Tuesday, February 19, 2013


(Pt. VIII)

Although I've not posted a
new installment in quite
a while, I recently was
involved with a particular
celebration that inspired
me to revive the series.

Where else but in Florida can a bride and groom schedule a wedding for the middle of February and experience near picture perfect weather conditions? Well, that's how it played out for Margaret and Bill. Although Friday, February 15, 2013 brought torrential downpours to Florida's Space Coast and Sunday, February 17th ushered in some of the coldest temperatures of the season, the weather on Saturday, February 16th, was pretty darn fantastic — 76 º and sunny skies with a slight breeze.

The Munsey's perfect day! 
(Jenee' Michelle Photography)
I felt compelled to share a few details of Margaret and Bill's big day with readers because it so perfectly exemplified how a wedding reception should play out when you make the right choices.

The soon-to-be newlyweds wisely planned for their ceremony and reception to happen indoors. If the weather cooperated, which it did, there would be plenty of opportunity to get oodles of fabulous outdoor shots following the nuptials, which they did.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Although anything can happen (and it's wise to prepare yourself for a hefty glitch or two), your wedding-related anxieties can be greatly minimized simply by:

A) Remaining calm at ALL times.
B) Making smart, realistic choices.
C) Keeping the gig indoors 
(or have an easily implemented back-up plan).
D) Involving only experienced professionals.
E) Remaining calm at ALL times.

I can't confirm A) or E), but I do know that Margaret and Bill perfectly nailed B), C) and D). From locations to time coordinates, they made smart, realistic choices and as I mentioned, they kept it all indoors. But they also had the good sense to hire some incredibly talented professionals to help make it all come together.

I've often referred to the cake as the "crowning jewel" of any wedding celebration. And throughout my 30-year career in the bridal industry, I've seen countless gems. I've also witnessed a few cake-related disasters — all of which could easily have been avoided had a proper professional been hired. In this regard, Margaret and Bill weren't taking any chances and they hired one of the area's best — Carlia Alderman from Carlia's Cakery. Carlia's unique carrot cake was adorned meticulously with amazing handmade calla lilies — making for a creation that was (almost) too beautiful for the bride and groom to slice. But I'm sure glad that they did because it was as delicious-tasting as it was fabulous-looking.

However, the Munseys really managed to impress even a longtime wedding pro like myself by serving sushi for the evening meal. Heck yeah, man — SUSHI! From various types of rolls with an assortment of sauces to an array of delightful nigiri choices, this buffet was the hippest (and tastiest) reception spread that I've ever experienced. Kudos to master chefs Carla Thompson, Silvio Marino and their cracker jack staff for a job well done!

And then there's the true unsung hero of the reception scene — the photographer. I've worked with many impressive photographers over the years, but this was my first experience working with Jenee' Michelle from Jenee' Michelle Photography and she quickly became one of my all-time favorites. Prompt, personable and professional — I look forward to working with Jenee' again in the (very) near future.

As for the reception itself — holy cow, what a blast! The bride, the groom and the bridal party all looked as stunning as any I've ever seen. The first dance was a bona fide tear-jerker and the toasts from the Matron of Honor and Best Man both were personal and engaging. The guests in attendance made up a lively group who were all too ready to "raise the roof" as they danced (and danced) to high energy favorites ranging from current chart-busters to retro classics. It truly was a night to remember, indeed.

-Christopher Long
(February 2013)

I'm very accessible, and I'm happy to assist folks at any time regarding wedding-related questions or concerns. I can be contacted through either the "Comment" forum of this blog or directly via my personal email address. AuthorChristopherLong@yahoo.com


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

FLEETWOOD MAC "Rumours" (Remastered / Reissued)

(Remastered / Reissued)

36 years following its
original release, a rock
classic is reborn. And 
you can believe the
"rumors" — this reissue
is a fabulous treat!

After a string of less than blockbuster releases, Fleetwood Mac finally struck gold with their 1975 self-titled record. And with what would become known as the band's ultimate line-up (Mick FleetwoodJohn McVieLindsey BuckinghamStevie NicksChristine McVie), Fleetwood Mac was poised to conquer the world with their next release, Rumours.

