Results tagged ‘ Rays Concert Series ’

I am Ready to Hoot and Holler for Rucker

 

Darius-Rucker-performsUPI.jpg

UPI

You know to this day people all around the World still possibly daily refer to him as “Hootie” and not by his given name. But that is one of the drawbacks of being a singer in a band. Sometimes your name can get lost in shuffle. Missed by millions when even on the CD cover it lists you name as Darius Rucker, not “Hootie”. You have to wonder if anyone ever called Ian McCulloch by the name “Echo” since he fronted Echo and the Bunnymen.

But even with the common name snafu hitting his ears every day, you have to think Rucker has risen above the strife and is feeling pretty good about his solo career. Sure the South Carolina native might get a little annoyed at the constant name misfortune, but after 5 studio albums and 6 Top 40 chart hits…you can let some things slide.


430-Pebble_Beach_Golf_sff_embedded_prod_affiliate_70.jpgRucker also has a unique Rays connection line having just playing in a golf foursome with Rays fan Kevin Costner and Bill Murray at the PGA Pebble Beach National Pro-Am where Rays All Star Third Baseman Evan Longoria also attended.

Rucker name has been “officially” announced by the Tampa Bay Rays (I told you via Twitter months ago) for the Saturday, May 14 show after the 4:10 pm Baltimore Orioles contest. Especially great is that on May 13th, Rucker will celebrate his 45th birthday (May 13,1966). So maybe Rucker and I can celebrate together since that concert date is also my birthday. Since the Rays have gone 0-13 on that date (May 14th), possibly Rucker & I can high-5 after he helps us break our losing streak on that date (I am betting on it).

Most people might not know that Rucker finished his first solo R&B album back in 2002 and the album did not chart any of the singles. Then six years later after signing with Capitol Records and redefining himself more towards his Southern roots, his first single “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It” showed if he stayed true to his country twang, he was on the road again to stardom.

Another really amazing thing to come about after the release of this first single off his “Learning to Live” CD is that Rucker became the first African-American artist to chart a number 1 hit since ex-baseball player Charlie Pride back in 1983. Suddenly the World rediscovered Rucker in this solo light and he also had hits like “It Won’t Be Like This for Long” and “Alright” shoot up the charts to the top spot, with “History in the Making” falling just short at number 3.

Still the rejuvenation of his music also made him the first African-American artist to ever win the New Artist Award at the CMA Awards in 2009. It was also only the second time that an African-American singer had ever won an award from the Country Music Association (Pride was also the first). His latest Cd ” Charleston, South, Carolina 1966 pays homage to his hometown and the year of his birth.

You can bet his father, who Rucker only saw on Sundays since he was a singer in the gospel band called “The Rolling Stones” is now glad his son decided to follow his childhood dream of singing. Looking forward to hearing Rucker sing in Tropicana Field,. I am wondering if it will happen on “Country Night“, or possibly the popular “90′s Night“.


75-uscopening1_lead_art_horizontal_prod_affiliate_74.jpgNo matter what themed night Rucker performs on it has to feel like a million miles away from his stint on the celebrity “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” , as the singer at Tiger Wood’s wedding (along with the rest of the Blowfish) or as the chicken tender crisp cowboy on a Burger King television ad.

Rucker, an avid sports fan who has the Miami Dolphins logo tattooed on his body knows that when life throws you a curveball, you just lean back and crank it to the Moon. That is the type of clutch singer who could end a Rays May 14th losing streak. Heck, maybe we can get lucky enough to hear Rucker do another stirring National Anthem like the one he did at this year’s past Sugar Bowl game in the Superdome. He sure sounds amazing in domes!

 

 

Looking Back at the Rays 2010 Concert Series…Part 2

 


 

So after a few days getting over a slight bit of misfortune of food poisoning eating some I relish…a hot dog, Ironically, it was my last hot dog of the year at a local High School football game against a bitter inner-city rival that took me down…Figures, thanks Northeast H S.


No more stalling, time to get this final edition of the Rays 2010 Concert Photos underway. One of the greatest thing I like about music is that the first few song of the musician’s sets are sometimes pre-programmed to get the crowd into a rising energy so that the concert can take a particular flow throughout the night.

The first seven concerts of the 2010 Rays Friday Fest and Rays/Hess Express Saturday Night Concert Series definitely set of tone for the final second half. From John Fogerty to Barenaked Ladies, the Rays concert events began and uphill turn that never ended to the last event of the year, Bret Michaels. Each of the 14 concerts this year left a special mark with me. I was lucky to take photos during 12 of the 14 Rays concerts and get in tune with practicing my concert photography.

 

I am not a professional photographer, and my little Fuji S5100 has seen better days (Thanks drunken Yankee fan), but I think I do the best with what I got. Sure would love a $ 4,000+ Canon or Nikon camera body and a lens as long as my arm, but that is not in the slim, money-less budget right now. Now back to the awesome years in Rays music.


 

 

Vanilla Ice did not attract as many to the Trop’s infield as I might have thought for his concert, but it was the most high energy event of the year. Vanilla Ice has changed his modes operandi to push more towards the hard guitar and drumbeats that pumped through the crowd like a large heartbeat. Combine that with the (I thought) whimsical idea of Vanilla Ice trying to get the photographers’ wet, and you get a audience/photog participation event. This was the first of three straight Friday Fest concerts that would hit all spectrums of the music World, and it hit on all levels.


Sure most in the front photo pit with me that day did not totally see eye-to-eye with the whole water and expensive cameras’ bit, but I was laughing and having a good time dodging the 20 ounces of unexpected water, and a few time Vanilla Ice looked down and smiled at me that I seemed to have understood it was part of his method…or his madness. It was tied for my favorite Rays concert offering of the season, and a great way to push off the second half of the concert schedule.

