simply put, Atlanta's "golden boy," Creston Mapes, is the "McCartney" of suspense authors. In 2014, he concluded his popular Crittendon Files series with the release of the edge-of-your-seat thriller, Sky Zone. And for my money, it was the year's best!


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There ya go, friends 2014 in a thumbnail overview. Thanks for taking the time this year to stop by and visit me here on "The Show Biz Guru." I hope that your 2014 was epic and that 2015 will be equally memorable. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

-Christopher Long
(December 2014)


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is available NOW on Amazon.

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Friday, December 26, 2014

MOVIE REVIEW: The Gambler

MOVIE REVIEW:
The Gambler
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The current holiday season has offered a slew 
of potential blockbusters featuring an array of 
big-names  including the Christmas Day 
release of The Gambler, starring the ever-
chiseled and super-bankable, Mark Wahlberg.
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Director Rupert Wyatt performs a modern-day "nip and tuck" on the 1974 original with his latest film, The Gambler. Boasting an impressive cast that features John Goodman, Jessica Lange and George Kennedy, The Gambler also delivers (the occasionally shirtless) Mark Wahlberg in the starring role — the rather "troubled," Jim Bennett.

Wahlberg's character, Jim Bennett, is dealt a tough hand in The Gambler.
As I stood in line at my local cineplex, clutching an opening night ticket, I caught the attention of two of my hometown gal pals who were just leaving an earlier showing — and they simply could NOT conceal their lack of enthusiasm for The Gambler. I was bummed out by their passionate post-screening observations for three reasons: A) I'd just paid $8.75 for a ticket, and I hate shelling out that kind of scratch on crappy movies. B) It was Christmas night, and I hate sitting through crappy movies on Christmas. C) I'm a HUGE fan of (the occasionally shirtless) Wahlberg, and I was really looking forward to seeing this movie.

Brie Larson is delightful as Bennett's love interest,  Amy Phillips.
Jessica Lange is rivetting as Bennett's mother, Roberta.
L.A. college literature professor Jim Bennett has a couple of problems — he's a nearly-broke, grown-up, spoiled rich kid with an enormous gambling addiction, he owes more than $250K to the wrong guys — and he's only got seven days to "figure it out." Along the way, Bennett encounters a cluster of compelling characters — and therein lies the film's strength and weakness.

Wahlberg's performance is top notch, to be sure. However, we don't get to look deeply enough into his character's seemingly complex back story to really care whether or not he prevails in the end at least not until the film's final few minutes. Bennett's onscreen connection with love interest, Amy Phillips, played by Brie Larson, oozes steamy tension, yet the presented picture of their budding relationship seems incomplete and somewhat awkward. And while there already is Oscar buzz surrounding Jessica Lange's performance as Bennett's mother, Roberta, we just aren't allowed to get close enough to connect with her character completely.

Michael K. Williams is cold as ice as Neville.
John Goodman steals the show as the "no nonsense" loan shark, Frank.
John Goodman delivers perhaps the most powerful and gripping performance in the role of "no nonsense" loan shark, Frank. In fact, The Gambler could likely have truly been a bona fide winner, had Frank been the story's primary character. George Kennedy does a fine job in his opening cameo performance as Bennett's dying grandfather, Ed. However, once again, despite being an important character in the story, Ed simply ain't around long enough to connect all of the pertinent dots.

In sum, I did NOT see eye-to-eye with my gal pals' assessment of The Gambler. For me, the story was rather compelling, the cast provided stellar performances and there was plenty of suspense and a reasonable payoff at the end making it at least worth the $8.75 admission price. Simply put, The Gambler is certainly no Four Brothers, but thank goodness, it's no Rock Star either. 

-Christopher Long
(December 2014)

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Check out my other movie reviews from 2014:
____________________________________________________________


The latest from author Christopher Long
SHOUT IT OUT LOUD -
is available NOW on Amazon.

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

Thursday, December 18, 2014

DEAD SERIOS: Celebrating 30 Years of Rock!


DEAD SERIOS: 
Celebrating 30 Years of Rock!
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The year was 1985. New Wave was  winding 
down, hair bands were revving up, 
and the time was right for a rock revolution.
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As an aspiring young musician influenced by an eclectic mix of Van HalenThe RamonesFrank ZappaCheap Trick, Alice CooperJohn Denver and KISS, I was searching desperately for my own artistic identity during the mid '80s. At just 22, I'd already had my fill of playing in cheesy Rock / Top 40 cover bands. I wanted to form an original band — something different, something unique.

