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Book Review: A Song Apart

Music, family, romance and intrigue, just a few of the elements incorporated into A Song Apart, a contemporary love story. Penned by first time novelist Jeffrey H. Baer, it offers the reader insight into the hearts, thoughts and lives of two New York City kids, Shannon Kistler and Kevin Derow.

Shannon, an up and coming pop star adored by millions of young teenage girls, discovers that her “biggest fan” is a 19 year old college student named Kevin. Their accidental meeting leads to a star-crossed romance, almost derailed from the beginning because they are from such different backgrounds.

Their love of music is a constant throughout, as they battle societal and family disparagement, jealousy and the cruel music industry.  One can just picture the guitar pick that Kevin carries and the organically grown studio in Shannon’s home.  The story that is painted by the author can not only be seen, but also heard, as the reader is engrossed in this fast paced story. 

U2 - Rock 'n' Roll's Most Memorable Stage Props & Features: Part 5

Given the tendency for rock stars to express their wild personalities with over-the-top stage theatrics, I would be remiss if I didn't make a list of the most spectacular examples. Spanning the range from silly to ridiculous to downright awesome, the following is the fifth and final entry in a series of unforgettable props and features that have graced the stage of live rock ‘n’ roll.

U2 – This one goes to 11.  If you get that reference, then you probably already realize that U2’s complications with a stage prop on their PopMart Tour seem to be torn straight from the pages of Spinal Tap, the fictional heavy metal band featured in the 1984 mockumentary, This Is Spinal Tap.  The culprit of U2’s folly was a lemon, as ridiculous as that sounds.  The 1997-1998 worldwide PopMart tour was intentionally over-the-top, as U2 sought to lampoon the lavishness of consumerism present at the time.  A 100-ft. high single golden arch, a 165-ft. wide LED screen, and the mirror-ball lemon all contributed to the outrageous stage show.  On several occasions throughout the tour, the band was forced to escape out the back when the lemon failed to open, deflating the intended pageantry and grandeur of the encore.  The striking similarity to Spinal Tap’s bass player, Derek Smalls, getting stuck inside a pod is highly amusing.  How much more outrageous does it get than U2 getting stuck inside a giant lemon?  None more outrageous.

So what crazy concert moment sticks in your mind? If you have any memorable stories of silly stage props, malfunctions, or over-the-top theatrics, share it with us in the HeyLiveMusic forum!

(Kyle Katterheinrich is a member of the HeyLiveMusic marketing team and a frequent contributor to the site)

ZZ Top - Rock 'n' Roll's Most Memorable Stage Props & Features: Part 4

Given the tendency for rock stars to express their wild personalities with over-the-top stage theatrics, I would be remiss if I didn't make a list of the most spectacular examples. Spanning the range from silly to ridiculous to downright awesome, the following is the fourth entry in a series of unforgettable props and features that have graced the stage of live rock ‘n’ roll.

ZZ Top – Let’s be honest, the full white beards gracing the chins of Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill are stage spectacles in and of themselves.  The trio doesn’t really need anything else.  But ZZ Top decided to go above and beyond for their Worldwide Texas Tour in 1976.  Wanting to showcase their pride in their home state of Texas, ZZ Top took to a 35 ton, Texas-shaped stage every night.  Additionally, the stage was adorned with plants like agave and cacti that brought an increased Texas feel to the show.  But what qualifies this particular tour for a list of memorable stage features is the wildlife: bison, vultures, steer, and rattlesnakes all found their way onto ZZ Top’s concert stage.  If having wild animals as part of your show sounds like a hassle, consider this: the band traveled with an animal expert for the entirety of the tour and spent $140,000 to ensure the animals’ health and safety.  ZZ Top’s elaborate and over-the-top stage show, particularly the inclusion of wild animals, earns their Worldwide Texas Tour a spot on this list.

So what crazy concert moment sticks in your mind? If you have any memorable stories of silly stage props, malfunctions, or over-the-top theatrics, share it with us in the HeyLiveMusic forum! And check back soon for the fifth and final installment in the series... a Spinal Tap-esque mishap for U2 rounds out the list.

(Kyle Katterheinrich is a member of the HeyLiveMusic marketing team and a frequent contributor to the site)

Motley Crue - Rock 'n' Roll's Most Memorable Stage Props & Features: Part 3



Given the tendency for rock stars to express their wild personalities with over-the-top stage theatrics, I would be remiss if I didn't make a list of the most spectacular examples. Spanning the range from silly to ridiculous to downright awesome, the following is the third entry in a series of unforgettable props and features that have graced the stage of live rock ‘n’ roll.

Motley Crue – Easily the most dangerous and excessive band in this series, Motley Crue made a name for themselves in the 80’s with their lifestyle of complete and utter debauchery. 
 

Rush - Rock 'n' Roll's Most Memorable Stage Props & Features: Part 2

Given the tendency for rock stars to express their wild personalities with over-the-top stage theatrics, I would be remiss if I didn't make a list of the most spectacular examples. Spanning the range from silly to ridiculous to downright awesome, the following is the second entry in a series of unforgettable props and features that have graced the stage of live rock ‘n’ roll.

Rush – Possibly Canada’s most significant musical contribution, Rush has established a reputation for being the antithesis of the typical rock band, boasting incredible musicianship rather than sexual escapades, drug use, or big egos.  The result is concerts free of over-the-top theatrics: no costumes, no make up, and no pyrotechnics. 

