MLB Hall Cancels Ceremony

Although the ceremony isn’t scheduled until July, the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame has cancelled the 2020 Hall of Fame induction ceremony that would officially add Derek Jeter, Larry Walker, Ted Simmons, and Marvin Miller into the Hall of Fame.

Hawk Harrelson, Nick Cafardo, and David Montgomery were also scheduled to be honoured during the induction ceremonies.

The Hall of Fame made the announcement on April 29 that due to the Covid-19 virus, they would be putting the 2020 induction ceremonies in Cooperstown, New York on hold.

The Hall of Fame has announced that the 2020 inductees will be inducted along with the inductees for 2021.

In a statement former New York Yankee Derek Jeter spoke on the decision saying, “being inducted into the Hall of Fame will be an incredible honor, but the health and safety of everyone involved are paramount.”

Larry Walker also issued a statement saying, “I fully understand and agree with the board’s decision.  It is most important to do the right thing for everybody involved, and that means not putting any participants in jeopardy.”

This will mark the first time in 60 years that the Hall of Fame has not held an induction ceremony.

Closed since March 15, the Hall of Fame was expecting record crowds this summer to see Jeter and the other inductees enshrined into the Hall of Fame.

Hall of Fame vice chairman of the board Joe Morgan also spoke on the decision saying, “it was a very difficult decision, but with so many unknowns facing the world, the board felt strongly that this was the right decision.”

Some MLB Teams Announce Refunds

With the delay in starting the 2020 Major League Baseball season, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has told the teams that they may set their own plans for ticket refunds for games that have been missed due to the Covid-19 virus.

The 2020 major league baseball season was put on hold in the middle of spring training on March 12 due to the virus with no word as to when the season would resume.  MLB says that they are exploring all options for a return to play once the health scare has ended.

The St. Louis Cardinals, Boston Red Sox, the San Diego Padres, and the San Francisco Giants have all announced ticket refund policies.

The Minnesota Twins have announced that they will credit season ticket holders for the lost games and they are giving an additional credit of 15% to be used for future purchases in the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

The Cleveland Indians have announced fans with tickets to Indians home games can receive a 10% bonus credit for future 2020 games on their March and April tickets.

Prior to the announcement of refunds, two fans had filed a suit to obtain a refund and had requested that the suit be given Class action status.

NASCAR Returns to Track in May

As the United States and the rest of the world struggle to regain life as it was prior to the Covid-19 virus, NASCAR will become the first major sporting series to return to action.

NASCAR has announced that the engines will fire once more at Darlington Raceway on May 17.  The return to the track comes one week after the annual weekend off for Mother’s Day and will serve as the first race of seven races over the next eleven days.

When the nation shut down last month due to the Covid-19 pandemic, NASCAR officials stated that they were dedicated to completing the entire 36 race season even if it meant presenting multiple racing events in a single week.

For at least for these first races at the historic Darlington Raceway in South Carolina will be held without fans in the stands; as will the Charlotte races.  The 400 mile race will be the first of three races to be held at the track including a second NASCAR Cup Series race three days later.

And on Memorial Day weekend, the drivers will return to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the longest race of the season; the Coca-Cola 600.

As NASCAR begins to construct the remainder of the 2020 season, the first group of races have been scheduled:
May 17 – a 400 mile Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway
May 19 – a 200 mile Xfinity Series at Darlington Raceway
May 20 – a 500 kilometer Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway
May 24 – a 600 mile Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway
May 25 (Memorial Day) – a 300 mile Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway
May 26 a 200 mile Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway
May 27 a 500 kilometer Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway

NASCAR officials state that all recommendations and guidelines issues by the CDC, OSHA, and other health agencies will be followed to ensure maximum safety for all involved; including health screenings, the use of personal protection equipment, and practicing social distancing which includes a maximum of 16 members at the track for each team.  The teams will be separated; as will the haulers; however, NASCAR has chosen not to test specifically for the Covid-19 virus.

The first two tracks to hold races are withing a few hours drive of most of the teams’ workshops and will minimize any exposure due to travel.

Normally the teams will get two practice sessions before qualifying; however there will be no practice for the drivers and only the Coca-Cola 600 will see the teams qualify for race start positions.  The remainder of the races will have the field set by team owner points as directed in the NASCAR rule book.

Teams will head directly to the inspection process upon entering the garage.

NASCAR has announced that any driver who has to miss any races due to the Covid-19 virus will receive a medical waiver upon their return.

NASCAR last rand a race on March 8 where Joey Logano won the race at Phoenix Raceway.

 

Academy Makes Eligibility Changes

When a national emergency was declared last month, it left theatres, concert stages, and movie house empty and plans to release films on hold.

While the release dates for some films have been pushed until next year, it was a big too late for the immediate releases to change dates.  Some of those films were released directly to streaming services for viewers to download or stream at home.

The Motion Picture Academy has decided that films released directly to a streaming service without being shown first in theatres will be eligible for the annual Academy Awards…but only for this coming year.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has announced that due to the recent events of the Covid-19 pandemic, The Academy will include direct to streaming films eligible for the 93rd annual Academy Awards.

Previously for a film to be Oscar eligible, it required a minimum of a seven day run in a Los Angeles County commercial movie theatre; but with the closure of the movie theaters, The Academy has said that films scheduled for a theater run but have been released via a streaming service or on demand service may qualify for Oscar Best Picture and other film categories.  But once the movie theaters reopen, the exemption will end.

Speaking on the matter, Academy president David Ruben said, “we’re dealing with the unfolding reality of an unanticipated, unprecedented global health crisis and trying to be responsive to what’s going on in the world and at the same time support our filmmakers who are in a circumstance beyond their control.”

Other changes to the annual Academy Awards is a consolidation of the two sound categories into a single category – sound mixing and sound editing will become a Best Achievement in Sound category.

In order for a film’s music to be eligible in the Original Music category, it must have at least 60 percent new original music.  In the case of a sequel or franchise film, there must be at least 80 percent original music.

And in an effort to become more carbon neutral, The Academy will put an end to using a DVD for film screenings beginning with the 94th annual Oscars in 2022.

Currently the 93rd annual Academy Awards are scheduled to be presented on February 28, 2021

Earlier this month The Academy donated $6 million to motion picture employees to help out during the current health crisis.

Hinder

While many artists are still cancelling and postponing tour dates due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a few bands are beginning try to return to a modicum of normality.

One such band is Hinder who have rescheduled their 15th anniversary tour dates around the United States.  The band will also debut their album “Extreme Behavior” on the tour.

Fellow rockers Wayland and Blacktop Mojo will be joining Hinder on the tour to serve as support acts.

The tour that is set to begin in September will include the band playing “Extreme Behavior” in its entirety.

Hinder tour dates:
Sept 19 at the Crystal Grand Music Theatre in Wisconsin Dells, WI
Sept 20 at The Apollo Theater in Belvidere, IL
Sept 21 at The Forge in Joliet, IL
Sept 23 at The Buffalo Rose in Golden, CO
Sept 24 at the Mesa Theater in Grand Junction, CO
Sept 25 at The Lincoln in Cheyenne, WY
Sept 26 at the Sunshine Studios Live in Colorado Springs, CO
Sept 27 at the Sports Complex in Inman, KS
Sept 29 at Hoots Pub in Amarillo, TX
Sept 30 at the Lava Cantina in The Colony, TX
Oct 2 at The Basin in Baton Rouge, LA
Oct 3 at the Warehouse Live in Houston, TX
Oct 5 at The Orpheum in Tampa, FL
Oct 6 at Raw Hyde Live in Ocala, FL
Oct 7 at The Spinning Jenny in Greer, SC
Oct 8 at Sidetracks Music Hall in Huntsville, AL
Oct 9 at the Songbirds South in Chattanooga, TN
Oct 10 at Capone’s in Johnson City, TN
Oct 12 at the Beacon Theater in Hopewell, VA
Oct 13 at Elevation 27 in Virginia Beach, VA
Oct 16 & 17 at Arties Bar and Grill in Frenchtown, NJ
Oct 18 at the Anchor Rock Club in Atlantic City, NJ
Oct 21 at the Crafthouse in Pittsburgh, PA
Oct 22 at the Diamond Concert Hall in Louisville, KY
Oct 23 at The Machine Shop in Flint, MI
Oct 24 at The Cowan in Nashville, TN
Oct 30 at the Tower Theatre in Oklahoma City, OK

 

Indian Actor Irrfan Kahn Dies

Indian movie star and Bollywood actor Irrfan Khan died April 28 in Mumbai, India at the age of 53 after being admitted to the hospital with a colon infection.  Two years ago, Khan received treatment for a rare form of cancer.

While best known for his appearances in “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Life of Pi”; Khan has appeared in nearly 150 productions.

Kahn got his big break in “The Warrior” but he made his acting debut in 1986 on the television show “Katha Sagar”.  His other appearances include six episodes of “Bharat Ek Khoj”, “Kirdaar”, 47 episodes of the television mini series “The Great Maratha”, 20 episodes of “Chandrakanta”, 312 episodes of “Banegi Apni Baat”, the mini series “Bombay Blue”, 178 episodes of “Jai Hunuman”, “The Namesake”, “The Amazing Spider-Man”, “The Lunchbox”, “Jurassic World”, “Inferno”, and his final film released just last month “Angrezi Medium”.

Besides acting Kahn directed 291 episodes of “Banegi Apni Baat” and “Stars Bestsellers: Alvida”; he also was a producer on “Doob – No Bed of Roses”, “The Lunchbox”, and “Star Bestsellers: Fursat Mein”.

His accomplishments include an Indian National Film Award, an Independent Spirit Award, four Filmfare Awards, a Padma Shri award for his contributions to film, and a Cannes Film Festival viewer’s choice award.  He was also one of the early Indian film pioneers who crossed the line into Western films.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said via Twitter, “Khan’s demise is a loss to the world of cinema and theatre.”

He was born Sahabzade Irfan Ali Khan on January 7, 1967 in Rajasthan.  Catching the acting bug early in life, young Irrfan attended the National School of Drama.  Sahabzade is an Indian title signifying of royal lineage.

Predeceased by his 95 year old mother Saeeda Begum just days earlier, Khan is survived by his wife Sutapa Sikdar and children Babil and Ayan.  Kahn was buried just hours after the announcement of his death.

 

feature photo credit: By Bollywood Hungama, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16863482

2020 Drama Desk Award Nominees

The Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked some major havoc with concerts, sporting events, and awards galas.  Many events have been put on hold; while others have been canceled.  And a few have been moved online.

Among those events moved online is the annual Drama Desk Awards celebrating the productions from Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway.

The 65th annual Drama Desk Awards are scheduled for May 31 and will be broadcast on NY1: On Stage, NY1.com, and DramaDeskAwards.com.

Drama Desk Awards executive producer and Broadway Brands CEO Matt Britten spoke on the decision saying, “though these are challenging times, we knew we wanted to find some way to honor this year’s Drama Desk Award nominees and recipients, as well as to bring some small sense of normalcy and hope to New York’s theater community.  I want to thank NY1, as well as the team at Joey Parnes Productions, for stepping up to make this happen for the New York theatre community and theatre fans everywhere. Good things happen when you work with good people.”

Winners of the annual Drama Desk Awards are determined by journalists, critics, editors, publishers, and broadcasters that cover the Broadway events.

This year’s awards show is being dedicated to former Drama Desk President Wilson Wolfe who is one of the many who have died as a result of the Covid-19 virus.

The musical “Soft Power” tops the list of nominations for this year with eleven; “The Wrong Man”, “Octet”, and “Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven” were among those productions that garnered multiple nominations.

2020 Drama Desk nominees:
Outstanding Play:
“Cambodian Rock Band”
“Greater Clements”
“Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven”
“Heroes of the Fourth Turning”
“The Inheritance”

Outstanding Musical:
“Octet”
“The Secret Life of Bees”
“Soft Power”
“A Straight Loop”
“The Wrong Man”

Outstanding Revival of a Play:
“Fefu and Her Friends”
“For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf”
“Mac Beth”
“A Soldier’s Play”

Outstanding Revival of a Musical:
“Little Shop of Horros”
“The Unsinkable Molly Brown”
“West Side Story”

Outstanding Actor in a Play:
Charles Busch in “The Confession of Lily Dare”
Edmund Donovan in “Greater Clements”
Raul Esparza in “Seared”
Francis Jue in “Cambodian Rock Band”
Triney Sandoval in “72 Miles to Go…”
Kyle Soller in “The Inheritance”

Outstanding Actress in a Play:
Rose Byrne in “Madea”
Liza Colon’Zayas in “Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven”
Emily Davis in “Is This a Room”
April Mathis in “Toni Stone”
Ruth Negga in “Hamlet”

Outstanding Actor in a Musical:
David Aron Damane in “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”
Chris Swan in “Enter Laughing”
Joshua Henry in “The Wrong Man”
Francis Jue in “Soft Power”
Larry Owens in “A Strange Loop”

Outstanding Actress in a Musical:
Tammy Blanchard in “Little Shop of Horrors”
Beth Malone in “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”
Saycon Sengbloh in “The Secret Life of Bees”
Elizabeth Stanley in “Jagged Little Pill”
Adrienne Warren in “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical”

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play:
Victor Almanzar in “Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven”
Esteban Andres Cruz in “Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven”
David Alan Grier in “A Soldier’s Play”
Paul Hilton in “The Inheritance”
Chris Perfetti in “Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow”

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play:
Patrice Johnson in “Runboyrun” and “In Old Age”
Kristina Poe in “Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven”
Belange Rodriguez in “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao”
Elizabeth Rodriguez in “Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven”
Lois Smith in “The Inheritance”

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical:
George Abud in “Emojiland”
Christian Borle in “Little Shop of Horrors”
Jay Armstrong Johnson in “Scotland, PA”
Conrad Ricamora in “Soft Power”
Ryan Vasquez in “The Wrong Man”

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical:
Yesenia Ayala in “West Side Story”
Paula Leggett Chase in “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”
LaChanze in “The Secret Life of Bees”
Alyse Alan Louis in “Soft Power”
Lauren Patten in “Jagged Little Pill”

Outstanding Director of a Play:
Jessica Blank i “Coal Country”
Stephen Daldry for “The Inheritance”
John Ortiz for “Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven”
Tina Satter for “Is this a Room”
Erica Schmidt for “Mac Beth”

Outstanding Director of a Musical:
Stephen Brackett for “A Strange Loop”
Thomas Kail for “The Wrong Man”
Kathleen Marshall for “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”
Leigh Silverman for “Soft Power”
Annie Tippe for “Octet”

Outstanding Choreography:
Camille A. Brown for “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf”
Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker for “West Side Story”
Keone and Mari Madrid for “Beyond Babel”
Kathleen Marshall for “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”
Sonya Tayeh for “Moulin Rouge!”
Travis Wall for “The Wrong Man”

Outstanding Music:
Ross Golan in “The Wrong Man”
Michael R. Jackson for “A Strange Loop”
Dave Malloy for “Octet”
Joshua Rosenblum for “Einstein’s Dreams”
Duncan Sheik for “The Secret Life of Bees”
Jeannie Tesori for “Soft Power

Outstanding Lyrics:
Susan Birkenhead for “The Secret Life of Bees’
Adam Gwon for “Scotland PA”
Michael R. Jackson for “A Strange Loop”
Joanne Sydney Lessner and Joshua Rosenblum for “Einstein’s Dreams”
Dave Malloy for “Octet”
Mark Saltzman for “Romeo & Bernadette”

Outstanding Book of a Musical:
David Henry Hwang for “Soft Power”
Michael R. Jackson for “A Strange Loop”
Dave Malloy for “Octet”
Lynn Nottage for “The Secret Life of Bees”
Mark Saltzman for “Romeo & Bernadette”
Dick Scanlan for “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”

Outstanding Orchestrations:
Tom Kitt for “Jagged Little Pill”
Alex Lacamoire for “The Wrong Man”
Or Matias and Dave Malloy for “Octet”
Danny Troob, John Clancy, and Larry Hochman for “Soft Power”
Jonathan Tunick for “West Side Story”

Outstanding Music in a Play:
Steve Earle for “Coal Country”, “Frightened Rabbit”, and “Square Go”
Jim Harbourne for “Feral”
Martha Redbone for “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf”
Adam Seidel, Jane Bruce, and Daniel Ocanto for “Original Sound”

Outstanding Scenic Design for a Play:
Catherine Cornell for “Mac Beth”
Clint Ramos for “Grand Horizons”
Adam Rigg for “Fefu and Her Friends”
Paul Steinberg for “Judgement Day”
B.T. Whitehill for “The Confession of Lily Dare”

Outstanding Scenic Design for a Musical:
Julian Crouch for “Little Shop of Horrors”
Anna Louizos for “Scotland, PA”
Derek McLane for “Moulin Rouge!”
Clint Ramos for “Soft Power”
Amy Rubin and Brittany Vasta for “Octet”

Outstanding Costume Design for a Play:
Asa Benally for “Blues for an Alabama Sky”
Montana Levi Blanco for “Fefu and Her Friends”
Toni-Leslie James for “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf”
Antony McDonald for “Judgement Day”
Rachel Townsend and Jessica Jahn for “The Confession of Lily Dare”
Kaye Voyce for “Coriolanus”

Outstanding Costume Design for a Musical:
Vanessa Leuck for “Emojiland”
Jeff Mahshie for “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice”
Mark Thompson for “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical”
Anita Yavich for “Soft Power”
Catherine Zuber for “Moulin Rouge!”

Outstanding Lighting Design for a Play:
Isabella Byrd for “Heroes of the Fourth Turning”
Oona Curley for “Dr. Ride’s American Beach House”
Heather Gilbert for “The Sound Inside”
Mimi Jordan Sherin for “Judgement Day”
Yi Zhao for “Greater Clements”

Outstanding Lighting Design for a Musical:
Betsy Adams for “The Wrong Man”
Jane Cox for “The Secret Life of Bees”
Herrick Goldman for “Einstein’s Dreams”
Bruno Poet for “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical”
Justin Townsend for Moulin Rouge!”

Outstanding Projection Design:
David Bengali for “Einstein’s Dreams”
Julia Frey for “Medea”
Luke Halls for “West Side Story”
Lisa Renkel and POSSIBLE for “Emojiland”
Hannah Wasileski for “Fires in the Mirror”

Outstanding Sound Design for a Play:
Paul Arditti and Christopher Reid for “The Inheritance”
Justin Ellington for “Heroes of the Fourth Turning”
Mikhail Fiksel for “Dana H.”
Palmer Hefferan for “Fefu and Her Friends”
Lee Kinney and Sanae Yamada for “Is This a Room”

Outstanding Sound Design for a Musical:
Tom Gibbons for “West Side Story”
Kai Harada for “Soft Power”
Peter Hylenski for “Moulin Rouge!”
Hidenori Nakajo for “Octet”
Nevin Steinberg for “The Wrong Man”

Outstanding Wig and Hair Design:
Campbell Young Associates for “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical”
Cookie Jordan for “Fefu and Her Friends”
Nikiya Mathis for “STEW”
Tom Watson for “The Great Society”
Bobbie Zlotnik for “Emojiland”

Outstanding Solo Performance:
David Cale for “We’re Only Alive for a Short Amount of Time”
Kate del Castillo for “the way she spoke”
Laura Linney for “My Name is Lucy Barton”
Jacqueline Novak for “Get on Your Knees”
Deidre O’Connell for “Dana H.”

Outstanding Fight Choregraphy:

Vicki Manderson for “Square Go”
Thomas Schall for “A Soldier’s Play”
UnkleDave’s Fight House for “Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven”

Outstanding Adaptation:
“A Christmas Carol” by Jack Thorne
“Judgement Day” by Christopher Shinn
“Mojada” by Luis Alfaro
“Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow” by Halley Feiffer

Outstanding Puppet Design:
Raphael Mishler for “Turmacho”
Rockefeller Productions for “Paddington Gets in a Jam”
Amanda Villalobos for “Is this a Room”

The Ensemble Award goes to the cast of “Octet”

The Sam Norkin Award goes to Mary Bacon for her work in “Coal Country” and “Nothing Gold Can Stay”.

Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley from theThe Actors Fund for helping to keep the theatre community connected during the corona virus pandemic.

The Mobile Unit of The Public Theater for providing Shakespearean plays throughout the greater New York area.

Claire Warden for her choreography work.

 

feature photo credit: the Drama Desk Awards Facebook page

Ozzy on eBay for Charity

Back in January, British rocker Ozzy Osbourne revealed to the world that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease – PRKN 2 – an issue he has been dealing with since 2003.

After making music for the past 50 years, Ozzy and his band Black Sabbath have retired from touring and have some old merchandise left over. They have posted those items on their eBay page for fans to bids on.

April is Parkinson’s Awareness month so Ozzy and the band will be donating 10% of sales from those items to the The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

Yes Reschule Tour

Progressive rockers Yes were like many bands have been forced to postpone tour dates due to lock down and reduced crowd size orders.

The band has rescheduled the dates in Europe and Ireland that were due to start this month.

The rockers have a full on show planned with a video wall and two full sets – one of classic hits and one playing their album “Replayer” in full.

Rescheduled dates are set for 2021 and all tickets previously purchased will be honored for the new dates.

Yes tour dates:
April 11 at the Campo Pequeno in Lisbon, Portugal
April 12 at the Sala Riviera in Madrid, Spain
April 13 at Razzmatazz in Barcelona, Spain
April 15 at the Gran Teatro Geox in Padova, Italy
April 16 at the Teatro Dal Verme in Milan, Italy
April 17 at the Teatro della Conciliazione in Rome, Italy
April 19 at the Volkhaus in Zurich, Switzerland
April 20 at the Rena in Vienna, Austria
April 21 at the Admiralspalast in Berlin, Germany
April 23 at Steintor-Variete in Halle, Germany
April 24 at the Forum Karlin in Prague, Czech Republic
April 25 at the Narodow Forum Muzyki in Wroclaw, Poland
April 27 at the Stodola in Wroclaw, Poland
April 30 at the Alexela Concert Hall in Tallinn, Estonia
May 1 at The Circus in Helsinki, Finland
May 3 at the Cirkus in Stockholm, Sweden
May 4 at the Sentrum Scene in Oslo, Norway
May 5 at the Train in Aarhus, Denmark
May 7 at the Kulturvaerflet in Helsingeor, Denmark
May 8 at the Res Box in Monchengladbach, Germany
May 9 at the Rockhal in Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg
May 11 at Salle Pleyel in Paris, France
May 12 at the Het Depot in Leuven, Belguim
May 13 at the TivoliVredenburg in Utrecht, Netherlands

Newman, Kenseth Eligible

The NASCAR rules stipulate that a driver must run a full season in order to be eligible for the playoffs and a championship; but has made exceptions for drivers who miss races due to injury or have replaced drivers parting drivers.

Such is the case for Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth.

In the case of Ryan Newman, after being injured in the final lap of the Daytona 500, Newman has just been cleared to compete once again.

For Matt Kenseth, he has just been hired by Chip Ganassi Racing to replace the departed Kyle Larson behind the wheel of the number 42 car.

Under NASCAR rules, drivers must compete in all of the races and finish in the top 16 positions in order to be eligible for the playoffs.  By issuing waivers to Newman and Kenseth, NASCAR is allowing the drivers to be eligible without having to compete in all 36 races.  However, Newman and Kenseth will have to work their way into the playoff positions by either winning at least one race or finishing the regular season as one of the top 16 in points.

During his championship season, Kyle Busch missed several races after a big crash in Daytona that left him with fractures in both legs.  Busch returned to the track three months later and won several races before taking the championship at Homestead-Miami.

Sothby’s Goes Virtual for Special Auction

Sothby’s is one of the biggest auction houses in the world and is known for their auctions of famous artworks.

But beginning May 1, the auction house will feature a very unique auction with the help of Google Meet video calls.

Some of the items on the list are an acting lesson from Captain Picard himself Sir Patrick Stewart, some studio time with Sting, hanging out with The Strokes, a virtual coffee with Hillary Rodham Clinton, a video conversation with Sasha Baron Cohen, decorator Jacques Grange, former British foreign secretary David Miliband, or Apollo 9 astronaut Russell Schweickart, coffee or tea with former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and getting coached by author, business adviser Tim Ferriss, and a virtual visit of “Downton Abby’s” Highclere Castle with writer and creator Julian Fellowes, Hugh Bonneville, and Elizabeth McGovern.

The auction runs from May 1 to 8 and is set to benefit the International Rescue Committee and their work to aid with the Covid-19 efforts. The starting bid for all items begins at $50 with no minimum.

