Monday, March 31, 2014

TOP TEN GREATEST ALLMAN BROTHERS TUNES (Guest Post)

Photo: Courtesy of the estate of Twiggs Lyndon.
TOP TEN GREATEST
ALLMAN BROTHERS 
TUNES
__________________________

My "Guest" contributor
Michelle Wilson returns to
wrap up "March Madness"
with another one of her
engaging Top Ten lists.

There are two things that
I know about Michelle:
1) She hates Eric Clapton.
2) She loves The Allmans.
__________________________

With the 45th anniversary of the Allman Brothers Band upon us, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to pull out the old Top Ten list. Honing this one down is no easy task, and EVERYONE may have variations, mutations and even (more than likely) objections. I know I will catch major heat for this, but "Jessica" and "Ramblin' Man" do not make the cut. Yes, they are great songs, but thanks to radio saturation they have become the "bubblegum" ABB for me. So here are my Top Ten picks: 

10
(1969)
Written by Gregg Allman
From the album 
The Allman Brothers Band  

9
(1971)
Written by Blind Willie McTell
From the album 
At Fillmore East

8
(1972)
Written by Gregg Allman
From the album 
Eat a Peach

7
(1972)
Written by Sonny Boy Williamson
Marshall Sehorn / Elmore James
From the album 
Eat a Peach

6
(1970)
Written by Gregg Allman
From the album 
Idlewild South

5
(1969)
Written by Gregg Allman
From the album 
The Allman Brothers Band 

 4
(1970)
Written by Richard Betts
From the album 
Idlewild South

3
(1971)
Written by Gregg Allman
Duane Allman / Richard Betts 
Butch Trucks / Berry Oakley 
Jai Johanny Johanson
From the album 
At Fillmore East

2
(1970)
Written by Gregg Allman 
Robert Kim Payne
From the album 
Idlewild South

1
(1972)
Written by Steve Alaimo 
Gregg Allman
From the album 
Eat a Peach

 ___________________________

Honorable Mention
     
(1979) 
Written by Richard Betts
From the album 
Enlightened Rogues


(1973)
Written by Richard Betts
(1970)
Written by Richard Betts
From the album 
Idlewild South 


"Pegasus"
(1979)
Written by Richard Betts
From the album 
Enlightened Rogues 


(1972)
Written by Duane Allman
From the album 
Eat a Peach


Following the release of Galadrielle Allman’s poignant story, Please Be With Me: A Song For My Father, Duane Allman, and Alan Paul’s sweeping ABB bible, One Way Out, fans have gained a new and enlightened perspective into the ABB realm. After perusing Gregg Allman’s autobiography, My Cross to Bear (co-written with Alan Light – read my review at the link below), I moved on to Ms. Allman’s moving tribute to her father, and then Mr. Paul’s in-depth study of the band from a 25-year journalistic perspective (look for my reviews of both within the coming weeks at www.Ink19.com). I highly recommend reading them in this order. All three books are peppered with iconic photographs taken by the likes of Kirk West, Stephen Paley and even Twiggs Lyndon.

So what’s on your Top 10 ABB list? I encourage everyone to comment and share!

-Michelle Wilson
(March 2014)


 
Check out Michelle Wilson's
recent review of Gregg Allman's
My Cross to Bear HERE.
_______________________________

BE MY "GUEST"
Do you have something to say, something to get off your chest or an amazing story to share? From pop culture views and reviews to political commentary to messages of faith, my blog is a great platform for writers to showcase their work. There are very limited criteria for submitting a post. Your views don't even have to be in line with mine — just create and contribute a compelling, well-written story. Interested? Send me and email.

-Chris
AuthorChristopherLong@yahoo.com
_______________________________

Sunday, March 30, 2014

MOVIE REVIEW: God's Not Dead

MOVIE REVIEW:
GOD'S NOT DEAD
 Pure Flix Entertainment
_______________________________

The trailers have 
been awesome.
But the reviews 
have been awful.
So, what gives?
1 ticket for 
"God's Not Dead," 
PLEASE! 
_______________________________

NEWS FLASH: HOLLYWOOD HATES GOD! 

