Saturday, March 24, 2018

FLASHBACK RECORD REVIEW: Megaphone "Exit Silent Mode"

FLASHBACK RECORD REVIEW 
Megaphone
Exit Silent Mode 
_________________________

There I was, sitting in the control
room during a recent recording
session. At one point, the producer
struck up a conversation with the
engineer about the celebrated
Orlando rock band, Megaphone.
Hmm. Note to self go home
and revisit "Exit Silent Mode."
_________________________

It was nearly a decade ago  Megaphone was hot as a pistol. Not only had the wildly popular four-piece Florida combo been opening for a menagerie of such rock icons as AC/DC and KISS' Paul Stanley, the band also was packing in fans at their own headline concerts in some of the area's premier venues, including the famed House of Blues. And it was there, on a rainy night in December 2009, when I first saw Megaphone perform live  opening for Aerosmith's Joe Perry. Simply put, I was hooked instantly by their irresistible, guitar-driven sound.

Onstage, frontman / guitarist Matthew Bloodwell, guitarist Paul Smith, bassist James Woodrich and drummer Scott Smith were a ferocious, formidable force. But what thwacked me hardest about Megaphone was the band's infectious, well-crafted pop / rock songs. In short order, I found myself standing at the merch booth, plunking down a moist wad of Washingtons for a CD copy of the band's just-released sophomore set, Exit Silent Mode.

MEGAPHONE - 2009
Produced to meticulous perfection by Matthew Bloodwell, Justin O'Neill and Paul Smith, the crunchy 12-track collection packed enough punch to satisfy the staunchest modern rock purists, while oozing enough golden pop goodness to make Butch Walker cry like a naughty school girl following a firm after-class paddling.

Focusing on an array of relationship-related anxieties, the record's many highlights include the Hoobastank-flavored opening track, "Write it Down," and the super-catchy sing-along, "My Favorite New Disaster." But for me, THE shiniest gem of this 45-minute treasure trove is the seemingly Eddie Ojeda-inspired, arena-caliber anthem "Bad to Good."

In sum, almost ten years later, Exit Silent Mode remains one of my all-time favorite, go-to feel-good records.

-Christopher Long
(March 2018)

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

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

Currently in development...

Thursday, March 22, 2018

MARS COWLING: A Personal Tribute to a Rock Legend

MARS COWLING
A Personal Tribute to a Rock Legend
_________________________

New Year's Eve '78-'79. It was only my
third legit rock concert experience 
a bona fide Southern-fried bash starring
Florida's "Guitar Army," The Outlaws.
I'd just turned 16. And I can still recall
rather unique fragrance permeating
the 10,000-seat, sold-out arena as
special guest, The Pat Travers Band,
hit the stage  "makin' magic," indeed!
_________________________

"Uh, excuse me. You don't know me, but I was in the band that opened for you tonight." I was so freaked out I could barely speak — which was odd, given that in the fall of 1992, my band DEAD SERIOS was one of the mightiest forces on the southeast rock scene.

"I know who you are" the bass player of the headline act responded warmly, with a distinct British accent. "I stood right there and watched your whole set!" he added — leaning in close enough to be heard over the backstage clatter. Or was it my knees knocking that was making all the racket?

Back in the day, DEAD SERIOS opened for more national-level bands than I can even remember. And honestly, I couldn't have cared less about many of them. But on this particular night in Palm Bay, Florida, we hadn't opened for just another College Radio flavor of the week or up-and-coming hair metal hopeful. We'd just "crushed it," opening for the legendary Pat Travers Band, and bassist Mars Cowling had apparently seen us perform.

"This dinosaur bullshit I play with Pat is fucking boring," Cowling confessed as we continued our backstage conversation. "I wish I was in your band," he added. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Mars Cowling was one of my all-time rock heroes, and the words of praise gushing from his mouth were surreal to me. I didn't know whether to laugh, cry, or piss in my pants. So I just gasped for breath, shook the man's hand and went on my way. Besides, he had a show to play that night too.