While Rush has long employed the services of

 a large video screen, the only other notable features of their stage show (besides Neil Peart’s gigantic drum set) are Geddy Lee’s strange appliances in lieu of bass amps.

Pink Floyd - Rock 'n' Roll's Most Memorable Stage Props & Features: Part 1

When it comes to rock ‘n’ roll, excessive and eccentric behavior is to be expected. It is inevitable. In fact, the rock world thrives on the insanity of over-the-top personalities like Gene Simmons, Alice Cooper or Prince.  It is no surprise, then, that artists frequently attempt to capture their spirit with increasingly elaborate stage shows. The quirks and ridiculous extremes of the personalities that comprise rock’s biggest acts are manifested on stage, often in the form of props or decorations. Spanning the range from silly to ridiculous to downright awesome, the following is the first part in a series of unforgettable props and features that have graced the stage of live rock ‘n’ roll.

Pink Floyd – One of the biggest and most successful psychedelic prog rock bands of all time,

Can Cyndi Lauper Soothe The Savage Traveler?

Well, it seems that way.

When passengers whose flights were delayed at an airport in Buenos Aires became agitated, the staff got some help from pop star Cyndi Lauper. Much to the traveler’s delight the iconic star sporting a black head covering and sunglasses broke into an impromptu rendition of "Girls Just Want to Have Fun"

 

Bands I Wish I Could Have Seen Live

When I read the news that The White Stripes had called it quits, an intense feeling of regret came over me as I came to an unsettling realization: I will never see The White Stripes perform live.

If you haven’t heard, The White Stripes announced in early February via their website that they are done recording and performing; that means no more Grammy award-winning albums, no more unwavering adherence to their red, white, and black color scheme, and worst of all, no more quirky, high-energy and unforgettable live shows. 

Of course, I’ve never had the privilege of seeing them live, so my knowledge of their performances is based on secondhand information and conjecture from concert reviews.  The unfortunate news of The White Stripes’ conclusion gets me thinking about the other brilliant artists I will never experience live…

Nirvana – I wouldn’t consider myself a huge fan of flannel or poor hygiene, but the unpredictability and complete lack of inhibition characteristic of the 90’s grunge scene seems to be severely lacking in the stuffy music industry of today.  No one embodied this attitude of reckless abandonment more perfectly than Nirvana.  Stage diving and crowd surfing with a bunch of sweaty, angst-ridden Gen Xers?  The possibility of wounds and head trauma from intense, uncontrolled moshing?  A good chance of seeing the destruction of the entire stage after an emotionally charged set by Nirvana? Yes, please.

53rd Annual Grammy Awards: The Aftermath

As much as I hate to admit it, I loved Sunday night's Grammy Awards.  I loved the incubating and shoulder-enhanced Lady Gaga.  I loved the folk rock combination of Mumford & Sons, The Avett Brothers, and Bob Dylan.  And, although it may seem slightly mean-spirited, I loved to see Justin Bieber go home empty-handed (The Biebs has everything, he doesn't need a Grammy). 

If nothing else, the Grammy's were memorable.  The outfits were outrageous (Nicki Minaj and Rihanna stick out), the performers were eclectic and well-paired, and my reaction to the winners ranged from pleasantly surprised (Esperanza Spalding winning Best New Artist) to simply puzzled (Arcade Fire's The Suburbs snagging Album of the Year? really!?)

But here at HeyLiveMusic, it's all about the performances, and I think the Grammy's nailed it this year.  I found the tribute to Aretha Franklin fitting, especially the redeeming performance from Christina Aguilera, and Barbara Streisand's performance was vocally impressive.  Lady Gaga was surprisingly tame, debuting her new single "Born This Way," and Muse provided a nice change of pace with "Uprising."  

I thought Jaden Smith was the highlight of the Justin Bieber/Usher collaboration, and I found Gwyneth Paltrow to be an interesting foil to Cee Lo Green.  Drake claimed the better performance from Rihanna, as her turn with Eminem and Dr. Dre proved unremarkable.  The highlight of the evening for me was the zealous rendition of "The Cave" by Best New Artist nominees, Mumford & Sons, which opened a memorable set with The Avett Brothers and Bob Dylan.

So what was your favorite performance from the Grammy Awards?  Do you think Arcade Fire deserved the nod for Album of the Year?  Think Justin Bieber got snubbed in the Best New Artist category?  Let us know in the forum.

(Kyle Katterheinrich is member of the HeyLiveMusic marketing team and a frequent contributor to the site)

The HeyLiveMusic Project

What is the HeyLiveMusic Project?

As you look around the site it should soon become a bit clearer to you.  In a few words it's a place to find a catalog of local live music/entertainment quickly.  As the word gets out, local venue's (clubs, schools, arenas, restaurants, theatres etc) will all keep their calendars up to date here so we all know where to go to find what is going on.

And creates an ongoing record of the shows that were performed.  With this comes the ability to research an unlimited amount of artists and venues and who played where and when.  Please visit the About page for more on this.

One thing HeyLiveMusic is not is a music download site.  Yes artists can upload their music if they'd like to share it but that's it.

Once you realize what the purpose of the site is I think it will become something some of you will use regularly while others will use it from time to time to find some local, live music activity. 

So browse around, register, share the site with others and be sure to let us know what we can improve. 

Enjoy!

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