Results tagged ‘ Rays/Hess Express Saturday Night Concert Series ’

Barenaked Ladies Filled the Trop.


 

 

The first time I saw the Barenaked Ladies or BNL in concert, It was with my pre-teen daughter on a Father and Daughter excursion to Universal Studios in Orlando during their yearly Spring Mardi Gras celebration. One of the crowning moments of this event on Saturday night was a concert by a band that evokes fun and dancing from the assembled crowd. And I had done a bit of musical research before buying the tickets to the after hours concert put on that evening by the Barenaked Ladies.

 

What I remembered most about that 1 ½ hour musical adventure was the way the band used an up-beat tempo and a catchy set of guitar riffs to keep the crowd motivated and dancing throughout the concert. What I got that night was one of the greatest memories with my then pre-teen daughter, plus a bit of flirting with a girl dressed up in a flamingo costume. The woman flirting with me was great, but the smile on my daughter’s face was priceless that night, and that memory still warms me up today.


 

So when the Tampa Bay Rays announced that the BNL were going to be part of the 2010 Rays/Hess Express Saturday Night Concert Series, I was immediately transformed back to that time, with hope of not only reliving that great evening in Orlando, but to expand on it and make it burst with a musical explosion. The band did not disappoint me that evening as they were just as exciting and as exuberant as the first moment I saw then stroll onto stage what seemed so long ago. Some people call BNL a Canadian alternative band, but they are of a musical fusion all their own.


 

Their music is tempered with bits of Jazz and Blues and mixed vigorously with plenty of different string instruments from electric guitars to the authentic bass to becoming the first band to use technology to promote themselves. Barenaked Ladies were the first band to use a floppy disc as a “Interactive Press Kit”.

 

In 2003, they initiated a band blog, with band member Ed Robertson also providing pod casts to the website to keep their fans informed on some of the bands antics and travels, including the band’s first trip on a cruise. But BNL were also at the forefront of the social network revolution having a Myspace, Facebook and Twitter account to keep the juices flowing with their fans with multiple updates and ideas thrown out there for the fans to interact with the band.

 

They were also one of the first recording artists to utilize the USB technology by offering their 2004 “Barenaked For the Holidays” album on a customized flash drive in the MP3 format. Even if they might be considered a technology savvy band, it is their stage presence that has mesmerized their faithful fans for so long.

It is not unusual for the band to have a set list in pencil with additions and deletions right up to the moment they hit the stage, also complete with impromptu rap songs and humorous banter between numbers.

 

This moment was perfectly captured on Saturday night when BNL lead singer ED Robinson let the crowd know that the Rays needed a win, and who did they call, but the Barenaked Ladies to the rescue. That classic moment had me laughing and really enjoying the whole Barenaked experience, the band, not the unclothed part.

It was great to hear “One Week” again, but I still have a feeling most people associate the song with Jim’s dance sequence on the web cam to Nadia in American Pie than remember the song just for its own merits. But the catchy riffs and wording catch you instantly bopping along and trying to keep up with the truly over the speed limit tempo and rhythm of the song. Partner that with their classic hit “If I Had a $1000000“, and you got the makings of a great evening on your hands. Most people below the Canadian border might not know about their numerous Juno Awards, but might remember their Grammy nominations during the 1990′s.

 

There were other hits I heard that night that had escaped my mind when reviewing them in April like “The Old Apartment” and “Pinch Me“, but the night was made for good natured fun and frolicking, and BNL achieved that and more. The set really did not seem that long, but it did flood my mind with a great collection of instant video flashbacks and memorable moments. Bass Guitarist Jim Creegan is still one of the best in the business, and the talents of Kevin Hearn from the piano to the keyboards to the guitar simply made the evening a success.


 

But it was the vocals of Robertson, who took over the lead singer gig after one of the founding members, Steven Page left the band that sealed the deal for me that night. Even with a active storm front about to hit the Tampa Bay region right as the concert ended, the band kept the crowd into the music and totally forgetting about some of the things going on around them. And that is what great music is suppose to be about. It is suppose to make you leave your everyday struggles and trails for a few moments and relax, stress-free and enjoy the times of your life.

 

 

 The last time I saw the band my daughter and I lost her mother a short time later to melanoma cancer,but every time I hear the band’s music since then, it has reminded me of that special day with my daughter. One I will never get back, but one that was based in Barenaked Ladies music.