 

Of course there was one concert missing from this list this season, and I want to send out good vibes hoping that GoGo’s guitarist Jane Wiedlin recovers perfectly from her ACL injury sustained when she fell while hiking near her home in California. With up to a year recovery time for such an injury, hopefully we can again see the GoGo’s possibly perform in the future. It is a great concert event that I have not missed (even in Jannus Landing) since the band first started coming to the Tampa Bay area.


 

 

Los Lobos is one of those bands that I do not think would have ever hit y musical tastes if not for their great rendition of the classic Ritchie Valens “La Bamba“. I also would not have known that recent Oscar winner T-Bone Burnett produced their first album “How Will the Wolf Survive” and one of the songs from that album is playing over the opening credits to the Sean Penn/Robert DeNiro classic “Colors“.


My first tastes in live music were preserved in a small beachside bar in Maderia Beach, Florida that a certain well known Florida ocean troubadour used to frequent named Jimmy Buffett when he came up to see his band pal Mike Utley.

I got used to hearing tunes that flowed with the waves and just seemed to roll in the ears and settle for a while to sit and ponder things. I got the same vibe from this Friday Fest concert by Los Lobos. It might have been more refined to a South Texas border town that a beach resort on the Gulf of Mexico, but the whole time I was wishing for a boat drink…or a shot of Avion (thanks Entourage).


 

 

The next Rays Friday Fest event featured a band that to this point had to be the most audience involved and totally choreographed dancers of the Rays concert series. Felt kind of eerie at first covering the Village People concert more for the fact of having to remember what I wore back then, and seeing myself again with long curly hair, but I took one for the team here.

Seriously, it was a great event in that we got to see most of the original members of the band still out there supporting their music and dancing their well known routines. But it did seem a bit unusual to me to see rhinestones and glitter on a construction worker…just saying.


It was another high energy night and a great moment if you are fond of the 1970′s or even want to remember back that far. I even found a bit of glitter all over me camera when I took it out of my backpack when I got home. As a nice sidebar to this concert, after I posted my concert review, the Indian from the Village People actually Direct Messaged me on Twitter with a cordial thank you for covering the event. It was a great time in my life, so maybe I should thank him again for helping remember some great moments in my life sans the platform shoes.

 

 

Train really did roll in to the Trop for the next concert event. This is one of those bands right now that are right on the cusp and thoughts of so many in the music World because of their song “Hey Soul Sister” plus the million of samplings of the song in countless commercials and advertisements Worldwide right now.


Train front man Pat Monahan also did one of the coolest things I have ever seen done ( so far) during a concert when he posted two pictures of the crowd during their song “If It’s Love” that I still have as my desktop background on my aging laptop. Monahan also became the second performer to do an infield sprint around the Trop when he started an impromptu walkabout from the stage to the area near the Visitor’s dugout.

Reminded me a lot of the same run M C Hammer had done two years earlier, but Monahan seemed more at ease strolling amongst the 4,000+ fans on the Rays Field Turf.


 

 

Allison Iraherta was not originally suppose to open for Adam Lambert, but Orianthi had to pull out of the opening act gig after some family situations. Iraherta still looks a bit nervous and wooden on stage, but her music more than makes up for any sense of clumsiness or irrational movements on stage. But the raspy voice of this young woman definitely makes you remember her voice and her music.


She has one of those resounding voices that brings back memories of past singers like Janis Joplin or even Joan Baez. Iraherta will definitely be on that “one to watch” list, and opening for Lambert will get you some extra exposure she desperately needs to get noticed beyond her huge American Idol triumphs. In time the stage set will mellow out and become more fined, and with that the star in the center of the stage belting out those tunes will shine brighter.

 

 

What can you say about Adam Lambert’s concert. Well, I guess my concert review was good enough to still be placed on his International website and with that came over 78 comments within 24 hours. Got to tell you I always know bands have their followers, but this guy definitely has an army ready, willing and able to carry out his wishes. But the concert was even more amazing to me than the response by his followers. It really was stage musical to me. Set with great costumes, gyrating dancers and spectacular musicians playing some incredible music.


For effect, this concert was tied for the best concert event (with Vanilla Ice) of the year for me. It has a little bit of everything to it. And the wildest part is that one of my photos was also popped on the Lambert website and I took it from over 100 yards away since this is one of the two concerts I did not get approved for ahead of time…how ironic is that.

But it was a fantastic journey of music performed by Lambert, and his dancers brought a great melding of it all together into something worthy of the Broadway stage. Some might say it is more of a stage show than a concert, but I remind you that David Bowie and countless other have done just the same thing for a long, long time.


 

 

Last, but definitely not least is the Rays Saturday Night Concert I was waiting for all year. The climax at the end where I got to see another artists that every time he comes into the Tampa Bay area as a solo artist, I am in the crowd. The last time was in a more fan-friendly environment of Ruth Eckerd Hall, but no matter where you put him, Bret Michaels is all about the music and a good time.


When the announcement was originally made near the end of May, it might have seemed to ambitious or even ill advised for Michaels to throw himself back into his musical tour so early after his health situations, but that is one of things that endears you to him…his strength, fan commitment and his desire to do what he loves to do….sing to the masses.

Some might say the night was not as energetic or the usual ” Bret Michaels” show. But to me it was a celebrate of his music and a way for all of us to send some healing vibes and also sing a few classic tunes that always stick in our minds. Michaels even did the Country version of “Every Rose Has Its Thorns“, and it was taken in by the crowd like it was the original. For myself, it was the perfect ending to the Rays 2010 concert series. I was taken photos of a rock icon who had taken a dirty and dangerous road of medical problems and whisked them away like road dust to sing.


 

Some say these Rays concerts were devised for the pure sake of escalating Rays attendance figures and bolstering their overall yearly numbers while most of the Major League Baseball teams were experiencing up to 6-10 percent decreases in their yearly attendance numbers.

Sure that reasoning is true, but I kind of look at it another way. It is also a way for the Rays entire staff and the Rays Republic to collectively celebrate this great team we have here, and also enjoy some great music.


