Archive for May, 2012


NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Update

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The NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs are coming to an end, and it’s just a matter of days until the all-suspenseful final round begins. So far, the Los Angeles Kings are the only team that have stamped their ticket into those finals, and they did it quite a few days before their opponents will. That short rest, along with all the other rest they’ve gotten these playoffs, is sure to help them in the finals against the exhausted team they’ll be facing.

That team will either be the New Jersey Devils of the New York Rangers, the only two other teams that are scrapping it out for their own chance at winning the revered Cup. The Rangers were the clear favorite going into the series; but they’re already down 3-2 in the series and now they must win both games in order to get their own tickets punched. The Rangers have also looked slow and sloppy against the Devils at times, especially during the first five minutes of Game 5 on Wednesday when they allowed the Devils to get two goals past them. Although the Rangers were able to make a bit of a comeback, they still lost that game 5-3.

But it’s not like the Devils haven’t had their share of troubles either; they just seemed to have come at the right end of the series for them. It was during Game 3 that they gave up one of their two losses to New York so far in this series; but it was perhaps the most painful as they didn’t get one score on the board. Now, headed into Game 6 tonight, the Devils are going to keep the lineup that they’ve changed to since – the fourth line consisting of Stephen Gionta, Ryan Carter, Travis Zajac, Patrick Elias, and Zach Parise.

So once the third round is officially over, who will face the L.A. Kings – the Devils, or the Rangers? At this point, it doesn’t seem to matter. L.A. has only lost two games during the entire playoffs; one of their series was a sweep that provided the advantage of a much-needed rest, and the other two only went to five games each. They haven’t had as much ice time, they have far fewer injuries, and they’re much better rested. Add that to the fact that they just simply look better during play than either the Rangers or the Devils, and this certainly seems to be the year of the Kings.

L.A. Kings are Going to the Finals!

The dream team. That is the only way to describe the Los Angeles Kings this playoff season. And for a team that just barely scraped their way into the playoffs, they’ve also proven that anything is possible if you just keep believing; and working really, really hard. They have broken records, they have amazed everyone at what they have done. But what stands out most, and what they’re most proud of, is that they’ve finally given their fans something to cheer about — and a lot of it!

After they took the Phoenix Coyotes out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 4-3 win on Tuesday night in just five games, they came home to a crowd eagerly waiting for them. A crowd of 4,000 people gathered at LAX to wait for their players to emerge from the gates and give them the heroes’ welcome the club has waited so long for. And after losing out in the first round last year, both the team and the fans are just taking it all in, for the moment.

“It was like driving down a hallway lined with human flesh,” said Dustin Penner, who scored that most important game-winning goal in Game 5. “You couldn’t’ see anything except people. It’s not something that anyone will forget ever on this Kings team. It’s something you can only experience when you get to the Cup finals.”

So what will they do in the Finals? They’ll either be facing the New Jersey Devils or the New York Rangers, who are 3-2, respectively, in their series right now. But the Kings have only lost two games this entire playoff season. And they’re the only team ever in NHL history to go to the Finals being undefeated on the road.

There’s little doubt that whoever they face in the Finals, their competition has a tough road ahead of them. The Kings are one team that has everything going for them, and the only truly fitting word for them seems to be ‘unstoppable.’

The Latest News System of a Down

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System of a Down is a band that had a great run, but has been fairly quiet as of late.  The band formed in California in 1994, and is made up of singer Serj Tankian, guitarist Daron Malakian, drummer John Domavan and bassist Shavo Odadjian.  To date, the band has released 5 studio albums, been nominated for four Grammy Awards, and have had a string of big hits.  They took a break in 2006, but returned with a tour in 2011.  Fans hungry for new System of a Down tunes only have one question, however: “When is the new album coming out?”   The answer may not be to everyone’s liking. 

