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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Highlights of the week include guitars, swimwear and leotards

Hey there blog friends, I know you've been dying to hear from me. After all, it's been three working days since our last visit. So here's a quick summary of what's been going on in the world of entertainment news.

James Burton International Guitar Festival: What can be said about James Burton? In addition to being one of the best guitar players around, he's generous and equally funny. On Friday, I spent a little over an hour with Burton and his wife of 43 years, Louise. The pair was hilarious. Burton teased his wife about her forgetfulness and when he interrupted her she'd silence him by saying, "Let me finish."

While working on the story, I also interviewed Summerfield Elementary principal Lane Hunnicutt. During the interview, I nearly called him Coach Hunnicutt several times and finally asked, "Have you ever coached golf?" The answer was yes and, in fact, he had been Coach Hunnicutt to me during my years on the Turner Middle School golf team. I didn't tell him my handicap for fear of disappointing him. If he knew, he'd demote me to the alternate team.

The guitar festival is at 7 p.m. Saturday night at Municipal Auditorium and will feature some excellent guitar players and musicians. The performers are all friends of Burton's who donated their time and abilities to help raise funds to purchase guitars for the Little Kids Rock guitar program. This year, 1,200 guitars have been ordered. Ticket sales for the concert are the primary fundraiser for the program, so buy a ticket and support the development of young musicians in our area.

Swimsuit fashion shoot: In Times history, we've done some large fashion stories and this month we'll revive that with swimsuits. Times photo editor Mike Silva spent yesterday on Cross Lake photographing numerous models in this year's hottest swimwear trends. The story is set to run in the Living section in April and a large photo gallery and video from the shoot will post online. Silva suggested I model for the shoot, after all, it would be a great blog topic! My response was, "If you can find a turtleneck swimsuit with matching pants I'll do it." The swimsuit was never uncovered. Instead, you can look forward to checking out the hottest swimsuits from JC Penny, Dillards, Target, Couleur and T-Shemise.

"DELIRIUM": On Tuesday, my friend Kate and I went to see Cirque du Soleil's touring show "DELIRIUM." The show was amazing, although we nearly missed it because of slow service at Imperial Cathey. How long could it take to make Lo Mein? Tuesday night, the running time was more than an hour. But, once we arrived, the show was incredible, the stunts were amazing and the music was mesmerizing.

I'm curious as to how these artists learn to dangle, twist and contort their bodies while hanging from a long band of fabric. I'm compelled to find out exactly how you establish a career in hula hooping and garner a standing ovation for your performance. It may pay better than journalism, and in my day I could hula hoop with the best of them. I'm considering the career change.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Pictures, compliments of Losing Anna

The guys from Losing Anna were kind enough to share some of the photos from the St. Patrick's Day concert with me for the blog. Always willing to serve as a good example, they were the first to submit pictures to me and I encourage you to do the same. E-mail your pictures to me at
Michael Donner and Gray Schuler
Jonathan Machen

Michael Donner

Eric Pearson

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

'80s overload? You be the judge

The Molly Ringwalds will be back at Side Kicks on Thursday. I'm sure tons of people will be there. My friends all say they are going. But, I'm starting too wonder is this too much of a good thing?

I think it was about a year ago when the Molly Ringwalds performed here for the first time. People came dressed in their '80s attire, ready to sing their favorite hits from the decade. It was beautiful.

Because the band has been such a huge success for Side Kicks, they've started to regularly bring in the group. The band was here just two months ago. Before, you'd have to wait about 6 months to hear the group. Anticipation would build and fans would go nuts for the group when they finally took the stage.

I love this group, but I'll admit, I'm not really excited about the show. I know if I miss this one there is another performance just around the corner.

So my question to you, are you still excited to see this group or have we been over saturated?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Wearing vs. Carrying Green

I held up my promise. Saturday night (St. Patrick's Day) I did not wear green, however I did carry a green clutch. When my friend tried to pinch me, I called foul play.

"Umm, do you see this," I said as I dangled my little green purse.

"There is a difference between wearing and carrying green. Carrying green doesn't count."

I think the theory is bogus, almost as bogus as being forced to wear green to spare yourself physical abuse, so I pinched my friend in objection.

Where do you stand on these St. Patrick's Day rules? I've got a little less than a year to sort all this out. I still think a green purse counts.

Saturday night, I hung out with friends at Flannagan's to hear Jackson Waters and Losing Anna. The concert was great. Of all the concerts I've seen at Flannagan's, I've never seen the place so packed and never felt it so hot in the smoke-filled bar.

