Thursday, November 27, 2014

Review of The Ultimate Fighter 20 episode 10

Though there wasn't any drama in this episode of The Ultimate Fighter, there was an overlong Harley-Davidson commercial. The fight on this episode was Jessica Penne vs Aisling Daly in the quarter finals. They're not buddies but they don't hate each other. So other than Aisling getting a visit from her teammate Conor McGregor, this episode emphasized the boredom of the TUF house. So I guess the drama comes out of boredom. I'm not crazy about either fighter. Jessica Penne is a really good 105lb fighter. But in the past she has been overmatched at 115. I don't think she's strong enough to compete with the top fighters in that weight class. Aisling Daly should be able to outmuscle Jessica if she keeps it standing. But she has no ground game and I've seen her stuck in bottom position in the past. Round one was very close but Aisling scored enough to win it 10-9. Jessica couldn't take her down. She did better in round two and I thought it was tied after two rounds. In the extra round, Jessica finally did what was needed to beat Aisling. She took her down and trapped her in bottom position. She was active enough so the ref didn't stand them up. By the time Aisling got out from under, it was too late in the round. Lay and pray is not my favourite strategy by any means. But it's the exact strategy Jessica needed to win. I was not surprised that she went that route. Jessica Penne wins and moves on to the semi final. Next week will be the other two quarter final matches with Carla Esparza vs Tecia Torres and Joanne Calderwood vs Rose Namajunas. I am looking forward to those fights. Enjoy the video!

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Greg Lake

Artist:Greg Lake
Song:I Believe in Father Christmas
Album:A Rock 'n' Roll Christmas

Greg Lake is best known as the lead singer and bassist for Emerson Lake & Palmer and a founding member of King Crimson. He released I Believe In Father Christmas as a one off single in 1975 and it was a big hit in England. It is now a Christmas perennial. Lake was born Nov. 10, 1947 in Bournemouth, Dorset, England. Growing up, his big hero was Cliff Richard & The Shadows guitarist Hank Marvin. Lake played in a few bands in the 60s until his childhood pal Robert Fripp asked him to play bass in King Crimson. That group were innovators of progressive rock with Court Of The Crimson King. Lake left King Crimson in 1970 and Keith Emerson was putting together a progressive rock band. He liked Lake's singing in King Crimson and Emerson Lake & Palmer was born. Lake wrote and sang ELP's biggest hit Lucky Man. After touring to support the 1973 album Brain Salad Surgery, ELP went on hiatus. During that hiatus, Lake released the single I Believe In Father Christmas. It reached #2 on the British Singles chart. Lake wrote the song with King Crimson lyricist Peter Sinfield. The song protests the commercialization of Christmas and the loss of innocence. It was a one off single. Lake didn't record an album at the time and the song was added to ELP shows when they returned in 1977. ELP recorded a different version of the song on Works Vol. II. I Believe In Christmas is now a Christmas classic in England. Plenty of artists have covered it. You can get it on many various artists Christmas CDs. A Rock 'n' Roll Christmas is very cheap and recommended to those looking for a rock Christmas CD. ELP first split up in 1979 and the band has reformed frequently over the years. Lake was also a member of the 80s band Asia. He has only recorded solo a couple of times and he is currently working on a live theater presentation of his life and career. I Believe In Father Christmas is an interesting sidebar of Greg Lake's career. Here's the video for I Believe in Father Christmas by Greg Lake.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Keep On Keepin' On Review