Sothby’s CEO Charles F. Stewart spoke on the auction saying, “we are proud to contribute to pandemic relief at this extraordinary time. Many of our clients around the world have inquired about supporting COVID-19 relief efforts and, with the partnership of Google and so many leading figures who have pledged to support this unique auction event of virtual experiences, we are looking forward to supporting the efforts of the International Rescue Committee.”

For more information go to Sothby’s home page athttps://www.sothebys.com/en/ or via their Facebook page.

 

feature photo credit: Sothby’s Facebook page

 

ACM’s Head to Nashville

Last month the world stopped as we knew it when a national emergency was declared and stay at home orders were handed down.

One of the events that was caught up in the melee was the annual Academy of Country Music Awards presentation in Las Vegas on April 5.

Those events have now been rescheduled and for the very first time will be held in the home of Country music – Nashville, Tennessee and the Grand Ole Opry. Previously the ACM Awards were held predominantly in southern California and Las Vegas.

On September 16, the ACM’s will present the 55th annual swards show in the Ryman Auditorium for a historic gala of awards, Country music fans, and Country music stars.

Via a statement, CEO of the Academy of Country Music Damon Whiteside said, “while we were disappointed to postpone our April show in Las Vegas, we couldn’t be more thrilled to host the rescheduled 55th ACM Awards in the home Country Music for the first time in the Academy’s history. First and foremost, we want to ensure the safety of our artists and industry, and to ease the burdens of traveling large teams; therefore, we decided to bring the ACM Awards to them this September in Nashville.”

Whiteside continued saying, “now, more than ever, is the time to bring our community together to honor the best in our genre, and there is no more special place to do that than three of the most revered venues in Country Music – The Grand Ole Opry House, The Ryman Auditorium and The Bluebird Cafe. A huge thank you to these historic venues and to the state of Tennessee and city of Nashville for all of the support in making this a reality!”

In another first, current ACM Entertainer of the Year Country rocker Keith Urban will host the gala event.

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The ACM noted that all guidelines established by Local, state, and national health officials will be followed to ensure the safety of all those involved.

 

feature and article photo credits: the ACM Facebook page.

Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman Return to Racing

On April 14, NASCAR team owner Roger Penske fired the driver of the number 42 car after the driver – Kyle Larson – uttered a racial slur during an iRacing event and several sponsors dropped the driver because of his remark.

Ganassi has selected Matt Kenseth to replace Larson in the Chip Ganassi Racing number 42 Chevorlet for the remainder of the 2020 racing season once it gets started again.  Like all other sports, racing has been put on hold in the wake of the Covid-19 virus.

A former NASCAR Cup champion, Kenseth has not driven in the Cup Series since 2018 when he spent some time in the Roush-Fenway Racing number six car.

Kenseth spoke on the opportunity via statement saying, “this was an unexpected opportunity for sure.  I can’t say racing was even on my radar two weeks ago. After spending some time thinking about it and all the unique circumstances surrounding all of us right now, it just seemed the timing and the opportunity was perfect to come back. I know I have a lot of work ahead of me to get up to speed in a relatively short period of time, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Noting that he started his career driving a Chevrolet, Kenseth added, “I’m excited to work with Kurt (Busch) again and to meet all my new CGR team members, and I’m really looking forward to getting back in a Chevrolet.”

Car owner Chip Ganassi spoke on his decision saying, “I have always said that when we have to fill a driver spot, that I owe it to our team, our partners and our fans to put the best available driver in the car.  We are doing exactly that with Matt. Throughout my time in NASCAR, I have always admired the way Matt Kenseth raced. He has proven to be a consistent winner, strong competitor, and respectful driver, and I’m glad we are able to add another NASCAR champion to the team for the remainder of this season.”

In other NASCAR driver news…
When the 2020 racing season began at Daytona in February, Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin, and Ryan Blaney were involved in a big crash on the last lap that left Ryan Newman’s car on fire and Newman trapped in his car.  Luckily for Newman he suffered only a concussion with no other major injuries.

On April 26 before the eNASCAR Pro Invitational Series race at Talladega, Newman announced that he was once again healthy and ready to go racing.  NASCAR also announced on April 27 that Newman has been given the green flag and a medical clearance to race once the racing season resumes.

Before racing was suspended, Ross Chastain was driving the number six Roush-Fenway Racing car.  Ryan Newman will retake his seat behind the wheel of the number six car.

Zai Get ‘Stranger than Fiction’ on New Album

Florida musician Zai has just released her newest album “Stranger than Fiction” and is available on iTunes and Spotify.

The social media star and prodigy broke out as a 16 year old.  Since then she has made the circuit of the competition reality shows “American Idol”, “The Voice”, and “America’s Got Talent”.

Known as Zaimbies by her fans, Zai is not just a musician, she is a model and actress.  Zai says that her music is her life laid out in song; adding that her fans will understand immediately.

Life as a musician can at the best of times be a struggle; but it becomes even harder in an era of a pandemic crisis.  But for Zai, there are times when daily life itself is a struggle as she deals with the rare disorder of psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (P.N.E.S.) – she can be fine one moment and on the floor with a seizure the next.

Born Vonabell, Zai is the daughter of a beauty queen, Zai is now herself a mother.

 

feature photo credit: Zai’s Facebook page

Top 20 Perform on ‘American Idol’

Stay at home orders and social distancing orders have changed the way the nation does things.  As a result; live television programming has also had to do business.

For the first time in “American Idol” history, the top 20 singers will perform for fan votes from their homes.

Host Ryan Seacrest gets the night started from his Los Angeles home and using the latest in technology to canvas the country and bring the music to fans.

The judges are also working from their homes.  Katy comes on camera dressed as a bottle sanitizer – “American Idol Music Sanitizer”.

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Lionel pointed out that the singers don’t have all the glitz and glamour and will have to bring themselves to the performances.

Next week the top 20 will become the top 10.

Kimmy Gabriela in Florida gets the night of music started off with an Ariana Grande song.  Katy said that Kimmy has had a character evolution and is starting to know who she is.  Luke was looking for the neighbours to look over the fence; adding that it was impressive to see her navigate the notes.  Lionel noted that it was one thing to sing but another to act out the song and she took it to the next level.

Baton Rouge’s Jovin Webb is next with the Joe Cocker classic “A Little Help from My Friends”.  Luke called Jovin a very special talent.  Lionel said that Jovin has that instant identity and is delivering it with feeling; adding that he killed it.  Katy noted that every singer gets the same stuff but Jovin separated himself from the rest of the group.

Music teacher Franklin Boone performed the Tears for Fears hit “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”.  Lionel and Luke came to their feet.  Lionel loves Franklin’s voice; adding that he is true to himself.  Katy said that she started tearing up; adding that Franklin has the “it” factor.  Luke said that he had chill bumps the whole song.  Luke called it a top 10 performance.

Back in California, Olivia Ximines sang the Billie Eilish song “bad guy”.  Katy said that she got to hear the quality of Olivia’s voice.  Luke said that Olivia always brings a show.  Lionel said that Olivia has everything to be a star.

Up next is Louis Knight from Pennsylvania with “If the World was Ending”.  Luke loved the song choice; adding that it gave a clear message as to who he is.  Lionel said that Louis’ voice was stellar; adding that loved the performance.  Katy agreed it was a great song choice; adding that his inflections were really cool.

Back to California and Makayla Phillips with the Ariana Grande song “Greedy”.  Lionel said that all 20 should go through and call it a day.  Lionel called her performance professional.  Katy said Makayla looked natural; adding that her song choice was a good one; but there were better choices.  Luke liked the star power and vocals at the end of the song.

Mentor Bobby Bones announced that next week the top 10 will again be at home next week performing songs about home.

Back to the deep south with Aliana Jester in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida singing “Run to You” by Whitney Houston.  Katy noted that Aliana put a lot of passion into her performance; adding that she got goose bumps.  Luke also noted that he got goose bumps; adding that he loved it.  Lionel noted that Aliana made the song her own.

Faith Becnel in Louisiana chose the Bishop Briggs song “River” for her performance.  Faith brought a “dang” out of Luke.  Lionel told Faith to open her eyes more; but he loved the song.  Luke called it his favourite rendition of the song.  Katy noted that Faith stuck the song.

From Woodland Hills, California Nick Merico performed the Plain White T’s song “Hey There Delilah”.  Katy called the performance amazing.  Lionel loved the performance.  Luke liked that Nick had stripped it down, just playing the piano.

Lauren Spencer-Smith gave a performance of “Mama Knows Best” by Jesse J with an incredible lakeside view behind her.  Katy said that Lauren sounded great; adding that she is growing as a star.  Luke said that Lauren’s voice gets better and better; adding that it is amazing.  Lionel said that her voice and attitude were amazing.

In Georgia, Cyniah Elise performed the Demi Lovato song “Warrior”.  Lionel called the performance crazy.  Luke called Cyinah one of the best singers in the show; adding it was a great song choice.  Lionel said that she makes things look effortless.  Katy noted that Cyniah is growing.

Crossing the country back to California for Francisco Martin performed judge Katy Perry’s song “Teenage Dream”.  Katy said the song choice worked; adding he did it real justice.  Luke said that he was nervous; adding that Francisco made it his own.  Lionel also said that Francisco made the song his own.

Close to home, Sophia has changed her name from Wackerman to James.  She sings “Burning”.   Katy said that Sophia is constantly evolving.  Luke called Sophia sneaky good.  Lionel said that Sophia can melt hearts when she looks into the camera.

In Colorado, Dewayne Crocker Jr performed the James Brown hit “I Got You (I Feel Good)” while family members danced.  Luke said that the song had a little too much slick for him but the last note was impressive.  Lionel agreed with Luke.  Katy noted that Dewayne has a good voice but wanted more growl.  Lionel told Dewayne to keep his dancers.

In Bakersfield, sitting outside Dillon James performed “Let it Be Me”.  Lionel said that Dillon’s presentation looked like a world class artist.  Luke said that Dillon needs to just go and make the kind of music he wants to make.  Katy agreed; adding that Dillon’s dreams are in his hands.

In Kansas, Nepal native Arthur Gunn performed “Lovin’ Machine”.  Host Ryan Seacrest said that the judge’s body language said it all.  Katy reminded Arthur to look at the camera.  Lionel called the performance powerful.  Luke said that Arthur has the potential to be a “ginormous” star.

In New York, Julia Gargano performed “Human”.  Luke loved hearing the nuances in the singer’s voices.  Lionel noted that there are a lot of singers in the world but stylists rule the world.  Katy said that Julia checked all the boxes.

After winning the first fan vote of the season, Grace Leer performed the Faith Hill song “Cry” from California.  Lionel said that Idol is discovering true artists; adding Grace gave a great delivery.  Katy said that Grace rode that bull real well.  Luke noted that Grace gave then the big notes in the second half of the song.

Just Sam takes on the music of season three Idol winner Fantasia Barrino with “I Believe”.  Katy said that Sam looked great; adding that she is flourishing.  Luke said that Sam owns every aspect of her voice range; adding that she did a great job.  Lionel called Sam an inspirational figure in the group; adding that he loves her Afro.

Closing out the night of music is Jonny West on the west coast performed the Louis Armstrong classic “What a Wonderful World”.  Katy kept saying, “we’re not worthy”.  Luke said that Jonny could take his career anywhere he wanted.  Lionel said that Jonny has a musical arsenal.  Jonny noted that he had made his song choice before the current situation.

Voting ends at 9am eastern time on Monday morning.

Actor Dimitri Diatchenko Dies

Actor Dimitri Diatchenko died suddenly on April 21, 2020 in Daytona Beach, Florida less than two weeks after his 52nd birthday.  The exact cause of death has yet to be determined; however, the actor’s agent noted that it was either a heart attack or related to an electric shock he received on the job the week before.

Diatchenko was best known for his role in the “Chernobyl Diaries” but appeared in over 80 film and television productions.

A first generation American, Diatchenko was born on April 11, 1968 in San Francisco, California.  Before becoming an actor, a young Dimitri played the classical guitar; giving his first performance at age nine.  His guitar playing earned him numerous awards including a World Championship of Performing Arts and a college scholarship where he earned a degree from Stetson University in Deland, Florida and a Masters Degree in Music from Florida State University.  He also holds black belts in Tae Kwon Do and Kenpo Karate.

It was his acting debut in a small role as a Navy SEAL  in “G.I. Jane” that sparked the acting bug.  Continuing to play the classical guitar and releasing four albums; Diatchenko appeared in dozens of productions including “Diagnosis Murder”, “Walker, Texas Ranger”, “The Wild Thornberrys”, “Criminal Minds”, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”, “Without a Trace”, “CSI: Miami”, “Family Guy”, three uncredited episodes of “General Hospital” as Babak, “Sons of Anarchy”, “How I Met Your Mother”, “Bones”, “2 Broke Girls”, and the voice of Vulko on “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”.

He is survived by siblings – Noela, Sofia, Athena, and Dino, nieces, and nephews.

 

feature photo credit: Dimitri Diatchenko’s Facebook page

 

iRacing in Talladega

The engines may be quiet at the largest track on the NASCAR circuit, but the engines will be roaring in the racing simulators as the drivers prepare for a run at virtual Talladega in the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series.

“It’s Dega, Baby!” and Jeff Gordon has left his spot as a FOX Sports commentator to hop in a rig to try his hand at iRacing and renew the rivalry with fellow retired driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.

With Jeff Gordon as an in-race commentator; along with Clint Bowyer, Michael Waltrip joins Mike Joy in the FOX Sports studio for today’s race.

Ryan Newman joins the FOX Sports crew and announces that he is again healthy and ready to race when the engines get fired once again.

Last week at virtual Richmond, William Byron became the first two time winner; but this week he will have to come from the back of the field with the top three Richmond finishers being “inverted”.

Normally the drivers are not allowed to go below the double yellow line, but not this week!, there are no restrictions for going below the yellow line.

Qualifying for the race was a two lap single car event with Corey LaJoie sitting on the pole.

A 200 lap race for 500 miles at Talladega, virtual Talladega is only 70 laps in length for 186 miles. The drivers will get one reset to repair a wrecked car.

This week the founder of the award winning band Alabama, Randy Owen performed the National Anthem.

Johnny Ray died in January, but the big American flag continues to run laps around Talladega at virtual Talladega…and in the real Talladega thanks to Johnny’s son.

Corey LaJoie brings the field down for the green flag start of the race with LaJoie getting out in front for the lead.

When Jeff Gordon retired, William Byron took over the driving duties of the number 24 car. This week both drivers are sporting the number 24 on their cars.

Lap five, Erik Jones gets into the grass but the track stays green.

Lap seven, Ty Dillon is the leader.

Daniel Suarez gets around Austin Dillon to take the lead.

Ty Dillon has retaken the lead.

Lap 10, the Dillon brothers lead the way with little brother Ty out in front.

Lap 15, Brad Keselowski has taken the lead. Clint Bowyer has moved into the top 10 for the first time in five races at number three.

The caution flag comes out lap 16 for “the big one”. Ricky Stenhouse was battling for the lead when he wrecked. Jeff Gordon’s car flipped several times and even got caught up in the fence. Corey LaJoie and Ty Dillon were also involved in the crash.

Brennan Poole is the leader with Brad Keselowski alongside on the front row.

Brennan Poole is the leader and brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap 21, but it is Brad Keselowski that gets out in front for the lead. After starting from the back of the field, William Byron has moved into the top 10 in ninth place.

Lap 25, the top five are Brad Keselowski, Brennan Poole, William Byron, Alex Bowman, and Clint Bowyer.

Going from last to first, William Byron battle Brad Keselowski for the lead.

After some near wrecking and drivers getting off the track, William Byron takes the lead with Alex Bowman in second and Clint Bowyer in third on lap 29. Brad Keselowski has dropped to 12th place.

Lap 30, Jimmie Johnson spins out and makes a run through the grass but the track stays green.

Halfway, William Byron leads the way with team mate Alex Bowman in second.

With 33 laps to go, there are 33 cars on the lead lap with all 39 cars still on the track.

Unlike the real world, the drivers don’t have crew chiefs to tell them when to come down pit road.

Parker Kligerman has taken the lead from William Byron.

Clint Bowyer has taken the lead. Clint Bowyer’s car blows up after bump drafting Alex Bowman too long.

John Hunter Nemechek is the new leader with William Byron in second and Dale Earnhardt Jr in third with 25 laps remaining in the race

Leaders are beginning to pit with 21 laps remaining in the race. Chris Buescher is the new leader.

Getting a new reset, Clint Bowyer is back in the rce but laps down.

Parker Kligerman has found the answer to working with other drivers on when to pit…he calls them on his mobile phone to coordinate when to pit.

With 18 laps to go, Dale Earnhardt Jr is the new leader.

More drivers come down pit road for green flag pit stops.

Brad Keselowski takes the lead.

John Hunter Nemechek is the leader with 16 laps remaining in the race.

The caution flag comes out with 14 laps to go when Jeff Gordon gets into the wall after contact with Chase Elliott. Brennan Poole and Landon Cassill were also involved. Gordon reports that he is out of resets.

Denny Hamlin overshot his pit box and when he tried to backup, it took him out – backing up is a no-no.

John Hunter Nemechek brings the field down for the green flag restart with William Byron alongside on the front row with nine laps remaining in the race.

John Hunter Nemechek is in the lead with Brad Keselowski bump drafting him.

Ty Dillon takes the lead with eight to go as the drivers get three and four wide across the track.

Eight to go, Garrett Smithley takes the lead.

Seven to go, Alex Bowman is the new leader as drivers continue to swap spots.

Joey Gse takes the lead.

Ryan Preece is the new leader.

Six to go, Garrett Smithley retakes the lead.

With only four laps remaining in the race are 36 cars on the lead lap with 26 of them in the lead pack, three and four wide across the track.

the caution flag comes out with only three laps remaining in the race after Joey Logano starts another big one involving Ryan Blaney flying across the track.

The race will go into overtime.

Alex Bowman is the leader and will bring the field down for the first of three possible overtime finishes. Bowman reports that he is low on fuel but will not make a stop.

Alex Bowman brings the field down for the green/white/checker start and edges out for the initial lead; but it is Ty Dillon who takes the lead.

Alex Bowman and Ty Dillon are nose to nose for the lead.

Alex Bowman takes the white flag…and the lead.

Cars wreck back in the field but the track stays green.

Ty Dillon makes a run through the grass.

Alex Bowman wins the race and adds his name to the list is Pro Invitational Series winners.

Update on Denny Hamlin…it wasn’t trying to back up that took him out of the race, it was his daughter playing with the remote.

 

Wild Ride in Talladega eNASCAR Race

It’s time once again for some Saturday Night Thunder eNASCAR iRacing from Talladega Speedway.

After the heat races to determine the field, the drivers will run 57 laps around the high banked 2.66 mile track.

After a two minute round of single car qualifying, Josh Berry – last week’s winner – puts his number 88 car on the pole.

Splitting the field in half, 20 drivers from each heat race will move on to the main event for a 40 car field. Each heat race is only 10 laps each.

Forty eight drivers brought their simulator rigs to the competition but only 40 drivers will make the field.

Josh Berry brings the 24 car field down for the first heat race and takes the initial lead but it doesn’t take long for the drivers to get three wide. Even before the first lap is complete, Josh Berry and Alex Cabre make contact causing a big melee sending Berry into the air, but the track stays green.

Kyle Weatherrman leads the race after three laps.

Halfway through the race and the drivers are spread out on the track with small packs of drivers. Kyle Weatherman is the leader. After the opening lap melee, Josh Berry and Alex Cabre are one lap down.

With three laps remaining in the race, there are 17 cars on the lead lap.

Kyle Weather takes the white flag with Christian Eckes, Bailey Currey, Anthony Alfredo, and Noah Gragson, rounding out the top five.

Kyle Weatherman wins the first heat race.

After their crash, Josh Berry and Alex Cabre make the main event. Gus Dean Blake Koch Thad Moffitt, and Jeffrey Earnhardt failed to make the main event.

Scot Stenzel will bring the field down for the green flag in heat number two.

Scott Stenzel brings the field down for the green flag and the cars quickly get three wide with Scott Stenzel leading the way.

Lap two, Logan Seavey takes the lead.

Ryan Vargas takes the lead on lap three.

Michael Annett had an issue with his car and is out of the race.

Ruben Garcia spins out and hits the wall on lap five but the track stays green.

Logan Seavey has retaken the lead.

Lap six, Ryan Vargas takes the lead.

Logan Seavey takes the lead.

Lap seven Will Rodgers takes the lead.

Kaz Grala’s car is smoking and blows up.

Chase Briscoe takes the lead on lap eight.

Chase Briscoe wins the race.

Big crash on the final lap of the race but the track stays green. Ty Gibbs limps his smoking number 18 car across the finish line to be the final car in the race.

With a 57 lap race, the drivers will be required to make at least one pit stop. Caution flags are in play and the drivers get one reset to fix crash damage.

Kyle Weatherman brings the field down for the main event start and takes the lead as Chase Briscoe quickly drops through the field. A number of drivers fall back in the field in hopes of avoiding any crash damage.

Lap three, Kyle Weatherman holds on to the lead with Alex Labbe in second.

Lap four, Alex Labbe edges out to lead but Kyle Weatherman quickly retakes the lead.

The caution flag comes out on lap five for a big wreck including Tommy Joe Martins, Brandon Brown, Justin Haley, and Noah Gragson.

While most of the leaders stayed out on the track, leader Kyle Weatherman comes down pit road and give the lead over Christian Eckes.

Christian Eckes brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap nine, and jumps out in front for the lead as the drivers try to make it three wide.

Anthony Alfredo takes the lead on lap 10 after a little push.

Lap 12, Anthony Alfredo and Alex Labbe battle for the lead with Alfredo holding on to the lead.

Christian Eckes got out in front for a moment but had it quickly taken away when Alex Labbe takes over the lead of the race.

Forty to go, Alex Labbe leads the pack but is getting a challenge from Christian Eckes.

Lap 20 Anthony Alfredo gets out in front for the lead.

Lap 21 Christian Eckes takes the lead as the drivers begin to get aggressive and battling for the lead.

As the drivers approach the halfway mark, there are 38 cars on the lead lap with all 40 drivers still in the race.

Lap 25, Christian Eckes is the leader; Alex Labbe, Anthony Alfredo, Scott Stenzel and Noah Gragson round out the top five.

Lap 28, green flag pit stops have begun with Stephen Leicht the first driver down.

Scott Stenzel brings out the caution flag when he gets airborne and into the wall after three drivers try to bump draft. Noah Gragson was also involved in the crash.

Christian Eckes wins the race off of pit road.

Currently Harrison Burton is the leader but he has yet to make his pit stop. Once he does, Christian Eckes will bring the field down for the green flag.

Christian Eckes brings the field down for the green flag restart of the race with 24 laps remaining in the race. Christian Eckes gets out in front for the lead but the outside lane is coming on to challenge.

Bayley Currey takes the lead of the race.

Christian Eckes passes on the outside to take the lead with 23 laps to go. Drivers are wrecking back in the field but it stays green.

Alex Labbe takes the lead but Christian Eckes quickly retakes the top spot.

Alex Labbe moves ot the outside to challenge Christian Eckes for the lead but Eckes holds on to the top spot with just 20 laps remaining in the race.

Going four wide, Donny Lia brings out the caution flag after making contact.

Christian Eckes brings the field down for the green flag restart with 15 laps remaining in the race. Eckes jumps out in front for the lead as the top line is a little slow to get moving.

The drivers are getting aggressive and cause a big crash that brings out the caution flag. Brandon Brown went flying after contact with Josh Berry. Alex Labbe and several other drivers were also involved.

Josh Berry is the new leader.

With only nine laps remaining in the race, Josh Berry brings the field down for the green flag restart and edges out Tyler Ankrum for the lead with a little push form Anthony Alfredo. There are 35 cars on the lead lap.

Tyler Ankrum gets around Josh Berry to take the lead.

Logan Seavey is the new leader.

Seven to go, Tyler Ankrum and Logan Seavy swap the lead back and forth.

The caution flag comes out with seven laps to go after the second big crash Todd Gilliland, Chase Briscoe, Alex Labbe, Ryan Truex, Will Rodgers, and Ty Gibbs were among those who were involved in the crash.

Race control has black flagged Ty Gibbs after an altercation with Drew Dollar during the caution; Gibbs has been parked and is out of the race.

Tyler Ankurm brings the field down for a two lap shootout to finish the race in regulation. Ankrum takes the green flag with Josh Berry alongside on the front row. The drivers were three wide on the restart with Tyler Ankrum getting the lead but gets turned around causing a massive wreck that involves nearly half the field and brings out the caution flag. Tyler Ankrum, Christian Eckes, Kyle Weatherman, Donnie Lia, and Brett Moffitt were only a few of the drivers involved.

