Results tagged ‘ Rays Concert Series ’

Train Took Us on a Perfect Musical Trip

From the moment the Train whistle first made its echo throughout Tropicana Field, until Train lead singer Pat Monohan’s last gracious words of gratitude towards the loud assembly of Tropicana Field back-up singers who collectively started swinging and swaying right in tune with Train’s first offering, “50 Ways to Say Goodbye” and didn’t stop even as the band made their exit stage right.

I hope the Rays and their fans take it as an ultimate compliment that the band “wanted” to come back and play after a game, possibly setting the stage last night for possibly the Rays concert conductor to post them again in the future. I love it when I hear gushing compliments from the musical acts, and last night I heard the same kind of vibes I have overheard from LL Cool J and ZZ Top who also made return engagements within the Trop. this season.

And Train not only delivered with gusto last night, they might be the one band I have seen during the entire Rays Concert Series who had such a great time up on the stage performing post-game as there were miles and miles of smiles from ear-to-ear from every member of the band from the first note, to the last. That kind of excitement and good vibrations does rub off on the assembled masses, and they were noisy, singing every verse and looking like a sea of humanity from my perch in the front of the stage for the first 3 songs.

A lot of that has to be the great music that blasted out from the stage, but you can not discount for a moment the charismatic and appealing vocals of Monahan who once played in a Led Zeppelin cover band before becoming a firm grounding point and vocal reference for this band from the San Francisco bay area. From their long time classics “Drops of Jupiter”, “Meet Virgina”, “Calling All Angels” to their new found classic tunes “Marry Me”, Save Me San Francisco”, “Hey Soul Sister” and their last offering “Drive By”.

As you can tell, I am a Train fan, but I was not an adamant Train listener until their first trip through Tropicana Field back in 2010 when Monahan did an impromptu race around the Trop turf with Rays Security in pursuit to protect Pat from his overly-zealous fans. But that is another of things I found appealing from this band, spontaneous decisions based on the vibe and music, possibly ending with a stroll around the outfield.

I can bet I’m not the only one hoping to see Train again in 2 years or so because this band definitely delivers a true and hearty meal of beats and tunes with a perfect mixture of past and present from their first self-titled album “Train” back in 1998 to their latest “California 37”. Some band tend to phone in their older classics, but Monahan and crew puts on a stellar show on that small Rays stage that ultimately make you want to hear them again, possibly on the drive home just to revisit the whole fantastic experience. How many days until Train returns again to embrace us all with their music?

Here is my public access Flickr Photostream with all of the Train concerts photos

Dance Party- Trop Style

I have always been a huge fans of Industrial/Techo/ Electronic or whatever name they are using for this unique and special brand of rhythm and beats. I was a fan of the late night DJ induced music sets on the FM dial in my younger days, pumping the volume as loud as the speakers allowed me sometimes feeling the windows rattle in the car. The intense thumping of the amplified bass seemed to coordinate with my heartbeat. Both pumping, pushing and coursing music and life into my tired body as I listened to it religiously like the Siren’s song.


That same vibe came back to me and about 5,000 other Rays fans who packed the AstroTurf of Tropicana Field for the Friday Fest Concert featuring International DJ Astrojack. This definitely was one of the loudest concerts held in Tropicana Field since possibly Janet Jackson’s “Black Cat Tour”, but during this performance, it was the crowd that seemed to have the choreographed dances moves. With the first note of bass, the assembled crowd began their rhythmic bouncing and hand raising saluting and following the grooves and pulsations streaming from the huge loud speakers.

Combining the mind-numbing bass from his selected play list with the electronic visual movements and designs flashing upon the stage and DJ platform, DJ Astrojack came to Tampa Bay to impress, and he delivered and then some on Friday night. Sure the Trop’s seating bowl did not have its usual filled lower bowl seats staying to listen and watch the performance, but this style of music is not for everyone. Even today dancing to this type of music has to be a crowd inspired coordinated dance movement complete with hands raised high, extended arms to the heavens and letting your body absorb the pulsations.

I actually enjoyed the night from watching the glow-girl with her lighted hula hoop, to seeing both young and old doing their own versions of the “Night at the Roxbury” head bops and accelerated dance moves. It was definitely a musical event either you understood, or shook your head as you exited the Trop. I ventured outside the Trop to see just how loud it was inside the enclosed stadium, and wandered over to Ferg’s and could still hear clear as a bell the music as it vibrated off the Teflon roof of the Trop.

