Patriots, Seahawks 2014 Preview, Both Teams Extend Their Dynasties

Patriots, Seahawks 2014 Preview, Both Teams Extend Their Dynasties

Seattle Seahawks

Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana believes the Seattle Seahawks are on the verge of being a dynasty.

He should know a thing or two about dynasties.  Montana led the San Francisco 49ers to four Super Bowl victories in nine years.

Most NFL pundits will tell you there’s only been one dynasty in the 21st century and that belongs to the New England Patriots.

Since 2001, the Pats have won three Super Bowls, five AFC Championships, and played in eight AFC Championship games all while missing the playoffs just twice.  If that wasn’t enough, the Patriots have won ten or more games in 11 consecutive seasons (that includes 2007 when they went 16-0).

The Seahawks have won one Super Bowl.  The team was 5-11 in 2009 and 7-9 in 2011.  The only NFL team in the Pacific Northwest has a long ways to go before they can be the century’s second sustained winner but Montana and others think Seattle has the right stuff to be dynastic.

The Seahawks are young, they have a franchise quarterback (Russell Wilson), an all-world defensive back (Richard Sherman), one of the all-time great defenses, and a coach who seems to push all the right buttons (by the way, Pete Carroll was the last head coach of the Patriots before Bill Belichick took over).

Differences & Similarities
There are some glaring differences between the Patriots and Seahawks.  The Pats are built around quarterback Tom Brady while the Seahawks are built around Sherman and the Legion of Boom.

Basically, the Pats carve up defenses while the Seahawks ransack offenses.

The franchises do however have two things in common.  They each have a tremendous home field advantage and both know exactly the type of players they want on their rosters.

No Place Like Home
No one wants to play in Foxborough in December or January.  It’s cold and windy.

Seattle’s 12th Man are rabid and loud.  Twice they’ve set Guinness World records for loudest crowd noise.

Out Of Nowhere
How many times have the Patriots taken a low draft pick, or an undrafted free agent, and turned him into a contributor?  If you look at the Seahawks Super Bowl roster it was littered with fifth-rounders, sixth-rounders, and those who were left out of the draft altogether.

For example, Sherman was selected in the fifth round and Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith was picked in the seventh.

The Replacements
That’s why I find it funny that heading into the 2014 season some experts are saying the Seahawks haven’t done enough to replace the usual exodus of talent that comes with winning the Super Bowl. 

That’s not necessarily true.  They have replaced exiting talent.  They have done it with unfamiliar free agents and draft picks—just like you didn’t know Richard Sherman and Malcolm Smith when they were first picked.

Big Name Free Agents
In the offseason, the New England Patriots acquired two big name free agents—Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner.  The former Seahawk will miss the first four games of the season due to a suspension.  He returns Oct. 5 when the New England Patriots host the Cincinnati Bengals.

By the way, that’s another hallmark of a dynasty.  It’s not that they never acquire big name free agents.  It’s just that when they do they make sure they’re going to make an impact. 

In 2013, the Patriots had a pretty bad defensive backfield.  That won’t be the case in 2014.  They’ve signed free agents who, despite their big names, and even some baggage, will make a difference.

As for the Seahawks, they showed tremendous restraint by not over paying for Jared Allen, something the franchise would have done in the past.

Back From Injuries
The key for the Patriots won’t necessarily be the players they acquired in the offseason but the players coming back from injuries. 

Rob Gronkowski, Jerod Mayo, Tommy Kelly, Sebastian Vollmer, and Vince Wilfork are all returning from season-ending injuries.  If they all come back strong the Patriots will return to the Super Bowl.

Geography
The biggest difference between the Patriots and Seahawks isn’t play style but geography.  Mainly, the Patriots are in the worst division in football, the AFC West.  The Seahawks play in, what is arguably the best, the NFC West.

For most of the century, the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, and New York Jets have rolled over for the mighty Pats.  This season, the Patriots and Jets battle on Oct. 16 and Dec. 21.  It’s hard to miss the playoffs when your division spots you six wins.

Twice a season the Seahawks must battle the San Francisco 49ers, one of the NFL’s best teams; the Arizona Cardinals, who won ten games in 2013; and the St. Louis Rams, who, thanks to head coach Jeff Fisher, come ready to play every week.

In 2014, the toughest part of the Patriots schedule comes in October and November.  The Patriots look to tame the Chicago Bears on Oct. 26.  A week later, it’s Patriots versus Broncos in what will probably be a preview of the AFC Championship game and likely a matchup of undefeated teams.

Later in November, New England hits the road for tilts against the Indianapolis Colts and Green Bay Packers.  Both contests come during a three-week span in November.

If these teams can stay healthy they will be there in the end.  In fact, I think both teams will reach Super Bowl XLIX and when they do the game will be billed as “Dynasty versus Dynasty.”

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Katy Perry Is The Undisputed Queen of Pop

Katy Perry Is The Undisputed Queen of Pop

KatyPerry

Today, I’d be called a “hater.”  Twenty years ago I would have been a “detractor.”  To put it in a vernacular everyone from any era can understand, I’m not of a fan.

The subject of my animosity is Katy Perry.

It’s not a festering detestation.  I don’t loathe her or anything.  I just don’t understand her appeal.

