Thursday, November 7, 2019

FLORIDA FALL AUTHOR EXPO (Melbourne, FL - 11.9.19)

@Rubix Cafe & Game Room / Melbourne, FL

I'm delighted and honored to
be appearing with some of
my favorite fellow authors
at this super-fun, upcoming
Florida book event.

The Florida Fall Author Expo will take place at
RUBIX CAFE & GAME ROOM in Melbourne,
Florida on Saturday, November 9th from 1-4pm.

Featuring guest authors, Amy Sweezey (Let's
Talk Weather), Jaimie Engle (Metal Mouth),
Violet Favero (Gracie's RV Mis-Adventure),
Gets Screwed) and Dawn Sober (Elephant Rides
Aren't Fun), the expo will offer lively meet-and-
greet experiences with each author. I'll also be
hanging out — shaking hands, giving hugs and
hocking my latest book, Superstar.

With Amy Sweezey at her 2017 Orlando, FL book event.
With Jaimie Engle at our 2018 Merritt Island, FL book event.
With Violet Favero at her 2016 Melbourne, FL book event.
Open to enthusiasts of all ages, this informative
and interactive event is FREE to the public.

It's sure to be a super-fun experience for
the entire family. Tasty concessions will be
available, PLUS unlimited FREE game play.

The Florida Fall Author Expo: Meet the
authors. Hear the stories. Get some tips.
Score some books. Stop by and say, "Hi!"

-Christopher Long
(November 2019)



C'MON! -

Monday, October 28, 2019

RECORD REVIEW: Skillet "Victorious"

Atlantic Records

As an established Christian author,
Bible College graduate and global
missionary, I will confess that I'd
rather suck the muzzle of .44 Mag
snub nose than choke down even a
swig of what's peddled as current
contemporary Christian music.
That being said...

Maybe it's the beard that has fueled my fascination. Heck, I'm secure enough to admit it  John Cooper has been a good-looking dude from the get-go. However, since "going Gibbons" a few years back, the founding frontman has been possessing significantly stronger superhero appeal. Then again, as a fellow drummer, maybe it's Jen Ledger's impressive badass factor that I find so frustrating. Hmm, perhaps. But as a guy who appreciates all things fun and fabulous, maybe it's guitarist Korey Cooper's "Little Miss Purple Hair" thang that has piqued my interest. Ooh, maybe it's Seth Morrison's backside-blistering guitar solos. Or maybe, just maybe, the reason I've become so revved-up recently is because Skillet is an amazing rock band with a monstrous new record that oozes hard-hitting messages, breathed into heart-stopping songs. Ahh yeah, maybe that's it. Well, regardless of how they got there, Skillet definitely now owns a place of prominence on my personal music radar.

Truth be told, as a distinguished member of the music journalism community, I'm pummeled daily by a barrage of promotional new releases from an array of national band press agents. In fact, I don't buy any new music releases to review. If I'm gonna make the exhaustive effort to review a new record, at the very least, a band's rep has gotta email me a download and related album credits.

I never received a promo copy of Victorious from the Skillet camp. (Insert frowney face HERE) But I'd become so intrigued by the advance YouTube clips and pre-release online band member interviews, that I did the unthinkable. I actually sought out and purchased a hard copy CD of the record, with my very own money I'd been trying to save up from mowing lawns since '75 — no easy feat given the demise of record stores in our modern-day, digital-dominated world of music streaming and stealing. I prefer the hard copy music format because I'm old, and I dig diving into liner note credits and pouring over song lyrics. But given my rapidly deteriorating eyesight, attempting to make out the super-tiny print made reading the Victorious CD insert more challenging than I had patience for. So, in the immortal words of Joe Perry, I simply had to "let the music to the talking." And for the $20 I doled out, I expected the music to "talk" to me pretty darn loudly.

Skillet reigns "victorious" with latest record.
Brought to you by the production firm of Cooper & Cooper, Victorious is Skillet's 10th studio set. Bursting with village-leveling firepower, the record launches strong with the rib-cracking lead-off single, "Legendary." Penned by Cooper, Cooper and Morrison, "Legendary" offers rock-solid riffage and life-changing words of hope and encouragement. Punctuated by Ledger's signature-style, dart-and-duck back-up vocals, this baby makes for one of the record's shiniest gems.

Dropping one beefy metallic anthem after another, Victorious sounds so big, it's almost overwhelming like an urgent-sounding soundtrack to a blood sport championship — a match-up where the good guy is destined to win, despite getting beat to shit along the way.

