Category Archives: Reviews

TIME Magazine: The Beatles Invasion


Just got finished reading the TIME Inc. Special The Beatles Invasion. I highly recommend it for any Beatles fan – casual or diehard. It’s well written, funny and insightful. The photos are perfectly placed throughout showing all the ins and outs of the trip “that rocked America.”

It’s on newstands now. $14.99 US, $16.99 CAN

Muscle Shoals – Artists of the Week/Review

This week’s Artist of the Week feature is more of Artists of the Week. I am going to feature the Muscle Shoals movie and soundtrack. It’s more of a review and recommendation than anything else.

The Muscle Shoals movie was released on September 27, 2013 in theaters, to iTunes and On Demand with cable and satellite companies. I am not a fan of movie theaters so I was grateful for the multi-format release.

© Magnolia Pitcures
© Magnolia Pitcures

I rented it on iTunes the day it was release with the intention of watching it over the weekend. I had DVR’d a bunch of stuff I wanted to watch, or so I thought. When my DVR’d programs didn’t record for whatever reason, I decided to rent Muscle Shoals through my cable provider and watch it on the television. I watched the documentary nearly all day. It was a 48 hour rental and I took full advantage of that. I watched it front to back at least seven times. Yep, 7 times.

I had been looking forward to watching this documentary, not only as a fan of Lynyrd Skynyrd, but as a fan of Percy Sledge, Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones and Etta James. I have thousands of songs and artists in my music collection, I don’t know the history behind all my favorite artists or songs so I love learning about them. That’s what appealed to me about the Muscle Shoals documentary. I wanted to know what made Muscle Shoals the place to be and the songs that came out of there.

The documentary was exceptional, as much a documentary of Rick Hall as it was the whole Muscle Shoals music scene itself. There are two story lines going through the entire piece, the story of Rick Hall and the story of the Muscle Shoals sound. You can’t tell one story without the other, without Rick Hall there would be no Muscle Shoals sound and without the success of the Muscle Shoals sound, we wouldn’t know who Rick Hall is.

Rick Hall is the father of the Muscle Shoals sound. Towards the end of the movie he has this to say about his success:

“My whole life has been based on a lot of rejection. And to be honest with you, I think rejection played a big role in my life because I thrived on it. I wanted to prove the world was wrong and I was right.”

For Hall music got him through adversity and tragedy giving him the determination “to be somebody.” He was a songwriter and a musician and his drive is what developed into the Muscle Shoals sound.

The Muscle Shoals sound was a group of young, green musicians who learned as they went and became some of the most sought after players of the time. They had their “own kind of rhythm and blues,” an original sound that couldn’t be duplicated anywhere else.

In the documentary Hall says that people ask him what the Muscle Shoals sound is. Spooner Oldham, one of the musicians that worked with Hall said this: “There was some hillbilly background there. Some black music. We were open minded to be any genre.”

One of the underlying storylines of the documentary is that Alabama and the south was divided over race at the time of Muscle Shoals sound being developed. There was still segregation. Governor George Wallace did not want integration. Hall’s Fame Studios was multiracial. Hall called it “colorblind.”

Clarence Carter has this to say about working at Fame during those years -“You just worked together. You never thought about who was white and who was black. You thought about the common thing and it was the music.” Percy Sledge called it a family. Carter continued by saying, “Music played a big part in changing the thoughts, especially in the south, about race. By us being in Muscle Shoals and putting music together I think it went a long ways to help people understand we wall were just humans.”

“If you think about the South, they didn’t believe that black and white people could live together. And here are vinyl records that prove that not only could they live together, you mightn’t know who’s black and who’s white. At the time this was revolutionary stuff.”  -Bono

The story of Muscle Shoals is interwoven in the story of race relations, not only in music, but in America. Later in the documentary, Jerry Wrexler points out that “it’s been one of the anomalies, I think, of the era. That Aretha’s greatest works came with a studio full of Caucasian musicians. How do you figure it? This is the queen of soul acknowledged.” The musicians of Fame Studios were a group of white musicians who performed on the hit records of not only Aretha, but Wilson Pickett, Percy Sledge, Etta James and more. People who didn’t know anything about them thought they were black. As the quote above from Bono points out, on record you can’t tell who is what color if you don’t already know. It was always about the music and making the best recordings possible.