All I wanted in 1978 was to be cool — like the surfer dudes who mocked me in class for being UN-cool. They all had the hottest chicks, authentic puka shell necklaces, quality dope and a firm grasp on the coolest new music. In 1978, The Pat Travers Band was THE band of choice among my school's pot-smoking surfer alliance, and I had to discover for myself what all the buzz was about. So, in the fall of 1978, I bought a vinyl LP copy of the latest PT album, Heat in the Street. Simply put, the eight-song set clocked me harder than even the debut Van Halen record just a couple of months earlier. And by New Year's Eve '78-'79, I was standing in Florida's Lakeland Civic Center, witnessing the band live onstage. It was a high-octane performance that I can only describe as intense, brutal and ferocious. And it was the first time I'd ever heard "an old rhythm and blues, boogie woogie number called, 'Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights)'."

The Pat Travers Band circa '79
Oh sure, The Pat Travers Band's namesake's engaging vocals, screaming Melody Maker and poster boy looks were sufficient to hook and reel in rock fans by the scores. And the blistering, companion fret work of Pat Thrall also attracted legions of guitar aficionados. Plus, the band was (at the time) the current home of one-time Black Oak Arkansas drummer, Tommy Aldridge — another of my early teenage rock faves. But what really closed the deal for me with The Pat Travers Band was the bass stylings of Mars Cowling.

As a dumb 17-year-old punk, my typical weekends were spent doing stupid stuff that teens (still) do. Then, come Sunday night, I'd be holed up in my bedroom  head buried in my stereo hi-fi headset as I struggled to complete my neglected homework assignments before the Monday morning school bell rang. The soundtrack to those Sunday night "cram sessions" always featured the double-whammy combo of Heat in the Street followed by the platinum-selling PT live set, Go for What You Know. But even then, I recognized that Cowling's style was unique — holding his Fender Precision bass way up high. Onstage he oozed slick, slinky swagger. On record, his bass grooves moved me. Cowling's talent also was recognized by many of rock's most prominent players.

"No matter how I tried, I could
never get a bass to growl like Mars
could. He had such a unique tone
and unorthodox way of playing."
-Rodney O'Quinn
(Bassist / Foghat)

One-time Pat Travers bassist and current
Foghat bassist Rodney O'Quinn (L) in
South Florida with Mars Cowling (R) - 2017.
"It was such an honor to be friends with
Mars Cowling for the past nine years."
-Rodney O'Quinn
(Bassist / Foghat)

By the time 29-year-old, England-born Cowling joined 21-year-old native Canadian Travers in 1975, he already was an established name on the British rock scene, having played in a number of blues-based cover bands. Cowling would go on to record eight records with Pat Travers before leaving the band in 1982 — an impressive string that included the 1980 Top 20 smash, Crash and Burn

Following his initial PT run, Cowling had a brief stint playing in the Miami-based, duel female-fronted rock band, Gypsy Queen. I had the pleasure of seeing him perform live with GQ in 1984. By 1989, Cowling had rejoined the PT ranks — remaining on board until 1993.

Sadly, Cowling was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia in February 2018. Long retired from the music biz, he lived in South Florida, where he passed away on March 20th.

Over the last 40 years, I devoured Cowling's recorded work, and I was fortunate to have seen him perform live numerous times. And I was honored to have been a member of his opening act on that incredible night back in 1992. I will never forget Mars Cowling. And the music he created will remain forever fresh and powerful — "makin' magic," to be sure.

-Christopher Long
(March 2018)

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

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

Currently in development...

Sunday, March 11, 2018

MY STORY OF SOBRIETY: 14 Years and Going Strong!

MY STORY OF SOBRIETY
14 Years and Going Strong!
___________________________

I'd been a stumbling, slobbering
drunk for much of my adult life.
Then, on St. Patrick's Day 2004,
at age 41, the "light" came on 
finally. Thanks, Jesus! I owe you,
BIG TIME!
___________________________

I've recounted my life-changing experience numerous times — my story of first getting sober 14 years ago, maintaining my sobriety and my subsequent, reality-based perspectives. In fact, I've attached links (below) to several of my related web features.

It's worth repeating that these annual anniversary pieces aren't meant to come off as preachy or boastful. They're meant merely to inspire and encourage folks who might also be battling this soul-crushing "demon." Staying sober doesn't make me a better person than anyone else. But it sure has enhanced my quality of life. And if I can beat the bottle, so can you.