The race goes into overtime and will make the first of three green/white/checker finishes.

Logan Seavey brings the field down for the first overtime finish attempt with Anthony Alfred alongside on the front row. Logan Seavey edges out for the lead. After a push, Anthony Alfred gets out in front for the lead but Logan Seavey retakes the lead.

The white flag comes out and Anthony Alfredo gets pushed and slams the wall but the track stays green.

Getting three and four wide and wrecking, Landon Huffman takes the win in a wild finish.

Lloyd Weber Offers Singing Competition

In the past Lord Andrew Lloyd Weber has used reality television competitions to help cast his musical productions.  With the limits on crowds, Lord Weber is going virtual for his next competition.

After finding his new Maria and Joseph via reality competition, Weber is now looking for a new star on Broadway or the West End once the theatres open again.

Weber is inviting singers to create their own vocal showcase at the end of “Think of Me” – sung by female lead Christine Daae in “Phantom of the Opera”.  The end of the song features a 13 second “cadenza” where vocal gymnastics are encouraged.

Weber will introduce the winning singer on the Broadway or West End stage – depending on which show reopens first – to sing after the performance

Speaking on the competition Weber said, “I just thought, ’Wouldn’t it be fun to find a cadenza that we could do when finally we reopen in 2047.  Everybody is needing something to lift the spirits at the moment.”

Weber, singer and former Christine Sierra Boggess, and British talk show host Graham Norton will serve as judges for the entries.  Singers can post their entries via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Noting that he has been impressed by some of the entries, Weber said, “some of them are very funny. Some of them are very good. And one or two of the girls who sent in things, I think we ought to actually see, because I think they could just possibly be Christines.  It’s delightful.”

Weber has been finding creative ways to keep himself busy during the shutdown including his YouTube channel “The Show Must Go On”.  The next installment airs May 1 with the sequel to “Phantom of the Opera”, “Love Never Dies”.

 

feature photo credit: By premier.gov.ru, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17993455

KIds’ Choice to Air May 2

Like many events in the past several weeks, Nickelodeon had to postpone the annual slim fest known as the Kids’ Choice Awards.   Originally scheduled for March 29, the “Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards 2020: Celebrate Together” will now be held May 2 with “Zoey 101” and “Victorious” star Victoria Justice as the host of the event.

Appearing from their homes; Dwayne Johnson, Ariana Grande, Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, Camila Cabello, Millie Bobby Brown, Ellen DeGeneres, BTS, and cast members from the “Avengers” films are all scheduled to appear during the show…and perhaps gets slimed.  Professional basketball player LeBron James is set the receive the Generation Change Award for his work with education.

Nickelodeon says the event “will reveal the winners through some of the most creative orange-blimp acceptances in KCA history.”

 

feature photo credit: By Ucla90024 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18909534

Prine Wake to be Re-Broadcast

Lock down orders and the Covid-19 virus has changed the way people have to mourn and mark the death of friends, family, and loved musicians.

On April 7, folk musician John Prine died as a result of the Covid-19 virus.  Due to the ban on crowd gatherings, fans were unable to mark the death with any memorial services.  As a result, Prine’s Oh Boy Records went “old school” with their wake and broadcast the service on the radio.

Oh Boy is giving fans another chance to hear the wake with a rebroadcast of the Radio Wake on the Nashville Public Radio station 90,3 WPLN on April 29 at 7pm local time.  The service will feature stories about Prine that include some of his favourite lyrics and stories from the road.

In the days following Prine’s death, sales of his music skyrocketed.

Rock Guitarist Derek Jones Dies

Rock guitarist Derek Jones died April 21, 2020 at the age of 35. The official cause of death were not revealed.

Jones is best known as the guitar player for the rock band Falling in Reverse.

Jones formed Falling in Reverse with Ronnie Radke in 2008 with Radke as lead singer. Nick Rich, Gilbert Catalano, and Anthony Avila rounded out the original band. The rockers released their debut album, “The Drug in Me is You”, was released in 2011. An updated version of the song was released earlier this year; it would be Jones’ last song.

Before forming Falling in Reverse, Jones was a member of the band A Smile from the Trenches.

He was born June 5, 1984 in Lake Forest, California.

Jones is predeceased by his fiancee Christina Cetta who died late last year as a result of cancer.

 

feature photo credit: Derek Jones’ Facebook page

Rap Artist Fred the Godson Dies

The music world has lost another member of its family with Rap artist Fred the Godson who died April 23, 2020 in New York City at the age of 35 as a result of the Covid-19 virus.

Fred had posted on social media April 6 that he was in the hospital dealing with the Covid-19 virus. A few days later his wife revealed that Fred was on a ventilator but had a strong heart with no sign of infection; adding that his kidneys had been affected but he was receiving dialysis to clean out the toxins.

Fred was considered high risk due to his dealing with asthma.

Born Frederick Thomas, Fred the Godson was from the Bronx, New York. He broke onto the rap music scene in 2010 with his mixtape “Armageddon” and became a part of the XXL the following year.

Over the course of his short career, Fred has worked with Busta Rhymes, Waka Flocka Flame, Kendrick Lamar, YG, Meek Mill, Lil B, Mac Miller, Pusha T, Diddy, Jeremih, Lil’ Kim, Jay Pharoah, and French Montana.

His final album was “Payback” which was released just one month prior to his death.

Fred’s survivors include his wife LeeAnn Jemmott and two children.

Other artists who have died as a result of the Covid-19 virus and its complications include John Prine, Adam Schlesinger, Joe Diffie, Matthew Seligman, Lee Konitz, Ellis Marssalis, John “Bucky” Pizzarelli, Wallace Roney, Alan Merrill, Manu Dibango, and DJ Black N Mild.

 

feature phot cedit: Fred the Godson’s Facebook page

 

2020 NFL Draft Begins

The time has come for the 2020 NFL Draft but things are much different this year after all gatherings of large crowd have been banned. As a result, the NFL moved their annual college draft event online with coaches, players, and fans all taken to the world wide web for continue the annual tradition.

NFL Commission Roger Goodell will present each pick in the first round from his home.

New Orleans native Harry Connick Jr gets the evening’s events started with the National Anthem from his home.

Commissioner Goodell opens the 2020 draft by announcing that the Cincinnati Bengals are now on the clock.

In the first pick of the 2020 draft, the Cincinnati Bengals select NCAA national champion LSU quarterback Joe Burrow (Burreaux).

The Washington Redskins are on the clock…

The Redskins select Ohio State defensive end Chase Young.

The Detroit Lions are on the clock…

The Lions select Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah.

The New York Giants are on the clock…

Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas.

The Miami Dolphins are on the clock…

The Dolphins select Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. During his last year of playing, Tua was out part of the season after a hip injury.

The Los Angeles Chargers are on the clock…

The Chargers select Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert.

The Carolina Panthers are on the clock…

The Panthers select Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown.

The Arizona Cardinals are on the clock…

The Cardinals select Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are on the clock…

The Jaguars select Florida cornerback CJ Henderson.

The Cleveland Browns are on the clock…

The Browns select Alabama offensive tackle Jedrick Wills Jr.

The New York Jets are on the clock…

The Jest select Louisville offensive tackle Mekhi Becton.

The now Las Vegas Raiders are on the clock…

The Raiders select Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs III.

The San Francisco 49ers are on the clock…

In the first trade of the night, the San Francisco 49ers trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Bucs select Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs.

The San Francisco 49ers are on the clock…

The 49ers select South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw.

The Denver Broncos are on the clock…

The Broncos select Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy.

The Atlanta Falcons are on the clock…

The Falcons select Clemson cornerback A. J. Terrell.

The Dallas Cowboys are on the clock…

The Cowboys select Oklahoma wide reciever CeeDee Lamb.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are on the clock…

The Steelers make a trad with the Miami Dolphins for their second pick of the first round.

The Dolphins select USC offensive tackle Austin Jackson.

The Las Vegas Raiders are on the clock…

The Raiders select Ohio State cornerback Damon Arnette.

Commissioner Goodell announced that due to circumstances beyond their control the 2020 draft could not be held in Las Vegas; as a result, the NFL has decided to award the 2022 draft to Las Vegas for another try.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are on the clock…

The Jaguars select LSU defensive end K’Lavon Chaisson.

The Philadelphis Eagles are on the clock…

The Eagles select TCU wide receiver Jalen Reagor.

The Minnesota Vikings are on the clock…

The Vikings select LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson.

The New England Patriots are on the clock…

The Patriots make a trade with the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Chargers select Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray.

The New Orleans Saints are on the clock…

The Saints select Michigan center Cesar Ruiz.

The Minnesota Vikings are on the clock…

The Vikings trade two later round picks to the San Francisco 49ers.

The 49ers select Arizona State wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.

The Green Bay Packers are on the clcok…

The Packers select Utah State quarterback Jordan Love.

The Seattle Seahawks are on the clock…

The Seahawks select Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks.

The Baltimore Ravens are on the clock…

The Ravens select LSU linebacker Patrick Queen.

The Tennessee Titans are on the clock…

The Titans select Georgia offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson.

The Miami Dolphins are on the clock for their third first round pick…

The Dolphins select Auburn cornerback Noah Igbinoghene

The Minnesota Vikings are on the clock…

The Vikings select TCU cornerback Jeff Gladney

The Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs are on the clock…

The Chiefs select LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

The first round of the 2020 NFL draft has concluded with 14 SEC players drafted to set a new record. The draft will continue over the next two days to complete rounds two through seven.

Terry Bradshaw Releases New Song

Former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, Super Bowl champion, four time Super Bowl champion, and FOX NFL analyst Terry Bradshaw is releasing an original song titled “Quarantine Crazy”.

Written by Jimmy Yeary, the song chronicles the current situation of having to stay at home under the current Covid-19 mandates.

Bradshaw spoke on the song saying, “after weeks of staying home and social distancing, I think we can all relate to feeling a bit ‘Quarantine Crazy. However, it is more important than ever to remain home and stay safe. We will all get on the other side of this soon, but in the meantime, I hope this song brings a smile to your faces.”

Bradshaw is donating a portion of the proceeds from the song to support food banks in Oklahoma and Texas.

Bradshaw was one of the celebrities to participate in the inaugural season of “The Masked Singer” and has been signed to a 31 show residency at the Luxor Hotel and Casino this year. With the shutdown of venues all over the country, Bradshaw’s dates have been put on hold.

Bradshaw first broke into music in 1976 with the Hank Williams hit “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”. He followed that up with ““The Last Word in Lonesome is Me” and has released two albums. He has also toured with the Gospel group The Isaacs.

 

 

feature photo credit: By http://www.news.navy.mil/view_single.asp?id=8943, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4017261

Richard Childress Auctioning Memorabilia

NASCAR team owner Richard Childress has been a part of racing for 50 years. In that time he has collected numerous wins and quite a collection of memorabilia. Now Childress is offering up some of that memorabilia at an auction on ebay to raise money for Covid-19 relief efforts from providing personal protection equipment to feeding children.

In the Xfinity Series, Childress is the owner of the number 21 car driven by Anthony Alfredo, Kaz Grala, and Myatt Snider. In the NASCAR Cup Series, he owns the number three car driven by grandson Austin Dillon and the number eight car driven by Tyler Reddick. Prior to his death in the 2001 Daytona 500, Childress was the car owner for Hall of Fame legend Dale Earnhardt Sr.

Among the list of items up for auction is one of the cars driven by Earnhardt. The number three Chevrolet is “complete with engine” and has been “impeccably preserved”. Up until now, Childress has never let go of any of his original Earnhardt cars.

Childress spoke on his decision saying, “I’ve grown my personal collection of memorabilia throughout my career in NASCAR and have enjoyed each of these items but it’s time to open it up to collectors and use the proceeds to support much needed causes during this unique time in history. From the Earnhardt years, to the Harvick years to our current drivers and beyond, there are items in this collection that will appeal to a variety of collectors. It’s so special to me to be able to share these exclusive items and give back to America at the same time. All proceeds will benefit charities and organizations who need our help right now to fight COVID-19.”

Items will be up for auction until the end of the month.

To bid on any of the items for sale, go to: https://www.ebay.com/str/RichardChildresscollection. Anyone interested in bidding on the Dale Earnhardt car should contact RCR directly.

Other items up for the auction include a variety of replica die cast models of cars driven by Dale Earnhardt Sr, Kevin Harvick, a Clint Bowyer car, and even the Dale Jr Oreo car, Dale Sr and Jr Winner’s Circle action dolls from 1998, a Dale Earnhardt Goodwrench Racing track and train, a Kevin Harvick ET anniversary blanket, a Dale Earnhardt model car kit, a Dale Earnhardt Hall of Fame diecast bank, a rare first off the line Dale Earnhardt Danytona 10th anniversary car, a Dale Earnhardt H.O. model train, and an ET anniversary interactive Gertie.

Many of the items are prototype models

 

feature photo credit: By Zach Catanzareti Photo – richard childress, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=89171979.

NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon ‘Unretires’

Four time NASCAR Cup champion and Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon retired from full time driving at the end of the 2015 racing season. He has run a handful of races in the 2016 races as a substitute driver for the injured Dale Earnhardt Jr and has run handful of races in other racing series including the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.

Since his retirement from racing full time, Gordon has been one of the broadcasters for FOX Sports.

But this weekend in the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series at the virtual Talladega Superspeedway Gordon will make his iRacing debut.

For the past five weeks, Gordon has sat behind the microphone in the FOX Sports studios in Charlotte as a commentator on the events taking place in the virtual world.

Saying, “coming out of retirement boys,” Gordon will be a part of the biggest field so far of drivers in the Pro Invitational Series when the drivers take to their simulator rigs for some virtual racing on Sunday, April 26 at 1pm.

 

feature photo credit: By JG_24_Expressway_01.jpg: NCDOTcommunicationsderivative work: F1fans – This file was derived from: JG 24 Expressway 01.jpg:, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20202190

Actress Shirley Knight Dies

Broadway and screen actress Shirley Knight died April 22, 2020 in San Marcos, Texas at the age of 83 as a result of natural causes.

She made her Broadway debut in 1964 with the revival of “The Three Sisters”; she went on to appear in “We Have Always Lived in the Castle”, “The Watering Place”, “Kennedy’s Children”, and “The Young Man from Atlanta”.

She made her television debut in 1955 in two episodes of “Playbill”. From there she went on to appear in nearly 200 film and television productions including “Rawhide”, ”Sweet Bird of Youth”, “The Outer Limits”, “The Virginian”, “Alias Smith and Jones”, “Medical Center”, “Kennedy’s Children”, “Murder, She Wrote”, “Law & Order”, “Maggie Winters”, “ER”, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”, “House”, “Desperate Housewives”, the “Paul Bart: Mall Cop” films, “Hot in Cleveland”, and her final role in 2018 at age 81 in “Periphery”.

As herself, Knight appeared in award shows, talk shows, and documentaries.

Her accomplishments include three Emmy Awards, a Tony Award for her role in “Kennedy’s Children”, and two Golden Globe Awards,

She was born Shirley Enola Knight July 5, 1936 in Goessel, Kansas but grew up in Mitchell and Lyons, Kansas. She began studying opera at age eleven and later became a member of the Actor’s Studio.

Predeceased by her husband John, Knight’s survivors include her daughters Kaitlin, Sophie and stepdaughter Justine.

 

feature photo credit: By Frank Driggs Collection – ebay, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19770553

Bluesman Lee Gates Dies

Blues man Lee Gates died April 15, 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin at the age of 82 as a result of natural causes.

Today artists can takes months and even years to complete an album. In 2003, Gates took a Greyhound bus from Huntsville, Alabama to Nashville, Tennesse after missing a bus connection and west straitght to the recording studio where he had the entire album recorded three hours later.

It took over 50 years of making music before the guitar playing Bluesman recorded his first album. He recorded three albums late in his career.

A first cousin to fellow Blues man Albert Collins, Brice Lee Gates was born in Pontotoc, Mississippi in December 20, 1937. He moved to Milwaukee in 1959 where he performed his Delta Blues for over 50 years. Gates’ father and Collins’ father were brothers.

Survivors include his daughter.

Lee Gates discography:
“Lee Gates and the Alabama Cotton Kings”
“Black Lucy’s Deuce”
Touring with Lucky”

 

feature photo credit: Lee Gates’ Facebook page

Manfred Rules on Red Sox in Sign Stealing Scandal

After an investigation into allegations of the Boston Red Sox stealing signs during the 2018 baseball season, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has handed down disciplinary action on the guilty parties.

Manfred has suspended the Red Sox video system operator J.T. Watkins for the entire 2020 baseball season and any post season play. Once Watkins has served his suspension and returns to the Red Sox organization, he will not be allowed to return to the video room for the 2021 regular and post seasons.

The Boston Red Sox must forfeit their second round pick during the 2020 First-Year Player Draft this summer.

Noting that Alex Cora who was the bench coach for the Houston Astros in 2017, who were also involved in sign stealing, was not aware of the activities, he did fail to properly relay the League’s rules when it comes to the stealing of signs; Manfred has suspended Cora for the entire 2020 baseball season; including the post season. The Red Sox fired Cora as the manager of the team in January.

Mandred’s disciplinary action was the toughest on video system operator Watkins since it was Watkins who used the video replay system to anylize catcher’s signs which he then provided to players.

In response to the penalties, Red Sox President and CEO Sam Kennedy noted that the rules violations were unacceptable and apologized the fans; adding that they accept the Commissioner’s ruling.

Manfred’s investigation ran from January to late March and included interviewing 65 witnesses – 34 past and present from the Red Sox organization -; along with thousands of emails, photographs, video clips, and text messages in determining his verdict. Manfred noted that the Red Sox cooperated fully with the investigation.

Earlier this year, Manfred ruled that the Houston Astros were also involved in a sign stealing scheme and suspended Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow and team manager AJ Hinch for one year – Astros owner Jime Crane had fired both men, fined the Astros $5 million, and took the first and second round college draft choices for the 2020 and 2021 seasons. The investigation determined that then bench coach Alex Cora was an integral part of the scheme.

Manfred noted that all 30 MLB teams have been warned about any future violations; adding that any further violations would see more serious penalties.

The Hubcaps Lead Singer, Big Wheelie Dies

Long time Buffalo musician Chuck Vicario died April 17 in Buffalo as a result of the Covid-19 virus. Vicario had been battling the virus for several weeks.

The Buffalo Music Hall of Famer spent decades as the lead singer for the band Big Wheelie and the Hubcaps. The band performed 50’s styled rock and roll.

With the exception of 2012 when he was involved in a motorcycle crash that resulted in a broken collarbone, broken ribs, and neck injuries; Big Wheelie performed at the M&T Bank Event Series for 40 years.

Spreading their wings far beyond the shores of Buffalo, Big Wheelie and the Hubcaps have shared the stage with a number of artists including Roy Orbison, Chuck Berry, Paul Anka, Dion and the Belmonts, and Little Richard.

Before becoming a member of The Hubcaps, Vicario formed the band Caesar and the Romans; he later formed the band Friendship Train which later became Big Wheelie and the Hubcaps after discovering the popularity of 50’s rock and roll.

A man of faith, Vicario enjoyed performing “I Believe” by Elvis Presley in churches. Though a member of the Riverside Baptist Church, he went all over western New York speaking to various congregations.

When not making music, Vicario enjoyed his love of health and fitness with seniors. A Certified Wellness Coordinator, he educated seniors on the benefits of nutrition and exercise.

Wife Candi, who survives him, has also been diagnosed with the virus, but is recovering.

 

feature photo credit: Big Wheelie and the Hubcaps Facebook page

Actor Tom Lester Dies

Believed to be the last surviving cast member from the sixties sitcom “Green Acres”, Tom Lester died April 20 in Nashville at the age of 81 as a result of complications from Parkinson’s Disease. Lester was in the home of his fiancee and caregiver Jackie at the time of his death.

Lester is best known for his role as country bumpkin Eb Dawson. He reprised the role in 1990 in the TV movie “Return to Green Acres”. Reportedly Lester earned the role of the Douglas’ farm hand because he alone knew how to milk a cow.

Along with his appearance in 150 episodes of “Green Acres”, Lester appeared in a little over a dozen productions including “Petticoat Junction”, “The Beverly Hillbillies”, “Love, American Style”, “Marcus Welby, M.D.”, “Benji”, “Little House on the Prairie”, the original “Knight Rider”, an episode of the daytime drama “Santa Barbara”, and “The Pistol: The Birth of a Legend”.

Thomas William Lester was born September 23, 1938 in Jackson, Mississippi where he spent a his childhood on his grandfather’s farm. He graduated from the University of Mississippi with degrees in biology and chemistry.

Before moving to Hollywood, Lester spent a few years teaching in Purcell, Oklahoma.

Even after making it in Hollywood, Lester remained close to the Mississippi farming community where he owned a 250 acre farm. He was presented with the Mississippi’s Wildlife Farmer of the Year award in 1997.

Lester’s survivors include his brother Michael and fiancee Jackie Peters.

 

Feature photo credit: Fan of Tom Lester (Eb Dawson of “Green Acres” Facebook page

 

Gronk Returns to Football

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski retired from playing the game of football two years ago in 2018. Since his retirement, Gronk has dabbled in professional wrestling and was in the costume of the White Tiger on season two of the “Masked Singer”.

On April 21 Gronkowski announced that he is coming out of retirement to play once again…but not with his old team the Patriots.

Reports are that The Pats will be trading Gronkowski to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where he will be reunited with his former quarterback Tom Brady.

The Patriots are trading Gronk plus a seventh-round draft pick in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick in the 2020 College draft taking place this week beginning April 23.

The 30 year old Gronkowski has a one year deal with the Buccaneers for $10 million.

This is not the first time such a deal has been struck; In 2018 Marshawn Lynch was traded from the Seattle Seahawks to the then Oakland Raiders plus a fifth round draft pick, the Raiders got a sixth round draft pick.

During his nine seasons with the Patriots, Gronkowski earned three Super Bowl rings, 79 touchdowns, and caught 521 passes for a total of 7,861 yards. He also was elected to four Pro Bowls and had three 1,000 yard seasons.

 

feature photo credit: By Jeffrey Beall – Own work, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=64073235

Live Nation Announces Ticket Policy

The concert promoter Live Nation has announced a new refund program that will offer music fans a number of options on their tickets to canceled and postponed concerts.

After numerous complaints over the lack of options for ticket holders who hold tickets to concerts that have been either canceled or postponed due to the Covid-19 virus, Live Nation is offering fans several options for their tickets that include keeping them, trading them in for concert cash, donating them, or getting a refund.

Rock When You’re Read will let fans hold on to their tickets to use for a rescheduled show, trade them in for Concert Cash – a credit of 150 percent of the ticket’s value, donating the tickets to the Hero Nation program allowing them to be used by health care workers, or to request a full refund – this option must be used within 30 days of the cancellation announcement.

Concert promoters AEG Presents has announced a similar program.

The announcements came after ticket selling marketplaces would only allow coupons for canceled concerts.

Ticket marketplace Vivid Seats is offering refunds for canceled shows but not postponed ones. They are also offering a ticket swap for a coupon worth 110 percent of the ticket value with 10 percent of the ticket price going to the musician’s charity run by the Grammy Foundation MusiCares.

Ticketmaster has drawn the most ire from ticket buyers for their slow response to offering refunds to canceled shows. One reason Ticketmaster has delayed giving refunds is because they are continuing to work with concert promoters, agents, and the artists themselves.

Ticketmaster president Jared Smith notes that Ticketmaster sends money to the event organizers each week and there is no money left to refund tickets already sold to shows that have since been canceled.

According to Smith there have been 30,000 of the 55,000 scheduled events around the world postponed or canceled this year due to the Covid-19 virus. Scheduled events include sporting and entertainment events.

Previously Live Nation announced that their executives would be taking pay cuts as the impact of the Covid-19 virus continues to be felt.

 

feature photo credit: By TicketMaster – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28712691

Knockouts Conclude on ‘The Voice’

It’s the final week of the knockout rounds on “The Voice” with award winning music icon James Taylor as the mega mentor this season.

Nick and Kelly only have one singer on their teams while Blake and John each have three singers on their teams.

Blake and John have used their one steal, but Kelly and Nick still have their steals remaining.

Team Legend is up first with two four chair turns Thunderstorm Artis and Mandi Castillo. Mandi chose the Ben E King song “Stand By Me”. Thunderstorm chose one of his coach’s own songs – “Preach”. Nick noted that both of the artists have been among his favourites. Blake noted that America is making up their minds right now. John said that this one is tough. John loved the version of his song that Thunderstorm did; adding that Mandi was just flawless. John chose Mandi as the winner of the battle. Nick pushed his button to steal Thunderstorm. The third time was the charm for Nick attempting a steal.