This certainly should come as no shock to anyone with eyes to see, or ears to hear. Nor should the fact that director Harold Cronk's new film God's Not Dead already was being pelted by "rotten tomatoes" before it even arrived in theaters on March 21st. Writing for Variety, Scott Foundas commented that the film is "about as subtle as a stack of Bibles falling on your head." I notice that "subtle" is never a concern of critics when Hollywood produces such dubious delights as Bad Santa, Bad Grandpa or Bad Teacher. But I was intrigued by this movie's trailers — the story seemed compelling, the cast looked impressive, and Newsboys were to play a key role. Count me in! 

Shane Harper as Josh Wheaton
"God's Not Dead is the most 
impactful statement of faith 
that I've seen on film!"
-Bryan Dumas
(Author / Band Director at Word 
of  Life Center - Shreveport, LA)

Kevin Sorbo as Professor Radisson
Simply put, God's Not Dead delivers — in spades. Despite some occasional clunky dialogue and a few slightly awkward performances, the story was as riveting, relevant and real as I had hoped it would be.

The film's centerpiece — the tension between the naïve Christian college freshmen, Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper), and his insensitive agnostic philosophy professor, Jeffrey Radisson (Kevin Sorbo), is compelling, to be sure. However, the multiple real life side stories of people struggling in toxic relationships, battling terminal illness, and their individual pursuits of spiritual truth is where God's Not Dead delivers a payoff of biblical proportions.

Trisha LaFache as Amy
The movie also boasts many stellar performances. David A.R. White offers the audience a warm hug as Pastor Dave, while "SupermanDean Cain is perfectly unlikable as Mark, a shameless, greed-driven egomaniac. But God's Not Dead also packs plenty of "curb appeal."  sparkles like a diamond as Amy, a career-focused Internet journalist, while sizzles as Radisson's love interest, Mina and is superb as Ayisha, a sheltered Muslim teen who ultimately gives her life to Christ.

Newsboys as Newsboys
In the spirit of full disclosure, I'll admit that I haven't been moved this profoundly by a film since I first saw Old Yeller — back in '68! And I'm not alone in my enthusiastic assessment. After the film's first week of release, Moviefone.com listed the "Viewer Score" for God's Not Dead at an impressive 89%. Yet, the "Critic Score" was a dismal 16%, 'cuz you know that the "smart" people certainly aren't going to ingest this much Jesus factor, without gagging — loudly. 

In sum, God's Not Dead — Matinee ticket: $4. Popcorn: $3. Seeing a modern-day, big-budget, faith-based epic that showcases Newsboys — live onstage, wearing matching tailored suits and ties: PRICELESS!

-Christopher Long
(March 2014)

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

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

Friday, March 28, 2014

URINETOWN: Florida Teens on "Mission to Pee"

(Stage photos: Blane Schwindt)
URINETOWN
(April 10 - 13)
Rockledge High School
Rockledge, FL
__________________________

Brimming with
enthusiasm, Florida
high school actors
Mikayla Goetz and
John Dudley are
driven — by their
"mission to pee."
__________________________

While Mikayla Goetz and John Dudley admit openly to its controversial title, the two veteran actors also are quick to point out that their upcoming production of Urinetown is a laugh-out-loud, "modern-day Romeo and Juliet" love story.

"I feel like my heart is in this show," confessed Goetz during our recent Starbucks get together. A seasoned pro with numerous Space Coast stage credits, including last year's lead role in The Sound of Music, the Rockledge High School senior will be heading off to attend college in South Carolina this fall, pursuing a major in Fine Arts with a minor in Vocal Performance.

Dudley and  Goetz: Driven by their "mission."
"The plot is a spoof," Dudley commented. Already focusing on his own college options, the Rockledge High junior also has established an impressive résumé, including his 2013 co-starring role in Hairspray. "Urinetown breaks every Rogers and Hammerstein rule put in place," Dudley added. "It's comedic where it shouldn't be. It's over the top."