For me, maintaining sobriety while working
as a DJ in the bar business is a breeze.
Ironically, I've worked as a DJ in the bar business for 25 years. However, rather than magnifying a temptation to imbibe  being surrounded by the real-life darkness and drama of the nightclub world actually helps keep me sober — serving as a constant reminder of how the alcohol industry is driven by lies — primarily the deceitful, yet enticing, often X-rated mass media advertising that leads to a skewed public perception of guaranteed good times, amplified popularity and conquests with hard-body hotties. Oddly, puke, piss, hangovers, more puke, DUIs, death, destruction, even more puke and an array of other certain sordid residual regrets never are revealed in any of Madison Avenue's glitzy and seductive marketing schemes.

I'm not quite sure what message clever
ol' "Jack" is trying to convey in this ad. But
 trust me, it has NOTHING to do with how
YOUR real-life experience will play out.
The good news is, even if you've been conned — like I once was, you don't have to remain enslaved. Sweet freedom awaits. The battle of the bottle is one you can win. And take it from me, it's a battle worth fighting.

As always, I want to extend a genuine and personal invitation  should you be dealing with your own alcohol-related struggle, and you need someone to "lean on," you can reach out and contact me anytime at my personal email address. Just remember, I’m NOT a licensed counselor, but I am a nightclub DJ, which is kinda the same thing. (AuthorChristopherLong@yahoo.com)

-Christopher Long
(March 2018)

_________________________

Don't miss my other
sobriety features:

_________________________



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

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

Currently in development...

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

EBOOK GIVEAWAY: Get the "5th Anniversary Edition" of My 2012 Book "C'MON!" for FREE!

EBOOK GIVEAWAY
Get the "5th Anniversary Edition" of
My 2012 Book "C'MON!" for FREE!
_________________________

Simply put, it's my best work
— my 2012 memoir. The 2017
"5th Anniversary Edition" is
even better. Here's the kicker 
wanna GIVE it to you, FREE!
_________________________

I've slept with Brad Pitt (twice), been threatened physically by Gene Simmons, dined with Donald Trump, worked for platinum-selling rock stars, and later traveled the world as a missionary spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I also scrubbed about half a million toilets — on my hands and knees while serving as a janitor at my church. I even plotted to kill myself in 2010. And simply for recounting these unique, eclectic exploits in my various books, I've been called "a pathetic loser" and "a spiritual lightweight." I've also been called "a mighty man of God" and "the most interesting man in the world." Well, you know what they say about "opinions," right?


Yes, I had to get pretty thick skin, pretty darn quick when my debut memoir dropped back in 2010. Eight years later, I've got three titles on the market, with a couple of other book projects in development. But even after all this time, it's my second book, C'MON! that I believe remains my best work.


With the assistance of my longtime writing partner, Bryan Dumas, I created an updated 2017 "5th Anniversary Edition" of C'MON! I broke the book up into separate weekly revised chapters — with bonus stories and photos NOT featured in the original version, and I offered it FREE to readers for a few months here on my Show Biz Guru website. The response was incredible. So, when I made a recent appearance at a two-day meet-and-greet in Cocoa Beach, I formatted the anniversary web edition into a beautiful, flowing PDF version, just for that occasion. Soo-pah sah-weet, indeed!


I believe so strongly in the compelling, entertainment value of C'MON! that I want EVERYBODY to read it. In fact, for a limited time, I wanna GIVE you an eBook copy of the updated version absolutely FREE. If you're not yet familiar with my story, you can get the complete scoop on the book HERE. To receive your copy, just send me a personal email and request one. It's that easy.

The really cool thing about the PDF version is that you can read it on any electronic device — your computer, tablet, Kindle, iPhone — whatever you've got.

Looking forward to hearing from you! (My personal email: AuthorChristopherLong@yahoo.com)

-Christopher Long
(March 2018)

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

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

Currently in development...

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

MOVIE REVIEW: Game Night

MOVIE REVIEW
Game Night
Warner Bros. Pictures 
(Running time 100 minutes)
__________________________

There's this guy I know who's a
full fledged film aficionado. He
called up a couple of days ago,
urging me to see Game Night.
Hmm, a seemingly intriguing
story line, an engaging cast and
a rousing recommendation. I
had to get out and see this one.
__________________________

Directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan GoldsteinGame Night is a bona fide edge-your-seat comedy thriller starring Jason Bateman as Max and Rachel McAdams as Max's wife, Annie. The film tells the compelling story of a group of friends whose casual game night has been taken over by Max's super-competitive brother, Brooks, played by Kyle Chandler. In short order, the typically tame weekly soiree is transformed unexpectedly into an action-packed, real-life murder mystery.