There are more Rays/Hess Express Saturday Night Concert Series photos on my new Flickr.com page under Rays Renegade. All photos are selected for the public, and feel free to download or even print them if you desire. I did this to give people an additional way to enjoy the Rays concert series this season.

 

 

Dierks Bentley Photo Blog

 
 

 

I was asked by someone last night at the Tampa Bay Rays game after the Dierks Bentley concert if I coiuld provide a few more additional photos that the usual 20-30 that I submit during my concert posting,and I decided to add a few here,plus give you a link to my other site where I store my photos from all the Rays concerts, plus some additional photos hidden in the numerous photo files. So I hope you enjoy this fast journey through Saturdays night’s Rays/ Hess Express Saturday Night Concert event again and also take a moment to mosey over to the link and see some additional photos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Hope you enjoyed this fast romp back into the past last night at the Rays concert. I have got to go get ready to head out to the Trop for the series deciding game between the Rays and Marlins, butI will throw up ,y review of the Dierks Bentley concert soonand hope that you mosey on back and check it out. But, before I head off into the Rays sunset,let me throw out a link to my photo storage area where you can stroll through last night’s concert file, and maybe check out some of the other photo files hidden on this website.  Catch ya’ll at the Trop.

Rays Renegade Photo Files 

Barenaked Ladies Fill the Trop


 

 

The first time I saw the Barenaked Ladies or BNL in concert, It was with my pre-teen daughter on a Father and Daughter excursion to Universal Studios in Orlando during their yearly Spring Mardi Gras celebration. One of the crowning moments of this event on Saturday night was a concert by a band that evokes fun and dancing from the assembled crowd. And I had done a bit of musical research before buying the tickets to the after hours concert put on that evening by the Barenaked Ladies.

 

What I remembered most about that 1 ½ hour musical adventure was the way the band used an up-beat tempo and a catchy set of guitar riffs to keep the crowd motivated and dancing throughout the concert. What I got that night was one of the greatest memories with my then pre-teen daughter, plus a bit of flirting with a girl dressed up in a flamingo costume. The woman flirting with me was great, but the smile on my daughter’s face was priceless that night, and that memory still warms me up today.


 

So when the Tampa Bay Rays announced that the BNL were going to be part of the 2010 Rays/Hess Express Saturday Night Concert Series, I was immediately transformed back to that time, with hope of not only reliving that great evening in Orlando, but to expand on it and make it burst with a musical explosion. The band did not disappoint me that evening as they were just as exciting and as exuberant as the first moment I saw then stroll onto stage what seemed so long ago. Some people call BNL a Canadian alternative band, but they are of a musical fusion all their own.


 

Their music is tempered with bits of Jazz and Blues and mixed vigorously with plenty of different string instruments from electric guitars to the authentic bass to becoming the first band to use technology to promote themselves. Barenaked Ladies were the first band to use a floppy disc as a “Interactive Press Kit”.

 

In 2003, they initiated a band blog, with band member Ed Robinson also providing pod casts to the website to keep their fans informed on some of the bands antics and travels, including the band’s first trip on a cruise. But BNL were also at the forefront of the social network revolution having a Myspace, Facebook and Twitter account to keep the juices flowing with their fans with multiple updates and ideas thrown out there for the fans to interact with the band.

 

They were also one of the first recording artists to utilize the USB technology by offering their 2004 “Barenaked For the Holidays” album on a customized flash drive in the MP3 format. Even if they might be considered a technology savvy band, it is their stage presence that has mesmerized their faithful fans for so long.

It is not unusual for the band to have a set list in pencil with additions and deletions right up to the moment they hit the stage, also complete with impromptu rap songs and humorous banter between numbers.

 

This moment was perfectly captured on Saturday night when BNL lead singer ED Robinson let the crowd know that the Rays needed a win, and who did they call, but the Barenaked Ladies to the rescue. That classic moment had me laughing and really enjoying the whole Barenaked experience, the band, not the unclothed part.

It was great to hear “One Week” again, but I still have a feeling most people associate the song with Jim’s dance sequence on the web cam to Nadia in American Pie than remember the song just for its own merits. But the catchy riffs and wording catch you instantly bopping along and trying to keep up with the truly over the speed limit tempo and rhythm of the song. Partner that with their classic hit “If I Had a $1000000“, and you got the makings of a great evening on your hands. Most people below the Canadian border might not know about their numerous Juno Awards, but might remember their Grammy nominations during the 1990′s.