Those interviewed in the documentary pretty much describe what the base of the Muscle Shoals sound is the same way as Percy Sledge – “Everything that everybody done here, it came from their heart. And that’s what made Muscle Shoals so powerful.”

John Paul White of the Civil Wars described it as a “perfect storm.” Bono called it “magic” and Steve Windwood referred to it as an “enigma.”  This documentary captures all of that and more. The stories, along with the history itself, are riveting to watch. Your left wanting to hear more stories, hear more music and to see more film and photos of what went on inside of Fame and Muscle Shoals Sounds studios.

The Muscle Shoals documentary also talks about the Muscle Shoals Sound studio that was created by Jerry Wrexler and the Swampers after they left Rick Hall and Fame Studios. The Muscle Shoals Sound Studios was where The Rolling Stones recorded and the first Lynyrd Skynyrd record was recorded.. The documentary goes in depth into the Rolling Stones sessions with interviews from Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Personally, I would have liked to see more of the Lynyrd Skynyrd story. I’m not complaining though, there is only so much history that can be discussed in the nearly two hours of this documentary.

I also have to realize that there may not be any video or photos of every session that took place at either Muscle Shoals Sound or Fame Studios. Cameras had film, not memory cards and film was limiting. You also have to think that documenting every step of every session would have taken away from those sessions. I am grateful for the history and artifacts that did last all these years. I am grateful that future generations will get to see how music was made before computers and auto-tune and today’s technology.

“When you hear musicians, five or six of them in a room, when you hear the imperfections – that’s the human element. The imperfections gives it the human element, which I believe is what we need today more. And that’s how you make magic and great records.” – Rick Hall

That’s what made the Muscle Shoals sound so appealing to music fans and artists alike. It had that “human element” that no amount of technology today can create. That’s the biggest thing that I’ve taken away from this documentary – that what the Muscle Shoals sound really is is the people who make it. The songwriters, the singers, the musicians, the engineers, the producers – they are the Muscle Shoals sound. They give the heart and soul to what they record.

I really do encourage even casual music listeners to watch this documentary. It should be required viewing for students learning about American music or music in general. The Muscle Shoals sound is uniquely American, yet known around the world. The documentary shows you the spiritual and human side of the music makers, their drive and just enough insight into what makes Muscle Shoals, Alabama so special to so many people.

I watched the documentary eight times and took nine pages of notes and quotes, only about half of which I used here. I could have easily made this post longer and included all the quotes and information that I found interesting or important to me and the music and musicians that I like. That would have also given away a lot of this documentary. I’d rather you support the project by renting it or going to see it in the theater yourself. You will learn a lot from this movie. If you’re anything like me, it’s the tip of the iceberg that will encourage you to do your own research in what little free time you may have.

So much music came out of a little town of about 8,000 people. Quality music, music that mattered came out of Muscle Shoals. That’s why the Muscle Shoals sound is still relevant today. They wanted to be the best and became the best. While it was about hit songs, it wasn’t just about business. The music is what was important.

For more information about the documentary and the project, visit this site –> –

You’ll find information about who’s in the movie, photos, promotional clips and more.

Here are additional links from their Facebook page:

Buy Tickets:
Theatre List:
On Demand:

The soundtrack is now available through Amazon and iTunes.

© Magnolia Pictures / Republic Records
© Magnolia Pictures / Republic Records


You can also rent the documentary through Amazon Instant Video.

As for the tunes to check our, start with the songs on the soundtrack, then dig through the records mentioned towards the end of the documentary. “Patches” has been one of my favorite songs for years, so it was definitely a highlight for me to hear the story behind. As a Skynyrd fan, “Free Bird” is a favorite of mine. Just listen to all of them on the soundtrack and go from there. I can’t leave out any of the songs on the soundtrack as being the overall highlights of the Muscle Shoals sound.

Move and soundtrack are both 5 stars in my book. I, personally, cannot wait for the DVD release of the documentary. It’s a must own when that happens.


Linda Davis and George Hamilton IV to Host 34th Annual Sunday Mornin’ Country®

Source: Webster PR Press Release
Linda Davis and George Hamilton IV to Host 34th Annual Sunday Mornin’ Country®
June 9th at Grand Ole Opry House
Tickets Now On Sale!



