NBA Coach Makes History

The National Basketball Association has joined the NFL in having a female as a coach; but the NBA has gone one step further…Becky Hammon becomes the first female head coach in the league by leading the San Antonio Spurs.

Hammon took over the head coaching duties after Gregg Popovich was ejected from the game after making history as the league’s first assistant coach.

Hammon took over the head coaching duties with just under four minutes remaining in the second quarter when he yelled at an official and walked out onto the court; and while it was a historic moment, the Las Angeles Lakers ultimately pulled out the win with a score of 121 to 107.

Hammon spoke on the evening’s events saying, “I try not to think of the huge picture and huge aspect of it because it can be overwhelming.  I really have had no time to reflect. I have not had time to look at my phone. So, I don’t know what’s going on outside the AT&T Center.”

She added, (I was) “) trying to get the guys in the right spots.  Trying to get them motivated. Obviously, it’s a learning situation for all of us, but I would have loved to have walked out there with a win with the guys.”

Lakers star player LeBron James spoke on the historic moment saying, “obviously she’s been paying her dues over the last few years and Coach Pop has given her the opportunity. … It’s a beautiful thing just to hear her barking out calls, barking out sets. She’s very passionate about the game. Congrats to her and congrats for our league.”

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel also spoke on Hammon’s head coaching debut saying, “well deserved.  I’ve talked to her before and she really knows her stuff and obviously she’s here for a reason. She’s equipped, intelligent (and the) guys have great respect for her. She’s going to be a great coach one day.”

Hammon comes to the Spurs as a three time All American basketball player at Colorado State and stints with the WNBA New York Liberty and San Antonio Stars.

feature photo credit: By The original uploader was Jtalledo at English Wikipedia.. Original author: USAF Photo by SrA Nathaniel G. Bevier (RELEASED) – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by AEMoreira042281 using CommonsHelper. Original source: Air Combat Command Web Site (http://www2.acc.af.mil/gallery/images/ellsworth2/fi/00000028.htm), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4265019

‘Gilligan’s Island’ Dawn Wells Dies

Actress Dawn Wells, best known for playing Mary Ann on “Gilligan’s Island”, died December 30 in Los Angeles as a result of complications from the Covid-19 virus at the age of 82.

With the death of Wells, Tina Louise – movie star Ginger – is the last surviving member of the “Gilligan’s Island” cast.

Before moving to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career, Wells was the representative for Nevada in the 1959 Miss America pageant.

She also appeared on the theatrical stage including a Broadway appearance in the original production of “They’re Playing Our Song”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64mAgL8G4-E

While best known for her role as Mary Ann, Wells appeared in dozens of other film and television productions including her 1961 debut as Gloria in an episode of “The Roaring 20’s”, several westerns, “77 Sunset Strip”, “Hawaiian Eye”, 98 episodes of “Gilligan’s Island”, “Gilligan’s Planet” and its subsequent films, “The Love Boat”, “Fantasy Island”, “ALF”, “Baywatch”, “The Bold and the Beautiful”, and her final role in 2019 in the short “The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants” as the voice of Gumbalina Toothington.

As herself, Wells appeared in the 1959 Miss America Pageant, talk shows, game shows, award shows, documentaries, and “RuPaul’s Drag U”.

Dawn Elberta Wells was born on October 18, 1938 in Reno, Nevada the daughter of a real estate developer.  She graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in theater.

Never one to sit around when she was not acting, she has created an acting boot camp and a Film Institute; as well as, a clothing line for people with disabilities and a line of skin care products.  Giving back to the acting community, Wells served as an artist in residence at a number of universities where she passed along her knowledge to the next generation of actors.

Married and divorced with no children, Wells is survived by her stepsister Weslee.

feature photo credit: By CBS Television – eBayfrontback, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31047742

Dancer/Choreographer Shabba-Doo Dies

Dance pioneer and choreographer Aldolfo Quinones died December 30, 2020  at the age of 65. An official cause of death or location was not given, but he remarked on a lingering cold on his Twitter account just one day before his death.  He shared on his Facebook page that he had tested negative for the Covid-19 virus.

He also went by the name of Shabba-Doo.

Quinones and Toni Basil were a part of the 70’s dance group The Lockers and was a member of the the “Soul Train” gang.

He is best known for his appearance in the films “Breakin’” and “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErUrHUCKp8g

As a choreographer, he has worked with numerous artists including Lionel Richie, Luther Vandross, and Madonna.

Quinones was presented with a Distinguished Choreography Award from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle.

Aldolfo Quinones was born on May 11, 1955 in Chicago, Illinois.  This is where he got his start… dancing at parties for his mom.

Married and divorced twice; no list of survivors was given. Reportedly he had two children.

He also appeared in the TV movie “Option Zero”, the short “The Hotel”, “Rave, Dancing to a Different Beat”, “The Sitter”, “Deadly Dancer”, “Lambada”, “Married…with Children”, “Tango & Cash”, “Kids Incorporated”, “Miami Vice”, Chaka Khan’s “I Feel for You”, “Xanadu”, “Jukebox”, and “What’s Happening!”  As himself, Shabba-Doo appeared in documentaries, talk shows, videos, and music shows.

feature photo credit: Alfondo Quinones’ Facebook page

Hall of Fame Guitarist Tony Rice Dies

Grammy Award winning Bluegrass picker Tony Rice died December 25 at his Reidsville, North Carolina home at the age of 69.  No further details about the cause of death were given.

Health problems over the past several years kept Rice from performing.  His final live appearance was in 2013 when he was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.

Fellow Bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs called Rice “the single most influential acoustic guitar player in the last 50 years”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JFgC3Ub10E

Along with his solo career, Rice performed with the David Grisman Quintet, (Ricky) Skaggs and Rice, The Tony Rice Unit, New South, and his Me and My Guitar.  He has played with many musicians including Jerry Garcia, Bela Fleck, and Dolly Parton.

Along with his Grammy Award and induction into the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, Rice has been named the Guitarist of the Year by the IBMA.

Rice cites guitar player Clarence White as an influence; he later bought White’s Martin D-28 guitar.

Anthony David Rice was born on June 8, 1951 in Danville, Virginia into a musical family – his father was a Bluegrass musician.  Tony and his brothers were raised in California where his father played with a number of bands.

Tony Rice is survived by his wife Pam.

Tony Rice discography:
“California Autumn”
“Tony Rice”
“Acoustics”
“Manzanita”
“Guitar”
“Mar West”
“Skaggs & Rice”
“Bluegrass Album”
“Still Inside”
“Backwaters”
“Bluegrass Album, Vol 2.”
“Church Street Blues”
“Bluegrass Album, Vol. 3: California Connection”
“Bluegrass Album, Vol. 4”
“Cold on the Shoulder”
“Me & My Guitar”
“Blake and Rice”
“Native American”
“Bluegrass Album, Vol. 5: Sweet Sunny South”
“Norman Blake & Tony Rice 2”
“Plays and Sings Bluegrass”
“Crossings”
“River Suite for Two Guitars”
“Unit of Measure”
“Runnin’ Wild”
“Vassar Clements/Tony Rice & The Low Country All-Star Band”
“Quartet”
“Hartford Rice and Clements”

feature photo credit: By Jordan Klein from San Francisco, United States – IMG_1837, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4175429

Mexican Crooner Armando Manzanero Dies

Mexican musician Armando Manzanero died December 28 in a Mexico City hospital just three weeks after his 85th birthday.  Reports are that Manzanero died either as a result of the Covid-19 virus or complications from a kidney issue.

He balladeer had been hospitalized for the virus and at one time was placed on a ventilator.

His song “Somos Novios” was translated into English back in the 70’s and became the Grammy nominated hit “It’s Impossible” for American crooner Perry Como.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rG0h9eZZK6E

While not a household name in the United States, Manzanero was a prolific songwriter that has had his songs recorded by numerous artists and has seen his music appear on nearly 100 film and television productions including “Even the Wind is Afraid”, “The Shadow of the Bat”, “The Perry Como Christmas Show”, “The Bob Hope All Star Christmas Comedy Special”, “Chances Are”, “The Sopranos”, “Mission Impossible III”, the mini series “Sharp Objects”, and “House of Flowers”.

Born Armando Manzanero Canché on December 7, 1935 in Merida, Yucatan; he was very proud of his Mayan heritage, saying, “I am a Mayan Indian.”

Manzanero is survived by a number of ex-wives, seven children, and 16 grandchildren.

Armando Mazanero discography:
“Mientras Existas Tu”
“Canto Solo Para Enamorados”
“Carinosamente Manzanero”
“Las Cancoines Que Quise Escribir”
“Amor en Piano”
“El Piano”
“Manzanero: Su Voz Su Piano Y Sus Mejores Interpret”
“Memorandum”
“Nada Personal” (Original TV Soundtrack)
“Intimos”
“Manzanero Y la Libertad”
“Verdad de la Bohemia”
“Bohemia”
“Somos Novios”
“Duetos Armando Manzanero”
“Duetos 2”
“Mis Canciones Favoritas”
“20 Exitos”
“El Gran Romantico”
“Amor Mio”
“Duetos lo Mejor de Armando Manzanero”
“Duetos”
“Master Class”
“A Mi Amor Con Mi Amo”
“De la A a la Z”
“Manzanero Big Band Jazz de Mexico”
“Armondos”
“Ni Antes Ni Despues”
Canciones Que Enamoran”
“Armando Un Pancho”
“La Magia de tu Amor: Fernando de la Mora Interpreta a Armando Manzanero”
“Para Mi Si Siempre A”
“Dos Voces”

feature photo credit: By Angel Abril Ruiz from Cehegín, España – Armando Manzanero V, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=87627187

Possible 17 Game Season in 2021 NFL Season

There has been much speculation over the past several months on whether or not the NFL would expand the season to 17 regular season games.

As early as last week, the speculation continued that it would happen some time in the future but not in the next season or two.

But a tumultuous 2020 season and empty stadiums have answered the question of what to do.

Beginning with the 2021 NFL season, teams will play 17 regular season games.  The regular season itself will last 18 weeks in order to give each team a week off. 

While the global pandemic put a temporary end to pre-season games, normally the teams play four pre-season games to allow coaches time to form their 53 man roster and practice team.  With the addition of a regular season game, the number of pre-season games will be reduced to two or three games.

With the salary cap dropping next season due to the massive drop in revenue, the extra game will allow for some increased income.

Depending on how the season in constructed, the NFL season could extend to the second week of February; bumping it up against the beginning of NASCAR season and the Daytona 500. 

The NFL could also keep the Super Bowl on the first Sunday of February or end of January by beginning the regular season one week earlier after eliminating a pre-season game.

The extra odd numbered game could also offer the NFL a bigger opportunity for neutral site games.  In a normal regular season, the NFL holds games in the UK and Mexico; they are also looking to host games in Canada, China, Japan, Germany and Brazil.

Official announcements are still in limbo while the NFL negotiates new media contracts.

