Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Cody Johnson: The Best Country Singer You Haven't Heard Yet

Much time and effort is made by a variety of people in myriad professions to define something that as 'authentic.' On several occasions, most notably with Coca-Cola in the 1970s, the term "The Real Thing" has been coined to define an experience that is one unto itself. After witnessing his sold-out performance in front of 74,177 at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo on March 10, this can be officially said: Cody Johnson is the real thing.

Of course, those who are Johnson's fans already know this. Last year alone, Johnson played for close to a half-million fans with sell outs across the United States. It's been an amazing ride so far for Johnson, a native of tiny Sebastopol, Texas. A former prison guard, Johnson started playing music when he was twelve years old – forming his own professional band when still a teenager. He self-released three albums from 2006 through 2009, and then teamed up with Trent Willmon to work on A Different Day, which led him to being named as New Male Vocalist of the Year by the Texas Regional Music Awards.

The exposure Johnson gained helped to spread the word about his talent. The next Willmon-produced album, Cowboy Like Me, hit No. 7 on the Country Album charts in the winter of 2014 – without the benefit of a charted single. He did tally a pair of entries into the Country Airplay chart in 2016-17 (with his "With You I Am" peaking at No. 40), which led to his most impressive showing yet – 2016's Gotta Be Me hit No. 2 on the Country Albums chart, also registering at No. 11 on the Billboard 200.
All of these represent some amazing statistics, considering how many people still fall into the "who is Cody Johnson?" category. But until you've witnessed the power of an artist on stage with a stadium filled to the rafters with fans singing along to lyric after lyric, you don't quite get it. 
Last year, Johnson got a phone call from the Houston Rodeo brass. Old Dominion was going to have to cancel their performance. Could Johnson fill in for the band on the night of their scheduled performance? He performed that task – just fine, selling over 63,000 tickets. When organizers were looking at putting together the lineup for 2018, the question was asked again – Could Johnson step up to the plate as the only independent artist on the lineup?  Consider it another career peak in the rise of an artist that continues to deliver.
"It's overwhelming. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. Because this is my life. I never thought about being a star. I just wanted to play music because I just had things to say. I had things I wanted to sing about," said Johnson to Billboard before his show.  
The topics of his songs – heartfelt moments such as the autobiographical "Every Scar Has Its Story" – touch upon a wide variety of emotions, with one common theme resonating. "I sing about real things, like heartbreak and joy and hope or despair - real emotions that we all face," he says, adding that he gains the bulk of his inspiration from his wife Brandi. "I have a really faithful, great, wonderful relationship with my wife, but I like singing about heartbreak because it's real," he says. "I can only imagine what it would be like if she left, so I need to be able sing a song about that, because somebody out there is going to relate to that – just like the good things."
Cody Johnson performs during the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.


Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo: A Look at Texas' Long-Running, Charitable Concert

Though Johnson has successfully carved out a market in his native Lone Star State, one would be wise to not label him as "Texas Artist." The music of Cody Johnson is a little too wide and far-reaching to be limited. He is selling out venues from North Carolina to Tennessee, and scored a career triumph with an Aug. 2017 performance at The Troubadour in Los Angeles. For those who haven't heard a Johnson song on the radio yet -- but have heard his name being touted as 'One To Watch' -- what would he want them to know?
"I'd like them to wonder 'Why haven't I heard about this?' We've never had a record deal," he surmised, "though we've been offered some really good ones. It just never worked out. I've never had any backers. It's all been me and my team from the very beginning where there was nothing, just grinding it out and grinding it out and never giving up and never taking no for an answer and trying even when the doors were closed."
Confidence is something that Johnson has in great measure, but he's able to back it up. All he wants is that chance for the audience to connect. "I hope that somebody would walk away and say, 'Man, that guy that I had never heard of, really poured his heart and soul into that.' I'm not faking it up there. When you see me great emotional, it's real."
Having just wrapped up recording for his next project, he is looking to the future – with, you guessed it, confidence. "We're going to have a new record out this year that will capture what I do live in the studio. It's the first record I've ever recorded that I like to listen to." Part of that ownership stems from the fact that he says he made his feelings more prevalent in the studio – something that Willmon pushed him to do, for better or worse.
"I'm going to give you my opinion. If I'm wrong, tell me I'm wrong. But I'm not going to hold anything back, I'm going to tell you exactly whether it's good or bad or whatever. But, several times, I spoke up and said, 'This is the way I feel like it ought to be,' and then, two or three takes later I went, 'Man, I'm wrong. Let's back up. We'll back up and try your approach now.'"