So in 1985, I stashed away my drum kit and took on the persona of D.L. Serios — frontman for my new (original) band, Dead Serios. Fueled by blind ambition, and armed with little more than a fistful of marginally adequate hard rock tunes about chicks and cars, we set out to conquer the world — or at least the Central Florida music scene. BTW, we spell "Serios" without the "U" simply because the guy who designed our first logo smoked a lot of pot and he simply ran out of space on the paper and reasoned that the "U" was the word's most expendable letter. True story.

An early Dead Serios gig.
(Stop laughing. It was 1985, okay?)
Our first year was a bumpy ride, indeed. Our songs were weak, I was rather awkward on the mic and the band's mismatched original line-up offered a less than compelling live presentation. But we followed every letter of the rock and rock wannabe playbook, and we pressed on diligently. In 1986, we opened for a fledgling little New York-based combo called Anthrax — and they "spanked" us, plain and simple. But that gig proved to be a bona fide game-changer. There was a new rock revolution on the horizon — and Dead Serios clearly was NOT part of it. I realized that night that I could AND should throw out the "playbook." We had to stop being so serious (so to speak) and start taking some risks if we were to stand even a remote a chance of breaking out. 

Master of Puppets and Spreading the Disease soon replaced Metal Health and Pyromania as my favorite LPs of the day. I faced considerable resistance from certain early band members who clearly lacked my vision. However, this new-found energy and attitude was still reflected quickly in our music — and our sound and line-up soon "evolved." Then  I saw Alice Cooper in concert for the first time — another HUGE game-changer. And the light bulb goes off!  Hmm, if Dead Serios could merge our developing punk-meets-metal sound with an outrageous stage show and streetwise lyrical content, we just might be on to something. Kinda like a hardcore version of Saturday morning T.V.  

Our 1987 Ralph Rules record defined the
future Dead Serios sound and direction.
It was in 1988 when I first noticed that things finally were starting to happen for Dead Serios. We had just won our first Battle of the Bands competition at a local club one night. While I admired the four-foot-tall trophy perched on the front passenger seat of my pickup truck, I decided to turn on the radio for a little music on the ride home. Wouldn’t you know that at that very moment, a track from our then current record, Blow Chunks, was playing on WFIT. It was pretty surreal.

Finally on target - Dead Serios circa 1988.
(Me, guitarist Phil Billingsley, drummer Bill Erwin and bassist Joe DelCorvo)
By the summer of 1989, we were packing every local venue that we played. In fact, Dead Serios was drawing bigger crowds on Monday and Tuesday nights than most other area acts were drawing on the weekends. Even national level rock stars were coming to our shows. It wasn’t odd to be onstage and look out to see Deep Purple co-founder Ritchie Blackmore or UFO’s Paul Chapman in the audience. One night, I recall peeking out the window of a little club we were playing in Indialantic, Florida. It was just before show time, and standing at the front of the line out on the sidewalk was Slayer guitarist, Kerry King. I nearly wet myself right there. I rushed to the back of the club to alert our bassist, Joe DelCorvo, but by the time we could get back to the front door, King was gone. I asked the doorman where the angry-looking guy with tattoos had gone. “He didn’t have an I.D. so I sent him away,” the doorman replied.

The Dead Serios machine was revving on all cylinders in 1989. Featuring our concert staples "Psycho Dyke," "Skid Marks In My Shorts" and the rap-meets-rock College Radio track "Butterbean Queen," our indie album Possessed By Polka became a popular underground release that year. And with an over-the-top live show, we were gaining cred where it counts — on the road. 

On a bare bones budget, my independent LSR label
moved 10,000 copies of Possessed by Polka in '89-'90.
We played a Florida rock festival during the summer of ‘89. Throngs of fans packed in near the front of the stage, sweltering in the July heat. At one point, the crowd became so unruly that our show had to be stopped while security guys pulled people out of the crowd — placing some into squad cars and others into ambulances.

But there was one particular show that I’ll never forget. We were performing at a club, also during the summer of ‘89. I noticed a girl in the front row who was trying to get my attention. As I kneeled down to hear what she was saying, she pulled down her shirt to reveal a cartoon caricature of my face that she’d had tattooed between her breasts. To say the least, it was pretty freaky. 