While "Save Me" and "Anchor" both were promoted as singles, I'd maintain that those tracks aren't necessarily the picks of this 12-pup litter, as "You Ain't Ready" and "Rise Up" each pack an impressive punch that's more human than human. Written by the husband and wife team of Cooper and Cooper, along with the father and son team of Churko and Churko, "You Ain't Ready" owns one of my favorite lyrics from the record — "What doesn't kill me makes me who I am."

There's been a longstanding opinion held by certain poo-pooers that Skillet's rock cred is somehow compromised by their Christian message — which is a pretty sad and naive perspective. In reality, the band's arena-caliber content is every bit as potent as the goo spewed in any episode of Stranger Things. Skillet's chart-busting music has the courage to be transparent, to be real, to be fearless — and occasionally to be ugly. And that's what makes for great art. In that regard, despite a strike or two, Victorious connects consistently. At it's most convincing, the record knocks it out of the park with fist-pumping anthems. Conversely, at times, it can veer off a bit into banal contemporary Christian radio-type territory. But be sure, those less than compelling moments are far and few between.

In sum, Victorious hits hard and sounds fresh — proving to be yet another musical "victory" for a veteran band that clearly has plenty of tread, cred and facial hair to spare.

-Christopher Long
(October 2019)



C'MON! -

Saturday, October 26, 2019

COURAGE MY LOVE: Canadian Combo Drop New Video "Slow Motion"

Canadian Combo Drop
New Video "Slow Motion" 

One of my favorite young
bands, Courage My Love,
has been on my radar ever
since I first discovered the
Canadian combo on the
2017 Vans Warped Tour.

What if you could slow your favorite moments down long enough to actually enjoy them before they end? Well, thanks to the good folks over at the Infinitum Pharmaceuticals lab, you now can say goodbye to feeling depressed and overwhelmed — uh, sorta.

Dripping with hooky electro-pop allure, Courage My Love's latest track, "Slow Motion," finds the band's sound and songwriting maturing nicely. In fact, all three of their recent releases have been been pretty doggone irresistible.

"Slow Motion" is the third in a string of self-produced video singles that will be included in a visual EP, set to be released in early 2020. As with the band's two previous videos, "Slow Motion" is well-produced and super-fun. Watch "Slow Motion" HERE.

Frontwoman / guitarist / keyboardist, Mercedes Arn-Horn developed the concept for "Slow Motion" and co-directed the accompanying music video. Drummer / programmer / vocalist Phoenix Arn-Horn produced the track in the band's home studio. Stream "Slow Motion" HERE.

"Slow Motion" — Try it now, and change your life forever. From your trusted friends at Infinitum Pharmaceuticals. 

-Christopher Long
(October 2019)

Dig the recent Courage My Love video trilogy...




C'MON! -

Friday, October 25, 2019

CONCERT REVIEW: Skillet - Orlando, FL (10.24.19)

Orlando, FL - 10.24.19

It's been said wisely many times
before (by me), if you're gonna
get on stage, you darn well better
have something to say. Skillet do
have something to say. And they
 just might crack a couple of your
ribs while they're saying it.

Be sure, I've appreciated the music of Skillet and have admired their consistent, rock solid faith message throughout the last 20 years or so. However, in the spirit of full disclosure, I'll confess regrettably, that I only saw the band live for the first time, last night in Orlando. This past summer, I saw KISS in concert for about the 25th time. Truth be told, Skillet "out KISS'd" my life-long kabuki-faced heroes soundly — in terms of onstage charisma, song power, sonic energy and production factor. Honestly, all they were missing was a pair of glittery space boots, a studded leather codpiece and an impostor wearing cat makeup. But I digress.

Packed with amps, ramps, risers, enormous LED displays AND hydraulic lifts, the Skillet stage show was massive, to say the least. In fact, I was perplexed by how such an arena-caliber production could be crammed into the modest-sized, 2,000 person capacity venue. But they succeeded in cramming 20 pounds of sh-t into that two-pound bag quite effectively.

Guitarist / keyboardist Korey Cooper
and frontman / bassist John Cooper.
"How ya feelin', Florida?" Bursting with rock-ribbed energy, founding frontman / bassist, John Cooper greeted the band's faithful flock in short order — leading his five-piece crew through a triple threat opening, including a pair of classics, "Feel Invincible" (2016) and "Not Gonna Die" (2013),  as well as "You Ain't Ready," a standout track from the band's latest record, Victorious.

Anyone who, like myself, naively expected the petite Korey Cooper to simply be a "cute" side-chick would sadly have been mistaken. Amid clouds of smoke and walls of pyro, the purple-haired, tattoo-covered guitar ace hit the stage with all the intensity of two sacks of M-80s. Stomping about wildly and shaking her head uncontrollably, Korey commanded the stage like a deranged mental patient — a non-stop, turbo-charged performance that would have left Angus Young a bit breathless and completely envious. My primary personal concern as I shot the show from behind the security barricade was that if I allowed Korey to get too close, she might feel compelled to rip out my larynx. I'm thrilled to report, I left the photo pit with all of my aging organs intact.