Thank You Rays for this year’s Concert Series. Looking forward to another killer schedule in 2011.

Looking back at the Rays 2010 Concert Series..Part 1

 


 

During the Tampa Bay Rays 2010 season, the Rays front office brought together 14 great artists during the course of the season to play in either during their Friday Fest celebration or their popular Rays/Hess Express Saturday Night Concert Series. This season the Rays surpassed their previous collection of artists by bringing some of the most musically loved and admired artists of this era and the past. This post will be a small collection of some of my favorite moments during the 2010 Rays Concert series.


It decided to cut the concerts completely in half and bring you 7 today and possibly 7 in a day or two to show again the music and the great fun Rays fans had both in the stands and on the field in 2010. I will try and pick what I consider my two most memorable photos out of the more than 581 photo that made it onto my online photo collection on Flicker.com. I do not in any way consider myself a professional photographer, but I can assure you I am taking a few classes this off season and the 2011 photos will be (hopefully) miles above my present collections.

So kick back, relax and maybe pop on a I-Tunes or Internet Radio station as I begin a short journey again through the musical journey furnished to all members of the Rays Republic in 2010. It was great journey from times from my young youth (John Fogerty/ ZZ Top) all the way to a duo of the most talked about artists in the last two years (Adam Lambert/ Bret Michaels). I can guarantee you, I will be checking these photos out for years just trying to relive the great moments and still singing their songs.

 

 

It was great to see John Fogerty this year out singing during the 25th Anniversary of his baseball-themed classic “Centerfield“. I had always thought Fogerty had a Southern twang and feel to his music, but this was the first time I have even gotten to see him live and really take in both the accent and the great musical talents this artist brought to us in the first of 14 Rays concerts. Fogerty did a great array of his own classics, plus a nice mixture of C C R classics to make the entire Trop seem to be swaying to his music that night.


 

 

ZZ Top was one of those bands in my youth where I had cassettes like “Afterburner” playing on my car stereo during road trips or if I was in a hurry to get somewhere. It was also the first concert that I got my green Rays photographer credentials to get up close and personal shots of the band during their first four songs.

It was a new opportunity for me, being an amateur photographer and blogger to push another nice item onto my online resume` plus get instantly into the energy and vibe of the concert. The definitely wasn’t nothing “cheap” about ZZ Top that night.


 

 

Nellie was held on the day after my birthday, so it had a special fee because of the significance of this date to me. But it was the great pumping of the bass and the music that got me to enjoy this concert. Instead of standing in front of stage tonight, I snuck into the front mosh pit area to take my photos tonight.

I think I took over 400 photos, but with the rocking and swaying movement of the crowded pit area, I got more than I expected to out of focus shots or even muted photos. It was a great example of why photographers are in the photo wells and not among the fans during a concert. It was a well lesson learned that night.


 

 

Hall & Oates was an interesting concert for me. Not that the band ever held a great significance in my musical tastes, but if you dated in the late 70′s-80′s this band held your dating prowess firmly in their hands. If you wanted to have a romantic rendezvous or even a chance to dance with your date, you usually had to have a Hall & Oates tune playing. But it was also a time to reconnect with some of the past for me as a few friends from Philly came into town and were more excited about being on the field than me for this concert moment.


 

 

Dierks Bentley is one of those country music stars you know by his music, but ladies just loved to mosey up and just watch him sing as if he was singing to them. His band just seemed to sweat high energy that night and it was one of those concert moments you do not soon forget based on the music and the high level of involvement and dancing even in the crowds.

 

Added a third photo to this selection because it was such a great moment to sit there and watch Bentley bend down and hold the hand of a young fan in the front of the stage during his performance..simply magical.

It was the first time I had ever seen a huge line dance of his hit “Sideways” in my life, and a moment that will stay close tome. Wish I knew that dance, but I have been sideways a few times in my life…maybe.


 

 

Most of Tantric’s music was a bit of an unknown to most Rays fans before this Friday Fest concert but we all collectively knew their tune “Down & Out ” because of its connection to Rays All Star Third Baseman Evan Longoria’s who uses the tune as his walk-up music. Just the first few bars from the violin of Mark Ratzenboeck and the entire Tropicana Field crowd went nuts yelling, screaming and singing the words to the tune.

Tantric was one of the concerts this year, like Dierks Bentley where I got to hear some new music that I was not accustomed to, but became a fan of the group after the concert.


 

 

The group Barenaked Ladies have a sad reminder for me. My daughter’s mother was ill and in an area hospital when I decided to take my then 10-year old daughter to Universal Studios for the day and the band was playing that night as a musical guest.

The music of this group is very up-tempo and their beats and rhythms can get you instantly into moving and grooving to their music. It was a special night then, and this night was extremely special also because of the group doing an extended set and really connecting with the Rays crowd on so many levels.

So we are at the halfway point in the photo review of the Rays 2010 Concert series and I am going to sign off now and get to checking out a few more photos and concert footage to post some more great moments and events online in the next few days. 2010 was for me one of the best concert years, and with the Rays also involved in that process, it became an instant “win-win” opportunity for me.


I was lucky enough to have photo credential for all but one (Fogerty) of these first 7 Rays concerts. But one of the unseen great items of getting this opportunity is being in front of the stage and meeting so many of the great fans who also wanted to get as close as possible to these artists.

 

It was great to talk with some of them before every concert, and even discuss both the band and the experience with them before the event started. It was fantastic hearing some of the opinions and songs they were hoping to hear during the band’s sets. But in the end, it was not about the conversations or even the photos, it was all about the notes and lyrics of this great music.

 

Nothin’ But a Good Time with Bret Michaels

 

 

Saturday evening way before the Tampa Bay Rays took on the Seattle Mariners, the Rays Republic saw the resurging brilliance of a man who has waged his fair share of War in the battlefields of Rock and Roll and come out better for the journey. At a time when most ex-hair band lead singers are lounging somewhere else resting on their follicle ladened 1980′s laurels, sitting in isolation while continuous residual checks op into their mailboxes, this guy is still loving the Rock Star lifestyle one stanza at a time.