HOF Pitcher Phil Niekro Dies

Knuckleball pitcher and Baseball Hall of Famer Phil Niekro died in his sleep December 26, 2020 in his Atlanta suburb home of Flowery Branch as a result of cancer at the age of 81.

Known to the baseball world as Knucksie, Niekro threw the ball that baffled everyone on the field…including himself.  Once he let the ball go, no one knew where it would land.

This has been a tough year for Baseball Hall of Fame players, Niekro is the seventh Hall of Famer to die this year; following Lou Brock, Whitey Ford, Bob Gibson, Al Kaline, Joe Morgan and Tom Seaver.

A young man’s sport, Phil Niekro outlasted many of his fellow team mates and pitchers; pitching well into his 40’s.  Finally retiring at 48 as a member of the Atlanta Braves, Niekro after winning a total of 318 games over 24 years and making a trip to the annual All Star game five times.  Niekro also pitched for the New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, and Toronto Blue Jays – all American League teams who uses a designated hitter for the pitcher.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDOQLL9uBo0

While pitchers are best known for throwing the ball, Niekro earned five Gold Gloves during his career and hit seven home runs and had 109 RBI’s.

Niekro notched win number 300 in 1985 while pitching for the New York Yankees against the Toronto Blue Jays with an 8-0 shutout.

He made his Major League debut in 1964 with the then Milwaukee Braves – they moved to Atlanta in 1966.  Niekro became a starter for the Braves in 1967 and finished the season with a National League leading ERA of 1.87 and a record of eleven wins and nine losses.

Along with brother Joe, the Niekro’s hold the record for the most wins by siblings in the Major Leagues with a total of 539 wins.

His other accomplishments include 245 complete games, the Lou Gehrig Award, the Roberto Clemente Award, and the Brian Picolo Award.

Philip Henry Niekro was born on April 1, 1939 in Blaine, Ohio to a coal miner pitcher father.  Learning the knuckleball form his father, young Phil never learned to throw any other pitch.

Predeceased by his brother Joe, Niekro is survived by his wife Nancy; children Philip, John, and Michael; and grandchildren Chase and Emma.

feature photo credit: By Unknown author – New York Yankees via tradingcarddb.com, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=75158182

AP Names Athletes of the Year

On December 26 and 27, the Associated Press – AP – announced their Athletes of the Year.  This year’s winners were honoured more for their activities away from their chosen sport as they were for the activites in the filed of play.

Two thousand twenty has been a tough year all around from lockdowns to fanless sporting events; athletes have struggled to make a mark on their sports.

Despite a shortened season conducted in a bubble and surrounded by tragedy, LeBron James helped to bring another championship to his Los Angeles Lakers while earning himself a fourth NBA title and MVP Award.  When not playing basketball; James worked to get fans out for the vote, and worked to help the people in his hometown community.

This was the fourth year in a row that the AP has named James the Male Athlete of the Year; tying Lance Armstrong and Tiger Woods for four wins on the male side.

James spoke to the AP saying, “I still know what I do on the floor and obviously, I give everything to the game.  But I can make a greater impact off the floor right now, more than I can on the floor. And I want to continue to inspire people with the way I play the game of basketball. But there’s so many more things that I can do off the floor to help cultivate people, inspire people, bring people together, empower them.”

The AP Female Athlete of the Year goes to Japanese-Haitian tennis player Naomi Osaka who won her third Grand Slam tournament this year.

When not out on the tennis court, Osaka is a champion for racial injustice and police brutality.

Via an email, Osaka said, “it was difficult to be isolated from my family for large parts of the year, but that’s nothing compared to others. It was sad to watch and read the news of people suffering from COVID-19, and the economic and social effect on so many — losing jobs, mental health. It was such a tough year for so many people.  And then watching the police injustices like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake (to name just a few) in the summer broke my heart. I am proud of my U.S. Open victory, but more so that I got people talking about the real issues.”

The 23 year old added, “there are clearly so many worthy issues. This one especially resonated with me because of my own personal up-bringing; and also while the tennis tour was paused, I was able to watch and read news at length for the first time in my life. This summer in the U.S., tensions were high and reached boiling point.  It was the right time for me to speak up.”

Helping to shine the limelight on racial injustice by arriving at the U.S. Open matches wearing face masks that featured the names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, Elijah McClain, Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery and Philando Castile; she said, “to be honest, I really didn’t stop to think about what others would think of my actions. Other people’s opinions weren’t going to stop me from doing what I know in my heart was the right thing to do.  The strong voices of Colin (Kaepernick) and LeBron were certainly positive influences for me and gave me strength in my own convictions.”

feature photo credit: AP Facebook page

Rocker Leslie West Dies

Rock guitarist Leslie West died December 23, 2020 in Palm Coast, Florida as a result of cardiac arrest at the age of 75.  A diabetic, West has been dealing with a number of health issues in recent years including a live saving leg amputation in 2011.

West was the guitar player and vocalist for the band Mountain and is best known for the song “Mississippi Queen”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEnF6EB-yMs

West’s journey to rock stardom began with The Vagrants – a band with his brother Larry.  After making his debut as a solo artist, West formed the rock band Mountain with Felix Pappalardi.

West was also a part of West, Bruce, and Laing with Jack Bruce and Corky Laing.

Along with his solo and band work, West has lent his guitar skills in recording sessions for Sam Kinison, Billy Joel, Bobby Keyes, Felix Cavaliere, Dion DiMucci, Joe Lynn Turner, Joe Bonamassa, and Bo Diddley.

As a part of Mountain, West was one of the bands who performed at Woodstock in 1969; performing an eleven song set.

Their song “Long Red” has found its way into the world of Hip-Hop music after being sampled by a number of artists including Jay-Z, Nas, and Kanye West.

Along with frequent visits to the “Howard Stern Show” – twice as the musical director -, West has had his music appear on nearly three dozen productions including “Spenser Confidential, “Mike & Mike”, “The Blacklist”, “The Americans”, “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”, “The Expendables”, “The Taking of Pelham 123”, “Pineapple Express”, “My Name is Earl”, “The Dukes of Hazzard” film, the 2005 edition of “The Longest Yard”, “The Simpsons”, and “Vanishing Point”. 

He is also credited with acting credits in “The Money Pit” and “Family Honor”.

He was born Leslie Weinstein on October 22, 1945 in New York City

His accomplishments include being inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame.

West is survived by his wife Jenni.

Leslie West discography:
“Mountain”
“The Great Fatsby”
“The Leslie West Band”
“Theme”
“Alligator”
“Live”
“Dodgin’ the Dirt”
“As Phat as it Gets”
“Blues to Die For”
“Guitarded”
“Got Blooze”
“Blue Me”
“Unusual Suspects”
“Still Climbing”
“Soundcheck”

feature photo credit: By Leslie_west.jpg: Wilson Bilkovichderivative work: Nymf (talk) – Leslie_west.jpg, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9699842

Twenty One Pilots Enters Record Book

Name an activity and the “Guinness Book of World Records” has a record for it.

Music duo Twenty One Pilots have something new to add to their list of accomplishments…the Book of World Records for a musical feat.

The Covid-19 global pandemic has changed the way musicians have had to work, so the duo got creative when it came to creating their new music video for “Level of Concern”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loOWKm8GW6A – Official Music Video

With a little help from their fans, YouTube, and a video streaming brand Imposium; Twenty One Pilots created the “Never Ending Music Video” that featured fan created content.

In June the duo launched the project featuring a 24 hour livestream that was viewed by three million people and had #twentyonepilots trending for over 12 hours.

The project earned Twenty One Pilots a spot in the “Guinness Book of World Records”.

feature photo credit: By Drew de F Fawkes – Twenty One Pilots, Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=52317073

University of Florida Placed on Probation

The University of Florida Gators head football coach Dan Mullen and the Gators football team have been cited by the NCAA – National Collegiate Athletic Association – for violations related to recruiting.

The University has been placed on probation for one year and must resolve the issues surrounding the issues surrounding the unlawful contact with recruits.  The infractions occurred between January and March of 2019.

The NCAA also sanctioned Mullen.  The NCAA noted that the football head coach, “did not promote an atmosphere of compliance.” 

Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin spoke on the issue saying, “there is no evidence of systemic compliance issues at Florida, but when isolated circumstances occur they are addressed head on and we accept responsibility for our actions, as evidenced by this instance.  It is important for our coaches and staff to remain diligent and take responsibility for compliance, and extricate themselves from potential NCAA violations.”

The issue stems from contact with a possible recruit in Seattle, Washington who was still in his junior year of high school.

There was also an incident when seven nonscholastic football teams – over 100 prospects – made an unofficial visit to the University of Florida campus while on the way to a tournament in nearby Tampa.  The NCAA lists this as a level III infraction.

Mullen himself spoke on the infraction saying, “following the rules and being committed to doing things the right way is part of my history as a coach, at all levels, and I regret we didn’t do things the right way in this situation.  Even though this is an isolated matter, I’m still disappointed in the violations outlined in the report. We’re going to learn from our mistakes and I’m confident this won’t happen again.”

Mullen’s sanction includes a one year moratorium on any off campus recruiting.  The University has also banned Mullen from recruiting during the first 10 days of January.

The University’s probation includes a limit on recruiting.

feature photo credit: By Berniestew at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2554703

B’way Actress Rebecca Luker Dies

Broadway actress and soprano Rebecca Luker died December 23, 2020 as a result of complications from ALS – Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis; also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, in New York City at the age of 59.

After making her Broadway debut as the Princess in Phantom of the Opera, Luker went on to play the role of Christine Daae opposite Phantom Michael Crawford.  She also appeared in the Broadway productions “The Secret Garden”, “Show Boat”, “The Sound of Music”, “The Music Man”, the revival of “Nine”, “Mary Poppins”, “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella”, and “Fun Home”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1bO91S3fl4

She made her screen debut in 1997 singing in the chorus for the video “Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas”.  Her acting debut came in 200 in the TV Movie “Cupid & Cate”.  She also appeared in “Spectropia”, “The Good Wife”, “Submissions Only”, “Not Fade Away”, “Boardwalk Empire”, “The Rewrite”, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”, one episode with her husband, “Elementary”, as Rose LaSalle in “NCIS: New Orleans”, and “Bull”.  As herself, Luker appeared in music shows, award shows, and documentaries.

Rebecca Joan Luker was born on April 17, 1961 in Birmingham, Alabama and later earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Montevallo University.

She is survived by her second husband and fellow actor Danny Burstein and step-sons Alex and Zach.


Rebecca Luker discography:
“Anything Goes: Rebecca Luker Sings Cole Porter”
“Leaving Home”
“Café del Mar: The Best of Aria
“Kitty’s Kisses”
“Greenwich Time”
“I Got Love (Songs of Jerome Kern)”
“Are You Here”
“Tom Herman: Music for Voice”

feature photo credit: By Rubenstein – tn-500_img_9684Uploaded by Tabercil, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7349990

Recording Academy Announces Special Awards and HOF Entries

The annual Grammy Award ceremonies are still over a month away, but the Recording Academy has issued some Special Awards including Lifetime Achievement, Trustee, and Technical Grammy Awards.