I was impressed by Goetz and Dudley's level of passion and dedication, as the teens described in heartfelt detail their labor of love — staging a full-scale musical in a day when the arts clearly have become the bottom-feeder on our public school food chain. From set designs to costuming to the required licensing, the show is being produced  on less than a shoestring budget. "Everything you see in the show was created by a student," says Dudley. "It's the little engine that could."


Under the adult supervision of Drama Director, Kelly Rose and Music Director, Daniel Klintworth, Urinetown rehearsals began back in January. "She lets the students take charge," Goetz bragged of Rose. As for Klintworth, Goetz declared, "He's an angel sent from heaven."

Aside from the compelling storyline and comedic factor, Goetz and Dudley claim that the true  Urinetown payoff is in the music. "The music is remarkable and intricate," the tech-savvy twins beamed in unison as they shared rehearsal clips with me via their iPhones. Holy cow, a Broadway Channel app. Who knew?
_________________________________________ 

Goetz (C) as Hope Caldwell w/
Dudley (R) as Bobby Strong.
PRESS RELEASE OVERVIEW
Behind the rather off-putting title, Unrinetown is an endearing story about love, greed and revolution that pays witty homage to American musical comedy. The show is set during a 20-year water shortage that has turned a once thriving city into a dangerously devastated one — where private toilets have become unthinkable. A single monopolizing corporation controls the town's public amenities and continues to raise the taxes on the citizens' "private business." Out of the devastation, a young woman hero rises up to lead the downtrodden citizens in a revolt against the tyrannical regime.
_______________________________________

PERFORMANCES
April 10th - 7PM
April 11th - 7PM
April 12th - 2PM and 7PM
April 13th - 2PM

ADMISSION
$6.00 for students and seniors.
$8.00 for adults

FURTHER INFO
Kelly Rose @ (321) 636-3711 / ext. 179
Rockledge High School - 220 Raider Road / Rockledge, FL
*Also find Urinetown on Facebook

-Christopher Long
(March 2014)


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

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

SHOUT IT OUT LOUD (The soundtrack to my new book?)

 SHOUT  IT
OUT  LOUD
The soundtrack
to my new book
__________________________________

Movies have soundtracks.
TV shows have soundtracks.
Churches have soundtracks.
Books don't have soundtracks.
Or do they?
__________________________________

Author Steve Almond's 2010 memoire, Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life, was a particular treat for me. Not only because the self-proclaimed "drooling" music fanatic delivered a compelling and highly entertaining story, but also because it included its own soundtrack. Hey, wait a second — books don't have soundtracks. Well apparently, they do now.

Record industry mogul, Clive Davis, once said, "music is the soundtrack to our lives." And in today's busy, fast-paced world, everything seemingly has a soundtrack. But if your life is too busy and fast-paced to recognize or archive your own personal soundtrack, fear not. Professional "music curators" now rake in the big bucks to create specialized playlists for corporations and Internet services who, in turn  (for a fee), want to show and tell us exactly who, and what, we should be listening to while navigating through every aspect of our busy, fast-paced lives — from walking on the beach to grocery shopping to shampooing our poodles. Actually, I made that last one up, but for the right money, I'm sure that there's a "curator" somewhere who will happily help you handle your hound.

While I certainly would never tell anyone what to listen to while reading one of my books, I can reveal which songs I was listening to when I wrote them — or at least point to the music and artists who helped to inspire my stories.

Entitled, SHOUT IT OUT LOUD: Stories of Fast Times and Faith, From the Show Biz Guru, my upcoming third book will be released on 5.13.14. Recounting my journey from mosh pits to missions fields, SHOUT IT OUT LOUD is the sequel to my 2012 release, C'MON! and it delivers a bumper crop of compelling new personal stories that will entertain and encourage readers. And this eclectic "soundtrack" is an accurate reflection of what's to come. (Click on the artist and title links to bring this list to life.)

