Rays Announce First Four Saturday Concerts Artists
Besides the beginning of play by your Tampa Bay Rays, this might be the second thing you have been looking forward to this Spring. That’s right today the Rays will announce their first four Rays/Hess Express Saturday Concert Series guests, and they are impressive indeed.
One of the acts kind of leaked out early in the Spring, and we already know that Darius Rucker will perform on Saturday May 14th after the Rays take on the Baltimore Orioles (4:10 pm First Pitch). Now we just have to figure out which themed night Rucker will be performing on, then a few more options will fall into place.
Two of the three acts to announced on Friday made my list of the best acts of the 20th Century. One had an iconic song that both men and women could relate to, and not only with their significant other. The second band was on the rotation list of every pop station in Tampa Bay during my High School and College days.
Both of the above bands will fill the outfield of the Trop. with people clamoring for wristbands so they can get a up close and personal moment with these great artists. One of Country musics most exciting young female singers will also grace the Rays stage after her mid-May wedding to another of Country Music’s heartthrobs. I guess this one is a bit easier to figure out, so let’s start with her appearance.
Miranda Lambert has come a long, long way since her finalist gig on the 2003 edition of “Nashville Star” and finished in third place. But from the moment she signed with Epic Records, her career has just exploded as if ignited by one of her debut albums songs “Kerosene“. Remarkably her debut album by the same name produced 4 top 40 billboard hits.
Even after Epic Records closed their Nashville division, Columbia Records picked up the talented blond singer and helped produce her second album, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend“. The album’s title track failed to get substantial airplay, but the album did have 3 exciting singles, “Famous in a Small Town“, “Gunpowder & Lead” and “More Like Her” which were all Top 20 chart toppers, with “Gunpowder & Lead” zipping up to the Top 10 spot on the charts.
But it was their third try, with the “Revolution” album that showed the Country Music fans her true essence and talents. Five singles got significant airplay from the album with Lambert’s number one hit, “The House That Built Me” not only spending 4 weeks at the top spot, but also garnering a Grammy, CMA Award and a nice keepsake from the Academy of Country Music. Interesting enough, Lambert also got nominated 9 times for the CMA Awards, a nominations record for a female in a single year.
As if thing could not get better for the young Texas native, her romance seemed to blossom after she began dating fellow Country singer Blake Shelton including Lambert singing background vocals on Shelton’s 2008 single “Home“. She also co-wrote and recorded “Bare Skin Rug“, a duet with Shelton. In true Southern style, Shelton proposed to Lambert after receiving her father’s blessing on May 9, 2010. You can bet love will definitely be in the air that night as the newlywed takes the stage in front of over 30,000 rabid Rays fans. Lambert will hit the stage on September 24th after the Rats take on those pesky Toronto Blue Jays (7:10 First Pitch)
I can still remember singing the ballads and soft rock anthems of this next group as they played on my car radio while cruising down the Florida beaches. This group had that kind of vibe that attracted the ladies, plus they had some good song for driving, or just cruising down the motorways. I still remember wearing out a copy of “Hi Infidelity“, which sold over 10 million copies and charted 4 Top 40 hits.
REO Speedwagon has just finished a tour with a former Rays concert guest, Pat Benatar. The band is also reissuing “Hi Infidelity” which is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2011. Did you know the band originally took their name from the REO Speed Wagon, which was a flatbed truck/fire engine combo developed by Ransom Eli Olds (REO), who also founded Oldsmobile, a division of General Motors.
As most band, their origin started with them playing cover songs in local campus bars and Frat/Sorority parties as a way for each of the bands members who were students at the University of Illinois to gain some extra experience and money. The band finally signed with Epic Records in 1971 and sped off to Bridgeport,Connecticut. Before “Hi Infidelity” took the band to new heights, their most profound single was “Riding the Storm Out“.
How popular was “Hi Infidelity“? It spawned 4 hits, including their number one hit,“Keep On Loving You“, a number 5 hit, “Take It on the Run” then “In Your Letter (#20) and “Don’t Let Him Go (#24). the album remained on the charts for 65 weeks, including 32 weeks in the Top 10, plus 15 weeks at the top of the charts.
Their next two albums “Good Troubles” and “Wheels are Turning” did well commercially, but did not approach the success of “Hi Infidelity” but produced hits like “Keep the Fire Burnin’“(#7), Sweet Time (#26) plus their last number one hit. “Can ‘t Fight This Feeling“. Just as the end of the 80’s were approaching, the band had to adopt the lyrics of the song “Roll With The Changes“. The band will perform on April 30th after the Rays take on the Los Angeles Angels (1:10 pm First Pitch).
The band even released an online video game “Find Your Way Home“. It was the first download able casual game produced with a rock band and was cited by numerous publications as an innovative marketing product for a music act.
The third band is one I am really excited about. They are a band I have sang on stage for a while in the darkened Karaoke bars and rock bars in the Tampa Bay region. They have had 14 Top 10 singles and sold nearly 9 million albums in the U S alone. Their iconic tune “Iris” from the Meg Ryan and Nicholas Cage movie “City of Angels” brings both old and young fans singing the chorus in concerts and having to wipe a tears or two from their eyes.
If you guessed the Goo Goo Dolls, you are batting 1,000 today. A wild factoid about the band, lead singer John Rzeznik originally did not sing the band’s early tunes because of his shyness. The band’s name actually comes from a “True Detective” ad for a toy called a Goo Goo Doll.
Another wild story about the song “Iris” that spun the band towards stardom after its inclusion in the “City of Angels” soundtrack, Rzeznik was experiencing a severe case of writers’ block and was on the verge of quitting the band before the song came into his head that launched the band to Worldwide fame.
“Iris” was actually added to the triple-platinum album “Dizzy Up the Girl” and included other hits “Slide“,” Black Balloon“,” Broadway“, “Dizzy“. The new direction of the band helped them invite a new legion of fans to the band’s music, and most of their concerts do not include hits wrote before 1995.
The band also gave back to their hometown of Buffalo, New York on July 4, 2004 when they did a free concert in a downpour that also contained a great cover rendition of “Give a Little Bit” made famous by the group Supertramp. The single reached the top of the Adult Top 40 chart in 2005. The Goo Goo Dolls will hit the stage on August 6th after the Rays tackle the Oakland Athletics (7:10 pm First Pitch).
So there you have it, the first four artists that will be performing after particular Saturday Rays games during the 2011 season. From Rucker to the Goo Goo Dolls, each band has its set of devotee fans, and more than a few casual fans who will be surprised when another hit is played that they had not connected to the band in the past. From REO Speedwagon to newlywed Miranda Lambert, love will be in the air in the Trop. during the Rays/Hess Express Saturday Concert Series Saturdays this season.
This is not the final Rays concert list for the 2011 season, there will be more great concert announcements coming in April. I can tell you I will be their front and center ready to rock out and bob my head to the great music being offered on Saturday nights. Oh, and bonus baby, we get to see a great Rays game beforehand…….Charlie Sheen would definitely rate this Rays concert series first four acts as a surefire “WINNER”.