Recording engineer Ed Cherney, Jazz legend Benny Golson, and eleven time Grammy Award winner Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds have all been named Trustee Award winners; with digital pioneer Daniel Weiss receiving the Technical Grammy Award.

The 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award winners are Hip-Hop pioneers Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Jazz percussionist Lionel Hampton, opera singer Marilyn Horne, female rap pioneers Salt-N-Pepa, Tejano artist Selena, and New Wave pioneers  the Talking Heads.

The Special Merit and Lifetime Achievement awards are presented to artists and industry members who make outstanding contributions in the field of music.

The recipients will be honoured as a part of the 63rd annual Grammy Award ceremonies on January 31, 2021.

Interim Recording Academy President Harvey Mason Jr spoke on the new honourees saying, “as we welcome the new class of Special Merit Award honorees, it gives us a chance to reward and recognize the influence they’ve had in the music community regardless of genre.  As a music creator and music lover, I am grateful that we are able to look back at our influences and see the impact that they have made on our community. In a year where music has helped keep us together, I look forward to honoring this iconic group of music creators.”


In other Grammy and Recording Academy news, the Grammy Hall of Fame has inducted some new members.  The 29 recordings being inducted into the Hall of Fame and Grammy Museum will join the more than 1,000 recordings already in the Hall of Fame.  The new inductees were released at least 25 years ago and represent historical significance and contributions to music.

Interim Recording Academy President Harvey Mason Jr spoke on the newest inductees saying, “we are proud to announce this year’s diverse roster of Grammy Hall Of Fame inductees and to recognize recordings that have shaped our industry and inspires music makers of tomorrow.  Each recording has had a significant impact on our culture, and it is an honor to add them to our distinguished catalog.” 
Singles:
The 2021 Grammy Hall of Fame Inductees are:
“Au Clair de la Lune” by Édouard-Léon Scott De Martinville
“Clean Up Woman” by Betty Wright
“Copenhagen” by Fletcher Henderson and His Orchestra
“Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey
“Freight Train” by Elizabeth Cotton
“Solitude” by Billie Holiday
“The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers
“Time is on My Side” by Irma Thomas
“We are the World” by USA for Africa (charity single by Various Artists)
“When the Levee Breaks” by Kansas Joe and Memphis Minnie
“Wreck of the Old 97” by Vernon Dalhart
“Y.M.C.A.” by the Village People

Albums:
“Blues Breakers” by John Mayall with Eric Clapton
“Canciones de Mi Padre” by Linda Ronstadt
“Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.” by Bruce Springsteen
“Horses” by Patti Smith
“Hot Buttered Soul” by Isaac Hayes
“In the Right Place” by Dr. John
“Licensed to Ill” by the Beastie Boys
“Mad Dogs and Englishmen” by Joe Cocker
“Mercy, Mercy, Mercy! Live at ‘The Club’” by The Cannonball Adderley Quintet
“Ravel: Piano Concerto in C Major” by Leonard Bernstein with The Philharmonia Orchestra Of London
“Schoenberg: The Four String Quartets” by the Kolisch String Quartet
“So” by Peter Gabriel
“Ten” by Pearl Jam
“Texas Flood” by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble
“The Cars” by the Cars
“The Low End Theory” by A Tribe Called Quest
“Trio” by Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris”

Country Singer K.T. Oslin Dies

Three time Grammy Award winning Country music artist, composer, and actress K. T. Oslin died December 21 outside of Nashville at the age of 78.  While an official cause of death was not released, Oslin had been living in an assisted living facility due to Parkinson’s Disease.  Reports are that Oslin also tested positive for the Covid-19 virus last week.

Oslin was in her 40’s when she finally launched her successful music career with songs penned from the view of a strong woman.

Oslin saw two of her albums reach platinum status for selling at least one million albums in the United States.  She has also been named a Country Music Association Female Artist of the Year, four Academy of Country Music Awards, and has been inducted into the Texas and Nashville Songwriters Halls of Fame.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3HfTpaSFuc

She was born Kay Toinette Oslin on May 15, 1941 in Crossett, Arkansas but was raised n Mobile and Houston.

Before moving to Nashville where she launched her Country music career, Oslin performed on the New York stage where her performances include appearances in “Promises Promises”, “Darling of the Day”, and “Hello, Dolly!”.  She also worked as a studio musician and jingle singer.

Oslin has had her songs recorded by a number of artists including Gail Davis, Dottie West, Judy Rodman, the Judds,  Sissy Spacek, Anne Murray, Dorothy Moore, and Dusty Springfield.

As an actress Oslin appeared in an episode of “Evening Shade”, “This Thing Called Love”, “Poisoned by Love: The Kern Country Murders”, “The Carol Burnett Show”, and  “Paradise”.

No list of survivors was given.

K. T. Oslin discography:
“80’s Ladies”
“This Woman”
“Love in a Small Town”
“K.T. Oslin”
“My Roots are Showing”
“Live Close By, Visit Often”
“Simply Red River”

feature photo credit: K.T. Oslin’s Face Book page

NFL HOFer Kevin Greene Dies

NFL Hall of Fame football player Kevin Greene died suddenly on December 21 at the age of 58.  An official cause of death has not been given.

After spending 15 seasons in the National Football League as a pass rusher, Greene was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016.  During that career, Greene racked up 160 quarterback sacks – which ranks him third on the list behind Bruce Smith and Reggie White.  Greene racked up double digit sacks in 10 of his 15 seasons. 

Other accomplishments include five Pro Bowl appearances, was selected to the All-Pro team twice, and was named to the NFL Hall of Fame All 1990’s Team.

After walking on at Auburn, he was drafted by the then St. Louis Rams in 1985, Greene also played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers, and the San Francisco 49ers.  It would be his fourth season before Greene was named as a starter; where he went on to rack up 16.5 sacks – a feat he repeated in the next season.

Greene also joined the ranks of professional wrestlers with World Championship Wrestling.  Once his playing days were over, Green became a linebackers coach for the Green Bay Packers and was a coach for the New York Jets.

Greene is survived by his wife Tara and children.

feature photo credit:

NFL Hall of Fame football player Kevin Greene died suddenly on December 21 at the age of 58.  An official cause of death has not been given.

After spending 15 seasons in the National Football League as a pass rusher, Greene was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016.  During that career, Greene racked up 160 quarterback sacks – which ranks him third on the list behind Bruce Smith and Reggie White.  Greene racked up double digit sacks in 10 of his 15 seasons. 

Other accomplishments include five Pro Bowl appearances, was selected to the All-Pro team twice, and was named to the NFL Hall of Fame All 1990’s Team.

After walking on at Auburn, he was drafted by the then St. Louis Rams in 1985, Greene also played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers, and the San Francisco 49ers.  It would be his fourth season before Greene was named as a starter; where he went on to rack up 16.5 sacks – a feat he repeated in the next season.

Greene also joined the ranks of professional wrestlers with World Championship Wrestling.  Once his playing days were over, Green became a linebackers coach for the Green Bay Packers and was a coach for the New York Jets.

Greene is survived by his wife Tara and children.

feature photo credit: By Kirkuk Regional Air Base, Iraq – http://www.kirkuk.afcent.af.mil/photos/index.asp?page=20, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6852843

Van Halen Wins Lifetime Achievement Award

For many, Eddie Van Halen was the greatest guitar player of all time.  Van Halen died October 6, 2020 as a result of throat cancer.

On December 19, the National Guitar Museum named Van Halen the 2020 winner of the Museum’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

While the guidelines for presentation of the award stipulates that the winner be a “living guitarist who has contributed to the legacy of the guitar”, Van Halen became the first posthumous winner of the award.

The guidelines also stipulate that “the person must have been a performing or recording artist whose talents had an effect on guitar playing—and whose career inspired and influenced other guitar players.”  That certainly describes Eddie Van Halen and his mark on the world of rock.

Speaking on their decision, the National Guitar Museum said, “it is perhaps fitting that we don’t need to explain why Eddie is deserving of such an honor everyone who has ever heard his guitar playing knows. Eddie certainly would have received this award at some point in the future, as it seemed that he still had a lifetime of guitar greatness to give.”

They added, “thanks, Eddie.  We only wish we could deliver this in person.”

Van Halen joins previous winners pioneering Blues guitar man David Honeyboy Edwards, The Byrds founder Roger McGuinn, Blues Legend B.B. King, original James Bond theme and session player Vic Flick, Blues legend Buddy Guy, Black Sabbath found Tony Iommi, Glen Campbell, Bonnie Raitt, Jose Feliciano, and female Classical guitarist Liona Boyd.

Apocalyptica

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to ravage the planet, bands who had hoped to get back on the road touring are again having to rearrange schedules and postpone dates.

Rockers Apocalyptica have once again had to postpone their North American tour.  The Cell-O Tour is now set for a late summer start in August. 

Originally Lacuna Coil were set to serve as the opening band for the tour will now only be appearing at the California, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Illinois, and Canadian dates.  Apocalyptica will announce the opening act for the remaining shows at a later date.

Apocalyptica Cell-O tour dates:
Aug 16 at the Masquerade in Atlanta, GA
Aug 17 at the Plaza in Orlando, FL
Aug 19 at the House of Blues in Houston, TX
Aug 21 at Emos in Auston, TX
Aug 23 at Sunshine in Albuquerque, NM
Aug 24 at Van Buren in Phoenix, AZ
Aug 25 at the Mayan in Los Angeles, CA
Aug 26 at The Regency in San Francisco, CA
Aug 27 at the Crystal in Portland, OR
Aug 28 at the Showbox Sodo in Seattle, WA
Aug 29 & 30 at the Commodore in Vancouver, BC
Sept 1 at the Midway in Edmonton, AB
Sept 2 at The Palace in Calgary, AB
Sept 4 at First Avenue in Minneapolis, MN
Sept 5 at the House of Blues in Chicago, IL
Sept 6 at the Rebel in Toronto, ON
Sept 7 at Mtelus in Montreal, QC
Sept 8 at Big Night Live in Boston, MA
Sept 9 at the Webster Theatre in Hartford, CT
Sept 11 at Webster Hall in New York City, NY

2020 Bowl Game Schedule

For sports, 2020 has been rather harrowing with events cancelled, postponed, and delayed. Schedules were shortened, compressed, and down right turned upside down.

As the post season approaches in college football, universities are still shuffling as teams opt out of bowl games and conference championships.

Despite all of the upheaval this year, the NCAA has set the schedule for the 2020 bowl season and championship games…

All of the games except the Arizona Bowl, which is on CBS, will air on ESPN and ABC.