Once again, I'm encouraging you guys ... OK, begging ... to send in some photos. E-mail me at Tell me a little bit about the picture and I'll post it here!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Shepherd deserves more from Shreveport than what he got

Last night, Kenny Wayne Shepherd put on a spectacular show. Special guests Hubert Sumlin, Bryan Lee, Buddy Flett and Pinetop Perkins took their turns on stage with Shepherd. The performances were phenomenal.

Since "10 Days Out (Blues From the Backroads)" released in January, I've been following this story. This project is something Shepherd is passionate about. He describes these musicians as his heroes and as he played with each of them, his admiration was obvious.

I've watched Shepherd's documentary twice. Once, when I received it in a press kit, and again when it aired on PBS. Both times it left an impression on me. As Shepherd mentioned last night, six of the artists featured on the documentary have died since the filming in 2004. The documentary preserves their talent and passes their music on to a new generation of listeners.

So, to see some of these artists live was something I couldn't miss. With a sold-out audience, it was obvious others felt the same way.

But why would you go to a concert if you didn't want to be there? Or why go if you couldn't at least pretend to appreciate the performance?

Throughout the night, some people in the audience disrespected Shepherd. As he talked about the artists who have died, one audience member shouted out "who cares." The packed house booed the guy and Shepherd simply said, "Looks like everyone cares but you."

During the encore, after "Blue on Black", an audience member threw a Dr. Pepper bottle on stage and hit Shepherd in the arm. Shepherd finished the song and then addressed the person by saying they should meet after the show so Shepherd could find out where the person worked so he could throw things at him while he was trying to do his job.

I couldn't believe it. Shepherd launched his tour in Shreveport to show hometown fans respect and gratitude, and some in the audience couldn't return the gesture.

I don't care how much these people had to drink, or how little they care about legends like Etta Baker and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, the behavior was an embarrassment to them and to our city.

I hope the cities that follow on the tour will show Shepherd and his special guest performers more respect. They deserve it.

(Pictured from top to bottom: Kenny Wayne Shepherd with Buddy Flett; Shepherd with Bryan Lee; Hubert Sumlin; Pinetop Perkins)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

St. Patrick's Day worth celebrating, but I'm not wearing green

I'm feeling lucky and it isn't even St. Patrick's Day yet.

A few days ago, the mom of my longtime friend Sarah brought an arrangement of shamrock to me at work. It made my day, but perhaps it's shedding a little luck on my weekend as well.

Truthfully, I'm not big on St. Patrick's Day. I don't like green beer or Lucky Charms, and I don't wear green on Patty's Day, so go ahead and get your pinchers ready.

But Saturday night, I'll hit the streets in my everyday, non-green attire for another good reason -- Losing Anna and Jackson Waters at Flannagan's.

Most music lovers from here have heard of Losing Anna. (Fans don't get your hopes up, it's just a one-time concert, there is no permanent reunion on the horizon.) But, Jackson Waters will be an unexpected treat for locals as well. The band, signed to Word Records, is starting to make waves nationally and were recently featured on the CW Network television show "One Tree Hill."

Check out Jackson Waters' myspace or their Web site.

Saturday's show begins at 10 p.m. and there is a $5 cover charge.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Behind the slime

I got slimed.

It was cool but not cold. Gooey but not sticky. Thick but not chunky. And above all the grossness, it was a blast.

Sitting underneath the bucket of slime, waiting for the lever to be pulled, I was 25 going on 12.

Nickelodeon stopped at the Louisiana Boardwalk yesterday with the Slime Across America Tour. Kids were going wild, doing anything to get on stage and it was one of the funnest assignments I've covered. But after the slime had been poured and the kids had gone home, I was stuck at the Boardwalk with slime drying on my face.
Of all days, I chose yesterday to lock my keys in my car. My spare key could not be located, so my dad had to drive to the dealership to have a new key made. About an hour after being slimed, my dad arrived with a spare key in hand. His response, "Did you know they were going to do this to you when you came here?"
I said yes, but I didn't have the heart to tell him I'd asked to be slimed. Begged, in fact, by calling offices in New York all week. I not only wanted to get the story, but I wanted to feel the story. Slime was the main event. How could I do the story justice without participating?

I guess it doesn't matter how old you are, there are some things parents just don't understand.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Picture this ...

My blog is your blog.