 

There were other hits I heard that night that had escaped my mind when reviewing them in April like “The Old Apartment” and “Pinch Me“, but the night was made for good natured fun and frolicking, and BNL achieved that and more. The set really did not seem that long, but it did flood my mind with a great collection of instant video flashbacks and memorable moments. Bass Guitarist Jim Creegan is still one of the best in the business, and the talents of Kevin Hearn from the piano to the keyboards to the guitar simply made the evening a success.


 

But it was the vocals of Robinson, who took over the lead singer gig after one of the founding members, Steven Page left the band that sealed the deal for me that night. Even with a active storm front about to hit the Tampa Bay region right as the concert ended, the band kept the crowd into the music and totally forgetting about some of the things going on around them. And that is what great music is suppose to be about. It is suppose to make you leave your everyday struggles and trails for a few moments and relax, stress-free and enjoy the times of your life.

 

 

 The last time I saw the band my daughter and I lost her mother a short time later to melanoma cancer,but every time I hear the band’s music since then, it has reminded me of that special day with my daughter. One I will never get back, but one that was based in Barenaked Ladies music.

There are more Rays/Hess Express Saturday Night Concert Series photos on my new Flickr.com page under Rays Renegade. All photos are selected for the public, and feel free to download or even print them if you desire. I did this to give people an additional way to enjoy the Rays concert series this season.

 

Nelly Made the Trop Smolder with Heat

 

 

 I headed to the Tampa Bay Rays Saturday afternoon game wearing my jeans, an old Disney character polo and of course, my old Air Force Ones. It wasn’t Nostalgia Day or even 80′s Day, it was my own way of celebrating Hip Hop Night at Tropicana Field. Think about that wording for a minute…Hip Hop at the Trop…..Word to your Mother!

 

People seem to forget if it wasn’t for Nelly’s emerging talent at the mic he, Nelly might have made his way someday onto the Field Turf of the Trop on his own as a baseball player. He had some mad skills in the middle infield growing up and could turn the corner on a double play like his idol, former St. Louis Cardinal Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith.

 

And as soon as the ball settled into the Tropicana Field stands, and the team concluded their on-field Team Meeting with Aybar as the guest speaker, then it was Aybars turn to get a ceremonial shaving cream pie to his face and head and begin getting in Nelly mode.  I was already feeling the rhythm and the pulse of the bass to get out on the field and take a spot where the photos would fall like rain, and the crowd would swing in unison to the verses and song of the minstrel named Nelly. But I made a cardinal sin ( at least in my book).

 

I had a photographer’s pass from the Rays and I wanted to get deep into the action, so I posted up on a L-shaped corner in the right end of the “Mosh Pit”. At that moment it just seemed like a natural move and perfect move going from shooting the Rays first concert from the middle sections for John Fogerty, to right behind the VIP section during ZZ Top, to down in the pulsating action and sea of motion of the proverbial front row. It seemed like a natural progression….But a hasty mistake on my part.

For I had put myself in the eye of the swallowing storm on the wrong side of the steel barriers. I have been in the front rows tons of times before, but not with a camera, and surely not with a group of most teens to 20-ish fans who wanted to move and groove to every single sound wave of beat or vocals coming out of the supercharged bass system right in front of the assembled mass. From the first deep drumbeat from the DJ, there was pushing and shoving from the side and back as people began to crush forward wanting a taste of Nelly and the music.

 

But then again, I would have done the same thing myself 20-odd years ago. Well, I know I did. And the audience was definitely transfixed as the beats got deeper, and the crowd behind me got more animated and pulled into the rhythm and music. Out of the 480 photos I took that night, I had to trash about 200 photos due to the hands in front of the camera lens or  small waves of motion around me that caused the photo to appear out of focus produced by my arm and shoulder constantly getting hit during filming. But I took the commotion and the frustration in stride as I got popped like a pinball for a few songs but within me I now wished I had taken a position on the stage side of the barrier.