Nashville, Tenn. (April 25, 2013) –  Sunday Mornin’ Country®, the annual Country and Gospel music show, is pleased to announce that the GRAMMY award-winning country artist Linda Davis and veteran country singer and hit songwriter, George Hamilton IV will host this year’s show, to be held June 9, 2013 at 2:30 PM at the Grand Ole Opry House.  Named a Top-20 Tourism Society Event, Sunday Mornin’ Country®, now in its 34th year, has been traditionally an outlet for many country music fans that are in town attending the CMA MusicFest to come and see one final show featuring over a dozen country and Gospel artists. Over the upcoming weeks, Sunday Mornin’ Country® will announce their headliners, as well as the rest on their line up. For more information on Sunday Mornin’ Country®, please visit  Advanced tickets are on sale now for $18 and can be purchased at, the Opry Box Office, by visiting or by clicking HERE.“Sunday Mornin’ Country® provides great entertainment for the whole family. It is a truly unique opportunity for fans to hear their favorite artists share personal stories about what their faith means to them in their daily life,” states event co-producer Lorrie Babcock Hendrickson. “It’s not just a Concert and it’s more than a Church service; It’s a time of Celebration and Inspiration you won’t want to miss!”Linda Davis is a GRAMMY winning singer/songwriter, inspirational motivator, devoted wife and mother. She has built a reputation as a world-class entertainer and is considered one of the best female vocalists in the business by some of her most well known peers. Davis landed her first record deal with CBS/Epic Records. Davis went on to collaborate with Reba McEntire on her single “Does He Love You.” This track became a #1 hit and earned a Grammy award for Best Country Vocal Collaboration. Throughout the years, Davis has played to sold out crowds with heavy hitters including Garth Brooks, George Strait, Reba McEntire and Kenny Rogers just to name a few. Davis is a huge supporter of several philanthropic endeavors and elated to be part of Sunday Mornin’ Country® this year.

George Hamilton IV began his career in 1960 when he was signed by Chet Atkins and became   an official member of the Grand Ole Opry. Hamilton enjoyed success from several breakout songs including “Before this Day Ends,” “Abilene,” and “Fort Worth, Dallas or Houston.” Touring across the Soviet Union, Australia, the Middle East and East Asia, Hamilton earned himself the title, “The International Ambassador of Country Music.” Hamilton is still a regular at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and performs in country shows throughout the U.S. and the U.K. In 2010, Hamilton released Old Fashioned Hymns, a transatlantic recording produced by Dave Moody in Nashville and Colin Elliott in Ireland. Hamilton was joined on the 28-track collection by a number of musical guests including Ricky Skaggs, Bill Anderson, Marty Stuart, Gail Davies, Pat Boone, Del McCoury, Tommy Cash and many others.

Sunday Mornin’ Country® continues to be one of the best tickets in town. Fans are encouraged to get their tickets now to ensure the best seating.

# # #




Nashville, TN (March 12, 2013) – Cyndi Lauper, Don McLean, Billy Ray Cyrus are the latest to be added to George Jones’ final Nashville concert taking place at the Bridgestone Arena on Friday, November 22, 2013.

Commenting on the added performers George Jones says, “Now, people may not know this, but I have been a fan of Cyndi’s since I first saw her years ago at the Grammy awards, what a thrill it was to hear she will be part of this final celebration.  Don McLean and I first met in the ‘70s, here in Nashville, and I love his singing, his songwriting, and I know his performance will be just as special as when I first saw him sing. Billy Ray is an old friend and someone I have spent many times together, bless his heart for wanting to be with me on this show.  I love and respect all these singers.”

Previously announced guest performers include Garth Brooks, Kid Rock, Kenny Rogers, Randy Travis, Alan Jackson, Dierks Bentley, T. Graham Brown, Mark Chesnutt, Charlie Daniels, Joe Diffie, Jamey Johnson, Tracy Lawrence, Patty Loveless, Shelby Lynne, Kathy Mattea, Montgomery Gentry, Sam Moore, Lorrie Morgan, The Oak Ridge Boys, Pam Tillis, Randy Travis, Tanya Tucker, Josh Turner and Gene Watson.

