Results tagged ‘ Rays/Hess Express Saturday Concert Series ’

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”.



I am Ready to Hoot and Holler for Rucker




You know to this day people all around the World still possibly daily refer to him as “Hootie” and not by his given name. But that is one of the drawbacks of being a singer in a band. Sometimes your name can get lost in shuffle. Missed by millions when even on the CD cover it lists you name as Darius Rucker, not “Hootie”. You have to wonder if anyone ever called Ian McCulloch by the name “Echo” since he fronted Echo and the Bunnymen.

But even with the common name snafu hitting his ears every day, you have to think Rucker has risen above the strife and is feeling pretty good about his solo career. Sure the South Carolina native might get a little annoyed at the constant name misfortune, but after 5 studio albums and 6 Top 40 chart hits…you can let some things slide.

430-Pebble_Beach_Golf_sff_embedded_prod_affiliate_70.jpgRucker also has a unique Rays connection line having just playing in a golf foursome with Rays fan Kevin Costner and Bill Murray at the PGA Pebble Beach National Pro-Am where Rays All Star Third Baseman Evan Longoria also attended.

Rucker name has been “officially” announced by the Tampa Bay Rays (I told you via Twitter months ago) for the Saturday, May 14 show after the 4:10 pm Baltimore Orioles contest. Especially great is that on May 13th, Rucker will celebrate his 45th birthday (May 13,1966). So maybe Rucker and I can celebrate together since that concert date is also my birthday. Since the Rays have gone 0-13 on that date (May 14th), possibly Rucker & I can high-5 after he helps us break our losing streak on that date (I am betting on it).

Most people might not know that Rucker finished his first solo R&B album back in 2002 and the album did not chart any of the singles. Then six years later after signing with Capitol Records and redefining himself more towards his Southern roots, his first single “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It” showed if he stayed true to his country twang, he was on the road again to stardom.

Another really amazing thing to come about after the release of this first single off his “Learning to Live” CD is that Rucker became the first African-American artist to chart a number 1 hit since ex-baseball player Charlie Pride back in 1983. Suddenly the World rediscovered Rucker in this solo light and he also had hits like “It Won’t Be Like This for Long” and “Alright” shoot up the charts to the top spot, with “History in the Making” falling just short at number 3.

Still the rejuvenation of his music also made him the first African-American artist to ever win the New Artist Award at the CMA Awards in 2009. It was also only the second time that an African-American singer had ever won an award from the Country Music Association (Pride was also the first). His latest Cd ” Charleston, South, Carolina 1966 pays homage to his hometown and the year of his birth.

You can bet his father, who Rucker only saw on Sundays since he was a singer in the gospel band called “The Rolling Stones” is now glad his son decided to follow his childhood dream of singing. Looking forward to hearing Rucker sing in Tropicana Field,. I am wondering if it will happen on “Country Night“, or possibly the popular “90’s Night“.

75-uscopening1_lead_art_horizontal_prod_affiliate_74.jpgNo matter what themed night Rucker performs on it has to feel like a million miles away from his stint on the celebrity “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” , as the singer at Tiger Wood’s wedding (along with the rest of the Blowfish) or as the chicken tender crisp cowboy on a Burger King television ad.

Rucker, an avid sports fan who has the Miami Dolphins logo tattooed on his body knows that when life throws you a curveball, you just lean back and crank it to the Moon. That is the type of clutch singer who could end a Rays May 14th losing streak. Heck, maybe we can get lucky enough to hear Rucker do another stirring National Anthem like the one he did at this year’s past Sugar Bowl game in the Superdome. He sure sounds amazing in domes!



Huge Rays Crowd take in Hall & Oates at the Trop


Darryl Hall and John Oates. Who would of thought two guys who met backstage at  the Adelphi Ballroom back in 1967 would still be cranking out music and singing today. Some might say that time does damage to some of our idols and songsters from our past, but Hall & Oates still bring the hot guitar licks and the high register singing chops to the microphone tonight at Tropicana Field. I heard them do a short diddy on “American Idol “ just this week, but thought maybe someone might have tweaked their vocals a bit.