Bowl game schedule:
Dec 21 – the Myrtle Beach Bowl with Appalachian State and North Texas
Dec 22 – the Potato Bowl with Tulane and Nevada
Dec 22 – the Boca Raton Bowl with UCF and BYU
Dec 23 – the New Orleans Bowl with Louisiana Tech and Georgia Southern
Dec 23 – the Montgomery Bowl with Memphis and Florida Atlantic
Dec 24 – the New Mexico Bowl with Hawaii and Houston
Dec 25 – the Camellia Bowl with Marshall and Buffalo
Dec 26 – the Cure Bowl with Liberty and Coastal Carolina
Dec 26 -the Gasparilla Bowl with UAB and a team yet to be determined
Dec 26 – the First Responder Bowl with Louisiana and UTSA
Dec 26 – the LendingTree Bowl with Western Kentucky and Georgia State
Dec 29 – the Cheez-It Bowl with Miami and Oklahoma State
Dec 29 – the Alamo Bowl with Texas and Colorado
Dec 30 – the Duke’s Mayo Bowl with Wake Forest and Wisconsin
Dec 30 – the Music City Bowl with Missouri and Iowa
Dec 30 – the Cotton Bowl with Oklahoma and Florida
Dec 31 – the Armed Forces Bowl with Mississippi State and a team yet to be determined
Dec 31 – the Arizona Bowl with Ball State and San Jose State
Dec 31 – the Liberty Bowl with West Virginia and Tennessee
Dec 31 – the Texas Bowl with Arkansas and TCU
Jan 1 – the Peach Bowl with Cincinnati and Georgia
Jan 1 – the Citurs Bowl with Auburn and Northwestern
Jan 1 – the Rose Bowl with Alabama and Notre Dame (game has been moved to AT&T Stadium in Arlington)
Jan 1 – the Sugar Bowl with Clemson and Ohio State
Jan 2 – the Gator Bowl with NC State and Kentucky
Jan 2 – the Outback Bowl with Indiana and Ole Miss
Jan 2 – the Fiesta Bowl with Oregon and Iowa State
Jan 11 – the championship game between the winners of the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl

T.G. Sheppard Signs Release Deal

While some artists are selling their entire catalog to record label and other companies; most notably Bob Dylan, Country music star T.G. Sheppard has just signed a deal to re-release his entire album catalog.

The Country music star has agreed to license his nine albums for release through Time Life Music.  The collection represents a 50 year career of songs, hits, and music.

This will mark the first time all of the songs will be available via a digital download.  The albums are set for a 2021 release.

Sheppard spoke on the new deal saying, “I am so happy to be working with the folks at Time Life.  I have performed on their cruises, I have had songs on many of their previous country music collections, and now I get to work with them to put out several albums that originally came out on Warner Brothers Records.

feature photo credit: courtesy of Jeremy Westby  andThird Coast Talen

Boba Fett Actor Jeremy Bulloch Dies

British actor Jeremy Bulloch died December 17, 2020 in London as a result of complications from Parkinson’s Disease at the age of 75.

Bulloch is best known to “Star Wars” fans as the bounty hunter Boba Fett who after many attempts to collect a debt form Han Solo (played by Harrison Ford) chose to freeze Solo in carbonite and display him on the wall.  Bulloch played the bounty hunter in short appearances in “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi”.  The four lines spoken by Boba Fett were delivered by another actor – Jason Wingreen.

While wearing a hemet as Boba Fett, Bulloch’s face was hidden; which allowed him to portray other characters in the “Star Wars” franchise; he was Lieutenant Sheckil in “The Empire Strikes Back” and Captain Jeremoch Colton in “Revenge of the Sith”.

Bulloch became a regular at “Star Wars” conventions.

One of six children, Jeremy Bulloch was born on February 16, 1945 in Leicestershire, England where he began acting in school when he was just five years old.  At eleven he attended the Corona Academy Drama School and made his professional acting career at age 12 in a television commercial.  Bulloch earned his “big break” at age 17 in the musical “Summer Holiday”.

Bulloch went on to appear in over 100 film and television productions including “Doctor Who” and three James Bond films – “For Your Eyes Only”, “Octopussy”, and “The Spy Who Loved Me”.  Other roles during his 50plus year career include “Counter-Attack!”, “The Chequered Flag”, “Compact”, over 200 episodes of “The Newcomers” as Philip Cooper, “Agony”, an uncredited role as a news reporter in “The Final Conflict”, Edward of Wickham in “Robin Hood”, “Sloggers”, and “Starhyke”.

He is survived by his wife Maureen, three sons, and eleven grandchildren.

feature photo credit: By Corey Bond from United States – Jeremy Bulloch and Ryan Cropped prior to upload., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2559139

Custode and Parisi Celebrate with Holiday Concert

Christmas is traditionally a time of giving; but Niagara Falls Music Hall of Fame member and Jazz musician Lewis Custode doesn’t wait for Christmas…he gives all year long.

And Custode’s gift is his music!

On December 20, Custode and musical partner Steve Parisi will be streaming a holiday concert to benefit The Salvation Army of the Greater Niagara region.

The festivities begin at 6:30pm and fans can tune in on Facebookat Facebook.com/CustodeandParisi.

Along with some jazzed up holiday classics by Custode and Parisi; the night of festive music will feature performances from Custode’s daughter – Grammy nominated artist Christina, Steve’s wife Kristen, and son Stephen Jr on bass.

Niagara Falls and western New York residents have long seen Lewis Custode playing his trumpet alongside a Salvation Army Red Kettle during the holidays.  This year, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed everything and has kept musicians away from live performances.  Not to be deterred from his annual tradition of musical contributions, Custode and his partner Steve Parisi have taken to the digital airwaves to aid in the fundraising efforts.

One hundred percent of the funds donated to the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign stay in the western New York area to aid those in need.  With the impact of the pandemic, that need is at an all time high.

The goal for the 2020 campaign in $100,000; but with less than two weeks remaining in the campaign, contributions have reached only about half of that goal.

A dedicated donation link will be available during Custode and Parisi’s performance.

feature photo credit: Custode and Parisi Facebook page

IndyCar Makes Schedule Change

Like NASCAR the IndyCar 2020 racing season was filled with postponements, cancellations, and the rescheduling of races.  And it is beginning to look as though 2021 will be more of the same.

With one of the strictest pandemic lockdowns in the nation, sporting events originally scheduled in California are being moved to other dates and locations.

The Long Beach road course race originally scheduled for April 18 has been moved to September 26; making it a part of a three race west coast swing with Portland and Laguna Seca and the final race of the season.

An iconic race, Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles spoke on the race at Long Beach via a press release saying, “it is important to have Long Beach rescheduled to continue the history and tradition for one of the series’ hallmark events in one of the nation’s premier media markets.  As we did during the 2020 season, we will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and maintain flexibility across our schedule.”

The race at Long Beach sits behind the Indianapolis 500 in longevity for IndyCar racing.  The 2021 race will mark the first time that the race will be held outside the month of April.

Grand Prix Association of Long Beach president and CEO Jim Michaelian spoke on the date change via a press release saying, “we believe that this move will afford us the best opportunity to provide our guests with a fun and exciting experience in a safe and unrestricted environment.  It will be a welcome sight to see the INDYCAR series cars and stars back on the downtown streets of Long Beach in the fall.”

The 2021 IndyCar Racing schedule:
March 7 on the Streets of St. Petersburg, FL
April 11 at Barber Motorsports Park
May 1 & 2 a doubleheader at Texas Motor Speedway
May 16 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course
May 30 the Indianapolis 500
June 12 & 13 a doubleheader at Belle Isle GP in Detroit
June20 at Road America
July 4 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
July 11 on the Streets of Toronto
Aug 8 on the Street of Nashville
Aug 14 for the GP 2 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Aug 21 at the World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway
Sept 12 at Portland International Raceway
Sept 19 at the WeatherTech Laguna Seca Raceway
Sept 26 on the Streets of Long Beach

MLB Recognizes Negro Leagues

In 1947 Jackie Robinson “crossed the colour line” and joined Major League Baseball as the first player of colour.  Prior to Robinson’s historic move, white players were a part of Major League Baseball and players of colour joined the Negro Leagues where “Only the Ball was White”.

On December 16, MLB recognized the Negro Leagues and the quality of the men who played the game.

In recognition of the new status, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred bestowed MLB status upon seven of the Negro Leagues – the Negro National League, the Eastern Colored League, the American Negro League, the East-West League, the Negro Southern League, the Negro National League (II), and the Negro American League (II).

Currently there are 35 Negro Leagues players who have been enshrined into the Hall of Fame.

The new status means that over 3,000 Negro Leagues players will have their stats and accomplishments included in with over 100 years of MLB statistics.  Only the stats between 1920 and 1948 will be included when the stats have been sorted out.

Commissioner Manfred issued a statement saying, “all of us who love baseball have long known that the Negro Leagues produced many of our game’s best players, innovations, and triumphs against a a backdrop of injustice.  We are now grateful to count the players of the Negro Leagues where they belong: as Major Leaguers within the official historical record.”

President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Bob Kendrick also applauded the change saying, “for historical merit, it is extraordinarily important.  Having been around so many of the Negro League players, they never looked to Major League Baseball to validate them.,  But for fans and for historical sake, this is significant, it really is.  So we are extremely pleased with this announcement.  And for us, it does give additional credence to how significant the Negro Leagues were, both on and off the field.”

‘The Voice’ Names a Season 19 Winner

It has all come down to this one final night on season 19 of “The Voice”…

On Monday’s performance show the five finalists performed twice – a new cover tune and an original song that will be their first single – for fan votes.

On the three hour grand finale “The Voice” begins the night by recapping the performances from Monday night before turning to a star studded night of music that culminates in the crowning of a new “The Voice” champion.

The live grand finale opens with a performance by the top 20 singers with a little holiday music with “Rock Around the Christmas Tree”. 

 Nelly and Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line take the stage for a performance of their hit “Lil Bit”.

Scottish singer Lewis Capaldi takes the stage to perform his hit single “Before You Go”.

24K Golden joins up with Iann Dior for their number one hit song “Mood”. 

Kelly pairs up with her finalist Desz for a performance of Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman”. 

Grammy Award winning Christian singer Lauren Daigle performs her chart topping hit “You Say”.  The song sat on top of the Christian music chart for over 100 weeks.

Jason Derulo performs from his home out by the pool.

EGOT winner and Voice coach John Legend joins his finalist John Holiday for a performance of the Simon and Garfunkel hit “Bridge Over Troubled Water” with both John’s playing the piano.

Host Carson Daly reveals that the winner and second place singer will earn a trip to Universal Studios.

Grammy Award winning Country singers Dan + Shay are outside on the Universal backlot for a performance of their first holiday song “Take Me Home for Christmas”.

Award winning Country singer and Voice coach Blake Shelton takes the stage to perform with both of his finalists.  Blake and Jim Ranger perform “Streets of Bakersfield”.  Blake and Ian perform “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys”. 

Julia Michaels and JP Saxe pair up for a performance of “If the World Was Ending”.

Gwen Stefani joins her finalist Carter Rubin perform Gwen’s holiday tune “You Make it Feel Like Christmas”.

Country music superstar joins up with award winning pop star P!ink for a performance of “One too Many” in a remote performance.

