Thursday, September 11, 2014

9/11 REMEMBERED (Guest Post)

by Michelle Wilson

Today marks the anniversary of one of
the most tragic events in our nation's 
history. We'll all forever remember 
where we were and what we were 
doing on that fateful morning. I 
wasn't in New York that day, but 
"Guest Contributor" Michelle Wilson 
was. And I'm compelled today to 
reflect on 9/11 through the personal 
story of someone who was there.

On September 11, 2001, I was sitting in the unemployment office in FreeportNew York, a Long Island suburb of Manhattan—less than an hour away. I had accepted a position with a real estate appraisal firm, although I really did not want the job. My son was almost four and in preschool, my seven-month-old baby girl was waiting for me at home, and I was pregnant with my last baby. What I was thinking to accept this position I don’t know (the job lasted three days—I couldn’t bear to be away from my baby girl), but I had to meet with the unemployment people and make it official. As I waited, and waited, and waited, growing more frustrated and annoyed, I couldn’t imagine what could be causing this delay. Even for a government-run office, this was ridiculous. Finally, after what seemed like half a day, a woman came out and apologized for the delay. It seemed there was some situation in NYC involving a plane flying into one of the Twin Towers. Her daughter worked there, and she finally had made contact with her and she was ok. Thinking this was just a random bizarre accident, we proceeded with our appointed meeting and concluded it in a timely fashion.

I left the building and got back into my car, beginning the thirty-minute drive back home. The radio was delivering the panicked news—PLANES were flying into the Twin Towers AND the Pentagon—what? A plane was hijacked and eternal heroes eventually emerged. Here I am, pregnant, hormonal, driving by myself, one kid in preschool thirty minutes away, my mother babysitting my seven-month-old daughter at home, and my then-husband at work—also thirty minutes away in the other direction. Frantically calling everyone at once while driving as quickly as possible to reach my house, crying and truly believing that a nuclear missile was about to blow Long Island off the map, I thought I would never reach home. My husband left work to pick up my son and we all stayed glued to the TV as the horrific events unfolded.

My son went to preschool in FarmingdaleNew York, about a twenty-minute ride from home. That town lost so many firefighters and police, including parents of children from my son’s preschool. There were countless police-escorted funerals through that town. I  stood on Main Street for every one of them to support these fallen heroes. My hometown lost two men in particular, Rich Bruehert, a friend of mine from long ago who worked in one of the towers, and Brian McAleese, a city firefighter. In a strange and ironic twist of fate, Rich dated a woman for years, and then they ended their relationship. She then dated and married Brian and they had four children. Both of these men lost their lives.

Everyone has different memories of this day—I think there are few people who could say that they don’t recall exactly where they were and what they were doing. This is not an easy story to write, I will say that. I feel as if I am reliving it while I type and the images and emotions it evokes are fresh and brutal. I’m always haunted by the memories, but the one thought that always remains foremost in my mind is the woman from the unemployment office. I think about her all the time. Did her daughter really make it out? I pray for them every time I think of it but I will never know. I just keep picturing over and over the crumbling implosion of those buildings, and I say a prayer for all those whose lost lives forever changed the shape of our twisted world.

-Michelle Wilson
(September 2012)

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

RECORD REVIEW: Queen "Live at the Rainbow '74"

Live at the Rainbow '74
Hollywood Records

A brash and hungry young
rock band on the cusp of 
global super-stardom  
captured live in its prime.

During the early to mid 1970s, Queen was one-of-a-kind. The band's sound was every bit as heavy as that of Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple yet it wasn't restrained by blues-inspired shackles. Queen's live show was explosive and theatrical — while (for the most part) steering clear of the KISS and Alice Cooper-like camp factor. And overall, the band was simply more intriguing and possessed more street cred than most of its bloated British contemporaries. But what made Queen truly special was that Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon were not only monstrous, badass musicians, but that they wrote great songs. Today, nearly 45 years following its conception, the band's legacy lives on. And despite Mercury's passing in 1991, Queen continues to reign among rock's royaltyAnd that's what makes this newly-released multi-record package such a treat it captures the iconic band in its prime, live onstage.