10

Sting is not mentioned anywhere in
my new book. However, having
recently seen the pop icon live in
concert, this one was stuck in my
head and kept me pumped up
throughout the final writing stage.


 9

Fresh and fun, snappy and catchy,
Starr produces perfect pop. I coo
and gush over her and her music in
CHAPTER NINE:
For Those
About to Rock!


8

What on earth could this thrash metal
classic have to do with a Christian
teen summer camp? It's revealed in
CHAPTER ELEVEN.


7

I love this band! Their unique brand
of funk has inspired me for a decade.
And I had to give them props in
CHAPTER NINE.


6

Years before the birth of
the iGeneration, these glitter-
punk misfits were outraging
the status quo. And I was
delighted to feature them in
CHAPTER SEVEN:
Culture Clash.


 5

One of my favorite songs from
my all-time favorite album. The
angelic crunch of Tal & Acacia
inspires my work and my life.


 4

Really? Heck yeah! This
super-charged timeless rock
staple inspired the title of
CHAPTER SIX


 3

The title track from one of
the most powerful Praise
and Worship records EVER!


 2

This one should be a no-
brainer. It's been keeping me
jacked-up since I was 13!


 1

The Jesus Culture frontchick
sums it ALL up in my #1 super-jam.

Okay, so maybe you can't pick up this soundtrack at your neighborhood Walmart, Starbucks or Best Buy. But if you click on the various title and artist links, you'll achieve the same effect. And in the process, I hope that you discover, or rediscover, some of the incredible music that's created the soundtrack to many of my most amazing recent experiences.

-Christopher Long
(March 2014)


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is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...
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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

CONCERT REVIEW: Sting / Paul Simon (3.16.14)

CONCERT REVIEW
STING / 
PAUL SIMON
Amway Center
Orlando, FL (3.16.14)  
________________________

Two iconic artists.
Dozens of timeless
pop treasures.
15,000 ecstatic fans.
One enormous
basketball arena.
_________________________

From my perspective, it was a logical and promising union — two of the most prolific and celebrated singer / songwriters of the last half century, brought together onstage for an evening of iconic music. My expectation was very high — and so was my seat.

Projecting a seemingly genuine friendship, the two pop legends — Sting and Paul Simon, took center stage together — nearly 30 minutes late. And with their arms draped around each other, they offered fans an immediate and rather engaging explanation for the show's lengthy delay. However, despite the noticeable piece of toilet tissue planted on Sting's chin, I wasn't buying the story that he'd cut himself shaving — five minutes prior to show time. This is a MAJOR concert tour, and as such, there always are "Rock Docs" standing by — ready to patch boo-boos, prescribe feel-goods, or even perform last minute brain surgery if necessary in order to ensure that the show goes off on time. A more likely scenario would have revealed an agitated British superstar informing the production manager that, "I'm NOT going on that bloody stage in front of a bloody half-full venue. We'll just stand behind this bloody curtain until every last one of those bloody Yanks are in their bloody seats." A declaration to which the elder American co-headliner replied, "Yeah, what he said!" But as they say, "the show must go on" — sooner or later. And by 8:30, it was "on," indeed.

PAUL SIMON
"Welcome to the last night of the tour," Simon announced in short order, as he further speculated that it also likely would be, "the best one." And the crowd goes wild! 

"This was an experiment," Sting offered, regarding the two-month U.S. jaunt. "It's a combination of catalogues and bands." And with the obligatory mutual "warm and fuzzies" out of the way, the two-hour cavalcade of classics ensued.

The production played out with the efficiency of a well-oiled machine — a show in which the music never stopped. Multiple mini solo sets from each artist, as well as segments that brought the two together, all segued seamlessly from one into the other — a big plus for ADHD-types like me.

Following the first fistful of fan faves, the audio mix finally was dialed in — or a least as dialed in as one could expect, given that tonight's concert venue was a glass and steel-framed basketball arena. And boasting seemingly countless sparkling stage lights, beaming and twirling, the show also was visually spectacular.

