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September 21, 2007

Stomping On The Yard National Step Show Championship @ Liacouras Center, Philadelphia - 9/15


Considered to be the 'super bowl' of step shows, Stomping On The Yard: SUPER STOMP, presented by Boost Mobile, is billed as a celebration of leadership, scholarship & showmanship. Don't let the cordial subscript fool you however, because this championship competition is also one electrifying event. Not only did the real life step tour inspire the box office hit film Stomp the Yard, the one-of-a-kind competition also boast its own ESPN special.  This night was the culmination of a national step tour, now in its forth year.  The show brought a sold out Liacouras Center crowd to its feet for performance after performance, as historically Black fraternaties and sororities lit up the stage with eleborate sets, routines and costumes.  One by one, the various teams vied for the title of national step champions.  Adding even more sizzle (and comic relief) was America's favorite perfect gentleman, Fonzworth Bentley, who drew uprourious screams from fans when he hit the stage as host of the competition.  If you had a doubt, a misconseption, or were just plain uninformed about step as an elevated art form, this night was the night that you learned...



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September 19, 2007

Summertime, Done come and gone, My oh my

Well, the Billboard Mobile Blog for the summer of 2007 is over. It has been a wild summer with both some of the best music I have seen for a long time combined with some of the most frustrating experiences I have ever had. The summer started with Widespread Panic, then through my own contacts, I got to shoot Blues Traveler, but the one show that summed up my Billboard blog experience was Willie Nelson.


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9/17: Buckcherry @ Hard Rock Cafe, NYC

Encore Blog...Rev up your engines!

“Excuse me sir…can I sit on your bike?” asks the 5’1, four-eyed English teacher. Forget fancy car shows and pimped out sedans. Four wheelers are for wussies! Monday night, Broadway’s Times Square was lined with the sweetest rides in town for Bike Night at the Hard Rock Cafe. Bikers from all over rode in to show off their choppers, compare chrome jobs and above all else, rock out to hard core L.A.-based band Buckcherry. 


(Ross's competition)

To say I’m not much of a biker chick is an understatement. I owned leather pants once in my life, probably back in 1996 when I also thought putting my hair in hot rollers was stylin’, but ultimately came to realize that neither was a look I could pull off. And the closest I ever came to a tattoo was getting my hand henna painted down in the West Village on some incense-infused street corner. But, when Billboard asks if you’re able to cover one last show, you definitely don’t hesitate…and you definitely don’t care if it’s your favorite band playing or one you know absolutely nothing about. You’ll blog about the Wiggles if it means keeping your pro bono night job for just a little bit longer. So upon telling Billboard I was on board for the Buckcherry show at Hard Rock (though not revealing to Ross what we were seeing until showtime), I charged up my LG, did a little I-search about the artist(s) in question and stuffed my complimentary black backpack with an extra black and white marble notebook floating around my classroom. Hey, someone might as well use it!


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September 18, 2007

American Idols Live Tour 2007 @ Wachovia Center - Philadelphia


Okay, I admit it - I saw the American Idols Live tour.  And this, my review, is the embarrassing truth that proves it forever. Now don't get me wrong, I do watch American Idol every season, but sitting through endless karaoke-like performances (made longer by a sudden 'intermission'), shrieking fans and schmaltzy speeches is another story. It turns out, American Idol in any arena is far less entertaining without the judges. If Simon, Paula and Randy toured along with these 10 finalist, I'm sure they would have packed the house. Fortunately, there were a few highlights that came along by way of a couple of this past season's shining songstresses. Idol winner Jordin Sparks, long-running favorite Melinda Doolittle, and most impressively Lakisha Jones, were all music to my ears. They may not have made the sea of tween girls swoon like the male hearthrobs did, but they ultimately won over the entire crowd, and me, with stunning vocal performances...

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September 17, 2007

Pre-Emmy Celebration at Opera and Crimson in Hollywood, CA. September 15, 2007.

I believe Confucius once said, "If you're going to go out, go out big with an Emmy party." While I attribute much of what has been a pretty unbelievable summer to being a part of this dark corner (really, the colors are dark) of Billboard.com, LG has also been such a huge part of this whole experience as well. From providing the bloggers with phones and random LG goodies inside our stylish Billboard backpacks (which I take to the beach with me in hopes of attracting women while I deliberately walk backwards and make declarative, minor lies like, "I MAKE LOTS OF MONEY!!!") to giving us this opportunity to share our experiences with a tiny slice of the online world, I am beyond grateful to everyone I've interacted with at LG and at Billboard for inspiring me to make the most of this summer. While the Billboard name has helped me out tremendously this summer, it was LG that gave me the opportunity to hang out in the outdoor LG lounge while I rubbed elbows with some of my favorite Hollywood stars at a pre-Emmy party on Saturday night.


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9/14: DMB @ Sound Advice Amphitheater, WPB, Florida

It’s only fitting that my final blog be from a DMB show! What an incredible summer this has been! Once again, thank you Billboard for letting me live out my dream as a music journalist. This was the best, won’t-pay-my-bills job I ever had! And to those of you who've actually taken the time to see the music world through my eyes, even for just a night or two, I hope you enjoyed!

Not having seen DMB since exactly one month prior on August 14th (can you feel my withdrawal shakes through the computer?)at SPAC, and having to experience Alpine Valley vicariously through mid-show texts and message board posts, I was counting down the days to my Florida excursion. Shacking up at hotel de Grandma and Grandpa offered a slightly different type of pre-show prep (brisket, anyone?), but no trip to the Sunshine State would be complete without some QT with the fam, right! After picking up my seat date Reid and fellow concert buddies Casey and Kristen from their poolside pre-party, it was time for the show at Sound Advice!

