For Trace Adkins Performing Live Is Therapeutic

For Trace Adkins Performing Live Is Therapeutic

There must be something magical about performing on stage.  It must energize, enthuse, and invigorate.  Sure, the travel that comes with touring is tiring, and it keeps you away from family, but having thousands of fans cheer for you and your music must be an immense rush.

As Jackson Browne sang in “The Load Out:” “…the only time that seems too short is the time that we get to play.”

The embodiment of Browne’s sentiment is Trace Adkins. 

The country music superstar is currently on the road and will be through Dec. 21.  That’s amazing when you consider how bad his year started.

In early January, Adkins was the headlining act on a country music cruise.  He left the cruise early after he had a terse run-in with a Trace Adkins impersonator and momentarily lost his battle with alcoholism.

Adkins immediately checked himself into a rehab facility.  He then left rehab early to tend to his sick father who soon passed away.  Days later, his heartache was compounded when his wife of 16 years filed for divorce.

Most people would retreat and hide.  Adkins is not most people.

“I owe a debt of gratitude to everyone for the outpouring of encouragement and support over the past few months.  It’s hard to put into words how much comfort you take from hearing, ‘We’ve got your back.’  So these shows are for you guys.  Thanks.”

All the bad stuff previously mentioned occurred in the first three months of 2014. 

Did Adkins lock himself in his mansion or retreat to some remote resort?  No, he went back to work.  He got the band back together, Sarepta Gentleman’s Club (named after his hometown), and routed some concerts.

Amazingly, the 52-year-old was back on the road by June.  In fact, he performed at the Grand Ole Opry on the third of that month—he was inducted into that Nashville institution in 2003.

Look for Trace Adkins to perform live in Huntington, New York on Aug. 1; Hyannis, Massachusetts on Aug. 3; and Cincinnati, Ohio on Aug. 28.

While Adkins had more than his share of sorrow in 2014, he also had some successes.  On June 21, Adkins was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.  He received the honor during his concert in Baton Rouge.  Participating in the ceremony was Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal.

Adkins also starred in the comedy Moms’ Night Out alongside Sarah Drew and Patricia Heaton.  The film hit theatres in early May.  Adkins played a biker named “Bones.”

The country singer would have been inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame regardless.  The movie release is nice but strictly coincidental.  He could have been on the moon or at the bottom of the ocean and Moms’ Night Out would have hit theatres.

Also, Adkins is set to release his twelfth studio album later this year.  And from everything I’ve read, recording an album can be tedious and frustrating.  I’m sure it’s more enjoyable then most jobs, but when compared to performing live it doesn’t even compare.

One has to believe that what has kept Adkins going isn’t the honor of awards or the attention of debuts but the fans in the stands.  For Adkins, there’s something cathartic about taking the stage and performing.  In fact, he recently said “I’d die if I’m not on the road."

Adkins isn’t going through the motions and collecting a paycheck.  Judging from recent reviews, he’s knocking them dead everywhere he goes.  His 2014 tour is already one of the top country concerts of the year.

The most interesting part of Adkins’ schedule is his last few shows.  Beginning in mid-November, Adkins launches “The Christmas Show Tour.”

This will be the second year in-a-row Adkins will spread Christmas Spirit via song.  Like he did in 2013, Adkins is touring to support his first Yuletide album, The King’s Gift. 

Christmas Gift Track List
The Wexford Carol
Tannenbaum
O’ Come Emmanuel
Away in a Manger
I Saw Three Ships
Silent Night
We Three Kings
Carol of the Drum
Oh Holy Night
What Child Is This

The Christmas Show begins Nov. 14 in West Point, New York.  From there, Adkins and his band travel to Worcester, Massachusetts (Nov. 15); New Brunswick, New Jersey (Nov. 18); and Englewood, New Jersey (Nov. 19).

Adkins continues his Christmas trek on Nov. 20 in Wilmington, Delaware.  The next night he’s singing carols in Providence, Rhode Island.  His fifth show in as many nights occurs on Nov. 22 when Baltimore welcomes Trace Adkins to the Modell Performing Arts Center.

His final two shows are spread throughout December.  On the sixth, he’s in Salina, Kansas for a gig at the Stiefel Theatre.  On the twenty-first, Adkins decks the halls in Clearwater, Florida at the Ruth Eckerd Hall.

Obviously, Adkins needs a few days off to do his shopping but he can still do more than two shows between Nov. 23 and Christmas Day and still have plenty of time to buy for everyone on his list.  So expect more Trace Adkins Christmas shows to be added. 