 And I got to say, that even though I was only allowed to take photos for 3 of their songs tonight, I sat outside of Tropicana Field and could still clearly hear their songs just as I did nearly five minute earlier squatting and jockeying for position to take about 200 photos before finally leaving after their third selection. And sure I was a bit bummed, but I also follow the order that the Tampa Bay Rays Communication Department gave me, so off I went, but the halls and the corridors surrounding the seating bowl of the Trop. were ringing to the melodies and guitar strums as I walked out Gate 6 into the warm night air.


It was at that point that I decided I had followed the Rays directive to leave the stadium after the third song selection. But before I exited the stadium, I took a second to cruise my eyes throughout the stands and noticed the assembled huge crowd all either dancing, singing or swaying to the music just as some of us had done in the 1980’s. Weird how these songs that seemed to so modern and catchy were penned more than 40-odd years ago, but still remain not only classic, but relevant even in a new century.


As I left the Trop. through the back entrance at Gate 6, I decided to sit down on the adjacent hill embankment just to the right of the Trop’s loading docks and listen to more of those tunes that shaped my 80’s and also got me a few women by singing the lyrics to them. Here were the ballads and smooth dancing songs of my misspent youth, my 80’s music past revisited as it was being amplified towards the crowd assembled in the Trop. It brought back a few distant lost memories of “ones that got away”, and also brought back a simpler time in my overall life.


These songs now echoing out of the Trop. were the anthems and the tunes that defined my 20’s both as a music lover and as a college student struggling to make ends meet singing in bars on the weekends after football season was over. Brought me instantly back to my days slinging a Moog keyboard around with me and singing some of the same songs now bouncing all around the atmosphere. Some memories might be best left alone, but the ones connected with some of these Hall & Oates songs definitely had me smiling from ear-to-ear.


Songs like “Sara Smiles” that reminded Rays Manager Joe Maddon of the night his daughter Sarah was born which was actually based on Hall’s girlfriend at the time, Sara Allen.  And I know more than a few of my friend who took a intense desire to hear “She’s Gone” while we sat either at John’s Pass sipping a few adult beverages after a bad break-up, or an unexpected turn of romantic events. Hall & Oates definitely colored a few tunes in crayon in my comic book of life.


And what relationship back in the 80’s did not have “Kiss on My List” pegged for their relationship. It usually wasn’t until after the whole enchilada began to sour that we pushed the relationship into either “Rich Girl” territory. But then I also remember the first time I ever heard a rendition of the Righteous Brothers “Unchained Melody” it was done by Hall & Oates and made me a fan of their rendition for life. And it still amazing to me that most of these songs are over 35-years old and still could be totally sung today.


But I would be totally absentminded if I did not mention or even acknowledge some of the great tunes that Hall & Oates popped out after 1982 like the upbeat and totally hip “You Make My Dreams” that reached number five on the Billboard charts in July 1980, but is still a hot jam today. Or their soul oriented ballad “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” or their biggest hit to date, Maneater” that hit the top of the charts in December 1982 and stayed there four weeks straight.


But I could not get up from my perch sitting there listening to the tunes flow outside of Tropicana Field without staying and listening for the tune I waited all night to hear, the one that speaks to me like a goddess or angel. That song would be “One on One” which had some pretty clever usage of words that could relate to either basketball or a relationship. But that was the Hall & Oates song I played on my personal cassette deck before football games and used as a inspirational song for m
e to get totally hyped for a game. 


But how soon we all forget that these two artists met in Philly back in 1967 by accident because of some ruckus outside the Adelphi Ballroom. What if there was not a commotion outside the auditorium that night. We would have probably not been graced with the classic music this duo has penned and scored for not only us, but future generations to enjoy and love too. And how soon do we forget they also were two of the original singers on the first “We Are The World” video and performed on “Live Aid” or outdoors in front of the Statue of Liberty on July 4th 1985 to help with the restoration funding needed to preserve that iconic American symbol.