 The orange glow of the Tropicana Field roof made this inspired impromptu dance party seem more at home, and I swear I saw the roof flex and move to the music at least once. I eventually strolled back into the Trop. and listened to the last beat as it made its way through the Trop., echoing off the roof and finally coming back to my ears still leaving it’s loud impression.

The concert was a success if you consider the people who stayed swayed and moved with the pulsations of the beats like blades of grass. I was exhausted when I finally stepped into the cool air outside the stadium, but the intense pulsations of the sounds tonight still had control of my heart. It was one of those nights you will remember because it was a first within the walls of the Trop., and hopefully it will not be the last.

                                                                                                                                                        Blogger’s Note: Is it just me, or does DJ Astrojack look like a young Carlos Pena?

DJ Astrojack  Flikr photo gallery

LL Cool J Charmed The Trop

Renegade Note: I apologize for this blog not getting its fair share of views on Sunday through today. For some reason my Laptop is not smarter than me and did not read my mind and push “Publish” as I wanted. Just goes to show you technology is only as smart as the guy who is pushing the keys down.

 I can honestly say without a shadow of a doubt last night’s Tampa Bay Rays concert artist LL Cool J knocked out Mommas, Pappas and maybe even a few Baby bears with his classic tunes. I truly felt like time pressed backwards with the first beats from the turntable and I found myself again in the early days of Hip Hop watching someone live tonight who’s tunes and tales blared not only back in those younger days through my own car’s speakers, but still finds play time even today.

 Heck, “Going back to Cali” and “Mama Said Knock You Out” are still on my travel I-pod tunes list because even today it can get me to press that accelerator a bit, possibly bringing out the bad boy in me (which is not hard to to do). I was standing there is the photo pit eager to get a shot of the longtime Hip Hop marvel, but I got mesmerized by the beats coming from the turntable and almost forgot what I was there for. But that is what great music does to you, it transforms you out of your comfort zone and into a state of harmonious bliss.

 From the moment LL Cool J hit the stage until his final note, this was one concert if you loved early Hip Hop and its root artist you truly did not want to miss. It was a perfect mix of old and new tunes with some special moments, especially for a few lucky fans. I was up front for his first venture into Tropicana Field complete with roses and smiles for the ladies, heck got trampled when he threw one just behind me and the massive army of arms went for the delicate flower.

 LL Cool J fans have always known the laid-back singer/ actor to be cool, calm and a bit of a charmer, but who in their right mind would have guessed he would actually take the glistening lollipop charm from around his neck and pluck it into the sea of eager hands and into the fingertips of one lucky soul. LL Cool J took the gold chain from around his neck complete with a lollipop charm designed by Mrs J (Simone I. Smith) and flicked it into the crowd on the right side of the stage. I know you want to know more about this charm, so here we go….

 The fashion statement in question was actually a part of her “ A Sweet Touch of Hope” collection that she created with the help of The American Cancer Society. Simone, a cancer survivor herself created this stylish lollipop charm in crystal and jeweled enamel in the 12 birthstone colors. Simone’s collection also includes earrings and bracelets, but on this night…it was all about the lollipop. I am not sure which of her awesome designs was around her husband’s neck on that faithful day, but here is a link to her website in case you also would love to have a lollipop, bracelet or buy something to support the American Cancer Society in California.

 It was wild early evening as LL Cool J began to wind down his concert, and in that period of time I saw an old Fraternity brother and ex-roommate who would have been dancing and grooving physically to the beats if not for him wearing his uniform. He came over to me and was adamantly excited to see someone on stage we both listened to in our cars back then, and who was about in our age bracket, but still performing like he did all those years ago.

It was one of those nostalgic moments you wanted to be thrust upon you so you could remember a day when music had not only a message, but artists who put it all out there within the boundaries and crosses so many cultural boundaries with their message and beats. I remember seeing LL Cool J as he was seated in the gold cart and about to be escorted across the AstroTurf of the Trop. backstage to a Meet and Greet session. He just tilted his head and gave me a nod again showing me he was as cool a cat on the stage as he was in real life. Can’t wait until he comes back again….Maybe in 2016?

LL Cool J Concert Photo Portfolio


Time to Grab the Brass Ring

There is an old saying, “When a door closes, another one opens”. The unfortunate thing is right now that door is a trap door and it leads to a dark place that this Tampa Bay Rays team has been trying to avoid every since their rial departure from Boston’s South Station.