I think Adkins’ Christmas tour is the wave of the future.  Okay, maybe that’s over selling it, but it’s a very good idea that other artists should copy.  I know Kenny Rogers has been doing something like this for years.

People love Christmas music and families love to go out around the holidays.  A show comprised of holiday tunes seems fairly easy to put together.  A lot of carols are in the public domain and you don’t need a huge stage—just a Christmas tree and maybe some fake snow.  To make it even a better value, the artist can play their secular hits during the encore. 

In an era where recorded music is worthless, a Christmas tour is a great way for an artist to generate more revenue.  If the performer adds something like “$1 from every ticket goes to such-and-such charity” then you have a win for the artist, the attendee, and the community.

For artists like Adkins, who love to perform, what better way to celebrate Christmas then with a 15- to 25-date tour of North America? 

Whether or not Christmas tours catch on, Adkins will definitely see out the year in a much better place than when it started.

By David B.

Nine Rock Stars That I Want To See Get The ‘Nine Days And Night’ Treatment

Nine Rock Stars That I Want To See Get The ‘Nine Days And Night’ Treatment

Don’t let the big “X” on the album cover fool you.  The name of Ed Sheeran’s sophomore effort is not pronounced “X,” or even “ten,” but “multiply.”  Of course, if you want to have a lot of fun with fans of the English singer-songwriter just refer to the album as “X.”  It will drive them nuts.

By the way, the album drops June 23.

Sheeran is launching a world tour to support his second studio effort.  Throughout June, July and August, Sheeran will be all over Europe and Japan performing at various music festivals.

Then the North American portion of his world odyssey begins Aug. 21 in Seattle.  Later that month, there are two Ed Sheeran shows scheduled for Las Vegas on Aug. 29 and Aug. 30. 

Another highlight of his U.S. calendar is Sept. 9.  That’s when Ed Sheeran plays Mansfield and the Xfinity Center.

Ed’s final date in the New World is Sept. 18 in Toronto.  After that, Sheeran has a series of concerts planned for Europe.  Some of the cities on Sheeran’s EU itinerary are Dublin, Belfast, London, Manchester, Berlin, Munich, Milan, Barcelona, and Paris.

To promote X, as well as the Ed Sheeran tour, the redheaded-crooner appeared on a new MTV series called “Nine Days and Nights of Ed Sheeran.”  The hour-long show premiered on the network on June 10, but I’m sure it will be repeated several times.

This “new music documentary series” got me thinking about rock stars I want cameras to follow around for nine days and nights.  Only in my imagination I’m not bound by things like time and space.  I’m not confined to only selecting rock stars currently in their prime.  I’m picking musicians from all eras even those that have left this mortal coil.

Below are nine rockers I’d liked to see followed for nine days.  Some selections feed my penchant for watching human train wrecks.  While other picks are just plain interesting.  Regardless, spending a week and two days with any of the following rock stars will be (or would have been) thoroughly entertaining.

Adam Levine
When it comes to Adam Levine, I’m more interested in the “nine nights” parts then the “nine days” part.  We already know what Levine does when the sun is out.  He fronts Maroon 5, serves as a judge on the The Voice, runs a record label, has his own fragrance, and manages his own menswear.  At night is when things really get interesting for Levine.  That’s when he tries to be a faithful, one-woman guy.  In July, Levine is set to marry model Behati Prinsloo.  The fact that he’s getting hitch surprised a lot of people because he’s widely regarded as a hound.  Remember, Levine broke up with Nina Agdal by ignoring her calls.  Hearing Levine say “Yes, dear” and watching him hold his fiancée’s handbag while she goes to the bathroom will make for hilarious television.

Blake Shelton
No, this article isn’t a commercial for the NBC singing competition.  It just so happens that my first two picks are judges on The Voice.  Also, I know Shelton isn’t a rock star, but the country musician is quite a character and he’s married to one too (Miranda Lambert).  Shelton and his wife are known for their hard partying.  As we all know, “partying” is a euphuism for “drinks a lot.”  And when it comes to Shelton and Lambert, they do a whole hell of a lot of “partying.”  Nine days and nights with Shelton should provide plenty of sidesplitting moments of insobriety.

Bruce Dickinson
Bruce Dickinson is the lead singer of Iron Maiden and a polymath.  What is a polymath?  Don’t worry, it’s nothing dirty.  A polymath is someone who is an expert in more than one field.  Besides being an expert in heavy metal music, Dickinson is also a pilot, published author, and a nationally ranked fencer.  It would be fun to follow Dickinson around for nine days to see if he really knows how to do everything.  Or is Dickinson just one of those polymaths that can fly a Boeing 757 but can’t make a good cup tea or change a flat tire?