Beating her shiny white Pearl kit like a bona fide beast while simultaneously providing her signature-style back-up vocals, drummer, Jen Ledger's monstrous performance truly proved to be a tour de force. At one point, Ledger left her perch atop the lofty riser to actually jump into the crowd and pass a pair of drumsticks to a gal named Annette — an aspiring young drummer who was celebrating a birthday. Equally impressive were the heart-stopping performances from official perennial guitarist, Seth Morrison and longtime touring member, cellist, Tate Olsen.

Jen Ledger: Occupation - Badass!
Noticing an abundant crop of kids and families in attendance, the ever-engaging ringleader, John, commented that the teens and tweens "must have the coolest parents in the world." He suggested further how "the world would be a cooler place if all parents took their kids to Skillet shows."

The fairly even, career-spanning, 75-minute set featured a slew of staples, both old and new. But despite their chart-busting hits and retina-burning production, what makes Skillet important is their message. Leading into a recent favorite, "Victorious," John reminisced about listening to his Metallica cassettes back in the day, offering, "That's what music does  it makes you feel good." Reflecting further on the tragic suicide of Linkin Park frontman, Chester Bennington, he added, "For those who say, music is all I have, you are not alone. God loves you." Another powerful moment brought the articulate frontman to comment on a recent personal tragedy during the intro to "Hero," confessing how what gives him hope is his "hero," Jesus Christ.

Guitarist Seth Morrison and cellist Tate Olsen.
Another show highlight (aside from Korey and Tate both being hoisted into the air via twin hydraulic lifts), was when members of Orlando's WJRR radio staff came onstage to present Skillet with a huge plaque to commemorate sales of more than three million copies of the band's hit single. "Monster." 

A slice of personal philosophy — I believe Skillet's music succeeds famously when so much contemporary Christian music fails miserably because Skillet's music has the balls to be real, to be honest — sometimes to even be ugly. Simply put, Skillet's music has the balls to have balls.

In sum, I've not seen a live rock show this exciting in a VERY long time  high-energy, entertaining and spectacular, from start to finish. And along with the 2,000 other Panheads, I left the venue feeling moist and satisfied.


01. Feel Invincible
02. Not Gonna Die
03. You Ain't Ready
04. Whispers in the Dark
05. Legendary
06. Awake and Alive
07. Back From the Dead
08. Save Me
09. Hero
10. Undefeated
11. Victorious
12. Comatose
13. Monster
14. The Resistance

-Christopher Long
(October 2019)



C'MON! -

Monday, October 21, 2019

MOVIE REVIEW - "Beat Keepers: Women with Rhythm"

Beat Keepers:
Women with Rhythm
2019 Documentary
(1 Hr 13 Min)

As a decades-long drummer
and die-hard enthusiast, this
film grabbed my attention
immediately. And thanks to
Amazon Prime I didn't have
to search very long or far
to experience it for myself.

Filmmaker, Cindy Goldberg, has lived a life driven by music. From a young age she possessed a passion for singing and playing piano. During her teens, she took up the clarinet and began performing with symphonic ensembles. However, she remained feeling less than fulfilled musically.

In the introduction to her just-released documentary, BEAT KEEPERS: Women with Rhythm, Goldberg shares her personal story of discovering that drum kit in band class on her first day of high school. But, in those days, drums weren't considered "a girls' instrument." Years later, as a response to her husband's open skepticism regarding her ability, Goldberg finally was challenged to pursue drums formally. Her determined, "I'll show you" mindset motivated her to give it her all, and she soon traveled to seek out professional training. In short order, Goldberg formed her own band, Restless Soul, and she began gigging in and around her native Ottawa.

Filmmaker, Cindy Goldberg, performing with Restless Soul.
(Photo: Tom Linden / Courtesy of Cindy Goldberg)
Experiencing a sense of strength and power as she mastered the instrument, Goldberg wondered if other women felt the same. She began pursuing female drummers, asking them what challenges they had faced — if any at all. She wanted to listen, learn and discover exactly what it is that unites what she refers to as the "sisterhood." Goldberg's research led her to produce a brief 2017 documentary featuring a few local drummers. That project soon inspired her to seek out other drummers  from Los Angeles to Chicago, from Texas to Kentucky to New Jersey and beyond. Her exhaustive efforts resulted in the making of BEAT KEEPERS.