But the music was the center of everyone’s attention tonight as even some of the Rays players like Carl Crawford,Dioner Navarro, Reid Brignac, Joaquin Benoit, Matt Garza and B J Upton swayed and rocked to the beats while doing their own version of Nelly Karaoke on the West side of the stage region. Upton seemed to be totally into the concert as you could see him singing the words and doing his own set of dances to the beats. It was great to see the players having as much fun as the Rays fans that night.
 
 

And it is sometimes weird that Hip Hop has now been around long enough to have Nelly “classics” like Ride Wit Me , “Air Force Ones” and “Batter Up“. I still remember watching the first broadcast of MTV at a college viewing party complete with free MTV swag and music until we left transfixed by this new style of selling the music to the public. How much we have all grown accustomed to this video and music combination that now most of us never hear the song without also seeing a video interpretation of the song at the same time.

 

And from the moment Nelly first emerged wearing a stylish white Rays T-shirt, the crowd on the field and in the stands were immediately consumed by the tunes and the chatter from Nelly.  From his classic Nike Air Force Ones on his feet, to the diamond-encrusted dog tags, and glittering diamond watch bevel, Nelly was quickly transporting us to a part of St. Louis with his music we would never venture into alone. We were taken instantly into Nelly-ville, and he was the Mayor and the man that was definitely large and in charge.
 
 

And the Trop almost seemed to take flight the moment Nelly as his crew began to sing ” E.I.” as well as “C
ountry Grammar
“. The moment the first beats hit the speakers, the entire crowd began systematically swaying and singing to the tunes. It was definitely a well needed audience participation segment, and the assembled crowd did not disappoint as it rang out loud to an almost deafening level all around me. But people forget, it was not all about the music tonight.

But people forget it was not entirely about the music tonight as there was a large amount of young and older women inching towards the front of the stage area hoping to catch an eye glance with Nelly or getting some sort of savoring trinket to take home and cherish forever. At that moment you knew the focus and the attention was firmly bulls-eyed on Nelly as the player of the moment. When one of his crew announced he had a gig later that night at a local St. Petersburg nightclub, it was the assembled women who screamed and quickly asked the surrounding people the 5 W’s of finding this club. Nelly was in full effect, and the ladies were going to be in massive tow tonight at the Push Lounge.
 
 

And with that announcement, Nelly had just found the perfect segway to pop into his classic “Hot in Here” as he quickly removed his Rays  white t-shirt and threw it straight into the teeth of the crowd as people frantically pulled and yanked and finally separated the t-shirt into two sections before it fell into someone’s hands firmly encasing the prized possession for the night like a prized jewel. It was a white Rays gift from one of the Hip Hop chosen ones, and it now had to be guarded and cherished from that moment.

 

And as Nelly let the crowd know about his forthcoming album to be released some time this Summer you could feel the crowd letting go a bit knowing their dream might end soon. Usually when a singer or group mentions this tidbit, it is nearing the end of the concert. And when he asked for three volunteers from the audience the sound was deafening as every woman within reach of the stage began cheering and more than eager a chance to be on stage with the Hip Hop icon. Three women were finally selected and it was the beginning of some interesting final moments to the concert.

Nelly even gave one of the chosen ones a photo opportunity of a lifetime as she snapped a photo with her phone of Nelly facing her with the screaming crowd behind him. Then he quickly quizzed them as to their singing abilities and then broke into his tune “Dilemma” which he did originally as a duet with former Destiny’s Child singer Kelly Rowland.

 

The girls instantly fell into the rhythm and the rhymes of the song and began to sing and dance along with Nelly and his crew. It was one of the slowest moments of the concert, but helped the crowd recharge a bit before the night ended too soon for so many in the crowd. People wanted to hear every song from all his album in his unique styling that some have called a “Missouri Twang”.

 

The night quickly condensed into a meandering of unforgettable song hooks based on schoolyard songs with double-dutch chants. But what is amazing is the simple fact most people do double dutch lyrics as a rap, while Nelly has primarily done them in song, which is a major reason so many see him as a Hip Hop icon. The night was truly an adventure into Nellyville (also the title of his 2nd album) that I will not soon get out of my head.
 

 

But that is the thing about great music no matter what the format or lyric style. If it is good, it stays with you for a while and maybe drills into your subconscious for a future moment or even visual stimulation brings it out again for a great memory. People say that Rap or Hip Hop artists are this generation’s storytellers. They give their versions of the action and stories of life through their musical lyrics and prose. Nelly is a great example of this sage of wisdom and urban existence being told through music. And through it all, we also get a chance to see life through Nelly’s eyes.   

