Thursday, November 24, 2016

THANKSGIVING 2016: The Top 10 Things I'm Most Thankful For This Year

THANKSGIVING 2016
The Top 10 Things I'm Most
Thankful For This Year
________________________

My amazing son. my ripped
abs, Paul Stanley the list of
things for which I'm constantly
thankful is endless. However,
I'm particularly grateful to
have experienced these 10
super-sized blessings in 2016.
_________________________

10
POLAR POP

Any size ice-cold, refreshing soft drink
for just 79¢. Polar Pop — my personal
flavor of choice is Full Throttle.

9
STARBUCKS

It's my personal sanctuary and
social hub. It's where I go for my
"medicine" and also to enjoy daily
quality Bible study time. That is all.

8
THE STRUTS

I'd almost given up on rock and roll.
Then, I discovered The Struts.
Read all about it HERE

7
CASEY KASEM

An admitted teenage radio geek growing
up during the 1970s, I was addicted to
Casey Kasem's popular weekly American 
Top 40 program. And in 2016, I partied
like it was 1974 all over again — thanks
to iHeartRadio and my trusty smart phone,
I carried Casey and his classic show re-
runs right in my hip pocket — 24/7.

6
ARBY'S SLIDERS

Ham, corned beef, chicken — tasty
tiny gifts of goodness from God.
And usually just a buck a piece.

5
LORETTA LYNN

Thanks to her amazing new album,
Full Circle, Miss Lo-Retty was
back on my radar in 2016. In fact,
it was THE "Record of the Year!"

4
MAD MEN

Hello. My name is Chris.
And I'm a "Mad Men" junkie.

I've had TV service disconnected in my
home since 2008. As a result, I was
completely unaware of Don Draper and
the ad team at Sterling Cooper Draper
Pryce. But thanks to my tech-savvy
GF (and Netflix), that all changed in
2016, as I devoured all 92 episodes
of the award-winning series that ran
originally on AMC from 2007-2015.
Now, Draper is a household name.
At least in my household, anyway.

3
SOBRIETY

I'm not gonna get on my soapbox —
just wanna say that 2016 marked
Oh, sweet freedom — thanks, Jesus!

2
CENTRAL LIFE

The "C.L." are NOT my initials. They
stand for Central Life Church. With
two current Florida campuses —
Cocoa and Melbourne, "Central" is
a life-enriching, non-denominational
church that has nothing to do with
religion and everything to do with
Jesus. Yes, there's a BIG difference.
And 2016 marked my second full
year of claiming Central Life as my
church home. Why is church such a
vital part of my life? Simply put, church
is what activates faith. And "Central"
keeps me and my faith very active!

1
MY CHICK

I did NOT see it coming. But when I
heard that "still small voice" in 2016,
it SCREAMED — the voice of God
said, "Dude, I'm giving you an angel.
DON'T BLOW IT!" The rest of the
story is mushy and gushy, private and
personal. I'll just say that I love Diana
with all my heart. Thanks, Jesus. I
owe you — BIG TIME!

There ya go — my personal Top 10 best blessings of 2016. So, what are you thankful for this year?

-Christopher Long
(November 2016)

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Sunday, November 20, 2016

MY TOP TEN RECORDS OF 2016

MY TOP TEN
RECORDS OF 2016
_________________________

It's gonna get so crazy
all up in here next month
on The Show Biz Guru,
I've gotta run with my
year-end "Top Records"
list just a smidge early.
Spoiler alert: My personal
taste is rather eclectic.
_________________________

Discovering, and then writing about new music  it's what I do (from time to time). And in 2016, I was subjected to such a gawdawful bumper crop of aural crap, I've taken to jamming tampons into my ear canals as a means of managing the now incessant hemorrhaging caused by prolonged excessive abuse. But even in a year when the production of synthetic, soulless, computer-generated, lowest common denominator, syncopated nonsense seemingly has hit an all-time high, I still managed to spot a few sparking diamonds lurking in the rough.

10
Cheap Trick
Bang, Zoom, Crazy... Hello

Fresh and fun, snappy and happy, this 11-song collection represents Cheap Trick's strongest work since Busted in 1990. Straight-up and in your face, Rick Nielsen and Tom Petersson deliver some of their all-time crispiest audio snapshots — while Robin Zander once again channels the charming, yet pissed-off 20-something powerhouse that we've not seen much of since One on One. It may not be Heaven Tonight Pt. II, but thank goodness, it ain't Special One Pt.II either. Read my full original review HERE.