She can’t sing.  Her lyrics employ mix metaphors, sloppy rhymes, and trite inspirational messages.  Her melodies are obnoxious.  Her bouncy pop music isn’t fun to listen to, it’s a chore.  To me, Katy Perry’s only two assets are, well, her two assets (if you get what I mean).

Of course, I’m in the minority.  Perry is, and continues to be, one of the most popular performers of all-time and no that’s not hyperbole.

My antipathy for her music means I’m like a hippie from the sixties who doesn’t like The Beatles, a gay man who finds Cher boorish, or a tween who doesn’t have a picture of One Direction on her wall.

I must be a freak for not liking Perry.  I’m a dissident for not kissing the rings of “The Queen of Pop.”

In a recent article on Forbes, Jesse Lawrence attaches the aforementioned honorific to Perry.  He does so not because she’s only the second artist after Michael Jackson to have five number one singles come from the same album.  He does so because Katy Perry concert tickets are currently burning up the secondary ticket market.

The average cost of a Katy Perry ticket on the secondary market is $252.60.  That price in and of itself is not that impressive but it is when you consider that her ducats have a higher average price than those to Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s upcoming tour and Lady Gaga’s current trek!

Perry’s tickets are more than eight percent higher that Mr. and Mrs. Carter’s and 22 percent higher than Mother Monster’s. 

Another jewel in Perry’s crown is her “Prismatic World Tour” has 46 more dates than Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s excursion.  You’d think a tour with just 19 concerts (Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s) would average more than the tour with 65 (the number of North American stops on Perry’s outing).

By the way, Lady Gaga is playing 78 shows.

Oddly, the show with the most expensive ticket is not the Katy Perry concert in New York at Madison Square Garden or the Katy Perry show in Los Angeles at Staples Center.  The most expensive Katy Perry concert is her Sept. 14 performance at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington.

A little interesting note about that concert, it’s being held in my home state.   No, I won’t be attending.

Katy Perry’s “Prismatic World Tour” is her first since her “California Dreams Tour” in 2012.  That trek contained 124 concerts and grossed nearly $60 million.  Her current world odyssey is five shows longer and is expected to rake in even more dough.

We already knew Perry can sell records.  Now we know her concert tickets are in high demand.  So, is that enough to crown her “Queen of Pop?”

I don’t know but how about this: a painting of Katy Perry is currently hanging in the National Portrait Gallery.  To put that in perspective it’s like Justin Bieber winning a lifetime achievement award… two years ago.

Other singers whose portraits are hanging in the gallery include Marian Anderson, Maria Callas, and Lena Horne—great talents but not exactly candidates to perform at this year’s VMAs (that and all three have left this mortal coil).

The portrait of K.P. was painted by Will Cotton.  It will be on display through July 6.  Painting will return to the National Portrait Gallery the following spring.

What does the portrait look like? Perry is clad in a white dress that looks like the paper surrounding a cupcake.  She’s wearing a tiara, a necklace, and is holding a white stick (scepter).  Perry is sporting a “Mona Lisa” smile.

In the article about the portrait, which I found on the Delaware Online Web site, Perry is once again referred to as “The Queen of Pop.”

It’s inescapable.  I’m living in the queendom of Katy Perry.  I might be the only pop fan shouting “Vive la revolution.”  Yet, Perry and her “Katy Kats” (the name of her hardcore fans) are saying let him listen to Cake.

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Eight Things We Learned During 2014 NBA Playoffs

MiamiHeat

Eight Things We Learned During 2014 NBA Playoffs

If the 2014 NBA Playoffs have taught us anything it’s that the two best teams of this year were also the two best teams from last year.  The NBA Finals begin June 5 when the San Antonio Spurs host the Miami Heat.  The Spurs are looking to exercise demons from the 2013 finals while the Heat are trying to become one of the few teams, in any sports, to win three championships in a row.

Besides learning that the Spurs are still excellent, and the Heat are still dominant, there are a few other things the 2014 NBA Playoffs have taught us.  These eight tidbits range from the price of Los Angeles’ best basketball team to Lance Stephenson’s on-court proclivities to announcers not coaching basketball teams.  In case you were too busy enjoying the NBA Playoffs to take notes, I’ve enumerated the eight nuggets of knowledge below.  And yes, there will be a test afterwards.

1) You Don’t Pull On Superman’s Cape And You Don’t Blow On LeBron James’ Nape.

Okay, Lance Stephenson didn’t blow on LeBron James’ nape in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals.  He blew on James’ face, but I was going for a cheap rhyme.  I hope you find video of Stephenson blowing on James’ face amusing because we’re going to see it, ad nauseam, for the next decade.  In response to the blow heard around the world, James gave a look that said “Stephenson, you’re an idiot.”

The free-agent-to-be had a great season and playoffs.  His behavior, however, exemplified by the aforementioned face-blowing incident, was deplorable.  Basically, he acted like a fool.  Then again, the entire Pacers team acted like fouls.  They were a solid club, with home court advantage, that was battling a Heat team that was as vulnerable as they’ve ever been.  Yet, the Pacers acted entitled and struggled throughout the entire the playoffs.  Indiana should have made it to the NBA Finals, but were lucky to make it out of the first round.

2) Coaching The Golden State Warriors Is Something You Can Do Whenever.

