by Lisa Schreiner
photos by Kevin Wilson
On Wednesday, June 18, 2018, Billy Joel marked his 100th lifetime show at Madison Square Garden; his 54th consecutive show during his MSG residency that began in 2014. Long Island’s hometown hero (Joel grew up in Hicksville, a suburb located in Nassau County) played his first show at the Garden on December 14, 1978 and has been playing to sold-out crowds all over the world since.
What’s more impressive than Joel’s stamina as a performer is his incomparable songwriting talent. Within the first few lyrics of any Billy Joel song, you’re hooked into a story, be it about two high school sweethearts who eventually split or the harrowing experiences of war.
At a press conference held in front of Madison Square Garden on Wednesday afternoon before the record-setting show that evening, Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo declared July 18, 2018 “Billy Joel Day” in the state of New York in honor of the Piano Man’s contributions to the music industry and New York State.
“Billy Joel is not only one of the greatest entertainers of our time, but also a leading advocate for protecting the environment, honoring first responders and improving the lives of New Yorkers,” Cuomo said. “I am proud to congratulate Billy on his remarkable milestone, and I look forward to seeing him perform for many years to come.”
Joel’s piano was also unveiled for display at The Garden as tribute to his legacy. Actor Chazz Palminteri, chairman and CEO of Madison Square Garden Compay Jim Dolan, and local classic rock station Q104.3’s Jim Kerr were also present for the press conference.
“Billy Joel’s incredible achievement will set a standard for the entire music industry that may take generations to eclipse,” said Dolan. “One-hundred shows by a single artist at a single venue is a remarkable testament to the strength of an artist’s connection to his music and his audience. Since Billy first graced The Garden stage in 1978, more than two million fans have heard Billy live at The World’s Most Famous Arena. It is only fitting that we commemorate this extraordinary achievement with the display of his piano, which will serve as a tribute to his unparalleled legacy.”
Billy Joel’s music continues to transcend through generations from baby boomers to millennials. Among his expansive catalog of songs, one can find at least one that they can relate to. Tickets continue to sell out for his legacy residency performances at Madison Square Garden. Billy, you are The Entertainer of entertainers. You are the musician of musicians. And, you are the pride of New York.
by Lisa Schreiner
If you’re one of the millions of fans of the television show Impractical Jokers, the hidden-camera show where four lifelong friends pull pranks on the public (and each other), then you know who James “Murr” Murray is. If not, then it’s suggested that you turn on TruTV right now, as it’s likely that an episode or a marathon of Impractical Jokers is running at this very moment. Enjoy a few episodes and get to know Murr, along with his three best friends (Brian “Q” Quinn, Sal Vulcano and Joe Gatto), laugh until your sides hurt and tears roll down your cheeks. Then forget everything you learned about Murr in those episodes. In his debut as a published author, James S. Murray shows a completely different side from his charming, funny and silly personality that we’ve gotten to know in the over 8 years the show has been on the air.
“Awakened”, which Murray wrote along with Darren Wearmouth, a novelist from Manchester, England, is a perfectly executed Sci-Fi novel that brings the reader right into the action from the beginning. Taking place in present-day New York City, “Awakened” delves into one of the more uneasy urban legends of Manhattan: what lurks underneath the historical streets of the greatest city in the world. We’ve all heard the stories about alligators in the sewers and those who dwell in empty subway tunnels; what if a variation of the two were true?
The excitement of a brand new, revolutionary subway line, that brings New Jersey commuters into New York City in the matter of minutes, is palpable. Politicians including the mayor and the president of the United States are in attendance for the inaugural ride…along with some uninvited guests. Chaos ensues when the doors to the subway cars open and reveal a scene straight out of our nightmares. Blood covers nearly every inch of the interior of the cars, windows are shattered, and the 65 passengers that were on board are nowhere to be found. In a post 9/11 world, everyone’s immediate reaction is fears of terrorism, and rightfully so. But, what created this unthinkable sight is a form of terrorism no one had ever seen before.
Wearmouth and Murray’s passionate description of chaotic scenes, impossible decisions and terror bring the reader right into the thick of it. The “terrorists” are presented in such a way that make you feel truly horrified.
“Awakened” is guaranteed to keep the reader captivated from cover to cover…as well as reluctant to take a subway ever again.
On June 26th, the day of the in-store release of “Awakened”, Murray and Wearmouth dropped by Book Revue in Huntington, New York to talk about the book, do a little q&a and sign copies for the packed crowd.