Front man Serj Tankian has been a very busy man, and his hard rock and metal fans may be surprised to learn that the singer is releasing his third album separate from the band.  The reason many System fans haven’t heard of the new album entitled “Harakiri” is the fact that it is closer to the punk rock genre.  What may be even more shocking to System fans is Tankian’s next album entitled “Orca”, as it is a classical symphony.  Not to be stopped here, he also has an electronic album in the works he has titled “Fuktronic” and even a jazz record with the controversial name, “Jazz-iz-Christ”.  It certainly must be fulfilling as a musician to get to dabble in so many differ genres of music.  Fans of System of a Down still have that same old question on their mines however. 

When asked recently in an interview the front man said there are no plans as of yet for a new album from the band, that it just “hasn’t been that time yet”.  He did mention when the time was right there would be another album.  Not to worry, in the meantime, fans can still catch the band on tour and hear all of their old favorite songs in concert like “Chop Suey”, “B.Y.O.B”, and “Lonely Day” live and in person.  The band is touring with the Deftones, and the schedule runs until August 15th, so be sure to snap up your tickets.  You can also keep an eye out for the solo tours of Serj Tankian, if jazz, electronic, or classical…if you like awesome music!

American Ballet Theater gets Scathing Opening Night Reviews

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Monday evening saw the opening gala for the American Ballet Theater, an opening that’s always highly anticipated as it re-enacts snippets of the most iconic plays and ballets; and gives theater-goers a chance to see that season’s talent for the first time. But after the opening early this week, the ballet may still be cowering from the scathing reviews received for its opening night.

The New York Times gave the ballet the harshest review of them all, criticizing everything from the audience that was too loud to the “solo violinist [that] was seldom in tune throughout the evening, but he reserved his flattest and scratchiest playing for the pas de deux from Act II of “Swan Lake.” The Times weren’t any more forgiving when the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School performed a number either, saying the “routine they danced made the students look efficiently trite.”

It wasn’t just felt by the Times either. The New York Post also noticed some problems, although they were much kinder about the event than the Times. The Post instead was content to keep themselves to saying that while the bright moments made it all worthwhile, “several of the dancers looked off form. Gilliam Murphy hunched her shoulders, more vulture than ‘Black Swan.’ Julie Kent’s dancing in ‘Onegin’ was intelligent, but tentative. Alina Cojocaru was miscast as the fallen woman Manon, striking no sparks with retiring principal dancer Angel Corella.”

But does a poor opening spell trouble for a theater’s entire season? As most art, it depends on what you’re looking for. The Post is hopeful, saying “With the gala over, the company is now setting into a run of one of its best productions yet.”

However, the Times doesn’t see it. “It represents far too many of the worst trends in ballet, and emphatically suggests that they are on the increase.” Well if that’s the case, the season may be saved after all.

Come Experience Real Music with the Dave Matthews Band!

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The Dave Matthews Band, with 28 hit singles under their belts, always seems to have another great song up their sleeves.  There is nothing like hearing their tunes live and in concert, however, and lucky fans are happy to hear that they are currently doing a tour across the U.S. all the way through September.  Will they be making a stop in your hometown? 

The band has been keeping very busy these days.  They recently appeared on the “Jack Johnson and Friends – Best of Kokua Festival” live album.  An unheard of deal has been agreed upon—100% of the proceeds for albums sales are going to the Kokua Hawaii Foundation.  This foundation supports things such as art, music, and environmental education.  The song on the album that the band performs is called “A Pirate Looks at Forty”, which is a Jimmy Buffet cover song about a pirate born a few centuries too late. 

Funny man and light night TV host Jimmy Fallon’s new album entitled “Blow Your Pants Off” also features Dave Matthews Band.  There are also other impressive voices to be enjoyed on the album such as Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, Paul McCartney, Justin Timberlake, Big & Rich, and Bruce Springsteen.  The comedy song Dave Matthews contributes to the album is called “Walk of Shame” which is about a night of drinking and the morning after.  Dave Matthews also preformed “Mercy” on the Late Night With Jimmy Fallon show; this song is expected to be a single on the band’s upcoming album, which they recently announced would be released sometime this year, with hints at Fall 2012. 