Mark Jackson gets fired as head coach of the Golden State Warriors and the next day he’s calling a playoff game for ESPN (will he be coaching the Oklahoma City Thunder next year?).  Then TNT’s Steve Kerr gets hired to replace Jackson but he continues to broadcast games.  What!?! Do the Golden State Warriors coach themselves?  I know next season is months away, but there’s a draft coming up as well as free agency.  Then there’s hiring assistant coaches, repainting the practice facility, restacking the weights in the training room, and all the other micromanaging things a head coach has to do.  A guy gets hired as an NFL coach and he immediately starts working 25-hour days.  I guess in the NBA, coaching is something you can do in your spare time.

3) Oklahoma City Has The Best Training Staff In The NBA

Prior to the Western Conference Finals, the Oklahoma City Thunder announced that power forward Serge Ibaka was out for the rest of the playoffs.  Well, the training staff worked hard, as did Ibaka, and the shot blocker was in the starting lineup for Game 3.  He made a huge difference.  The Thunder defeated the Spurs in Game 3 and Game 4 and Ibaka was a big reason why.

OR

3) Oklahoma City Are Liars

No player goes from a season-ending injury to being out just two games.  The Thunder knew all the time Ibaka was going to return but said he was out to get an advantage.  If he was truly out for the season they would have said he’s “day to day.”  I’m not faulting OKC.  They did what they had to do, but let’s go easy on praising the recuperative powers of Ibaka and the healing abilities of the training staff.  OKC lied.

4) It’s Voge To Foul A Three-Point Shooter

My grandmother, who has never played basketball, knows that you don’t foul a jump shooter.  You especially don’t foul a jump shooter when he’s attempting a three-pointer.  That is until the 2014 NBA Playoffs.  Get this: there have been 18 four-point plays in this postseason.  I know the rules have changed, and shooters are drawing contact by kicking their legs, but there’s still been way too many fouls on three-point shots.  It’s just bad basketball.

5) The Los Angeles Clippers Are Worth $2 Billion

The Los Angeles Clippers are worth $2 billion!  If the Clippers are worth $2 billion what are the Miami Heat worth, $2 trillion? There was a time, not too long ago, when the Clips weren’t worth the price of a used pair of high tops.  Something is only worth what someone else will pay for it and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is willing to pay $2 billion for a franchise that’s never made it to the conference finals.  This is, of course, the silver lining to Donald Sterling’s hateful comments.  The NBA gets rid of its worst owner.  Now, all they have to do is make the Knicks competitive.

6) Pharrell and Pitbull Should Stick To Doing Broadcast Themes

Pharrell’s “Come Get It Bae” was the theme song for TNT’s broadcasts of the NBA Playoffs.  Meanwhile, ESPN used Pitbull’s “Timber.”  I’m not a fan of either one of those guys but their opening numbers were quite entertaining.  Why can’t all their stuff should that cool?  Their themes were almost as catchy as that song from the Sprint commercial promoting the “HTC Harman Kardon Edition,” you know, the spot that aired every other break.

7) An Amazing First Round Is Not Indicative Of Future Performance

The opening round of the NBA Playoffs was spectacular.  There were eight overtime games, five Game 7s and a buzzer-beating, series-ending shot.  The next two rounds were as boring as round one was exciting.  No series went past six games and there were 22 blowouts (a team winning by 11 or more points).  The only real “classic” contest was Game 6 of the Spurs-Thunder series and that was only a classic for Boris Diaw fans.  Clearly, a great first round doesn’t guarantee future excitement and drama.

8) Replay in the NBA needs some work.

I’m a huge advocate for replay in all sports.  Now that we have umpteen sports channels and the internet, sports leagues need to get the calls right or face immense ridicule from fans.  With that being said, NBA basketball needs to augment its use of replay.

Watching the ball go off a player and then having that player’s team retain possession all to make up for the fact that he was fouled but it wasn’t called doesn’t work.  It hurts the integrity of the game.  Also, replaying hard fouls to see if they’re common or flagrant is a drag.  Who cares?

When the referees stop a game to look at replays of fouls, can fans watch clips of actual hard fouls from when the league wasn’t so pacified?  You know, the era when defenses ruled, teams were lucky to score 90 points, and you had to punch a guy to get ejected.  Ah, those were the good old days.

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Six Great County Music Artists Touring This Summer

KeithUrban

Six Great County Music Artists Touring This Summer

Do Bermuda shorts go with cowboy hats?  Don’t know, but it’s certainly a better look than sandals without socks.  We’re talking about beach wear for the mobile cowboy because this summer is one of the best in recent memory when it comes to live country music.  If you like your twang under the sun, then 2014 is for you.

Below is a list of the six biggest country music tours of the summer.  These aren’t just a bunch of names pulled from a ten gallon hat.  These are six of the biggest country music acts of all-time.  And we say this knowing full well that we have left out George Strait.  The King of Country is on the road in 2014 for the last time but most of his dates are scheduled before summer begins.  For his penultimate concert, George Strait, along with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, will play Foxborough on May 31.  His farewell show is set for June 7 in Arlington, Texas.

Blake Shelton
On April 21, Blake Shelton appeared on The Today Show.  During his interview, which featured all the judges from The Voice, Shelton dispelled rumors that he and Miranda Lambert are getting a divorce.  That, of course, means Shelton and Lambert are getting a divorce… or at least their marriage is in trouble.  Hopefully, his failing nuptials won’t adversely affect his “Ten Times Crazier Tour 2014.”  The country music superstar is on the road for most of the summer and that includes a July 19 Blake Shelton concert in Chicago at legendary Wrigley Field. 