 

Men and women all over this big blue marble have lived vicariously through this rock icon’s adventures for a long time starting with his first exposure to the vice and decay of the rock and roll lifestyle that can chew you up and spit you out as candy while getting his first taste of this sweet as the front man for the iconic glam metal band Poison.


 

Here is a guy who has sold out tons of venues like Tropicana Field as both a solo act and as a lead singer, but he was doing something we all wanted to do before the game…He was throwing in front of the Rays dugout with Bullpen Coach Bobby Ramos, and tossing a mighty fine and tight fastball. The guy who could do almost anything just wanted to throw some soft toss, then get ready to pop the top off Tropicana Field with a slew of cover songs and songs we all know by heart.


 
Pat Manfredo

That is one of the things that makes all of us want to meet or take a photo with the guy. He is one of the most genuinely honest and down to earth guys in Rock and Roll, and he made time to toss a few fastballs, then sign a few autographs before heading to his hidden suite just to the left of the Rays Press Box.

 
Pat Manfredo

Even when he gave an A Capella rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame that will surely be posted on Youtube soon, It was all Bret Michaels as we have come to know this hometown guy from Butler, Pennsylvania. If he wasn’t a rock legend and icon, he would be that troubadour possibly playing in a neighborhood tavern cranking out his original tunes and filling the place during the weekend.


 

And if it wasn’t for the huge stage and the megawatts of surging heat and power from the banks of amplifiers and gear, you almost felt like it was a small time guy doing a show for his 30,000+ friends and family that shuffled into the Trop. Even before Michaels hit the stage I was down talking with his drummer ( Chuck Vanslau ) before Michaels hit’s the stage for his Rays /Hess Express Saturday Night Concert Series action.



 

I remarked to Vanslau that I had seen Michaels perform a few years ago at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida as a solo act right after his second “Rock of Love adventure and was excited to see how the show had progressed. Vanslau remarked that ” I should pop my seatbelt on and get in a comfortable position because, this plane was going to fly high, fast and leave no prisoners”.


 

And that is exactly the way this show took off from Michaels first note. It got into a sweet and fats climb as Michaels visited some of his Poison past by starting off with “Talk Dirty to Me“, then proceeding to “Look What The Cat Dragged In that was full of energy and strutting around the stage that made Michaels one of the greatest front men in the glam metal era. Both songs were pushed to the limits by Michaels vocals and the pulse set high and furious by Vanslau, Pete Evick (lead guitar) and Rays Schering (bass guitar).


 

Just as the fever was beginning to climb, Michaels next went into the Southern Anthem, “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. The rendition by Michaels honored the Southern classic and was met with arousing banter of singing from the assembled crowd with their glittered wristbands high in the air holding cellphone and recording the moment. Always a stirring moment when you see people using their cellphones as imitation lighters in the air to signal their approval for a song.


 

Michaels then brought it back a bit with the songs “Go That Farfrom his fourth solos album Rock My World andSomething To Believe Infrom Poison’s “Flesh & Blood album released in June 1990 that gave the now sweating crowd a few moments to collect themselves and soothe out with a few ballads before Michaels was to again take crowd on another ride in his 13 song set.


 

Immediately after “Something To Believe In“, Michaels again raised the stakes by taking a few moments to thank the crowd for the well wishes and note Michaels has received over the past months, then got quickly into propelling the rhythm sky high again by doing “Unskinny Bop and raising the crowd vocal responses and dancing to a top tier again. Michaels then injected the audience with his newest single, “Nothing To Lose that brought the energy level down a notch but still had that flowing and cohesive meandering stream that is all Bret Michaels.


 

The song was from his just released “Custom Built” solo album and again had cell pones and the crowd swaying both in the stadium and down near the stage in great unison. And just when you thought it was safe to stay within that gentle flow, Michaels again hits another cover, this time turning the classic Loggins & Messina song “Your Mama Don’t Dance, And Your Daddy Don’t Rock and Roll” to a whole different level by throwing in a little bit of Michaels spice and herbs to enhance the classic and make it his own.



 

Then Michaels showing a little raspy sound to his voice took a short breather while Vanslau did a great drum solos and again Michaels, who stayed on stage just beyond the lights gathering in the energy Vanslau was producing and went straight into another great cover of the Sublime song “What I Got” which is also on his “Custom Built” album and his version tonight produced some of the greatest guitar licks of the night from Evick and Schering and proved once and for all that a great front man like Michaels can take any classic song and turn it into his own.


 

And just as you were coming up for a gulp of air after singing another great song, Michaels let you not only get a fast breather, but pulled out his acoustic guitar and did his greatest song, “Every Rose Has It’s Thorns” that had most of the stadium singing along with Michaels again and taking another huge visit down memory lane. This is definitely one of those iconic songs that everyone has attached someone to, or have an emotional attachment to, and Michaels again had the afterglow of a sea of cellphone screens beckoning his voice high into the rafters.


 

Michaels then started his last ascent into the high energy mode of his concert by thrusting out another vintage Michaels moment when he reached back into the archives for “Fallen Angel” from Poison’s second album “Open Up and Say…Ahh!“, then Michaels pulled the show into a last frenzied moment with the always popular and always thumping Poison song ” Nothin’ But A Good Time” also from the May 1988 “Open Up And Say…Ahh!” album.

 

This last song put the crowd over the top emotionally and you could see that Michaels and the assembled crowd by the stage were both spent reliving some of the great moments of all over lives in this concert. As Michaels was summing up the night on stage, he let the crowd know he would love to come back again in 2011 and do it all again. This statement brought up a thunderous applause from the crowd and you know more than a few Rays executives might just take him up on that in 2011.