Up next was Nick with Arei Moon and steal John Mullins for a battle. Aeri chose the Alicia Keys song “You Don’t Know My Name”. John chose the Ed Sheeran song “Thinking Out Loud”. Both singers were impressed by their competitors. Kelly called both singers very powerful. Blake noted that John really went for it. John noted that he sang backup vocals on the original recording. John noted that both gave excellent performances. Nick said that he was in turmoil; adding that he didn’t know what to do. Saying that he hated to have to make the decision, Nick chose Arei as the winner of the battle.

Kelly paired up Taylor Green and Micah Iverson for a singing battle. Micah chose the Halsey song “Graveyard”; saying that he was trying to stretch himself. Taylor chose the Cyndi Lauper song “Time After Time”. Taylor brought the coaches to their feet with her performance. Blake called both singers very talented; adding that it showed how song choice was so important. John noted that Micah had a great voice for the radio but Taylor was a star. Nick also noted that Micah’s choice of song didn’t allow him to shine as much as he could have. Kelly noted that Micah chose a really hard song to do; adding that Taylor made the song her own. Stalling as long as she could, Kelly chose Micah as the winner of the battle.

Nick paired Allegra Miles and Jacob Miller for a battle. Jacob chose “Better Now” by Post Malone and Allegra chose the Sia song “Chandelier” for her song. Both singer brought the coaches to their feet. Kelly said that both singers were fantastic. Blake said that the performances were even. John called it such a good knockout; adding that both singers were so good. Nick noted that Jacob has come out of his shell; adding that Allegra’s voice is magical. Frustrated that he paired the two together, Nick chose Allegra as the winner of the battle.

In a clip, Kelly paired Mandi Thonmas and Anaya Cheyenne for a battle with Mandi taking the win.

Blake paired steal Cedrice and Toneisha Harris for a battle. With both girls choosing Rihanna songs, Cedrice chose “Love on the Brain” and Toneisha chose “Diamonds” for her performance. John thought that both singers gave a great performance. Nick said that it is an honour to hear Cedrice, but he is jealous of Toneisha. Kelly said that both singers have incredibly powerful voices. Blake said that both singers were equal in what they did; adding that they gave it their all. After bringing the house down, Blake named Toneisha as the winner of the battle. Kelly pushed her button to steal Cedrice to give Cedrice her third coach this season.

It’s time for the four saved artists to battle it out together for the first fan vote of the season. Team Blake’s Todd Michael Hall, Team Kelly’s Samantha Howell, Team Legend’s Nelson Cade III, and Team Nick’s Michael Williams will all strut their stuff and the fans will get to pick only one of them. Up first is Todd with “Somebody to Love”, Nelson chose to sing “Best Part” and play the piano, Michael chose “You are the Reason”, and Samantha chose the classic “Always on My Mind”..

Team Blake:
Joei Fulco
Todd Tilghman
Joanna Serenko – steal
Toneisha Harris

Team Kelly:
Megan Danielle
Micah Iverson
Mandi Thomas
Cedrice – steal

Team Legend:
CammWess – steal
Mike Jerel
Zan Fiskum
Mandi Castillo

Team Nick:
Roderick Chambers
Thunderstorm Artis – steal
Arei Moon
Allegra Miles

Golfer Marion Hollins Named to HOF

Female golf visionary and pioneer Marion Hollins has been named as one of the newest members to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. She is the fortieth woman to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

A posthumous induction, Hollins not only developed and financed a golf course – the National Golf and Tennis Club in Long Island – for women in New York; she also, developed two iconic golf courses in California – Cypress Point and Pasatiempo – and the famed Agusta National Golf Course in Georgia.

It was Hollins who created the Pebble Beach Golf Championship for Women.

In an induction planned for next March, Hollins will join modern day champion Tiger Woods in the Hall of Fame.

She was a U.S. Women’s Amateur champion and was the U.S. captain for the inaugural Curtis Cup in 1932.

But golf was not her only interest; Hollins was a skillled equestrian, an auto racer, and marched for women’s right to vote in New York.

The World Golf Hall of Fame was started in Pinehurst, North Carolina but moved to St. Augustine, Florida in 1998. The Hall of Fame currently has 160 members.

 

feature photo credit: By George Grantham Bain Collection – Library of CongressCatalog: https://lccn.loc.gov/2002709751Image download: https://cdn.loc.gov/master/pnp/cph/3b20000/3b27000/3b27500/3b27569u.tifOriginal url: https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2002709751/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66687327

Actor Nick Cordero in Serious Condition from Covid

Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus early this year, thousands of Americans have lost their lives, while millions of others have had their lives changed or turned upside down.

One such person is Broadway and screen actor Nick Cordero who is not only battling the virus, he is facing life as an amputee.

On April 18, Cordero had his right leg amputated as a result of blood clotting and lack of blood circulation to his toes.

He had been on blood thinners but they were causing internal bleeding and had to be taken off of them.

Cordero was admitted to the ICU of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles March 31. He has been unconscious and on a ventilator as a result of the Covid-19 virus.

During the course of his hospitalization, Cordero has faced a number of medical issues including emergency surgery and kidney dialysis.

On Broadway, Cordero has appeared in “Bullets Over Broadway”, “Waitress”, and “A BronxTale”. In Los Angeles he starred in “Rock of Ages”.

On television, he appeared in “Blue Bloods”, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”, “Lilyhammer”, “Queer as Folk”, and appeared in the film “Going in Style”

While Cordero is not the only Broadway or Hollywood star to be sidelined by the virus, he is among the most seriously affected. Award winning Playwright Terrence McNally died as a result of the virus.

In addition to his wife, Cordero has a 10 month old son, Elvis.

 

feature photo credit: Amanda Kloots Facebook page

 

Manfred OK’s Furloughs

When the nation was put on lock down and all sporting events put on hold in early March, there was no indication of when sports would start up again.

In light of the news that some state governors have yet to announce any plans for loosening the restrictions and even some governors extending their stay at home orders, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has announced that Major League owners will be allowed to furlough workers from office staff all the way up to coaches and even managers. While furloughed, the employees will not lose any of their health benefits.

Manfred suspended the Uniform Employee Contracts beginning May 1.

The ruling includes both Minor League and Major League organizations.

The ruling is not a mandatory action but simply one that will allow Major League owners now have the option to furlough workers in order to reduce cash outflow until the League returns and the teams can again generate income.

None of the sporting organizations in the United States have given any indication of when they may begin operating again or even if once they do, fans will be allowed into the stadiums.

Toyota Owners 150 from Richmond

It’s race number four for the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series from virtual Richmond and the Toyota Owners 150.

Thirty NASCAR Cup Series drivers will compete in 150 laps around the three quarters of a mile short track for bragging rights. So far this season there have been three different drivers in the previous three races.

In the qualifying race early Sunday morning Bobby Labonte wins the race with Landon Cassill coming in second; Daniel Suarez, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and Corey Lajoie round out the top five.

This week there are no resets, the drivers will have to run the race with any accident damage they get.

The races are virtual but the traditions are not, each racing event begins with the prayer and national anthem before the command to start the engines. There’s even a virtual flyover after the anthem.

After qualifying Ryan Preece won the pole with Landon Cassill starting alongsside on the front row.

Christopher Bell and Clint Bowyer are starting from the back of the field after Bell had issues with his racing rig and Bowyer missed qualifying due to a personal issue.

Ryan Preece brings the field down for the green flag start of the race and edges out Landon Cassill for the lead.After the first 10 laps, the leaders are single file with Ryan Preece leading the way; William Byron, Timmy Hill, Landon Cassill, and Dale Ernhardt Jr round out the top five. Byron and Hill were the winners of the last two races. Homestead-Miami winner Denny Hamlin is in tenth place.

The first caution flag of the race comes out when Chris Buescher has an issue with his car and makes contact with Kevin Harvick. The steering came disconnected on Buescher’s simulartor rig.

Ryan Preece brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap 31 but the caution flag comes out quickly when Ross Chastain and Alex Bowman make contact and get into the wall. Bubba Wallace and Clint Bowyer make contact causing damage to Bowyer’s car.

While there are no resets, the drivers can come into their pit stall and make repairs. Like the real NASCAR, there are mandatory repairs and optional repairs.

Ryan Preece brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap 40 and holds on to his lead but the caution comes out right away when Kurt Busch gets turned around making contact with Joey Logano. Ryan Blaney and Austin Dillon were also involved in the wreck.

Ryan Preece brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap 46 and holds on to his lead. Preece has led every lap so far. Timmy Hill has moved into second putting William Byron back to third with Dale Earnhardt Jr in fourth and Brad Keselowski in fifth.

Lap 60, Clint Bowyer reports that his engine has expired.

Lap 61, William Byron gets around Ryan Preece to take the lead for the first lead change of the race.

Halfway, William Byron leads the race; Ryan Preece has dropped to fourth. The top five are William Byron, Timmy Hill, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Preece, and Dale Earnhardt Jr with 24 cars on the lead lap.

Clint Bowyer has joined Jeff Gordon and Mike Joy as commentators for the race after his engine blew up.

Ryan Preece spins out bringing out the caution flag after falling through the field after losing the lead to William Byron.

On pit road, Brad Keselowski gets rear ended in his pit box.

William Byron brings the field down for the green flag restart with 48 laps remaining in the race. Byron holds on to his lead with Parker Kligerman in second; Timmy Hill Dale Earnhardt Jr, and Landon Cassill round out the top five.

The caution flag comes out with 36 laps remaining in the race. Matt Dibenedetto and Ryan Preece make contact…twice. After being warned by iRacing, Matt DiBenedetto has been parked.

William Byron, Christopher Bell, Parker Kligerman, and Erik Jones stay out on the track.

iRacing rookie Kevin Harvick is sitting on pit road waiting for repairs; while waiting, he is eating his lunch.

William Byron brings the field down for the green flag restart with 29 laps remaining in the race and holds on to his lead as drivers get three wide across the track.

Garrett Smithley goes around after making contact with Daniel Suarez but the track stays green.

With 15 laps remaining in the race William Byron is in the lead with Erik Jones, Timmy Hill, Parker Kligerman, and Christopher Bell rounding out the top five.

Ten to go, William Byron has a one second lead on Timmy Hill; Parker Kligerman, Denny Hamlin and Erik Jones round out the top five.

The caution flag comes out with only four laps remaining in the race when Christopher Bell and Tyler Reddick get into a wreck that collects a number of other drivers including one driver flipping his car.

With less than five laps remaining in the race, the finish will be an overtime finish.

William Byron leads the race with Timmy Hill in second – a repeat of Texas where Hill pushed Byron out of the way to win the race. Could there be a repeat of that finish today???

William Byron brings the field down for the overtime restart and gets out in front for the lead.

William Byron takes the white flag with Timmy Hill on his bumper but William Byron takes the win to become the first multi win driver in the Pro Invitational Series.

Next week it’s on to Talladega!

Gospel Singer Gary McSpadden Dies

A one time member of the Oak Ridge Boys, spiritual leader Gary McSpadden died April 15, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma as a result of pancreatic cancer at the age of 77.

He was born on January 26, 1943 in Lubbock, Texas to songwriting parents. His father was also a minister and a young Gary got his musical start singing in his father’s church.

McSpadden was 18 when he joined his first group, The Imperials – a Southern Gospel group. Then came a stint with the Oak Ridge Boys, A second stint with The Imperials, The Statesmen Quartet, and some time in the Bill Gaither Trio – later the Gaither Vocal Band.

When not singing, McSpadden worked as a producer for Terri Gibbs, The Cathedrals, The Talleys, and Lulu Roman of “Hee Haw” fame.

He served as the host of the Gospel program “Jubilee” and was Jim Baker’s replacement on the PTL Club.

After he stopped performing with various groups, McSpadden followed in his father’s footsteps, both as a minister and as a songwriter. He continued to perform as a solo artist and held a number of concerts in Branson, Missouri.

McSpadden was inducted into the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame three times including as a member of the Oak Ridge Boys. He is also a member of the Texas Gospel Music Hall Of Fame.

He is survived by his wife Carol.

Gary McSpadden’s songwriting credits include music on:
“Keeper of My Heart” by Truth
“White Heart” by White Heart
“Passin’ the Faith Along” by the Gaither Vocal Band
“Songs from the Heart” by Sandi Patty
“Do Something Now” by The Cause
“Turnaround” by Terri Gibbs
“Greatest Hits” by White Heart
“Make His Praise Glorious” by Sandi Patty
“White Heart”/”Vital Signs” by White Heart
“Just the Beginning” by Margo Smith and Holly

iRacing Comes to Richmond

After a break for Easter, the NASCAR drivers return for race number four in the Pro Invitational Series on April 19 with the eNASCAR iRacing event from Richmond Speedway and the Toyota Owners 150. Richmond is a three quarter of a mile short track.

A normal NASCAR race features 40 drivers in the field, but for this virtual race 26 drivers were invited to participate with four more drivers from a qualifying race on Sunday morning.

The field for the qualifying race will feature 13 drivers including retired NASCAR Cup Series drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr and Hall of Fame driver Bobby Labonte. Also scheduled to participate in the qualifying race are Quin Houff, Brennan Poole, Corey LaJoie, Michael McDowell, Cole Custer, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Chad Finchum, JJ Yeley, Joey Gase, Landon Cassill, and Daniel Suarez.

The 26 drivers who have been invited to participate in the race are Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Austin Dillon, Kevin Harvick, Ross Chastain, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Ty Dillon, Clint Bowyer – who will continue as in race reporter, Chris Buescher, Kyle Busch, Erik Jones, Matt DiBenedetto, Joey Logano, William Byron, Tyler Reddick, Ryan Preece, John Hunter Nemechek, Bubba Wallace, Jimmie Johnson, Garrett Smithley, Timmy Hill, Parker Kligerman, Alex Bowman, and Christopher Bell.

The top two drivers from the 25 lap race plus two more drivers chosen by the series broadcast network FOX.

The three previous races have had three different pole sitters and three different winners – Denny Hamlin won at Homestead-Miami, Timmy Hill won at Texas, and William Byron won at Bristol.

Sat. Night Thunder Returns from Richmond

Saturday Night Thunder returns with an eNASCAR iRacing event from Richmond, Virginia.

While the racing world waits for the world to begin again once the Covid-19 virus has run its course, the NASCAR drivers compete in a virtual world. And while they may not be racing for points and money, the competition is still fierce as they battle their way through the field.

Two weeks ago for the inaugural Saturday Night Thunder event from Bristol, the drivers used the ARCA style cars; this week the drivers will be competing in the Xfinity Series cars.

Drivers from the ARCA, Gander RV and Outdoors, and Xfinity Series will be competing.

After a single car qualifying event, the drivers will have to compete in three heat races to determine who will get to race in the main event – a 125 lap race.

Richmond is a three quarter mile short track that is known for some fast competitive racing.

In heat one, Landon Cassill will bring the field down for the green flag. The top six drivers from each heat will move on to the main event. During the heat races, there will be no caution flags. The heat races are only 10 laps in length.

Landon Cassill brings the field down for the green flag and gets out in front for the lead with Anthony Alfredo in second.

After leading every lap, Landon Cassill wins in a close race with Anthony Alfredo.

In heat two Alex Labbe will bring the field to green with Ty Majeski starting alongside on the front row.

Alex Labbe brings the field down for the green flag start of the race and takes the lead with Ty Majeski in second.

Big crash on lap four but there are no caution flags in the race. Alex Labbe is still in the lead.

Lap seven Ty Majeski battles with Alex Labbe for the lead and takes the top spot.

Ty Majeski wins heat number two and will start on the front row beside Landon Cassill for the main event.

In heat number three, Josh Berry will bring the field to green with Chase Cabre starting alongside on the front row.

Josh Berry brings the field down for the green flag start of the race and takes the lead with Chase Cabre in second.

Leading every lap, Josh Berry wins the race with a one second lead over Chase Cabre.

In the last chance qualifier, Justin Allgaier and Ryan Truex will sit on the front row. There are 15 laps in the last chance qualifier race. The top four drivers will move on to the feature race.

Justin Allgaier brings the field down for the green flag start of the race and gets out in the front for the lead.

Noah Gragson and Joe Graf wreck.

Leading the way, Justin Allgaier wins the the LCQ race with Ryan Truex, Brennan Poole, and Michael McDowell all moving on to the feature race.

In the second LCQ race Chad Finchum and Austin Cindric are on the front row and will bring the field to the green flag.

Chad Finchum takes the green flag and gets out in front for the lead when Austin Cindric was slow to get going.

Chad Finchum and Ruben Garcia battle for the lead with Garcia getting out in front.

Several drivers are spinning out as they battle to be one of the four drivers moving on to the feature race.

Ruben Garcia wins the race to move on to the main feature; Blake Koch, Austin Cindric, and Scott Stenzel also move on to the main race.

Landon Cassill brings the field down for the green flag of the 125 lap feature race and jumps out in frotn for the lead with Josh Berry in second.

Lap five, Josh Berry passes Landon Cassill for the lead.

Lap 20, the first caution flag of the race comes out out for a crash involving Michael McDowell, Blake Koch, and Ryan Truex.

Josh Berry brings the field down for the green restart with Ty Majeski alongside with Josh Berry taking the lead on lap 25.

Lap 42, Josh Berry continues to lead the race with Ty Majeski in second.

Lap 52, Chase Cabre gets into the wall causing some damage to the car but the track stays green.

Lap 61, leader Josh Berry has encountered some slower traffic.

The caution flag comes out on lap 62 when Matt Mill hits Ty Gibbs sending Gibbs around for a spin.

Josh Berry brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap 68 and holds on to the lead with Ty Majeski in second; Landon Cassill, Alex Labbe, and Landon Huffman round out the top five as the drivers get three wide across the track.

Lap 71, Cole Custer gets into the wall but the track stays green.

The caution flag comes out on lap 82 when Anthony Alfredo and Chase Briscoe make contact sending Briscoe into the wall and Alfredo for a spin.

Landon Cassill and Logan Seavey took just two tires, putting Josh Berry back in third place.

Landon Cassill brings the field down for the green flag restart with 38 laps remaining in the race. Landon Cassill jumps out for the lead but Josh Berry is on his bumper.

With 36 laps remaining in the race, Josh Berry gets around Landon Cassill to retake the lead of the race.

Lap 100, the caution flag comes out for an altercation involving Cole Custer as drivers get stacked up. Justin Allgaier and Ryan Truex were also involved.

With a two tire change, Landon Cassill edges out Josh Berry to be the first car off of pit road, but Anthony Alfredo stayed out on the track.

Anthony Alfredo brings the field down for the green flag restart with only 20 laps remaining in the race. Alfredo gets out in front for the lead as drivers get three wide and brings out the caution flag. Landon Huffman and Alex Labbe were involved.

Drivers at the back of the field come down pit road, but the leaders stay out.

Anthony Alfredo brings the field down for the green flag restart with 14 remaining in the race.

Josh Berry battles Anthony Alfredo for the lead and retakes the lead with 13 laps remaining in the race.

Ten to go, Josh Berry leads the race with Ty Majeski in second; Chase Cabre, Landon Cassill, and Ty Gibbs round out the top five.

Josh Berry takes the white flag with a lead of over a second on Ty Majeski.

Josh Berry wins the race after winning his heat race to get into the main event. Berry led a total of 106 of the 125 laps in the race.

More Cultural Events Canceled in NYC

Due to the continued threat of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has increased the stay at home date until May 15, which has also increased the date for entertainment venues to reopen.

As a result, a number of organizations have had to make changes to their performance schedules.

The Public Theater has canceled its entire summer programs including the annual Shakespeare in the Park in Central Park. The Joe’s Pub performances through August 31 and the Erika Dickerson-Despenza production of “Cullud Wattah” have also been canceled.

The gala that was scheduled for June 1 has been moved to a virtual event.

Additionally the Public Theater is furloughing 70 percent of its staff; the organization’s senior leadership will also take a reduction in pay. The moves are being made to ensure the viability of the Theater.

However, the Public Theater’s online programs will continue.

The Lincoln Center for performing Arts has canceled it’s summer season including the Mostly Mozart Festival, Midsummer Night Swing, and Lincoln Center Out of Doors.

The Metropolitan Opera and the American Ballet Theatre have also canceled the remainder of their seasons including summer events; including the ABT Studio Company events. The ABT’s 80th Anniversary Gala that was originally scheduled for May 18 has been moved to October 2 to help kick off the 2020 fall season.

The Lincoln Center has moved “Flying Over Sunset” and “Intimate Apparel” to the fall.

The Lincoln Center has an online portal that offers productions daily.

All New York Philharmonic performances have been canceled through June 13 and the New York Ballet has canceled all spring events.

Carnegie Hall has canceled the remainder of the 2019-2020 concert season through July 25; this includes any Carnegie produced events in New York City through June 21. The Hall is offering some online programs.

 

Jazz Bassist Andy Gonzalez Dies

Latin Jazz Bassist Andy Gonzalez died April 9, 2020 in the Bronx at the age of 69 as a result of complications from diabetes and pneumonia.

Working frequently as a studio or session player – estimated at around 700, Gonzalez was also the co-founder of the Fort Apache Band and Grupo Folklórico y Experimental Nuevayorquino; he was a member of Libre. During his career he also played with Ray Barretto, Eddie Palmieri, Dizzy Gillespie, George Benson, Clifford Thronton, Don Byron,Astor Piazzolla, David Byrne, Tito Puente, Machito, and Manny Oquendo. He was 65 years old before he released his own album – “Entre Colegas”.

A versatile musician, he mixed Jazz with African, Cuban and Puerto Rican styles of music. Not just a composer and arranger; Gonzalez was also a music historian.

Andrew Gonzalez Toyos was born January 1, 1951 in Manhattan into a musical family, but was raised in the Bronx. The son of a band vocalist, his father introduced music to his children very early in life. In elementary school, young Andy learned to play the violin but when one of the two bass players in the orchestra moved away, Andy took the spot. He traded his college classes in for the stage.

Predeceased by his brother Jerry, his survivors include sister Eileen, brother Arthur, and nieces and nephews.

Punk Fashionista Jimmy Webb Dies

Punk Fashion guru Jimmy Webb died April 14 in his Manhattan apartment at age 62 as a result of cancer.

Webb managed the the East Village clothing store Trash and Vaudeville. Never a rocker himself, Webb personified the punk-glam style. It was not uncommon to find teen aged girls or rock stars in the store exploring their inner rock star.

He could be found attired in punk regalia every day and for him it wasn’t a costume. He once told the New Yorker, “it’s not rock ’n’ roll if your pants don’t hurt,” adding that anything skintight, pink, or animal print rocks.

Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry, Blondie, Slash, David Johansen, The Ramones, and the Dead Boys were all customers in Webb’s shop. Even “The Boss” Bruce Springsteen purchased a shirt from Webb. He also helped to style looks for Beyonce, Miely Cyrus, and Madonna.

He was born James Kenneth Webb on August 28, 1957 in Troy, New York but grew up in Wynantskill, New York where is father owned a gas station.

He was only 16 when he arrived in New York City with everything he owned in a pillowcase. A former heroin addict, he lived on and off the streets; working as a bar back and other odd jobs until he finally found a home at “Trash to Vaudeville”.

Webb left Trash to Vaudeville in 2017 to open his own store he called “I Need More” after the Iggy Pop song. A mini Walk of Fame lay on the sidewalk in front of the store with the hand prints of Iggy Pop and Debbie Harry.

Predeceased by his brother Richard, Webb is survived by his brother Ronald.

Global Pride Event Announced

The lock downs and bans around the world in the wake of the Covid-19 virus has caused sporting events and musical performances to be postponed and canceled. But as summer is only a little over a month away, festivals and LGBTQ+ Pride events are also being put on hold.

In the wake of all the cancellations, an international group of Pride organizations are joining forces to put on a worldwide virtual Pride event on June 27.

The European Pride Organizers Association, InterPride; along with the Pride groups from Canada, Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, southern Africa, Asia, Oceania, and Latin America are all working for the singe day event.

The 24 hour event will be streamed online live and feature activists speeches, workshops, and musical performances from the Pride groups around the globe.

President of the European Pride Orangizers Association and Chair of Baltic Pride in Latvia Kristine Garina spoke on the event saying, “for millions of people around the globe, Pride is their one opportunity each year to come together and feel a part of a community, to feel loved, connected and to know they aren’t alone. It’s essential this year that as Pride organizers, we ensure there is still the opportunity to connect, even if we are connecting from home.”