That's the new theory. Because my camera weighs in at about 40 pounds, it doesn't make it out with me on most nights. Hopefully your load is a little lighter, and I've got the perfect place to post your party pics.

Just e-mail your photos to me at Tell me a little bit about where you are and what's going on and I'll post it on here.

Steve Wilson heads south of the border

Today's Living front features local musician Steve Wilson.

Out of more than 600 musicians worldwide, Wilson was one of 16 selected to play the Zihuatanejo International Guitar Festival. Wilson was flown, fed and boarded to play his guitar at the eight-day festival. I've given guitar playing a whirl and wasn't exactly successful, but this could serve as motivation.

Wilson discovered the festival on The Web site is a resource that connects musicians with venues, festivals, labels worldwide.

(Steve Wilson plays at Sharpie's Clubhouse in Shreveport. Photo by Shane Bevel/The Times)

Friday, March 09, 2007

Got any plans this weekend?

I'm not sure what the weather will be like this weekend, but the social scene is shaping up nicely. Below are a few events you can take in this weekend if you've got nothing planned.

Also, I'd love to post snapshots of what you guys are doing in Shreveport. If for no other reason than to avoid posting pictures of myself. After all, my out-and-abouting is not always exciting. E-mail your party pics to me at with some information about the photo and I'll be sure to post them on the blog.

Jeff Foxworthy: One show has already sold out, but tickets are still available for tonight's 6:30 performance. The comedy show will be held inside the Riverdome at Horseshoe Casino and Hotel, 711 Horseshoe Blvd., Bossier City. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased by calling (800) 895-0711 or by clicking this link.

Ebony Fashion Fair: This fundraiser gets bigger each year. Last year, about 2,400 attended the fashion show. The show begins at 8 p.m. at Municipal Auditorium and will feature clothing by designers Pierre Cardin, Givenchy, Bill Blass and more. General seating is $25 and floor seats are sold out. For tickets, call (318) 425-6103.

"Harold & Kumar 2" fundraiser: Mix and mingle with the cast and crew of "Harold & Kumar 2" at artspace, 710 Texas Street, from 5 to 7 p.m. on Saturday. The event is $10 and open to the public. Items will be up for auction to benefit the children of Carol Trevino, an assistant to the producers, who was killed in a car accident Feb. 13. Learn more about the event and see items up for grabs on Alexandyr Kent's blog.

Futuro Boots, the Vidrines and King Hippo: For some seriously funny and entertaining music, check out Futuro Boots along with the Vidrines and King Hippo on Saturday at Flannagan's. The greatness to FB's music lies within the lyrics. Check out the band at 10 p.m Saturday at Flannagan's, 521 E. Kings Highway, Shreveport.

Enjoy the weekend and send me your best pics.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

$25 for a night on the town, dancing not included

For the sake of a good story, I did something I rarely do in public.

I danced.
Oh, but I didn't just dance. I allowed the cowboy (pictured above) to twirl, dip and swirl me across the dance floor at Tiki Bar and Grill. I pulled out dance moves I didn't know I had. I probably invented some new ones, too.
Tomorrow morning when you open Preview, you'll find stories tracing how three reporters spent a night on the town with only $25. On three separate nights, Janelle Rucker, Joel Anderson and I each spent an evening out without spending much else.
Check out the story, and tell me, if you only had $25, how would you spend it?

The dance pictured above was free.

Keep your seat for Aaron Lewis

Yesterday, I spent a few minutes on the phone with Aaron Lewis of Staind.

The frontman, whose band found success with hits "It's Been Awhile," "For You," "So Far Away," and "Right Here," is in the middle of a solo tour. Have Guitar, Will Travel, will stop at The Strand Theatre on March 20. Tickets are still available.

As Lewis and I diced through questions about the band, the tour, performing solo, one question kept running through my mind. Why does he always perform sitting down?

Every time I've seen Staind perform on MTV, he's been sitting. It's strange to me. How does a frontman entertain and create energy on stage if he never stands up?

So I asked my question.

He laughed.
And then he answered.

"In the beginning I was coerced into being the frontman and not just the singer. So, you've got me wandering around uncomfortable, walking around looking at my feet and trying to figure out why I was doing this. It bothered the shit out of me because I didn't want to do the cliche stuff."

Lewis continued.

"There was a lot of pushing from management and the label to be more animated, to jump around, waving my arms. That is so not me. I don't want to be the center of attention. I want them looking at someone else. Not me."