And his approach – with back-to-back top-ten country albums – is working pretty good these days. What is that next level? "I'll admit I think about it some," Johnson said with a twinkle in his eye when pondering his next move. "Honestly, I try to just do what I've always done and just pray about it and let it go and whatever's supposed to happen is supposed to happen," he says, adding that he hopes that he can partner with a label to take his music to a larger crowd – but his track record allows him to be a little selective in choosing.
"I want to maintain masters and creative control and if I'm not broke, don't fix it. Give me a chance to screw up before you start telling me we ought to do this, we ought to do that."
If you go by appearances, the appeal of Cody Johnson might be viewed as a simply regional thing, especially in today's research-driven, genre-bending world of country music. But there's something in his approach that evokes a comparison to George Strait and Garth Brooks – two artists who have sold out nights at the Houston Livestock Show – and beyond. They were an authentic brand: the real deal. 
Just like Cody Johnson.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


 3/14/2018 8:22 AM PDT
A professional baseball team in Pennsylvania has cut outfielder Danry Vasquez after a 2016 video surfaced showing him beating the hell out of his girlfriend IN A STADIUM. 
Vasquez was arrested for domestic violence in Texas back in August 2016 -- and despite the fact officials had the video showing him backhanding the woman in the face and continuing to beat her while dragging her down a stairwell ... he basically got off with a slap on the wrist. 
FYI, at the time of the incident, Vasquez was playing for the Corpus Christi Hooks -- the AA minor league affiliate of the Houston Astros.  The team released him days after the incident. 
Nueces County District Attorney Mark Gonzalez tells TMZ Sports the victim did NOT want to cooperate with prosecutors and wanted the case dropped. 
Prosecutors WANTED to press but felt it was an uphill battle with the victim not wanting to press charges. Ultimately, Vasquez was ordered to complete anger management courses ... and that's basically it. 
Gonzalez says Vasquez has now completed the terms of his probation and the case was formally dismissed on March 6th.  

"At that point, probation checked with us, and he had done everything we asked him to do so I was forced to dismiss the case," said Gonzalez told KRIS 6 News
Vasquez went on to sign a contract with the Lancaster Barnstormers of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. They have now released Vasquez in the wake of the video being released ... saying, "Upon being made aware of the nature of the incident, the Barnstormers made a prompt decision to cut ties with the 24-year old."
Manager Ross Peeples added, "There is no choice but to sever the relationship. Neither I, nor the Barnstormers' organization as a whole, can condone or associate with that behavior."
The Atlantic League of Pro Baseball is not affiliated with MLB -- but very high-profile players have competed in the league including Rickey Henderson and Roger Clemens

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Kathy Griffin plans comeback tour, with shows in 'Trump's backyard'

Comedian Kathy Griffin says she's embarking on a comeback tour, some nine months after provoking outrage — and losing much of her work — by posing with a fake severed head of President Donald Trump.
Griffin announced on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" Friday night that she has booked upcoming shows at New York City's Carnegie Hall and at Washington's Kennedy Center.
"Trump's backyard," she called it.
"I'm dipping my toes into touring again," Griffin said, asserting that the president and his supporters would likely prefer she never worked again.

Griffin appeared Friday on HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher." Maher was among a short list of celebrities who supported Griffin after the outrage over her photo with the fake severed head of President Trump.  (HBO via Associated Press)
Griffin's appearance on Maher's show appeared to mark the beginning of her comeback attempt, after the backlash over the offending photo last May badly hurt her ability to work.
"TMZ was reporting my show cancellations in real time," she said. Griffin also lost her longtime New Year's Eve co-hosting gig with Anderson Cooper on CNN.
"TMZ was reporting my show cancellations in real time."
- Kathy Griffin
Unable to tour in the United States, Griffin went overseas, performing in 23 cities in 15 countries, she said. But because she was under investigation in the United States, she was "detained at every single airport.”
Griffin thanked Maher for being one of the few celebrities who publicly supported her during the ordeal. Introducing Griffin, Maher told the audience that "she is a good American who loves her country and should be able to work in it."
Griffin initially apologized for the photo but later retracted the apology because, according to her, the reaction had gotten so out of hand.
Referring to the desire of some Trump supporters to "decimate" her, she raised her arms defiantly and exclaimed, "I'm not decimated!"
Griffin was scheduled to appear on Jimmy Kimmel’s program as well this week, but canceled due to scheduling conflicts . 