9
Motörhead
Clean Your Clock

The untimely death of founding frontman / bassist, Lemmy Kilmister in December 2015, not only was shocking and tragic, the loss has left a void that won't likely be filled — ever. Given Motörhead's unparalleled reputation from decades of relentless touring, it's only fitting that the band's first release following Lemmy's death is a career-spanning live set. This blistering 16-tracker showcases a musical "burn" factor, searing hotter than ever. Read my full original review HERE.

8
Butch Walker
Stay Gold

Singer / songwriter / multi instrumentalist / producer / best-selling author, Butch Walker, can seemingly do no wrong in my book. Following the release of his darker 2015 record, Afraid of Ghosts, Walker returned in 2016 to offer his eighth solo effort, Stay Gold — a 10-song collection that (for the most part) points stylistically to his more high-energy, rock / pop-tinged past. While the Ryan-Cougar-Adamscamp-sounding title track and the Pretenders-flavored "East Coast Girl" make for tasty highlights, it's the record-closing acoustic ballad, "Record Store," that stands out (to me) as the most engaging of the batch.

7
Palaye Royale
Boom Boom Room

Before they even played a single note, I knew instinctively that Palaye Royale was gonna be something special, from the very moment they walked onto last summer's Warped Tour stage in Orlando. As it turned out, I was right. In a vein similar to The Stones' Sticky Fingers, the band's groovy 2016 debut delivers, in spades. Simply put, if "Don't Feel Quite Right" and "How Do You Do?" don't absolutely rock your soul, you might want to have an EMT check your pulse. But despite the record's undeniably traditional rock cred, as a guy who possesses a penchant for pop, "Ma Chérie" is my personal pick of the litter.

6
Green Day
Revolution Radio

Packing two fists full-o-fun, Revolution Radio is simply a solid rock record — an honest, natural-sounding slab — as if three old friends came together (with a huge budget) merely to make some great music without pretense. Read my full original review HERE.

5
21 to Burn
Two to the Chest

If only more AOR entrees today tasted as good as this one, I'd probably be able to choke more of it down. Simply put, 21 to Burn has what most of their contemporaries lack — quality songs. While much of their competitors' content sounds (to me) as if it was created from the neck up, this Florida-based combo oozes from the heart. And their gunky, chunky guitar work actually sounds like guitars — created by humans, as opposed to being stamped out by a machine. Highlights include the title track, along with the lead-off single, "Wait & See" and the heartbreak ballad, "Head Games."

4
Fit for Rivals
Freak Machine

Boasting ALL thriller, and NO filler, this crunchy new 10-track collection from Jacksonville's Fit for Rivals kicked me where it counts. In fact, Freak Machine is such an irresistible seduction, it's become my current go-to dirty pleasure — now living full-time in my car hi-fi, in my iTunes library, and in my mobile cellular phone device.

3
The Struts
Everybody Wants

I personally crave music that beams golden sunshine into my life — music that inspires me to seek intimacy with my girlfriend, as opposed to inspiring me to bury a body. I want songs that make me feel glad to be alive. I want songs that make me wanna sing and dance. Simply put, I want The Struts! (Doesn't everybody?) Read my full original review HERE.

2
Black Eyed Soul
Season of Self-Loathing

Knoxville's roots rock kingpin Black Eyed Soul returned in 2016 after an extended break to (finally) release album #6. Remaining true to the duo's impeccable Americana-style reputation, Andrew and Misty Marcus wrote, performed and produced Season of Self-Loathing entirely free of outsider fingerprints. And in the process, they've created what is arguably their finest work to date.

1
Loretta Lynn
Full Circle

Simply put, Loretta Lynn is a master storyteller — an artist whose compelling songs offer consistent, streak-free, mirror reflections of her personal real life experiences. Hence, her music is only enhanced as the years pass by. In fact, while some iconic artists flounder in their 30s and 40s, Lynn's work flourishes — in her 80's. Produced by her daughter, Patsy Lynn Russell and John Carter Cash (Johnny and June's boy), Full Circle is an epic showcase for a truly authentic artist who remains as relevant as ever — and one who can still wup the tar outta any of today's "new country" posers or modern-day "pop tarts." Highlights include, "Whispering Sea," "In the Pines" and "Everything it Takes" — the chilling duet with Elvis Costello. Songs so honest, vocals so pure, and fiddles, banjos and mandolins so sweet — Full Circle is easily THE record of 2016. And along with the Jack White-produced Van Lear Rose (2004), it's one of Lynn's two all-time best.

I hope you had fun with my little annual year-end wrap-up. And I hope that perhaps I've turned you on to some cool new music. Feel free to offer your top picks in the Comment Section below.

-Christopher Long
(November 2016)


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is available NOW on Amazon.

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Saturday, November 12, 2016

MY COUNTRY: Check Out My New Radio Show — Launching November 27th!