Texas-based session drummer, Payton Taylor, (L)
attending the Nashville premier of BEAT KEEPERS.
Despite the film's drum-dedicated, female-focused allure, BEAT KEEPERS offers a more universal message — one that speaks warmly to all professional and aspiring musicians — regardless of one's gender identity.

Featuring interviews with a seemingly endless arraying of up-and-coming female drummers, BEAT KEEPERS also boasts a bounty of compelling conversations with numerous noteworthy male and female pros — including Todd Sucherman (Styx), Dawn Richardson (4 Non Blondes), Walfredo Reyes Jr. (Chicago), Tosha Jones (Saliva), Carmine Appice (Rod Stewart) and many others.

Chicago drummer Walfredo Reyes Jr. offers
many engaging personal and professional
insights throughout the film, BEAT KEEPERS.

"Drums are my second language."
-Brittany "Macc" Maccarello
(Up-and-coming LA drummer)

Within 36 hours of first discovering SIRSY drummer, Melanie Krahmer,
in the film, BEAT KEEPERS, I'd tracked her down (in true "creeper"-like
fashion) and showed up at one of her Florida gigs. As I soon learned,
 Krahmer actually is a multi-instrumental, singing / songwriting
superstar. And I was thwacked by her heart-stopping performance.

"It was an honor to be a part of a project
that sheds light on the female drumming
community. I hope this film encourages
more young girls to start drumming!"
-Payton Taylor
(Texas-based session drummer)

Saliva drummer, Tosha Jones, is one of the many
stand-out drummers featured in BEAT KEEPERS.
Marquee names aside, BEAT KEEPERS also shines brightly through the commentary provided by an impressive procession of up-and-coming female drummers who share their unique stories openly   players of all ages who started "keeping the beat" early in life, and those who began their journeys much later  both formally trained and self-taught — fascinating perspectives amplified further by personal live performance clips.

BEAT KEEPERS bursts with so much "banging" WOW-factor, it's tough to unpack it all in a concise overview. From internationally-known names to fascinating up-and-comers, from studio owners to instructors to Podcasters to college professors, the film's eclectic cast of compelling contributors offer powerful words of inspiration and encouragement for anyone pursuing creative passions — making for a film with a message more urgent and perhaps more relevant than even its intriguing title may suggest.

-Christopher Long
(October 2019)


BEAT KEEPERS: Women with Rhythm
(See it NOW at Amazon Prime / Vimeo)

Melanie Krahmer's band SIRSY
(Discover the magic HERE)




C'MON! -

Friday, September 27, 2019

MOVIE REVIEW: Joan Jett - Bad Reputation

Joan Jett
Bad Reputation
Documentary ‧ 1hr 33min
Release Date 9.28.18
(BMG / Blackheart Films)

After 40+ years in the music
biz, Joan Jett has become an
iconic, all-American brand.
Apparently, her reputation
ain't really so bad after all.

Details regarding this much-anticipated bio pic first were revealed onstage during Joan Jett's 2018 summer concert tour supporting classic rock stalwart, Styx. My interest was piqued immediately. However, despite my acknowledged obsessive passion for the iconic singer / songwriter / guitarist, the film somehow eluded me when it was released a year ago. In fact, I didn't finally discover it (on Amazon Prime) until last night. Was it worth the wait?

Directed by Kevin Kerslake, Bad Reputation is the compelling life story of rock trailblazer Joan Jett— from her earliest memories of receiving her first guitar as a little girl to her groundbreaking days as the co-founder of the Runaways in the '70s to her platinum-selling breakout success as a solo artist in the '80s to her 2015 Rock and Roll Hall Fame induction and beyond.

Joan Jett during her days in the Runaways - circa 1978
But offering more than heart-stopping recollections of rock and roll access and heart-breaking revelations of overcoming career obstacles, Bad Reputation is a heart-warming account of Jett's longtime relationship with creative and business partner, acclaimed songwriter, producer and manager, Kenny Laguna.

Jett's story is enhanced through the personal insights provided by those who know her best — past and present bandmates, including Cherie Currie, Gary Ryan and Thommy Price, rock legends, Pete Townshend, Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry and a host of others, as well as such current chart-busters as Billy Joe Armstrong and Miley Cyrus. Along the way, Hollywood stars Kristen Stewart and Michael J. Fox also reflect on their experiences of working with the rock superstar.

Laguna and Jett in the early days.
The Bad Reputation WOW factor amps-up further through often never-before-seen, high-energy live concert footage of Jett as a solo artist as well as with the Runaways.

All in all, Kerslake does an impressive job of recreating Jett's story. Although I'm not sure how I managed to miss the film for a year, I'm sure glad I finally experienced it. Well worth the wait, indeed! (3.5 / 4)

-Christopher Long
(September 2019)



C'MON! -