“I wrote this book 14 years ago,” Murr told the crowd. “I have a degree in English from Georgetown and I always dreamed of being a fiction writer. I had this idea; my friend dared me to write a short story. I had been talking about this tale of a creature in the subway. So my friend said ‘write the damn thing!’ so I wrote the short story and I sent it to him. Twenty minutes later, he calls me and says ‘You have to write the book around this story. What is this story?’ And that story is in the book almost untouched from 14 years ago. So I spent a year of my life writing the book. I sent the manuscript out and it got returned to me, unopened, by hundreds of agents and publicists. It sat on my computer for 14 years. When you feel rejected in some way, you start to internalize that and start to think ‘Maybe the book wasn’t good, maybe all this time was for nothing’, and you start to internalize that rejection. So fast forward to to 14 years later, I send the manuscript to Harper Collins and one day later, they bought it.”
Darren Wearmouth was on a list of accomplished authors that had been sent to James, to help polish “Awakened” and make it ready for publishing. On Wearmouth, Murray had this to say:
“I interviewed all these guys and girls, amazing writers in their own right. And, I met Darren and we just hit it off immediately. We liked the same things. It was like an instant love affair. He would take a chapter and polish it up and then I would take it back and polish it up some more. It worked really seamlessly. It’s a really great partnership. And I have to say, it’s been such an honor and pleasure to work with him for the past year.”
You can purchase “Awakened” now through the links listed below, as well as your local book store.
by Tracey Ann Exner
What an amazing night of dark and haunting musicians to fill The Paramount in Huntington, NY on April 19, 2018.
Ministry, an industrial metal band, has been around since the early 80’s and is still going strong. People of all ages and walks of life filled the venue. The energy singer and founder Al Jourgensen showed from start to finish lifted the crowd to another level. The playlist started with newer music that included “Twilight Zone” and “Wargasm” and ended with some of their all-time classics “Just one Fix”, “ Thieves” and “So What” that had the audience dancing and forming a mosh pit.
Opening bands The God Bombs and Chelsea Wolfe were a good fit for the arrival of Ministry. The God Bombs were heavy and loud, the right headliner to start off this show. Chelsea was very witchy and serpent like. During songs, Wolfe had a maneuver where as she screamed, she covered her mouth to muffle the sound, creating a very realistic look of horror. It was most definitely a very dark, loud and energetic show that kept the audience’s attention.
by Heather Botta
All photos by Wayne Herrschaft
Buckcherry made another appearance at The Paramount in Huntington, NY, playing to an elated and energetic crowd on March 9th; marking a fifth return to the venue for the band. With singer Josh Todd as the only true original member since the band’s inception in 1995, the present line up of the band: Kevin Roentgen (lead guitar, 2017), Stevie D (rhythm guitar, 2005), Kelly LeMieux (bass, 2013) and Sean Winchester (drums, 2017) seem to have gelled well in their short time together.
Prior to the show, Josh Todd visited the studio next door to The Paramount for an interview with Orlando and Rob Rush, local rock DJs for 94.3 The Shark. When asked about playing a venue seemingly annually and providing a good setlist each time, Todd said “I need to log setlists so I don’t play the same thing. I kind of remember. I like to mix it up a bit but with all the usual suspects too because people want to hear the hits.”
Playing a mix of old and new, highlights of the night included ‘Tight Pants’, lighter than Buckcherry’s signature hard rock sound (but still fun), also the only song they played from their newest album, Rock n’ Roll released in August 2015. The set list was dedicated mostly to crowd pleasing favorites like “Lit Up”, “Crazy Bitch” and “Sorry”, along with a cover of Icona Pop’s “Say Fuck It” and The Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues” as the final encore. Noticeably missing was one of their biggest hits “Next 2 You”. Even with that omission, Buckcherry played a tight setlist and fans were not disappointed.
Buckcherry is playing a few more shows here in the States, then head to Europe for the spring/early summer. Tour dates can be found on their official site.
Say Fuck It
Tired of You
Grammy award winning artist, Rick Springfield, stopped by the Silver Creek Event Center in New Buffalo, MI last Friday. Springfield has some of the most loyal fans in the industry and proved that by playing to a packed house in small-town Michigan.
Rick Springfield has remained a relevant musical icon for over 40 years. Known for his high energy shows, with a heavy load of greatest hits, he opened with “Light This Party Up”, and a video montage of some of his most famous moments over the past four decades. Rick had the crowd on their feet and ready for the promised party. Over the next hour and a half, fans were treated to favorites such as “I’ve Done Everything 4 You”, “Don’t Talk to Strangers”, “Love Somebody” and of course, “Jessie’s Girl” but we were also given a taste of where Rick Springfield has traversed musically. His latest album, The Snake King, is heavy and edgy with a full-bodied blues undertone. He gave the crowd a look at that side of him with the song “Little Demon” and I liked it. I liked it a lot. I’ve always associated Rick Springfield with the quintessential pop heartthrob; someone whose good looks outweighed the content of his music. He showed us that is just a piece of his musical make-up and that he does harder music and dark lyrics rather well. I will definitely be checking out the rest of his latest album.
