Friday, February 22, 2013

Hockey, Alabama Style

I have had the honor and privilege of working with the University of Alabama’s club hockey team the Alabama Frozen Tide for now going on 6 years. When I mention this to people I usually get two questions, first one is “Alabama has a hockey team?” and “what do you do for them?” These questions open the door to explain the history of the team. When I explain what I do, I usually reply I am a “Go-For” which is my way of saying anything they ask. I am then usually asked how I got started with them, and that is simple I went to a game. Growing up in Birmingham, Alabama I was exposed to the sport of hockey when I was 15 and attended a Birmingham Bulls game. The Bulls were a minor league team playing in the ECHL. As I attended more game, I began to fall in love with the sport of hockey. However in 2001, my heart was broken as the franchise was sold and relocated to Atlantic City, New Jersey. That then left me looking for a hockey team to support. In 2004 during the NHL’s lockout season a league known as the WHA2 formed with a team in Pelham, Alabama known as the Alabama Slammers. The Slammers and the entire league for that matter was a failure and both lasted one season. Then in October of 2007 I heard that the University of Alabama had a club hockey team that was playing games in Pelham. So on October 6, 2007 I attended my first college hockey game, The Alabama Frozen Tide vs. the South Florida Bulls. The Frozen Tide who had just started their first full season defeated the more established Bulls by a score of 7-2 and I was hooked. As I attended more games, I got to know the parents of the players and the booster club. Shortly into the second season I was then asked if I would be interested in helping out with a promotion called “Chuck-A-Puck.” I said yes, and the rest is history. Since that day I have missed less than a handful of home games, attended every regional the team has played in with the exception of this season. Since starting with the team, I have moved on from the “Chuck-A-Puck” when I started broadcasting the home games for the team online in 2010. In 2011 I travelled with the team broadcasting both home and road games, and in 2011 I was fortunate to travel with the team to their first ACHA National Championship Tournament. This season I was unable to broadcast games, but still used my filming skills to film the games from ice level and then making highlight videos. This season will see me meet the team in Missouri to end the season as the Alabama Frozen Tide will participate in their second straight National Championship Tournament. I guess if I was to be serious when asked, how I got involved with the team, I would say it was an accident, but the results have been awesome.

Thanks for reading, God bless and have a great weekend.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Country Grammar? No Country Grammy's

part of the Grammys. I would do the other categories as well, but I do not really listen to much more than country music, so I really wouldn’t know more than what I hear when I am out. There are 81 different golden gramophones given out during the Grammys, yet there are only four country music categories. So with that in mind, here are the nominees, who I think should win and who will win.

Best Country Solo Performance
Home – Dierks Bentley, Springsteen – Eric Church, Cost Of Livin' – Ronnie Dunn, Wanted – Hunter Hayes, Over – Blake Shelton, Blown Away: – Carrie Underwood

This category is a mixed bag. You have two former Grammy winners in Carrie Underwood and Ronnie Dunn. Blake Shelton who has gone from just another male vocalist to a legit threat to win any award he’s nominated for. Dierks Bentley and Eric Church, not necessarily household names outside of the country music genre and the youngest and newest artist of the nominees Hunter Hayes. I am a huge fan of all the songs that are nominated this year, and if I was giving the award it would go to Ronnie Dunn for Cost of Livin’. However I do not have a vote and my opinion only counts here, so your winner for this Grammy will be Hunter Hayes for Wanted.

Best Country Duo/Group Performance
Even If It Breaks Your Heart – Eli Young Band, Pontoon – Little Big Town, Safe & Sound – Taylor Swift & The Civil Wars, On The Outskirts Of Town – The Time Jumpers, I Just Come Here For The Music – Don Williams Featuring Alison Krauss

This Grammy for me comes down to two artist. You have the Eli Young Band who despite being active since 2000 did not have a song hit the charts till 2007 with “When it Rains.” Little Big Town on the other hand had success a little quicker than that. After forming in 1999, they had a single chart only 3 years later with “Don’t Waste My Time.” Little Big Town had the top song in my opinion for the summer of 2012 with Pontoon, but I think this Grammy will go to the new kids in town. I pick the Eli Young Band with Even If It Breaks Your Heart to win this Grammy.