ZZ Top Photo Blog…Extended Cut

 
 

 

I got about 15 Emails and Direct Messages yesterday asking me to post a second photo blog of the ZZ Top Tampa Bay Rays Concert last Saturday night, and of course I am more than willing to throw up another 18 photos from my small segment I shot that night. But along with it will come a small story about that night that I hope all of you enjoy.

 

 

Before the Rays season began, I was talking with someone up in the Rays Front Office about the possibility of maybe getting an up-close vantage point during the 2010 Rays/Hess Express Concert Series. With some great acts coming into Tropicana Field, I wanted to provide a bit of extra photos and concert review that might entice other Rays fans who had not seen one of these Concerts to come down to the ballpark for the remaining 8 Rays concert dates.

 

 

So I came up with the idea of maybe submitting my name into the Rays Communications Department as a Photographer for the Concert series in 2010. The idea did have some basic merit as I decided in 2010 to try and get the bulk of my photos and special shots myself instead of using the stock photos or daily photos submitted by the wire services. And I had a pretty fool-proof plan, or so I thought at the time. I did not want access to the field for pregame photo opportunities, or even position myself in one of the photos wells on each side of the dugouts.

 

 

So I submitted my name and credentials request to the right person and awaited a hopefully positive answer concerning my request. I got back an answer that did not rattle me, but showed that the road was not going to be bright and yellow, but I had to have a bit of luck on my side. For the Rays had to submit my name to the band’s management team and either I would be approved or denied a photo credential to take photographs of that band performance.

I actually thought in the beginning this might be a smart way to proceed because hundreds of fans would be on the Tropicana Field turf taking the same photos and videos without the band’s consent. I was banking on the fact I was being honest and upfront to be my entry into this special world.

 

 

So I submitted my request for the first concert when John Fogerty was going to play a week or so ago. I got a denial letter back from the Rays Communication Department and was a bit humbled by my idea going through 100 percent without a problem. But I also did not take it as a total slap in the face, but as a wake-up call to either get serious about this adventure, or forget it all and take photos from my seat with a telephoto lens.

I shot my photos of the Fogerty concert and was not totally impressed with them and knew that I had to again grind it out and hope to get access to the field to take photos of ZZ Top when they came into Tropicana Field. So again I submitted my email to the Rays Communication staff and was very anxious to see if it was “Strike Two” or if I might have actually cut the mustard and gotten a chance to show my stuff.


 

 

The minutes did feel like hours and I was constantly checking my email box every hour hoping that I would get a chance to give the Rays some confidence I was going to use this to do positive things and not use it as a tool to use or abuse my credentials. Finally an email came back from the Rays Communication Department, and I at first did not want to open it for fear of that second “X” high above my head. But I also had the confidence that someone in one of the ten band’s management teams might give me a shot in 2010 to do something special.

 

So I finally got the nerve to open the email and got the first glance at either success or failure in trying to get some exclusive photos in 2010. For some odd reason the words “granted permission” seemed to jump out at me from the page and instantly I did the infamous “crab dance” around the room. For I was finally going to get a chance to expand my blog postings again with photos taken within feet of the artists, and with a greater clarity than in my Rightfield seat.

 

 

I got my first green Rays photographer credentials the afternoon of the concert from the Media Table at Gate 4 and instantly could have gone to field level and enjoyed the pregame festivities, but I wanted to chill and just enjoy the game and after the contest take some great photos of the band. No agenda on my mind but taking post-game concert photos. But it was a special moment in my mind. Sure it will not guarantee or even get me anything in the way of priority from that moment on, but the thought that I finally achieved it and brought back some great shots is enough for me.

 

The night was incredible for me. Not only did I get a chance to provide some of my first photo credits of a concert date in 2010, but I had the time of my life reliving and revisiting every song that ZZ Top sang and played that night. And it was special to again get down on the field again and be a part of the Rays/Hess Express Saturday Night Concert experience.

Sometimes moments in your life just seem to come out of the blue that provide a different direction for you. On that night, on the floor of Tropicana Field, I again saw that I love doing my posts and taking photos for other to enjoy. I again got to remember and feel why I wanted to work for the media as a kid, and wanted to again feel that rush of accomplishment and knowing I provided some extra information to others that would never have been given if not for my photos or posts. I remembered why I loved to write again….And that is a scary thing. 