Fleetwood Mac
I’m cheating here, but I’m picking anyone from Fleetwood Mac circa 1975 to 1979.  I don’t care who it is, heck it can even be John McVie.  Fleetwood Mac is one of the bestselling bands of all-time.  They owned the second half of the 1970s thanks to their self-titled 1975 release, 1977’s Rumours, and 1979’s Tusk.  They managed to create all that great music, and perform all over the world, despite being utterly and thoroughly dysfunctional.  The McVies were divorcing, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were splitting up, and Mick Fleetwood suffered his own woman troubles.  When they sang about heartache and betrayal they were generally singing about someone on stage.  During the mid to late 1970s, spending nine days with anyone from Fleetwood Mac would have been akin to watching a telenovela.

Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga has received something similar to the “Nine Days and Nights” treatment before—remember her Thanksgiving special?  I think it would be fascinating to follow Lady Gaga around when she’s not touring or recording an album, but at home doing nothing.  Does she lounge around in yoga pants or does she wear a sweat suit made of cold cuts?  Does she watch Homeland on her couch or does she watch it from inside an egg?  These are questions “Nine Days and Nights” could answer.

Jim Morrison
This selection is a no brainer.  Can you imagine nine days and nights of Jim Morrison sleeping with groupies, using drugs, and obsessing about death?  We’re talking award-winning entertainment.  Grace Slick once told a story about how The Doors and Jefferson Airplanes were performing in Amsterdam.  As the bands walked down the street between gigs they were approached by fans offering them drugs.  Slick said everyone would take a puff here and a pill there then pocket the rest for later—there were just too many drugs.  Morrison, on the other hand, consumed everything everyone gave him right there on the spot. 

Morrissey
I admit that following Morrissey around for nine days might not be the most uplifting of experiences.  There would be a lot of brooding, a lot of staring out of rain-soaked windows, and a lot of reading.  My only goal for “Nine Days and Nights” of Morrissey is to catch him eating meat.  Morrissey is a world renowned vegetarian and animal rights activist.  Even so, you know he eats a hamburger every once in a while.  How do I know this?  A properly prepared hamburger is the greatest food on Earth.  Everyone loves them!  It would be priceless to catch The King of Mope chomping on a Big Mac.

Nikki Six
If reality shows had been around in the 1980s, we’d still be talking about Motley Crüe’s.  Their legendary debauchery would have been television ratings gold.  I could have picked any member of the group, but I selected Nikki Sixx because the hell he raised mainly hurt himself while Vince Neil and Tommy Lee hurt others.  Sixx overdosed about half a dozen times and died for two minutes in December of 1986.  If you disagree with me just read Sixx’s book: “The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star”

Rod Stewart
It would be fascinating to follow Rod Stewart around for nine days during any stage of his career.  He’s one of rock’s greatest singers and one of popular music’s most notorious womanizers.  He’s had several famous trysts, children with five different women, and he’s been married three times.  Yet, he seems like a down-to-earth fellow.  Someone you could have a pint with and talk about football (the world’s game not the NFL).  Finally, Stewart is a big-time model train enthusiast.  Basically, he’s this unique mix of cool and nerdy who’s always surrounded by hot chicks.  That’s a recipe for must-see TV.

By David B.

Dave Matthews Band Defended From Rock Snobs

Dave Matthews Band Defended From Rock Snobs

Fourth of July.  Watermelon.  Baseball.  Dave Matthews Band on tour.

Those are four of the most popular hallmarks of summer.  You may balk at the final item on my list but for the last 21 of 22 summers, the Dave Matthews Band has gallivanted around the United States.   This year is no different.

The one summer DMB took off, 2011, they still managed to host four three-day music festivals called “Dave Matthews Band Caravan.”  Oddly enough, 2011 was the group’s 20th Anniversary.

This summer, Dave Matthews Bands has a slew of dates planned for the U.S. and Canada.  In fact, they’ll be on the road until Sept. 6.

Tour Schedule
DMB has two dates planned for Camden, New Jersey on June 11 and June 13.  After that, they’ll play back-to-back nights in Noblesville, Indiana at the Klipsch Music Center.

Look for Dave Matthews Band in Chicago on July 4 and 5.  The group is booked at the FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island.

When will Dave Matthews Band will be at the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Washington?  I’m glad you asked.  Dave and company descend on that beautiful venue over Labor Day Weekend also known Aug. 29 through Aug. 31.  Labor Day comes early in 2014.  It’s Sept. 1.

What To Expect
This summer, DMB is doing something a little different.  They’re playing two sets.  The first is all acoustic while the second is all electric. 