And finally it is time for the last results of the season…
the artist who finished in fifth place is…

John Holiday

the artists in fourth place is…

Desz

the artists in third place is…

Ian Flanigan

It comes down to team Gwen’s Carter Rubin and team Blake’s Jim Ranger with…

Carter Rubin giving Gwen her first Voice win!!!!  At 15, Carter is the youngest male winner ever on the show.


                                         

‘The Voice’ Season 19 Finals

It’s finals week on “The Voice” and the five remaining  singers battle it out for the fan vote and the title of “The Voice” for season 19.

The finalists will sing twice tonight – a new cover song and an original song.

Team Gwen’s fifteen year old Carter Rubin gets the night of music started off with “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus.  Blake said that he is a fan.  Gwen called Carter unbelievable; adding that he is meant to do this.

Team Kelly’s Desz performed her original song “Holy Ground”.  Host Carson Daly said that it was like being at a Desz concert.  John said that Desz is fantastic.  An emotional Coach Kelly said that they needed the song and the message; adding that Desz is crazy talented and the best vocalist she has ever heard.

Team Blake’s Ian Flanigan performs “In Color” by Jamie Johnson.  Ian was saved last week by fans in the instant save.  John noted that they all love Ian and appreciate his unique voice; adding that Ian is inspiring.  Blake wonders whether Ian is from the past or the future; adding that he is iconic sounding.

Team Blake’s second finalist Jim Ranger performs his original song “Last”.  Gwen said that it was such a pretty song; adding that Jim has a beautiful voice.  She noted that Jim can do anything with his voice.  John noted that Jim’s heart comes through in everything he sings; adding that he tells stories with his heart.  Coach Blake said that it was almost like Jim was giving him advice…on how to make a marriage last. 

Closing out round one is Team Legend’s John Holiday performed his original song “Where Do We Go” that he dedicates to his fans.  Kelly said that it was a song she could never cover; adding that there was no room to breathe and John breezed through it.  Coach John noted that John Holiday is so versatile and continues to challenge himself…and master everything he does.

Desz returns for a performance of “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac – a song she choice to perform – and brought the coaches to their feet.  Carson said that he has heard the song hundreds of times, but never Deszified like that.  Saying that he took the words right out of her mouth, Gwen noted that the performance was so beautiful and understated, tasteful, and emotional.  Coach Kelly said that Desz does things vocally that no one else can do; adding that it is all the things she desires to do…and will never reach.

Taking a break from the competition, Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani take the stage for a performance of their number one hit “Happy Anywhere”.

Ian Flanigan returns to perform his original song “Never Learn”.  Ian said that the song spoke to him as a parent.  Blake called Ian’s voice a “friendly monster”.  John said that it was a great song choice; adding that Ian sang it with such beauty and wisdom.  Coach Blake called Ian’s voice majestic and larger than life; adding that it lent itself to a song like that.

John Holiday returns to perform “Halo” by Beyonce.  Carson noted that John hit every note on every scale known to man.  Kelly loves that John likes a challenge; adding that the performance was beautiful.  Kelly said that she has never heard anyone in her life like John.  Coach John agreed with Kelly that there is no one like John; adding that he has an out of this world gift.

Carter returns to perform his original song “Up from Here”.  Coach Gwen said that she is proud of Carter; adding that she can’t wait to see what happens after the show.

Closing out the night is Jim Ranger with the iconic classic “With a Little Help from My Friends”.  Carson said that was how you ended a finale.  Kelly said it was Jim’s best performance of the show; adding that it felt like it could be his original.  Gwen agreed with Kelly; adding that Jim felt like a big star.  Coach Blake said that Jim let it all out.  John said that Jim was preaching.

On the Tuesday results show a new winner will be crowned.

Actress Carol Sutton Dies

Actress Carol Sutton died December 10, 2020 in her native Louisiana as a result of complications from the Covid-19 virus at the age of 76.

Appearing in over 100 film and television productions, Sutton is best recognized for her roles in “Steel Magnolias”, “Treme”, and “Queen Sugar”.

When not appearing on the screen, Sutton could frequently be seen on the stage in her home of New Orleans.  After making her stage debut in the 1960’s; her roles have included “The Last Madam”, “Native Tongues”, and “A Raisin in the Sun”.

Sutton made her television debut in 1974 as Vivian in the TV movie “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman”.  Over the course of her career, she would go on to appear in over 100 productions including “Gimme a Break!”, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, “In the Heat of the Night’, “Steel Magnolias”, “The Pelican Brief”, “Monster’s Ball”, “Ray”, “Treme”, “The Help”, “21 Jump Street”, “American Horror Story”, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”, “Scream Queens”, the 2016 mini series “Roots”, “Camera Osbcura”, “Queen Sugar”, and “Lovecraft Country”.  “In the Bag” has been completed and awaiting release; while “Freedom’s Path” is currently in post-production.

Carol Dickerson was born on June 29, 1933 in New Orleans.  She married and divorced Archie Sutton.

Sutton is survived by her children – Archie and Aunya; siblings Oris and Adrienne; and five grandchildren.



feature photo credit: KTNV Channel 13 Action News Facebook page

 

Spy Novelist John le Carre Dies

British spy novelist John le Carre died on the evening of December 12, 2020 in Cornwall, England as a result of a non Covid illness at the age of 89.  His family stated that le Carre had pneumonia.

Like many authors who write in a series, le Carre had a recurring main character – spymaster George Smiley, an iconic character and a decent man.

He was born David John Moore Cornwell on October 19, 1931 in Poole, England; the son of a con man who associated with gangsters and spent time in jail.  Young David’s mother left the family when he was only five years old. During his military service, he interrogated Eastern Blco defectors.

He once described his upbringing as, of clandestine survival.  The whole world was enemy territory.”

Le Carre used his tumultuous upbringing as inspiration when it came time to create his George Smiley adventures.

Prior to becoming an author of spy novels, Le Carre attended Oxford, taught at Eton, and was a part of Britain’s foreign service.  He began his writing career while still working for the Foreign Service; which resulted in him choosing a pen name.  He chose le Carre – square in French – because he liked the mysterious sound of it.

His first novel came in 1961 with “Call for the Dead” and was followed by “A Murder of Quality” and “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold”.  It was at this point that le Carre left the foreign service and turned full time to writing.

Other le Carre books include “The Russia House”, “A Perfect Spy”, “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”, “The Honourable Schoolboy”, Smiley’s People”, “The Tailor of Panama”, “The Constant Gardener”, “A Most Wanted Man”, “Our Kind of Traitor”, “The Pigeon Tunnel”, “A Delicate Truth”, and “Agent Running in the Field”.

Le Carre saw a number of his novels turned into films and television mini series including “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold”, “The Little Drummer Girl”, “Our Kind of Traitor”, “The Night Manager”, “A Most Wanted Man”, “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”, “The Constant Gardener”, “The Tailor of Panama”, “A Murder of Quality”, “The Russia House”, “A Perfect Spy”, “Smiley’s People”, “The Looking Glass War”, “The Deadly Affair”, and “Our Kind of Traitor”.

He even made a few uncredited cameo appearances in a few them as a waiter in “The Little Drummer Girl”, a museum guard in “Our Kind of Traitor”, a diner in “The Night Manager”, a Christmas party guest in “Tinker, Tailor Soldier Spy”, and a Commander in the 1984 version of “The Little Drummer Girl”.

While he accepted the Goethe Medal from Germany; it is reported that he turned down an award from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Le Carre is survived by his second wife of nearly 50 years Jane and four sons – Nicholas, Timothy, Stephen and Simon.

feature photo credit: By German Embassy London – John le Carré giving his thrilling keynote speech, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60053480

Country Singer Charley Pride Dies

Country music pioneer and icon Charley Pride died December 12, 2020 in Dallas, Texas as a result of complications from the Covid-19 virus at the age of 86.

Long before there was Cowboy Troy, Darius Rucker, and Willie Jones; there was Charley Pride who crossed Country music’s colour line with “Kiss an Angel Good Morning” in 1971.  The three time Grammy Award winner later became the first Country music artist of colour – what Pride referred to as a “permanent tan” – to become a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.  Along with his Grammys and Hall of Fame induction, Pride has earned Country Music Association – CMA – Awards, is a member of the Grand Ole Opry, a Living Legend Award from the Nashville Network/Music City News, and a Lifetime Achievement Award for excellence in the Arts from the Mississippi Governor’s Awards.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rouSFhnQapE

Pride went on to see eleven of his albums certified gold by the RIAA – Recording Industry Association of America – for selling over 500,000 copies in the U.S. and has sold over 25 million albums around the world.

Pride’s music has appeared on nearly two dozen film and television productions including “Supernatural”, “The Marty Stuart Show”, “The Wendell Baker Story”, “Designing Women”, and “Tome Sawyer”.  As himself, he has appeared on documentaries, award shows, talk shows, variety shows, “Hee Haw”, game shows, and special productions.

Pride has also appeared as an actor in half a dozen productions including “The All American Cowboy”, ”Nashville 99”, “Love is…Barbara Eden”, and “From Nashville with Music”.

The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture features a pair of boots and a guitar that belonged to Pride among its collection of artifacts.

Born March 18, 1934 in Sledge, Mississippi; Pride was one of eleven children born to a sharecropper. 

Before turning to a musical career, Pride played outfield and pitched in the Negro Leagues with the Memphis Red Sox and in Montana as a part of the Pioneer League until an arm injury ended his career.  A part owner in the Texas Rangers, Pride was as much a part of the team as the front office and the coaches; he would join the team each year for spring training where he would work out with the players…and give them a concert in the Club House.

Pride is survived by his wife of 64 years Rozene; children Kraig, Dion, and Angela/ and grandchildren.


Charley Pride discography:
“Country Charley Pride”
“The Country Way”
“The Pride of Country Music”
“Make Mne Country”
“Songs of Pride…Charley, That Is”
“In Person”
“The Sensational Charley Pride”
“Charley Pride’s 10th Album”
“Christmas in My Home Town”
“Just Plain Charley”
“Sings Heart Songs”
“I’m Just Me”
“From Me to You”
“Did You Think to Pray”
“A Sunshine Day with Charley Pride”
“Amazing Love”
“Songs of Love by Charley Pride”
“Sweet Country”
“Country Feelin’”
“Pride of America”
“Charley”
“The Happiness of Having You”
“Sunday Morning with Charley Pride”
“She’s Just an Old Love Turned Memory”
“Burgers and Fries”
“Someone Loves You Honey”
“You’re MyJamaica”
“There’s a Little Bit of Hank in Me”
“Roll on Mississippi”
“Charley Pride Live”
“Charley Sings Everybody’s Choice”
“Country Classics”
“Night Games”
Power of Love”
“Collector’s Series”
“Best There Is”
“Back to the Country”
“After All This Time”
“I’m Gonna Love Her on the Radio”
“Moody Woman”
“Country is My Soul”
“My 6 Latest & 6 Greatest”
“Classics with Pride”
“Branson City Limits”
“A Tribute to Jim Reeves”
“Comfort of Her Wings”
“Happy Christmas”
“Country Music Superstars: Charley Pride and Conway Twitty”
“Choices”
“Music in My Heart”

feature photo credit:By Republic Country Club – IMG_5600, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=78411683

2021 NASCAR Cup Series Drivers

Between the retirement of Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer and a number of driver and car changes; the 20201 NASCAR Cup Series lineup for 2021 will have a lot of changes.