 

As the crowd moved towards the Trop’s exits, Michaels stayed behind the Rays stage talking and meeting some of the assembled people backstage. But that was not the end of his night. Michaels ended his night the same way he began it before the 7:10 start on Saturday night.

 

After so many of the crowd had left the turf of the Trop, Michaels made his way back between the barricades that sat between the Rays dugout and the back end of the clay infield and again donned a glove and threw a last few pitches before Michaels and his band had to head to the airport for a flight to New York.

 

Ahhh, the life of a Rock Star, jetting from city to city being admired by millions, adored by men and women alike and the last thing you wanted to do before leaving Tropicana Field was throw a baseball around again. Bret, I became a fan all over again just by that moment.


 

Post Script:


After posting this blog post, before the Rays Sunday afternoon game, a member of the Rays brought me a gift down to my seat on the Rightfield corner. I did not open it immediately, but when I did, it totally shocked me that inside was a custom designed Rays hat from Team Diva, who also designs Bret Michaels headgear. I had remarked earlier in the year to someone in the front office that maybe we could get a custom made Cowboy hat for Michaels to wear on stage.

 

 By the way, look up to the picture of Michaels singing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame“, does the Cowboy hat on his head look familiar at all? Instead, I wore the custom made Cowboy hat from the third to eighth inning of the Rays game. It is a cherished possession now adorned in blue sharpie with Bret Michaels autograph. I have to paraphrase Michaels and tell you, “It don’t get better than this!”

 
 

General Lambert and the Glam Nation Invade Tropicana Field

 
 
It was kind of funny to hear Depeche Mode’sPrecious” being played before the beginning of Saturdays night’s Tampa Bay Rays/Hess Express Saturday Night Concert Series event with Glam rocker Adam Lambert. More for the fact it set the pace of the evening where our master of disguises, Mr. Lambert himself showed us why he is going to be a force to be reckoned with for years to come. And as soon as he came onto the stage tonight it was evident why people see him as a hybrid of so many great legends of music all rolled up into one.  

Lambert has the stage presence of Elton John, the wardrobe changes of Cher, and is boosted by a voice that seems to scream the vocal artistry of Queen’s great front man, the late Freddie Mercury. Boosted by enough glitter on himself and his entourage on stage to make any Mardi Gras float envious and jealous, it was Lambert’s voice tonight that made you forget some of his stage distractions and immediately concentrate upon the lyrics and the songs we have all come to associate with Lambert’s flair for the theatrical. 

And his theatrics on stage both through his stage riser in the center of the stage mixed with a brisk and totally popping choreographed dance segments push the envelope between both an audio and visual extravaganza that makes you take a step back and collect your breath, then begin to sing along with the singer on his tunes that have shocked, awed and also entertained us ever since he broke off the American Idol stage.

And we definitely got the PG-rated show because of the impressionable youth in the crowd, but the diversity of the crowd definitely shows that Lambert is crossing all type of boundaries and stereotypes to entertain and push his Glam Nation prerogatives towards some new listens. And I kind of like his style of thrusting his views and opinions at you with gusto, but keeping his on stage image bordering on the brink of surreal. But just as you are about to pigeon-hole him with simply a meshing of  androgynous music with his tunes like “Strut” and “For Your Entertainment“, Lambert whirls you into a 180 degree turn and pushes your ears and eyes into another defined direction. And that is the reason I can see Lambert being pushed into the mold or direction of the always theatrical Mercury.

That zest and energy to attack the vocals and invite musical accompaniment to throw the eyes and ears into different angles and directions while still tapping your foot or clapping your hands to the beat.  Another section of music that Lambert has seemed to attack with vengeance is acoustic sets of music to his songs like “Whataya Want From Me” and even “Soaked” which has a really familiar Queen feel to it. When Lambert goes into his acoustic sets, you really get a great indication of the unfolding talent and incredible vocal range he is exploring more every day.

Sometimes his musical mannerisms and moves on stage did seem to play more towards Broadway than pop culture. But if you are not entertained at a Lambert show, then you came into it with a closed mind. He reminds me of some of the classic 80′s groups like The Pet Shop Boys or even Depeche Mode in his booming bass lines and rhythms that take you beyond the lyrics. If you are not into club music or have an allergy for glitter, than Lambert will not be your cup of tea. But as someone who has pushed his way through the Punk Rock stereotype and the epic explosion of experimental techno music and electronically enhanced House music’s New York minute, Lambert is a lion pretending to be a kitten. In a way, Lambert reminds me of a splash of David Bowie with a more pronounced sensual sexuality about him, but with lyrics that catch your attention and your mind simultaniously. 

All you have to do is hit up any music site and click on a small snippet of “If I Had You” and you will see that someday, the whole world could be come a Glam Nation colony. Lambert definitely takes you on a sensory explosive adventure with his music, the color hues of his stage lighting with high accents on purple, aquamarine and even a pinkish burst here and there for added dimensions. This color pallatte explosion of lights made it a bit difficult for some photo shots, with the always changing background colors and formatting, but that was also part of the “Glam Nation’s” intention. 

Lambert definitely can put you off by his many wardrobe changes (I lost track at four) during his performances, but we have already concluded, that is Lambert’s ultimate intention. All your sense have to be ready for overload if you are ever going to enjoy Lambert’s theatrical and vocal sideshow. But his costumes were all done in the basic black format of most of the gone, but not forgotten Punk Rock groups. With the splash of hues of aqua, purple and red, the outfits somehow took a life of their own at times.

I was a bit upset that Lambert did not get a chance, or give us an extra bit of magic tonight with his rendition of Foghat‘s “Slow Ride” with Allison Iraheta, who opened the show for Lambert. But even without this tasty morsel, it was a hearty meal of great music and theatrical fun.