Their acoustic set lasts about an hour.  They’ll stay plugged in for more than two.  The acoustic portion of the show is just the musicians.  The lights and video projections show up when the juice is turned on.

If you throw in a 30-minute intermission, you’re looking to spend more than three and half hours with Dave, Carter, Stefan, Boyd, Tim, Rashawn, Jeff, and 25,000 of your closest friends.

The show is billed as “A Very Special Evening with Dave Matthews Band. “

There’s no opening act.

Resume
Without a doubt, Dave Matthews Band is one of the all-time greats.  The living legends are destined for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as well as the “live performance hall of fame” is there was such of a thing.

Their last six studio albums have debuted at number one—no group has ever done that.  Overall, they’ve sold more than 30 million albums and earned 14 Grammy Award nominations.

If the band quit playing music today—or let’s say for the sake of those with Dave Matthews Band tickets, after the conclusion of their summer tour—their place in rock and roll history is secure.

Rock Snobs
Besides being an integral part in the annuals of rock music, Dave Matthews Band is also a central figure of another group’s history.  This group is far less illustrious and far less important.  I’m talking about rock snobs.

Dave Matthews Band is a seminal artist in rock snobbery because they constantly defy classification.  Are they cool?  Are they not cool?  Can you listen to them ironically?  Or can you not listen to them ironically?

Former Rock Snob
I know this because I’m a recovering rock snob.  I entered myself into a 12-step program and now I’m cured.  I urge all rock snobs to purge themselves of their snobbery.  You won’t regret it.

It’s so nice to be able to participate in conversations about Glee and American Idol without having to fain ignorance. 

It’s reaffirming to be able to sing along to Air Supply when they come on the radio without having to make sure no one is watching (as well as listening to a radio station that plays Air Supply). 

It’s refreshing to be able to wear a Bon Jovi t-shirt because you like their music and not because you’re being ironic although that’s a difference without a distinction.

Bottom line, it’s an absolute pleasure to be able to listen to whatever I want to listen to without having to worry about what others think.  Yes, The National and Bon Iver albums I own don’t get played anymore but Kid Rock and Kelly Clarkson sure are fun.

Cool?
What makes Dave Matthews Band so difficult for the rock snob is they used to be a slam dunk “cool” band,” but over the years, for some reason, their standing amongst the snob-gentsia has changed.  Since DMB’s debut in 1994 and now, conventional wisdom amongst rock snobs (if you can use “wisdom” and “rock snob” in the same sentence) has done a complete one-eighty.

In a recent blog entry on LA Weekly, Dave Matthews Band was named the worst band of all-time.  DMB can’t be the worst band of all-time as long no one has gone back in time and eliminated all evidence of The Black Keys.

Top Worst
In the forward to the article titled “Top 20 Worst Bands of All Time: The Complete List” (don’t “top” and “worst” contradict one another?), Ben Westhoff writes that all the groups on the rundown create “simultaneously pretentious and dopey, derivative and uniquely craptastic” music.

That’s an interesting description.   Oddly enough, it also describes most of the music championed by rock snobs especially the “pretentious” part.

In the entry explaining why Dave Matthews Band is “tops” at being worst, writer Jeff Weiss, in true rock snob fashion, claims that DMB’s music is for “folks whose favorite book is The Da Vinci Code and favorite TV show is Two and a Half Men.” 

This comparison isn’t pithy.  It’s mean and pretentious. 

Rock Snob Argument #1
The rock snob spends an inordinate amount of time listening to music and discovering new bands.  There’s nothing wrong with that except they berate people who don’t follow suit.  The expect everyone to spend the necessary time and energy to make bands like Beirut and White Rabbits tolerable.  The rock snob doesn’t understand, and won’t comprehend, that sometimes people want to see a jam band and the only jam band they know is the one fronted by Dave Matthews.  There’s nothing wrong with that and ultimately it’s a compliment to DMB. 

5 Reasons We Love To Hate Dave Matthews Band
The snobbery doesn’t stop there.  On May 28, Chris Baker posted “5 Reasons We Love to Hate Dave Matthews Band” on Syracuse.com.

He starts by going to the first page of the rock snob’s playbook.  He ridicules the band’s fans and calls DMB “jam rock for people who don’t like jam rock.” 

Jam Rock For People Who Like Jam Rock
I responded to a similar sentiment earlier in the article, but let me also say that all throughout the history of popular music, the really great artists have taken a marginalized, or somewhat marginalized, genre and made it accessible.  Elvis did it with rhythm and blues.  The Beatles did it with folk music.  Dave Mathews Band did it with jam rock.