Between all the fun the lead singer and the band seems to be having these days, they are still managing to do a summer tour across the country.  They are currently scheduled to make stops in cities in Texas, Ohio, New York, Florida, California and many other states.  Don’t miss your chance to hear “Crash Into Me”, “Ants Marching”, “The Space Between”, “American Baby” and other favorites including the new “Mercy”.  Check for tickets to see if the band will be playing your favorite songs live in concert near you. 

New Jersey Devils Move On to Round Three

new-jersey-devilsAre the Philadelphia Flyers really that good? Or were the Pittsburgh Penguins just that bad? That’s the question everyone’s asking after the Flyers were thrown out of the playoffs by the New Jersey Devils in just five games.

In last night’s elimination game, the Flyers looked defeated from the moment they stepped onto the ice, and it was a far cry from the highly aggressive, high scoring team that we saw in the first round. And once the Devils got two shots past Philly goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, the Devils pretty much had it in the bag.

You can credit the 27 saves that Martin Brodeur made for the win, or maybe the fact that Claude Giroux, their best player, was out on a suspension. But what really made the difference in this game was that the Devils knew what they had to do: play a completely different game than Pittsburgh did.

While Pittsburgh was all about engaging in the emotional side of the game with Philly, getting into scrums after the whistle and giving hits that walked the fine line of the penalty box, New Jersey would have none of it. They were extremely focused and if one teammate forgot that for just a moment, there was another one there to pull him away, reminding him what they were to do. It was what’s needed against a team like Philly, and it was enough to effectively shut them down.

The New Jersey Devils have been to the Stanley Cup Finals seven times, and have won six. The last time was in 2003 when Martin Brodeur carried his team to the title, and his performance this season has made all the retirement talk long-forgotten.

“I don’t think he was ever a guy that was going to retire,” said Devils’ forward David Clarkson. “He’s won us some games in the playoffs. He’s held us in. He’s exciting to watch.”

While New Jersey has moved on, they still don’t know who they’ll face — the Washington Capitals, or the New York Rangers. That Game 7 will be played on Saturday and the winner will move on to face New Jersey.

Vince Gill Returns to Bluegrass Roots with Summer Tour

vince-gillIf the announcement that Vince Gill was going on tour wasn’t enough for country music fans, the fact that he’s returning to his bluegrass roots will have them picking up their own banjos and mandolins to join him. The tour will be entirely bluegrass and, Vince says, it’s all in tribute to a musician he’s looked up to his whole life.

The bluegrass tour Vince will embark on begins on June 13 at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia and will wrap up on June 30 in Wabash, Indiana. So what prompted the tour? Aside from the fact that Vince said his current goal is “to make ten times the music that I’ve made at this point,” there’s another reason for the tour; and that’s Earl Scruggs.

Earl Scruggs was a musician that made bluegrass music famous in the 1940s and even styled his own style of picking his banjo with three fingers. This style became so popular that still today it’s known as “Scruggs style.” After Scruggs passed away in March of 2012, Vince knew what the inspiration would be for his next tour.

“After the passing of Earl Scruggs, it means the world to me to do these dates with this world-class band playing the music that Earl defined,” Gill said when speaking about the tour. “I absolutely adore this music.”

Vince Gill playing music he adores for fans that adore him; sounds like a great night of country music!

Lakers Win Game of Weirdness

lakers-win-gameIn the game between the L.A. Lakers and the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night, there was a lot of weirdness to go around. The first weird factor may have been the fact that the Lakers were down by six points at halftime against a team that they should easily beat. While that situation rectified itself, what was definitely even weirder was the disoriented fan that walked out onto the court just before halftime.

First, game talk. The Lakers definitely proved why they’re the better team of the series when they took the game 92-88 and came back from a small deficit in the first half. Kobe Bryant put up 22 points and Andrew Bynum was just behind him with 19 of his own. But the Lakers needed more than just their big guns last night, and everyone stepped up to the plate. Or the net, rather.