Brad Paisley
Brad Paisley has a slew of dates planned for this spring and summer.  You’ll be able to see the West Virginian guitarist, as well as a slew of his musical friends, perform all over the United States.  That includes a concert with Brad Paisley, Randy Houser, Leah Turner, and Charlie Worsham in Tinley Park on May 31.  Other cities on his docket are Atlanta on June 22, Boston on Aug. 23, and Dallas on Sept. 5.  Paisley has also been stretching his acting muscles.  He’ll appear alongside his wife, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, in the season finale of Two and a Half Men.  The episode will air May 8.  Paisley has also appeared on the television shows According To Jim, Nashville, and The Crazy Ones.

Florida Georgia Line
Florida Georgia Line haven’t forgotten where they’ve came from or that not everyone is fortunate enough to live off of the royalties of the most download country song of all-time (“Cruise”).  That’s why Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard are the face of the third annual “Outnumber Hunger” campaign.  This summer, when they’re not fighting famine, they’ll be fighting a lack of live country music.  The duo’s itinerary is packed with festival appearances, the “Burn It Down Tour,” and “This is How We Roll Summer Series.”  So donate to your local food bank and then procure tickets to see Florida Georgia Line perform in Mansfield, or Saratoga Springs, or Pittsburgh, or another city on their robust route.

Keith Urban
Along with Harry Connick, Jr., Keith Urban has made American Idol watchable again.  Urban is able to critique contestants without sounding like a giant douche bag.  He’s nice without being maudlin and captious without being rude.  After Idol, Keith Urban will spend the year touring Australia, Canada and the United States.  The bulk of his U.S. dates are scheduled during the summer months.  For example, Keith Urban is in Alpharetta (Atlanta) on Aug. 24 for a concert at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre.

Lady Antebellum
Lady Antebellum has more than 40 dates planned between now and Sept. 7.  One of their 40-plus dates is July 27.  That night, Lady Antebellum is in Wantagh, New York for a concert at Nikon at Jones Beach Theater.  The gig is part of their “2014 Take Me Downtown Tour.”  If the band decides to tour in the fall they will have at least one new fan.  That one new fan will be Dave Haywood and his wife Keli’s new child.  The couple just announced that they are expecting.  They’re having a girl and she’s due in September.  This will be the second “Baby A.”  Hillary Scott gave birth to a girl in July of 2013.

Toby Keith
Toby Keith will be on the road from May 2 to Oct. 18.  Most of his 27 scheduled concerts are part of his “Shut Up and Hold on Tour.”  That includes Toby Keith in Bristow, Virginia (Washington, D.C.) at Jiffy Lube Live on June 28.  Keith is not only one of country music’s biggest stars he’s also one of its best businessmen.  That’s why it’s such a shock to hear that a Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill has been hit with a bill from the IRS for more than $189,000.  It appears that the restaurant, located in a shopping center in New York State, is behind on its sales tax.  Oops.  That’s no big deal though.  Keith can make that back in about a fifth of a concert.

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Motley Crüe Plans Final Tour And They Mean It

Motley CrueMotley Crüe Plans Final Tour And They Mean It

“Shout at the Devil.”

“Smokin’ in the Boys Room.”

“Girls, Girls, Girls.”

“Dr. Feelgood.”

“Cessation of Touring Agreement.”

That fifth one may not seem like it has anything to do with Motley Crüe but it does. 

On Jan. 28, while announcing the North American leg of their world tour, the band signed a “Cessation of Touring Agreement.”

This binding legal document says that Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee, and Mick Mars will not tour under the name “Motley Crüe” after 2015.

“Other bands have split up over rancor or the inability of people to get along, but this is mutual among all four original members and a peaceful decision to move on to other endeavors and to confirm it with a binding agreement,” explained the band’s attorney Doug Mark.

Yes, a real-life lawyer was there and everything.  Apparently, if the band does tour beyond 2015 they will open themselves up to a lawsuit. 

Who will actually sue them is anyone’s guess, but it seems like a possibility.

The band kicks off “Motley Crüe: The Final Tour” on July 2 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  The trek concludes Nov. 22 in Spokane, Washington.

Opening for Motley Crüe during the North American portion of their global odyssey is Alice Cooper.  The pairing is being called “a match made in Armageddon."

Dallas welcomes Motley Crüe and Alice Cooper to the GEXA Energy Pavilion on July 16.  On July 21, Los Angles receives Motley Crüe and Alice Cooper at the world famous Hollywood Bowl.  Then the XFINITY Center in Mansfield hosts a Motley Crüe and Alice Cooper concert on Aug. 24.  In total, the band will rock 72 concerts all over the continent. 

Crüe performs in the U.S. and Canada in 2014, then the rest of the world in 2015 (that’s where the “2015” in the legal document comes from).  According to the band, that will be it for Motley Crüe, at least on the concert front. 

The band has written some new material but it doesn’t appear that a new album is on the way. 

“You put [an album] out and nothing [happens], because now people cherry-pick songs.  So we go, ‘Why don’t we write songs and find vehicles to get one, two or four songs to ten million people rather than eleven songs to a hundred thousand people.  That’s how we’re thinking.  I don’t know if it’s right or wrong, but that’s how we’re thinking,” says Sixx.

As for their stage and pyrotechnics, the band wants their fans to be surprised so they’re not releasing any details.  They did say that they’re going to play all their hits.