Currently the list of full time drivers set to run the 2021 season are:
Kurt Busch in the number one car driving for Chip Ganassi Racing
Brad Keselowski driving the number two car for Team Penske
Austin Dillon driving the number three car for Richard Childress Racing
Kevin Harvick driving the number four car for Stewart-Haas Racing
Kyle Larson driving the number five car for Hendrick Motorsports – Larson is returning to the Cup Series after a suspension
Ryan Newman driving the number six car for Roush Fenway Racing
Corey LaJoie driving the number seven car for S;ire Motorsports
Tyler Reddick driving the number eight car for Richard Childress Racing
Chase Elliott driving the number nine car for Hendrick Motorsports – Elliott is the reigning Cup Series champion
Aric Almirola driving the number 10 car for Stewart-Haas Racing
Denny Hamlin driving the number eleven car for Joe Gibbs Racing
Ryan Blaney driving the number 12 car for Team Penske
Chase Briscoe driving the number 14 car for Stewart-Haas Racing – Briscoe moves up from the Xfinity Series
Chris Buescher driving the number 17 car for Roush Fenway Racing
Kyle Busch driving the number 18 car for Joe Gibbs Racing
Martin Truex Jr driving the number 19 car for Joe Gibbs Racing
Christopher Bell driving the number 20 car for Joe Gibbs Racing – this is a new team for Bell this season
Matt DiBenedetto driving the number 21 car for Wood Brothers Racing
Joey Logano driving the number 22 car for Team Penske
Bubba Wallace driving the number 23 car for 23XI Racing – this is a new team and a new team for Wallace
William Byron driving the number 24 car for Hendrick Motorsports
Michael McDowell driving the number 34 car for Front Row Motorsports
Ryan Preece driving the number 37 car for JTG Daugherty Racing
Cole Custer driving the number 41 car for Stewart-Haas Racing
Ross Chastain driving the number 42 car for Chip Ganassi Racing
Erik Jones driving the number 43 car for Richard Petty Motorsports – this is a new team for Jones
Ricky Stenhouse Jr driving the number 47 car for JTG Daugherty Racing
Alex Bowman takes over driving the number 48 for Hendrick Motorsports
BJ McLeod driving the number 78 for Live Fast Motorsports
Daniel Suarez driving the number 99 for Trackhouse

NASCAR has spots for 40 cars in each race; with the current list of full time drivers, there is plenty of room for part timers and special occasion drivers.

NFL Announces Man of the Year Nominees

Known to many as “Sweetness”, former Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton did as much off of the playing field as he did on.  Payton died in 1999 but his legacy continues with the presentation of the Walter Payton Man of the Year award – an award given to a player who demonstrates “outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on it.”

On December 10, the NFL announced the list of nominees for the 2020 season Man of the Year Award.  There are 32 nominees – one for each NFL team.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a statement on the nominees saying, “this year has presented significant challenges for us all, from the ongoing global pandemic to the continued social injustices witnessed this year.  The 32 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominees remind us that even in the face of adversity, players continue to raise awareness and use their voice and platform to positively impact their communities. The nominees will leave lasting legacies across the country in a time when we need leadership and strength the most.”

Each Man of the Year nominee receives a $40,000 donation in their name to the charity of their choice. The winner will receive a trophy, a patch to wear on their uniform, and a $250,000 donation to the charity of their choice.

The winner will be announced during NFL Honours in Super Bowl week.

The 2020 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award nominees are:
Corey Peters of the Arizona Cardinals
Steven Means of the Atlanta Falcons
Bradley Bozeman of the Baltimore Ravens
Harrison Phillips of the Buffalo Bills
Shaq Thompson of the Carolina Panthers
Jimmy Graham of the Chicago Bears
Geno Atkins of the Cincinnati Bengals
Myles Garrett of the Cleveland Browns
Jaylon Smith of the Dallas Cowboys
Justin Simmons of the Denver Broncos
Trey Flowers of the Detroit Lions
Corey Linsley of the Green Bay Packers
Michael Thomas of the Houston Texans
Jacoby Brissett of the Indianapolis Colts
Josh Lambo of the Jacksonville Jaguars
Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs
Alec Ingold of the Las Vegas Raiders
Isaac Rochell of the Los Angeles Chargers
Andrew Whitworth of the Los Angeles Rams
Byron Jones of the Miami Dolphins
Eric Kendricks of the Minnesota Vikings
Devin McCourty of the New England Patriots
Demario Davis of the New Orleans Saints
Dalvin Tomlinson of the New York Giants
Pierre Desir of the New York Jest
Rodney McLeod of the Philadelphia Eagles
Vane McDonald of the Pittsburgh Steelers
Arik Armstead of the San Francisco 49ers
Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks
Mike Evans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Kevin Byard of the Tennessee Titans
Jonathan Allen of the Washington Football Team

MLB Announced CPOY Winners

On December 10, Major League Baseball issued the last awards of the season with the Comeback Player of the Year Awards.

In the American League Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez returned to the game after missing the entire 2019 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, three weeks due to blurred vision, and a positive Covid-19 test.

Despite a shortened season to just 60 games and all of his medical issues, Perez had a career high batting average of .333 with a .633 slugging percentage, eleven homers, and 32 RBI’s…all in only 37 games.

Upon winning the award, Perez said, “this This award is about hard work and gratitude to all the people who helped to get me back on the field.  I want to thank my family first for all the support they give me, and the training staff.”

In the National League, Colorado Rockies pitcher Daniel Bard returned to the Major Leagues after taking off for six years while dealing with injury and mechanical issues.  After retiring from the game in 2017, Bard decided to give it one more try this year.

Bard spoke on his winning the COPY saying, “it’s more than I ever anticipated when I made the decision to play again. It was not an easy decision being retired two years and really having moved on to a different career.  It’s something my wife and I talked about, and she supported me in it. I knew I was throwing the ball well, but I was hoping to get one more game in the big leagues — one more pitch — and it turned out to be a lot more than that. So I’m just extremely grateful.”

Bard continued, “it was just the ability to let go and have fun again. I had put so much pressure on myself to get back to that high level that I had pitched at.  I think I had to retire. I retired for two years, and I think that was the only thing that allowed me to move on in my own mind and just have the freedom to have fun on the field and throw the baseball the way I’m capable of.”

After earning a shutout win in his Rockies debut on opening day, Bard went on to hold the opposition scoreless in 14 of his 23 starts, earn a record of 4 and 2 with six saves and an ERA of 3.65.

The winners of the COPY award are selected from a field of 30 nominees – one from each Major League club.

‘Right Stuff’ Pilot Chuck Yeager Dies

Former World War II Air Force pilot, General, and test pilot Charles “Chuck” Yeager died December 7 at the age of 97.

Yeager is best known for his breaking the sound barrier by flying faster than the speed of sound (approx. 760 mph – depending on atmospheric conditions) at the age of 24 (1947) flying Bell X-1 rocket plane.  He flew for over 60 years including flying an F-15 at Mach one at the age of 79.

At the age of 87, he commemorated the 65th anniversary of breaking the sound barrier by riding second seat in an F-15 Eagle as it broke the barrier 30,000 feet above the sesert.

He named his planes “Glamorous Glennis” after his first wife who died in 1990.

It was Yeager who inspired the book and film “The Right Stuff”.

He was born Charles Elwood Yeager on February 13, 1923 in the tiny West Virginia town of Myra, but grew up in Hamlin.

Enlisting in the Army Air Corps right out of high school in 1941 prevented Yeager from becoming an astronaut since he did not have a college education…something he later regretted.  Before taking to the skies, Yeager started his career as an airplane mechanic.

Despite having an issue with air sickness, Yeager flew 64 missions during World War II, shooting down 13 German planes including five on a single mission.  He himself was also shot down over France but later escaped with help from the French.

After returning to the United States after the war, he became a test pilot.

When war broke out once again in Vietnam, Yeager was again flying sorties over the skies of South Vietnam.

Also an Air Force Squadron commander, Yeager once said, “it might sound funny, but I’ve never owned an airplane in my life. If you’re willing to bleed, Uncle Sam will give you all the planes you want.”  He noted that over the course of his career he has flown over 18,000 hours in 341 different types of aircraft.

Yeager’s accolades include the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star, the Air Medal, the Purple Heart, Collier air trophy, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Predeceased by his first wife Glennis, Yeager is survived by his second wife Victoria and children Donald, Michael, Sharon and Susan.

feature photo credit: By U.S. Air Force photo – Air Force Link, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1611611

Finalists Revealed on ‘The Voice’

On Monday night, the nine remaining singers took to the stage to perform two songs – one solo and one as a part of a trio.

On results night, only five singers will survive the show to move on to the finals.

The top vote getter from each coach will become a finalist with the final spot being chosen via the instant save.

Coach Kelly Clarkson opens the show with a performance of “Under the Mistletoe with Country singer Brett Eldridge.

In the first results of the night, Team Kelly takes the stage with Desz moving on to the finale.  Cami Clune will be singing for the instant save.

In the next results, Team Legend takes the stage.  Due to the instant save last week, John has three singers competing for a spot in the finale.  The Team Legend singer moving on to the finale is John Holiday.  Bailey Rae and Tamara Jade will be competing for the instant save.

Team Blake’s team takes the stage with Jim Ranger.  Ian Flanigan will be singing for the instant save.

“The Voice” coach, Emmy, Tony, Oscar, and eleven time Grammy winner John Legend takes the stage for a performance of his new single “Wild”.

In the final fan vote results before the instant save performances, Team Gwen takes the stage with 15 year old Carter Rubin moving on to the finale.  Ben Allen will be competing for the instant save.

The five remaining singers take to the stage to perform songs that they have chosen in hopes of winning the fan vote in the final instant save of the season.

Ben Allen sang “Prayed for You”.
Cami Clune sang “When the Party’s Over”.
Bailey Rae sang “Your Cheating Heart”.
Tamara Jade sang the classic “Feeling Good”.
Ian Flanigan closed out the performances with “Anymore”.

In the final results of the night, the final singer moving on to the finale via the instant save is…

…Ian Flanigan!

Next week, it’s on to the finals.

NASCAR Makes Schedule Change

The 2021 NASCAR racing season is still two months away, but NASCAR officials have already had to make a change to the schedule due to the Covid-19 virus.

When NASCAR travels to Daytona in February for Speedweeks, they will remain in the home of NASCAR for the whole month.

After the Daytona 500, the series was set to travel first to Homestead-Miami and then travel across the country for a road course race at Auto Club Speedway.  That race in California has been moved to the road course at Daytona. 

With the relocation of the race at Auto Club in Fontana, it will be the first time in 24 years that there has not been a race at the two mile track.

The race at Homestead-Miami will take place after the first two races at Daytona.