Along the way this once enthusiastic Rays band of bros have been blindsided, mis-guided and sent along a path of self destruction. All we have to do now is figure out the culprit or aliment and drown them with a high dosage of optimism and possibly someone singing “Tomorrow” from “Annie” a few times in the clubhouse. I pick Rays rookie Matt Moore, he can’t seem to do anything wrong right now.

It is just one stubbed toe, but it is also a missed opportunity by losing 5-1 tonight to a Blue Jays team the Rays have manhandled most of the season. It was the perfect time to thrust a huge H-bomb of stress and pressure upon those pesky Red Sox in their series against the high flying, playoff bound Pinstripes. Instead, it is another example of putting the wrong foot forward and stepping straight into that spiraling rabbit hole.

You want to rush past the Security Guards, push past the Clubhouse Assistants and shake a few Rays by the shoulders and make them come out of this nightmare dream sequence. It is almost like someone threw a copy of the bad independent screenplay built on despair and personal instability upon the Visitor’s dugout in Boston, and everyone read it on the slow train to NYC.

There has to be a connection. There has to be a dark reason, a motive unseen that has thrust this Rays franchise deep into playing like those pre-2000 D-Rays once again when the prize is just beyond the grasp. That brass ring is just out of their reach and with each passing spin of the Merry-go-Round seems to inch further and further away with each circle.

Pressure is rising. Building up a nasty head of steam and insecurity with each and every miss-step or missed opportunity. Something has to be done. Someone needs to somehow right this ship before it hits the shoals of Tampa Bay and the season becomes a “what if” decaying fossil upon the rocks.

It is still fixable, the Merry-go-Round is still functioning and tomorrow really is another day. But the winning has to start tomorrow or the trapdoor will open below Tropicana Field and suck the life out of a any post season dreams. It is not a classic “do or die” moment, but a win will erase a little of that cloud, open up a stream of sunshine, take the blues away just like a magician and his fabled rabbit trick.

The end is too near and the prize is too vivid for it to all disappear into thin air with another loss. A win during a Rays Saturday Night Concert Series event used to be a “sure thing”, a president for renewed faith, vitality and exuberance for that last trip around the Merry-go-Round. A loss and the ring will quickly go from solid brass to useless plastic.

A loss and the crowd might not be able to rebound and enjoy Miranda Lambert with gusto. But a win, a win can make Sunday brighter, the Starbucks taste better and reopen that door towards the playoffs with a firm and confident Rays step forward.

Rays Concert Guest Miranda Cosgrove in Tour Bus Accident

In a bit of news today that will send a dark cloud throughout the younger regiment of the Rays Republic, Nickelodeon “iCarly” star Miranda Cosgrove was in an 2-vehicle accident last night.

As of this moment, Cosgrove who suffered a broken right ankle from the accident has postponed her current “Dancing Crazy” Tour, which included a Rays/Hess Express Saturday Night Concert on September 3, 2011. As of this moment, Cosgrove and her mother will return to their home to “heal up”.

The incident happened during the night hour’s while Cosgrove’s tour bus was winding it ways towards Kansas after a concert in Ohio on Wednesday evening. The accident occurred on I-70 just outside of Vandalia, Illinois.

On a mostly pitch black road, Cosgrove’s tour bus driver suddenly came upon a overturned semi tractor trailer unit and instead of trying to swerve and possibly overturn themselves, the driver made an assertive move to brake and hit the overturned truck head-on.

Of the 5 people on board the bus, Cosgrove sustained a fractured right ankle that will require a cast, and a broken right big toe. The driver sustained the blunt of the force of the accident and had to be airlifted from the crash scene to a local hospital where he received 45 stitches for his injuries. Cosgrove’s mother also received some bruises in the collision.

Cosgrove has been more than adamant that the course of action by her tour bus driver was courageous and kept the injuries and possibilities of further harm to a minimum. Cosgrove has told people close to her “if it wasn’t for her bus driver’s quick thinking this morning, she might be dead now.”

This is not the first time the Tampa Bay Rays front office has had to deal with a accident concerning one of their planned concert guests. Most Rays fans might remember the Go-Go;s had to cancel their 2010 Rays/Hess Express appearance after band member Jane Weidlin suffered a major ACL tear during a 20-foot fall during a hike in the California mountains.