Produced by Fleetwood Mac, along with Ken Caillat (yes, Colbie's dad) and Richard Dashut, Rumours was a success of epic proportions. Released in February 1977, the record spawned an incredible four Top Ten singles ("Dreams," "Go Your Own Way," "Don't Stop," "You Make Loving Fun") and now has amassed staggering worldwide sales in excess of 40 million copies.

Rock historian and author, Brent Jensen, stated in a recent interview that in his opinion, the records and bands we grew up with during the 1970s and early 1980s  "replaced friends" in our lives. Jensen's theory certainly holds true, especially in the case of this record.

The new expanded, three-record 
Rumours reissue is a fabulous treat.
Rumours is filled with personal songs that perfectly and poetically address romance and relationships, as well as the pain of living through the subsequent breakups. In 1977, Fleetwood Mac were our "friends." They never judged us for making sketchy life choices — band members clearly had made enough of their own. We all seemingly discovered the passion, and endured the heartache of experiencing love — together. And it's the vulnerability of the lyrics combined with the honesty of the musical performances that created a record that has so famously stood the test of time — maintaining absolute freshness, more than three decades later.

Over the years, many much-touted reissued classics have fallen short of fan expectations — delivering little more than remastered tracks that are barely distinguishable from the original versions  and perhaps a bonus  nugget  or two. However, the newly released, three-disc  Rumours  set truly is impressive.

Disc One simply is the (re)remastered Rumours record in its entirety, along with the (nearly) lost gem, "Silver Springs," now positioned in its rightful place among the 11 other iconic staples. Lindsey's guitar has never sounded so crisp and Mick's drums sound beefier than ever. And the vocals, of course, still sound splendid.

The 20-page "story of" booklet included in the 
Rumours reissue further enhances the experience.
Disc Two captures the band live in concert at various locations during the 1977 Rumours world tour — and it just burns! Filled with raw power, energy and emotion from both band and audience, Disc Two transports listeners back in time and places them center stage, row "D." Hey man, quit boggarting my doobage! It adds a whole new dimension to the Rumours experience and makes this reissue worth every penny. It also completely validates my 35-year argument that Christine McVie was, in fact, the heart and soul of this team.

Disc Three offers numerous outtake, demo and alternative versions of old favorites as well as a couple of unknown tracks — including a real prize, "Keep Me There." Disc Three presents the band, warts and all — garbled lyrics, false starts and studio background chatter — an honest and pure fly-on-the-wall peek behind the scenes during the making of a true rock classic.

Whether it's your first encounter, or you're a longtime fan who is reconnecting, Rumours remains a magical piece of work. And this deluxe reissue proves that it is as engaging now as it was the day it was released. Simply put, in 2013, Fleetwood Mac are still our "friends."

-Christopher Long
(February 2013)



C'MON! -

Saturday, February 9, 2013

DVD REVIEW: Chicago "Backstage Pass"

Backstage Pass

Their sound and songs are iconic.
And with a career that now spans
more than 45 years and record
sales in the tens of millions,
Chicago remains one of rock's
most endearing bands.

Formed in 1967, Chicago released their debut record in 1969. By the mid '70s they had become one of the biggest bands in the world — racking up an impressive slew of Top Ten albums and an unbelievable string of chart-busting hits including, "Saturday in the Park,"  "25 or 6 to 4,"  "Does Anybody Really Know What Time it Is?," "Colour My World," "Feelin' Stronger Every Day," "Call on Me," "(I've Been) Searchin' So Long,"  "Just You 'n' Me," "Old Days," "If You Leave Me Now" — the list just goes on (and on).

The rally kept-a-rollin' during the '80s, and Chicago enjoyed even greater success with more platinum-selling albums and scoring the additional hit singles, "Hard to Say I'm Sorry," "You're the Inspiration," "Stay the Night," "Hard Habit to Break" and "Along Comes a Woman."

The band remained active throughout the '90s and into the new millennium. And today, perennial members Robert Lamm (keyboards) Lee Loughnane (trumpet), James Pankow (trombone) and Walt Parazaider (saxophone), along with newer recruits Jason Scheff (bass), Tris Imboden (drums), Lou Paradini (keyboards) and Keith Howland (guitar), Chicago continues to pack arenas worldwide.

As a testament to Chicago's lasting popularity, Backstage Pass offers a unique glimpse into life on the road with this legendary band during their mammoth 2011 world tour — from France to Denmark to Norway to Germany to Spain to England to Sweden and beyond — including various stops throughout the U.S.