In the United States; San Francisco has already canceled this year’s Pride events. It is one of over 300 such events that have been canceled this year due to the Covid-19 virus and surrounding events. For many organizations 2020 marked the 50th anniversary celebrations of Pride.

Co-president of Interpride J. Andrew Baker added, “we need community and connection more than ever. Global Pride gives us an opportunity to both connect and celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community’s resilience in the face of this pandemic and the true spirit of Pride.”

Sax Man Lee Konitz Dies

Prolific saxophone player Lee Konitz died April 15, 2020 in New York City as a result of complications from the Covid-19 virus at the age of 92.

Konitz was the last surviving member of the “Birth of the Cool” by Miles Davis.

Over the course of his career that lasted seven decades,, he has played with Miles Davis, the Claude Thronhill Orchestra, the Stab Kenton Orchestra, pianits Lennie Tristano, Stan Kenton, Warne Marsh, Charles Mingus, Bud Powell, Gerry Mulligan, and Bill Evans. He also played at all three of the Birdland Clubs in New York City.

His accomplishments include the NEA Jazz Masters Award, and the German Jazz Prize.

Born the youngest of three in Chicago on October 13, 1927 the son of an Austrian father and a Russian mother, Konitz began his musical adventure on the clarinet and later switched to the tenor and then the alto saxophone.

Konitz’ survivors include his children Josh, Paul, Rebecca, Stephanie, and Karen; three grandchildren, and a great-grandchild.

Lee Konitz discography:
“Subconscious-Lee”
“Lee Konitz with Tristano, Marsh, and Bauer”
“Conception”
“The New Sounds”
“Konitz Meets Mulligan”
“With Gerry Mulligan Quartet”
“Sax of a Kind”
“Konitz”
“Lee Konitz and the Gerry Mulligan Quartet”
“Lee Konitz/Bob Brookmeyer in Paris”
“Lee Konitz with Warne Marsh”
“Lee Konitz at Harvard Square”
“In Harvard Square”
“Inside Hi-Fi”
“Lee Konitz”
“The Real Lee Konitz”
“Tranquility”
“An Image: Lee Konitz with Strings”
“Very Cool”
“Lee Konitz Meets Jimmy Giuffre”
“Live at the Half Note”
“You and Lee”
“Trio and Quartet”
“Modern Jazz Compositions from Haiti”
“The Lee Konitz Duets”
“Impressive Rome”
“Alto Summit”
“Zo-Ko-Ma”
“Peacemeal”
“Spirits”
“Altissimo”
“Jazz a Juan”
“Concentrate on You”
“Lone-Lee”
“Satori”
“Oleo”
“Chicago ‘N All That Jazz”
“Windows”
“Jazz Exchange”
“Lee Konitz Meets Warne Marsh Again”
“Figure and Spirit”
“Live at the Montmartre Club: Jazz Exchange, Vol. 2”
“Pyramid”
“Lee Konitz Quintet”
“Duplicity”
“Cross-Currents”
“The Lee Konitz Nonet”
“Tenorlee”
“Yes, Yes, Nonet”
“The Lee Konitz Nonet”
“Live at Laren”
“Seasons Change”
“Heroes”
“Live at the Berlin Jazz Days”
“Anti-Heroes”
“Toot Sweet”
“Art of the Duo”
“Glad, Koonix!”
“Star Eyes, Hamburg 1983”
“Dedicated to Lee”
“Dovetail”
“Wild as Springtime”
“Ideal Scene”
“Medium Rare”
“The New York Album”
“Blew”
“Solitudes”
“Round and Round”
“In Rio”
“Konitz in Denmark ’89”
“Once Upon a Line”
“S’Nice”
“Hein Van de Geyn Meets Lee Konitz”
“Zounds”
“Lullaby of Birdland”
“Jazz Nocturne”
“Fron Newport to Nice”
“Lee Konitz and the Jazzpar All Star Nonet”
“Lunasea”
“Frank-Lee Speaking”
“Italian Ballads, Vol. 1”
“Friends”
“Rhapsody”
“So Many Stars”
“Speakin’ Lowly”
“A Venezia”
“Swiss Kiss”
“We Thought About Duke”
“Into it: Solos & Duos”
“Free with Lee”
“Atmosphete Conditions Permitting”
“Move”
“Brazilian Rhapsody”
“Breaths and Whispers: Homage to Alexandr Skrjabin”
“Haiku”
“Steps Towards a Dream”
“Thingin’”
“Very Fool”
“Live at Manhattan”
“Angel Song”
“It’s You”
“Lee Konitz Meets Don Friedman”
“Unaccompanied Live in Yokohama”
“Guarana”
“Rhapsody, Vol. 2”
“Body & Soul”
“Strings for Holiday”
“Out of Nowhere”
“Dearly Beloved”
“Aone Together”
“12 Gershwin in 12 Keys”
“Frankfurt Concert”
“Self Portrait”
“Subconscious Lee (Summit)”
“Dialogues”
“Saxophone Dreams”
“Inside Cole Porter”
“L’Age Muir”
“Tender Lee for Chat”
“Three Guys”
“Another Shade of Blue”
“Brazilian Serenade”
“Dig It”
“RichLee”
“Sound of Surprise”
“Play French Impressionist Music from the Turn of the Twentieth Century”
“Pride”
“Open Hearts”
“Some New Stuff”
“Parallels”
“All the Way (The Soft Ways)”
“Inside Rodgers”
“Gong with Wind Suite”
“Outra Vez”
“Duas Contas”
“At the New Mississippe Jazz Club”
“Live-Lee”
“Motion”
“Unleemited”
“A Day in Florence”
“Music of Konitz”
“Suite for Paolo”
“One Day with Lee”
“Sound-Lee”
“Phil & Lee: Two Brothers in Three Flats”
“Play Rava”
Play Woods”
“BargaLee”
“Play Konitz”
“81+15=96”
“Lee Konitz – Ohad Talmor String Project: Inventions”
“New Nonet”
“Organic Lee”
“Infant Eyes”
“Portology”
“October Waltz with Lee Konitz”
“Live in Oslo”
“Gracefullee”
“Alone & Together”
“Standarslee”
“The Glenn Gould Session”
“Soliloque”
“The Soprant Sax Album: Standards”
“Deep Lee”
“Jugendstil II”
“Live at the Village Vanguard”
“Knowing Lee”
“Live at Birdland”
“Owl’s Talk”
“Enfants Terribles: Live at the Blue Note”
“Nonitz”
“Eu Nao Existo (Thanks, A.C. Jobim)”
“Costumes are Mandatory”
“Standards Live: At the Village Vanguard”
“First Meeting: Live in London, Vol. 1”
“Jeff Denson Trio and Lee Konitz”
“Foolin’ Myself Humorous Lee”
“Freescalalto”
“Decade”
“Old Songs New”
“To Bill Evans”

 

By Schorle – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44835896

Actor Brian Dennehy Dies

Award winning stage and screen actor Brian Dennehy died April 15 in New Haven, Connecticut as a result of natural causes at the age of 81.

An actor on the Broadway stage and in film and television; Dennehy earned a Golden Globe, two Tony Awards, and has been inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame. He was also nominated for six Prime Time Emmy Awards.

Like many actors, Dennehy worked at a variety of jobs including a waiter, a bartender, and a truck driver.

Dennehy made his Broadway debut in 1995 in the original play “Translations”. He also appeared on Broadway in “Death of a Salesman” for which he won a Tony and Drama Desk Award, “Long Day’s Journey into Night” which earned him a second Tony Award, “Inherit the Wind”, “Desire Under the Elms”, and “Love Letters”.

He made his television acting debut in 1977 on an episode of “Kojak”. From there Dennehy went on to appear in nearly twoo hundred productions including “Serpico”, “M*A*S*H”, “Looking for Mr. Goodbar”, the animated film “Ants!”, “Dallas”, “Foul Play”, “10”, “Little Miss Marker”, “Knots Landing”, “Dynasty”, “First Blood”, “Gorky Park”, the “Cocoon” films”, the “F/X” films, “Legal Eagles”, “Miami Vice”, “Tommy Boy”, the “Jack Reed” series, “Netforce”, “Death of a Salesman”, “The West Wing”, the voice of Django in “Ratatouille”, “30 Rock”, “Twelfth Night”, “The Good Wife”, and “The Blacklist”.

Son of the South” and “Long Day Journey” were in post production; while “The Adventures of Buddy Thunder” was in pre production at the time of his death.

As himself, Dennehy appeared in documentaries, talk shows, variety shows, “Reading Rainbow”, award shows, and game shows.

Along with his acting, Dennehy did some writing, directing, and producing including “Jack Reed”, “Shadow of a Doubt”, “Night Visions”, “Death of a Salesman”, “The Fighting Fitzgeralds”,

Brian Manion Dennehy was born July 9, 1938 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He began acting in high school after some encouragement from a teacher. His acting career was put on a five year hiatus while Dennehy served in the United States Marine Corps.

His survivors include his second wife of over 30 years Jennifer and children Kathleen, Elizabeth, Cormack, and Sarah.

 

 

Feature photo credit: By Justin Hoch, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16674713

WWE: Open for Business

While much of the nation has closed down due to the Covid-19 virus, there is some question as to what qualifies as an essential business. The answers vary depending on which state a person lives in.

While post offices are closed in Florida preventing people from buying postal supplies, mailing bills and sending packages; Florida Governo Ron DeSantis has stated that the WWE – World Wrestling Entertainment – is an essential business and is allowed to remain open and operate in their Orlando facility.

Initially, the WWE was not placed on the essential business list and would have to shut down along with all other non-essential businesses on April 3; however, after WWE head Vince McMahon spoke with Florida governor (and friend of the White House), the ruling was changed and the WWE was renamed essential and allowed to remain open.

The WWE is the only sporting events continuing to operate in the United States after all events were postponed last month in wake of the pandemic.

In a memo from the Governor’s office on April 9, DeSantis has deemed, essential workers in Florida included, “employees at a professional sports (league) and media production with a national audience — including athletes, entertainers, production team, executive team, media team and any others necessary to facilitate including services supporting such production — only if the location is closed to the general public,” because they are essential for the economy.

The WWE returned to airing live broadcasts of their WWE Raw on April 13.

The WWE issued a statement saying, “we believe it is now more important than ever to provide people with a diversion from these hard times.” Adding, “we are producing content on a closed set with only essential personnel in attendance following appropriate guidelines while taking additional precautions to ensure the health and wellness of our performers and staff. As a brand that has been woven into the fabric of society, WWE and its Superstars bring families together and deliver a sense of hope, determination and perseverance.”

Revealing that a member of the company has tested positive for the virus, the WWE said via a statement, “we believe this matter is low risk to WWE talent and staff, as the individual and a roommate became symptomatic in the days following exposure to two people working in acute health care on the evening of March 26, after WWE’s TV production on a closed set was already complete.” The WWE said that the individual in question has not had any contact with any other WWE employee since their exposure; adding that the individual has since made a recovery.

It should be noted that the WWE has had in the past and continues to have ties with the White House including induction into the WWE Hall of Fame.

 

By Nahallac Silverwinds at English Wikipedia, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8537746

Monkees Ponder New Tour

Original Monkees Micky Dolenz and Michael Nesmith were set to tour this month but like thousands of other musicians, they have had to put touring plans on hold in the wake of the Covid-19 virus that has brought much of the nation to a standstill.

The tour was to promote the duos newest album “The Mike and Micky Show Live” which was mixed by Nesmith’s son Christian. The younger Nesmith also played guitar on the album. Dolenz spoke on the album saying, “Christian Nesmith did an amazing job mixing. I’m very pleased with the way (the album) came out.”

His father added, “I’m hopeful that he will get his kudos for this, because he had a stack of tapes and some half-baked ideas from me and Mick and the band. And I had no idea — ‘how the hell is this thing going to go together?'”

Dolenz noted that returning to the road in July is optimistic saying, “I think everybody’s waiting for some sort of a drug … or vaccine. I’ll be honest, I don’t think I’m going to be too crazy about going out unless something of that nature happens.”

Nesmith added, “I’m ready to get up there and do the best job I can. I love this band. I love going out on the road with them”.

 

featur photo credit: By GabboT – Monkees 02, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=78377343

 

Jason Rainey of Sacred Reich Has Died

Sacred Reich guitarist Jason Rainey died March 16, 2020 at the age of 53 as a result of a heart attack. Band members report that in recent years Rainey had been dealing with some medical issues.

Rainey was the founding member of the Phoenix, Arizona thrash metal band in 1985 and was a member until 2019 when he was replaced due to medical issues.. Rainey started the band after having played the guitar for only six months.

When not playing with Sacred Reich, Rainey could often be found running the sound board at various Phoenix venues.

Jason Wesley Rainey was born on Valentine’s Day – February 14 -, 1967.

He is survived by his wife Renee.

 

feature photo credit: Sacred Reich Facebook page

Lucille Lortel Award Nominees Revealed

The 2019-20 theatrical season was cut short by the Covid-19 pandemic, plays, musicals, and award shows have been put on hold, the Lucille Lortel Awards have released their list of nominations for 2020 honouring Off-Broadway productions.

A Strange Loop” leads the list of nominations with seven; “Heroes of the Fourth Turning” and “In the Green” follows with six nominations each. “For Colored Girls”, “Octet”, “Soft Power” all earned five nominations each.

Due to the pandemic, all live awards shows have been put on hold; the presentation of the Lucille Lortel Awards will be held online May 3. Tim Sanford will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award and Anna Deavere Smith will become a part of the Playwrights’ Sidewalk.

And the nominees are…
Outstanding Play:
“BLKS”
“Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven”
“Heroes of the Fourth Turning”
“Is This A Room”
“Mrs. Murray’s Menagerie”

Outstanding Musical:
“A Strange Loop”
“In The Green”
“Octet”
“Soft Power”
“The Secret Life of Bees”

Outstanding Revival:
“A Bright Room Called Day”
“Fires in the Mirror”
“for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf”
“Little Shop of Horrors”
“MAC BETH”

Outstanding Solo Show:
“Bella Bella”
“Dana H.”
“the way she spoke”
“We’re Only Alive for A Short Amount of Time”
“Where We Stand”

Outstanding Director:
Stephen Brackett for “A Strange Loop”
Tina Satter “Is This A Room”
Danya Taymor for “Heroes of the Fourth Turning”
Annie Tippefor “Octet”
Les Waters for “Dana H.”

Outstanding Choreographer:
Camille A. Brown for “for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf”
Camille A. Brown for “Toni Stone”
Raja Feather Kelly for “A Strange Loop”
Sam Pinkleton for “Soft Power”
Travis Wall for “The Wrong Man”

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play:
Charles Busch for his role in “The Confession of Lily Dare”
Edmund Donovan for his role in “Greater Clements”
Raúl Esparza for his role in “Seared”
Hamish Linklater for his role in “The Pain of My Belligerence”
Aaron Yoo for his role in “The Headlands”

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play:
Liza Colón-Zayas for her role in “Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven”
Emily Davis for her role in “Is This A Room”
April Matthis for her role in “Toni Stone”
Zoë Winters for her role in “Heroes of the Fourth Turning”
Kara Young for her role in “All the Natalie Portmans”

 

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play:
Christopher Borg for his role in “The Confession of Lily Dare”
Marc Bovino for his role in “Mrs. Murray’s Menagerie
Garcia, Continuity”
Francis Jue for his role in “Cambodian Rock Band”
Ken Narasaki for his role in “Greater Clements”

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play:
Okwui Okpokwasili for her role in “for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf”
Estelle Parsons for her role in “A Bright Room Called Day”
Michele Pawk for her role in “Heroes of the Fourth Turning”
Stephanie Wright Thompson for her role in “Mrs. Murray’s Menagerie”
Alexandria Wailes for her role in “for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf” Conrad Ricamora and Francis Jue for their role in “Soft Power”

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical:
Jonathan Groff for his role in “Little Shop of Horrors”
Joshua Henry for his role in “The Wrong Man”
Francis Jue for his role in “ Soft Power”
Larry Owens for his role in “ A Strange Loop”
Conrad Ricamora for his role in “ Soft Power”

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical:
Eisa Davis for her role in “The Secret Life of Bees”
LaChanze for her role in “The Secret Life of Bees”
Beth Malone for her role in “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”
Janelle McDermoth for her role in “ We’re Gonna Die
Grace McLean” and “In The Green”

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical:
Christian Borle for his role in “Little Shop of Horrors”
Alex Gibson for his role in “Octet”
Gus Halper for his role in “Sing Street”
Jay Armstrong Johnson for his role in “Scotland, PA”
John-Andrew Morrison for his role in “A Strange”

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical:
Ashley Pérez Flanagan for her role in “In The Green”
Ari Groover for her role in “Little Shop of Horrors”
L Morgan Lee for her role in “A Strange Loop”
Ciara Renée for her role in “The Wrong Man”
Kuhoo Verma for her role in “Octet”

Outstanding Scenic Design:
You-Shin Chen and Laura Jellinek for “Mrs. Murray’s Menagerie”
Yu-Hsuan Chen for “Our Dear Dead Drug Lord”
Tim Mackabee for “Seared”
James Noone for “London Assurance”
Clint Ramos for “Soft Power”

Outstanding Costume Design:
Dede Ayite for “BLKS”
Montana Levi Blanco for “A Strange Loop”
Oana Botez for “In The Green”
Toni-Leslie James for “for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf”
Rachel Townsend and Jessica Jahn for “The Confession of Lily Dare”

Outstanding Lighting Design:
Isabella Byrd for “Heroes of the Fourth Turning”
Alan C. Edwards for “Fires in the Mirror”
Tyler Micoleau for “Socrates”
Barbara Samuels “In The Green”
Jen Schriever for “Power Strip”

Outstanding Sound Design:
Justin Ellington for “Heroes of the Fourth Turning”
Mikhail Fiksel for “Dana H.”
Lee Kinney and Sanae Yamada for “Is This A Room”
Hidenori Nakajo for “Octet”
Nicholas Pope for “In The Green”

Outstanding Projection Design:
Stephan Mazurek for “Mojada”
Lisa Renkel and Possible for “Emojiland the Musical”
Ruey Horng Sun for “The Headlands”
Hannah Wasileski for “Anatomy of a Suicide”
Hannah Wasileski for “Fires in the Mirror”

XFL Files Bankruptcy

Days after announcing that they were laying off all of their workers, the XFL has filed for bankruptcy. In the bankruptcy filing at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Deleware, it is estimated that the XFL has between $10 and $50 million in assets and liabilities.

The XFL, like all other sports, was suspended last month due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the bans of the gathering of large crowds. In a statement, the XFL said, “it wasn’t insulated from the harsh economic impacts and uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 crisis.” The League added, “this is a heartbreaking time for many, including our passionate fans, players and staff, and we are thankful to them, our television partners, and the many Americans who rallied to the XFL for the love of football.”

Back in 2001, the XFL played one season of spring football but failed to garner the interest seen in the fall and winter football of the NFL. Making a second attempt, the XFL had eight teams set to play a 10 game season. The League played half of the season before it was shut down by the virus and the ban on crowds.

 

Weber to Post New Musical

Since the closure of Broadway due to the Covid-19 virus and the ban on large crowds, artists have been looking for other ways to entertain fans.

Lord Andrew Lloyd Weber has created a You Tube channel – The Show Must Go On – where he is offering fans a free viewing of some of his musicals.

Previously, Weber has presented “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and most recently “Jesus Christ Superstar”. The next musical to be presented is the Royal Albert Hall performance of “Phantom of the Opera”.

Starring Sierra Boggess and Ramin Karimloo, the musical will begin April 17 at 2pm eastern time. The musical will be available for free for 48 hours. The 2011 production was in celebration of Phantom’s 25th anniversary.

While Weber is offering the productions for free, viewers are encouraged to make a donation to aid a variety of organizations during the Covid-19 pandemic including Acting for Others, Broadway Cares, and the Actors Benevolent Fund.

Ganassi Fires Larson

Just one day after NASCAR and Chip Ganassi Racing suspended NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Larson, car owner Chip Ganassi has fired Larson in what he said was an “emotional call”. The move came after a number of the number 42 car’s sponsors began telling Ganassi that they would no longer sponsor the driver.

Car sponsors include McDonald’s, Credit One Bank, and Chevrolet.

During an iRacing event on April 12, Larson was heard uttering a racial slur derogatory to people of colour. Reportedly Larson was having communication difficulties with his headset and his spotter. Larson asked, you can’t hear me…followed by the slur.

Larson, whose grandparents were among the thousands of Japanese immigrants forced into camps during World War II is the only driver of Japanese descent to win a major race in NASCAR.

Larson has since apologized for his actions…

I made a mistake, said the word that should never, ever be said. There is no excuse for that. I wasn’t raised that way. It is just an awful thing to say. I feel very sorry for my family, my friends, my partners, the NASCAR community and especially the African-American community. I understand the damage is probably unrepairable and I own up to that.”

His mistake comes at a high price; not only does Larson lose whatever salary he would make in 2020, he would have been a free agent at the end of the season with the hopes of a large contract on the horizon.

Larson has won six NASCAR Cup Series races since he began driving the number 42 car.

Chip Ganassi Racing issued a statement on the matter saying, “after much consideration, Chip Ganassi Racing has determined that it will end its relationship with driver Kyle Larson. As we said before, the comments that Kyle made were both offensive and unacceptable especially given the values of our organization. As we continued to evaluate the situation with all the relevant parties, it became obvious that this was the only approp course of action to take.”

Owner of a sprint car in the World of Outlaws, Kyle Larson Racing fields a Chevrolet with Lucas Oil as one of its sponsors; who has also dropped sponsorship with Larson.

A prolific driver, Larson will get behind the wheel of any style car. He also owns a midge car that he himself has driven to eight of nine wins including the annual Chili Bowl.

Knockouts Begin on ‘The Voice’

The Battle Rounds are over on “The Voice” and it’s time for the Knockout Rounds where the 28 remaining singers will get a little help from super mentor, the original JT, James Taylor.

Team Blake gets the night started with Joei Fulco and Levi Watkins. Joei chose the Everly Brothers song “When Will I Be Loved” which was remade by Linda Rondstadt. Levi chose a Waylon Jennings song “I Ain’t Living Long Like This”. Taylor didn’t just tell the singers, he showed them on his guitar. John said that both singers gave perfect performances; but there was something about Levi. Nick was perplexed by Levi’s song choice; adding that Blake is good at coaching. Kelly thought that Levi was cool for even knowing the song and who Waylon Jennings is. Blake said that Levi sold the song even though he is only 14; adding that Joei did a good job of not over singing. Going with his gut, Blake chose Joei as the winner of the battle. Kelly wanted to adopt Levi.

The singers only get one steal for this round.

Next up was team Kelly with Megan Danielle and steal CammWess. Megan chose Kelly’s song “Piece by Piece”. CammWess chose the Great Big World song “Say Something”. Blake called it a neck and neck competition; adding that both have an incredible gift. John said that Megan did a great version of Kelly’s song but CammWess was a vocal tour de force. Nick said that John made a mistake letting CammWess go and showed John what he lost. After two emotional performances, Kelly noted how the singers chose songs that meant something to them. Saying that she was being strategic, Kelly chose Megan as the winner of the battle. Nick and John pushed their button to steal CammWess. CammWess chose to go back home and return to John’s team.

John’s first duo was Darious Lyles with “Me and Mrs Jones” and Mike Jerel with the Bruno Mars song “Versace on the Floor”. Nick called the guys two powerhouse performances. Kelly said that she loves both voices; adding that they are smooth. John said that Darious was intentional in his performance. John chose Mike as the winner of the battle.

Nick chose to pair Roderrick Chambers and Tate Brusa for a battle. Roderick chose “Redbone” by Childish Gambino for her song and Tate chose “The Scientist” by Coldplay for his performance and to play the piano for the first time. Roderick had Kelly on her feet dancing, but Blake was confused by what the lyrics to the song were. Kelly thought both singers were impressive. Blake noted that Nick was in a tough spot. John said that Roderick’s range is stunning; adding that Tate’s performance was impressive. Nick noted that Tate came out showed he meant business; adding that Roderick also gave a great performance. Saying that he was going with his gut, Nick chose Roderick as the winner of the battle.

For his next battle, Blake chose to pair Cam Spinks and Todd Tilghman for a battle. Cam chose the Lee Brice song “Rumor” and Todd chose the Travis Tritt song “Anymore”. John called the performances fun. Nick noted that the guys have very similar voices. Blake noted that it was crazy to see talent like this undiscovered. Blake chose the father of eight, Todd Tilghman as the winner of the battle.