A possible scenario could be that Cosgrove could still perform for her Tropicana Field date after the Rays take on the Baltimore Orioles, but in stark reality, the concert by Cosgrove could possibly be canceled in the next few days

With the concert still over 3 weeks away, there is still a small window of time for Cosgrove to possibly resume her tour and the Tropicana Field date, but rest and the healing process might be the best medicine for Cosgrove right now than performing.

In reality, within the next few days it is possible the Rays will announce a cancellation of the concert, with a possible substitute band possibly announced in Cosgrove’s place.

It is a shame this budding star had the misfortune of coming upon the overturned tractor trailer in the dead of night, but the quick thinking of her tour bus driver adverted an impending disaster and a more uncertain result. Maybe Cosgrove can also follow the  2011 path of the Go-Go’s coming back to the Trop and performing for the fans. Could we possibly see Cosgrove do the same in 2012 and come back and perform for her Tampa Bay fans?

Drivers with Chauffeur’s licenses sometimes get a bad rap by people traveling on the highways and byways of this country. This time the safety training and impulse judgment of a experienced driver might have saved more than a life, it saved a budding icon.  Godspeed to the driver and to Miss Cosgrove  during their recovery.


Accident Photos by

Just Like a Musical Avalanche, Goo Goo Dolls Picked Up Speed and Swept Us Away

Taking photos during a concert sometimes comes with their own hidden dangers. Now I am not talking about the time Vanilla Ice wanted to get every photographer wet in the pit, or even when Pat Monahan of Train decided to do an impromptu journey around the Trop turf. Sometimes artists just do not like the camera.

That same scenario came to head Saturday night during the Goo Goo Dolls show during the Rays/Hess Express Saturday Night Concert Series. It has been common knowledge to those who follow music that Goo Goo Dolls lead singer John Rzeznik’s propensity to be camera shy. Most people might not know that in the beginning Rzeznik would not sing due to his shyness.

So the night was an adventure in creative poising and posturing, hoping for the right shot, or maybe even a facial glance towards a lens. Not going to say the night was a total success, but Rzeznik did give me a few well aimed photos, and a night to remember.

Ironically, it was after their third song “Here Is Gone” that Rzeznik began to unfold his personality and. the real concert went from 0-60 in a flash.

Here is a bit of Goo Goo Dolls trivia for the Rays Republic, Rzeznik did not officially become the voice of the band until their third album “Hold Me Up: in 1990. Previously it was Robby Takac the band wild bass guitarist that took the mic before Rzeznik became comfortable and they started cranking out their many hits.

The band’s 17-song set was a huge flashback for some fans that displayed just how much the band had matured and grown as artists since their first hit. From their first song of the night “Last Hot Night” to their final song “Broadway”, the band really did take us down an interesting path with Rzeznik becoming more and more personable as the night went along.

Even with the bump in the road in the beginning, this was a great concert filled with songs we all knew by sound, if not by heart. From “Slide” introduced second on Saturday night to “Iris” being performed in a different way, but still have the same heart string pulls of emotion. This is a band that embodies the 1990’s in so many ways, even though their biggest hit “Iris” did not hit the charts until 1998.

After the third song with our cameras in our bags and non of us milling about the photo pit, truly the night began to shine for Rzeznik and the rest of the Goo Goo Dolls. It truly was a great way to bring to a close the Go-Go Goo Goo weekend of concerts. By the way, the Rays did ask about the possible inclusion of possibly Lady GaGa performing, but the team balked at a $ 1 million asking price.

Still a Go-Go Goo Goo Gaga weekend would have been beyond historic. Still, the Goo Goo Dolls were the perfect cheery on top of the 2 concert events, complete with smoke machines, a light explosion and the vocals of Rzeznik that you could recognize even in a vacuum. It was seriously that good.

Even as the assembled masses were trying to get the band to come out for an additional song, their 17-song set and night was over just before the clock neared the midnight hour. I especially like their rendition of the classic 1977 Supertramp hit “Give A Little Bit”. No disrespect to the 1970’s iconic band, but I enjoyed Rzeznik’s personal changes and riffs a bit more than the original.

In the end as band that began their journey with the name The Sex Maggots and were banned by some promoters in Buffalo, New York from clubs found their groove. Even Rzeznik found his rhythm, found his voice and provided another moment in Rays concert history we will all never forget, especially the photographers’.