Rick Springfield’s performance at the Silver Creek Event Center was everything his fans wanted it to be. The show flew by as time stood still. When the theater lights came back on, and we were suddenly transported back to the year 2018, I kept hoping he would return for just one more song. I enjoyed the show and I enjoyed the memories. So, thank you, Mr. Springfield, for letting me be 10 years old again; in a time when I was wearing out my copy of Working Class Dog and covering my bedroom walls in your Tiger Beat pinups. There is no separating music and nostalgia, and for a moment it was 1981 and I was dancing around my room singing into a hairbrush and wishing I was Rick’s girl.
You can check out Rick Springfield on the road at his upcoming tour dates, but for now, let’s flashback to 1981.
by contributing journalist Faith Richardson
Anita Got Bars is an up and coming rapper from Brooklyn, New York. Her music is unique and sets her apart from the mainstream rap sound. We know you’re gonna hear a lot more from her in the future but for now check out the interview below.
Tell us a little about your background.
I’m Anita. I’m originally from Brooklyn, New York, but when I was 10, I moved to the Pocono Mountains, which is in Pennsylvania. I’m 17 years old, and a senior in high school.
How did you get into music ?
When I was 12 I started messing with beat making. Honestly I just wanted to be a producer at first. But then I got expelled from school and spent time at an alternative school which is where I really began to rap. I worked tirelessly just perfecting my bars until I started hanging around like minded people and now life is great.
What has been your experience in the music industry?
Honestly, there are many selfish people in the industry. My word of advice is to keep your eye on your own paper and make sure you’re not getting finessed.It’s not a hard game to get into, but climbing the totem pole is a different story. It’s like, they wanna see you do well, but never better than them. It’s hard still being in high school, and working 5 days a week, but I believe in myself and the universal laws.
Your biggest influences?
My favorite rapper may come as a surprise to you. It’s actually Meek Mill. But the artists that influence my music process are Kanye West, Chance the rapper, J.Cole, and Hopsin. I would consider myself a very laid back person in general, which reflects in my music
What does your writing process look like?
I can’t force anything when I write. It won’t feel genuine. My best music comes when I am going through something. Most times I’m sitting in my car at a gas station late at night after I get off work. It’s like, I know I have school tomorrow, but just sitting in my car writing my heart on paper feels like a drug. It’s almost a euphoric feeling quite honestly.
Any upcoming events?
I plan on releasing a small project on April 13th. More details for that soon to come. And I have a performance at Sherman showcase on March 23 in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.
Here is a taste of her latest release Woods. Make sure to keep up with all things Anita at:
by Lisa Schreiner
Blues Traveler is one of those bands that appeals to your 10 year old niece as well as your 60 year old father-in-law. They have no specific kind of fan base, which makes going to a show not only fun, but exponentially refreshing. Their music dips into multiple genres providing a limitless supply of poignant, yet fun music. Singer John Popper’s unmistakable voice is a perfect match for the guitar (Chan Kinchla), bass (Tad Kinchla), drums (Brendan Hill) and keyboards (Ben Wilson) that make up the iconic blues-rock-reggae inspired band.
On January 27th, Blues Traveler made a stop on their 30th Anniversary tour at The Paramount in Huntington, NY. Coincidentally, this was also the 1,000th show for the venue since it’s opening in September of 2011. The sold-out crowd was a sea of every kind of person, making up a community of young and old(er) music lovers. If a Blues Traveler fan had to be categorized, it would be just that: a total music lover, for that is exactly what makes up this iconic band. The joy that these five guys find in creating and sharing their music was palpable as they tore through their setlist that included “Stand”, “Run Around” and a beautiful cover of Radiohead’s “Creep”.
Popper’s incomparable harmonica playing is nothing short of awe-inspiring when witnessed in person. He is the Jimmy Page/Jimmy Hendrix/Eddie Van Halen/Kirk Hammett/Mike McCready of harmonica players. When John Popper is ripping through a harmonica solo, it stops you in your tracks and you’re left shaking your head in amazement once he’s finished.
You don’t have to be a Blues Traveler fan to appreciate the music they make. But, it is highly suggested that even if you aren’t a fan, you should attend a show at least once; though once you do, you’ll find yourself going back for more.
Blues Traveler is currently on tour through February. Show dates can be found on their official site.