John paired up Zan Fiskum and steal Joanna Serenko for a battle. Joanna chose the John Prine hit “Angel from Montgomery”. The show was filmed prior to Prine’s death. Zan chose the Brandi Carlile song “The Story”. Nick regretted letting Joanna go; adding that there was a lot of emotion in Azn’s performance. Kelly said that it was an even performance. Blake said that he learned more about Joanna vocally but Zan was an artist. John liked the fluttery notes from Joann; but thought that Zan did a great job as well. John chose Zan as the winner of the battle. Nick and Blake pushed their buttons to steal Joanna. Joanna chose to go with her third different coach this season and chose Blake to be her coach.

Team Blake:
Joei Fulco
Todd Tilghman
Joanna Serenko

Team Kelly:
Megan Danielle

Team Legend:
CammWess
Mike Jerel
Zan Fiskum

Team Nick:
Roderick Chambers

Diector Wynn Handman Dies

Director and co-founder of the American Place Theatre Wynn Handman died April 11 in his Manhattan home as a result of complications from the Covid-19 virus at the age of 97.

He served as the APT artistic director and chief financial officer from 1963 until 2001 when it became strictly an educational organization.

An acting teacher, producer, and a pillar of Off-Broadway, continued to work well into his 90’s. His former students include Richard Gere, James Caan, Joel Grey, Denzel Washington, Michael Douglas, Mia Farrow, Allison Janney, Alec Baldwin, Frank Langella, and Chris Cooper.

Alumni of the American Place Theatre include Dustin Hoffman, Faye Dunaway, Morgan Freeman, Roscoe Lee Browne, Mrian Selders, Bill Irwin, Olympia Dukakis, and John Leguizamo.

His directorial endeavours include “Manchild in the Promised Land”, “I Stand Before You Naked”, “Oates, Words, No Music”, “Drinking in America”, “A Girl’s Guide to Chaos”, “Free Speech in America”, and “Bibliomania”

Handman’s accomplishments include an Obie Award for Sustained Achievement, a Lucille Lortel Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Rosetta LeNoire Award, two Audelco for Excellence in Black Theatre Awards, the Carnegie Mellon Drama Commitment to Playwrighting Award and the Sanford Meisner Service Award from the Working Theatre.

Predeceased by his wife of 60 years Barbara, Handman is survived by his daughters Laura and Liza and their families.

 

By WynnHandmanStudio – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=54805341

F1 Racer Stirling Moss Dies

Regarded as one of Formula One’s greatest drivers, Stirling Moss, died in his London home after what his wife called a long illness April 11 at the age of 90.

Known as Mr Motor Racing, Moss was often thought of as a national treasure, he was knighted in 1999.

Moss nearly died in 1962 after a bad crash left him in a coma for a month. He hit a bank of earth at 100mph and wasn’t wearing a seat belt. It took 45 minutes for crews to extricate Moss from the car. The crash resulted in a brain injury, paralysis on his left side for six months, and permanent damage to his eyesight and reflexes.

Two years prior, he broke both legs and damaged his spine in a crash.

Moss retired at age 31 with 16 Formula One race wins. Over the course of his racing career, Moss 375 races with a total 212 wins.

In 1955, Moss beat out Juan Manuel Fangio in the Mille Miglia – a 1,000 mile road course through Italy. While finishing second in the championship four time and third three times, Moss never took home the big prize of a championship title.

After retiring Moss became a successful businessman and consultant to car manufacturers.

Moss also made numerous television appearances including sports shows, documentaries, game shows, talk shows, variety shows, a driver in the original 1967 version of “Casino Royale”, and as the narrator in 22 episodes of Roary the Racing Car”.

Stirling Craufurd Moss was born on September 17, 1929 in London, into a racing family. His father Alfred Moss ran in the Indianapolis 500 twice in the 20’s and his mother was the 1936 English women’s champion. A teen aged Stirling began racing after World War II.

Moss’s survivors include his third wife Susie and children Elliott and Allison.

 

Feature photo credit: By AngMoKio – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37061773

Kyle Larson Suspended

Whether it be violating rules of car construction, the use of illicit substances, or violating the rule book on conduct; NASCAR has a no tolerance policy.

After NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Larson uttered a derogatory word toward people of colour, NASCAR has suspended Larson indefinitely.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver was participating in an iRacing event that was live streamed on April 12.

Larson drives the number 42 car for Chip Ganassi Racing.

By uttering the racial slur, Larson has violated Sections 12.1 and 12.8 of the NASCAR rule book and must attend sensitivity training.

NASCAR issued a statement on the matter saying, “NASCAR has made diversity and inclusion a priority and will not tolerate the type of language used by Kyle Larson during Sunday’s iRacing event. Our Member Conduct Guidelines are clear in this regard, and we will enforce these guidelines to maintain an inclusive environment for our entire industry and fan base.”

Larson has since released a video with an apology for his actions saying…
“Hey, I just want to say I’m sorry. Last night I made a mistake and said the word that should never, ever be said. There’s no excuse for that. I wasn’t raised that way. It’s just an awful thing to say. I feel very sorry for my family, my friends, my partners, the NASCAR community and especially the African-American community. I understand the damage is probably unrepairable, and I own up to that. But I just want to let you all know how sorry I am, and I hope everybody is staying safe during these crazy times. Thank you.”

Chip Ganassi Racing also issued a statement expressing their disappointment in the event; adding that Larson has been suspended without pay.

iRacing also released a statement saying that Larson has been indefinitely suspeneded from the iRacing service.

Section 12.8.1 of the NASCAR Rule Book states:
“Member actions that could result in a fine and/or indefinite suspension, or termination:
Public statement and/or communication that criticizes, ridicules, or otherwise disparages another person based upon that person’s race, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, age, or handicapping condition.”

 

feature photo credit: By Zach Catanzareti – Cropped from https://www.flickr.com/photos/58980992@N03/41841163981, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=84109361

Comedian Tim Brooks-Taylor Dies

British comedian Tim Brooke-Taylor died in the early hours of April 12 in England at the age of 79 as a result of complications form the Covid-19 virus.

Best known for being a part of the comedic trio The Goodies, Brooke-Taylor got his start with the Footlights Revue at Cambridge University. He later worked in radio and television. In 1975, Brooke-Taylor and his The Goodies mates Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie had a hit song on the UK chart with “Funky Gibbon” and “The Inbetweenies”.

Brooke-Taylor spent over 40 years as a panelist on the radio comic quiz show “I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue”.

Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II honoured Brooke-Taylor, along with his The Goodies mate Graeme Garden, with OBE – Officer of the Order of the British Empire – for their contributions to entertainment. Bill Oddie earned his for his contributions to wildlife preservation.

Timothy Julian Brooke-Taylor was born on July 17, 1940 in Buxton, in the United Kingdom the third child of a World War I veteran, solicitor, and the local coroner. His father also served in the Home Guard. His father died when young Tim was only 13 years old. He entered college to follow in the family footsteps and study law. But being roommates with John Cleese of Monty Python fame changed all that.

At first thinking participation in the Floodlights Revue as a spot of fun, his role in “A Clump of Plinths” led to an appearance on London’s West End and on Broadway.

The one time folly turned serious when Brooke-Taylor landed a spot on the BBC radio show “ I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again”.

Writing a great deal of the material they used, Brooke-Taylor made his televivion debut on “The Wednesday Play” in 1966. From there he appeared in dozens of productions including “At Last the 1948 Show”, “Marty”, “Broaden Your Mind”, the computer voice in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”, “Engelbert with the Young Generation”, “His and Hers”, 77 episodes of “The Goodies”, “You Must Be the Husband”, “Bananaman”, “Me and My Girl”, and his final appearance in 2015 in “Doctors”.

Brooke-Taylor appeared as himself in over 80 productions including documentaries, variety shows, comedy shows, game shows, “Masterchef”, as host on 121 episodes of “Beat the Nation”, “Monty Python: Almost the Truth – The Lawyer’s Cut”, and “50 Years of BBC2 Comedy”.

He is survived by his wife Christine and sons Ben and Edward.

 

Feature phtot credit: By Ed g2s – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36655935

Japanese Filmmaker Nobuhiku Obayashi Dies

Japanese filmmaker Nobuhiko Obayashi died April 10 in Tokyo as a result of lung cancer at the age of 82. When he was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2016, Obayashi was told he had only a few months to live; but he continued to work until his death.

Obayashi was known for his films depicting the horrors of war. A pacifist, his films featured fairy tale imagery, colourful Japanese festivals, dripping blood, marching doll soldiers, winding cobblestone roads, and shooting stars. He was also considered a trailblazer in Japanese television commercials by bringing in non-Japanese stars including Kirk Douglas and Charles Bronson. He reportedly made nearly 3,000 of the ad spots.

His final film “Umibeno Eigakan Kinemano Tamatebako” (“Labyrinth of Cinema”) was originally scheduled for an April 10 release but was moved back due to crowed restrictions because of the Covid-19 virus.

Labyrinth of Cinema” was one of the films showcased at the Tokyo International Film Festival last year. Obayashi was also honoured as a “cinematic magician” at the Festival.

His work appeared at the Berlin International, Moscow, and Udine Far East Film Festivals.

Fascinated with the piano, Obayashi composed music for a few of his productions “The Girl in the Picture”, “Remembrance”, “Nakesaendo”, “The Wonderful World of Steam Locomotive”, “Death of an Old Mansion”, and “The Deserted City”.

He also worked as a producer, writer, editor, and cinematographer on some of his productions. During his career, Obayashi made nearly 60 films including his 1960 debut “The Girl in the Picture”, the 1977 feature debut “House”, “Take Me Away!”, “I Are You, You am Me”, “The Deserted City”, “Shinjuro”, “The Drifting Classroom”, “The Rocking Horsemen”, “Turning Point”, “I Want to Hear the Wind’s Song”, “The Last Snow”, “Scenery to Remember”, “Seven Weeks”, and his final film “Labyrinth of Cinema”.

Known as a film director, Obayashi appeared as an actor is a handful of films – “The Girl in the Picture”, “House”, “The Visitor in the Eye”, “The Woman”, “Completely…with that Air!”, “Zokubutsu zukan”, “Manuke sensei”, and “Kalina’s Apple: Forest of Chernobyl”.

He was born in pre World War II Japan on January 9, 1938 in the Hiroshima Prefecture of Onomichi the son of an Army doctor. His interest in film making came at a very early age, with a toy movie projector when he was only three years old.

Obayashi’s survivors include his actress Kyoko and his daughter Chigumi who is also an actress.

 

 

Feature photo credit: By 文部科学省ホームページ, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=83822295

Idol: This is Me

Last week on “American Idol” the judges revealed the top 20…rather 21; leaving the last spot up to the fans.  Fans will choose who will round out the top 20 with their first vote of the season on AmericanIdol.com

It is April 12 – Easter Sunday – and with most of the country still under the stay at home order, the series is taking the next two weeks to give fans a closer look at the singers on season 18 of “American Idol: This is Me” in hopes that the live performances can begin soon.

Idol takes some time to give fans a closer look at each singer when they are not on the stage.

Remix Contest with Marc Scibilia

Despite orders to avoid crowds and stay at home; music artists are finding ways to create their music and release new material.

Nashville artists Marc Scibilia has released a new remix single of his song “All Day All Night”. Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen and rap artists Jime Jones also appear on the song with Scibilia.

In addition; Scibilia is launching a contest inviting budding DJ’s to remix the song. He has partnered with Beatstars – an online community of creators and producers – where contest entrants can download various tracks of the song including Phil Collen and Jim Jones to create their own remix.

The deadline for the All Day All Night remix contest is May 3.

Go to https://remix.beatstars.com/?ct=t(EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2_25_2020_12_31_COPY_01)&mc_cid=1057e69d4a&mc_eid=666adb7431 to download the stems for the song. Be sure to listen to the original track first for a reference and inspiration.

After creating your remix, use the link to upload your song on Beatstars under “Not for Sale” song. Do Not upload the song as a commercial release! Nor can it be distributed, sold, or released in any manner.

The winning remix will receive a 5% royalty for the song, a free unlimited BeatStars plan for a year, $100 worth of BeatStars merchandise, a full version of Native Instruments Komplete 12, and a Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32.

 

feature photo credit: Marc Scibilia’s Facebook page

Go “Home” with Rachael Sage

Independent musician and New York City native Rachael Sage knows what it is like to be cooped up at home with nowhere to go.

A couple of years ago Rachael released a song titled “Home (Where I Am Now)”. The current situation has brought a new perspective to the song for Rachael.

As a result, she is planning a new video for the song and is asking fans to participate in the process.

Rachael is asking fans to send in video clips of what they are doing at home. The footage will be edited together to form the new video. Rachael plans to use the video to raise funds to help out the medical workers in New York City on the front lines of the current medical crisis.

For anyone interested in submitting a video…
Using a phone, DSLR camera, or GoPro shoot 30 to 60 seconds of video making sure to keep the camera as still as possible.

Fans can stream the song on SoundCloud or Spotify and sing along if they wish when filming their video.

Once the video has been shot go to https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc3MK6ExFN-iOavZkiLiXcEpleGJgiyoLAWQzjTqwPY8Gxj4g/viewform to upload the video and sign a release form. Make sure the video is in .mov, .avi, or .mp4 formats and in HD is possible.

Fans who have their entries used for the video will receive credit at the end of the video and receiv a shout out on the social media networks.

The deadline for submitting the video is 11:59pm on April 20, 2020.

“HOME (WHERE I AM NOW)” LYRICS
by Rachael Sage & Fiona Harte

I love this city
Strange beautiful city
Everything about it feels like home
I love this city
I don’t long for anyone to know
Anything about me or
The places I call home

And when I look above at all the skyscrapers at night
I think about the girl I wanna be
I know that every stranger has a dream they keep inside
I wonder which one of them could be me

Home is where you’re taken in
Fearlessly breathing with the wind
Home is where you set your spirit down
I’m at home in all this beauty
Everything about it moves me
I may be from another place but home’s where I am now
Where I am now

I woke up this morning
Inspired by Manhattan’s yawning
City sirens and the buskers circling Union Square
I woke up this morning
Lady Liberty was calling
Me to lose my inhibition
Let loose my tangled hair

And when I look above at all the skyscrapers at night
I think about the girl I wanna be
I know that every stranger has a dream they keep inside
I wonder which one of them could be me

Home is where you’re taken in
Fearlessly breathing with the wind
Home is where you set your spirit down
I’m at home in all this beauty
Everything about it moves me
I may be from another place but home’s where I am now
Where I am now

And all I ever hoped for was the chance
To listen and to be well-listened to
I know some people may long to be rescued in romance
But love is an adventure and I wanna spend it being close to you

Home is where you’re taken in
Fearlessly breathing with the wind
Home is where you set your spirit down
I’m at home in all this beauty
Everything about it moves me
I may be from another place but home’s where I am now
Where I am now, where I am now, where I am now
Where I am now

feature photo credit: taken from Rachael Sage’s website press page

Actor Dieter Laser has Died

German actor Dieter Laser died February 29, 2020 – less than two weeks after his 78th birthday – in Berlin, Germany. An official cause of death was not revealed. The death was not revealed until April 9, 2020.

Laser was best known for his role as the evil Dr. Heiter in “The Human Centipede”.

He began his acting career at age 16 when he appeared at the stage door of the Deutsches Schauspielhaus and inquired about how to become an actor. As luck would have it, there was an extra role open after the actor failed to show. Learning as he continued to appear on stage, Laser made his lead role debut film appearance in “John Glückstadt”.

Throughout his career, Laser appeared in dozens of films on both sides of the Atlantic including “Peter Gynt”, “John Glueckstadt”, “The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum”, “Das blaue Palais”, “Union der festen Hand”, “Kreuzfahrten eines Globetrotters”, “Vater und Sohne – Eine deutsche Tragodie”, “The Ogre”, “Lexx”, “Meine grune Freiheit – Ein Fruhling in Irland”, “The Human Centipede (First Sequence), “Gier”, and his final role in 2017 as Baron in “November”.

Laser’s accomplishments include a German Film Award for his role in “John Glückstadt”, a Best Actor Award from the Austin Fantastic Fest, and a Scream Award for Best Villain for his role in “Human Centipede”.

He was born on February 17, 1942 in Kiel, Germany to a fundamentalist Christian family.

Laser’s survivors include his wife Inge.

 

 

Feature photo credit: By Dieter_Laser.jpg: Saskia Batugowski (Ak@ssia) from Ixellesderivative work: RanZag (talk) – Dieter_Laser.jpg, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12367153

LGBTQ Activist Phyllis Lyon Dies

LGBTQ pioneering activist Phyllis Lyon died April 9 in her San Francisco home at the age of 95 as a result of natural causes.

More than an activist for LGBTQ rights; she also fought for civil and elder rights.

In 2004 San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom issued marriage licenses to same sex couples with Lyon and Martin being the first couple to get married. But that marriage was invalidated by the California Supreme Court. Lyon and Del tried again and were the first same sex couple to marry in California in 2008 after the law was passed.

Lyon and Martin met in 1952 while working at the same magazine in Seattle and moved into a flat in San Francisco together in 1953.

The couple; along with three other lesbian couple, formed the Daughters of Bilitis -DOB – in 1955. It became the first lesbian political and social organization in the United States. They also created “The Ladder”, a publication that connected lesbians across the nation.

In 1972 they published a book “Lesbian/Woman” that was said to change lives.

Their activism continued with the first open lesbians to join the National Organization for Women, helped to form the Council on Religion and Homosexuality in Northern California, were active in the first gay political organization in San Francisco – the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club, were member of the Old Lesbians Organizing for Change, and were delegates to the White House Conference on Aging,

They were honoured by the ACLU of Northern California for their commitment to civil rights and liberties.

She was born on November 10, 1924 in Tulsa, Oklahoma but grew up in the California capital of Sacramento. She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in journalism.

After serving as the editor for the Daily Californian while in college, Lyon worked at the Chico Enterprise-Record and on the editorial staff for two Seattle magazines.

Later she was an administrative assistant for the Reverend Cecil Williams of the Glide Memorial Church. While at Glide she and Del had a pivotal role in shaping the inclusivity of LGBT community members in the church.

Lyon held a number of positions throughout her life including the co-founder of the National Sex Forum and was its director for 19 years, and a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality – where she was an innovator of sex education.

Lyon is predeceased by her partner of 58 years, Del Martin; her survivors include her sister Patricia, daughter Kendra, grandchildren Lorri and Kevin, and great-grandchild Kexin.

XFL Lays Off Workers

As the song says, “another one bites the dust.”

The XFL had to suspend the remainder of its spring football season after orders for the end of large crowds in an effort to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Had the season continued, the XFL would be preparing for the playoffs and an end to the season; instead, they have suspended all operations; laying off employees.

When the XFL – which is owned by the WWE – canceled the remainder of the 2020 season, they promised to return for 2021; however, the future of the XFL may be in question. Employees were notified via a conference call on April 10 and will receive compensation through Easter Sunday – April 12.

The fledgling league with eight teams had played half of its 10 game schedule when the remainder of the season was shut down.

 

feature photo credit: XFL Facebook page

UFC Fights Get Canceled

Despite lock down and social distancing rules, UFC President Dana White insisted that UFC 249 would go on as planned.

But on Thursday, April 9, White announced that the fights were off after Disney and ESPN announced that they would cease promoting the event.

White said via a memo, “I was ready to go on Saturday, but Disney and ESPN asked me to step down. I love and respect my partnership with them so I postponed the event.” White said that he got a call from the highest level at Disney asking him to cancel the event. Reportedly White has a $1.5 billion deal with ESPN to carry the fights.

The event was scheduled for April 18 with ESPN Plus carrying the fights via pay-per-view. White also planned a fight card at the Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino – a venue on Native land in central California. White had planned to hold the fights in an empty arena at the Santa Rosa Indian Community of the Tachi Yokut Tribe. White told ESPN, “Tachi Palace has had our back this whole time, has stood their ground and was willing to do this fight.”

With a long history of hosting sporting events, the Tachi Yokut Tribe is not subject to U.S. federal orders to shelter-in-place.

However, White has not canceled any further events. He is continuing to construct an octagon and whatever else is required to hold fights on an unidentified private island. White had originally planned to use his “Fight Island” to hold fights involving fighters who cannot get into the United States. White told the Associated Press that “Fight Island” will be operational as soon as possible.

White vows to make UFC the first sport “back” after the pandemic crisis has passed.

 

Only a few hours prior to the announcement, Rose Namajuanas dropped out of the event after two members of her family have died under Covid-19 related conditions.

White has vowed that none of UFC’s employees will be laid off saying, “everybody is good”.

 

Caricature Artist Mort Drucker Dies

Mad Magazine” illustrator Mort Drucker died April 8, 2020 at his Long Island, New York home at the age of 91. While no official cause of death was given, his daughter Laurie said that her father had fallen ill last week and died with his wife of over 70 years at his side.

Drucker spent decades drawing caricatures of politicians and celebrities alike for the pop culture magazine “Mad”. He joined the staff of the magazine during it’s early days.

Besides “Mad Magazine”, Drucker lent his talents to “Time” magazine, an ad campaign for DC Comics, the poster for “American Graffiti”, and some album cover art for the metal band Anthrax. He even created illustrations for adult and children’s colouring books.

He is a member of the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame. He has also earned the National Cartoonists Society Special Features Award and the Reuben Award. The NCS presented Drucker with their inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award.

He was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1929. He taught himself to draw and began sharing his talents with “Mad” in 1956 and a spoof of the television drama “Perry Mason”. By the time he retired, Drucker has penned 238 of his famous cartoons. His final cartoon came in 2008 as a spoof for the film of “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian”.

Drucker once spoke on his work, saying that he approached it as a filmmaker where he was the camera and paid close attention to the lighting, angles, shots, and close ups.

Drucker’s survivors include his wife Barbara and daughter Laurie.

 

Feature photo credit: By Gustavo Morales – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5499833

NAMA Presents a Free Concert

As the national lock down of large crowds continues, musicians are finding other ways to reach out to their fans.

This Saturday – April 11 – members of the Native American music community have come together to perform a free concert of Native American music.

The program kicks off at 5pm eastern time with Joanne Shenandoah, Shelly Morningson, Fabian Fontenelle, Jimmy Wolf, James Greeley and Blue Flamez.

Music fans can access the free concert via the NAMA Facebook page at facebook.com/NativeAwards or the NAMA Community page facebook.com/groups/NAMALive

The concert is called “A Journey Through Indian Country” with James Greeley and Blue Flamez getting the show started from Warm Springs, Oregon.

Shelley Morningsong and Fabian Fontenelle perform at 6pm from Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico.

Joanne Shenandoah takes over at 7pm from Northern New York.

Jimmy Wolf caps off the night’s entertainment at 8:30pm from Upstate New York.

Rapper Chynna Dies

Model and rap artist Chynna Rogers died April 8, 2020, in Philadelphia at the age of 25. No official cause of death has been given.

Chynna was a part of A$AP Mob after pairing up with A$AP Yams when she was 15. After Yams encouraged her to write her own rhymes, she began releasing her own singles including “Selfie” and “Glen Coco”. She released her debut EP “This Isn’t Happening” in 2015. Chynna’s final release – “In Case I Die First” – came in December 2019.

As a member of A$AP Mob she has performed at the SXSW Music Festival.

A recovering addict, her music often had death as its theme. She noted in a 2016 interview, “I think there’s too many soundtracks to our lives. I need music to die to.” It was her final post on Instagram.

Before becoming a music artist, Chynna was a teen model. She was discovered when she was 14 years old at the Six Flags Great Adventure park in Jackson, New Jersey.

Chynna Marie Rogers was born in Philadelphia, Pennsynvania.

Chynna’s survivors include her father Michael Magness and siblings Michael, Jeremy, and Nala.

 

Broadway Gets Streamed

Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber has created some of the most memorable musicals on Broadway. But with all of the shows closed, musical and Broadway fans cannot see those musicals.

Lord Webber has created a channel on You Tube he call “The Show Must Go On” where he is offering some of those iconic musicals for free.

Once every two weeks a new musical will begin playing at 2pm eastern time and will be available for 48 hours.

The series kicked off on April 3 with “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”. While the airing of Dreamcoat has finished, fans can still see Donny Osmond – who played Joseph – singing “Any Dream Will Do”.

The next musical scheduled to air also has a biblical theme and is appropriate for the season. It will be “Jesus Christ Superstar” and begin on April 10.

While the exact titles were not listed, Lord Webber will continue to offer up more of his productions in the coming weeks.

Other streaming platforms are also offering up Broadway productions…
Netflix is airing “Jersey Boys”, “Oh, Hello on Broadway”, “Springsteen on Broadway”, “Shrek the Musical”, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”, “Mike Birbiglia: The New One”, and “American Son”.