Goo Goo Dolls Rays Renegade Flickr Photostream

Go-Go’s Took Me to the ’80’s and Back

It was great seeing my old friends, the Go-Go’s perform last night after the Tampa Bay Rays victory. Reason I say “friends” is that this group was at the essence of my 1980’s. They were the group who’s song dominated my cassette players as I cruised down Clearwater Beach as a teen in my convertible 1969 Camaro with my hair swirling and Go-Go’s music dancing in my ears.

Tonight that same wave of emotions, hopes and remembrances danced along with the thousands upon the Trop AstroTurf. From the moment lead singer Belinda Carlise lead the group on stage, dancing, we knew it was going to be an 80’s party to remember…always.

Even with their lead-off song “Vacation”, the girls again took me back to a simpler time in my life as I swayed and grooved to song I knew by heart, and had a special niche in that same pumping vessel. These were the first female musicians to steal my heart. It wasn’t the En Vogue girls, Vixen or even the Supremes, it was this California band that spoke of life in the same parameter path of my own.

But make no mistake, even though Jane Wiedlin probably can’t bounce around like she did before her 2010 ACL accident, the vibe was still the same. It was a festival of fun, frolic and calculated mayhem. Jane still did her swirls, even sporting a silver and black half wig to show her child side is still alive and well.

Karen Valentine is still one of the best bass guitarists in the world and it was fitting the native of Austin, Texas was there to jam out on a day when Jeff Niemann, the Rays Tall Texan dominated. This is a band that has seen its own members go off and do solo and duo projects and still have enough love and admiration for their own collaborated tunes to reunite and again rock it out Cali style.

I was entranced from the first note to their last strum after their encore where Gina Schock, the one East Coast (Baltimore,Md) born Go-Go helped introduce the band while cooling down a bit before the encore. Gina is one of the best drummer you probably have never heard about, but she is the accentual heartbeat and energy stalwart of this band.

Charlotte Caffey is a songwriting muse. Her own life experiences, along with her band mates dominates the Go-Go’s tunes. Her keyboard artistry is above the board. She might not be the most vocal and outgoing of the Go-Go’s girls on stage, but she more than makes up for it in her songwriting and multiple musical talents.

That leaves us with the firecracker herself. Belinda Carlise who has always been the focal point, and have delivered time after time after time. From her dances moves on stage in the middle of songs, to her bellowing vocals and range, the girl has been the glowing icon of the Go-Go girl revolution for a long time. The Cali girl hair might be gone, but she still rocks the follicles as well as our heart strings.

I can seriously not see this band flowing and grooving like it does without this perfected orchestrated 5-some on stage. Pity this might be the last performance ever of the band in Florida, because the Tampa Bay crowd that missed it or left early missed a great example of the California influence and vibe that rock the 80’s from stem to stern.

I have a special place in my heart for the Go-Go’s. They helped me understand women through their songs. Made me joyful when I was in the dumps, and always had the beat to get me again doing “ my thing”. This band started their motion to fame at the same time I was getting out of High School. Their music influenced me, had me dancing in the streets, halls and sometimes the Mall.

If you needed one band to put on a platter to demonstrate the ’80’s, it was these ladies. The Go-Go’s might be 30 years older than the first time I saw them at Bayfront Center. They may even not sit out at the beaches behind the Don CeSar anymore, but they can still take me back, in a heartbeat to days I will never forget. If this is the last time I see these fabulous ladies I can truly hang my head high because they did their thing, they moved the crowd. For that I applaud my old friends, for they made me proud I lived in the era of the Go-Go’s.

Flickr photostream of Go-Go’s photos

From Bummer to a Blast in 60 Seconds…Pure Avril

Avril Lavigne definitely picked the right song to start off her Rays/Hess Express Saturday Night Concert appearance, her upbeat and timely “What The Hel*” was the perfect song to start out what would be a unique and escalating Rays post game concert experience.

With stage hands frantically assembling, plugging and barking orders even moments before the Sk8tr Goddess hit the small stage you got the feeling this was going to be a high energy, dance producing moment, then someone or something decided a microphone monkey wrench had to be inserted into the whole sha-bang. During her first number Lavigne’s portable mic was anything but cooperative, and suddenly Lavigne bopped her way off stage.

