Tuesday, September 6, 2016

SUMMER 2016: Hot Highlights from a Steamy Season

Hot Highlights from
a Steamy Season

Does anybody get amped
about working during the
summertime? Me neither. 

I'll bet that I've got publicists fuming from coast to coast  Hey, where's that freaking review we've been expecting for the last 12 weeks?! Okay, in the spirit of full disclosure, I confess that I'm less than motivated to get much work done during the "dog days." Then again, who is? And with the season now officially in the rear view, I guess it's time to get cracking. But first, I wanted to take a moment to reflect, and to share a quick personal overview of some of the people, places and events that made my summer of 2016 so amazing and memorable.

I've never been much of a "beach bum." However, I do possess a particular passion for Daytona Beach. I always have — ever since first moving to Florida with my family during the mid '70s. 40-plus years later, I still try to visit "The World's Most Famous Beach" for at least a couple of days each summer — as I was blessed to do last July. Simply put, being in Daytona makes me feel like a kid again — transporting me back magically to a more carefree and innocent time in my life. After all these years, it still does.

"The World's Most Famous Beach"
I tend to live life in a delusional state where I'm eternally young. As a result, I often lose sight of the fact that I'm NOT 17 anymore. Fortunately, as part of Central Life Church (located on Florida's sunny Space Coast), I'm afforded the opportunity to remain connected to (actual) young people as an active "adult" member of the youth ministry leadership team. And as one of the world's oldest kids, I always look forward to participating in the church's summer youth camp program. To say the least, the camp experienced has "evolved" since my day, back in '70s. Billed as Forever Young, Central Life's 2016 summer getaway played out at a luxury high-rise hotel, just south of Cocoa Beach. Nearly 50 teenagers enjoyed a spirited week's worth of swimming, surfing, sand and sun — culminating in more than a dozen salvations. Now THAT'S truly big stuff! A fantastic experience  for all of us young people.

I was honored to serve alongside
these incredible men and women as
a member of the 2016 Forever Young
summer youth camp leadership team.
The tagline is direct and to the point  “No instruments. Just voices.” And it's always a pleasure getting to spend one-on-one time with members of the New Jersey-based rock-appella group, The RockNRoll Chorus. Comprised of more than two dozen high school-age performers, the RNRC has become an acknowledged national touring act since first forming, ten years ago. And I still get jazzed when the group comes to Florida each summer. I recounted my personal 2016 experience in an exclusive Ink 19 feature story in August. Read it HERE.

Chillaxin' backstage in Orlando with
members of The RockNRoll Chorus.
What summer season is complete without at least a few live concert experiences? I took in a slew of live shows over the summer — some proved more satisfying than others. While I personally had difficulty choking down the soulless performance from current flavor of the week, Halsey, thousands of adoring (predominantly female) teenage disciples did connect with her painfully synthetic style. However, I was wowed MORE than sufficiently by opening rock act, Bad Suns. And although this year's multi-act Vans Warped Tour and the August Orlando performance by Butch Walker both packed tremendous punch, the mismatched triple-bill onslaught of In This MomentHellyeah and  Shaman's Harvest left me feeling victimized, shivering under a blanket at the scene of the crime.

After-show with Palaye Royale
at Vans Warped Tour in July 2016.
Many impressive and noteworthy records made it to my Hi-Fi set this summer, including Clean Your Clock, the sizzling new live offering from MotörheadThe Boom Boom Room served as a mighty, must-hear debut for newly-minted rock poster boys, Palaye Royale. And I thoroughly enjoyed getting "baked" at the beach with Vol. II, the sensational sophomore release from Miami's super-crunk, pop-punk combo, Geezer. Featuring the outrageous remake of Katy Perry's, "I Kissed a Girl," it was THE feel-good record of the summer!

Terrific tunes for troubled teens!
I have a hard time shelling-out wads of cash only to ingest the same trash that, as a nightclub DJ, I get paid to endure. And recently, cineplexes have been flooded with more lowbrow stinkers than ever before. Hence, I find myself going to the movies less and less frequently these days. However, I did venture out to see a few flicks this summer. Popstar shoulda and coulda been great, but the quality control bar was set so low that I actually stubbed my toe on it as I made my way to my seat. Delivering a familiar storyline, Finding Dory was an engaging and entertaining sequel to the 2003 blockbuster, Finding Nemo  good family fun, for sure. And although it's reflective of the type of content that usually keeps me away from theaters, I will admit that Bad Moms had me laughing out loud — a lot.

Bad Moms could have been
titled, Almost Fabulous.
Fortunately, I found time this summer to dive into several compelling new books. Brett Weiss' Encyclopedia of KISS was quite entertaining, while God's Path Toward a Resurrected Marriage by Sharon Migala and Dr. Larry Ollison's Unlocking the Mysteries of the Holy Spirit were both incredibly inspirational. I was also delighted to discover author Violet Favero's second children's book, Sunday Dinner at Silly Yaya's. And in the final days of the season, I was thrilled to receive a copy of Scary Close, the latest memoir from one of my all-time favorite authors, Donald Miller. Focusing on dropping our "guard" and getting "real" in our personal relationships, it's been hailed as Miller's best work. Look for my official review, coming soon.

Much thanks to my longtime
friend and creative collaborator,
Chris Dillon, for sending me a
copy of Donald Miller's latest.
There ya go — another summer's worth of memories for the ol' scrapbook. And I'd also really like to hear about your summer experiences. So, feel free to share your personal stories in the "Comment" section below. But for now, I just want to say "thanks" for stopping by and taking the time to read my stuff. Get ready, Christmas is right around the corner!

-Christopher Long
(September 2016)

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