Guitarist Doug E.G. (L) joined me, Phil, Bill and Joe in 1990.
(Photo: Ramon Scavelli)
Dead Serios live onstage in 1990.
From alterno darlings, Hootie and the Blowfish and Faith No More to thrash kings, Nuclear Assault to punk purveyors, Circle Jerks to Christian rockers, Barren Cross, we were competing nose-to-nose with many of the mightiest contenders of the day by 1990. In her Billboard magazine feature, music journalist Perry Gettelman described us as "a hardcore band with a locker room sense of humor." And Orlando's JAM! magazine would soon crown Dead Serios, Florida's "Entertainer of the Year." 

JAM! magazine named Dead Serios,
"Entertainer of the Year" in 1991.
(Photo: Christopher Lee Helton)
We had certainly "arrived" by 1991, and we couldn't be denied  or could we? From Marilyn Manson to Saigon Kick to Genitorturers, all the "top dogs" on Florida's original music were seemingly getting signed to major label record deals — and Dead Serios was the next in line. However, L.A. and New York-based record executives clearly didn’t embrace us like our fans and the press. An Interscope Records A&R rep once went so far as to tell me flat out that our music “sucked.” 

Despite our lack of major label interest, we knew that we were on the verge of becoming “the next big thing” — when our days were actually numbered. The Seattle grunge movement was about to consume the entire rock world, and there would be little room in that "new rock" world for a band like ours. We stuck it for a few more years, and our last two records, Dead Serios (1994) and Face Rake (1995) represented some of our best work. But by 1997, there simply was no point in pressing on any further.

Although it features such fan faves as "Who's On Oprah," 
"Pizza Face" and "She Wants It All," our 1995 album
Face Rake  met with little fanfare at the time of its release.
I spent the next couple of years as frontman for the hillbilly / glam band, Glitterhick — an outrageous project in which I first worked with drummer, Scooter Greenbud. During this time, Doug and Joe also dabbled in their own new bands. In the early 2000s (along with Scooter on drums), Doug, Joe and I began staging well-attended, annual reunion concerts. But in 2011, I was pursuing Christian ministry, and despite continued fan interest, the Dead Serios story finally had come to a conclusion. Almost.

Dead Serios reunions were still packing Florida venues in 2008.
Like they say, "It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings." And as our 30th anniversary was rolling up, I was approached in 2014 by the newly-formed Florida indie label, GhoulTone Records regarding the possible production and release of a Dead Serios tribute album. Although I thought that they were completely nuts, I gave GhoulTone my approval to move forward with the project. But the story gets more surreal. Last September, Dead Serios was snatched from the jaws of retirement when we were invited to perform alongside such former chart-busting MTV acts as Great White, Faster Pussycat and Enuff Z'nuff at Florida's annual outdoor '80s In The Park festival. 

Along with the typical arsenal of props and our full cast of live characters,
Dead Serios returned to the concert stage in September 2014.
Scooter and Doug, "getting down" with "Oprah" at '80s In The Park - 2014.

Bassist Joe DelCorvo, back onstage with Dead Serios in 2014.

Now at age 52, I'm uncertain regarding the long-term future of Dead Serios at this point rock and roll is a young man's sport, ya know. However, two things are certain — on January 24, 2015 we will celebrate our 30th anniversary live onstage at Melbourne, Florida's renown King Center for the Performing Arts. And in March 2015, the long-awaited Dead Serios tribute record will be finally released. Entitled, They're Not Joking, the 12-song collection will feature the cream of the Dead Serios crop, covered by various major label and indie level artists. Proceeds from the tribute album will benefit Genesis House, Inc. STAY TUNED!

*Tickets for the January 24, 2015 Dead Serios 30th anniversary concert are on sale  NOW at KingCenter.com

-Christopher Long 
(December 2014)
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Find Dead Serios on the web:
Facebook - ReverbNation - Email
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Vintage Dead Serios clips now on YouTube:
"Butterbean Queen" (1989)

"Lawn Care Studs" (1990)

"People Need Ozzy" (1991)

"Who's on Oprah?" (1995)

"Pizza Face" (1995)

2014 interview (Just added!)

More Dead Serios video concert clips...
_________________________________________________________


The latest from author Christopher Long
SHOUT IT OUT LOUD -
is available NOW on Amazon.

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