MY COUNTRY
Check Out My New Radio Show
Launching November 27th!
__________________________

There are two things in life
for which I possess particular
passion  traditional-style
country music and radio.
Soon, these two passions
will collide in my latest
entertainment venture. And
I'm rolling it all out with a
little help from my friends.
__________________________

As a kid growing up in Missouri's Ozark Mountains during the late '60s and early '70s, I was raised on traditional, classic country music. Down-home artists such as Glen Campbell, Loretta LynnThe Statler Brothers, Charlie Rich, Buck Owens and Dolly Parton created the authentic soundtrack to my carefree pre-teen days attending various hayrides and hootenannys.

I also was fascinated by radio. And our local DJs were my heroes. As a result, I was thrilled to receive a call recently from Thomas Tritt at Real Country Radio the soon-to-be launched Internet radio network. To my surprise, Tom wasn't seeking my marketing  advice — he was calling to offer me my own classic country radio show. I accepted, post haste.

But what would I call this new weekly two-hour radio program? I thought back immediately to my favorite artists who made the music I loved as a kid — the songs that would comprise my show. The answer came to me in a flash. The name would be  MY COUNTRY with Christopher Long.

Now this is MY country!
I soon began putting together a playlist for my upcoming debut. But one guy does NOT a snappy show make. I was going to need the participation of at least a couple of creative and talented people in order to make the show really zing. So I started thinking about some of the hippest peeps in my circle and I reached out to my friend, Miss May. Having worked with May in various professional settings over the years, I knew that she had a passion for the music, she wasn't microphone-shy, and she would bring sparkling conversation to the show. I also knew that she'd have NO problem busting my chops on-air. In short, May "got it," and she accepted the offer to be my co-host.

I'm thrilled to be working my
fabulous co-host, Miss May.
But I'm an "old dog" who is challenged by the "new tricks" of today. As a result, I would also require the aid of a young, super-savvy production assistant. Introducing my good-lookin', young compadre, Vance. Like Miss May, Vance is one of my best friends and closest confidants. A bit of a tech geek, Vance has a firm grasp of all things media-related and he certainly knows his way around a production facility. We work well together and he's also not afraid to "let me have it" from time to time. Now this is gonna be fun!

DEBUTING 11.27.16
(This is gonna be fun!)
So, what can folks expect when they tune in each week? For starters, loads-o-fun! Our goal is to create a unique "house party" vibe in which listeners will feel right at home — as if they're hanging out with good friends, while we engage the audience with lively and compelling, "anything goes" conversations. But be sure, it's ALL about the music. It's ALL about MY country! Check us out, Sunday nights from 9-11 (EST).

- Listen Live: www.radioking.com/radio/real-country-radio
- Drop us a line: MyCountryClassics@gmail.com

-Christopher Long
(November 2016)


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is available NOW on Amazon.

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Friday, November 4, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: "Unlocking the Mysteries of the Holy Spirit" by Dr. Larry Ollison

BOOK REVIEW
Unlocking the Mysteries
of the Holy Spirit
- Dr. Larry Ollison -
Harrison House Publishers
_________________________

I've read so many titles from
Dr. Larry Ollison over the last
two years, I haven't had time
to review them all. However,
the subject of the Holy Spirit
remains so vital, I couldn't
let this one slip through the
cracks. Hence, I made time!
_________________________

Father, Son and Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit) — the cornerstone of Christian faith. But while most believers can grasp the basic concept of God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son, some tend to get tripped-up on the Holy Spirit — the atmospheric, indwelling presence of God — the promised "helper" who was delivered to believers following Christ's ascension into heaven after his crucifixion, resurrection and 40-day return to earth — also known as Pentecost. Yes, despite all that is written in the Bible regarding the Holy Spirit — including words of encouragement and instruction from Jesus himself, the Holy Spirit remains so foreign, so "weird" to a certain faction of believers that some pastors steer clear of addressing or even acknowledging the existence or relevance of the Godhead's third person.

I remember hosting a Florida social event not too long ago, where I was approached by a likable denominational pastor who was well-known in the area. Shortly after striking up an engaging faith-based conversation, he drove the dialog to his views on how the non-denominational church that I attended at the time embraced the Holy Spirit. In no uncertain terms, he conveyed how the Holy Spirit was not for today's world, and that by praying in the Spirit and walking in the fruits of the Spirit, our congregation was committing blasphemy against God — the "unpardonable" sin. Well, I needed to look no further than Acts 2, 1 Corinthians 2 and 1 Corinthians 12 to realize that this brother was "misguided."


Even with a degree in Bible Studies, I too can occasionally become a bit overwhelmed by certain complexities of this subject — "mysteries," indeed. But what I do "get" is the supernatural power I experience when praying for, and encouraging sick and hurting people while perusing my daily ministry endeavors. Heck, even Jesus said, "I can do nothing on my own."