Amazon Prime is offering “Carousel”, “Fiddler on the Roof”, “Hamilton: One Shot to Broadway”, “Hello, Again”, “King Lear”, “Kiss Me Kate”, “Merely Marvelous: The Dancing Genius of Gwen Verdon”, and “The SpongeBob Musical: Live on Stage!”

 

Broadway, ABT, and The Met Extend Closure

As the Covid-19 virus continues to ravage the country and especially New York City, more cultural events are being delayed and cancelled.

On April 8 the Broadway Theatre League has extended the shuttering of the plays and musicals on Broadway.

Broadway was originally set to reopen the day after Easter Sunday, but the Great White Way will continue to stay dark until June 7.

New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a stay at home rule for the state early last month. The ruling also shuttered all events involving large numbers of people. Currently those orders are set to remain in place until April 29. The Governor has said that he will re-evaluate the order every two weeks.

Shortly after Broadway closed “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “Hangmen” announced that the shows would not be reopening once the shutdown of Broadway was over. Last December “Beetlejuice” announced that the show would be closing in June; with the extension of the closure, the show has now ended. The national tour of “Beetlejuice” is set to open next year.

The opening dates for “Flying Over Sunset”, “How I Learned to Drive”, “Caroline, or Change”, and “Birthday Candles” have all been moved to later dates.

With Broadway closed the window for the annual Tony Award nominee entry list has been put on hold until after the shows have opened once again.

After the order to close all events with large crowds, the American Ballet Theatre and the Metropolitan Opera also postponed their productions. ABT and The Met have further postponed all productions through July 14.

ABT has further postponed its 2020 tour that was set for Chicago, Durham, Detroit, and Abu Dhabi. The ABT Studio Company events have also been cancelled through the end of April.

ABT’s annual Spring Gala has been postponed until October 2 to kick off the fall season.

Songwriter John Prine Dies

The world of music has lost another legend when songwriter and folk artist John Prine died April 7, 2020 in Nashville as a result of the Covid-19 virus at the age of 73.

Prine was hospitalized March 26 at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center with the corona virus.

Prine’s wife Fiona was also diagnosed with the virus but has recovered from her illness.

The Grammy Award winning artist is a two time cancer survivor that left him with part of a missing lung and a disfigured jaw.

After teaching himself to play the guitar, Prine released his debut album in 1971 and went on to record a total of 19 studio albums during his career.

A prolific songwriter, Prine is best known for his song “Angel from Montgomery” which was made famous by Bonnie Raitt. Johnny Cash, Carly Simon, Bette Midler, Norah Jones, George Strait, Miranda Lambert, Joan Baez, John Denver, the Everly Brothers, Carly Simon, George Strait, Old Crow Medicine Show, and the Zac Brown Band are also among those artists who have recorded Prine’s music. While Prine himself never became a household name, his songs certainly did.

Along with winning two Grammy Awards and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy; Prine has been inducted into the Nashville Songwriters and Songwriters Halls of Fame, and is a PEN New England Lyrics Award recipient.

He was born in Maywood, Illinois on October 10,1946. He spent time in the U.S. Army and was a mail carrier before making a career out of his music.

Prine is survived by his wife Fiona, children Jack, Tommy, and Jody; and three grandchildren.

John Prine Discography:
“John Prine”
“Diamonds in the Rough”
“Sweet Revenge”
“Common Sense”
“Bruised Orange”
“Pink Cadillac”
“Storm Windows”
“Aimless Love”
“German Afternoons”
“Live”
“The Missing Years”
“A John Prine Christmas”
“Lost Dogs & Mixed Blessings”
“Live on Tour”
“In Spite of Ourselves”
“Souvenirs”
“Fair & Square”
“Standard Songs for Average People”
“In Person & On Stage”
For Better, Or Worse”
“The Tree of Forgiveness”

Green Day

Like so many bands, Green Day were forced to postpone tour dates for their Asian tour. Those dates have now been rescheduled for early next year.

Band members tell Asian fans that all purchased tickets are still good for the new dates. For fans who are unable to make the new dates, refunds can be obtained from the point of purchase.

Green Day Asian tour dates:
March 13 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines
March 16 in Taipei, Taiwan – location to be determined
March 19 at the Asia World Expo Arena in Hong Kong
March 21 at the IMPACT Arena in Bangkok, Thailand
March 24 in Seoul, Sutn Korea – location to be determined
March 26 & 27 at the Makuhari Messe in Tokyo, Japan
March 29 at the Intex in Osaka, Japan
April 1 at the Indoor Stadium in Kallang, Singapore

Stone Temple Pilots, Bush, and Live

While the Covid-19 pandemic still has its hold on the world, artists are beginning to move toward some form of normalcy as they reschedule the postponed tour dates. The Stone Temple Pilots, Bush, and Live have rescheduled their tour dates for Down Under.

Southern Stars Australian tour dates:

Feb 16 at the HBF Stadium in Perth
Feb 19 at the Bonython Park in Adelaide
Feb 20 at the Hastings Forehore Reserve
Feb 21 at the Yarrawonga Showgrounds in Yarrawonga
Feb 24 at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney
Feb 26 at Stuart Park in Wollongong
Feb 27 at Foreshore Park in Newcastle
Feb 28 at The Entertianment Grounds in Gosford
March 3 at The Timber Yard in Melbourne
March 6 at the Brisbane Riverstage in Brisbane
March 7 at the Sandstone Point Hotel in Bribie Island

America Turns 50

It has been 50 years since the trio of America burst on to the music scene with the nonsensical song “Horse with No Name”.

Celebrating the event, America is releasing an anniversary package called “Half Century”. The eight disc package features lots of previously unreleased music. Among those unreleased songs are demos that the band made prior to their debut release. There are demos, outtakes, and rehearsal footage from the Caribou Sessions and The Poison Oak Sessions.

Evanescence and Within Temptation

Rockers Evanescence and Within Temptation have announced the new dates for their European tour that had to be postponed this spring due to the Covid-19 virus and the limitations on crowd sizes.

The spring tour is now a fall tour set to begin in September.

Band members remind fans that already purchased tickets are still valid and can be used for the rescheduled dates.

Evanescence and Within Temptation tour dates:
Sept 2 at the SSE Hydro Arena in Glasgoe, UK
Sept 3 at the First Direct Arena in Leeds, UK
Sept 5 at the Arena in Birmingham, UK
Sept 6 at The O2 in London, UK
Sept 8 & 9 at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam, Netherlands
Sept 11 & 12 at the Palais in Brussels, Belgium
Sept 14 at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris, France
Sept 17 at the Barclaycard Arena in Hamburg, Germany
Sept 18 at the Arena in Leipzig, Germany
Sept 21 at the Velodrom in Berlin, Germany
Sept 22 at the Zenith in Munich, Germany
Sept 24 at the Mitsubishi Electric Halle in Dusseldorf Germany
Sept 25 at the Rockhal in Esch-Sur-Alzette, Luxembourg
Sept 27 at the Hallenstadion in Zurich, Switzerland
Sept 29 at the Mediolanum Forum in Milan, Italy
Oct 1 at the Palacio Vistalegre in Madrid, Spain

Western Actor James Drury Dies

Western television series “The Virginian” actor James Drury died April 6, 2020 – less than two weeks before his 86th birthday – in Houston, Texas as a result of natural causes.

Drury’s acting career began very early; his first appearance on the stage was a Christmas production of “King Herod” when he was only eight years old. His professional career began four years later in the touring production of “Life With Father”.

“The Virginian” ran for nine years with 249 episodes. A 90 minute how, NBC often had multiple episodes filming at the same time. Drury noted that he would ride from set to set on horseback to deliver his lines. Drury and co-star Doug McClure were the only actors who appeared in every episode. Like the book – “The Virginian: A Horseman of the Plains” – Drury’s character never had a name…he was referred to only as “The Virginian”.

Drury made his Hollywood debut in 1955 as a hospital attendant in an uncredited role on “Blackboard Jungle”. From there he went on to appear in dozens of productions including “Forbidden Planet”, “Man Without a Gun”, “The Texan”, the “Zane Grey Theatre”, “Have Gun – Will Travel”, “Cheyenne”, “Gunsmoke”, “The Rifleman”, “Rawhide”, “Wagon Train”, “Alias Smith and Jones”, “Firehouse”, “The Fall Guy”, “Walker, Texas Ranger”, “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues”, and his final role in “Tales of the Cap Gun Kid”. The film “Billy and the Bandit” was in post production at the time of his death.

James Child Drury was born April 18, 1934 in New York City but spent a great deal of time on a family ranch in Oregon where he learned to love horses and the outdoors. He studied acting at New York University where he performed in a dozen Shakespearean plays. Later he appeared in the touring production of the play “California Suite”.

He served in the U.S. Navy Reserve where he reached the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He put his acting talents to use recording recruiting films for the Navy.

He is a member of the Great Wetern Performers of National Cowboy and Western Heritage Hall of Fame.

Predeceased by his wife Carol of nearly 40 years, Drury’s surviveors include children Tim (keyboard player), James, and Frederick; and a grandson.

 

Feature photo credit: By NBC Television – eBay itemphoto frontphoto back, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18485710

NASCAR Hall Names 2021 Nominees

On April 7, NASCAR released the nominees for the 2021 class of inductees into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

This year’s class of nominees includes one of the sport’s the most popular drivers, five first time eligible nominees, and thee NASCAR championships.

The list of 15 nominees features 10 modern era nominees and five Pioneer nominees.

In the modern era; new nominees Carl Edwards and NBC broadcasters Jeff Burton and Dale Earnhardt Jr will join Neil Bonnett, Harry Gant, Harry Hyde, Larry Phillips, Ricky Rudd, Kirk Shelmerdine, and Mike Stefanik on the ballot for induction.

And in the pioneer category; champion crew chief Jake Elder, car builder Banjo Matthews join Red Farmer, Hershel McGriff and Ralph Moody as Hall of Fame nominees.

Janet Guthrie, Alvin Hawkins, Mike Helton, Dr. Joseph Mattioli, and Ralph Seagraves have all been nominated for the Landmark Award. Nominees for the Landmark Award include drivers and non drivers.

The nominees from the modern era and one pioneer will be selected to join the Hall of Fame next year.

British Actress Honor Blackman Dies

British actress Honor Blackman died April 6, 2020 at her home in Sussex, England at the age of 94. He family stated that Blackman died of natural causes. The family said that the Covid-19 virus was not a factor in her death.

Blackman is known to millions of James Bond fans as Pussy Galore in “Goldfinger” starring Sir Sean Connery. She also starred as Cathy Gale in the 60’s British spy show “The Avengers”. At the time of her death, Blackman was the oldest surviving member of “The Avengers” cast.

Appearing in over 100 film and television productions, Blackman made her screen debut in 1947 in an uncredited role in “Fame is the Spur”. Her first credited role came the following year in “Daughter of Darkness”. Her other roles include “The Three Musketeer’s”, “A Night to Remember”, “The Saint”, “Jason and the Argonauts”, 43 episodes of “The Avengers”, “Columbo”, “Doctor Who”, 95 episodes of “The Upper Hand”, “Bridget Jone’s Diary”, “Coronation Street”, and her final role in 2015 in “You, Me, and Them”.

She was born in East London on August 22, 1925, the daughter of a civil servant. She later attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. During World War II she worked as a motorcycle dispatch rider.

She began her acting career in London’s West End. An understudy for “The Guinea Pig”, who got her big break when the star became sick and Blackman stepped into the role. Her other theatrical roles include “The Sound of Music”, “A Little Night Music”, “On Your Toes”, “Nunsense”, “Cabaret”, and the touring production of “My Fair Lady”. Blackman also starred in her own one woman show “Honor Blackman as Herself”.

Married and divorced twice, Blackman is survived by her children Lottie and Barnaby and four grandchildren – Daisy, Oscar, Olive, and Toby.

 

feature photo credit: By Rob Young – https://www.flickr.com/photos/rob-young/869299127/in/photolist-2jPokZ-xa2cC1-pwdDTs-2BMQt7-2BMQ2y-c6RMLj-c6RR5C-c6RKKG-c6RDuS-c6RxWs-c6RUxh-c6RD8y-c6RQhu-c6RzHY-c6RyQb-c6RNg9-c6RMo9-c6RG1S-c6RC5J-c6RUHS-c6RHJq-c6RDKY-BB4S5W-FFDXNu-gB4DLk-c6RJj9-c6RJzb-c6REWj-c6RTf7-c6RCiL-c6RxF7-c6RN1o-c6RTsq-c6RLT5-c6RFc1-c6RyE9-c6RU5C-c6RSPA-c6RGM9-c6RFM3-c6RCEb-c6RUhQ-c6RPeb-c6RzgE-c6RBRq-c6RwQE-c6RNwb-c6RHuo-c6RBBL-c6REtA, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60528314

Battles Conclude on ‘The Voice’

It’s the final week of the Battle Rounds on “The Voice”. Blake and John each have four singers on their teams while Kelly and Nick each have three singers on their teams. Kelly and John have already used their steals; but Blake and Nick still have a steal. Kelly is the only coach who has a save remaining.

Nick and his brothers get the battles started off with a pairing up of Samuel Wilco and Aeri Moon. Nick has a birthday cake for Samuel and the brothers sing Happy Birthday to him. Nick chose “Missing You” for the duo. Before the performance, Blake sings a part of the song. Kelly loved the song and the chemistry; adding that it was an even matched battle. Blake loved the song and the performance; adding that it was fun to listen to. John said that he felt joy from their performance. Nick said that he made a mistake pairing them together because he wants them both. Nick chose Arei as the winner of the battle.

Kelly paired teens Megan Danielle and Samantha Howell for a battle of Kelly’s favourite songs, Patty Griffin’s “Top of the World”. Blake noted that Kelly’s song choice spoke to her confidence in the girls. Saying that she loves them both, Kelly loved the girls’ tone and their performance. Kelly chose Megan as the winner of the battle. As she was walking off the stage, Kelly pushed her button to save Samantha. There are no more saves. Samantha is the only female singer in the four way knockout battle of saved singers.

In his final battle, Blake paired up Jon Mullins and Todd Tilghman for a battle of the classic country song “Ghost in this House”. John loved the emotion in the song and the connection the guys made with each other. Nick loved the emotions; adding that it was a really well executed performance. Saying that she was a fan of both of them, Kelly loved the performance. Blake said that he mad a monumental mistake by pairing them together because it was an epic performance. Saying that he has a gut feeling, Blake chose Todd as the winner of the battle. Nick pushed his button to steal Jon. Nick said in the blind auditions that given the chance he was going to steal Jon. Blake is the only coach with a steal remaining.

In his final battle, John paired up Brittney Allen and Zan Fiskum for a battle of the Indigo Girls song “Closer to Fine”. Nick called the performance so unexpected; adding that the girls let each other shine. Kelly called the performance effortless and beautiful. John noted that everyone was floored by the performance. John chose Zan as the winner of the battle.

Kelly paired up Mandi Thomas and Sara Collins for a Martina McBride song. John said that both girls sounded great; adding that he also enjoyed looking at them. Nick agreed with John. Noting that the girls were different, Kelly chose Mandi as the winner of the battle.

In a clip, Kelly paired Jules and Tayler Green for a battle with Tayler taking the win; Nick paired Jacob Miller and Kevin Farris for a battle with Jacob taking the win.

In the final battle of the night, John paired Thunderstorm Artis and Cedrice for a battle of “Stay” by Rihanna. The passionate performance brought the coaches to their feet. Nick said that it was one of the battles he was looking forward to seeing; adding that they didn’t disappoint. Nick wondered whether he should keep watching or look away. Kelly said that she couldn’t keep her eyes off of them; adding that they were captivating. The coaches love Thunderstorm’s name. John said that they felt inspired by being in their presence; adding that the duo sounded amazing. John chose Thunderstorm as the winner of the battle. And finally using his steal, Blake pushed his button to steal Cedrice.

Four way knockout save:
Todd Michael Hall – Blake
Michael Williams – Nick
Nelson Cade III – John
Samantha Howell – Kelly

Team Blake:
Joei Fulco
Levi Watkins
Toneisha Harris
Cam Spinks
Todd Tilghman
Cedrice – steal

Team Kelly:
Anaya Cheyenne
Micah Iverson
Cammwess – steal
Megan Danielle
Mandi Thomas
Tayler Green

Team Nick:
Roderick Chambers
Allegra Miles
Tate Brusa
Arei Moon
Jon Mullens – steal
Jacob Miller

Team Legend:
Joanna Serenko – steal
Mike Jerel
Mandi Castillo
Darious Lyles
Zan Fiskum
Thunderstorm Artis

Next week the knockout rounds begin with mega mentor James Taylor – the original JT.

Miranda Lambert

After having to postpone tour dates due to the Covid-19 virus, Miranda Lambert has rescheduled the dates for her Wildcard Tour North American dates.

Cody Johnson and Lanco will be opening for Lambert except in Regina and Winnipeg.

Fans who bought tickets for the postponed dates may use them for the new shows.

Miranda Lambert tour dates:
Oct 8 at the Spokane Arena in Spokane, WA
Oct 9 at the Ford Idaho Center Arena in Boise, ID
Oct 11 at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, BC
Oct 14 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, AB
Oct 16 at the Brandt Centre in Regina, SK
Oct 17 at the Bell Mts Place in Winnipeg MB
Oct 20 at the Budweiser Gardens in London, ON
Oct 21 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, QC
Oct 22 at the Tribute Communities Centre in Oshawa, O
Oct 23 at the Canadian Tire Centrei n Ottawa, ON

NFL Kicker Tom Dempsey Dies

Former NFL football player Tom Dempsey died April 4, 2020 at the age of 73 as a result of the Covid-19 virus. The former NFL kicker was also dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease and had been living in an assisted living facility.

While best know for his time with the New Orleans Saints, Dempsey also played with the Philadelphia Eagles, Los Angeles Rams, the Houston Oilers, and the Buffalo Bills.

He was signed by the Saints in 1969 as an undrafted player. He went to Palomar College in California as a defensive lineman. He was named to the All Pro team and was a member of the Pro Bowl in his rookie year.

Dempsey set the NFL record for the longest field goal in the league at 63 yards when the Saints played the Detroit Lions on November 8, 1970. Down 17-16, the kick gave the Saints the win with a score of 19-17 and beating the old record by seven yards.. The Saints PA announcer Jerry Romig kept yelling into the microphone, “it’s good!” Dempsey noted that he wasn’t worried about the distance; but rather, making a straight kick.

Later kickers Jason Elam, Sebastian Janikowski, and David Akers all tied the record in later years; and it was finally broken in 2013 by Matt Prater with a 64 yard kick in the thin air of Denver, Colorado.

Kickers often use “special” kicking shoes. Born with no toes on his right foot, Dempsey had a special squared off shoe that some felt gave him an advantage. Dempsey reminded doubters that he made those kick with no toes. He was also born with no fingers on his right hand. However, in 1977 the NFL passed a new rule that was often known as The Dempsey Rule which required special shoes to be the same as a normal shoe.

Dempsey was inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame in 1989.

Making his home in New Orleans, Dempsey worked as a salesman for an oil company, coach high school football, and managed a car dealership after retiring from the NFL.

He was born January 12, 194 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Dempsey is survived by his wife Carlene; children Ashley, Meghan, and Toby; sister Janice; and grandchildren Dylan, Logan, and Quinn.

 

feature photo credit: Facebook

 

Top 20 Revealed on ‘American Idol’

It’s the last night for final judgment on “American Idol”.

When the show ended last week, Dillon James was awaiting his results. Eight singers have already been placed into the top 20 and will be singing for fan votes.

Lionel Richie reveals that he has some good news…good news, Dillon is an artist; the great news…he is in the top 20! Dillon was very emotional upon hearing the news.

Genavieve Linkowski got the news from Luke that he didn’t feel a connection in her showcase performance and will not be moving on to the next round. Katy said that she was impressed by Genavieve’s growth.

Franklin Boone has been working to make music his life beyond teaching. After telling Franklin that they are having to let some good people go, Katy revealed that Franklin is not one of them and will be in the top 20.

Julia Gargano impressed Katy with her original song at the original audition. After her performance of a Pink song in the showcase, Luke told Julia that she is in the top 20; adding that she could go all the way.

Aliana Jester was really nervous to learn her results; Lionel revealed that she is a part of the top 20.

Sophia Wacherman earned a standing ovation during Hollywood week and wowed the judges again in her showcase performance. Sophia thought she was being pranked when Katy told her she was in the top 20.

After squeaking through Hollywood week, Robert Taylor but redeemed himself somewhat with his showcase performance of a Sir Elton song. But it wasn’t quite enough, Robert did not make the top 20.

Lionel called Kimmy Gabriela top 10 material in her audition. Since then it has been a series of firsts for the 17 year old. Saying that she doesn’t remember all of Kimmy’s performances, Katy told her that it wasn’t enough to just be a good singer; but she will be a part of the top 20.

After a clip of some singers who did not make it, Shannon Gibbons learned that she also did not make the top 20.

Cyniah Lee is among the youngest singers to make it in the top 40 and chose the Labelle hit “Lady Marmalade” for her showcase performance.

Makayla Phillips had the crowd singing along with her showcase performance.

Lauren Spencer-Smith sang “Respect” for her showcase performance.

All three of the teens have earned a spot in the top 20.

Olivia Ximmenes ended the night of showcase performances with “Proud Mary” and brought the judges to their feet. After calling her performance amazing, Lionel told Olivia that she is in the top 20.

Only two spots remain in the top 20.

Lionel called Arthur Gunn one of the most unique singers in the competition. The Nepelese native chose a Bob Marley song for his showcase performance. Calling Arthur pure light, Lionel told Arthur that he is in the top 20.

And then there was one…
Demi Rae did not make it to the top 20 but Katy told her it was the beginning of the new Demi.

In the final decision Country music singers Grace Leer and Lauren Mascitti learned their results together. Luke said that both performances were really great. Saying that they couldn’t make a decision, the judges decided to leave it up to American voters and moved them both on to the next round.

he top 20:
Nick Merico
Dewayne Crocker
Louis Knight
Francisco Martin
Jovin Webb
Faith Becnel
Just Sam (Diaz)
Jonny West
Dillon James
Franklin Boone
Julia Gargano
Aliana Jester
Sophia Wacherman
Kimmy Gabreila
Cyniah Lee
Makayla Phillips
Lauren Spencer-Smith
Olivia Ximmenes
Arthur Gunn
Grace Leer
Lauren Mascitti

Host Ryan Seacrest is asking fans to begin voting now to decide whether it will be Lauren or Grace moving on to the top 20.

Next week, Idol takes a closer look at the top 20.

Short Track iRacing in Bristol

After a wild overtime finish in Texas last week, iRacing moves to Thunder Valley and Bristol Motor Speedway for some short track racing.

The new eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series has become very popular among the drivers. Over 80 drivers wanted to participate in the race this week. As a result, iRacing has divided the drivers up into two groups…the NASCAR Cup Series drivers and the remaining drivers. On Saturday night the drivers ran Saturday Night Thunder. On Sunday only the NASCAR Cup drivers will run.

The drivers get a quick three minutes to set the starting grid for two heat races that will determine the starting lineup for the main event.

The heat races are a quick 50 laps with NO caution flags!

This week the drivers get two damaged car resets for the heat races and another two resets for the main race; the heat race resets do not move over to the main race.

In the first race William Byron and Dale Earnhardt Jr will start from the front row. Similar to the Duel races at Daytona, the first heat race will set the inside lane; while the second heat race will set the outside lane.

William Byron brings the field down for the green flag start and gets out in front for the lead with Dale Earnhardt Jr in second place and Christopher Bell in third.

With 32 drivers in the field, no one will go home, the heats will merely determine starting positions.

Halfway through the heat, William Byron has led every lap so far with Dale Earnhardt Jr in second.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr was black flagged by iRacing officials and must serve a penalty on pit road.

Ten laps remaining in the race, William Byron continues to lead the race with Dale Jr in second four seconds back.

With two laps remaining in the heat, Christopher Bell finally gets around Dale Jr for second place.

Leading every lap, William Byron wins heat one and will lead the inside lane in the feature race.

John Hunter Nemechek is on the pole for heat race number two and will bring the field to the green with Landon Cassill starting alongside on the front row.

John Hunter Nemechek brings the field down for the green flag and gets out in front for the lead with Landon Cassill in second and Ryan Preece in third. Last week’s winner Timmy Hill is in fourth place.

Halfway through the race, John Hunter Nemechek continues to lead the race; leading every lap so far.

