While the Flag Stands Tall….

Yesterday, I took a road trip down to Hanover, PA and I noticed that there were so many american flags lined up along the sides of the road. With Memorial day being close by, I could perfectly understand that. This is a time to remember our fallen heroes and the people who have risked their lives to fight for us and maintain order for us everywhere.

In my opinion, we shouldn’t rely on just one day to bring that gratitude and memorial into public attention. I understand that people have various ways of honoring and remembering, but the service and dedication that these men and women have provided for us should have more significance than just one day on the calendar (Ok ,ok, Veteran’s Day is kind of a second day, but it doesn’t result in people being grateful for ACTIVE members most of the time). You can’t forget sacrifice, and the people that have given that deserve more respect.

So, with all of this being said. Let us take today to remember the people who have given their lives for our freedom, continue to fight to preserve our freedom, and who are constantly on the line helping to keep us safe. Thank you all, your acts are not going unnoticed, and we are really proud and honored to keep you all in our hearts.

Top Five Live Albums That I Own!

“ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT WORLD WIDE WEB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

YOUUUUUUU WANTED THE BEST, YOUUUUU’VE GOT THE BEST!

THE HOTTEST SITE IN THE LAND, MARSHALL STONE MUSIC!!”

Thank you…… mysterious announcer. Huh.

Welcome everyone!! I’m sorry for the delay of this week’s blog, I had a ton of stuff scheduled throughout the last few days, but I’m back on track now. So let’s get down to business!

Who remembers their first live concert? Mine was Kix at Rams Head Live in Baltimore around 2008 or so. That show was a high-energy performance of non-stop thrills, and on that night, I left with a huge smile on my face!

Since I can’t go to concerts all of the time though, I always love listening to live albums to try and experience that energy, and I’ve compiled a list of my favorite live albums that I own. Now before I go on, I have a few rules:
1. One album per artist, and one album per label (MTV Unplugged, Storytellers, etc.)
2. The album must be comprised of one show or two shows and not an entire spread out selection of tour dates.

So, with that being said, here we go!

5. Jimmy Buffett: Live in Anguilla (2007)

I’ve already talked about this album on my “Top 5 albums that I’m currently listening to” countdown, so I’ll keep this really brief.

I’m indifferent to Jimmy Buffett’s studio material, and like I said before, it was the live shows that really stuck out to me. This was my first live album that I purchased of his, and I definitely don’t regret it! His backing group of musicians, The Coral Reefer band is in top-form and you can definitely feel the atmosphere of the album as you’re listening to it! Now, the only reason that this isn’t higher up is because even though there are a lot of songs, there are some definite low points with some of them. In reality though, it’s not enough to kill my enjoyment of this album. If you’re a Buffett fan, it’s a must-have in your collection!

4. KISS: Alive! (1975)

Yeah, you knew this was coming from the intro!

Alive is one of those albums that just oozes with a ton of high energy, and hearing some of these tracks on a ‘best of’ CD made me want to snag this album in a heartbeat. I didn’t really know what to make of KISS when I first heard about them, but their stage persona drew me in, so I decided to listen to the songs and give them a chance.

No one kill me for this, but I actually drifted off to sleep after the first few songs…..

Hold on, hold on! It wasn’t that the music was boring, I really was tired on that day. I thought the songs were really great, but then I heard the mood change when the crowd started………

“Wait a minute……” I thought.

“Am I listening to a different band?”

Turns out that I wasn’t, and those live songs were awesome! There was a certain grittiness and raw power to the performances that catapulted it all up, and I think that’s what drew a lot of people into KISS. This album turned out to be their breakthrough, and after finally getting a copy a couple of years back, I can understand why!

Killer vocals, flowing rhythm section, and stellar guitarwork…. what’s not to like? I can’t think of much, this is a treat from start to finish!

3. Fleetwood Mac: The Dance (1997)

Just hearing the intro of this album’s opening track, “The Chain” really takes me back! It’s funny how something like the simple kickmotion of the bass pedal can really set the mood for the song. Anyway, if I got analytical on every song on this album, we’d be here all day, so I’ll cut to the chase!

This album features the classic lineup of Christine McVie (Vocals, Piano, songwriter), Stevie Nicks(Vocals, Songwriter) , Lindsey Buckingham (Vocals, Guitar, Songwriter, plus banjo player for one song on this album, fun fact!), John McVie (Bass), and Mick Fleetwood (Drums).