In addition, Clay Walker, Aaron Tippin, Collin Raye, Larry Gatlin, Crystal Gayle, The Kentucky HeadHunters, Jett Williams, Jeanne Pruett, Lisa Matassa, The Whites, Ricky Skaggs, Mandy Barnett, Mark Collie, Ronnie McDowell, Baillie & the Boys, and Daryle Singletary will join previously announced Brenda Lee, John Conlee, Lee Greenwood, Eddy Raven, The Roys, Janie Fricke, T.G. Sheppard, Dailey & Vincent, Gary Morris, Jessi Colter, Bobby Bare, Jim Ed Brown, Little Jimmy Dickens, Stonewall Jackson and more will all take the stage during the finale performance.

More stars are expected to be announced as performers gear up to pay tribute to one of the world’s most accomplished recording artists.

George Jones, often referred to as the “the greatest living country singer” will mark the end of an era with 2013’s farewell tour titled “The Grand Tour”. The tour is expected to make approximately 44 stops this year. The  icon’s hits, “I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair”, “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes”, “White Lightning” and “He Stopped Loving Her Today” will surely be part of each night’s set list, along with plenty of guests and surprises.

About George Jones
George Jones is the #2 best-charting country artist of all time, with a staggering list of hit singles since the ‘50s.  The Beaumont, Texas native also has 143 Top 40 hits to his name, has received two Grammy Awards, was a 2008 Kennedy Center Honor recipient, is a Country Music Hall of Fame member, was presented with a GRAMMY® Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012 and holds a National Medal of Arts medallion.

For more information on George Jones, please visit

Lynyrd Skynyrd Fan Pack from Classic Rock Magazine (UK)

There are two things to know about me that those who are my friends and family know about me – I love baseball (my Phillies in particular) and I love music, both with a passion (maybe music more so than baseball).

I love all kinds of music, but there are a few artists that I really latch onto and my love for them last years and years. I spend a lot of time learning about these artists and really get to know what makes them tick. One of those has been Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Lynyrd Skynyrd started recording back in 1970-71, I was born in 1971, therefore I didn’t know much of them back then. They’ve influenced many artists I like, Travis Tritt being an early stand out name in that group. I was big into country and he was one I remember also being a big Skynyrd fan. I knew a few of the songs and listened to them, although probably mostly covers of them, outside of Sweet Home Alabama. I don’t know that there is an American born since it’s release that hasn’t heard that song. It’s everywhere.

Anyway, fast forward to the year 2010. At that point I had been working for Bret Michaels for about 12-13 years. The aforementioned Sweet Home Alabama is a staple on the his home away from home, the tour bus. After show parties, just sitting around, you will not go a day in Bret Michaels World without hearing Lynyrd Skynyrd. During the summer of 2010, Bret is opening for Skynyrd. I do what I always do when Bret works with someone, I get to know them and do my research. My co-worker and roommate referred to me today in am email to someone as “all around music aficionado/Bret Michaels historian.”

I can’t help myself. I love music. I can’t remember the television show I just watched, but little bits and pieces of music history get stuck in my head and are often referred to whenever possible. I love to learn new things – a variety of subjects, too. So when I made plans to head up to New Jersey (it’s just Jersey to me – growing up just outside of Philly, it’s just Jersey), I bought a DVD of Lynyrd Skynyrd live.

I purchased Lynyrd Skynyrd Live From Freedom Hall on June 25, 2010. I was flying to Jersey to see Skynyrd July 1 (their show was July 2). Obviously, I have never see Skynyrd live before, so I wanted to know what they were like on stage. The Freedom Hall CD/DVD set was fairly new and although the line-up I was going to see was different, it was still Skynyrd to me.

I absolutely fell in love with Skynyrd. I will never say I am anyone’s biggest fan or number one fan, I will always tell you when I became a fan of someone. I wasn’t a big fan of Poison ‘back in the day’ but I became I fan in 1995 when I saw Bret Michaels on TNN Country News that year. I won’t make up any stories, I’ll just tell you what made me fall in love with the music.