Yesterday I went to see the documentary Keep On Keepin' On at The Bloor Cinema in downtown Toronto. The film is about legendary jazz trumpeter Clark Terry and his nurturing of young jazz musicians. While growing up in St. Louis, 12 year old Clark Terry went to jazz clubs to talk to jazz musicians. When they wouldn't help him, he vowed that if he ever became famous, he would devote his life to teaching jazz to young people and encourage them as much as he could. His latest student is 23 year old blind pianist Justin Kauflin. And this film is about Terry encouraging Kauflin despite serious health problems. The film was directed by Australian jazz drummer Alan Hicks who is also a Clark Terry student. And one of the producers is maestro Quincy Jones. But the interesting thing is when Jones was 12 years old, he was the first to be mentored by Terry. And how many musicians has Jones discovered? So even after Terry is gone, his legacy will continue for generations. We see clips of Terry helping a teenaged Terri Lyne Carrington who is now a world renowned jazz drummer. We also see clips of Jones, Herbie Hancock, the late Mulgrew Miller, Diane Reeves and Arturo Sandoval giving their thoughts about Terry. Technically, Kauflin is a talented musician. My observation is that he seems to lack focus and is probably his own worst enemy. He is invited to participate in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in Washington, DC. This is a very important competition that can lead to a record deal. Of course Kauflin is stressing and Terry is trying to help him. But Terry is very sick and can only do so much. Kauflin doesn't do well in the competition. And Terry has to have his legs amputated due to diabetes. He realizes Kauflin needs help that he can't give anymore. So he invites both Kauflin and Jones to his home in Arkansas. He wants Jones to listen to the kid. We also see that Kauflin can perform as he accompanies Dianne Reeves in a club. Jones decides to showcase Kauflin at the Montreux Jazz Festival. It goes well and Jones signs Kauflin to a record deal. And in the final scene, we see Clark Terry mentoring another musician. Though I know jazz fans will enjoy Keep On Keepin' On, you don't have to be a jazz fan to enjoy this human interest story. And you might even buy a Clark Terry CD. A lot of the funding for Keep On Keepin' On was raised through Kickstarter. That's how things are done these days. A friend of mine, KC Marsh, is trying to fund a documentary about his father, legendary sax player Warne Marsh. It's important that jazz history be preserved and I am hopeful that KC makes his film. I certainly want to see it and review it. Check out the trailer for Keep On Keepin' On.

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-The Essex

Artist:The Essex
Song:Easier Said than Done
Album:Only Rock 'n' Roll 1955-1965

I'm sure you have all heard Easier Said Than Done as it topped the charts in 1963 and is still a staple of oldies radio. But you probably don't know anything about The Essex. The most interesting thing about The Essex is they were all active Marines when they recorded Easier Said Than Done. Guitarist Walter Vickers and drummer Rodney Taylor were stationed in Okinawa, Japan. After being transferred to Camp LeJeune in North Carolina, they formed The Essex with fellow marines Billy Hill, Rudolph Johnson and lead singer Anita Humes. Another Marine, William Linton, wrote Easier Said Than Done. A demo got them a record deal with Roulette Records. Easier Said Than Done topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 1963. It was released as a B-side to Are You Going My Way but DJs flipped it over and the rest is history. The Essex weren't happy with the record. They thought it was too short. They recorded three albums but weren't able to score another big hit. You can get Easier Said Than Done on this various artists budget CD from Rhino. Because they were Marines, the Essex couldn't tour and then Johnson was transferred to Japan. Roulette attempted to record Anita Humes as a solo artist but that was unsuccessful. She performed occasionally until her 2010 death. Rodney Taylor was murdered in 1966. Here's a video for Easier Said Than Done by The Essex.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Mark Wills