So is this contract signing nothing but a big publicity stunt?  Is this a way to ensure fans that their upcoming “Final Tour” is actually their final tour? 

Or is the “Cessation of Touring Agreement” nothing but a way to sell Motley Crüe tickets?  Is it a cheap ploy to pack Madison Square Garden when Motley Crüe and Alice Cooper come to New York on Oct. 28?

No one believes any artist when they say they’re touring for the last time.  Fans have been burned by that line way too much.  So maybe this legal document, that opens the band up for a lawsuit from some mystery plaintiff, will convince fans that this really is the last Motley Crüe tour of all-time.

“Everything must come to an end!  We always had a vision of going out with a big f***king bang and not playing county fairs and clubs with one or two original band members!  Our job here is done!” whispered Lee.

While I applaud the effort and wish every band/artist would do this, I don’t think the contract they signed is worth a Vince Neil bandana.

Neil and Lee are in their early 50s.  Sixx is 55.  All three have been rode hard and put away wet, but they are still relatively young and healthy, at least as far as old rockers go. 

Meanwhile, Mars is in his sixties and in poor health.  It’s more than likely this will be his last go-a-round.  After their final tour is over, the other three will still have some gas left in the tank.

"I’ll miss playing with the guys, but I won’t quit playing rock ‘n’ roll!  I feel there are a lot of great opportunities and exciting projects after Mötley,” noted Neil.

Nowadays, bands like Motley Crüe are few and far between.  Yes, music tastes are changing to EDM and hipster folk outfits like Mumford & Sons and The Black Keys, but there are always going to be fans who crave loud rock music.  And they want their loud rock music played by decedent and wanton rock and rollers.  Motley Crüe did decadence and wanton with aplomb. 

U2, Coldplay, and Kings of Leon are great, but they’re not exactly “sex, drugs, and rock and roll.”  They’re more like Quaaludes, depression, and Meet the Press.

A few years down the road, a promoter (Live Nation) is going to drive a dump truck full of money to the homes of Neil, Lee, and Sixx with the caveat “it’s all yours if you get the old band back together and tour.” 

For most of their lives these guys couldn’t say no to drugs and dames.  It’s doubtful they’ll be able to say no to a huge payday.

Furthermore, if Motley Crüe were sued for touring after 2015, it wouldn’t even make the top ten list of the worse things the band has ever done. 

Remember, Neil killed a man while driving drunk, Lee kicked Pamela Anderson while she was holding their son, and Sixx believes he overdosed on heroin about half a dozen times.

I wouldn’t hold my breath but I think Motley Crüe will be back. 

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Lana Del Rey Plots Tour And New Album

Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey Plots Tour And New Album

“Weird” is always a good way to go if you’re a pop star.

Tropico is a 27-minute film directed by Lana Del Rey and directed by Anthony Mandler.  The flick contains three Del Rey songs: “Body Electric,” “Gods and Monsters,” and “Bel Air.”  And it’s as weird as the day is long.

This little movie begins in the Garden of Eden with Del Rey as “Eve” and an albino as “Adam.”  They are joined by “Marilyn Monroe,” “John Wayne,” “Elvis Presley,” and “Jesus.”  If that wasn’t weird enough, there’s also a bunch of lambs running around.

When you go to Del Rey’s Website the film will play automatically.  So, if you’re at work make sure you turn your speakers down.  I don’t know about you but I don’t like artists’ Websites that “automatically” play music or a video.  If I want to listen or watch something I’ll click play.  Don’t force it down my throat.

If you can peel your eyes off the weird, and dare I say a little self-indulgent, piece of cinema for one minute you might notice that LDR has plotted a tour of North America.

Lana Del Rey kicks off her trek in Las Vegas, at the Cosmopolitan, on April 11.  It ends May 27 in Seattle, Washington at the WAMU Theatre. 

Her itinerary is anchored by a Lana Del Rey show at the House of Blues in Boston on May 6 and a Lana Del Rey concert at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago on May 16.  Of course, the highlight of her docket is a May 19 performance at the world famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado.

By the way, she has three dates secured for Canada: Montreal on May 5; Toronto on May 13; and Vancouver, B.C. on May 25.

After her tour of North America is finished, Del Rey has been booked to appear at several European music festivals including the Northside Festival in Denmark on June 13, the Bravalla Festival in Sweden on June 26; and the Festival Rock En Siene in France on Aug. 24.

Although a date has yet to be announced, it’s very likely that Del Ray will release a new album this year.  The name of her pending opus is Ultraviolence and it was produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys.  Auerbach also produced Ray LaMontagne’s latest release.

Now, here’s where I tie in the movie and the aforementioned, forthcoming album…

Lana called her 27-minute celluloid experiment a “farewell.”  That sentiment scared fans who believed she was quitting the business.  Don’t worry, she’s not quitting anything.  Del Rey views the movie as a figurative “farewell” not a literal one.

“I really just wanted us all to be together so I could try and visually close out my [Born to Die/Paradise] chapter[s] before I release the new record, Ultraviolence.” – Lana Del Rey

So, there you go.  In the world of LDR, Tropico was the end of one era and Ultraviolence is the beginning of the next.

If a movie, album, and concert tour weren’t enough reasons for the sultry singer to celebrate, Lana has one more.  Her 2012 album, Born to Die, recently passed the one million mark in sales in the United States. 