Back to Skynyrd — I watched Rickey Medlocke go crazy on stage, playing with an amazing passion and put every ounce of himself into every note, every move and every moment of the show. The whole band was electric – Billy Powell was in that video, as was Ean Evans. I was hooked. Admittedly Rickey became my favorite member, his energy was and still is unbelievable. But after seeing them live and purchasing more live DVDs from a variety of time periods, I fell in love with all the members. There is a magic to Lynyrd Skynyrd as Rickey often says. There really is. The music is what draws you in, their live performance of said music is the icing in the cake.

For the last two years, I have read books, bought more CDs and downloads, collected magazines and so forth. My roommate calls it obsessed. Maybe I am, but there is so much history for me to explore and catch up on, I’ve missed a lot. They’ve been Lynyrd Skynyrd as long as I have been alive and, well, I have only been collecting CDs, DVDs, books and magazines on them since 2010. There is much to learn. I guess I could have read all the books and web sites and gotten it all out of the way before I collected the music and videos, but my passion is for the music. Doesn’t matter what line-up of the band, there are songs I can listen to over and over and over. For obvious reasons, I have latched on to the line-up I saw live in 2010. That line-up was Gary Rossington, Johnny Van Zant, Rickey Medlocke, Dale Krantz-Rossington, Michael Cartellone, Peter Keys, Carol Chase, Mark Matejka and Robert Kearns.

I have only met Peter Keys, he came to a Poison show here in Nashville this year. And, well I did meet Robert Kearns, too. I, of course, was backstage prior to the show catching up with Janna who was on the road with Bret (I don’t travel with him, but I do travel to see him in certain cities). She stopped and chatted with Peter and Robert about Bret, who had just two months prior to going out with Skynyrd had his brain hemorrhage, so that’s what we talked about. So technically, I met Peter twice.

Anyway, back to the show 38 Special went on first, so I watched with a friend I invited from the side of the stage. Donnie Van Zant is something else. A nice guy, too. No I didn’t meet him, but in the middle of a song he did come over and asked if we were good. Bret went on second and Skynyrd was the headliner. I learned quickly in my research that no one can follow Lynyrd Skynyrd – throughout their history some of the biggest names in music have been left in the dust when coming on after Skynyrd. When you see them live, you’ll understand.

They give 1000% to every show and despite any nervousness they may have, it never shows on stage. They are master showmen.

I started writing this piece to discuss the Classic Rock Magazine (UK) Lynyrd Skynyrd Fan Pack. For the release of their new CD Last of A Dyin’ Breed, as every band does, there is promotions, interviews, and exclusive bonus tracks to get people excited about the release. A friend I made through the Skynyrd message board posted a link to this UK magazine fan pack. I bought one. UK magazines and releases are different than US their US counterparts. So I ordered a fan pack. (You can order one here if you are interested – Classic Rock Lynyrd SKynyrd Fan Pack)

The fan pack arrived just before my trip to Atlanta to see Skynyrd after the Phillies vs. Braves game at Turner Field. (I met my Mom and brother at the airport and was taking them with me to the game and concert. Skynyrd did not disappoint and they made a fan out of my Mom.) I read the first part of the magazine in the fan pack on the flight into Atlanta. I read the first 50 pages on the second leg of my trip into Atlanta.

The sections I read before the game and concert were the making of the album, track by track and the interviews with Gary, Johnny and Rickey. I read the rest of the magazine between Atlanta and Philly after the concert. The rest of the magazine had interviews with Mark, Michael, Peter Keys, new bassist Johnny Colt, the Honkettes (Dale and Carol), as well as an abbreviated history, information about the members who had passed and reviews of their back catalog.

I learned some new things, I knew some of the information they discussed and it was fun hearing the stories. I was touched by Johnny Colt’s interview and his story of being the new kid in the band. I became friends with him on Facebook shortly after he joined the band, follow him on Instagram and he’s shared a few stories about joining the band, along with some behind the scenes photos. Johnny Colt was a founding member of the Black Crowes. I knew of them, have some of their music and all that jazz. I like literally thousands of different artists, but obviously I can’t follow every detail of every artist I like. I probably would if I could, but realistically I can’t. So I didn’t know much about Johnny Colt and still have a lot to learn about him. What I have learned is that he’s a genuine guy who is passionate about his beliefs and the projects he immerses himself in.