Um, is this a sauna or an amphitheater?? Can someone turn up the A/C please!?!? At around 8:30 pm on a steamy Friday night, DMB strolled onto the stage and thanked their sweaty, screaming fans for coming. It wasn’t too long before Dave astutely observed that it was “a little warm in here” and was in need of a wardrobe change. But, the sticky heat didn’t slow down the band or the audience. The guys put on an awesome show, the crowd was full of energy, and I was psyched I made the trip down south to see my favorite band in a new venue.


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September 16, 2007

9/9: Farm Aid Press Conference @ Randall's Island, NYC

If there was one show I really wanted to cover to this summer, it was Farm Aid…even writing a letter to the Farm Yard advocating for myself (which proved unnecessary anyway when you have Billboard in your corner). For those of you unfamiliar with this annual event (calling it a concert just doesn’t do it justice), here it is in a nutshell:  “Farm Aid is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to keep family farmers on their land.” Rock legends Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp organized the first Farm Aid show 22 years ago in 1985 to raise awareness about the loss of family farms and to raise money so that family farmers could keep their land. Dave Matthews joined the board of directors in 2001. Over the past 2 decades, it’s turned into a huge, all day affair that includes incredible musical performances, delicious food (all organic and family grown, of course) and information about how we, as music abiding citizens, can help support Farm Aid’s “Good Food Movement.” As a lover of both good music and good food (those of you who know me know that one doesn’t necessarily supercede the other), there’s no way I was missing the chance to blog about Farm Aid, especially since this was the first year it was going to leave its footprints on New York soil! Rather than staging this “longest running benefit concert series” somewhere in America’s heartland, as it has more often than not done in years past, Farm Aid’s board decided it was time to bring their big show to the Big Apple. Woohoo! I’m not the biggest fan of festival type shows (usually feeling cheated by the shorter set times, overwhelmed by the massive crowds and frustrated with the usually restricted general admission view), but Farm Aid is different…aside from the obvious (i.e. great music and food), it’s for a good cause and there’s a great “we’re one big happy family” vibe in the air. Quite simply, it’s just a really fun day! Oh, and Randall’s Island has actual seats in addition to GA lawn.


Setting up shop at Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island was the perfect choice, allowing the perimeter of the open field to be lined with concession stands of organic, family farm grown goods. From healthy versions of concert staples like French fries and chicken tenders (my personal concert meal of choice) to falafel, chicken kabobs, Cliff bars, granola and yogurt…us urban folks had a virtual smorgasbord of fresh, delectable choices to sustain us throughout the unusually hot September afternoon. Even the performers weren’t immune to temptation. Early in the day we spotted Tim Reynolds sampling some of the eats, and mid his acoustic set, Dave suggested we get some of the organic corn dogs, admitting that he “already had five.” Umm, perhaps a night I’m not tempted try to sneak onto his bus after the show. See, I’m not completely insane ;-).


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STEVE VAI @ The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA 9.12.07

My last concert review assignment for Billboard/Mobilebeat -- what a bummer!

I have to say THANK YOU again to Billboard & LG for this wonderful experience -- I've enjoyed every minute of it, and hate for it to end!

But what an amazing show to get to see and photograph for my last assignment -- Steve Vai at the historic Fillmore in San Francisco.


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9/9: Farm Aid @ Randall's Island, NYC

Typical of festival type shows, the earlier part of the day was reserved for shorter sets, by less mainstream names like Polka rocker Jimmy Sturr, country crooner Billy Joe Shaver, rock n' rollers the Supersuckers, and The Ditty Pops, who proved their devotion to preserving the environment by biking over to the show (so said Darryl Hannah upon introducing them). 21st Century country stars Montgomery Gentry kicked off the transition into longer stage times with a 4 song set that included "Hillbilly Shoes," "Daddy Won't Sell the Farm," "What Do You Think About That" and "My Town."

Hassidic rap wonder Matisyahu stole the still sun-drenched afternoon portion of the show by bringing his religious infused rhymes to the mainstage. "Kodesh" aptly paid homage to the water, but it was his off the hook beatbox jam that was most inspiring and had us singing his praises! Derek Trucks took his own band out on the stage for a soulful set before joining the Allmans and then Mellencamp later in the night. The guitar phenoms wife Susan Tedeschi lent her harmonizing vocals to "Soul Serenade" and "Key to the Highway." Alterna pop/rock band Guster followed with a longer set filled with their put-a-smile-on-your-face-make-ya-wanna-bop-up-and-down organic tunes.



Guster Set List:  Captain, Manifest Destiny, Satellite, Amsterdam, Airport Song

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Carmen and Camille @ S.I.R. Studios, NYC

Those of you still recovering from last week's MTV Video Award’s Britney Bomb need not fear any longer. The future of the world’s existence, and more importantly its potential to produce worthwhile pop princesses, is secure. Enter onto the music scene Carmen and Camille, 22-year old twin sisters from Vancouver who have been singing and playing music together since they were 5-years old. Key phrase there: “playing music.” These girls, sort of channeling Stevie Nicks with their long blonde hair, all black attire and hanging silk scarves, are as much talented instrumentalists as they are singers. Camille serves as vocalists, guitarist and songwriter while sis Carmen adds harmonizing vocals, flute and sometimes tambourine. The twin team has hit the hottest spots throughout Canada, sung their way through Budapest, Australia and the Caribbean, and recently starred as one of the only female fronted, non-metal acts at Locobazooka up in Mass.



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