Fortunately, in his typical engaging and conversational style, Dr. Larry Ollison tackles and breaks down all aspects of this hot potato topic successfully in his book, Unlocking the Mysteries of the Holy Spirit. Ollison lays out his message in plain and simple language that even an old school Van Halen freak like myself can consume and process easily. As always, Ollison's message is illustrated frequently by his own personal, compelling life experiences and re-enforced by seemingly endless relevant Scriptures. A truly riveting read, I took my time with this one, spending weeks pouring over every page as Ollison methodically rolled out such key bullet points as the fruits of the Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit and SO much more! And yes, the Holy Spirit IS still with us and as relevant as ever.

In sum, the "mysteries" of the Holy Spirit don't have to remain "mysterious." Thanks to Larry Ollison we now have a "key" — an Everyman guide to "unlocking" those "mysteries." And for me, this book serves as a thorough,  must-have, constant go-to reference source.

-Christopher Long
(November 2016)

_________________________

Find Christopher Long's
other reviews of books
by Dr. Larry Ollison...

_________________________


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is available NOW on Amazon.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

POLITICAL HOME STRETCH 2016: Florida Races Energize Voters

(All photos courtesy of Rick Armstrong Photography)
POLITICAL HOME
STRETCH 2016
Florida Races
Energize Voters
_________________________

Despite the hoo-ha surrounding
the current battle for the White
House, I've personally been
focused more closely on some
of the exciting races playing out
here in my home state of Florida.
And I'm not the only one.
_________________________

He must have been about 70 — the decorated military veteran who bear-hugged me at the end of the bar. "Thank you for staging this event," he offered, with tears in his eyes.

It was a powerful experience indeed, as hundreds of super-charged enthusiasts packed Palm Bay, Florida's hot spot, Siggy's American Bar, on October 28th. From servicemen to businessmen, from retired grannies to active soccer moms to a sea of fresh-faced young people — Americans of all ages who love their country and value their freedom came out to show support for their chosen candidates running for key Florida offices in the November 8th general election.

The rally was billed as an official "Get Out the Vote" event. And as a 45-year political student and a 20-year Siggy's staff member, I was honored to help connect local GOP campaign organizers with the perfect locale in which to stage such an impressive pow-wow.

Siggy's owner, Amy Sigafoos, with
Florida House candidate, Randy Fine.
Siggy's signature-style red, white and blue, Stars and Stripes decor provided an authentic backdrop as Florida House of Representatives District 53 candidate, Randy Fine, took the stage at 1:15pm. Driven by his passion for improving Florida's education system, Fine's opening comments seemed to resonate well with voters.

Having served in the Florida House for the last eight years, Debbie Mayfield has become a prominent figure on the political scene. And after winning the August Republican primary for a seat in the Florida Senate, the Sunshine State native now faces Democrat opponent Amy Tidd in the upcoming general election. Committed to creating jobs and protecting the Constitution, Mayfield drew cheers from supporters throughout her speech.

As an ardent supporter, I was thrilled to meet
Florida Senate candidate, Debbie Mayfield.
To say that the arrival of Marco Rubio met with Bieber-like fervor might actually understate the crowd's passion-factor as I ushered Florida's wildly popular U.S. Senator through the employee entrance and onto the Siggy's stage.

In a speech that lasted approximately 20 minutes, Rubio connected with Palm Bay residents speaking openly of his younger days, slinging buckets of ice while working at his father's bar in Miami — a business he likened to Siggy's. The recent Presidential candidate then offered specific sentiments to the seemingly countless teens who also were in attendance — focusing on the importance of education and encouraging them to make smart, responsible life choices.

Enthusiasts of all ages came out in droves
to show support for Senator Marco Rubio.

Rubio's message soon took on a more serious tone as he addressed the significance of the current Presidential contest, as well as various Florida races — in particular, his own re-election bid which has the incumbent pitted against Democrat challenger, Patrick Murphy. With cool, heartfelt conviction, Rubio wrapped-up his speech by urging supporters once again to "get out the vote."

But surprisingly, he didn't split the scene. He wasn't led out of the building immediately buy handlers who rushed him off the property in a shiny new SUV. Instead, Rubio stepped off the stage and into the crowd engaging in a personal, hour-long, one-on-one voter meet-and-greet, while my fellow Siggy's All-American Bar staffers served-up FREE all-American food to all. Mmm — sizzlin' hot dogs and homemade apple pie!

-Christopher Long
(November 2016)

___________________________________

Visit the candidates' official
websites for further info.

MARCO RUBIO
DEBBIE MAYFIELD
RANDY FINE
___________________________________


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is available NOW on Amazon.

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