Hall & Oates is an American classic that set the tones and moods of rock and soul of America’s heartlands and inner cities. Some people might even remember they have a Rays tie before tonight when they sang the National Anthem before rain-shortened Game 5 of the 2008 World Series in Citizen Bank Park in Philadelphia. Even way back in 1984, the Recording Industry of America dubbed the group the most successful duo in the history of recorded music.


High honors for a band that started by accident. And even in 1991, when they released “Starting All Over Again” another generation got to experience the Hall & Oates magic. So I decided to get off the ground and then walk slowly towards First Avenue South and my car, but the bellowing vocals of Hall were still fresh in the air and the bass and rhythm guitar were still pumping through the amplifiers as I got in my car, a block away. I was a great night to rejoice, revisit and of course remember some of those classic 80’s moments that shaped most of us from that era’s future lives. Extremely glad I got to experience this duo’s magical tunes once again.



Bret Michaels to Rock the Trop

*** Country star Dierks Bentley Rays/Hess Express Concert has been rescheduled for June 12,2010 after the Rays battle the Florida Marlins.
Rock and Jazz band the Barenaked Ladies also being added to Rays/Hess Express Concert series on Saturday, June 26 after the Arizona Diamondbacks game.

Bret Michaels has been having his own shares of ups and downs lately both on television and also in his personal life. I think any one of us who have been watching this season’s installment of the “Celebrity Apprentice” have been a bit transformed to see that the former Poison front man is as versatile and as passionate as he is about his Diabetes charity as he is about his music.

And I have to admit full circle here that I am stoked that he will bring his solo show to Tropicana Field on Saturday, September 25,2010 as a member of the Rays famous Rays/Hess Express Saturday Night Concert Series. I have seen him in concert as a member of Poison, as a solo act right after the conclusion of his first season of VH-1’s “Rock of Love” franchise, plus seen him at an outdoor venue in Texas last Fall.

The man is a ball of uncontrollable energy on stage, and hopefully by the September date, Michaels will have regained enough of his past poise and vocal talents to have the crowd singing with him all night long. And the guy does it the right way in concert stopping and telling tales and exploits you usually do not get to see or hear in the “plain Jane” rock concert formats we have become a custom to nowadays. Michaels seems to take the audience on a journey with him from his Poison high points (Talk Dirty to Me), to some of his low moments in his own life (Every Rose Has its Thorns).

There are not many people in this world who can take on the title “Rock Troubadour” like Michaels who can incorporate his rocking out tunes with his well known solo ballads. I can guarantee you a night of fun and adventure you did not expect unless you have experienced his solo concert the last time he played at Ruth Eckerd Hall in 2008. But we also hope that he will have fully regained his energy level and his endurance by this date.

Most people know of the simultaneous family situations that came upon Michaels in the last few months from his daughter Raine being tested for possible childrens diabetes, to Michaels own health going south and suffering a brain hemorrhage on April 21st while sitting on his home couch. Michaels felt an increasing amount of pressure and pain, which was caused by a build up of blood at the base of his brain stem region.

Only a week before Michaels had undergone an emergency appendectomy was on the road to recovery at home. But the prognosis on Michaels has been simply positive since his emergency surgery to relieve that blood and pressure and he is getting ready to start physical therapy with hopes of hitting the road by the end of May again on his Concert Tour.

I really have to say if you can get tickets to this event, please do because Michaels is incredible on stage both as a singer and a storyteller. And even if you think the hair is fake and the many Cowboy hats a bit.. hokey, the guy gives you everything he has on stage and is well worth the price of admission.

Got to say, I was not always a favorite of this glam rock icon back in his Poison days, but through his Reality Television revelation, I got to see that Michaels is just a working father who also loves the ladies and his occasional adult beverage on the side. After his first season of “Rock of Love”  I bought tickets to the Ruth Eckerd Hall show in the middle of the third row back, and got to see the guy really reel in the audience and pulsate from their energy. Truly have to say if you want to mix Rays baseball with some kicking music, this is the Rays Concert series event you can not miss…..Honestly!