Baker then writes that DMB is “Nickelback for Kids with bachelor’s degrees.”  I don’t know what that means.  Kids don’t have bachelor degrees.  

What I do know is Nickelback is the go-to-band when a rock snob needs a punchline and the second bestselling foreign band in the United States in the decade of the 2000s.

Reason #1
Baker’s first reason why we love to hate Dave Matthews Band is “because they’re generic.”  I think DMB is anything but generic.  After all, not too many rock bands have a full-time violin player.  Dave Matthews Band has one of the most unique sounds in all of music.

Funny, in this section of the article, Baker writes “DMB is music for people who aren’t fans of music but want people to think they are.”  It’s funny, because you can say the same about people who hate Dave Matthews Band.

Reason #2
Baker’s second reason is “because they’re safe.”  This is a trick rock snobs love to pull.  They call something safe because in popular music “safe” is bad.  In their eyes, dangerous is good.  Do they mean dangerous like Volcano Choir or dangerous like the ultra-scary Poliça

Josh Groban is safe.  OneRepublic is safe.  Dave Matthews Band is not safe.

Later, Baker explains that Dave Matthews Band is not as “inaccessible” as Neutral Milk Hotel or Umphrey’s McGree.  As if being “difficult to understand” is a good thing.  How many people listen to Neutral Milk Hotel and Umphrey’s McGee?  The answer is (relatively) no one.  Rock snobs consistently punish artists who have the ability to relate to large numbers of people and extol artists who connect with very few individuals.

Reason #3
His third reason for why he loves to hate Dave Matthews Band is “lacrosse jerseys, flat brim hats and beer pong.”  In other words, he doesn’t like their fans.  I get that.  All bands have a swatch of obnoxious fans, even the ones beloved by rock snobs, but that’s no reason to dislike someone’s music. 

Rock Snob Argument #2
Let’s talk a little bit about this because it’s the great contradiction of the rock snob.  They chide people for not listening to “cool music” but when the band that makes “cool music” becomes popular the rock snob stops liking them.  Rock snobs are never happy.  That’s why you should ignore their punditry. 

Reason #4
Baker’s fourth reason is “because they dumped crap on a whole bunch of people in Chicago.”  He’s referencing the 2004 incident where Boyd Tinsley’s bus driver emptied the vehicle’s septic tank while on a bridge.  The contents, 800-plus pounds of human sewage, rained down on a tour boat.  I actually agree with him on this one.  The bus driver took the fall, but I think the band, or at least a few of its members, was culpable. 

Reason #5
The rock snob’s final reason is “because they’ve made ‘Under The Table And Dreaming’ eight times.”  Baker is referring to the band’s debut album and how their subsequent seven studio releases sound similar. 

Rock Snob Argument #3
This is another trap rock snobs love to set.  They think every artist has to be revolutionary and on the vanguard ALL THE TIME.  Being cutting edge doesn’t necessarily make your music good just as being “dull edged” doesn’t necessarily make your music bad.

Listener Supporter
Overall, I think this criticism is a little harsh.  Has DMB changed their sound as much as U2?  Of course not, but their eight studio albums are not interchangeable.

Furthermore, Dave Matthews Band is a live product more than a studio product.  Their greatness is best experienced at a live venue and not via the mp3 player.   

Conclusion
You don’t have to enjoy the music of Dave Matthews Band.  You don’t have to enjoy attending a Dave Matthews Band concert.  Love them or hate them, it doesn’t matter.  Just don’t dislike them because they’re not blazing new trails, or their concerts are attended by a certain ilk of people, or their fan base has exceeded a certain size.

Don’t listen to rock snobs and especially don’t listen to them when it concerns DMB.  Instead, attend one of their concerts and experience the group and their music for yourself.  Chances are very good you’ll leave realizing that there’s just one reason to love Dave Matthews Band and that reason is they make great music.

By David B.

2014 NBA Playoffs And Nine Things That Must, Should, And Will Happen

2014 NBA Playoffs And Nine Things That Must, Should, And Will Happen

Donald Sterling has been a distraction during the 2014 NBA Playoffs but he hasn’t completely sidetracked fans.  Despite the taint of his bigotry, this is one of the best NBA postseasons in recent memory.  Already we’ve had multiple buzzer beaters, overtimes, and Game 7s. 

LaMarcus Aldridge notched back-to-back 40-plus games, Chris Paul made eight of nine three-pointers against the Thunder, and DeAndre Jordan is dunking more than patrons at a coffee shop that’s giving away free doughnuts.