Released nationwide on February 23rd, Game Night also features a dynamite supporting cast that includes Billy Magnussen as Ryan (Max and Annie's dimwitted friend), Sharon Horgan as Sarah (Ryan's sophisticated game night date), Lamorne Morris and Kylie Bunbury as husband wife Kevin and Michelle (Max and Annie's friends) and Jesse Plemons as cop Gary Kingsbury (Max and Annie's peculiar next door neighbor)

The cast of Game Night
Lines are blurred quickly between reality and fantasy — the good guys and the bad guys. And just when you think you've got the film all figured out — WHAM another zinger!

Well-written and well-cast, Game Night entertains viewers with plenty of laughs and "gotcha" plot twists — making for one of the smartest, most engaging flicks since the original Hangover in 2009. Given the "R" rating, not all of the content is exactly "family-friendly," but the dialog doesn't drip with vulgarities either. Mature sexual content is also minimal, as the crisp, fast-faced story and razor-sharp acting carries the film just fine. (A+)

-Christopher Long
(March 2018)

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

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

Currently in development...

Friday, March 2, 2018

VANS WARPED TOUR 2018: The 10 Tastiest Bands Spicing Up the Final Hurrah!

VANS WARPED TOUR 2018
The 10 Tastiest Bands Spicing
Up the Final Hurrah!
_________________________

It's a brutal, ear-splitting saga, decades
in the making. And this summer, the
annual sweat-soaked cavalcade comes
to a crashing conclusion — sorta. "This
is it, kids" — so, sit down, shut up, strap
in, hang on and plan to be pulverized.
Here comes Vans Warped Tour 2018
— the final hurrah!
_________________________

"It IS the longest continuing traveling festival in North American history," declared Kevin Lyman, the founder and face of the Vans Warped Tour, during a recent interview. Since 1995, Lyman's mammoth annual cross-country excursion has been defining modern-day youth culture. And in the process, this once underground outing has become an iconic, household brand.

"We flew under the radar. It was a DYI tour, very much.
It hasn't changed a whole lot. It's just known now."
-Kevin Lyman
(Vans Warped Tour founder)

As a kid from the old school punk scene of the late '70s and early '80s, I first discovered the fledgling musical circus during the mid '90s — taking in an eclectic rock collective — exciting upstarts, including 311, Pennywise, Reel Big Fish, Royal Crown Revue and MxPx. As a little old man, grasping on to my glory days in the new millennium, I continued attending the annual summer extravaganza — discovering a crop of such new up-and-comers as Icon for Hire, Jule Vera, Koo Koo Kanga Roo, We the Kings, Bad Cop / Bad Cop, Alestorm, Barb Wire Dolls, New Years Day and the Fantastic Plastics. Yes, at the age of 55, I still soak up the sonic energy of Vans Warped Tour like a thirsty sponge. But, as they say, "All good things must come to and an end."

The complete Vans Warped Tour
band lineup, as of March 1, 2018.
Worded carefully, the upcoming Vans Warped Tour is being touted as "The Final Full Cross-Country Tour" — indicating that the end of the festival, as fans have come to it, is imminent — while leaving the door cracked open for future smaller scale options.

For me, Vans Warped Tour always has been about much more than its bounty of boisterous bands and selected celebrated sponsors. It's about connecting with people — leaning in, and loving on potentially troubled young people who feel compelled to sport T-shirts adorned with such wacky slogans as "Satan Is My Spirit Animal" and "Fuck Your Religion." But, while I reflect on what Vans Warped Tour has meant to me in the past, and ponder what it might look like in the future, I want to also point to the present — to the bands that I'm most pumped about seeing this summer. So, let's take a peek at my "10 Tastiest Bands" of 2018. BTW, I believe Kevin Lyman and his team have assembled a stellar 2018 lineup. And this list reflects only a few of my personal favorites. Spoiler alert — I tend to lean towards music bands that play songs.