There was Nothing “Cheap” about ZZ Top

 
Saturday Night after the Rays Republic had to endure the Tampa Bay Rays second loss in a row, the air within Tropicana Field quickly became charged and energized knowing that within a few minutes a recent inducted member band of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame would be taking the stage and tranforming Tropicana field into a bluesy West Texas dive bar/Rock and Roll palace for the next few hours.

Transforming the Rays playing field into a makeshift concert venue, it was instantly apparent by the LED video screen attached to the back of the stage area that we would get a light show with our musical meal. And believe me, the crowd was ready for a sampling of everything that ZZ Top was going to put on out plates last night, including a few nice tidbits from their past, their musical influences, and most of all their long and deep list of classic tunes we all still rock out to in our cars while driving towards Tropicana Field for Rays games.

But little did the Tropicana field crowd know that within seconds of the Rays dimming the lights inside the Trop, we would all get a instant re-education in why these 3 Texans will always have a place deep within our hearts when it comes to classic Rock and roll music with a distinctive blues flare. From the totally wild and elaborate ZZ Top drums stand, to the video replays of their classic video clips on the stage-wide LED screen behind the band that showed classic black and white photos and color imposed video clips all throughout the concert bringing a swirling bit of musical and visual imagery that was intoxicating to say the least.  The trip that the band was going to take us on tonight was going to be an epic visual and audio snack that we would all savor and relish long after the last note was played tonight.

For I know personally I spent many a day in the weight rooms during both High School and College lifting weights and doing stretching exercises to the deep pumping of the bass and the isolation of the electric guitar rhythms to get me into a pattern of working hard and producing a great sweat. And even listening to them tonight I got an instant flashback to those days, and I truly can tell you, the music sounds the same now as it did so long ago. 

For if the trio of Dusty Hill, Billy Gibbons and drummer Frank beard were concocting a recipe up on that stage last night, it was based purely on the simple ingredients that has made them VH-1′s  44th “Greatest Artists of Hard Rock”. From hitting us with the big tastes of “La Grange” and “Sleeping Bag”, to playing a homage to their departed friend Jimi Hendrix, the rocking never stopped and the crowd was singing from the very first verse.

And even if the furry guitars did not get to do a 360 degree turn tonight on stage, the presence of such history making instruments sent the crowd into a loud ovation of approval to the band. And you could tell by the interaction of Gibbons and Hill that these two guys still love their job and do it not only for the nice rewards it brings, but enjoy playing the music and hearing the crowds still. Sometimes that is rare in a group that has been around since February 1970.

And even during all of that 40 years of music, Gibbons still can tell the tale with his voice and make his electric guitar sing like a little school girl. Here is the same band that was inducted into the

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by none other than Rolling Stones own guitar legend Keith Richards. To say that Gibbons is not the premier blues guitarist is like saying Evan Longoria is just another Third Baseman. The best always makes sure to let their soul show in their music. 

And Hill surely is still one of the better bass guitarist of his era and still sports that mean looking beard of his own with pride and joy. But I was amazed that he seemed to have gotten a bit smaller with age, or maybe it is because this is the closest I have even been to this trio in person, and I was totally in the moment watching all three create some great music last night. But the chemistry that still seems to flow between the two of them up front and center on the stage is remarkable to see in person. And the pure fact that both Gibbons and Hill are having a ball on stage performing for us was not lost on the crowd that kept it’s cheering loud and proud by singing right along with the band and the multitudes that were dancing  on the turf of the Trop just shows how universal ZZ Top’s music is to this region.

Got to admit to you, I had a woman clearly in her 60′s standing next to me for most of the concert who was so into the music and the moment she was not afraid to thrust and elbow or twenty my direction as I was snapping photos. She even proclaimed at one point I was ” bumming her out” because I was not also hooting and hollering at the top of my lungs like she was tonight.I know she surely had a blast standing up front near the band swaying and crooning to every single tune the band played, even the slow ones. 

The night however did seem to slip away from us, but still seemed too early to stop the music, dancing and remembering the moments and times that once co-existed within each of our lives surrounding these hits. Most of us hoped and wished for more music, another tune or two as the band made their way to their 4 Tour buses parked just outside the dome. But ZZ Top did not disappoint a single person tonight, even throwing down their signature bow-legged shuffle during one song.

