Thursday, September 14, 2017

MOVIE REVIEW: Home Again

MOVIE REVIEW
Home Again
Black Bicycle Entertainment
(Running Time: 97 Minutes)
_________________________

Wow, a super-fun flick
can endorse  fully!
_________________________

In her directorial debut, Hallie Meyers-Shyer delivers a doozie, as Home Again is an absolute start-to-finish delight — a colorful, well-written story that's smart, funny and brought to life beautifully by a talented and delicious-looking cast. 

Pico Alexander as Harry and Reese Witherspoon as Alice
Reese Witherspoon stars as Alice Kinney — an attractive and recently-separated 40-year-old mother of two adorable, pre-tween daughters. Upon relocating from NYC to LA, Alice connects by chance with three young and hunky Hollywood hopefuls. Persuaded by her mother, Lillian, played by veteran actress, Candice Bergen, Alice soon invites the three 20-somethings to move into her guest house. The story then gains traction quickly — oozing gobs of fun and plenty of romantic tension. 

Eden Grace Redfield, Michael Sheen and Reese Witherspoon
Given how trash content is currently considered king, Home Again offers moviegoers a breath of fresh air. A uniquely engaging film focusing on relationships among family and friends, it takes the less-traveled high road — boasting ZERO adult language, only a dab of implied innuendo, and just a brief splash of slapstick-style violence. In sum, believe the hype  Home Again is THE must-see, feel-good of 2017! 

-Christopher Long
(September 2017)

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

SURVIVING IRMA: A Time to be Kind!

SURVIVING IRMA
A Time to be Kind!
_________________________

Just days after celebrating the
long Labor Day weekend, lives
across the "Sunshine State" have
been "disrupted"  once again. 
_________________________

"WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!" My teenage compadre's proclamation was passionate and pure as we stood helplessly on the driveway at 10pm — rain whipping across our faces while observing the quickly-rising water levels that threatened to swallow-up our newly-adopted Palm Bay residence.

Then came the calm after the storm. The nighttime mugginess still clinging to the barely-born morning was perfectly normal for this time of year. The once-ominous river had somehow dissipated miraculously. And the streets — now eerily quiet. In fact, the distinctive sound of a lone generator humming in the distance was practically the only indication of the mighty force that tore through Florida just hours earlier. However, in the light of day, the full damage — the destruction and (sadly) the death toll caused by Hurricane Irma would be undeniable.

My family had relocated to Orlando from Springfield, Missouri back in 1975. For a 12-year-old kid, the notion of moving to a "tropical paradise" was appealing, indeed. And the thought of ever enduring a devastating storm never even entered my mind — until Hurricane David blew through Florida in 1979. But the damage caused by David was minimal. In fact, my only related memory is that of my dad chopping up and hauling out a destroyed tree from the backyard.

My personal hurricane survival bag contained
a VERY few of my most prized possessions.
However, as an adult, living through and dealing with catastrophic storms has become an increasingly all too common occurrence — from Hurricane Andrew that ripped through south Florida in '92 to Hurricane Floyd in '99 to the series of THREE major storms that battered my hometown in ONE single week during 2004. Truth be told, the unique fragrances of wet drywall, mold and mildew now are forever affixed to my nasal membranes.

Yet through all the heartbreaking devastation, the human spirit continues to prove stronger than any storm. Yeah, of course there's always that guy — "Mr. D. Bag"  thoughtless, impatient and selfish. But far more often than not, times like these tend to bring out the best in us — neighbors helping neighbors, strangers helping strangers. And as I dug out from under the most recent rubble, I was once again moved by the spirit of people coming together and rising above circumstances.

The damages I've been dealt personally this time around are minimal, compared to what others are dealing with. Although my power now has been restored, both cellular and cyber communications are still proving to be frustrating challenges. But I want folks to know, I'm here, and available. If you have a need, please feel free to reach out to me personally. At this time, email is my most effective means of communication. I also welcome readers to post their own hurricane-related stories and experiences in the "Comments" section, below.