 I came into this show expecting to be impressed, and I was quickly blown away by the vocal range and the true artistry of Lambert’s band and dancers. Might have been over the top for a few moments as Lambert had to remind one of his guitarist it was a “PG show”, but well worth staying here until the Witching Hour.  The diversity of the crowd was not even apparent once the music began and everyone began to sway and use their cellphones to record photos or video moments of the concert. Was a great peek into one of the artists that might help shape the future of rock as we know it today.

Still curious as to how the Rays grounds crew are going to get all that silver metallic glitter up before Sunday’s game.

Not to worry, I think we are going to be talking about this show long after the last tinsel or freckle of glitter is gone

.

Allison Iraheta’s Raspy Vocals Energize the Trop


 

 

Most people who have known me outside of the baseball park, and usually during the off season know that I used to play and sing in a band for a long time, plus have done my share of hitting the Karaoke microphone both as a KJ and as a performer.

 

 

It is one of those hidden little passions and talent some people know about, and other find out through the grapevine or by accident step into a bar you are playing at the time.


 

 

And that is one of the reason I have always had a liking for the rocker chicks who perform on shows like American Idol. I am a huge closet Alternative and Rock guy who has done everything from Depeche Mode to Journey on stage. I do it not for the chick and ego, nut it is my calming force, the place I head to if life get too hard, or the road too long. And that is why I feel a distant, but connective bond with a singer like Allison Iraheta.


 

 

Most of us know her as the pint size crimson-haired leather-clad singer who can belt out anything from Heart’s Anne Wilson classics, to Aretha Franklin without anyone questioning her vocal range. And believe me, on Saturday night during the Tampa Bay Rays/ Hess Express Saturday Night Concert Series as she opened for Glam rocker Adam Lambert, she definitely got the party started right. Even with her limited exposure and only one album under her belt, Iraheta had her vocals bouncing off the Trop’s roof and delighting the crowd.


 

 

The way she hit the stage reminded me of those old red bouncing ball that never seemed to lose energy or slow down at all unless you trapped it under a box or snagged it with your fingers. She was energetic, juiced-up and rocking to all types of vocal heights as she performed a half hour set before Adam Lambert was to hit the stage. Heard the song “Robot Love” for the first time last night and loved the bass pumping and wonder why this is not a good club hit, or maybe I am hitting the wrong clubs.


 

 

But the one tune everyone was waiting for was “Friday I’ll Be Over You” and she nailed it and was prancing across the stage like a veteran rocker instead of someone out on their first tour. Also had not heard “Don’t Waste The Pretty” before and might be headed to Best Buy soon and getting myself a new CD for the old collection. She performed “Still Breathing” and I could almost see a bit of the range and vocal talents of Gwen Stefani hidden inside her ready to unleash its carnage on the World.


 

Iraheta might have been an opening act, but she definitely showed all of us her name will be heard a lot in the future with her rasp voice that reminds me a little of Janis Joplin with a hint of Joni Mitchell for good measures.

 

And that is high praise when you consider Iraheta’s age and that she is growing more and more in talent and abilities every day. And she is also a cross-over star being bi-lingual and could be a budding star in both English and Spanish recording.

 

But I guess the best praise I can give Iraheta right now is for her to Rock On and keep striving for that special place where music and life make their crossroads.
 

Allison Iraheta to Open for Adam Lambert Saturday Night!

 

Just got confirmation from a really reliable source within the Rays cloak of silence that scheduled artist Orianthi, who was to be the opening act for this Saturdays nights Rays/ Hess Express Saturday Night Concert Series event featuring Adam Lambert. Orianthi had to back out of her tour commitment and will be replaced by another American Idol alumni who is on her own course to stardom.


You might remember Allison Iraheta, the spunky Latin California cherub we all got to love during season 8 for her stirring rendition of Heart’s classic “Alone” during that season’s American Idol finals. But even before she bellowed out ” (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” at the San Francisco American Idol auditions back in 2009.

Most people might remember the look of immediate shock on then American Idol music director Rickey Minor when Iraheta was eliminated and had to settle for a fourth place in the singing competition.


And all through her Idol performances, Iraheta was given astonishing critique about her growth as a budding artist and in an interesting twist, fellow American Idol judge Paula Abdul once compared both Iraheta and Lambert together had a “special sauce”.

Before auditioning for American Idol, the los Angeles based Iraheta won a singing competition on the Telemundo reality show “Quinceanera” back in 2006, which used a format of singing in either English or Spanish songs during the competition. The program had Grand Prizes of a $ 50,000 purse and a recording contract. The Telemundo program did not offer the final prize of a recording contract.

But after her time on American Idol, Iraheta was signed by 19 Entertainment and Jive Records and they collectively released her first album “Just Like You“, which contained her songs “Friday I’ll Be Over You“, “Scars” and “Don’t Waste the Pretty“.


On April 2010, Iraheta was announced as the opening act for Lambert’s “Glam Nation” Tour. The addition of Iraheta actually makes the double billing a bit more of a true entertainment bonus for everyone as some will come to see the flamboyant and vocally entertaining Adam Lambert, and others will come to the Trop Saturday night to hear Iraheta sing some of her tunes off her own first album.

But hopefully they can both come out on Saturday night and do their stirring rendition of their American Idol Finals Week duet of their rendition of Foghat’s “Slow Ride” which was the performance that Iraheta did with Lambert when Iraheta was being considered a “rock goddess” by American Idol judge Kara DioGaurdi, and inspired that weeks musical mentor Slash who thought she ” possessed a better voice than most women “twice her age””.

Should be an amazing night of super vocal scales rolling off the Teflon roof of Tropicana Field. The set is being rumored to be possibly 80-90 minutes long, and will be performed after the conclusion of the Rays versus Angels game that will begin at 7:10 pm. Do not forget the game time has been pushed back from the previously advertised 6:10pm first pitch.

Also if you want to still purchase a wristband for the performance to get on-the-field access ($40.00), please this link to the Rays/Ticketmaster website for more information on getting an up close and more personal sound experience with Allison Iraheta and Adam Lambert this Saturday.
 