10

Known for the irresistible 2004 smash,
"1985," this Texas-based troupe has been
on the scene since the mid '90s. Their
appearance on the 2017 Warped Tour
was a festival highlight. And while they
didn't write "Stacy's Mom," they just
might include their spot-on remake of
the infectious 2003 Fountains of Wayne
hit once again in their 2018 set list.

PLAYING
7/6-7/16, 7/18-7/21
_________________________

9

I've seen Issues perform live on a few
previous occasions. What impresses
me most is the group's high-energy
and ability to cram so many musical
entrees onto one stylistic serving cart.

PLAYING
6/21-8/5
_________________________

8

Infectious ear worms, all day long 
pouring out onstage, all summer long

PLAYING
6/21-8/5
_________________________

7

Led by sizzling frontchick, Jenna McDougall,
this Australian pop-core import has been
wowing American concert audiences for the
last five years. Based on the strength of the
group's just-released record, Underworld,
Tonight Alive will certainly be a 2018 must-see.

PLAYING
6/21-8/5
_________________________


One of the festival's originals, ska kingpin,
Less Than Jake sparkled like diamond on
the 2016 outing. In 2018, they're back.
"Making Warped Tour Great Again!"

PLAYING
7/18-7/20, 7/22-7/27, 7/29-8/5
_________________________

5

Following a U.S. 2018 spring tour
with Our Last Night and Jule Vera,
this hard-working British band will
be back crisscrossing America on
ALL the 2018 Warped Tour dates.
During that time, they might have
a chance to "Come Out to L.A."

PLAYING
6/21-8/5
_________________________

4

Hot Topic majority shareholders,
Black Veil Brides, will return to
reclaim the title of Warped Tour's
"Most Precious Commodity."
Simply put, I'm psyched!

PLAYING
6/21-7/1
_________________________

3

Catchy songs. Crunchy band. They'll have no
problem, "getting by," all summer in 2018.

PLAYING
6/21-8/5
_________________________

2

I once told bassist Nicole Rich how
Doll Skin is the greatest American
rock band since Guns N' Roses. She
looked at me like I was an idiot.
Fortunately for me and countless
others, her snappy combo will be
performing on the entire 2018 tour.

PLAYING
6/21-8/5
_________________________

1

Described best stylistically (by me)
as The Stones-meets-Bowie at a
dirty Vegas-style fashion show,
Palaye Royale is one of the world's
last surviving, truly authentic rock
bands. If you miss them on this
summer's tour, you might suck.

PLAYING
6/21-8/5
_________________________

So, what are your favorite 2018 Warped Tour picks? Feel free to share with the class in the "Comments" section below.

I'll likely be hitting various dates around the country, so if you spot a little old man wandering aimlessly around the park, holding a corn dog and carrying a Hello Kitty lunch box, come on over and say, "Hi." I love making new friends!

-Christopher Long
(March 2018)

_________________________

VANS WARPED TOUR 2018 DATES

6/21 Pomona, CA   6/22 San Diego, CA   6/23 Mountain View, CA   6/24 Ventura, CA
6/28 Phoenix, AZ   6/29 Las Vegas, NV   6/30 Salt Lake City, UT   7/01 Denver, CO
7/03 St.Louis, MO   7/05 Bonner Springs, KS   7/06 Dallas, TX   7/07 San Antonio, TX 
7/08 Houston, TX   7/10 Nashville, TN   7/12 Virginia Beach, VA   7/13 Camden, NJ 
7/14 Holmdel, NJ   7/15 Hartford, CT   7/16 Pittsburgh, PA   7/17 Toronto, ON
7/18 Cuyahoga Falls, OH   7/19 Cincinnati, OH   7/20 Detroit, MI   7/21 Chicago, IL
7/22 Minneapolis, MN   7/23 Milwaukee, WI   7/24 Indianapolis, IN   7/25 Darien Center, NY
7/26 Scranton, PA   7/27 Mansfield, MA   7/28 Wantagh, NY   7/29 Columbia, MD
7/30 Charlotte, NC   7/31 Atlanta, GA   8/02 Jacksonville, FL   8/03 Orlando, FL
8/04 Tampa, FL   8/05 West Palm Beach, FL
_________________________


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

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

Currently in development...