In the week ending March 23, the album sold 5,000 copies.  That doesn’t sound like a lot but it was enough to push Born to Die’s total sales over the one-million plateau.  What all this means is Lana Del Rey has earned the coveted Platinum certification from the RIAA.

Born To Die debuted at number two on the Billboard 200, and as of early April 2014, it’s still on the chart (#76).

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Rod Stewart and Santana Buddy Up For Co-Headlining Tour

Rod Stewart and Santana

Rod Stewart and Santana Buddy Up For Co-Headlining Tour

This is the year for legends teaming up and launching tours.  We’ve already enjoyed a Paul Simon and Sting trek and we’re looking forward to outings by Journey and the Steve Miller Band as well as Rick Springfield and Pat Benatar.

Just announced is a tour that might trump them all.  Cue a drum roll—this would be a lot more dramatic if I hadn’t already given it away in the headline—Rod Stewart and Carlos Santana are teaming up for a co-headlining jaunt of North America!

The legends begin their 18-city trek on May 23 in Albany, New York.  It ends Aug. 20 in Wantagh, New York.  The bulk of the dates are in August—there are four in May, three in June, and just one in July.

Highlights of their outing are a May 25 concert in Uncasville, Connecticut at the Mohegan Sun; an Aug. 2 show in Vancouver, B.C. at Rogers Arena, and an Aug. 19 gig in Washington, D.C. at the Verizon Center.

The other Canadian stops on their route are Calgary on Aug. 4, Edmonton on Aug. 5, and Winnipeg on Aug. 8.

Their tour is fittingly called “The Voice, The Guitar, The Songs.”

Stewart will be supporting his latest album—his first rock offering in more than a decade—Time.  The album went to number one in the U.K. and peaked at number seven in the U.S.

Meanwhile, Santana will be promoting the first Latin music album of his career, Corazon.  The opus drops May 6 and features contributions from a bunch of great musicians including Gloria Estefan, Ziggy Marley, and Wayne Shorter.

Combined, Stewart and Santana have sold more than a quarter of a billion albums and hundreds of thousands of concert tickets.  Both are members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

Last summer, Stewart extended his Las Vegas residency another two years.  He made the announcement not long after playing his 50th show at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace.

Santana has ten Grammys on his mantle and in 2013 received the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors Award.

This upcoming tour teams one of rock’s greatest singers with one of rock’s greatest guitarists.   Rolling Stone magazine ranks Stewart as the 59th greatest singer and Carlos Santana as the 20th greatest guitarist. 

I haven’t confirmed this but you have to think both will perform a set by themselves and then a set together.  At least I hope that’s what happens—it’s definitely what should happen.  Ideally, you’d love to see them perform together for two hours but that’s too much to ask for.

It should be noted that technically “Santana” is the name of a band and Carlos Santana is that band’s lead guitarist.  Of course, when one says “Santana” they really mean Carlos Santana.  Even the Santana Website uses the pronoun “he.” 

Also, the title of the tour is “The Voice, The Guitar, The Songs” indicating just one guitarist just as it indicates a single singer.  With all apologies to the Santana Band  (“Jose” Pepe Jimenez, Benny Rietveld, David K. Mathews, Andy Vargas, Karl Perazzo, Bill Oritz, Jeff Cressman, Tommy Anthony, Tony Lindsay, and Paoli Mejias), when one hears the name “Santana” they immediately think of Carlos.

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Rick Springfield, Pat Benatar Plot Summer, Co-Headlining Tour

Springfield Tix

Rick Springfield, Pat Benatar Plot Summer, Co-Headlining Tour

This summer, rock fans have the opportunity to go back in time.  Unfortunately, we can’t rewind the clock and prevent a war, warn people of a pending natural disaster, or stop MGMT from releasing their third album.   This time machine will, however, take us back to the early eighties.

On June 28 in Atlanta, Georgia, Rick Springfield, Pat Benatar, and Neil Giraldo launch a modest tour of the United States.  The 80s icons have a dozen dates scattered over a month’s time.  Their totally awesome expedition ends July 25 in Saratoga, California at The Mountain Winery. 

The other stops on their schedule are Raleigh on June 29, Atlantic City on July 5, Canandaigua on July 6, and Cincinnati on July 8.   After a week off, the trio returns to the stage on July 16 for a show in Kansas City.  Then they’re in Mulvane, Kansas on July 17; Phoenix, Arizona on July 19; and Valley Center, California, at Harrah’s Rincon, on July 20.

I know what you’re asking: Who in the hell is Neil Giraldo?  Well, he’s Benatar’s husband, guitarist, and producer.  The two have been married since the early 1980s; they were making music together even before that.

"I always thought it would be a kick ass tour with the boy/girl thing and us both having high energy rock and roll shows," explains Springfield. 

Springfield is right.  This will be a kick ass tour.  It will be an underrated tour and it won’t get the attention it deserves, but it will be one of the most enjoyable outings of the summer.  Having Rick Springfield and Pat Benatar tickets means you’ll be having a whole lot of fun.

You can make the case that Springfield and Benatar‘s music are anachronism.  They are differently both products of the 1980s.  Yet, as nostalgic acts go, Springfield and Benatar are good nostalgia.   Their songs hold up better than most acts from that era and they both play such an accessible brand of pop-rock that concert goers who weren’t alive in the 1980s will be able to enjoy their music.