AuthorChristopherLong@yahoo.com

-Christopher Long
(September 2017)

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Friday, September 8, 2017

CONCERT REVIEW: Green Day (9.3.17)

Photos: Jen Cray @ JenCray.com
CONCERT REVIEW
Green Day
Coral Sky Amphitheater
West Palm Beach, Florida
(9.3.17)
_________________________

After discovering a menagerie
of exciting new bands on the
recent 2017 Vans Warped Tour,
it was fun to get out and revisit
an old time classic rock act.
_________________________

It was a bona fide barn burner — 20,000 strong — faithful fans of all ages, jammed like sardines into what I believe is (this week) known as The Coral Sky Amphitheater. And as the chart-busting headliner hit the steamy stage at 8pm, a pungent fragrance of ripe, sweaty ass mixed with the alluring aroma of mid-grade dope permeated the famed South Florida outdoor concert venue. Rock and roll!

What separates Green Day from the host of post-grunge era clowns who choked is, they have songs — timeless, catchy, hit songs  and LOTS of 'em. Hence, tonight's event proved to be a spectacular, high-energy, Simmons-caliber production.

Mike Dirnt
Pastor / frontman / songwriter, Billie Joe Armstrong, began preaching from his pulpit posthaste. In a true-blue, ultra-pretentious, Springsteen-style fashion, the 45-year-old pop / rock poster boy demanded the attention of his adoring fans. "I know you paid a lot of money for these tickets," he conceded. "But you don't get to sit down. So get your asses up!" Armstrong's pontificating continued ad nauseam — ultimately distracting from the musical experience. And after enduring just the first hour of his enlightening perspectives, it became unclear with whom he was even arguing. Of course, you're "for" love and vehemently against racism, sexism and homophobia. Duh! Isn't (almost) everybody?

Billie Joe Armstrong
Preachiness aside, the Green Day "bang for the buck" factor was impressive, indeed. The spectacular-looking walls of sparkling white flames rolling down the back of the gigantic stage further enhanced the effect of red-hot flash pods and other ear-splitting pyrotechnics that were detonated throughout the show. The two-hour set also provided a career-spanning cavalcade-o-hits — one brimming with all the suspected signature staples, as well as deep cuts from the band's pre-corporate Kerplunk era and a fistful of fan faves from the acclaimed 2016 Revolution Radio record. A surprise highlight was the Vegas-style classic rock medley that included sing-along snippets from The Beatles and The Stones

In sum, the Green Day concert oozed undeniable "WOW" factor. Rock star bassist Mike Dirnt and superhero drummer Tré Cool were both amazing, while sidemen Jason White (lead guitar), Jeff Matika (rhythm guitar) and Jason Freese (keyboards, sax) all performed masterfully — adding enormous additional value and completing a rock solid combo. #BangForTheBuck

-Christopher Long
(September 2017)

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Monday, September 4, 2017

DAVE HLUBEK: A Personal Tribute to a Rock Legend

DAVE HLUBEK
A Personal Tribute
to a Rock Legend
_________________________

Sadly, Labor Day Weekend
2017 has marked the loss
of yet another rock legend.
_________________________

Located in Fern Park, near the old Jai-Alai Fronton, Record City was a mecca for Central Florida music enthusiasts during the late '70s and early '80s. Occupying what I recall as being a free-standing, 10,000 square-foot building, Record City always was brimming with wall-to-wall, bargain-priced records and tapes. As a rock-crazed teen, I kept a well-worn path from my parents' house near Cocoa Beach, to the supercenter-sized Orlando outlet — a destination that I considered, Heaven on Earth. However, there was one particular Record City run that remains truly memorable.

It was late spring, 1980. My younger brother and I had hitched a ride that Saturday morning with our high school buddy, Dave. And as we stood in the check-out line, waiting to pay for our vinyl bounty, Ridin' the Storm Out, Rocket to Russia, 2112, and others, I noticed the guy standing behind us. Sporting waist-length, reddish-brown hair and mirror shades, and wearing a black t-shirt, dark blue Levis and snakeskin boots, I knew darn well who this character was as soon as I got a good glimpse of his bearded mug. Heck, I'd just seen the man's band perform in concert with The Outlaws and .38 Special a couple of months earlier. He was founding Molly Hatchet guitarist, Dave Hlubek.

Riding the recent tsunami generated by TWO back-to-back platinum-selling LPs, the Jacksonville-based band members had reportedly been seen popping up all over the Central Florida area. Yet, we definitely did NOT see this encounter coming when we woke up that morning.

Upon paying for our goods, the three of us teenage punks waited anxiously outside for the newly-minted guitar god to also make his way out of the store. Despite totally playing up his newfound cock rock celebrity status, Hlubek proved to be quite a decent guy — actually spending a few quality minutes chatting with us before climbing into his brand new, jet black muscle car and popping his just-purchased Let There Be Rock 8-track into the car deck —  autographs for all!