Artist:Mark Wills
Song:Jacob`s Ladder
Album:The Definitive Collection

Though Jacob's Ladder wasn't country singer Mark Wills' biggest hit, it was his first top ten hit in 1996. I would describe him as a second tier neo traditionalist country singer. He had some chart success but didn't reach the heights of the big stars of the era. He was born Daryl Mark Williams Aug. 6, 1973 in Cleveland, TN and grew up in Blue Ridge, GA. He grew up listening to country music but got into hard rock as a teen. Then he got back into country and won a local talent contest. While playing a local club, he was spotted by veteran producers Carson Chamberlain and Keith Stegall. They brought him to Nashville and Wills signed with Mercury Records. They produced his 1996 debut CD mark Wills. Jacob's Ladder was the second single and it reached #6 on the Country Singles chart. The song was written by veteran songwriter Tony Martin and Cal & Brenda Sweat. Martin wrote the Joe Diffie hit Third Rock From The Sun. Though Places I've Never Been also hit the top ten, the album sales were disappointing. Wills' 1997 album Wish You Were Here got him established. It was certified Platinum and the single Wish You Were Here was his first number one hit single. His 2000 CD Permanently also did well and Wills' cover of Brian McKnight's Back At One was a top five hit. Wills was starting to fade. The duet with Jamie O'Neal I'm Not Going To Do Anything Without You was disappointing. He had one final hurrah when 19 Somethin' from Wills' 2003 Greatest Hits CD became his second and final number one country hit. After one more CD, Wills left Mercury. You can get all his hits on this budget comp. Since then Wills has recorded for small labels. His latest CD was released in June 2011. He still tours but Mark Wills is not heading back to the top of the country charts anytime soon. Here's Mark Wills performing Jacob's Ladder on Deep Rock Drive April 2008.

Monday, November 24, 2014

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Phillip Phillips

Artist:Phillip Phillips
Album:The World From The Side Of The Moon

Phillip Phillips won season 11 of American Idol in 2012. He's a singer songwriter similar to guys like Dave Matthews. Home was released right after AI and is his biggest hit to date. He was born Sept. 20, 1990 in Albany, GA and his family moved to Leesburg, GA when he was 12. His brother-in-law Benjamin Neil got him into music and they formed a band. Phillips says his favourite singer is Jonny Lang and he is also a big Dave Matthews fan. A major criticism of Phillips is he sounds too much like Matthews. After winning a local talent contest, Phillips unsuccessfully auditioned for America's Got Talent and then successfully auditioned for American Idol in Savannah, GA. He had kidney stones while on AI and had that taken care of after he won. There was concern that he might have to leave the show. Phillips writes most of his own songs. But Home was chosen by AI mentor Jimmy Iovine as Phillips' AI coronation song. The song was written by Greg Holden who planned to record it himself. His publishing company brought in songwriter Drew Pearson who wrote The Zac Brown Band hit Where The River Goes to help him. They submitted the song to AI. Pearson produced the record and Home reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was played on TV a lot. Phillips wanted to use one of his own songs for his coronation so he wasn't happy with the decision to use Home. But it was successful. Phillips wrote most of the songs on his debut CD The World From The Side Of The Moon. The CD was produced by Gregg Wattenberg who has worked with other AI artists. The CD sold over a million copies and was certified Platinum. Phillips' second CD Behind The Light was released May 2014 and it didn't do nearly as well as the first one. And there were no hit singles. This kind of brief success only to be forgotten is typical of AI winners. There's nothing wrong with him but he sounds too much like other successful singer songwriters. And that's why I have always said American Idol is a double edged sword. It can get an artist to the top of the charts but it can't keep him there. Here's the video for Home by Phillip Phillips.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Big Bad Blog Video Theater-Paige VanZant vs Kailin Curran