Springfield, who used to get mistaken for Bruce Springsteen (true story), is best known for his song “Jessie’s Girl” and the album Working Class Dog.  “Jessie’s Girl” went to the top of the charts and earned Springfield the 1982 Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Male Performance.

Springfield was huge in the first couple of years of the Regan Administration.  Not only was his single and album dominating the charts but he played a doctor on the soap opera General Hospital.  In fact, he acted and sold Rick Springfield tickets at the same time.  He would have never accepted the General Hospital gig but he thought his album, Working Class Dog, was going to flop (the album was eventually certified Platinum and peaked at number seven on the  Billboard 200).

Pat Benatar was Pink before there was a Pink.  She has an amazing voice that can rock a rock song and pull off a ballad.   MTV loved her.  Not only did they frequently air her videos but she was the first woman artist ever played on the network.  Her best known songs are "Hit Me with Your Best Shot," "Love Is a Battlefield," and "We Belong."

Both artists have tons of concerts plotted for 2014 besides the dozen enumerated above.  Look for Rick Springfield in Milwaukee on March 5; Rick Springfield in St. Louis on March 21, and Rick Springfield in Minneapolis on March 23.

Most of Springfield’s shows in March, April and May will feature him performing solo and mixing in some stories.  He’s planning on launching another leg of his “Stripped Down Tour” in the fall.

Benatar and Giraldo will open for Cher from March 22 to April 12.  After that look for Pat Benatar in Austin, Texas on March 25; Pat Benatar in Tarrytown, New York on April 8; and Pat Benatar in Tacoma, Washington on April 26.

This is the first time Springfield and Benatar have toured together.  While the show is being billed as a co-headlining event, it looks like Benatar will play last.  This makes sense.  Springfield is the bigger star, but Benatar is the bigger rock star.  I also think Benatar will play last because on Springfield’s own Website Benatar and Giraldo are listed first.

Neither artist has a new studio album to promote.  Springfield’s last offering, Songs For the End of the World, dropped in 2012.  Benatar’s latest album, Go, was released in 2003.

Sans a fresh album doesn’t mean these aging rockers don’t have something to promote.  Springfield’s first novel, Magnificent Vibration, hits bookstore shelves in May.  In 2010, Springfield released his autobiography, Late, Late at Night: a Memoir.  The tome has been quite successful and is noted as one of rock’s better memoirs.

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All Time Low Surprises Rock Snob, Plots Tour

All Time Low In Concert

All Time Low Surprises Rock Snob, Plots Tour

It’s amazing that I even know All Time Low is touring. 

When you do an internet search for “All Time Low” you get results like “The Hryvnia Hits All-Time Low Against Dollar” or “President’s Approval Rating Hits All-Time Low.”

Another reason why it’s peculiar that I know All Time Low tickets will be collected in North America from March 28 through May 3 is I’m an adult. 

All Time Low is a pop punk quartet from Baltimore, Maryland (which is incidentally the last stop on their upcoming “A Love Like Tour”).  They broke into the business in 2004 while they were still in high school.  Despite making records for nearly 10 years, they are still in their mid-20s—I own compact discs that I bought myself that are older these guys.

Not only am I NOT a member of All Time Low’s target demo, but I’m bound by the rules and regulations of the Rock Snob Geneva Convention of 2011 to both dislike bands like ATL (their nickname) and publicly admonish their existence, fans, and family.

So with a smirk on my face, and completely ready to pass judgment, I found an All Time Low video on YouTube.  It just so happened that I stumbled upon “Weightless.”  Just looking at the screen capture of the video I was mentally hurling one insult after another.  I was ready to eat these fake punks alive.

Begrudgingly and with my heart full of popular music malice, I clicked on the link.   Two seconds into the video I fell out of my chair laughing.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing!  Then I realized it wasn’t an ATL video but an advertisement for Swiffer WetJet.

After the advertisement, the music video for “Weightless” finally started.  I figured I’d endure about 30 seconds worth of the adolescent din before silencing it with a hardy click of the close tab button.  I even had The National cued up on my iTunes to cleanse the palette.

No so fast Matt Berninger.

I was shocked, amazed, flummoxed, perplexed, stupefied, and flabbergasted (I just got a new thesaurus program and I wanted to get my money’s worth) to find that I actually liked their music.  After a couple of choruses I realized that these “kids” aren’t half bad.

After the video was over, I watched several others including “I Feel Like Dancin’,” “Backseat Serenade,” “Poppin’,” and “Time Bomb.”  What I found was catchy pop songs, toe-tapping music, semi-sagacious lyrics, and an endearing sense of humor.  Also, lead singer Alex Gaskarth looks like he could be Michael Phelps’ younger brother.

The moral of the story is don’t write off a band until you’ve actually heard them.  I know that’s a controversial concept when it comes to music but you should never judge a band by the pimpled-face delinquent that fronts it.  

Will I be listening to All Time Low all the time?  No, but I did rush out and find a torrent—I mean I went to iTunes and legally downloaded their 2012 album, Don’t Panic.

The big question is will I attend one of their upcoming concerts?  I would love to but it will take a tremendous amount of courage.  I’m not saying this because I’m wearing a Joy Division t-shirt and in the middle of writing a three-volume biography about Mike Doughty. 

At my age if I show up to an All Time Low concert I might raise the interest of law enforcement and/or various parent advocacy groups.  Maybe I can go as a chaperone for one of my teenage nieces? 