Monday, December 4, 2017

TV this week: Carol Burnett special; ‘Psych: The Movie’

 TV this week: Carol Burnett special; ‘Psych: The Movie’
CBS celebrates the 50th anniversary of Carol Burnett's classic, award-winning comedy series with THE CAROL BURNETT 50TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL, a new two-hour star-studded event featuring Burnett, original cast members and special guests, on Sunday, Dec. 3 (8:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured:   Carol Burnett.   Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS ©2017 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Carol Burnett takes viewers down memory lane during Sunday’s two-hour retrospective special.
Chuck Barney’s TV picks for Dec. 3-9

DON’T MISS: “The Carol Burnett 50th Anniversary Special” — My, how time flies. It has been five decades since Burnett and her band of merry jokers took TV by storm with their groundbreaking variety show. In this two-hour special, Burnett reminisces about her favorite sketches, guest stars, studio audience Q&As and zany bloopers. She’s joined by original cast members Vicki Lawrence and Lyle Waggoner, along with plenty of guests, including Jim Carrey, Kristin Chenoweth, Stephen Colbert, Harry Connick Jr., Jay Leno, Jane Lynch and others. 8 p.m. Sunday, CBS. Other bets:
MONDAY: It’s the battle of the bulbs as “The Great Christmas Light Fight” returns. In this over-the-top decorating contest, Clark Griswold wannabes compete for prize money that, hopefully, will cover their sky-high energy bills. 8 p.m., ABC.
MONDAY: “The Newspaper Man: The Life and Times of Ben Bradlee” is a portrait of the man who served as executive editor of The Washington Post from 1968 to 1991. He is largely credited with taking down President Richard Nixon in 1974 after the Post broke the Watergate story. 8 p.m., HBO.
TUESDAY: It’s a “Gaye Olde Christmas” for “Will & Grace” as the gang turns back the clock to 1912 to experience the holiday in old New York City. Unfortunately, the past was not quite as romantic — or open to diversity — as they hoped. 9 p.m., NBC.
TUESDAY: The new reality series “Stripped” bares it all as participants surrender clothes, furniture, money, hygiene products and electronic devices. Over 21 days, they go on a journey of self discovery that ultimately exposes what is truly important to them. 10 p.m., Bravo.
WEDNESDAY: Christopher Meloni returns to prime time in the wildly offbeat “Happy!” He plays a boozy corrupt ex-cop turned hit man, who, after a near-death experience, begins to see a relentlessly positive, imaginary flying blue horse (voiced by Patton Oswalt) who changes his life. 10 p.m., Syfy.
WEDNESDAY: “Knightfall” is a compelling period drama about the Knights Templar, a powerful, wealthy and mysterious Catholic military order of the Middle Ages. They were entrusted with protecting the highly prized Holy Grail. 10 p.m., History Channel.
THURSDAY: Fans of “Psych” get an early holiday gift with “Psych: The Movie.” Shawn (James Roday), Gus (Dule Hill) and the gang return to chase down a mystery assailant who has targeted one of their own. 8 p.m., USA.
THURSDAY: Ayesha Curry and Anthony “Spice” Adams host “The Great American Baking Show,” the culinary competition that challenges contestants to whip up lots of festive treats. Please refrain from licking the TV screen. (9 p.m., ABC).
FRIDAY: In the midseason finale of “Blue Bloods,” Erin is conflicted when Jamie and Eddie ask her to help drop old charges against a man who bravely rescues a woman from a local hostage situation. Also, Baker receives a job offer. 10 p.m., CBS.
SATURDAY: In the TV movie “Christmas in Mississippi,” a young woman (Jana Kramer) is eager to help organize her town’s holiday festival, only to discover that it’s being run by her former high school sweetheart. Uh oh. Now what? 8 p.m., Lifetime.
Contact Chuck Barney at cbarney@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/chuckbarney and Facebook.com/bayareanewsgroup.chuckbarney.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Super Junior's Donghae & Eunhyuk tease return of duo subunit!

Super Junior's Donghae & Eunhyuk tease return of duo subunit!

Super Junior's Donghae and Eunhyuk will be returning as duo subunit D&E soon!

On November 14, Donghae shared the teaser photo below on Instagram with the message, "We're dropping new single you've been waiting for D&E." As you can see, the image states, "Here We Are," and it looks like D&E will be back with a fun, upbeat concept for their comeback.

This marks Donghae and Eunhyuk's first comeback as a duo since 2015.

Stay tuned for updates on D&E's return!

If Roy Moore Isn't Rock Bottom for Republicans, What Is?

When the news that Alabama Senate candidate and longtime conservative raconteur Roy Moore was accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl when he was 32, we braced for the inevitable pushback from those on the right who would defend him. Partisanship is a hell of a drug, one powerful enough to cause at least some supporters to turn a blind eye to carefully reported allegations of child abuse.