Do you know that there’s a stat to measure the awesomeness of the NBA Playoffs?  It’s called “clutch time” and it’s accrues in the final five minutes of a game when the margin is five points or less.  In the first round of the NBA Playoffs there were more than 320 minutes of “clutch time.”

What’s coming up in Association?  To answer that question you can either watch the games or read our list of the nine things that MUST, SHOULD, and WILL happen in 2014 NBA Playoffs.  There’s actually a third option and that’s to do both.  We recommend doing both.

Must Happen #1
>>Pundits MUST Admonish Wizards For Poor Rooster Moves.

The Washington Wizards are fun to watch and easy to cheer for.  They have an exciting backcourt in John Wall and Bradley Beal and likable veterans in Trevor Ariza, Marcin Gortat, Nene, and Martell Webster—as well as semi-likable veterans in Andre Miller and Drew Gooden.  With tons of excitement surrounding the team’s first round victory, pundits are feeling the need to applaud general manager Ernie Grunfeld for putting the team together. 

Well, his team could actually be a whole lot better.  He botched the number three pick in 2013 (Otto Porter), the number six pick in 2011 (Jan Vesely), and the number five pick in 2009 (traded it for Mike Miller and Randy Foye).  You shouldn’t give kudos to a guy who bungled more than half of his team lottery picks in a five-year period.

Must Happen #2
>>Fans MUST Realize That There Is A “Mr. Unreliable” On The Oklahoma City Thunder.

On May 1, after the Oklahoma City Thunder went down 3-2 to the Memphis Grizzlies, the Oklahoman newspaper ran the headline “Mr. Unreliable” over a picture of Kevin Durant.  They had the right nickname but a picture of the wrong guy.  Durant is Mr. MVP.  OKC’s “Mr. Unreliable” is Russell Westbrook.

Westbrook is über talented but he’s not a MVP.  Unfortunately for the Thunder he thinks he’s one.  When the game is on the line the ball needs to be in KD’s paws no ifs, ands, or buts.  Westbrook wants to be The Man.  Someday he might be The Man.  But right now Durant is The Man. You hate to knock Westbrook’s confidence and ambition, but sometimes his chutzpah is a detriment to his team. 

Must Happen #3
>>There Are Some Coaches That MUST Win To Keep Their Jobs.

The Golden State Warriors failed to escape round one.  That sealed the fate of head coach Mark Jackson.  You’d think that once round two began all coaches would be safe from the unemployment line.  Not this year.  Thunder coach Scott Brooks and Pacers coach Frank Vogel are both staring down the barrel of loaded pink slips.  Each of their teams have too much talent to be satisfied with a mere first round victory.  We don’t have any inside knowledge, but we expect Brooks and Vogel to be gone if their teams don’t reach the NBA Finals.

Should Happen #1
>>Roy Hibbert SHOULD Grab At Least One Rebound In Every Playoff Game He Plays.

In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert notched one of the greatest playoff performances of all-time.  And by “great” I mean amazingly inept, spectacularly awful, and wonderfully unproductive.  In just under 18 minutes of play Hibbert grabbed zero rebounds, missed all two of his shots, committed five fouls, turned the ball over twice, and finished with a plus-minus of 17.  His only production was one assist and two block shots.

How can a seven-foot, two-inch, two-time all-star play that many minutes in an NBA game and not grab at least one board?  Based on his sheer size alone, you’d figure one missed shot would randomly bounce into his massive mitts.  Six-foot, two-inch guard C.J. Watson played 15 minutes and even he was able to tally a rebound.  You have to go out of your way to be Hibbert and not grab a rebound.  That should never happen and it should definitely never happen again.

Should Happen #2
>>A “New” Team SHOULD Reach The NBA Finals.

There aren’t any “new” teams in the NBA playoffs but you know what we mean—a team that hasn’t been there in a while, or in the case of the Los Angeles Clippers, has never been there.  Ideally, a Blazers-Heat or Spurs-Wizards NBA Finals would incredibly exciting and interesting.  Of course, the league won’t let Portland win the West and no one in the East can topple Miami.  Therefore our best choice for fresh blood in the NBA Finals is the Clippers.  Fans get the excitement of watching a team that has never been there before and the league gets the television audience of a major market.  Oh yeah, there’s the whole “We Are One” thing they have going for them too.

Should Happen #3
>>Los Angeles Clippers SHOULD Become America’s Team.

Do you think rooting against the Clippers will somehow hurt Donald Sterling?  Are you afraid that a deep playoff run for the Clips will increase the price of the team and thus increase the pocketbook of its racist owner?  If you think either one of things you need to reevaluate.  Sterling bought the team in the early 1980s for $12.5 million.  The franchise is now worth a billion dollars.  Regardless of what happens, regardless of how much you root against him, he’s going to make a boatload of money on the sale of the Clippers.