Lap 22, Bobby Labonte and Clint Bowyer make contact and cause a spin.

With 17 to go, Clint Bowyer goes for another spin.

Ryan Preece moves into second place with Timmy Hill in third.

Ten to go, John Hunter Nemechek has begun lapping slower traffic.

On the final lap of the race John Hunter Nemechek and Ryan Preece battle for the lead with John Hunter winning by .006 seconds.

The feature event is 150 laps in length and while the drivers can make the full race on a single fuel load, tires will wear out before that.

William Byron sits on the pole with John Hunter Nemechek starting alongside on the front row.

William Byron brings the field down for the green flag start of the race and jumps out in front for the lead; but before the first lap is complete, the caution flag comes out for a crash involving Ryan Preece and Christopher Bell.

William Byron brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap seven and holds on to his lead with John Hunter Nemechek in second. Kyle Busch, who has had some difficulty running the iraces has won a total of 22 races at Bristol. He is currently in sixth place.

The second caution flag ocmes out on lap eleven when Clint Bowyer gets into the wall after making contact with Bubba Wallace.

William Byron brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap 17 and jumps out in front to hold on to his lead.

The caution flag comes out on lap 18 for a wreck involving Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson.

William Byron brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap 26 and holds on to his lead.

Lap 30, Kyle Busch has moved into fourth place with William Byron in the lead and John Hunter Nemechek in second.

The caution flag comes out on lap 32 for a wreck involving Chase Elliott and Ty Dillon.

William Byron has led every lap so far and brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap 39.

On lap 42 the top five are William Byron, John Hunter Nemechek, Christopher Bell, Kyle Busch and Alex Bowman.

The caution flag comes out on lap 44 after Timmy Hill and Kyle Larson make contact.

William Byron brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap 51 and jumps out in front for the lead with John Hunter Nemechek in second place; Christopher Bell, Kyle Busch, and Dale Earnhardt Jr round out the top five.

The sixth caution flag of the race comes out on lap 53 for a wreck involving Alex Bowman and Kurt Busch.

William Byron brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap 56 and gets out in front for the lead.

The caution flag comes out on lap 72 when Kyle Larson makes contact with Daniel Suarez.

iRacing officials have parked Daniel Suarez and Kyle Larson for the remainder of the race after the last altercation.

Several drivers, including leaders came down pit road for service.

Candon Cassill brings the filed down for the green flag restart on lap 75 but after getting out in front, Chris Buecher passes Cassill for the lead.

The caution flag comes out on lap 77 for a crash.

The iRacing officials have called for singe car restarts for the remainder of the race.

Chris Buescher brings the field down for the green flag restart with 64 laps remaining in the race and holds on to his lead. William Byron is in fifth place.

There are 24 cars on the lead lap.

Lap 95, Chris Buescher continues to lead the race but William Byron has moved up to second place and is looking to retake the lead.

The caution flag comes out on lap 100 after Kyle Busch gets turned around.

Several drivers come down pit road for service.

Chris Buescher brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap 105 with William Bryon in second.

Lap 106, William Byron battle Chris Buescher for the lead with Byron taking the lead with 42 laps remaining in the race.

The caution flag comes out with 37 laps remaining in the race after Kurt Busch hits the orange cones on pit road.

William Byron brings the field down for the green flag restart with 32 laps remaining in the race with John Hunter Nemechek back up to second place.

The caution flag is out once again after a crash involving Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano that catches up several other drivers.

William Byron brings the field down for the green flag restart with 19 laps remaining in the race. Byron had led the most laps of the race.

Fifteen to go; William Byron is in the lead with John Hunter Nemechek, Timmy Hill, Matt DiBenedetto, and Tyler Reddick rounding out the top five.

Ten to go, William Byron has a one second lead on John Hunter Nemechek.

The caution flag coems out with nine laps remaining in the race for the eleventh time after Kyle Busch makes contact with Ryan Preece and hits the wall.

William Byron brings the field down for the green flag restart with only five laps remaining in the race. Byron holds on to his lead and pulls away from John Hunter Nemechek.

William Byron takes the white flag.

William Byron wins the race for the third different winner of the season. This is the 1,499th iRacing win for William Byron. Byron’s racing career began in iRacing before moving to the actual cars and quickly moving through the circuit up to the NASCAR Cup Series and driving for Hnedrick Motor Sports. Byron led 114 of the 150 laps in the race.

NBA Names 2020 Class of Hall of Fame

Amid all of the sad news of sickness and death, the National Basketball Association handed down some happy news on April 4 when the revealed the list of the 2020 NBA Hall of Fame class.

Topping the list are Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, and Tim Duncan. The three stars were voted into The Hall on their first year of eligibility; as well as, WNBA star Tamika Catchings.

Rudy Tomjanovich, Baylor coach Kim Mulkey, Barbara Stevens, Eddie Sutton, and former FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann have also been named to the Hall of Fame.

Kobe Bryant is an 18 time All Star and five time champion.

Time Duncan is a 15 time All Star the three time champion.

Kevin Garnett is a 15 time All star nd a nine time All Defensive team member.

Eddie Sutton is a four time Nation Coach of the Year.

Rudy Tomjanovich is a two time NBA championship coach.

Tamika Catchings is a 10 time WNBA All Star and four time Olympic gold medalist.

Baylor coach Kim Mulkey is a three time NCAA National Championship Coach of the Year.

Barbara Stevens is a five time Division II National Coach of the Year.

And Patrick Baumann has been an executive of the FIBA.

Speaking on the new class of Hall of Fame inductees, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame President and CEO John L. Doleva said, “The Class of 2020 is undoubtedly one of the most historic of all time and the talent and social influence of these nine honorees is beyond measure.” Doeva added, “in 2020, the basketball community has suffered the unimaginable loss of iconic figures Commissioner David Stern and Kobe Bryant, as well as the game itself due to COVID-19. We have also banded together like never before in appreciation of the game and those who have made it the uniting force it is today. Today we thank the Class of 2020 for all they have done for the game of basketball and we look forward to celebrating them at Enshrinement in August.”

The official induction ceremony is currently scheduled for August 29 in Springfield, Massachusetts. With the near future still a bit unsettled, The NBA Hall has made tentative plans for an alternate date in October in case it is needed.

feature photo credit: By chelsea ferenando chelferen – https://unsplash.com/photos/WJRZNL7rDF8ImageGallery, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62095687

Short Track iRacing at Bristol

It’s some old fashioned Saturday night short track racing with the Saturday Night Thunder from Bristol on the eNASCAR iRacing circuit.

Drivers from the Xfinity, Gander RV Outdoors Truck, ARCA Menards, Pinty’s, and the PEAK Mexico Series will compete using ARCA Menards Series iRacing cars. Prior to the main event, nearly 50 drivers will compete in heats to determine which 24 will move on for the main racing event just as the drivers would do on the real tracks.

The ARCA Menards modeled cars can actually show wreck damage on the cars.

The night begins with four no caution flag 20 lap heat races with the top four finishers will move on to the main event. The drivers who did not qualify in one of the heat races will have one last chance to make it into the main event with one of two Las Chance Qualifier races with the top four finishers in each race moving on to the main event.

The main event will be a 150 lap shootout.

Drivers scheduled to appear in the races include:
Michael Annett
Matt Mills
Justin Allgaier
Justin Haley
Brennan Poole
Harrison Burton
Sam Meyer
Stephen Leicht
Tyler Ankrum
Ruben Garcia
Kaz Grala
Anthony Alfredo
Jesse Iwuji
Ryan Truex
Ty Majeski
Chandler Smith
Stewart Friesen
Joey Gase
Kyle Weatherman
Will Rodgers
Blake Koch
Scott Stenzel
Logan Seavey
Brandon Brown
Sheldon Creed
Landon Huffman
Ryan Ellis
Christian Eckes
JJ Yeley
Alex Labbe
Myatt Snider
Spencer Boyd
Chase Cabre
Bayley Currey
Jeb Burton

In the first heat pole sitter Blake Koch brings the field down for the start of the race and gets out in front for the lead.

After leading every lap, Blake Koch wins the heat and will sit on the pole for the main event. Logan Seavy Chase Cabre, and Kaz Grala also move on to the main event.

Kyle Weatherman sits on the pole for heat number two and brings the field down for the green flag. Kyle Weatherman gets out in front to lead the race. After his wreck, Brennan Poole is running the race with the hood of his car up.

The drivers in heat number two are getting three wide and beating and banging as they fight for one of the top four positions. Chandler Smith and Brennan Poole wreck with smith hitting the wall.

Leading every lap, Kyle Weatherman wins heat number two. Alex Labbe, Josh Bilicki, and Jesse Iwuji also move on to the main event.

Anthony Alfredo sits on the pole for heat number three with Justin Allgaier starting alongside on the front row. Anthony Alfredo gets out in front for the lead as drivers are wrecking behind him.

Also going from pole to checkers, Anthony Alfredo wins the race; Will Rodgers, Justin Allgaier, and after starting from the back of the field Ty Majeski round out the top four and will move on to the main event.

With only three heat races, Derek Kraus will sit on the pole for the first Last Chance Qualifier. With no fourth heat race, six drivers from each LCQ race will move on to the main event to make up the 24 drivers in the main event.

Derek Krous takes the green flag and gets out in front for the lead. Jeb Burton and JJ Yeley tangle back in the field. Lap three, Matt Mills takes the lead as more drivers wreck back in the field. Leader Matt Mills gets turned around and Derek Kraus retakes the lead. Only three drivers remain on the lead lap. Wrecked car with hood up and one lap down, Myatt Snider is the last car eligible to move to the main event.

Derek Kraus wins the first LCQ; Ryan Truex, Brandon Brown, Joey Gase, Jeb Burton, and Myatt Snider will all move on to the main event.

For LCQ number two, Bayley Currey sits on the pole and will bring the field down for the green flag. Bayley Currey gets turned around even before the green flag drops. Landon Huffman takes the lead of the race as more drivers wreck back in the field.

After leading every lap, Landon Huffman wins the race; Ruben Garcia Jr, Justin Haley, Harrison Burton, Stewart Friesen, and Chandler Smith will all move on to the main event.

For the 150 lap main event, cautions do count with the decision coming from the “tower” and the drivers have one chance to “reset” their cars for damage repairs.

Blake Koch will bring the field to the green flag with Kyle Weatherman starting alongside on the front row.

Blake Koch jumps out in front for the lead of the race as a wreck happened back in the field.

Lap 10, the drivers get spread out on the track with Blake Kock leading the way.

Lap 23, Blake Koch ahs a commanding lead on the field with Kyle Weatherman in second; there are 18 cars on the lead lap.

Ruben Garcia and Jeb Burton brings out the first caution flag of the race on lap 25 after hitting the wall. Stewart Friesen was also involved in the wreck.

Leaders Blake Kock and Kyle Weatherman; along with laps down driver Landon Huffman stayed out on the track; while the remainder of the field come down pit road for service.

Blake Koch brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap 32 with Koch taking the lead. The “big one” brings the caution flag out on lap 33 when Derek Kraus gets hit by several drivers.

Blake Koch brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap 39 as drivers again wreck back in the field. The caution flag comes out on lap 40 after Jeb Burton and Derek Kraus could not get going again.

For non iRacing regulars, Bristol is one of the more difficult tracks to master.

Blake Koch brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap 45 and holds on to the lead after a challenge from Chase Cabre.

One third of the way through the race and Blake Koch has led every lap so far.

The caution flag comes out on lap 51 after Chandler Smith and Josh Bilicki make contact and wreck..

Blake Koch brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap 56 and holds on to the lead.

Lap 59, Chase Cabe is on leader Blake Koch’s bumper challenging for the lead; but so far Koch holds him off.

Alex Labbe takes second place away from Chase Cabre on lap 63 and looks to challenge leader Blake Koch.

The caution flag comes out on lap 66 for a wreck, just as Alex Labbe was trying to pass leader Blake Koch.

And for the first time in the race, Blake Koch gives up the lead for a trip down pit road. He is joined by several other drivers.

Alex Labbe takes over the lead.

Alex Labbe brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap 71 and is immediately challenged.

The caution flag comes out on lap 74 after another big wreck involving Jeb Burton, Brandon Brown, and Ruben Garcia Jr.

Alex Labbe brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap 79 and holds on to the lead.

Kyle Weatherman gets into the wall. The caution flag comes out on lap 85 for a wreck involving Kaz Grala and Blake Koch.

Alex Labbe brings his car down pit road but most of the field stayed out on the track. Chase Cabre is the new leader.

After battling drivers for the lead, Chase Cabre takes the top spot and brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap 91. Cabre jumps out in front for the lead.

Jeb Burton gets into the wall and brings out the caution flag on lap 93.

After wrecking on the first lap, Ty Majeski is in second place and after starting the race in 23rd place Myatt Snider is in third place.

Chase Cabre brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap 98 and holds on to the lead. In a battle with Myatt Snider, Ty Majeski slams the wall; but the track stays green.

Lap 100, two thirds of the way through the race, Chase Cabre is the leader of the race with 14 cars on the lead lap.

The caution flag comes out on lap 106 for a wreck involving Chandler Smith, Justin Haley, and Anthony Alfredo. Pole sitter Blake Koch was also involved.

Race control has determined that the next restart will be a single file start.

Chase Cabre brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap 112 and holds on to his lead with Ty Majeski in second. Myatt Snider gets into the wall on the restart but the track stays green.

With 25 laps remaining in the race, Chase Cabre continues to lead the race with Ty Majeski in second. Alex Labbe gets around Justin Allgaier for fourth place and sets his sights on Logan Seavy.

Ty Majeski gets into the wall; putting Logan Seavy in second and Alex Labbe in third.

Lap 138, Logan Seavy passes Chase Cabre for the lead.

Lap 144, as Alex Labbe and Chase Cabre battle for the second position, Logan Seavy increaes his lead.

Logan Seavy takes the white flag.

Logan Seavy wins the race!

Hall of Famer Bill Withers Dies

Award winning Hall of Fame artist Bill Withers died April 3, 2020 at the age of 81 in Los Angeles as a result of heart problems. There was no mention of any connection to the Covid-19 virus.

Withers was best know for his songs “Ain’t No Sunshine”, “Lean on Me”, “Lovely Day’, “Use Me”, and “Just the Two of Us”.

Questlove referred to Withers as, “the closest thing black people have to a Bruce Springsteen.”

Wither is a three time Grammy Award winner and a member of the Rock and Roll and Songwriters Halls of Fame. Other accomplishments include the “Soul Train” Hall of Fame, the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame, and four honourary doctorate degrees.

His music has been covered by some of the biggest names in the business including Barbra Streisand, Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Sir Tom Jones, Linda Ronstadt, Sir Paul McCartney, Sting, Johnny Mathis, Al Jarreau, Sir Mick Jagger, Nancy Wilson, and Diana Ross.

Prior to his musical career, Withers served in the United States Navy for nine years where he served as an aircraft mechanic and later worked in an aircraft factory.

He released his debut album “Just As I Am” in 1971 and his final album in 1985.

His music appeared in over 200 film and television productions including “Looking for Mr. Goodbar”, “WKRP in Cincinnati”, “Designing Women”, “The Wonder Years”, “The Bodyguard”, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”, “Notting Hill”, “CSI: Crime Scene Investigations”, “Six Feet Under”, “Everybody Hates Chris”, “Glee”, “CSI: NY”, “The Simpsons”, “The Wedding Singer”, “Empire”, “Scandal”, “This is Us”, “Zooey’s Extraoridinary Playlist”, and numerous vareity and reality competiton shows.

He appeared as an actor in the made TV movie “Tivat Vivi” and in an episode of “Criminal Minds” as himself.

Born on the Fourth of July, William Harrison Withers Jr was born in Slab Fork, West Virginia; the youngest of six children born to a coal miner. After the divorce of his his parents, the family moved to nearby Beckley.

Withers is survived by his wife of over 40 years Marcia, children Todd and Kori, and sister Florence.

Bill Withers’ discography:
“Just As I Am”
“Still Bill”
“Live at Carnegie Hall”
“+’Justments”
“Making Music”
“Naked & Warm”
“Menagerie”
“’Bout Love”
“Watching You Watching Me”

 

feature photo credit: By Columbia Records – eBay itemphoto frontphoto back, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22536445

Musical Patriarch Ellis Marsalis Dies

Marsalis family patriarch Ellis Marsalis Jr died April 1, 2020 in New Orleans at the age of 85 as a result of complications form the Covi-19 virus. The family reported that Marsalis had contracted pneumonia but it was the corona virus that caused his death.

Son Bradford spoke on his father saying, “my dad was a giant of a musician and teacher, but an even greater father. He poured everything he had into making us the best of what we could be.”

A teacher and musician; Marsalis has taught at Xavier University, Virginia Commonwealth University, the New Orleans magnet high school, and New Orleans University and his students have included Harry Connick Jr, Nicholas Payton, Terence Blanchard, Donald Harrison, Victor Goines, and Reginald Veal. He retired from teaching in 2001.

Four of his six children followed in Marsalis’ musical footsteps – Bradford, Wynton, Delfeayo, and Jason.

While Marsalis himself has never won a Grammy Award; sons Wynton and Bradford has won a combined 13 of the golden Victrola statutes.

He is a member of the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.

Marsalis has not performed regularly in a number of years, but has made regular appearances at the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. He also worked for Al Hirst.

Ellis Louis Marsalis Jr was born on November 14, 1934 in New Orleans, Louisiana the son of a hotel operator. While best known for his piano playing, Marsalis played the saxophone in high school.

While serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, he accompanied the soloists who appeared on the weekly television program.

Predeceased by his wife Dolores, Marsalis is survived by his six sons – Bradford, Wynton, Delfeayo, Jason, Ellis III, and Mboya.

Ellis Marsalis Jr’s discography includes:
Syndrome”
“Homecoming”
“Piano in E-Solo Piano”
“King Midas and the Golden Touch”
“A Night at Snug Harbor, New Orleans”
“Ellis Marsalis Trio”
“Jazzy Wonderland”
“Heart of Gold”
“Whistle Stop”
“Joe Cool’s Blues”
“Loved Ones”
“Twelve’s It”
“Duke in Blue”
“Afternoon Session”
“UAB SuperJazz”
“Rumminations in New York”
“An Open Letter to Thelonious”
“A New Orleans Christmas Carol”
“Pure Pleasure for the Piano”
“On the First Occasion”
“Live at Jazzfest 2017”
“Plays the Music of Ellis Marsalis”
“Live at Jazzfest 2018”
“On the Second Occasion”
“Live at Jazzfest 2013”
“Live at Jazzfest 2012”
“Live at Jazzfest 2014”
“Live at Jazzfest 2011”
“Live at Jazzfest 2015”

 

feature photo credit: By Tulane Public Relations – Ellis MarsalisUploaded by AlbertHerring, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29679779

Composer Adam Schlesinger Dies

Award winning musician and composer Adam Schlesinger died April 1 in Poughkeepsie, New York at the age of 52 as a result of complications from the Covid-19 virus.

The Fountains of Wayne bass player is best known for the song “Stacy’s Mom”, Schlesinger penned music for Broadway and television.

Along with the scores for “Cry Baby”and “An Act of God”, Schlesinger composed music for the upcoming “The Bedwetter” and “The Nanny”. He also co-wrote the opening number for the 2011 Tony Award ceremonies titled “It’s Not Just for Gays Anymore”.

While he was best known as a bass player and backup singer for Fountains of Wayne; Schlesinger was also an accomplished composer whose credits include music and themes songs for “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”, ”Supermoobs”, “T.U.F.F. Puppy”, “The Haunted Hathaways”, “Sarah Silverman’s Perfect Night”, “Wedding Band”, “Kathy”, “Big Time Rush”, “Damsels in Distress”, “Night of Too Many Stars: An Overbooked Concert for Autism Education”, “A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!”, “Crank Yankers”, “Saturday Night Live: The Best of Saturday TV Funhouse” and “Saturday Night Live”, “Too Late with Adam Carolla”, “My Kind of Town”, “Howard Stern” and “The Howard Stern Radio Show”, “In-Laws”, “Shallow Hat”, “David Blaine: Magic Man”, That Thing You Do”, “The Dana Carvey Show”, and “House of Buggin’”.

His accomplishments include three Emmy Awards and a Grammy Award for the comdey album “A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!” with songwriting partner David Javerbaum for penning the music on the album.

Naming the band for a lawn ornament store in New Jersey, Schlesinger and college mate Chris Collingwood formed the band Fountains of Wayne in 1995. He was also a part of the bands Tainted Windows and Ivy.

Adam Lyons Schlesinger was born October 31, 1967 in New York City, After growing up in New York and New Jersey, he attended Williams College.

Schlesinger is survived by his ex-wife Katherine and two daughters.

 

feature photo credit: By Paul Erik – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2241150

Short Track iRacing Championship

As the popularity of iRacing continues to grow, NASCAR drivers and the various sports channels have come together to air more of the races.

Eighteen of NASCAR’s biggest names have formed a group that will compete on several of NASCAR’s short tracks next week.

NBCSN and NASCAR America have teamed up to air the racing tournament beginning April 6 (Monday) at 7pm.

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday six drivers will compete each night at an iconic track in iRacing Cup Series cars. The top two finishers in each race will compete for the championship on Thursday night at the virtual Martinsville Raceway.

On Monday Kyle Busch, William Byron, Austin Dillon, Parker Kligerman, Tyler Reddick and Bubba Wallace will compete on iRacing’s Rockingham Speedway
On Tuesday Justin Allgaier, Christopher Bell, Chase Briscoe, Harrison Burton, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson will compete at the Lucas Oil Racway at Indianapolis
And on Wednesday Landon Cassill, Matt DiBenedetto, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Timmy Hill, Ryan Preece and Myatt Snider will compete at Myrtle Beach Speedway

NBC Sports commentators Rick Allen, Steve Letarte, Jeff Burton, and Marty Snider will be on hand to call the action.

iRacing executive producer Steve Myers spoke on the event saying, “of all of the events we’ve been putting together for real-world pros, the NBC eSports Short Track iRacing Challenge should be one of the most fun. So many of the top drivers in NASCAR have honed their skills on both local short tracks and iRacing, and combining the two for a virtual week-long showdown should deliver plenty of excitement. We can’t wait to see who takes the checkered flag and bragging rights!”

NFL Expands Playoffs

When the NFL Players Association approved their new contract, it included an expanded season and playoffs.

On March 31 the owners also approved the expansion of the post season with 75 percent of the owners voting yes.

Beginning with the 2020 playoff season, the number of teams involved will expand to nearly half of the league when 14 of the 32 teams will be involved in the post season.

Under the new playoff format, Wild Card weekend will feature three games in each conference – AFC and NFC – with the number two seed playing the number seven seed, the number three seed will play the number six seed, and the number four seed playing the number five seed. The number one seed will get the weekend off.

NBC and CBS will carry the games on January 9 and 10. The NFL will also air a game on the youth network Nickelodeon with the broadcast aimed at younger viewers. Some of the games will also be streamed online.

NFL Plans Full Season

The National Football League began their business year this month. And while the Covid-19 virus has altered the way the NFL has had to conduct some of that business including virtual player workouts and an upcoming draft that will conducted with teams, players, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell all connected online. The NFL is planning on using the NFL draft – scheduled for April 23-25 – as a fundraising effort to help thoe most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The NFL is planning on starting the normal NFL season activities on time and play the entire season of 16 regular season games plus the post season and in front of stadiums filled with fans.

Currently, all team facilities are closed and all off season activities have been suspended until further notice.

The NFL will be releasing the schedule in early May.

While the NFL is looking at an on time regular season, they are making alternate contingency plans in case the situation changes. With mini camps scheduled to open in June, the NFL is looking at how they can insure the safety of the players including massive testing.

eNASCAR Makes Bristol Changes

As the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series continues its popularity in absence of reality racing, there will be a few changes for the iRacing event this weekend in Bristol, Tennessee.

Like the real NASCAR, there will be two races this weekend in Bristol – the Food City Showdown and Saturday Night Thunder.

The Food City Showdown will feature NASCAR Cup Series drivers, both past and present. The running order for the race will be determined by two heat races with all the drivers participating in the race.

The Saturday Night Thunder event will use the ARCA Menards Series cars and feature drivers from the Xfinity, Gander RV and Outdoors Truck, ARCA, the PEAK Mexico, and the Whelen Euro Series. Following a typical Saturday night short track racing event, the night will begin with heat races before the main event takes place.

While the Food City Showdown race will air on the FOX sports network, the Saturday Night Thunder event will be streamed live on eNASCAR.com.