It was a more truthful answer than I expected. Instead of frontman ego, Lewis spoke of his discomfort with the limelight. While it may catch us off guard, Lewis is sticking to what makes him most comfortable and, to me, that's something worth appreciating.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

In my humble opinion

Writing restaurant reviews is fun until you have to write a negative one.

Recently, I had to do just that. After two visits to Swamp Island Roadhouse and two poor experiences, I felt I had no choice but to be up front about the restaurant. I struggled to write the review. Ask Diane Haag, who sits across from me, my angst was obvious.

I mentioned the positives about my dining experience and then wrote on about the "dull and uneventful" flavors. Of course, after the review printed in Friday's Preview, those who disagreed let me know. One writer blamed me not only for the demise of this restaurant but also for the struggles of the Southern Hills area in general.

Knowing the review was a tough deal for me, Diane sent this New York Times story to me. One quote in the piece comes from New York magazine restaurant reviewer Adam Platt. He said, “It’s the most subjective, in my view, of the critical disciplines. Book reviewers read the same books. Movie critics see the same movies. Restaurant critics work in an environment that will change not only from day to day but from hour to hour. All you can do is give your opinion. Over time, it becomes an informed opinion.”

I know not everyone will agree with my tastebuds' take on Swamp Island. But I'd like to know, if you've eaten there, what did you think?

Friday, March 02, 2007

Burton brings in variety of talent

James Burton announced the lineup for the second James Burton International Guitar Festival on the steps of Municipal Auditorium. With the variety of artists, there's going to be something for everyone. So far here's who is slated to attend. More performers could be added to the line up in coming weeks, so stay tuned.
  • Rick Derringer: Had a No. 1 hit with The McCoys for the song "Hang On Sloopy" when he was 17 years old; featured on Grammy nominated hits "Free Ride" and Frankenstein; has appeared with Alice Cooper, Steely Dan, Cyndi Lauper, Barbara Streisand and KISS; produced Weird Al’s Grammy winning parodies "I’m Fat" and "Eat It"; transitioned into smooth jazz in 2002 where "Hot and Cool" was in the Top 20 for 5 months.
  • Chris Isaak: Has released 9 albums and 12 singles; nominated for 2 Grammys; has acted in several movies and has his own TV series; best known for "Wicked Game" and "Heart Shaped World."
  • Steven Seagal: Known for his film career with "Above the Law," "Hard to Kill," "Marked For Death," "Under Seige" and more; proficient blues artist; currently touring Europe to promote album "Mojo Priest."
  • Ed King: Member of southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd; best known for the opening of "Sweet Home Alabama": inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006; also known for "Strawberry Alarm Clock" and "Gimme 3 Steps."
  • Monte Montgomery: Named one of the Top 50 Guitarist of All Time; known as the "Evil Knievel of Guitar"; has unique finger and pick style of playing.
  • Rick Vito: Part of Fleetwood Mac from 1987-1991; featured on Bob Seger’s "Little A Rock"; has recorded with Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne; known for "Black Magic Woman" and "The Chain."
  • Thom Bresch: Named one of the 100 Greatest Acoustic Guitarists; son of Merle Travis.
  • The Cox Family: From Cotton Valley; made up of father, son and two daughters; play country, bluegrass and gospel; appeared with Allison Krause; Sidney, one of the daughters wrote a number of Grammy winning songs, including "I’ve Got That Old Feeling."
  • Lee Roy Parnell: Texas born and bred country hit-maker that has a streak of southern rock, soul and blues; hits include "If the House is Rockin’."
  • Muriel Anderson: Nation finger-picking guitar champion who writes, composes and sings, host of Muriel Anderson Guitar Night; plays a variety of music from folk, classical, jazz, bluegrass and international music.
  • Doyle Dykes: Toured with The Stamps Quartet and Grandpa Jones from the Grand Ole Opry; played with Les Paul, Chet Atkins, Duane Eddy, Peter Frampton, John Fogerty, Vince Gill and more.
  • Dickie Betts: Played with the Allman Brothers; known for "Jessica and "Ramblin Man"; plays southern rock, blues, blues-rock and jam; tours with the Dickie Betts band.
  • Emcee for the concert John Goodman: Golden Globe winner and Emmy nominated actor; best known for sitcom "Roseanne"; played Jake Blues in the Blues Brothers Band; has acted in over 78 movies and has 5 scheduled for the next year and a half.