Chicago - 2011
Viewers are offered a virtual bird's-eye view — being placed directly onstage with band — and backstage too — gaining fly-on-the-wall insight during private recording sessions and personal meet-and-greets with some of their often rather exuberant fans.

Directed by Peter Pardini, Backstage Pass oozes live action concert footage, but it also is a treasure trove of compelling photo stills from onstage as well as behind the scenes. Up close and personal interviews spotlight each band member and the extensive footage of Tris Imboden's feet (in action — live) will prove to be a particular treat for drummers. Given the saturation of their (near) endless hit studio recordings over the years, it's possible to forget just what an incredible live band Chicago really is — and therein lies the coolest aspect of this DVD — crystal clear audio and beautifully shot, in-your-face video of an amazing rock band — LIVE onstage.

-Christopher Long
(February 2013)



C'MON! -

Wednesday, February 6, 2013



It seems like just yesterday, but
it's now been 500 years since
Juan Ponce de Leon first
explored Florida's east coast
back in 1513. To commemorate
the big anniversary, the folks at
the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne
have teamed up with master
sculptors from around the world
to present an exhibit that's
Simply Sandsational!

Headed by Master Sand Sculptor Jill Harris and World Champion sand sculptor Thomas Koet from Sandsational Sand Sculpting, the annual Art of Sand event has been delighting Florida enthusiasts for years. In 2013, the exhibit will be taking up residency at Melbourne's Brevard Zoo  from February 16th through May 27th. In commemoration of Florida's anniversary, this year's theme is WILD FLORIDA: Past, Present and Future.

Since my blog is recognized now as the 14th coolest destination on the Net, I received a personal invitation from Jill to attend the recent Art of Sand pre-opening "Press Day" at the zoo. There were TV news crews, well-known newspaper reporters and, uh — me. And (now) as an acknowledged media VIP, I was privy to all sorts of behind-the-scenes dish.

Thomas Koet preps for the 
2013 Art of Sand exhibit.
The sprawling WILD FLORIDA exhibit practically will make up its own park. A grand total of 15 world-class sculptures will be featured in this year's presentation — 13 of which will  be arranged chronologically to tell Florida's epic story. Additional guides, markers and sound effects placed throughout the exhibit further will enhance what certainly will be an amazing art-meets-history experience.

But I'm as personally intrigued by the preparation effort that goes into a production of this scale as the exhibit itself, and Ms. Harris was all too happy to answer my wide-eyed questions and reveal the "man behind the curtain" aspect of this year's event.

 Master Sculptors spend an entire 
week simply shoveling sand.
The initial preparations began in late December as brush was cleared, and equipment and sand were brought onsight. From there, 14 days were required to fully create the exhibit that is expected to attract spectators numbering in the tens of thousands. Artists spend the first seven days simply shoveling sand and addressing general prep details. The next seven days are spent focused entirely on the sculpting process.

"It's heavy, hard work," Harris offered. "And there is so much happening behind the scenes that most folks just don't realize," added Koet. But at the end of the day, this unbelievable effort is clearly a labor of love. "It's a group of eight international artists coming together with one common goal — to create something beautiful," Harris confessed.

Wooden reinforcements protect 
what soon will become sculptures. 
I had to inquire as to exactly what kind of secret formula is mixed with the sand in order to maintain its form.  "Water," Harris replied, seemingly astounded by my naïveté. "Water and compaction. That's it!"

But WILD FLORIDA is an outdoor exhibit. Isn't there a concern about these sand sculptures being exposed to the elements for three months? Harris replied — with confidence. "A regular rain shower is not an issue. The water drains through the sand."

Jill Harris is a Master Sculptor with 17 years 
of experience. And she wields her Hello Kitty 
shovel with the precision of a skilled surgeon.
Harris and Koet are both award-winning sculptors who travel the world year 'round, creating their unique art. And soon following the WILD FLORIDA opening, they'll be headed to their next gig in Biloxi, Mississippi — then it's off to an international event in Japan.

I appreciated the "Press Day" invite, as well as the hospitality that was extended to me by Harris, Koet and the Brevard Zoo staff. WILD FLORIDA: Past, Present and Future is shaping up to be a massive and impressive spectacle indeed. Personally, I'll be amped to experience the finalized presentation when the exhibit officially opens next week.

-Christopher Long
(February 2013)



C'MON! -