The night air was very humid outside the Trop when we all finally left the cool confines and hot tunes still lingering inside the stadium.  Our ears still ringing with the sounds and the rhythms from all the ZZ Top classic songs played on this night.  I suddenly felt like a sharp dressed man, or had a feeling for some Route 66 magic.

ZZ Top truly came out on stage tonight and served up one of the tastiest musical meals to us even with some morsels I had never even heard on the radio before tonight. In the end, it was another great show nput together by the Rays Front Office (BK) to entice and make us all want to come back for some more real soon. With Rap artist Nelly coming to the Trop next Saturday, May 15th, I can surely tell you in all honesty I am hungry and ready for another fine helping of musical delights served up by the Rays/Hess Express Saturday Night Concert Series. Can’t wait to dig in again for more good music and fun.


Giving the Rays Some ZZ Top Lovin’

 

With Texas Rockers ZZ Top set to perform after the Tampa Bay Rays play the Kansas City Royals tonight, it only seemed appropriate that maybe I should try and pair up a few of the Rays players with some classic ZZ Top songs. Every once in a while it is fun to just take a moment out and sit back and relax and either poke fun or show the respect I have for this Rays team and their stable of workhorse style players.

I could have rambled towards a posting of Kentucky Derby hopeful candidates that currently play for the Rays, but we already know that coming in one-two in that race might be the sprinter Carl Crawford and the long strides of B J Upton neck and neck at the wire. Honestly might come down to if CC has a forward neck bob at the moment he hit’s the finish line. But it only seemed fitting that I take a few names and personalities off the Rays roster and give them a one-night only ZZ Top song. I can tell you that I-Tunes is going to love me today with this research.



Raysonthe Runway

Sharp Dressed Man:


Now this one might seem like a pretty self explanatory song choice for Rays fashion plate and G Q model in residence slugger Carlos Pena. But I actually have two Rays figures in this choice. The first is of course Pena who has been the fashion sensible member of the Rays since day one. But my other selection might fool a few people, but he is trying with what he’s got, and for that I got to give Rays Television announcer Brian Anderson an Honorable Mention in this song choice.

Anderson might not have the fashion runway swagger of Carlos Pena, or even the handsome looks that make more than a few women faint, but Anderson is a budding fashion police poster child who seems to get better with every road trip. Maybe Pena is secretly taking Anderson out on road trips and getting him a new tie or stylish sports coat or tie to go with his daily ensemble on the Rays broadcasts. No matter what the true story is, we all know Pena is the true fashionista on the Rays roster, but Anderson might be raiding his closet if Pena is not careful…maybe.


 
Raysbaseball.com/ MLB.com

Gimme All Your Lovin’:

I got to go classic tongue-in-cheek here and give this royally down to Rays All-Star and female heartthrob Evan Longoria. For during the last Rays road trip while the team was in Boston for a 4-game series, Longoria made the Boston papers with complaint letters that he was sending multiple texts to a unique collective group of women in the Beantown area. What was so amazing is that people somehow seemed a bit shocked about all of this.

I do not see how this could be a surprise to anyone. Major League Baseball players get handed cellphone numbers and even room keys all the time for prospective romantic interludes, but most disregard them as “groupies” or even trouble waiting to happen. But the fact that is totally humorous is that these same women had Longo’s digits in their cellphones, so they can not play as innocent either here as they might have had conversation with Longoria either before they met their current squeezes, or during their courtship.

Either way, it really has just up the ante and further advanced the mystic and allure of Longoria to women from coast-to-coast. So the next time your “significant other” gets a text message that she either smiles at or giggles like a schoolgirl, just ask her point blank is it from Longoria. It probably is not, but you never know, some guys might think it was an ultimate compliment if Longo was texting his girl….Not me, but there might be someone like that out there in the Rays Republic.


 
RRCollection

Legs:

This actually might have been the easiest song to place with a Rays player basically because I seem to smile and chuckle every time I see him attempt an extra base or turn the corner for a try at a triple during a Rays contest. Carl Crawford has streamlined his glide around the base paths over the last several years to provide more energy and push to accelerate his speed within a few strides. But still when he rounds the First Base bag and he seems to be leaning at a 45 degree angle and chugging those arms back and forth, his legs always seems to come out in my photos as magical blurs or looking like time lapse photography.