His joining Skynyrd is no different. Reading the interview in the Fan Pack magazine just proves how passionate he is. He is still working on his groove and his place on stage with the band, but he’s filling some pretty big shoes. I think he’s doing just fine and if he’s nervous or loses himself in the moment of each show, I didn’t see it on September 1, 2012. I’m sure there was some pressure for him, he was home and playing in front of many people he knows, I’m sure. Add that to being onstage next to Gary Rossington all night, and, well it can’t be easy. But, much like the rest of the band, he’s an intense player. He’s real and genuine and, from everything I’ve learned about Lynyrd Skynyrd, a perfect fit.

I didn’t read his interview until after I went to the show. Watching him from the front and seeing him interact with the audience, observing him (that’s kind of what I do at all shows, I observe everything going on, it’s kind of part of my job), it made reading that interview more than just an interview. It made me go back through my memory and as I edited my photos from the show, really think about what I saw of him on stage.

Over the past few months, Team Skynyrd has been tweeting and posting more than they have since I started following them. One of the tidbits they posted was about how shy Gary Rossington is. That made me smile. I am super shy around most people. I avoid crowded rooms and meeting new people. I don’t like talking to people on the phone, but I will chat like crazy and post like crazy on a message board, my Facebook and blog. You’d have to know me pretty well to get me to say all this to you in person — this really long post is easier typed than spoken for me. Probably why I like to write and blog, it is easier than talking to someone for me.

In the Fan Pack, Dale, Gary’s wife, talks about how shy he is. That he won’t even answer the door for room service. It is crazy to me to think that Gary Rossington is a lot like me. I can’t explain what that admission means to me, who is often painfully shy to the point of social anxiety. Backstage at a show, I am pretty outgoing with the crew members and people I have come to know. As much as I would love to meet a bunch of people I admire, I could almost never do it on my own. If I could I would have met Rickey Medlocke in 2010 when I walked past him looking for a friend. I was so embarrassed as I walked past him and my phone rang. I wasn’t all that close, but my ringtone was Skynyrd Nation. I am that shy. I know these guys are all approachable, but at the same time, I am me and that me is still shy. So to learn that about Gary Rossington, THE Gary Rossington – the guy who plays guitar like no one else – it touched me, you know they way those things do. He’s world famous and still a shy guy. I am almost the silent partner in Bret’s World, most people don’t know anything about me, you won’t see me interviewed for a biography special and I like it that way. I don’t like answering the phone, although I do when I have to. I just smiled when I think about Gary being the same way.

The Fan Pack was a really cool memento to get and I’m glad I read it at the time I did. I study and learn about the people that I really admire. In a way I learn more about why I love music and certain musicians. The interviews and the reviews, as I stated earlier, contained both information I knew and some new information. The Lynyrd Skynyrd story is one of triumph and tragedy, rebirth and triumph again.

I know this was a long-winded, yet short review of the fan pack. It is very worth the investment if you like Skynyrd. If you love Skynyrd, you probably already have it or ordered it. The pin, bottle opener, poster and CD are all great additions to every Skynyrd fan’s collection.

Here’s the link again –

While I will gush every now and again, I don’t often brag about what I do. Yes, I get to work for THE Bret Michaels, but he’s more than just my boss, he’s family, my friend. At the same time, when other really famous musicians know my work or comment on my work – it means everything to me. Shy little me (You can read my story on my other web site blog (My Stories), has talked to a few rock stars from the pages of my Metal Edge magazines from high school, helped a few rock stars to web sites or just get tickets to one of Bret’s shows.

I work in the music business, but I shut that off and become a fan of the music I love. Just an ordinary fan like everyone who doesn’t work in the music business. I buy my own tickets to every show I go to. I don’t ask for tickets, passes or anything. I buy what I like and I’ll talk about it forever. When I love something I love it — it is completely genuine. It doesn’t mean that I don’t like something when I don’t post about it, ’cause I will tell you what I don’t dig, too. My favorites and opinions aren’t always popular, I prefer deep album cuts to singles for a lot of artists I listen to. I guess I latch on the artists that are genuine in that way too. I like real people. Bret Michaels and Lynyrd Skynyrd are those kind of people.