With the changes the NASCAR schedule is currently:
Feb 7 Speedweeks begins with Daytona 500 pole qualifying
Feb 12-14 – Daytona International Speedway
Feb 19-21 – Daytona Road Course
Feb 27 & 28 – Homestead-Miami

Originally, the Camping World Truck Series was scheduled to race at Homestead-Miami for their second race of the season; now they will run the Road Course at Daytona along with the Cup and Xfinity Series.

Prior to NASCAR taking to the track, IMSA takes over the road course on January 30 and 31 for the annual Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.

Semi Finals on ‘The Voice’

It’s down to just nine singers on “The Voice” and only two weeks remaining in season 19.

Tonight the singers will be performing two songs – one solo and a trio performance.

Blake’s save Jim Ranger gets the night of music started off with one of his dad’s favourite songs “Without You” by Harry Nilsson.  Jim brought the coaches to their feet.  Host Carson Daly noted what a way to start the show.   John called it Jim’s best performance yet; adding that it was flawless and he is a force to be reckoned with.  Blake said, “you just did it, dude!”.  Blake noted that he was more impressed than he has ever been on the show.

Team Kelly’s save Cami Clune sang “The Joke” by Brandi Carlile and dedicated to her mom.  Gwen said that Cami’s voice is like an angel; adding that she is unique and wants to be Cami when she grows up.  Agreeing with Gwen, Kelly said that Cami has a way to tell a story.

In the first trio of the night; Carter Rubin, Desz, and Jim Ranger sing the Billy Preston hit “Will it Go Round in Circles”.  The coaches were out of their chairs dancing during the performance. 

Gwen’s steal and save Ben Allen performs a song by her finacee Blake Shelton with “All About Tonight”.  Ben dedicates his song to Blake and Gwen.  Blake was jealous and blown away; saying that Ben slayed the song and wanted to be Ben.  Gwen said that she thinks it’s funny that she will win the show singing a Blake Shelton song.  She said that Ben did a great job and was blown away.

Team Legend’s John Holiday was the leading vote getter last week.  John performed the Coldplay song “Fix You”.  John Legend said that it was a perfect song for John Holiday.  Kelly said that the song got better as it went along; adding that John has a perfect voice.  Coach John Legend noted that he was over there crying; adding that they felt it.

In the next trio performance; Tamara Jade, Ben Allen, and Ian Gallagher sang “Tulsa Time”. 

Team Kelly’s Desz performed “Don’t Let Go (Love)” by Envogue.  During rehearsals, Kelly sang backup for Desz.  Kelly was standing up with her mouth wide open.  John said that he felt the fire; adding that Desz sang with such power and soulfulness.  An excited Kelly said that it was her favourite performance from any of her singers.  She said that she wanted to put in her application to be Desz’ backup singer.

Instant save and Team Legend’s Bailey Rae sang the Ray Charles song “Georgia on My Mind”.  Blake noted that he loves Bailey Rae; adding that she encompasses the old school country sound.  Coach John Legend noted that America needs to be reminded how young Bailey is – she’s 16.  He said that she sang the song with such confidence.

Three time Grammy Award winner and “The Voice” coach Gwen Stefani debuts her new single “Let Me Re-introduce Myself”.

In the next trio John Holiday, Cami Clune, and Bailey Rae come together for a performance of “Pompeii” by Bastille.

Team Blake’s Ian Flanigan performed the Sarah McLachlan song “Angel”.  He dedicated the song to his girlfriend; now fiancée.  Ian brought the coaches to their feet.  Kelly noted that Ian can sing anything…literally anything.  She noted that she could see Ian writing the song.  Coach Blake noted that it was Kelly was the one who suggested the song; adding that Ian killed it and was incredible.

John Legend save Tamara Jade performed the classic Beatles song “Let it Be” and dedicated it to her coach John Legend.  Gwen said that Tamara has a sparkly and shiny personality.  John said that Tamara is incredible and a superstar.

Closing out the night of music, Team Gwen’s Carter Rubin performed the Kermit the Frog hit “Rainbow Connection”.  Carter dedicated the song to his brother who is autistic.  An emotional Gwen called the performance flawless; adding that it was God answering her prayers.  Gwen called Carter so gifted.

On the Tuesday results show five of the singers will move on to the finals.

NFL Suspends Players for Conduct

Football is not aa contact sport, it is a collision sport with plays that sometimes can be rather violent; however, there are rules…and the NFL does not look kindly on those players who violate those rules.

On December 7, the NFL suspended Cincinnati Bengals safety Shawn Williams and Tennessee Titans defensive end Teair Tart for conduct unbecoming a professional football player.

In what the NFL is calling “unacceptable extracurricular activities” in violation of “unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct rules”, were suspended for “intentionally stepping” on members of the opposing team.

Both players are expected to appeal the penalties; which will be heard in the next few days.

After Cleveland Browns’ Wyatt Teller sent Tart into the backfield in a play during the second quarter, Tart stepped on Teller’s leg.  The Browns beat the Titans 41-35.

During the Miami Dolphins Cincinnati Bengals game, Shawn Williams stepped on the leg of Miami Dolphins’ guard Solomon Kindley while the players were extricating themselves from a scrum at the end of a play late in the second quarter.  The Dolphins beat the Bengals 19-7.

Squiggy Actor David Lander Dies

Actor David Lander died December 4 in his Los Angeles home as a result of complications from multiple sclerosis at the age of 73.  His wife Kathy reported that Lander was surrounded by family at the time of his death.

While he appeared in over 100 film and television productions, Lander is best known for his role of Squiggy on the sitcom “Laverne and Shirley”.

Lander and Carnegie Mellon college mate Michael McKean created the characters of Lenny and Squiggy for “Laverne and Shirley” starring Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLTx5ZwJiS0

He made his acting debut in 1970 as the voice of Jerry Lewis in “Will the Real Jerry Lewis Please Sit Down”.  From there he went on to appear in over 100 productions including “Love, American Style”, numerous sitcoms including 156 episodes of “Laverne and Shirley”, “The Love Boat”, “The Man with One Red Shoe”, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, 13 episodes of “Midnight Patrol: Adventures in the Dream Zone”, “Twin Peaks”, Valdja Gochktch in seven episodes of “On the Air”, “Family Matters”, Lechner in 26 episodes of “Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters from Beverly Hills”, “Nash Bridges”, 12 episodes of the daytime drama “The Bold and the Beautiful”, “The Simpsons”, “SpongeBob SquarePants” and his final role in 2017 as Rumplestiltskin in “Goldie and Bear”.

Outside of acting, Lander had another passion…baseball!  But he was much more than just a fan of the game; Lander was a scout for the Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners and was even an owner of a Minor League team for a short time.

Lander may have grown up in the Bronx, but he was not a fan of the Bronx Bombers – Yankees -, he loved the Pittsburgh Pirates.  In 1980, he became a minority owner in the Pirates Triple A minor league team the Portland Beavers.

In the 1992 film “A League of Their Own” – a film that chronicled the female professional baseball league during World War II -, Lander combined his love of baseball and acting when he played the broadcaster in the film.

He was born David Leonard Landau on June 22, 1947 in Brooklyn, New York. He was diagnosed with MS in 1984 but kept is private until 1999.

He is survived by his wife and daughter Natalie.

feature photo credit: By ABC Television – eBay itemphoto frontphoto back, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=97295343

The Love-In Leave it ‘As it Lays’

The Love-In is not some new romantic fad but a rock band out of Nashville with a new album.

“As it Lays” is an EP of five songs addressing the issues of social norms, gender roles, and how they discourage individuality. The album was influenced by strong females from the world of literature, music, and films; as well as the life experiences of lead singer Laurel Sorenson.

The foursome of two women and two men formed in 2015 with the name of Laurel and the Love-In. The band has since changed their name to simply “The Love-In

Johnson to Run Rolex 24 with All Star Team

Seven time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson has retired from racing in NASCAR, but he is ready to begin the new year racing; but before he gets behind the wheel of an IndyCar, Johnson will take to the road course in Daytona one more time.

Former Hendrick Motorsports drivers Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr have previously been participants in the Rolex 24; Gordon has a Rolex on his arm to prove it.

Action Express Racing and Hendrick Motorsports have joined forces to field the number 48 Ally Cadillac Dpi-V.R in the 2021 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona on January 30.

Johnson is joining an impressive list of fellow drivers to pilot the car with Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud, and Rolex 24 winners Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Rockenfeller.  Rockenfeller is also a Le Mans winner.

This will be Johnson’s eighth Rolex 24 race, but the first in 10 years.

Action Express Racing team manager Gary Nelson spoke on the all star lineup saying, “Jimmie has a lot of experience at Daytona, not only on the oval, but turning into the infield as well. Simon brings a lot of endurance experience and Kamui adds a wealth of car setup knowledge and speed to the car. We won the Rolex 24 with Mike in 2010, so he is familiar with how we operate. I would like to thank fellow IMSA competitor Paul Miller for sharing the 48 number. We’re looking at having a great 10 days in Daytona starting with the Roar Before the 24.”

Johnson spoke on his upcoming Daytona run saying, “the Rolex 24 At Daytona is one of the marquee races in the world.  It’s such a challenging event for both team and driver and requires such a high level of concentration throughout. It’s just such a fun and unique race to compete in. This will be the first time I’ve raced with Action Express and have been very impressed with the team and its preparation.”

Johnson added, “I’m also excited to have Ally on board and to be co-driving with Simon, Kamui and Mike, who are three world-class drivers with experience in this race and the DPi class. I’ve finished second in this event, so I’m looking forward to trying to get on the top step in 2021.”

Making his seventh Rolex 24 start for Pagenaud said, “I love taking part in this race!  It’s exciting to get to start the year in Daytona, as it gets me ready for the season. Teaming up with Jimmie is an honor. He is a NASCAR legend; I’ve always looked up to him.”

Pagenaud added, “I look forward to stepping in the Ally Cadillac DPi-V.R.  It’s a proven winning machine. I am ready to discover the strength of this race car with Action Express. They are a tremendous race team and I look forward to bringing my ‘A’ game to the Daytona 24 Hour and contend for the win!”

A member of the winning team with Wayne Taylor Racing, Kobayashi said, “I think we have a big chance to win.  You have to stay on the lead lap and then the last couple of hours be ready to fight for the victory. I am confident with the Cadillac DPi-V.R. It is with a different team this year for me, but the same great car.”

Rolex 24 and Le Mans winner Rockenfeller said, “super excited to be back racing in Daytona in the top category and in the AXR Cadillac DPi-V.R.  It is the most successful car in IMSA and at Daytona. It is where I wanted to be again after racing in the GT category for a few years.  I am looking forward to my first laps in the Cadillac. I don’t think it is that far from the LMP1 and the DTM cars I am used to driving. To be with Jimmie, Simon and Kamui is awesome. If you look at all of the titles and championships they have won, it is very cool. It is great to be a part of such a strong team of drivers.”