Sterling’s racist comments are his alone and they don’t represent the zeitgeist of the franchise.  What he put Clippers’ employees, players, and coaches through should be more than enough to endear you, and the rest of America, to L.A.’s redheaded basketball stepchild. 

The Clippers are historically one of the worst franchises in the NBA.  Since moving to California, the team has made the playoffs just seven times and never past the second round.  Furthermore, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are great players, good guys, and both star in clever commercials.  So there’s that.  And while the Nets have Jay-Z and Beyoncé, the Raptors have Drake, and the Lakers have Jack Nicholson, the Clippers are stuck with Penny Marshall.  If that’s not enough to win your sympathies then you must be a diehard Miami Heat fan since 2010.

Will Happen #1
>>The Miami Heat WILL Win Their Third Straight NBA Championship.

By being the East’s number one seed, the Indiana Pacers were the rebel alliance’s only hope of defeating the Miami Heat.  But something happened on the way to the postseason, the wheels fell off the Pacers’ bandwagon.  Indiana will be lucky to even make the Eastern Conference Finals.  As for the West, the Spurs are too old, the Thunder are too erratic, the Blazers are too young, and the Clippers are… well, the Clippers.  Like it or not, the Heat are still the best team in the NBA, they still have the best player, and they will still be in possession of the Larry O’Brien Trophy come the end of the NBA Playoffs.

Will Happen #2
>>The Playoffs Will Sometimes Be An Air Ball.

The first round had five Game 7s and eight overtimes.  Portland Trailblazers point guard Damian Lillard eliminated the Houston Rockets with a buzzer-beating three-pointer.  Even with the Donald Sterling blemish, the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs was sensational—probably the best ever.

Yet, there are going to be moments that are anything but memorable.  For example, the Blazers shooting 38 percent in Game 1 of their series against the San Antonio Spurs or Roy Hibbert’s aforementioned performance against the Wizards or the entire Brooklyn Nets team.  The basketball gods giveth and they taketh away.  Don’t be surprised if we’ve already seen all the overtimes and Game 7s the 2014 NBA Playoffs has to offer.

Will Happen #3
>>The Playoffs Will Separate The Superstars From The Wannabes.

In Game 1 of the second round, Chris Paul scored 32 points in 28 minutes.  He was 8 for 9 from behind the 3-point arc and 12 for 14 from the field.  Paul dished out ten dimes and only turned the ball over twice.  It wasn’t an elimination game but it was clutch nonetheless.  Paul reminded the basketball universe that he’s still the best point guard in the game.

That’s what the playoffs do and that’s what the playoffs will continue to do—separate the real superstars from the wannabes.  For guys like Chris Paul, Tony Parker, and Paul Pierce it’s a chance to remind people of your greatness.  For guys like Damian Lillard and John Wall it’s a chance to enjoy a coming out party.  And for guys like Roy Hibbert, Kendrick Perkins, and Shaun Livingston the playoffs are, at least this year, a cruel mistress.

Queen and Adam Lambert Route Tour You Must See

Queen and Adam Lambert Route Tour You Must See

Queen Tickets

By now, I would have thought people were done talking about it.  After all, the issue has been settled.  Objections are moot.

Besides, it’s happened before.  So it’s not like it’s anything new.

I’m of course talking about the upcoming tour involving Queen and Adam Lambert.  The legendary arena rock band has tapped the American Idol contestant to be their lead vocalist.

Adam Lambert first sang with Queen—which is now guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor—back in 2009 during an episode of American Idol.  They also performed at the MTV European Music Awards and the IHeartRadio Music Festival as well as a short series of concerts in Europe.

This year, Queen and Adam Lambert are touring North America.  Their odyssey begins June 19 in Chicago at the United Center and ends 18 dates later in Washington D.C. on July 20.

Highlights of their adventure include Los Angeles on July 3, Houston on July 9, and Madison Square Garden on July 17.  Queen and Lambert have two shows planned for Las Vegas on July 5 and July 6.

Their tour, which has seven dates plotted in Canada, is raising the question that’s as old as the 12-bar blues.  When does a band stop being a band?

There are many Queen fans (and non-Queen fans for that matter) who are not happy with the Adam Lambert selection.  They have called Lambert a teenybopper, an American Idol singer (derogatorily) and lame (some people just aren’t very creative).

These music fans believe Queen died when Freddie Mercury did in 1991.  Anything without Mercury is tantamount to a tribute band.

