Don’t Be Afraid

Don’t Be Afraid

Life sure can be scary sometimes.  The airwaves and internet are full of hate and danger.  Your life can be peachy one moment and pits the next.  Right now, pause for a second and think of your favorite song.  How much does that four minute song mean to you?

I know it means a lot more than four minutes.  You associate it with some of your best times and the memories flood back.  Perhaps it’s a person you recall or a place.  Other people choose a favorite song because of what it says.  The lyric speaks to them, about them, for them.

Music doesn’t live in a vacuum and neither do we.  We live in each other.  If a song is played in the forest and no one hears it, is it still music?  When you hear that song you love, do you think about yourself sitting alone with your ear buds?  Of course not: you engage your emotions and let your mind wander.  It knows the way.  Music revealed it.

If four minutes can have that kind of power, can give that kind of power, what might two hours do?  I dare you to go to a show and find out.  It might cost you $5.  You might hear that song: the one you know or the one you’ve been looking for.  Don’t be afraid.

Blockstock IV in OCMD 7/29

DNL’s Blockstock IV: Rocking The Party Block in OCMD!

When Pirate Rob says it’s a party, I mobilize.  Lucky for me, my beach week in OCMD coincided with DNL’s Blockstock IV at The Party Block.  This club fills an entire city block with three separated bars, several party patios and an outdoor pool for a dip or lounging.  On Sunday 7/29, over 25 bands descended on The Party Block to throw down and party up!

For just $10, patrons could roam all three stage areas and find the grooves that fit their mood.  The Big Kahuna stage got it right for me.  I caught 45 minute sets by Bumpin’ Uglies, Lovebettie, Sweet Leda, Bond and Bentley and Pasadena.  Each band puts their own unique spin on rock and as a lineup they are formidable.  You better have comfy, sturdy shoes and clothes you can move in when this crew gets together because you will be movin’ and groovin’!

Bumpin’ Uglies have a reggae/metal/hip-hop sound that reminds some of Sublime and some of Linkin Park.  They come at you from many angles and know how to light a fire on the floor.  Lots of songs about partying and having fun keep people upbeat while hitting the downbeat.  Brandon Hardesty out front is engaging and stylish and boy, can he play guitar!

Lovebettie has gone global this summer with appearances at SXSW, Summerfest and Warped Tour.  It seems their Swagger Rock sound suits both dance halls and stadiums.  What is Swagger Rock?  It’s all about finding that groove that everyone feels and rocking it to the next level.  We are a team and we’re champions when we play together.  Dan and Larry on bass and drums level the playing field and all opposition.  C.T.’s guitar pyrotechnics light it up.  Alexandra’s vocal majesty erects the stadium and dresses us all in the same colors.  Remember Whitney Houston’s “Star-Spangled Banner?”  Their sound is that powerful and that unifying.

Sweet Leda brings the soul-rock sound.  Whether they want to save your soul, tempt it or doom it is up to your imagination.  Don’s drumming is clever and deft.  Omar on guitar is some kind of wizard.  Jaime on bass thumps you up one side and down the other.  Julie’s sultry, powerful vocals open your pores and touch every nerve.  When Pasadena’s drummer joined them at the end, the place just went berserk with the beats.

Bond and Bentley just kidnaps your ass.  Their hip-hop rock hits hard.  Does anybody play an acoustic as hard as Ray?  The lead players are incendiary, the drums and bass percussive.  The keyboards create this carnival atmosphere around it all.  People just surrender to it and go dervish.  If National Lampoon remakes Animal House, count on Bond and Bentley being the house band.

Pasadena headlined the Big Kahuna stage for good reason.  They unify this musical crew and their diverse styles.  This night they were snake bit by a missing sound man and an absent bass player.  Did it keep them from making it a party?  Hell no!  Jaime from Sweet Leda stepped up to play bass.  All the bands shared PA and monitors.  And everyone sticks around to cheer on everyone else in the Pasadena family.  Nobody else was leaving either!

When you see DNL Entertainment or any of these bands on the bill, step up.  You’ll be glad you did!

The Longest 170 Miles in the World

The Longest 170 Miles in the World

I like to drive.  I cover a lot of ground running Gigspots: following bands, checking out venues, finding cool destinations.  With family and friends spread from Philly to Pittsburgh, from the Poconos to the Potomac, I log many miles staying in touch.  This week I revisited the longest 170 miles I know.

We live in Lancaster, PA and vacation annually in Ocean City, MD.  Most 170 mile drives I know can be covered in 2.5-3.0 hours.  This trek is a solid four.  There are basically two ways to get there: coastal or inland once you get south of Wilmington, DE.  As two million people make the drive in or out on Saturday, you discover the folly of just two routes.  From Lewes, DE to OCMD becomes the coast’s biggest parking lot.

Of course, what makes the drive seem even longer is the fact that the in-route is what’s between you and vacation and the out-bound path leads you back to reality.  Both are enough to make a mellow man bitch.

I’m lucky enough to love my reality.  I reflected on this on the long drive home.  I have a home. My family loves me.  We found the time and funds to vacation again this year.  Everyone got home safely.  And now I get to start chasing the music again.

Many of my friends don’t have what I have.  Some are struggling with health and happiness issues you wouldn’t wish on anyone.   And millions of people I don’t know deal with harsh realities every day.  I remember these things as I try to build my business.  To me, it’s all about paying it forward.

These bands need a chance.  These club owners employ people.  Everyone needs a little more joy in their life.  Support live music and make the world a better place.  Treat yourself to a mini-vacation by letting the music take you away.

Vacation Rocks!

Vacation Rocks!

Does it seem unfair that I take vacation?  My job is going to concerts, hanging out with bands and checking out cool music venues.  Who would need a break from that?  Well, vacations are about relaxing and regrouping.  My wife and daughter both work hard on a daily basis and often they are getting home just as I’m leaving.  With Kate entering her junior year at Temple, who knows if this might be the last summer for a while that we can get away together.  I love those two and love taking a week where it’s about us!

How lucky for me that OCMD hosts tons of live music!  We arrived on Saturday knowing that Pirate Rob and DNL Productions had sailed in Thursday.  Two of his heavy-hitter bands, Pasadena and Bond and Bentley, were trading poolside gigs at Riptide Pool Bar and Bixby’s.  On Sunday night, 25 bands of every description converged on The Party Block for DNL’s Blockstock IV. $10 got you three stages filled with rap, hip-hop, metal, rock and soul.  These are party bands with party fans!

Party Block is a nightclub that covers an entire city block.  The bands were divided among three separate rooms so sound from one stage didn’t bleed over the others.  I hung at the Big Kahuna stage to see Bumpin’ Uglies, Lovebettie, Sweet Leda, Bond and Bentley and Pasadena.  These bands kick major ass and their styles complement each other seamlessly.  I was bummed that 21+ meant Kate couldn’t join me.  She’ll be ready for next year.

Monday night pulled me hard in two directions.  We vacation with two other families we love dearly and Monday night was scheduled to be all-in dinner.  We have some serious cooks and bartenders in our crew and we do it up right.  Meanwhile, Garrett Dutton (aka G. Love) was playing solo acoustic at Seacrets.  G. Love (and his band Special Sauce) is arguably the most significant, unique and entertaining act I have followed in the last fifteen years.  I don’t know what you would do, but I chose dinner with the family.  We ate, drank and laughed ourselves into a fine blend and cheered team USA at the Olympics.

More concerts will come.  I will only have one trip to OCMD with my families in 2012.  All the YOLO shirts on the boardwalk keep reminding me; choose what will last because few things do.