The crowd was instanly stunned, and taken totally a- back, but immediately you could see frantic stagehands trying to get the mic situation done pronto. In the background you could see the angst growing on Lavigne’s face as she spoke to her handlers and concert personnel trying to figure out “What The Hel*”.

After several minutes of calming energy Lavigne reappeared smiling, enthusiastic the silence in her concert was defeated, she started out by letting out a impromptu, four-letter word Sk8tr sermon to the assembled masses that must have had a few Rays executives gasping. Still, it was the release of built up emotional garbage and hostility that needed to be exorcised for this show to explode and take us with it.

Lavigne then started sans her band in an a Capella rendition of “What The Hel*” that conquered the stress, angst and even submerged any bummer feeling among the Rays turf crowd. It was an amazing arrangement, plus really showed off that the actress, perfume and clothing maven was definitely not a one trick pony, or needed heavy musical background noise to hide any vocal deficiencies. This Gurl could wail with the best of them.

From that moment on this concert went into a non-stop ride of bouncing in place in unison with the punk rock princess, crowd participation sing-a-longs and watching the Trop’s roof bouncing up and down a few times. Suddenly you could see the crowd feed energy to Lavigne and she returned the favor in spades. This concert definitely went from a rocky summit to a thrill ride inducing encore featuring Lavigne’s smash “Complicated” and there was not a seatbelt in sight.

I was excited beforehand to see what Sean Daly the  local St. Petersburg Times music critic announced was the “One of the Best Rays Concert signing to date” Lavigne had us from her Ceremonial first pitch when the petite Lavigne threw to Rays giant ( 6′ 8”) Reliever Adam Russell and delivered a pitch across both our and the plate’s heart. From the neon green strands in her blond tresses to her splattered paint neon green motocross boots, she not only fit the Sk8tr motif to a “T”, she was their anointed punk Queen.

The song “What The Hel*” is still ringing in my ear. Not the band induced sampling, but that dramatic and unexpected solo offering that showed so much more of this singer’s talent, creativity and down right untapped reservoir of angst energy.

Would I turn down a moment watching a prime example of the type of girl guys like me chased when Motocross, Rat Bikes and skateboarding was in its infant stages….She was the bomb-digitty in her black and neon. Would I stand waiting for her to return on stage again…. You bet your life, in a New York minute . Some musical artists you love for things you can’t explain, or do not want to divulge to friends or family. Lavigne is that kind of artist to me. She reminded me of simpler times when song, energy and sticking to your guns with your style was paramount.

In essence, she made me want to be a Skatr boi all over again. But this time with cooler hair. Only bummer of the concert ( besides the obvious) was the fact the Rays stage was too small for a piano so we could see another dimension of Avril unfold in person. “What The Hel*”, I guess life really is a bit “Complicated” after all.

 Avril Lavigne Flickr Photostream




Rucker Couldn’t Get Us a Win, But He Did Put Melody in Our Soul

Been a big fan of Darius Rucker for quite some time. Sure I was a guy who sang his Hootie and the Blowfish hits in my car in my younger years, but I also have become a instant fan of his switch from Rock to Country, especially with his twist towards incorporating some of his personal life into his tunes.

So when the Tampa Bay Rays announced this April that Rucker had been added to the Rays/Hess Express Saturday Night Concert Series, I was one happy dude. A nice double-dipper of a bonus was that Rucker would be onstage less than 24 hours after celebrating his own birthday ( 45th) where he did a private concert and workshop on Clearwater Beach, Florida on Friday evening in the company of young aspiring singers and musicians. Then you have the added personal cravat for me that he was performing on my birthday, and was a definite “win-win” scenario in my book.

Got to tell you, if 18 holes of golf makes you as energetic and enthusiastic as Rucker on stage that night, I am heading out to get    some DVD’s and learn how to monster the club head through the zone myself. Rucker had a glow about him on stage on Saturday  night that immediately spoke to me.

 From his first tune “Love Will Do That” from his latest Country album “Charleston 1966” to his last vocal note of the night, it felt just like sitting in a corner tavern with a friend on the mike singing his heart out…But that is how true music should hit us…right between the ventricles.

And Rucker’s music did hit that spot with a passion. All from a guy who possibly had a late night Birthday celebration, threw out the Ceremonial First Pitch, plus sang the National Anthem all before hitting the post-game stage and again making us swoon to and fro to his music.

My personal favorite of the night was “Southern State of Mind“. Mostly because every word in that little ditty was so true towards people square pegging people from this region of the country.