They did not disappoint. Led by the same cargo cult of alt-right types who argue it's no big deal that the Trump administration has more ties to Russia than the Bolshoi Ballet, conservatives tripped over themselves blaming the accusers or, unbelievably, arguing that his alleged actions amount to no big deal.
If this isn't rock bottom, pray that a comet hits Earth before we reach it.
Recalling the rabid anti-Russian attitudes held by Republicans throughout the Cold War era, it was a shock to the senses to see so many so-called conservatives excusing Trump's obvious blind spot toward Russian malfeasance. It was hard to digest. If we as Americans could agree on anything, it's that Russians are the Bad Guys. Doesn't anyone remember Rocky IV?
Failing that, we can at least agree that heavily sourced allegations of child molestation are disqualifying for a job in the United States Senate. Or so it seemed.
Political science has produced evidence since as early as the 1940s suggesting that partisanship is a powerful, stable force in an individual's political beliefs. We can overlook or excuse a lot of flaws in candidates who share our party label. Individual factors still matter, though. Certain people are unpleasant enough – in their ideas, behavior or personality – to preclude our support, even if they're on the "right" team.
Given what we know about the power of partisanship, we should not be entirely surprised that the most hardcore Republicans among Moore supporters have stood by him. On the other hand, he is alleged to have molested a 14-year-old (an allegation Moore has repeatedly denied). If this isn't beyond the pale, nothing is.
That said, some reporting about reactions to Moore ignores possible cracks in his base of support in the rush to depict Alabamians as cretins. Weekend polls showed Democratic challenger Doug Jones slightly ahead. These handful of polls do not necessarily predict the election outcome, but it is not insignificant that at least some Moore supporters are entertaining the idea of abandoning him.
Not all supporters will abandon him, nor would we expect them to. In a deep-red state like Alabama, though, Republicans in a statewide race should be polling near 60 percent without breaking a sweat. The mere fact that a race that should be a GOP blowout is competitive, even if temporarily, is a bad sign for Moore.
Additionally, many prominent Republicans outside of the state have condemned Moore, albeit all too often with the caveat "if true" – permitting the wiggle room to declare his accusers frauds and support Moore anyway. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is urging Moore unambiguously to step aside; the party could, after all, lose the Senate if Alabama does not remain firmly in GOP hands.
That raises a question – the kind of moral question we ask of our political system only when we are eager to be deeply disappointed by the answer: Is the Republican Party willing to protect and support an accused child abuser in order to keep a bare majority in the Senate?
Partisanship is the strongest force in political behavior, and while some Alabama voters and Senate Republicans are soft on Moore today – because, as I cannot emphasize enough, he has been accused in a reputable publication of molesting a child – they have plenty of time to talk themselves into holding their nose and supporting him when the election rolls around.
Polling throughout the 2016 presidential election offers precedent for this. Libertarian Gary Johnson, the next best choice for many a disaffected conservative, routinely polled between five and ten percent in many surveys. When the votes were counted, the Libertarian ticket barely cracked three percent. Were people who supported Johnson in the polls lying?
Probably not. They truly may have disliked Trump enough to vote for a third party. But when the time came, habit and partisanship overcame many of them. They may not have felt great about it, but they held their noses and picked the candidate with the (R) next to his name, just like always.
Moore ultimately could benefit from the same dynamic. Some Republicans who are disgusted with him at the moment might convince themselves that Democrats are worse than accused child abusers (an argument already being advanced on Twitter with a straight face by a man who wrote a book entitled The Politics of Bad Faith) and give Moore their vote.
If that happens, we will have reached a level of hypocrisy and hyper-partisanship that bodes very poorly for the ability of this system to function moving forward. Remember how the right frothed at the mouth over Anthony Weiner's sexual contact with an underage girl? Remember how conservative Evangelicals mobilized to keep transgender people out of bathrooms to "protect our daughters"? Remember how it took Milo Yiannopoulos' comments about pedophilia for the alt-right to turn on him?
It is bad enough that we have had to spend ten months engaging in morally relativistic discussions about treason and foreign interference in our elections. "Is a little Russian meddling really so bad?" is not a question asked in sane or healthy political discourse. Now we will end the year with the right forcing a national conversation about whether a 32-year-old man allegedly molesting a 14-year-old girl after picking her up from outside a child custody hearing is disqualifying for service in the Senate.
If this is not rock bottom, then "rock bottom" is no longer a useful concept. The epitaph for our experiment with representative democracy will be a nation asking the people of Alabama, in the words of Joseph Welch during the Army-McCarthy fiasco of 1954, "Have you no decency? At long last, have you no decency?"
source here