Monday, January 31, 2011

Whose Got A Beef With Taco Bell?

Recently, there was headlines news about an Alabama law firm is suing Louisville, Ky., based Taco Bell. Their claim is that the beef which the fastfood Mexican restaurant giant serves is not real beef. However, Taco Bell is stating that the lawsuit is bogus and they have rolled out a full-fledge public relations campaign to counter the negative publicity; they have even placed ads in the some of the country's largest newspapers (New York Times, Boston Globe and Wall Street Journal among several others) to help educate the public about this bogus lawsuit. They have also created a web-site with all sorts of positive information along with videos to further educate the public about the type of beef that they use in their menu items.

Personally, I do not have a "beef" with Taco Bell regarding this issue. I have been a fan of Taco Bell practically my whole life and I will continue to eat there regardless. I even had lunch there today. And yes, I had a taco with beef in it. I think the lawsuit is bullcrap and should be thrown out of court. As long as there are lawyers, there will continue to be frivilous lawsuits like this. They tend to always take aim at big corporations who offer great products at great prices. Geez, only in America!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Cage The Elephant, A Band From Bowling Green, Ky., Makes It Big In The World Of Rock & Roll With Their Second Album, "Thank You, Happy Birthday"

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. _ I am writing this blog because I haven't been this excited about a young rock band or their music in years!

I am basically an old guy ("an old fart') to the younger generation of twenty somethings and I'm probably not supposed to like their kind of music or much less be a "raving fan" of a band at this point in my life. Just like our baby-boom generation is not suppose to be "Texting," "Facebooking," "Twittering" or "Social Networking" to our advantage like the younger generation has been doing for a while now. And I am probably not supposed to be "hip" to their kind of music either. Wrong!

I can't help it though when it comes to the Bowling Green based rock group, "Cage The Elephant,", from our hometown who is riding the tsunami wave of success performing world-wide, conducting interviews on radio, television and also via internet. Backed my Sony-Jive Records, this band is hitting all the points of the multi-media platform using the latest technology and marketing capabilities. They have already performed on the "David Letterman Show" twice in two years. Their latest performance was to announce their recent release of their second album, "Thank You, Happy Birthday." Their first album, "Cage The Elephant," sold an impressive half millions copies. I suppose I am intrigued, enthralled, infatuated and impressed by these young musicians. Brothers Matt and Brad Shultz, and band mates, Jared Champion, Lincoln Parish and Daniel Tichenor, are on the cutting edge of rock and roll in the year 2011 big-time; they are making the citizens of Bowling Green, Warren County and Southcentral Kentucky very proud. How awesome to have such a talented band climbing straight to the top! And realize it didn't happened overnight. This band has worked their tails off. They even lived and toured in Europe for two years prior to to returning to the States to sing. According to Matt's recent interview, the band lived in a poor section of London while performing and a man was murdered outside their apartment building.
I have a small personal connection to the band, having met both Matt and Brad in Bowling Green. I am probably even more fond of them than other bands at this point. Matt and Brad are super nice kids, very talented and sociable. I first met them at Western Kentucky University early last fall when my son's band, "Sleeper Agent" was performing on campus. They were in attendance to watch "the Sleepers" perform. My son Tony and his band have become close friends with the guys in Cage The Elephant, as have many other young musicians. It seems that Bowling Green, has become a quite a breeding ground for new and upcoming rock bands. Many of these bands perform locally at "Tidballs". I also had the chance to see Cage The Elephant perform at the "Starry Nights Music Festival" in October here. Luckily I had obtained a backstage media pass and spoke to them. When exiting the stage after their first set, the band greeted me again with friendly smiles and firm handshakes and remembered me as "Tony's Dad" from Sleeper Agent.

The media upbuild prior to their latest album, "Thank You, Happy Birthday," was awesome, with tidbits not only on the internet but also on Facebook. The hit song "Shake Me Down" on their web-site prior to the album's release. It's an really big hit. Please think about friending the band on their facebook site:!/cagetheelephant and the "Cage The Elephant's Hometown (Bowling Green, Ky.) Fan FB Page)!/home.php?sk=group_126764947389033&ap=1 where you can follow their career on a daily basis. During the first week of the albums release, "Shake Me Down" was number one on iTunes. And I am sure that they will break new records and charts with this album. I bought the CD version at Target on the day it came out on 1/1/11 and I have probably listened to it at least 15 times and I would predict that there are at least nine other potential hit songs on the album. My favorite songs are "Shake Me Down," "Aberdeen," "Always Something," "2024" "Japanese Buffalo" and "Flow".

Don't ask me what the songs mean or what's behind the lyrics or what's in young Matt's head. All I know is that this is a new breed of rock music that's pure art. They are like artists, brushes in hand, painting with oils on an empty canvas. It's simply amazing!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

All The Way To See Kiss at The Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, Tenn., in 1978

I've been a fan of the rock group, Kiss, for a long time.