Dave Hlubek (L) with Molly Hatchet - 1979
Fast-forward to spring 2001. Now nearly 40 years old, I was then the entertainment director for a popular nightclub in Palm Bay, Florida. And I was especially jazzed about having gotten a discounted performance rate on a band called, the Southern Rock Allstars. Led by one of my longtime heroes, former Blackfoot drummer, Jakson Spires, SRA also featured the one-and-only Dave Hlubek on lead guitar.

One of the things I remember most about the experience working with SRA, aside from the intra-band squabbling, was Hlubek peddling live Molly Hatchet CDs from a small dingy-looking knapsack during intermission. After having seen various SRA members performing at Enormo-Domes with their original bands back in the day, the sight of Hlubek glad-handing fans in a beer joint, and stuffing their $10 bills awkwardly into his pocket was a little heartbreaking. However, Hlubek and Spires both proved to be charming fellas who I would have worked with again gladly in the future.

By 2005, Hlubek had returned to Molly Hatchet. He would remain with the legendary band he founded back in 1971 until his death at age 66 on September 3, 2017.

Today, the music created by the original Molly Hatchet sounds as crisp and fresh as when it first was released decades ago. And although the Hlubek-penned anthems, "Gator Country," "Flirtin' with Disaster" and "Whiskey Man" will remain timeless classic rock radio staples, my personal favorite Hlubek songs include such latter album tracks as "Beatin' the Odds" and "Bloody Reunion."

He'll be remembered forever by fans around the world. But, I'll always remember Dave Hlubek as an incredibly talented man who always was nice to me. RIP, Dave! 

-Christopher Long
(September 2017)

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Friday, August 25, 2017

RASPBERRIES: The "August Surprise" (2017)

RASPBERRIES
The "August Surprise"
(2017)
_________________________

It's NEVER too late to
discover a "new" band.
_________________________

As a teen, coming of age in Central Florida during the 1970s, summertime always was magical — a season filled with unlimited fun in the sun — and virtually free of rules. And those memorable experiences always were attached to amazing music — my sizzling summer soundtracks. But oddly, the most powerful music often seemed to find me when I expected it least — at the end of the season. I called it the "August Surprise."

In late summer '75, I was blindsided by the Jefferson Starship masterpiece, Red Octopus. Then, in '76, I was seduced by Fleetwood Mac's self-titled breakthrough — '77 offered KISS' Love Gun. August '78 brought me Don't Look Back, while '79 was ALL about Get the Knack. Years later, the annual "surprise" tended to be revealed more often as retro-type treasures that I'd somehow overlooked previously. In fact, I discovered the complete Runaways vinyl catalog and Nick Gilder's full body of work also during the "dog days" — 10-15 years after it all had been released originally.

Fast-forward — August 2017. I stepped out to the ol' mail box one afternoon, and I discovered a special delivery package from one of my editors at Ink 19. Slipped inside the plastic bubble-lined mailer was a CD copy of Pop Art Live — a newly-released double-live set from legendary pop powerhouse, the Raspberries.

The "August Surprise"
As an admitted early '70s-era AM radio geek, I'd been familiar with the band's fistful of infectious hits for 40+ years. However, by the time I had discovered the album oriented FM radio format, the Raspberries had come and gone — before we were ever introduced properly. And that was the end of the story — until this summer's "surprise" arrived.

Featuring the original, classic Raspberries line-up of vocalist / guitarist / pianist Eric Carmen, guitarist / vocalist Wally Bryson, bassist / vocalist David Smalley and drummer Jim Bonfanti, Pop Art Live was recorded more than a decade ago at Cleveland's House of Blues during a brief reunion run. And it makes for a superb showcase for a band that has influenced stylistically, far more chart-busters than most would recognize — from such veteran acts as Cheap Trick, Queen, ELO and AC/DC, to new millennium artists including Fountains of Wayne, Butch Walker and Ken Sharp. Heck, back in the day, Paul Stanley was so "freshly"-fueled, the first KISS album literally seeps raspberry juice.

But while the punchy and crunchy 28-song collection was more than personally satisfying, the tremendous "high" it offered initially was fleeting. And in short order, I found myself perusing iTunes like a crazed pop / rock junkie — purchasing the band's entire original studio catalog, including Raspberries (1972), Fresh (1972), Side 3 (1973), and Starting Over (1974). Four glorious slabs of authentic analog joy, to be sure.

