George Michael #RIPGeorgeMichael

Hello, everyone! How are you doing? I am doing OK considering that this is my first blog entry in a few months.

As I am pretty sure you were, I was shocked to learn about the death of George Michael this past Christmas Day, which wrapped up a terrible year in which we had already lost a lot of hugely talented musicians such as David Bowie, Prince, Glenn Frey, and Dead Or Alive frontman Pete Burns. Sadly, his passing seems to have been prophesied by his holiday classic, Last Christmas, which he wrote and recorded as a member of Wham!

As someone who grew up in North Carolina during the 80’s, my first memory of hearing George was when Wham’s breakthrough hit, Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, was playing on the radio. Little did I know then that this record and its follow-up, Careless Whisper, would lead to a successful solo career after the duo, which also included guitarist Andrew Ridgeley, split up in 1986. From the controversial I Want Your Sex to soulful covers of Sir Elton John’s Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me and Queen’s Somebody To Love, George’s stream of hits continued well into the 90’s despite legal issues and his 1998 outing as a homosexual (as it had been previously rumoured).

I still remain as huge of a fan of George Michael’s music today as I was when his albums Faith and Listen Without Prejudice were on the radio. To close this blog entry, I want to quote a line from Hard Day, a deep cut on Faith, in which he sings, “Would you gimme a break? Somebody gimme a break now!” Sadly, on 25th December 2016, the artist formerly known as Georgios Panayiotou did get his break when he became a casualty of heart failure. Along the other music legends who passed on last year and in the years before, George Michael’s music will continue to live on, to use a lyric from another one of his songs, Mother’s Pride (from Listen Without Prejudice), ’til kingdom come.

The PeaceTrain Band — 29th October 2016

Hello, everyone. I realise that it has been forever since I have last blogged on here, but this past Saturday night, I rolled on doing to R Lo’s Pub & Grub, a bar and grill on Fisher Ferry Street in my hometown of Thomasville, to see one of my musician friends, Phillip Peace, and his band, the PeaceTrain Band, play a show. These guys play an awesome set each time I see them perform, and Saturday night was no exception.

The PeaceTrain Band entertained the audience with original songs like Rollin’ On Down and Hard Times And Harder Liquor along with cover versions of hits by Neil Young, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Collective Soul. The lead vocal duties were shared by Phillip with his husky tenor and lead guitarist Joe Parsons with his warm baritone.

Before their R Lo’s gig, the PeaceTrain Band also performed at a cancer research benefit show in Greensboro for a very special reason –their beautiful and talented keyboardist/flutist Sylvia McNeill is a cancer survivor whose strength and courage, I’m pretty sure, is inspiring others. Unfortunately, I am driven to add that cancer has affected my family in a more negative matter because both my sister and my mother has different forms of cancer before they passed away. This disease affects more than just the people who have it but also their families, friends, and others in their social inner circles. Be sure to get checked regularly, eat more healthy meals, and exercise regularly to reduce your risk of getting cancer.

If you have not heard the PeaceTrain Band or seen them perform yet, search for them on Google or Bing and check them out. They rock! Also, check out Phillip’s other band, White Light, and their brand of acoustic rock augmented with the best three-part harmony in the business.

Phillip — rhythm guitar, harmonica, and vocals

Joe — lead guitar, mandolin, ukulele, and vocals

Sylvia — keyboard, flute, and vocals

Ben — drums

Kristen Leigh

Eversince I played at my first open mic night 13 years ago, I have met a lot of other fine musicians, and almost none has been as wonderfully talented as the beautiful Kristen Leigh. During the open mic nights at the Flatiron in Greensboro, NC, I was among the many who have witnessed her plaintive guitar work, on-point songwriting, and unique mezzo soprano voice. Her folksy musical style is reminiscent of the Beatles, Sarah McLachlan, and Joni Mitchell. Click on the link below to check out her music.

http://kristenleighmusic.wixsite.com/kristenleigh

Former 3 Doors Down Guitarist Matt Roberts #RIPMattRoberts

#RIPMattRoberts 

Remember the songs Kryptonite, When I’m Gone, and Let Me Go? Well, not only were they huge hits for the Mississippi-based alternative rock band 3 Doors Down more than a decade ago, but they featured the awesome lead guitar riffs of original axeman Matt Roberts, who has just sadly passed away from a prescription drug overdose at just 38 years of age.

I will admit that when 3 Doors Down’s breakthrough hit, Kryptonite, was first released in 2000, I thought that they were ripping off One by Metallica because Roberts’ melodic guitar riff sounded almost similar hence the fact that both songs were recorded in the key of B minor. Luckily, Hetfield and company did not dub Roberts and the band, which also included tenor-voiced lead singer Brad Arnold, unforgiven with any sort of legal action, but 3DD continued to produce a steady stream of hit singles, which also included Be Like That,  Here Without You, and Let Me Be Myself. Roberts’ guitar work and songwriting abilities on the band’s albums and singles until his departure from 3DD in 2012 are nothing short of remarkable and extraordinary, and his contributions to rock music are among those that will never be forgotten. Thank you, Matt, for helping bring some great music to the world.

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/matt-roberts-original-3-doors-down-guitarist-dead-at-38-w435461