The first time I heard about Kiss, was 13 years-old in 1975 living with my mom in an apartment complex in East Memphis, Tenn. This was in the mid-1970's after the sexual revolution and women's lib at hit our nation like a ton of bricks. Many homes were breaking up and apartment complexes were springing up in American cities across the nation with many single parents living in them. Our apartment complex was near Germantown, Tenn., to be exact, where the really nice, new big homes were being built in super nice subdivisions at the time.
My parents had divorced after 27 years of marriage and being the youngest of five, I was a pretty lonely kid at that point of my life. When I moved to the apartment complex, I had to make some adjustments and meet new friends. For any young teenager this can be a very difficult time. One of my new friends I found out was a really big Kiss fan. He had a drum set in his room and Peter Criss (Cat Man), the drummer was his favorite member. He had a couple of their albums and his favorite album was "Kiss Alive."!_(Kiss_album) He would play that album just about everyday that I went over there and he would drum to each song on the album as it played on the record player stereo.
Don't get me wrong. I was not one of those overboard, crazy Kiss fans. There's nothing wrong with that for sure. I had a couple of their albums and I think I even had a Kiss t-shirt at one point. Unfortunately, I was not a member of the "Kiss Army" either. I hate to admit it but some of my newer friends that I met when I went to go live with my father in North Mississippi were not Kiss fans. They did not like Kiss that much. They liked Bad Company, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Rush, Pink Floyd and Foreigner, just to name a few. However, even though I was a Kiss fan and I never did wear it on my shirt sleeve and advertise it that at that point in my life. So, when I heard that Kiss was coming to Memphis to perform at The Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis in December of 1978, I didn't suggest to my friends that they go with me to the concert. I asked my mother to purchase me one ticket for myself so that I go and enjoy the show without any negativity. And that's exactly what I did.
At the time, I was 16 years-old. I cleaned my dad's house so that I could borrow his car and he gave me some gas money and a little extra spending money. One the way up to Memphis, I stopped at Stateline Liquors in Southaven, Miss., and bought a bottle of Boones Farm Apple wine. I drank it on the way it to the arena and by the time I got there, I had a pretty good buzz going from the wine. When I arrived at the Mid-South Coliseum, I had about a fourth of a bottle left and threw it behind some bushes before I went it. (See, we did crazy stuff when were younger! I would never do that these days-drinking and driving). When I found my seat in the the sold-out , filled to capacity arena, I was luckily sitting next to some pretty cool guys from somewhere way out in the countryside. They were from in East Tennessee, I think. They fired up something and it was not a cigarette either and began passing it. Apparently, the timing was right and the mood was set as we were in awe of the million dollar stage that sat before us as a cloud of smoke hung in the air of the arena. (Back then you could still smoke in public buildings) All the sound and technical guys kept saying, "Check, check, check" and flashing lights off and on. They were checking everything out to make sure it worked. Then, the house lights were dimmed and all of sudden the thunder of loud band on stage can be heard, screaming guitars and drums and it was this little known rock band at the time by the name of "AC/DC" who happened to be touring the United States with Kiss. They were the opening act. All of us in the Mid-South Coliseum that night were saying, "Who in the hell is that little dude playing guitar riding on that big dude's shoulder while running through the audience with a spotlight on him?" We found out later it was Angus Young who had tons of energy, jumping and running all over the stage. Bonn Scott, who was still alive at the time, was the lead singer.
Then it was time for Kiss to perform after a brief intermission. Everybody was blown away by AC/DC but we weren't quit sure who they were until their "Highway To Hell" album came out the next year which I bought. All of sudden, the lights went dim again and a loud booming come over the loud speakers and said, "Are you ready? The hottest band in the world, Kiss!" Then Gene Simmons, Peter Criss, Ace Frehley and Paul Stanley were lowered onto to the stage by hydraulic lifts and began playing their butts off as loud explosions and flashes of light went off and flames shot up in the air from the stage. To me it was one of the greatest rock show with incredible sound and lights that I had every seen at that point in my life. And it has still stuck with me all these years.
I remember during one of the final encores, I walked down to the floor level and as I approached the stage, a security guard was pointing to me to go back. But I kept walking forward anyway. Just as I got to the stage, I was able to see everyone of the members faces up close and Peter's Criss drum set had been lifted really high up in the air and this big black cloth with cats holding out their paws was dropped. Then I heard them say, "Good night!" And that was it. As I look back now as a grown man with a wife, son, a home and a full-time job, Kiss apparently filled a void in my young life at the time. It was an escapism for a young kid who was suffering from his parents divorce and a broken home. So every time I listen to Kiss these days, I still get that warm, fuzzy, feel-good music feeling. Thanks to Kiss for all your great years of rock and roll and entertainment!