Never mind that we went through all this before.  Paul Rodgers, lead singer of Free and Bad Company, sang for Queen from 2004 to 2009.  Queen has also used the crooning services of Elton John, Luciano Pavarotti, and Zucchero in the 1990s. 

Asking “is this Queen or not” is the wrong question.  Neither Rodgers nor Lambert joined/is joining Queen.  They just toured/are touring with the band.  That’s why it was “Queen + Paul Rodgers” and soon to be “Queen + Adam Lambert.”

Also, remember that Lambert was picked by May and Taylor not the other way around.  The British musicians are huge fans of Lambert and felt he had the “something” needed to sing the dynamic songs in their repertoire.  As one fan put it, Adam Lambert is no Freddie Mercury but he’s the next best thing.  I totally agree.

Taylor called Lambert a “diva.”  Then he defined “diva” as an “extraordinary, outrageously theatrical, brilliant performer.”  When May first heard Lambert sing he thought “Wow, what a voice.”

The question rock fans and supporters should be asking is: “Should I to attend a Queen + Adam Lambert concert?” 

The answer is yes. 

Queen is one of the bestselling rock bands of all-time.  They’re not on the Elvis-Beatles-Michael Jackson level of units sold but they’re definitely on the next tier down.

May and Taylor are 66 and 64 respectively but they can still get it done on stage.  Also, they are not launching a nostalgia tour.  Both new and old fans will get a kick out of their upcoming jaunt.

“This is the closest that you’ll ever get to see Queen as it was in our golden days, but it’s not a reproduction. It’s not an imitation. We’re here live and real and we have a great singer. They’ll be a lot of newness about this. I think that’s very exciting. It’ll be loud and dangerous and all the things that people used to look for in us.” – Brian May

Beyond seeing two legends of rock (May and Taylor), and hearing their great catalog of music, you’ll also be treated to a wonderful performer and singer in Adam Lambert.  Put your American Idol prejudices aside.  Lambert is a tremendous talent and a world class artist.

Beyond the iconic music and the dynamic performances, there’s an urgency to this tour.  Judging from comments May and Taylor made to Rolling Stone magazine, this may be the last time Queen tours North America.  Along those same lines, Lambert insinuated that his partnership with Queen has an expiration date.

“I think the thing that’s special about this is that it is a limited thing. It’s this special engagement. It’s not like, "Now we’re off to the grind." It’s a once-in-a-lifetime tour.” – Adam Lambert

So, if you want to see Queen (in any sense of the term), and/or Queen with Adam Lambert, you better do it now.  There doesn’t appear to be a later.

There will be those who say this isn’t Queen and their concerts are not worthy of their money.  To those I ask would you go to the show if it wasn’t billed as “Queen + Adam Lambert” but billed as “May, Taylor & Lambert” or “Leen” (a portmanteau of Lambert and Queen)?

I know why the parties involved are billing it at “Queen + Adam Lambert.”  They want to sell concert tickets, but let’s be serious.  Most people who object to this tour would probably have no problem if May, Taylor, and Lambert performed under a different name. 

To those people, I have to ask why all the animosity over a name on the marquee? 

Then there are some cynics who would even besmirch my contrived “Leen.”  For them, not only did Queen die with Mercury but if you didn’t see them at their peak, the News of the World Tour in late 1977, then you didn’t really see them at all.  Anything but “Queen in 1977” is a waste of time.

Ah, rock snobs, you’ve got to love them.

These are the same people who say you didn’t see the Rolling Stones in concert unless you saw them during their 1972 North American tour or you didn’t really see U2 in concert unless you saw them in the 1980s.  Journey isn’t really “Journey” without Steve Perry and Weezer isn’t Weezer without Matt Sharp.

If you tell one of these bombastic critics that you saw Queen and Adam Lambert last night they won’t ask you how you enjoyed the show.  They’ll obnoxiously respond, “Well, I saw them in ’77 when they actually meant something.  Thanks for playing.” 

Tours are scrutinized far too much and marquees are way over parsed.  Rock is meant to be fun.  Some fans need to stop worrying about whether or not they’re seeing an historic concert, experiencing an epic tour, or witnessing a band at its zenith.  They just need to relax and enjoy. 

Less talk.  More rock.

A rock concert is an occasion to hear live music; get away with wearing black t-shirts, jeans, and vinyl sneakers; and having an overpriced beer.  Let’s stop concerning ourselves over where every artist falls in the annals of rock history or who is and who isn’t in their prime.  What’s important is having the chance to get your air guitar on and singing-a-long to some classic rock songs.

That’s why you should see Queen and Adam Lambert in concert.  They check a lot of boxes.

By David B.