OK!!! OK!!!! It’s not the ORIGINAL Fleetwood Mac, but that’s a different sound and a different discussion for another time.

Now about The Dance: It’s another live album that I enjoy from start to finish. Fleetwood Mac is one of my favorite bands for a few reasons, and here are the two of the most important aspects to me: Diversity and vocal talent. The songs that are on this album perfectly represent the evolution of each key songwriter with them tackling different styles and sometimes subject matters, especially with Buckingham and Nicks. And as for the singing, I don’t really have a favorite between Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, and Christine McVie. I love them all for different reasons! This album was one of my first introductions to live music as a child, and it holds a special place in my heart.

2. Alice In Chains: Unplugged (1996)

Now here’s a band I haven’t really talked about a lot! If I had to rank some of my favorite music from the 90′s, Alice In Chains would be pretty close to the top. You have Layne Staley’s vocals, Jerry Cantrell’s amazing guitarwork and songwriting, the list goes on with things to like!

But to me, when they decided to do an MTV unplugged special, I thought that was  a wonderful idea. It showed that underneath the heavy alternative/metal sound, there was a vulnerable and melodic edge to the band that was represented in two of their previous EPs, Sap and Jar of Flies. Some personal highlights include “Nutshell”, “No Excuses”,  “Down In a Hole”, “Got Me Wrong”, and one of my favorite songs of theirs, “Would?”. I don’t know how else to describe this album other than the fact that it showcased AIC’s diversity and qualities in the best ways possible. It’s one of my favorite albums ever, and for good reason! Check out if you get a chance!

1. Carreras, Domingo, Pavarotti, The Three Tenors In Concert (1990)

I can just picture the response now:
“WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA???????? BLASPHEMY!!!!!! NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!!!”

Well, it’s the truth. I love this album and this performance. I never used to listen to a lot of classical music, but this changed everything.

Let’s start with the obvious, The Three Tenors concerts are incredible.

All three singers, Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras, and Luciano Pavarotti are at top form and perfectly nail each piece to the point of sheer beauty. That’s really the way to perfectly describe this concert: beautiful. I always feel at peace while listening to this, the orchestra and voices compliment each other really nicely. All I can really say is that this is a flawless performance with three of the best tenors ever known. I’m sorry that I can’t really go into too much detail with this CD, but it really is something that you need to listen to believe.

Thank you everyone for reading! Feel free to make a list of your own in the comment section, I’d love to see them! Until then, keep rocking, and I’ll see you all next time.

Baltimore: The Uprising

I have a confession to make.

And no, this isn’t going to lead up to a joke…. this is a serious, genuine feeling that I had a little while back.

So, if anyone kept up with the news within the past few weeks, you probably heard about the unrest that was happening in Baltimore with the Freddie Gray case and the resulting riots. I’m not going to go into specifics, because I’m not writing a New York Times article, but when all of this happened, I practically froze up.

I consider Baltimore to be a second home of mine. The community that I have been around is filled with accepting and wonderful people. So, before I found out more details about everything that happened leading up to these riots, I was in disbelief. I had read about unrest and rioting in several other cities, and felt genuine sorrow for them, but the pain doesn’t hit as hard as when it happens so close to home. I realized this, and it opened my eyes up.

There are still people around the Baltimore area that are scared to leave their homes due to the uncertainty that they feel, but I’m here to tell you this: it will be ok.

Baltimore is a strong city. It will not fall because of this. I have already seen signs of things improving for the better. The recent protests have been advocating for the violence to stop; there are communities uniting to protect their police officers. To all of these officers along with the national guard, fire departments, and any law enforcement helping protect the city: thank you. Your hard work is paying off, I can see it.

Today, I invite everyone near or in the Baltimore area to come to The Gathering Food Truck Festival at Power Plant Live today. I will be performing a solo set at 5pm with the band Under the Covers to follow me right afterwards. Let’s use this time to rebuild, regroup, and change things for the better. We need a break from the tension, so let’s celebrate with some great food vendors! It’s free admission and the music will last from 5 to 10pm.

Get it? Got it?

Good.

Let’s rock!

Food Truck Gathering