Action Express Racing will also field the number 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac for the race.  The number 31 car will be competing full time in 2021 for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Before NASCAR begins the 2021 season with Speedweeks; IMSA gets the racing season started on January 22 with The Roar and continues with the Motul Pole Award qualifying race and culminates with the annul 24 Hour Endurance race on January 30.

feature photo credit: By Level 5 Motorsports – https://www.flickr.com/photos/46923961@N02/5400881761/#/photos/46923961@N02/5400881761/lightbox/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13260817

Kreator Gets Boxed

The thrash metal band Kreator will be releasing a deluxe boxed set of music featuring all of their releases with Noise Records. Set for a February 26 release “Under The Guillotine” will include the six studio albums beginning with the 1985 debut album “Endless Pain”.

Formed in Essen, Germany; Kreator began with the name Tormentor and later changed their name to Kreator.

Since their 1985 debut with Noise Records, Kreator

have been a major influence on metal and thrash metal bands around the world and continues to do so today.

“Under The Guillotine” features the original album artwork and inner sleeves includes:
“Endless Pain” in a swirl vinyl pattern
“Pleasure to Kill” in a splatter vinyl pattern
“Terrible Certainty” in a splatter vinyl pattern
“Extreme Aggression” in a half and half vinyl pattern
“Comma of Souls” in a splatter vinyl pattern
“Renewal” in a swirl vinyl pattern
“Some Pain Will Last” – a DVD that includes a mini documentary; two previously unreleased live audio concerts, plus a remix of the 1990 concert “Live in Berlin”
a 40 page hardbound book of rare phtographs, quotes, and lyrics
a reproduction of the cassette demo for “End of the World”
and a “Demon” figurine USB drive that includes expanded editions of all the albums on MP3

The collection will be housed in a executioners guillotine box.

The first 250 sets ordered from the Noise Records site will also include an art card by Mille Petrozza.

Kreator is also making a double vinyl album available that includes 18 tracks from the Noise Records era. The albums will be on splatter vinyl and include some previously inseen photos.

And for those fans who do not own a phonograph, the band is offering a two CD edition that features 30 tracks and comes in a mediabook.

Both the double vinyl and CD editions will include rare tracks.

Soul Singer Betty Wright Has Died

Grammy Award winning R&B singer Betty Wright died May 10, 2020 at the age of 66 in Miami, Florida as a result of cancer.

The six time Grammy Award winning artist had chart topping hits over two dozen times and is best known for the hit songs”Where is the Love”, “Clean Up Woman”, “No Pain (No Gain)”, and “Tonight is the Night”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyvn5idWuhE

In 1988 Wright became the first female artist of colour to earn a gold record by the RIAA – Recording Industry Association of America – for her album “Mother Wit’. The RIAA awards an album gold status when it sells 500,000 albums in the United States.

When not performing her own music, Wright provided backup vocals for numerous artists including. Erykah Badu, Regina Belle, David Byrne, Jimmy Cliff, Alice Cooper, Gloria Estefan, Stephen Stills, Peter Tosh, and Stevie Wonder.

She has also been a vocal coach, writer, producer, and engineer for other artists including Kelly Clarkson, Keyshia Cole, Destiny’s Child, Michael Jackson, Tom Jones, Jennifer Lopez, and Joss Stone.

Mary J Blige, Afrika Bambaataa, Beyonce, Chance the Rapper, Subline, and SWV are among the artists who have sampled Wright’s music.

A vocal coach on “Making the Band” with Sean Combs, Wright had musical collaborations with Combs, Ace Hood, Big Sean, DJ Khaled, the Game, Kendrick Lamar, Lil Wayne, Nas, Rick Ross, and Angie Stone.

Her final album “Betty Wright: The Movie” came in 2011 after a 10 year hiatus and featured collaborations with Joss Stone, Snoop Dogg, Lil Wayne, and Lenny Williams.

Wright’s music has been heard on dozens of film and television productions including “True Love”, “Speed 2: Cruise Control”, “The Bernie Mac Show”, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, seveal editions of “Idol”, “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan”, “The Kids are All Right”, “The Babysitter”, and “The Deuce”.

Bessie Regina Norris was born on December 21, 1953 in Miami. The youngest of seven children, she was born into a musical family. A young Bessie made her musical debut when she was just two years old as a part of the family gospel group Echoes of Joy.

She began her solo career at age eleven as an R&B singer and was signed to Deep City Records at age 12. She released her full length debut album “My First Time Around” at age 14 on Alston Records.

Predeceased by her third husband King Sporty, Wright is survived by her children Aisha, Patrice, Chaka, and Asher.


Betty Wright Discography:
“My First Time Around”
“I Love the Way You Love”
“Hard to Stop”
“Danger High Voltage”
“Explosion”
“This Time for Real
“Betty Wright Live”
“Betty Travelin’ in the Wright Circle
“Betty Wright”
“Back at You”
“Sevens”
“Mother Wit”
“4U2Njoy”
“Passion & Compassion”
“B-Attitudes”
“Distant Lover”
“Fit for a King”
“Betty Wright: The Movie”

feature photo credit: By Unknown author – https://www.ebay.com/itm/Betty-Wright-1968-Ad-Girls-Cant-Do-What-The-Guys-Do-Atco/401561086417?hash=item5d7ee7e9d1:g:EU4AAOSwXK1bOSsE, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=90087221

MLB Creates New Draft League

The 2020 baseball season saw a lot of changes brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic…the entire minor league baseball season was cancelled as was college baseball and the college draft was cut down.

Major League Baseball and the Prep Baseball Report; along with five others have formed an MLB Draft League. The new league will feature the top collegiate prospects that are eligible for the MLB draft. The first of its kind, the League will include a 68 game season with teams in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New Jersey.

The teams created so far include the Mahoning Valley Scrapers, the State College Spikes, the Trenton Thunder, the West Virginia Black Bears, and the Williamsport Crosscutters; with a sixth team in the works.

The new league will offer MLB scouts an opportunity to see the top prospects for the draft in a central location with a minimal amount of travel.

The PBR will provide staffing, recruitment, administrative operations, and onfield operations; as well as, offering their access to media and technology platforms.

Baseball players are eligible for the draft once they graduate from high school or once they reach junior status in college. College freshmen and sophomores are not eligible to the draft but can play summer ball. With that in mind, the Appalachian League has become a wood bat league to help develop them for a future career in baseball.

Former coach, scouting supervisor, and recruiter Kerrick Jackson will serve as President of the new MLB Draft League.

MLB Executive Vice President of Baseball Economics and Operations Morgan Sword spoke on the new league saying, we are thrilled to partner with Prep Baseball Report and the founding members of the MLB Draft League to create a one-of-a-kind league that will attract the nation’s top players who are eligible for each year’s MLB Draft and allow local fans to see top prospects and future big-league stars in their hometowns. This announcement continues MLB’s commitment to preserving and growing baseball in communities around the United States.”

President of Prep Baseball Report Sean Duncan added, “we are honored to work with these ownership groups and Major League Baseball to assure the future of impactful, high-level baseball to the region and continue the legacy of deep community involvement from all of these teams. With more than 150 scouts and operations personnel coast-to-coast at the high school, collegiate and junior college levels, we take great pride in our ability to identify the nation’s top amateur draft prospects, which will ultimately make the MLB Draft League the preeminent league for draft-eligible players.”

Top Nine Revealed on ‘The Voice’

It’s one of the biggest night’s on “The Voice” when nearly half of the singers will be eliminated.

On Monday night, 17 singers took the stage for the first live performances of the season.

The show began with the announcement that classically trained opera singer Ryan Gallagher has inexplicitly left the show.  Rumours continue to float around social media and while Gallagher himself has yet to give an explanation, he did say that he did not drop out.

Host Carson Daly announced that the top four vote getting singers from each group will move on to the top nine; the coaches will each choose one singer, and the instant save will choose the final singer.

In the first results of the night, Team Kelly takes the stage.  The first singer moving on to the top nine via fan vote is Desz.

Kelly chose to save her steal Cami Clune.

Next up is Team Gwen with the fans choosing to put Carter Rubin in the top nine.

Gwen chose to save her steal Ben Allen.

Team Blake takes the stage to learn their results with the fans choosing to put Ian Flanigan into the top nine.

Blake chose to save Jim Ranger.

Team Legend takes the stage to learn their results with the fan vote selecting John Holiday to move on to the top nine.

John chose to send Tamara Jade into the top nine.

Now it is up to the fans once again with the wild card instant save.

Tanner Gomes, Payge Turner, Worth the Wait, and Bailey Rae will all perform for the wild card instant save to fill the final spot in the top nine.

Madeline Consoer, Joseph Soul, Taryn Papa, Sid Kingsley, and Chloe Hogan have been eliminated from the competition.

Up first is Team Blake’s Worth the Wait with “I’m Gonna Love You Through It”.

Team Gwen’s Payge Turner sang the Rihanna song “Diamonds”.

Team Kelly’s Tanner Gomes sang “Pickin’ Wildflowers”.

In the final performance of the night, Team Legend’s Bailey Rae sang “Never Again Again”.

After the wild card instant save vote….

Team Legend’s Bailey Rae is the final singer in the top nine.

‘The Dinger’ Gets Full Time Ride

During the 2020 racing season, AJ Allmendinger drove part time for Kaulig Racing in the Xfinity Series.  He will continue to driver the number 16 car.  Kaulig announced that the sponsorship for the car will be revealed at a later date.

When the 2021 season begins in February, “The Dinger” will have a full time ride as one of three drivers for Kaulig Racing.  Allmendinger will join Kaulig Racing drivers Justin Haley and new driver to Kaulig Jeb Burton.

Last season, running just one third of the Xfinity Series races – eleven – Allmendinger won two races – an oval course at Atlanta Motor Speedway and the rain soaked Roval (road course) at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

This will be “The Dinger’s” first full time run in three years when he drove in the NASCAR Cup Series for JTG Daugherty Racing.

Allmendinger spoke on his new contract via a statement saying, “as a part-time driver for Kaulig Racing in the Xfinity series, I have really enjoyed working with all the women and men in the organization these past two years. The love of showing up to NASCAR races has returned for me, and I truly have enjoyed myself on and off the race track. It starts with Matt Kaulig and (team president) Chris Rice. I can’t thank them enough for giving me a call at the start of 2019 and offering me races that continued into 2020.

Allmendinger added, “more than anything, I have really loved being part of the team and watching the growth of the organization, and because of that, the opportunity to come back full time in 2021 was something I just could not pass up.”

Kaulig Racing team president Chris Rice also spoke on Allmendinger joining the team full time saying, “having AJ race full time for Kaulig Racing will only elevate our program to another level,” said Rice, who has been team president of.  I truly believe his veteran experience has helped us in every race he has ever run with us, and that is evident in his finishes. I’m sure he will complement our other two great drivers we already have, as he’s been a great teammate since day one. I love the challenge in front of us to go after the championship in 2021 with all three of our drivers.”

feature photo credit: By Zach Catanzareti – https://www.flickr.com/photos/58980992@N03/38712667960, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=87441880