Best Country Song
Blown Away – Carrie Underwood, Cost of Livin’ – Ronnie Dunn, Even If It Breaks Your Heart – Eli Young Band, So You Don’t Have To Love Me Anymore – Alan Jackson, Springsteen – Eric Church

One of my keys to liking a song a lot of times is did the singer write the song as well as performance. I think music in general today is lacking when it comes to true singer/songwriters and has become more focused on a good beat than a good song. With that being said there is only one nominee in this category that helped write the song nominated and that is Eric Church with Springsteen. If I had a vote, this would be high on my list, but I think this Grammy will go to Carrie Underwood for Blown Away. Blown Away is just what I described about music today, great beat, catchy lyrics which equals gold now. And for Ms. Carrie Underwood it will equal a golden gramophone.

Best Country Album
Uncaged – Zac Brown Band, Hunter Hayes – Hunter Hayes, Living For A Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochrane – Jamey Johnson, Four The Record – Miranda Lambert, The Time Jumpers – The Time Jumpers

I believe this category has two legitimate nominees and the rest are just fillers. While I am a big fan of the Zac Brown Band, I do not think this is the best album they have done. I have already discussed the meteoric rise that Hunter Hayes is own, but Miranda Lambert is riding a meteor alongside him. Jamey Johnson is a great throwback to the days when country music started finding its way to the mainstream and I honestly had to search to see who The Time Jumpers are.  If this was a race, it would come down to a photo finish between Hunter Hayes and Miranda Lambert. I think this Grammy will go to Hunter Hayes for his self-titled album Hunter Hayes.

Thanks for reading, enjoy the show, God Bless and have a great week.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Grand Ole Opry

For the first time since September 23, 2006 I returned last night to the Grand Ole Opry. A lot has happened at the Opry since then. In 2010 A flood hit the city of Nashville that saw 19 inches of rain fall in two days and the Cumberland River reach a crested depth of 51.86 feet. The flood ravaged the city of Nashville but one of the hardest places hit was the area that contains the Grand Ole Opry, the Opry Mills Mall and the Opryland Hotel. Two years ago I visited Nashville for a college basketball game as I am doing this weekend. Not knowing the damages and area all affected by the flood I was greatly surprised when I saw the Opry Mills mall closed because of the flood damages still. This though, is not about the Mall but about the Grand Ole Opry. I have had the opportunity to walk in the doors of the Grand Ole Opry four times now. Each time I have gotten chill bumps and a feeling of pride and genuine awe and respect has hit me. Last night was no different. Attending the Opry last night was a sort of last minute deal as my friend and I were looking for something to do. As we walked out the doors last night, we were both glad we chose to attend the Opry. The show was opened up by Jeannie Seely. Ms. Seely who was born in 1940 still has the voice that made her popular during the 60’s and 70’s. The Opry has a tradition of current members and Country Music Hall of Fames Emceeing segments of the Opry. The other Emcees for the evening were Mike Snider, “Whispering” Bill Anderson and John Conlee. To a person each ones voice was as pure and smooth last night as if you were listing to a recording. The artist who performed were, The Whites, Charles Esten, Sarah Darling, Gloriana, Blue Sky Riders, Bobby Osborne and the Rocky Top X-Press and Carrie Underwood. Sarah Darling, is a new and up and coming country artist and put on a great performance. Carrie Underwood was the headliner and did not disappoint. She opened with her 2010 #1 Undo It. She then performed I Told You So, the cover of the 1988 #1 by Randy Travis. She took the house down with her performance of her first chart topper Jesus Take the Wheel and then closed out with her latest release Two Black Cadillacs. The whole night was incredible and I cannot wait to return to the Opry and Nashville again this summer.