Here's the video of Paige VanZant vs Kailin Curran from last night's UFC show in Austin, TX. The fight was on UFC Fight Pass so a lot of fans missed it and it was Fight of the Night so I know you want to see it. Paige was one of the Invicta contracts Zuffa purchased to stock The Ultimate Fighter 20. But Paige was too young to be on the show. Kailin is from Hawaii and has fought a couple of times for PXC in Guam. Both fighters lack experience. This fight was originally set for the Halifax UFC show in October. But Paige was recovering from a back injury so the fight was delayed for six weeks. The other thing is for the last couple of years, Paige trained at Team Alpha Male in California. Urijah Faber said he hadn't seen Paige recently. It turns out she moved back to her home town of Reno, NV and switched to Reno Academy of Combat. You know who else trains there? Amateur female fighter Taylor Stratford. In Paige's corner was RAC owner and former heavyweight fighter Rick Collup and Bellator fighter Hector Ramirez. Maybe Paige needed a change and sleeping in your own bed at home can be very reassuring for a young fighter. The first round was very close. Kailin got a couple of takedowns and though Paige defended well and came back late in the round. I scored it 10-9 for Paige but the judges could have scored it the other way especially in Texas. I thought they both looked tired but who would be fresher in round two? Though Kailin got a couple of takedowns, Paige did a lot of damage in the clinch with punches and knees. Her gymnastics background really came in handy. Kailin didn't have an answer for any of that so I scored the round 10-9 for Paige. The fight is close enough that both fighters should try for a round three finish. But Paige went back to the clinch which was very effective in round two. Kailin had nothing for her and Paige took her down near the fence and pounded her until the ref stopped the fight. The stoppage might have been a little early but not by much. Kailin was not defending herself. Paige VanZant won her UFC debut and looked good enough that the fight was named Fight of the Night. Paige won't be on UFC Fight Pass prelims anymore. A star is born...maybe. I want to see how she does against a higher level fighter. Remember Tecia Torres beat Paige in Invicta. And Paige wants revenge. It shows that sometimes moving home to familiar surroundings can calm a fighter and give her renewed focus. Enjoy the video!

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Gallery

Song:So Nice To Be With You
Album:Nice To Be With You: All Time Greatest Performances

Gallery scored a top five hit in 1972 with Nice To Be With You. Though they are perceived as a one hit wonder, they had a couple of other hits so they technically aren't one hit wonders. But most fans will only remember Nice To Be With You. The lead singer, songwriter and guitarist of Gallery was Jim Gold. He was born Jan. 12, 1947 in Detroit. He started writing songs and playing guitar as a teen. In 1971, Gold was working as a welder during the day and playing clubs at night. He was spotted by Funk Brothers guitarist Dennis Coffey and was signed to Sussex Records which was also the home of Bill Withers. Gold wrote Nice To Be With You and Coffey produced the record. It reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. Gold thought he was a solo artist. But Sussex wanted a band and gave the act the name Gallery. Gold formed a band and went out on tour. They scored two more top 30 hits with a cover of the Mac Davis song I Believe In You and Big City Miss Ruth Ann. Gallery recorded a second album Gallery Featuring Jim Gold that didn't sell. Sussex ran into financial problems after Bill Withers won a lawsuit for back royalties. They closed in 1976 and that was the end of Gallery. This comp from Fuel 2000 has most of the two albums. When Sussex owner Clarence Avant started his new label Tabu, Gold recorded a couple of solo albums in the late 70s. He hasn't recorded since then but he still plays locally in Detroit. And I'm sure he gets plenty of royalty cheques for Nice To Be With You. Here's Gallery performing Nice To Be With You 1972.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Judy Wexler

Artist:Judy Wexler
Song:Wonderful Wonderful
Album:Under A Painted Sky

Jazz singer Judy Wexler works mostly on the west coast. She grew up in Los Angeles listening to her father's record collection. She took piano lessons and got into theater as a teen. She studied theater and classical piano at University of California Santa Cruz. After graduating, she moved to San Francisco to work in theater. She met her future husband and he was a big jazz fan so they started going to the Keystone and other local jazz clubs. She did some acting when they moved to Los Angeles. But she also studied jazz at Dick Grove Music School. Judy recorded her debut CD Easy On The Heart in 2005 and that earned her a record deal with Jazzed Media. Her 2008 CD Dreams & Shadows did well on the jazz charts. She records mostly standards. Wonderful Wonderful is from her 2011 CD Under A Painted Sky. Wonderful Wonderful was written by Brill Building songwriters Sherman Edwards and Ben Raleigh and it was a big hit for Johnny Mathis in 1957. It's not a song I see covered much by jazz musicians so that makes Judy's recording interesting. The pianist and arranger is Alan Pasqua who has been playing sessions since the 70s with Tony Williams, Carlos Santana and Bob Dylan and many others. The alto sax solo is by Bob Sheppard who has worked with Chick Corea, Billy Childs and many others. Other musicians include Walt Fowler on trumpet, Bob Mintzer on tenor sax, Larry Koonse on guitar, Darek Oles on bass, Steve Hass on drums and Alex Acuna on percussion. Jazz vocal fans should check out the CD. Judy's latest CD What I See was released on Apr. 2013. She has a new arranger Jeff Colella who also works with singer Sylvia Brooks. Here's a video for Wonderful Wonderful by Judy Wexler.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Ayaka Hamasaki vs VV Mei added to DEEP New Year's Eve show