So it was a perfect choice to include Crawford’s name as the player associated with “Legs”. And even if this song ultimately illustrates a love for the female form, I hope Crawford can take that I am using a bit of literary license here to portray this song towards his burst of speed and not the way his lower lips seems to drag like a English Bulldog when he is pumping towards an extra base. And I want to apologize in print if you read the lyrics to the second verse and think I am referring to Crawford with hair down to his fanny….I am not….Seriously ( My Grey’s Anatomy voice)….Seriously!

 
RRCollection

Cheap Sunglasses:

You might think this would be a natural for Rays Manager Joe Maddon, but I have another victim, I mean choice for this classic ZZ Top tune. To me this song screams out Rays starting pitcher Matt Garza. Maybe it is just me, but Garza sporting that James Shields T-shirt during his side Bullpen session yesterday showed me that he is ultimately the “Too hip for school” guy on this team. And there is nothing wrong with that.

Garza has always had that persona to me. The one where he seems to display and cool and clam demeanor under that bundle of emotions and inner frustration sometimes with himself on the mound. He usually can wear those cheap sunglasses as a outer shield to keep him from actually showing his highly charged confidence and emotions. But then again, Tom Cruise pulled it off with the same pair of cheap sunglasses in “Risky Business” and it turned him into a movie superstar. Maybe Garza can turn his cheap sunglasses into a Cy Young?

 
Rob Carr/ AP

Blue Jeans Blues:


I am not sure why this next one seems to fit just by the title of the song, but I see Rays fifth starter Wade Davis as the perfect poster child for this song. Maybe it is that outer shell he has that eludes most strife and controversy as he seems to glide through his starts even against some of the opposing teams top pitchers. Davis has provided some interesting performances already in 2010, and has been totally in control and often times kind of in his own personal zone of tranquility while attempting to provide pitching brilliance so early in 2010.

And I am not trying to play on his nickname “W D-40″ to provide some raw angle of southern gentleman meets ferocious beast, but the guy is from Lake Wales, Florida and is as calm as a cucumber and soft-spoken as they come. But then again, when things are clicking like they are right now for Davis, there is nothing to worry about anyways….really.

 
Steve Nesius/ AP

Got Me Under Pressure:

For some reason I think this song actually could apply for most of this Rays team this season. Sure I could of thrown this out as a Rafael Soriano selection based mostly on his new role as the Rays closer, but in actuality, I think this entire Rays roster is feeling the pressure this season. Most of them know that this might be the last season that this collective body of players get a chance to revisit or remove some of the pain and feeling of not completing the task at hand that still lurks within some of their minds from 2008.

It might be the last time Crawford, Pena and even Dioner Navarro and possibly Jason Bartlett all hit the field at the same time to try and right a situation that seemed to melt them apart like the cold weather on that unusual October night. Maybe it is the mantra adopted by Maddon for 2010 that no longer uses mathematical situations, but asks the simple question: ” WIN or What’s Important Now”. Maybe it is that urgency of completing the mission, of finally breathing a sigh of relief that will act as the whistle from this pressure cooker called the MLB season.

ZZ Top is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member. They got their start just like so many other musicians did struggling in the small bars and honky tonks in the Texas landscape. But their telling of the stories and the message in their lyrics, they got the rest of the country to not only experience a bit of Texas, but of their own personal cultures and rituals.

But hopefully in the next several months the Rays can duplicate the success and get the admiration of the rest of the Major League Baseball world to again see them for the hardworking and diligent team that they are….And maybe after it is all said and done, the Rays could actually shadow another ZZ Top song as a team.

 
Chris O’Meara/ AP

For if the Rays hit that desired pinnacle they seek so dearly in 2010. If this Rays team can climb that last rung of the ladder and stand proudly at the top with a golden trophy in their mitts, then maybe they can all collectively sing “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide” on the pitching mound as they shower each other with praise, champagne and memories just like ZZ Top has given all of us over their long career.

Got to go people. Got a small errand to do since I am getting Photo Credentials to shoot the ZZ Top Concert tonight. And yes, tomorrow will be a ZZ Top post Concert Photo blog. See you later Gator…

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