See you there!

Train Took us on a Musical Journey

 

 

I can tell you from doing years of Special Event planning for Pepsi that I have been in front and in back of some great stages for concerts. But last night’s Train show, which was part of the Rays/Hess Express Saturday Night Concert Series had the feel of an outdoor concert, fresh with anticipation and a want by the crowd to sing along. And Train fits that bill of the smaller concert bands in that they love to use the audience as a essential part of their shows. From musical sing-a-longs, to bring in up some kids to become official “Trainettes” the show had a special magic to it.


 

 

And Train lead singer Pat Monahan showed before the Rays game that he is not a one-trick pony putting a perfect pitch across the plate showing not just a vocal talent, but maybe a spot relievers role. Okay, maybe it was not faster than former Rays reliever Casey Fossum’s loopy pitch, but it was great to see a pitch break over the plate. But that was not the extent of Monahan’s physical show to the assembled fans within Tropicana Field that night.


 

 

 

After changing from his Carolina Blue T-shirt to a pure white T-shirt, Monahan not only shocked the Rays security force with his next move, he shocked the entire audience on the Rays field for the concert by popping down off the stand and doing an impromptu walkabout around the Trop with plenty of fans in tow with him. Monahan wanted all of us to “marry” that night, and the song ” Marry Me” definitely became a special moment for the throng of fans who embraced the action of Monahan that reminded me of former Rays concert performer M C Hammer when he did his epic sprint around Tropicana Field in 2008.


 

 
 

There is something about Train’s simplicity not in their lyrics but in the performers of the band that strikes a great chord within my musical memory that all three from Monahan to drummer Scott Underwood, and guitarist Jimmy Stafford remind you more of that group you saw in a tavern somewhere in your youth than a multi-album recording group that has even had their hits posted on the Country music channel CMT. And that is a major coup for a rock band to be able to cross that invisible line and be accepted by the Country public. But if have heard their songs “Meet Virginia” or even “Let It Roll“, which could be a Country song in a heartbeat.


 

 

 

The group threw their hearts and soul into last night’s performances and definitely made a few of the crowd believers in the group that also brought us “Save Me, San Francisco” and “This Ain’t Goodbye” with a great clarity in their live set that was missing from the CD versions. But the crowd was eager and more than willing to also provide back-up vocals throughout the night anytime Monahan needed a few seconds of relief. And that not often, as Monahan is one of those high powered energetic front men who feed off the crowd’s energy. And the Trop definitely was feeling his voice and their music Saturday night.


 

 

But it wasn’t until they started to do some of their other well known tunes like “If It’s Love“, “Calling All Angels” and “I Got You” that the energy level within the audience that could only be quelled with a song like “Hey Soul Sister“, which started out totally acoustic with the crowd providing some of the lyrics before Stafford joined Monahan, the former Led Zepplin cover band front man to bringing the night with the band to a crescendo moment. Throngs of fans on the field embraced, sang in groups, even thrust their cell phones to the skies to illustrate the old lighter trick of solidarity within the music.


 

 

 

It was definitely one of those nights that made you cherish the work the Rays have done to provide such a great atmosphere this season with these concert offerings. And even if Train kept their hit “Drops of Jupiter” for after their “Soul Sister” moment, it was not lost on the crowd who embraced the moment and again almost became louder than Monahan in their singing of the song. Train should be proud of the moments shared by the band and the Rays fans Saturday night. It was one of those moments so many will remember for Monahan’s stage presence, his stroll through the outfield, and how the band also let the audience become a unique part of the concert.
 


 

But the moment that sealed the deal for me last night was when the band adapted the Rihanna song “Umbrella” and did a resounding rendition of the song accented by Monahan’s tremendous vocals and the way the crowd instantly took Train in as a band not stuck within their own songs and lyrics, but willing to push beyond the borders for the enjoyment of the crowd. Train definitely left it all on stage last night with fantastic vocals from Monahan, inspired riffs from Stafford, and Underwood always seemed in control behind his drum set. You know Monahan and the band came off that stage drained of energy and totally proud of their performance.

 

 

And that is what I want to see in a great band. Leaving it all out there on the stage for the fans to soak in and take home with themselves as memories and moments to talk about for a long time. All that was missing was surly conductor to start us off last night with an “All Aboard” oratory because this Train ride was definitely one worth taking, and if you missed it…..You missed a killer ride.
 

*** Just a reminder, I have a page on Flickr.com under Rays Renegade that has sets of concert photos from all the Rays concerts, plus a few surprises.

Salsa, Merengue and Los Lobos…Oh My!

 

 
 

With all of the Tampa Bay Rays excitement during last night’s epic first match-up between the New York Yankees and the Rays, I was beginning to feel a bit drained of my usual high octane energy and my thought process was starting to bog down in meaningless trivia and dead ends. But thank goodness we had a up tempo musical interlude that instantly injected with a dose authentic Mexican boleros and nortenos music to jumpstart my enthusiasm juices.


 

 

 

 

Last night, during the Rays Latin Heritage Night in conjunction with the Rays Friday Fest celebration, the group Los Lobos (The Wolves) took the stage to supercharge the air in Tropicana Field. Some people remarked that the band had gotten older and had a bit more gray to them, but the music instantly showed that the band has not lost a beat over the years, and can still produce a great show for the fans who danced in place and also did a few impromptu Salsa moves on the Rays Field Turf during the performance.


 

 

 

 

Most people remember the band for their covers of the late Ritchie Valens hits during the production of the movie “La Bamba”, including the title song which became a number one hit for the band. The night was always kept at a high energy mode, and the dancing continued all the way up to the last song of the evening. The band has endured a long history within the music industry since their first release back in the late 1970′s. Their blend of Spanish and Mexican music was a great eye-opener to me since I am a bit naïve of this Latin music influence, but felt I got a great crash course last night during their performance.