Ironically enough, when I took my coast-to-coast trip, I honestly mistakenly ordered “Sweet Tea” in Arizona and the waitress brought me tea and a huge sugar dispenser. Then while in San Francisco, I did hold the door open for a woman and she glared at me. Sorry, but manners do still run in my family.

From his up-beat song “Alright” to the more dramatic marriage tale ” I Got Nothin’“, it was a night exploring all thing Rucker, with a few visits from his alter-ego “Hootie”.

Got to admit I was happy to again hear ” Let Her Cry” from his Blowfish days, plus a special rendition of the Steve Miller classic “The Joker“, it felt totally like a bunch of friends just sitting around enjoying great music that night.

I let the horror of another loss slip from me as Rucker bellowed out his number 1 Country hit ” Comeback Song” with its catchy segments and great words to letting it all go as he sang “History in The Making” that echoes my own life is so many ways.

It was another great concert offering from the Rays, a great spokesman for their Country Night, and the perfect artist on stage singing his heart out for the assembled fans. Got me wondering after the show when we will see Rucker again in this region as the guy seems to always have a show here every 6 months or so….I think I better reserve my ticket now because I always love a good Southern song told by a great storyteller like Rucker.

Rays Announce First Four Saturday Concerts Artists



G4W0063w.jpgBesides the beginning of play by your Tampa Bay Rays, this might be the second thing you have been looking forward to this Spring. That’s right today the Rays will announce their first four Rays/Hess Express Saturday Concert Series guests, and they are impressive indeed.

One of the acts kind of leaked out early in the Spring, and we already know that Darius Rucker will perform on Saturday May 14th after the Rays take on the Baltimore Orioles (4:10 pm First Pitch). Now we just have to figure out which themed night Rucker will be performing on, then a few more options will fall into place.

Two of the three acts to announced on Friday made my list of the best acts of the 20th Century. One had an iconic song that both men and women could relate to, and not only with their significant other. The second band was on the rotation list of every pop station in Tampa Bay during my High School and College days.

Both of the above bands will fill the outfield of the Trop. with people clamoring for wristbands so they can get a up close and personal moment with these great artists. One of Country musics most exciting young female singers will also grace the Rays stage after her mid-May wedding to another of Country Music’s heartthrobs. I guess this one is a bit easier to figure out, so let’s start with her appearance.

miranda_lambert_01-x600.jpgMiranda Lambert
has come a long, long way since her finalist gig on the 2003 edition of “Nashville Star” and finished in third place. But from the moment she signed with Epic Records, her career has just exploded as if ignited by one of her debut albums songs “Kerosene“. Remarkably her debut album by the same name produced 4 top 40 billboard hits.

Even after Epic Records closed their Nashville division, Columbia Records picked up the talented blond singer and helped produce her second album, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend“. The album’s title track failed to get substantial airplay, but the album did have 3 exciting singles, “Famous in a Small Town“, “Gunpowder & Lead” and “More Like Her” which were all Top 20 chart toppers, with “Gunpowder & Lead” zipping up to the Top 10 spot on the charts.

But it was their third try, with the “Revolution” album that showed the Country Music fans her true essence and talents. Five singles got significant airplay from the album with Lambert’s number one hit, “The House That Built Me” not only spending 4 weeks at the top spot, but also garnering a Grammy, CMA Award and a nice keepsake from the Academy of Country Music. Interesting enough, Lambert also got nominated 9 times for the CMA Awards, a nominations record for a female in a single year.

miranda-lambert-blake-sheltonjpg-723b03cb324ce4e8.jpgAs if thing could not get better for the young Texas native, her romance seemed to blossom after she began dating fellow Country singer Blake Shelton including Lambert singing background vocals on Shelton’s 2008 single “Home“. She also co-wrote and recorded “Bare Skin Rug“, a duet with Shelton. In true Southern style, Shelton proposed to Lambert after receiving her father’s blessing on May 9, 2010. You can bet love will definitely be in the air that night as the newlywed takes the stage in front of over 30,000 rabid Rays fans. Lambert will hit the stage on September 24th after the Rats take on those pesky Toronto Blue Jays (7:10 First Pitch)





I can still remember singing the ballads and soft rock anthems of this next group as they played on my car radio while cruising down the Florida beaches. This group had that kind of vibe that attracted the ladies, plus they had some good song for driving, or just cruising down the motorways. I still remember wearing out a copy of “Hi Infidelity“, which sold over 10 million copies and charted 4 Top 40 hits.