A must-have for any dedicated fan, this incredible multi-disc, 41-song package offers two complete classic 1974 Queen concert performances at London's famed Rainbow TheatreThe first concert was recorded in March, during the Queen II tour  the second, taking place just eight months later, during the Sheer Heart Attack tour.

QUEEN - Circa '74
(Brian May, John Deacon, Roger Taylor and Freddie Mercury)
The two set lists are similar, and feature the band's best from its self-titled 1973 debut, as well as selected gems from its sophomore release. However, the second concert offers an expanded song selection that also includes prime nuggets from Sheer Heart Attack.

Musically, Queen had nuts and guts to spare — particularly during this period. And that raw, savage vibe comes across throughout as loud and clear as the band's lively and adoring audience. May's signature guitar style, along with Taylor's masterful drum technique and Mercury's iconic vocals sound as powerful and potent here as when these shows first were recorded 40 years ago. 

QUEEN - Live at the Rainbow '74
(An impressive package)
Simply put, Queen's songs clearly have stood the test of time. Noteworthy tracks featured in both concerts include "Son and Daughter" and "Modern Times Rock 'n' Roll" from Queen, as well as "Father to Son" and "Ogre Battle" from Queen II.

However, the BIG payoffs include "Keep Yourself Alive" from Queen"Seven Seas of Rhye" and "Liar" from Queen II and "Killer Queen" and "Stone Cold Crazy" from Sheer Heart Attack. Even the remake of Elvis' "Jailhouse Rock" is a high-energy highlight. "We will rock you," indeed! (

-Christopher Long
(September 2014)

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Saturday, September 6, 2014

RECORD REVIEW: Nicholas "I Fill Myself with You"

I Fill Myself with You

One of my current favorite 
singer/songwriters returns 
this with a crisp collection
of new tunes and a few re-
recorded golden gems.

I touted Nick Hildyard (aka Nicholas) in my latest book, SHOUT IT OUT LOUD, as being one of the preeminent artists on today's contemporary Christian music scene. And for as much as I liked his self-titled 2013 record — and I liked it A LOT, his latest effort, I Fill Myself with You, marks an engaging and energized step forward.

Produced by legendary multipurpose go-to ace, Joe Vitale (EaglesJoe WalshCrosby, Stills and Nash), Bruce Hensal and Nicholas, the record launches with "Call My Name." The delicate piano track pops against the subtle yet driving guitar riffs and the lyrics offer uplifting encouragement.

"Our Deliverer" is a re-recorded song from Nick's previous release. However, possessing a "new and improved" sharper edge and some snappy Eagles-style slide work, it's even more compelling than the original version — a bona fide treat, to be sure.

A beautifully heartfelt love ballad, "God Gave Me You" makes for one of the record's brighter moments — a song highlighted by Nick's signature Jon Anderson-meets-Shannon Hoon vocal style.

Also a repeat from his last record, "If Only" is cleaner and more lively than when first released in 2013. Boasting fatter production and additional instrumentation, the tune now packs deliciously crisp drum and guitar work.

"Taking it for Granted" captures a rootsy and organic REO circa '75 vibe and oozes plenty-o-slide guitar factor. Musically, it's the best and most authentic AOR-sounding of the batch.

With its transparent lyrics, honest vocal delivery, and delicate Laurie Partridge-like piano / keyboard work, the mid-tempo title track is a true gem and brings the record to a perfect conclusion.

In sum, I Fill Myself with You is a superb little record — one filled with impeccable songs and top-notch performances — a world-class piece of work, indeed. CONTACT: Bruce Hensal c/o BailOut Productions (407) 297-6355 /

-Christopher Long
(September 2014)



C'MON! -