Yes, it's NEVER too late to discover a "new" band, no matter how long they've been around. And if that band possesses an impressive arsenal of irresistible songs, the discovery can make for quite a "surprise" — any time of year.

-Christopher Long
(August 2017)

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

RECORD REVIEW: Howling Midnight "10x15"

RECORD REVIEW
Howling Midnight
10x15
____________________

Dig if you will, a picture 
a snapshot of Jim Morrison,
sparring with Glenn Danzig
at a Black Sabbath after-
show party. Wonder what
that Polaroid sounds like?
____________________

In 2017, the release of a new rock record is far from a headline-stealing newsflash. So, in order to truly appreciate this gloriously authentic lo-fi slab, it's perhaps important to examine what it's missing a prefix. It's not a punk-rock record and it's not a pop-rock record. In fact, it fits none of today's ridiculous rock sub genres. But what 10x15 does possess, is a suffix — roll. Ah yes, the latest from Orlando's Howling Midnight is a bona fide ROCK-AND-ROLL statement. And I haven't discovered one of those treasures in a VERY long time.

Here's the skinny  10x15 is the record you'd hear blasting from a hi-fi unit hidden behind the bar at an LA after-hours club — a PRIVATE late-night soirée attended by greasy-haired, burly guys with names like "Tony" and "Frankie" emblazoned on the front pockets of their sweat-stained work shirts. They're packin' plenty of "party favors," and they're surrounded by chicks — tattoo-covered, 20-something hotties with long black hair and short black skirts. Dance for me, mama! DO IT NOW!

Shawn Corbett
Defining the "less is more" theory, Howling Midnight consists of just two cats  guitarist / vocalist Shawn Corbett and drummer Scott Padawer. Together, they combine ONE enormous guitar with a monstrous kick-n-snare, to create a massive, bulletproof backdrop that's bolted to their uniquely compelling stories.

Buzzing with an "Ace of Spades"-inspired riff, "In the Teeth" sets the stage early for this self-produced, 12-track collection. "Shootin' Blanks" burns with Eddie Cochran-style energy, while "Try Me Later" oozes guitar-driven power pop appeal. Other golden highlights include the faithful remake of the 1969 MC5 classic, "Kick Out the Jams," as well as the ode to family dysfunction, "No Hero"   Daddy doesn't care about your birthday! A stylistic head-on collision between The Joshua Tree and Superunknown, "A Hole in the Head" closes out the crunchy cavalcade quite nicely.

Scott Padawer
As for the title — "'10x15' is the size of the storage locker where we practice," Shawn confessed in a recent interview. "Scott came up with the idea like he does so often and we both really liked it."

Released officially on August 26th, 10x15 packs tremendous punch and bleeds irresistible street-wise swagger. It's also one of my personal favorites of 2017. 

-Christopher Long
(August 2017)
__________________________

HOWLING MIDNIGHT
- Facebook -
- SoundCloud -
_________________________


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Saturday, August 12, 2017

DOLL SKIN: Scrappy Young Combo Drops "Punchy" New Video

DOLL SKIN
Scrappy Young Combo
Drops "Punchy" New Video
_________________________

2017 has been a banner year for
what I've referred to often as the
most exciting rock band since
Guns N' Roses hit back in 1987.
_________________________

What a long, hot summer it's been. And few
bands have sweated more or worked harder
than the Phoenix-based combo, Doll Skin.

Early in the season, the band debuted a
video for "Shut Up (You Miss Me)— the
raucous lead-off single from their sizzlin'
sophomore slab, Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

Check out "Puncha Nazi," the latest
YouTube treasure from Doll Skin.

Mid June found Doll Skin criss-crossing
the country as one of THE must-see acts
on the Vans Warped Tour. By late July, the
band had completed yet another national
headline club excursion. In August, as
they gear-up for the next outing, the gals
have dropped a super-explosive new
video for their latest single, the turbo-
charged mosh pit anthem, "Puncha Nazi."

What's next for Doll skin? A fall tour with
One-Eyed Doll — then, world domination.
In the meantime, I'm gonna keep praying
to Jesus that I can finally get my exclusive
interview with drummer, Meghan Herring.

-Christopher Long
(August 2017)

__________________________

Dig my other Doll Skin
features and reviews

Interview
w/ Meghan Herring
(Coming Soon)

Concert Review

Interview

Record Review

Record Review
__________________________


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

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