Joining All Time Low on the marquee will be Man Overboard and Handguns.  Highlights of their trek include concerts in Memphis, Anaheim, Denver, and Poughkeepsie.   On June 11, the band will be in Anchorage, Alaska for the “Road to Warped Tour.”  All thoughout March, ATL will be performing in Europe.

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Bruce Springsteen: Regional Specific Covers For Upcoming U.S. Tour

Bruce Springsteen AustraliaBruce Springsteen: Regional Specific Covers For Upcoming U.S. Tour

During his February tour of Australia, Bruce Springsteen performed several notable covers.  He played AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell,” INXS’ “Don’t Change,” and “Friday On My Mind” by The Easybeats.  What do all those songs have in common?  Well, they were originally performed by bands from Australia.  Needless to say, the crowd loved the tributes even if Springsteen took each song and made it his own.

In early April, Springsteen comes to North America for a 16-concert tour.  Will Springsteen continue his tradition of playing covers with regional significance while he gallivants across the Eastern part of the United States?  Almost assuredly he won’t, but if he does we’ve have compiled a list of other people’s songs he can sing.  These covers are regional specific and range from songs in Springsteen’s wheelhouse to tunes that will definitely challenge The Boss’ musical profundity.

>>April 8 – Cincinnati, Ohio (U.S. Bank Arena)
Hello, Cincinnati!  Here’s The Pretenders’ “My City Is Gone.”  This B-side was going to be called “Ohio” but was changed to avoid confusion with the song we picked for Springsteen’s April 15 show.

>>April 12 – Virginia Beach, Virginia (Farm Bureau Live at Virginia Beach)
”Meet Virginia” by Train.  We would have gone with “Sweet Virginia” by The Rolling Stones but it sounds too much like a Springsteen song to begin with plus it’s been covered by Phish.

>>April 15 – Columbus, Ohio (Nationwide Arena)  
”Ohio” was recorded by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and released in 1970.  We’re being kind to “The Boss” by not picking “Ohio” from Leonard Bernstein’s 1953 musical Wonderful Town (even though it’s a far superior song).

>>April 17 – Nashville, Tennessee (Bridgestone Arena)  
No more Mr. Nice Guy.  Let’s see The Boss try to cover “Tennessee” by Arrested Development.  It’s one of the greatest songs of the 1990s.

>>April 19 – Charlotte, North Carolina (Time Warner Cable Arena)
James Taylor’s “Carolina in My Mind” is the unofficial anthem for the state of North Carolina.  Taylor wrote the song while he was in Great Britain recording for The Beatles’ Apple label.

>>April 22 – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Consol Energy Center)
It should be noted that we’ve been unfair to The Boss.  The songs he covered in Australia are by famous Australian bands.  It’s not like he performed Men At Work’s “Down Under.”  Until now, we’ve had him covering songs that share a name with the city or state hosting his performance.  For Springsteen’s Pittsburgh concert, we’ve selected Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow.”  

>>April 24 – Raleigh, North Carolina (PNC Arena)
For Springsteen’s second North Carolina gig we’re going with “The American Idol Theme.”  North Carolina is home to seven American Idol finalists. 

>>April 26 – Atlanta, Georgia (Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood)
“Georgia on my Mind” was made famous by Ray Charles in 1960 but it was written by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell three decades earlier.

>>April 29 – Sunrise, Florida (BB&T Center)
Again, we’ll follow The Boss’ original model and pick a song from a local artist—local as in Miami which is 30 minutes from Sunrise.  The local artist is Gloria Estefan and The Miami Sound Machine and the song is "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You.” 

>>May 1 – Tampa, Florida (MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre)
Tampa is the de facto home of professional wrestling due to a large number of professional wrestlers living in and around the city.  Springsteen doesn’t even need to cover another artist’s song.  All he has to do is play “The Wrestler.”  That’s a song he wrote for the 2008 film of the same name.

>>May 3 – New Orleans, LA – Jazz & Heritage Festival 
“The City of New Orleans” was a big hit for Arlo Guthrie in the early 1970s.  It was written by Steve Goodman.  Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band can knock this one out in their sleep.

>>May 6 – Spring, Texas (Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion)
For this concert we nominate “The Big Bang Theory Theme.”  Stay with us… Jim Parson graduated from high school in Spring, Texas and he plays “Sheldon” on The Big Bang Theory.  “We built the pyramids!”

>>May 13 – Albany, New York (Times Union Center)
For his May 13 gig in Albany, Bruce Springsteen can cover any song made famous by Frank Sinatra.  The Chairman of the Board opened the Times Union Center (known then as the Knickerbocker Arena) on Jan. 30, 1990.

>>May 14 – Hershey, PA – Hersheypark Stadium 
To pay homage to the town’s sweet tooth, we picked “Chocolate” by Snow Patrol.  You can find that track on their 2004 opus Final Straw.

>>May 17 & 18 – Uncasville, Connecticut (Mohegan Sun)
Why would Bruce Springsteen sing Percy Sledge’s “When A Man Loves A Woman” during a concert held in Connecticut?  Simple, Connecticut’s favorite son is Michael Bolton (he’s from New Haven).  In 1991, Bolton’s version of “When A Man Loves A Woman” went to number one.  Also from Connecticut: Gene Pitney, John Mayer, and 50 Cent.

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