REO_Speedwagon_Hi_Infidelity_CD_cover.jpgREO Speedwagon
has just finished a tour with a former Rays concert guest, Pat Benatar. The band is also reissuing “Hi Infidelity” which is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2011. Did you know the band originally took their name from the REO Speed Wagon, which was a flatbed truck/fire engine combo developed by Ransom Eli Olds (REO), who also founded Oldsmobile, a division of General Motors.

As most band, their origin started with them playing cover songs in local campus bars and Frat/Sorority parties as a way for each of the bands members who were students at the University of Illinois to gain some extra experience and money. The band finally signed with Epic Records in 1971 and sped off to Bridgeport,Connecticut. Before “Hi Infidelity” took the band to new heights, their most profound single was “Riding the Storm Out“.

4764173013_4632622c20_z.jpgHow popular was “Hi Infidelity“? It spawned 4 hits, including their number one hit,“Keep On Loving You“, a number 5 hit, “Take It on the Run” then “In Your Letter (#20) and “Don’t Let Him Go (#24). the album remained on the charts for 65 weeks, including 32 weeks in the Top 10, plus 15 weeks at the top of the charts.

Their next two albums “Good Troubles” and “Wheels are Turning” did well commercially, but did not approach the success of “Hi Infidelity” but produced hits like “Keep the Fire Burnin’“(#7), Sweet Time (#26) plus their last number one hit. “Can ‘t Fight This Feeling“. Just as the end of the 80’s were approaching, the band had to adopt the lyrics of the song “Roll With The Changes“. The band will perform on April 30th after the Rays take on the Los Angeles Angels (1:10 pm First Pitch).

The band even released an online video game “Find Your Way Home“. It was the first download able casual game produced with a rock band and was cited by numerous publications as an innovative marketing product for a music act.

00012094.jpgThe third band is one I am really excited about. They are a band I have sang on stage for a while in the darkened Karaoke bars and rock bars in the Tampa Bay region. They have had 14 Top 10 singles and sold nearly 9 million albums in the U S alone. Their iconic tune “Iris” from the Meg Ryan and Nicholas Cage movie “City of Angels” brings both old and young fans singing the chorus in concerts and having to wipe a tears or two from their eyes.

If you guessed the Goo Goo Dolls, you are batting 1,000 today. A wild factoid about the band, lead singer John Rzeznik originally did not sing the band’s early tunes because of his shyness. The band’s name actually comes from a “True Detective” ad for a toy called a Goo Goo Doll.

Another wild story about the song “Iris” that spun the band towards stardom after its inclusion in the “City of Angels” soundtrack, Rzeznik was experiencing a severe case of writers’ block and was on the verge of quitting the band before the song came into his head that launched the band to Worldwide fame.


“Iris” was actually added to the triple-platinum album “Dizzy Up the Girl” and included other hits “Slide“,” Black Balloon“,” Broadway“, “Dizzy“. The new direction of the band helped them invite a new legion of fans to the band’s music, and most of their concerts do not include hits wrote before 1995.

The band also gave back to their hometown of Buffalo, New York on July 4, 2004 when they did a free concert in a downpour that also contained a great cover rendition of “Give a Little Bit” made famous by the group Supertramp. The single reached the top of the Adult Top 40 chart in 2005. The Goo Goo Dolls will hit the stage on August 6th after the Rays tackle the Oakland Athletics (7:10 pm First Pitch).

49947_6a00d83451b05569e20120a5426d81970c-800wi.jpgSo there you have it, the first four artists that will be performing after particular Saturday Rays games during the 2011 season. From Rucker to the Goo Goo Dolls, each band has its set of devotee fans, and more than a few casual fans who will be surprised when another hit is played that they had not connected to the band in the past. From REO Speedwagon to newlywed Miranda Lambert, love will be in the air in the Trop. during the Rays/Hess Express Saturday Concert Series Saturdays this season.

This is not the final Rays concert list for the 2011 season, there will be more great concert announcements coming in April. I can tell you I will be their front and center ready to rock out and bob my head to the great music being offered on Saturday nights. Oh, and bonus baby, we get to see a great Rays game beforehand…….Charlie Sheen would definitely rate this Rays concert series first four acts as a surefire “WINNER”.