 

 

 

 

The use of a few instruments like the Requinto jarocho, Jarana husteca, Bajo Sexto, and Guitarron intrigued me last night as it was the first time I had ever encountered these instruments during a concert. But that is also one of the things that got my blood going last night is hearing and seeing a new instrument used in a song or ballad and hearing its sweet sound magnified throughout Tropicana Field’s dome. But this is a band that fully uses the word “acoustic” and transports it to a whole different level.


 

 

 

 

Usually when you hear that word, the image instantly pops into your head of a few musicians up on bars stools in the small café with no amplified means of transporting their sound, but Los Lobos tome was more like your classic Mariachi band on steroids as they strummed and worked their way through their set. From the stage presence of David Hidalgo, to the dark shades of Cesar Rojas, their vocals were on point and seem to flow off out and into the crowd last night. The band definitely knew how to charm and engulf the crowd in front of them.


 

 

 

 

And we did hear their number one hit “La Bamba”, but also got a taste of a song I did not even realize the band produced for Disney for the Jungle Book movie, “I Wanna Be like You (The Monkey Song). They added a little extra to that song last night and fully had the crowd entranced both in the vocals and the acoustic instruments. But it was their rendition of “Saint Behind the Glass” that took me by surprise. I had also heard that song in the comedy flick “Nacho Libre” and now could picture the group that was strumming that song.


 

 

 

 

I do not know why, but the song I was truly waiting for that night was “Guantanamo (Guajira) in their set. Not sure why either. But it is a song I have always enjoyed and found soothing, and it just seemed to fit that night with the orange moon hovering in the Eastern Tampa Bay sky. The night was a huge success on so many levels with all of us Rays fans in attendance learning about another musical influence. As the concert came to an end, it almost seemed like the music should have kept flowing throughout the Trop as everyone exited the stadium.


 

 

 

 

Just seemed to be an anticlimactic end to a exciting and grand night as the Trop suddenly went silent. But in the remote recesses of the Trop., the serenade of music was still playing, and dancers were still doing Salsa and Merengue moves as the rest of us walked towards the exits. Perfect night with a win and some music to keep in our minds and hearts for the evening. Only thing missing now was a cool chilled tall Margarita to salute the night and the performance that Los Lobos gave us that evening. 

 

Vanilla Ice Worked the Trop.

 

 

“So pump up the crowd and give ‘em something’ to step to

My D J’s at his max to enhance what I bring you
The concepts hittin’ so follow along like a cookbook
Acknowledge the pros from all the titles I took, yeah
The crowd’s at ease when I breath though the mic end
As I whip up a dance better move all the mic stands
I go to work on the floor like a wet mop
If you’ve ever been moved, check it out when I rock”

(6th verse from “Ice is Workin’ It”)

As the above lyrics definitely state, Vanilla Ice definitely still knows how to “work a crowd”. The Rays Friday Fest Concert might not have been as long as ZZ Top, or as laid back as Dierks Bentley, but the man who rocked the mic like a vandal can still get the crowd going, and the head bopping. Especially entertaining was the fact that Vanilla Ice was doing a game on the photographers in the front well, and some of us caught onto it, while others got mad and frustrated. Me, I relished in the fact Vanilla Ice thought enough of me as a green-tagged photographer to get me square between the lens cover …once.

 

 

But I had a blast. Not just dodging the Aquafina onrushing sprays from all angles, but the sense from the crowd of the enveloping energy spikes and rush of raw emotion and power that emulated from the stage to the crowd and back, several times during the concert. Vanilla Ice might not have a huge anthology of hits through his musical era, but he definitely made his influence know on Friday night, and he is one of my favorite acts so far in 2010. I have to say without a doubt, from the moment he hit the stage, until he exited stage right, Vanilla Ice definitely had this joint rocking.


 

 

Sure the bass was pumping like a heart, and the drummer was amazing back on the skins, but the intensity and the energy coming from the stage on Friday night was something you truly had to see with your own eyes and soul to fully appreciate. It might not be some people version of music, or even lyrical symmetry, but the guy can work a stage and bring the crowd with him at will. That is the mark of a good entertainer. They can take the ebb and flow of the crowd mood and work it either into a frenzy, or into a solid performance you will be talking about for a long time.


 

 

Both seemed to materialized on that small Rays Friday Fest stage. Vanilla Ice was working it with everything he had that night. From his sheepishly wild stage set-up with a inflatable Grim Reaper and assorted camo netting and insane clown figurines, to his ” water show” that kept going throughout the entire show, and had the assembled crowd yelling for me to kick the water bottles to them after they had been doused with pure liquid refreshment. The visual show on stage by itself warranted a video camera catching each morsel as it unfolded on stage that night.

 

 

From Vanilla Ice trying to get me personally four times with water blasts ( he got me squarely once), to some of the assembled crowd (mostly women) brought on stage during the last portion of the show to dance, prance and simply be in the “Vanilla Ice moment”.

From the always constantly moving water bombing clown in the Santa suit, to the drums beats of Clint Eastwood ( seriously, that was his name), the night always seemed to be flowing out of the turntables and beats to push the blood pressure higher, and peak out the adrenaline.

 

 

In the long run, Vanilla Ice did what he wanted on stage, and made no apologies for the sake of his music. At some points it was like watching a performance art piece going on behind musical lyrics. Sure so many came to hear “Ninja Rap“, which also had a remembers of the Rays game day staff onstage dressed to the nines in Teenage Ninja Turtle outfits rocking with Vanilla Ice to the end.

 

 

As the concert ended, Vanilla Ice’s turntable maestro, DJ Dirty Chopsticks began to play other hip hop classics to keep the party going as the crowd slowly began to exit Tropicana Field. But in the end, just as his lyrics had predicted, Vanilla Ice definitely “working it” and for that, he all left with tunes and beats still ringing in our ears…..Word to your Mother!

 

 

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