VV Mei, Ayaka Hamasaki
DEEP held a press conference today to announce four women's matches have been added to DEEP DREAM IMPACT 2014 New Year's Eve at Saitama Super Arena. One of the matches should be great. Not so much for the other three. The big one is that Ayaka Hamasaki will face VV Mei. Of course Ayaka trains at AACC with the one and only Megumi Fujii. Her record is 10-1. She dropped to 48kg on her return from knee surgery and beat Sugi Rock on the Aug. 9 DEEP JEWELS show. Mei has also recently dropped to 48kg. Her record is 12-7-1 and her last fight was a win over Yukiko Seki on the May 18 DEEP JEWELS show. Mei now trains at Riki Gym which she co-owns with former UFC fighter Riki Fukuda. This one should be good. I'm not crazy about the other three fights. Emi Fujino will face Emi Tomimatsu. They are billing this as friends fighting. But Fujino is friends with everyone. Fujino trains at WK Gods. Her record is 14-8 and her last fight was a win over Ayaka Miura on the Nov. 3 DEEP JEWELS show. Tomimatsu trains at Paraestra Matsudo. Her record is 8-8 and her last fight was a win over Song Kyung Hyo on the Nov. 9 Road FC show. They are both midcard fighters but Fujino is better. The other two fights are novelty fights. DEEP JEWELS veteran Shizuka Sugiyama will face boxing champ Raika. Sugiyama trains at Zendokai in Yokohama. Her record is 12-4 but it has been heavily padded in recent years. After she lost to Takayo Hashi on the May 18 DEEP JEWELS show, she dropped to 125lb. like that's the answer to everything. After holding several boxing titles, Raika retired in Jan. 2014. She started training at Kid Yamamoto's gym and decided she wanted to try MMA. The problem is she's 38 years old. Sometimes boxers have difficulty transitioning to MMA. And it can be tough to teach an old dog new tricks. Raika lost her MMA debut to Korean actress/K-1 fighter Lim Jeong Su on the Sept. 12 Revolution show in Korea. The fourth fight will have Satoko Shinashi facing model Rika Hamada in what is being sold as a revenge match. Back in 2005, Shinashi beat a Horipro model named Noriko Okamoto. Hamada is also a Horipro model and friends with Okamoto. She announced a few weeks ago she wanted to get revenge on Shinashi. I don't see this ending well for Hamada.

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Jon Pardi

Artist:Jon Pardi
Song:Up All Night
Album:Write You A Song

Jon Pardi made a big splash on the country charts with his debut CD Write You A Song and the single Up All Night. He was born May 20, 1985 in Dixon, Ca which is near Sacramento. Pardi was a big Hank Williams Jr. fan growing up and liked to imitate him at family functions. He was in bands as a teen and was in the band Northern Comfort while attending college. Pardi moved to Nashville in 2008 and worked as a lifeguard while writing songs. He got a publishing deal and that's where he met his songwriting partner and producer Bart Butler. Butler had worked with Dierks Bentley and Bentley's frequent songwriting partner Brett Beavers. This led to a deal with Bentley's label Capitol Nashville. Up All Night reached #10 on the Country Singles chart in 2013. The song was written by Pardi, Butler and Beavers. The CD Write You A Song was released Jan. 2014. Pardi is currently touring with Alan Jackson. The one criticism of Pardi is he sounds too much like Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line. So his big challenge is to distinguish himself from other country singers. But even if he fizzles, Pardi could still have a long career as a songwriter. Here's the video for Up All Night by Jon Pardi.