Jordan Hill put up 12 points and his 11 rebounds proved to be huge in such a close game. Ramon Sessions and Steve Blake both had 3-pointers late in the game that prevented the Nuggets from coming out on top; and they did so in a huge way. With Kobe setting up each of these three in the third quarter, and all of them coming up short, they certainly redeemed themselves.

The fact that Kobe spoke like a coach afterwards saying, “I was ticked. I was and didn’t think I would trust them at the end of the game to knock down those shots, but they stepped up and knocked them down,” was also a little weird, but so were his teammates reverence for him.

“It’s always good when you get a hug from Kobe,” said Blake, referring to the hug Bryant had given him during a timeout. “It means you did something right.”

But no comments, or even plays on the court for that matter, could be as weird what happened late into the second quarter, when a fan walked onto the court.

The woman, a 20-year-old named Savannah McMillan-Christmas, walked right out onto the court during the middle of play, when the referee blew his whistle to stop the game and have the woman escorted off the court. Everyone was baffled about it, including the announcers who thought maybe the woman had dropped something. While being taken off the court, the woman repeatedly asked “Where’s Kenyon?” seeming to ask about Kenyon Martin, who used to play for Denver. The police later charged her for trespassing, as allegedly she’s been banned from the stadium due to the former stalking and following players.

Hopefully fan interference won’t be something either team has to deal with when the series goes back to Los Angeles for Game 5 tomorrow night.

Florence & The Machine Add 13 Dates to Music-Focused Tour

florence-the-machineFlorence & The Machine are just about to finish the U.S. leg of their current tour before heading to Australia; but they’ll be back and when they are, they’ll be performing shows that are all about the music!

Even though The Machine’s current U.S. leg included fifteen stops and some of the biggest cities in the country including Las Vegas, New York, New Orleans, and Minneapolis, some fans were disappointed that the band didn’t make a stop in their town. When they come back in the fall though, there will be 13 more stops and plenty more chances for fans to see this dynamic group. Those stops will still include some of the biggest spots in the country including Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Kansas City, and Los Angeles. The second U.S. leg will begin on September 14, 2012 in Mansfield, Massachusetts and will wrap up on October 10, 2012. The band will also be returning to the U.S. and Canada for a few festival stops in July.

Florence & The Machine has always been a band to be counted on for a huge show, but fans can expect something a little different this time; and with a focus on music, it might be something they enjoy even more. When talking about the tour lead singer Florence Welch said, “In a way, it’s not going to be too big a production. We’ve done a lot of quite extravagant stuff, and that’s been amazing, but for this tour, it’s definitely going to be about showcasing the music. The songs are going to be the most important thing.”

It’s refreshing to hear a band talking about how their tour won’t be “bigger and better than ever before;” but that’s just par for the course with this band, who have been doing things differently ever since they hit the scene — and proving why it works.

Nicki Minaj Headlining First North American Tour

nicki-minajNicki Minaj has always been an opening act but now she’s taking center stage and headlining one on her own. The tour will be called “Pink Friday” and is in promotion of her second studio effort “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded,” which was released last month.

The tour begins on July 16 in Chicago, Illinois and from there Nicki will head out on fourteen different stops around on thirteen different spots in the United States. Nicki will perform on August 11 in Seattle, Washington and that will be her last stop in the U.S. before she heads to the last stop of the tour. That will be in Vancouver, BC, Canada on August 12 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. To get the full listing of Nicki Minaj tickets and tour dates, visit StubPass.com.

Tickets will go on sale this Friday and along with general admission and VIP packages will also be available. For the most avid fans, VIP ticketholders will be able to be the first through the doors and they’ll also receive a Nicki laminate and lithograph. Along with those special perks, Nicki has also promised that she’s going to have a meet and greet session at all shows for selected guests.

While the actual tour is still some time away, fans are going to have tons of opportunities to get their Nicki fix. She’ll be on a radio tour with stops in Los Angeles on May 12; Philadelphia on June 1; Boston on June 2; and New York on June 3.

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