But tonight was all about the music. The songs were of course primarily all from the "A-list." The  musicianship — superb. And the highlights were many.

The pairing of The Police frontman and the songwriting genius behind Simon and Garfunkel on many of their most-loved classics worked well, as "Brand New Day," "Boy in the Bubble" and "Walking on the Moon" were among some of the show's stand-outs.

STING
On his own, Sting connected easily with the Orlando crowd — evoking thunderous approval of such Police standards as "Message in a Bottle," "Roxanne" and "Driven to Tears" — a bona fide show-stopper, featuring the masterful violin work of Peter Tickell. The 62-year-old musician / actor also delighted his faithful with a slew of solo hits, including  "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You," "Desert Rose" and "Hounds of Winter" — another highlight, featuring the impeccable vocal accompaniment of Jo Lawry. Sting further engaged the audience with personal stories of first coming to the U.S. while on tour with The Police, some 35 years ago. "I remember seeing my first alligator, crossing the highway in South Florida," he mused, leading into Simon and Garfunkel's "America."

As for Simon, the 72-year-old music vet was charming and personable, as he pointed out one of his youngest fans, a little girl named Grace, who was seated VIP-style near the front of the stage. Among his many must-play solo hits were, "Mother and Child Reunion," "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover," "Graceland," "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard" and "You Can Call Me Al" — as well as such selected Simon and Garfunkel favorites as "The Boxer."

With the two legends onstage together again, the marathon concert wrapped up with an amazing multi-hit encore that included a gospel-flavored rendition of "Bridge over Troubled Water" and spirited versions of "Every Breath You Take" and "Late in the Evening." By 11PM, the 35-song performance came to a rousing conclusion with a remake of the Everly Brothers classic, "When Will I Be Loved."

I enjoy listening in on the post-concert commentary of fans as I make my way to the parking lot following a show — it often  puts a more honest and passionate perspective on the performance. As I walked along Church Street, amid the procession of luxury tour buses and stretch limos, I could hear two female early 20-somethings discussing how much they had enjoyed the show. "It was everything I hoped for — and more," the girl with long brown hair and the short green skirt commented to her BFF. Hmm, out of the mouths of babes.

VINNIE COLAIUTA
But for my money, the concert's true payoff was finally seeing one of my all-time greatest drum heroes, Vinnie Colaiuta, perform live all night with Sting. "Everything I hoped for — and more," indeed!

-Christopher Long
(March 2014)

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

Also from Christopher Long...
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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

STAGE REVIEW: Peking Acrobats — Melbourne, FL (3.18.14)

THE PEKING
ACROBATS
Maxwell C. King Center
Melbourne, FL (3.18.14)
_____________________________

In its 28th incredible
year, this amazing
troupe from the
People's Republic of
China continues to
deliver a production
that's packed with
edge-of-your-seat 
"WOW!" moments.
_____________________________

The joint literally was jumping as more than 1,000 enthusiastic elementary school-age students gathered at Melbourne, Florida's King Center for another must-see Theatre for Youth presentation. And this morning's showing of The Peking Acrobats proved to be one of the most spectacular productions of the season.

From crazy-looking dragons, vaulting from ramps and across the stage to synchronized female drummers, juggling with their feet to expert cyclists, death-defying gymnasts and even a human jump rope, The Peking Acrobats delivered all of the action-packed elements necessary to captivate kids of all ages — even a 50-year-old kid like me!

The costumes — magnificent. The special effects — dazzling. And the live musicians playing traditional Chinese instruments only added to the show's authentic curb appeal.

Count 'em — TEN performers balancing
on ONE teeny, tiny bicycle.
(I can't even balance my checkbook!)
Yet one serious question remained. How on earth did that contortionist not only manage to maneuver his way successfully into a cylinder half his size, but to also wiggle his way out — backwards? Mad skillz, to be sure.

Kudos to Theater for Youth Director Karen Wilson for bringing another world-class production to the King Center stage and for her continued commitment to community, culture and kids.

-Christopher Long
(March 2014)


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

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