Listening the radio earlier this week, I caught one of the Oklahoma City pop stations playing “American Idol” winner David Cook’s ”Time of My Life,” the assigned theme song for the 2008 “Idol” champ, and remarked to friends and associates just how much I was anticipating his first real single.
Wish granted: Cook, who lived in Tulsa and played with local band the Midwest Kings before ascending to “Idol” fame, premiered this week the first single off his still-untitled fall album.
Titled “Light On,” the single is a grungy power-ballad that Cook co-wrote with Chris Cornell of Audioslave and Soundgarden and Brian Howes, who also has penned material for Daughtry, Puddle of Mudd and Oklahoma City rockers Hinder.
“Light On” is a bit of a disappointment for me, since I’ve never been a Cornell fan, and the song sounds just like something he would record and release.
The good news is that Cook’s voice still sounds great, really strong, masculine anc charismatic. But I was hoping for a song that would rock harder and give us a bit more insight into Cook’s personal sound rather than sounding like another cover. After all, we heard plenty of covers when Cook was performing on “Idol.”
But if it’s unclear whether “Light On” reflects Cook’s own sonic personality, it does seem typical of 19 Entertainment, which is known for playing it super-safe with its “Idol” winners’ releases, especially those that immediately follow their reality TV success.
Personally, I’m looking forward to see what Cook creates with Ed Roland, frontman and songwriter for one of my favorite bands, Collective Soul.
But “Light On” is certainly a welcome change of pace from the schmaltzy “Time of My Life,” which clearly wasn’t written with a rock star in mind, and Cook’s wonderfully gruff vocal stylings are much more suited to a grungy ballad than a inspirational bit of fluff about chasing magic rainbows.
I’m willing to give “Light On” another listen or two and see if it grows on me, whereas I fear I’ll pass out from sugar shock if I hear “Time of My Life” too many more times.
Check out “Light On” here, courtesy YouTube, and let me know what you think. The song will be available for purchase Tuesday on iTunes.
Cook’s album is set for Nov. 14 release.
The song that has been on my brain the most this week:
- “Outbound Plane,” Suzy Bogguss from her 1991 album “Aces.”
This sweetly snazzy little piano ballad was one of my favorite country-pop songs of the 1990s and one of four hits from “Aces.”
Bogguss was one of the most successful woman making contemporary country music in the 1990s. But she took time off to start a family in the middle of the decade, and when she returned to country music, the genre had become even more pop oriented, with Shania Twain and Faith Hill dominating the airwaves. She was unable to ascend to her previous commerial pinnacle in country music, though she has seen some success in the past few years on the jazz starts and still records on her own recording label.
But to me, she’ll always be the pretty brunette with the lovely clear voice singing “if love won’t fly on its own free will/It’s gonna catch that outbound plane.”
Check out the music video, courtesy YouTube:
Darius Rucker, former frontman for ’90s pop hitmakers Hootie & The Blowfish, has topped the country charts with his first album and single in the genre.
Rucker’s debut country album “Learn to Live” hit No. 1 this week on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart and made No. 5 on the trade publication’s overall sales chart, The Billboard 200, according to a news release.
The album’s lead single “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It,” also took the top spot on all three major country industry charts this week.
According to the release, Rucker, who earned two Grammys with Hootie & the Blowfish, has broken some ground with his country success:
Wade Jessen, Nashville’s director of charts and operations for radio trade publication R&R, points out in the Sept. 22 R&R Country Hotfax that “Darius Rucker becomes the first solo act in 21 years to lead the R&R Country chart after gaining initial stardom outside the format. … No solo act has done so since Michael Johnson scored back-to-back country charttoppers in 1987 with ‘Give Me Wing’ and ‘The Moon Is Still Over Her Shoulder.’ Johnson’s pre-country pop hits include his signature song, ‘Bluer Than Blue’ (1978) and ‘This Night Won’t Last Forever’ (1979).”
In a Sept. 23 USA Today feature, the newspaper notes that “before this week, only two black singers had topped the country singles charts: Ray Charles and Charley Pride. … Charles was the last black artist to have a No. 1 country single; his ‘Seven Spanish Angels’ duet with Willie Nelson topped the charts in March 1985. Pride, a Country Music Hall of Famer, had more than two dozen No. 1 hits. His last, ‘Night Games,’ reached the top slot 25 years ago this week.”
Rucker, who was born and raised in South Carolina, joins Jewel and Jessica Simpson as pop stars who have released country albums this year. I haven’t heard Simpson’s album, but Jewel’s didn’t sound much different from her pop work, which isn’t surprising since her pop songs always had a bit of a country-folk flavor.
I’ll be reviewing Rucker’s “Learn to Live” soon and will let you know how he fared in his crossover attempt.
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
Oklahoma rock ‘n’ roll fans face a tough choice tonight with two legends performing in the state.
Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant will perform tonight at Oklahoma City’s Zoo Amphitheatre along with Alison Krauss, a famous and respected country/bluegrass singer in her own right. The show also will feature guitarist/vocalist/producer T. Bone Burnett, who produced the duo’s excellent 2007 album “Raising Sand.”
The Plant-Krauss show will be a benefit for the Hurricane Ike relief efforts in the Gulf Coast region.
The show will start at 7:30 p.m.; doors open at 6. For more information, go to www.zooamp.com.
You also can learn more by reading The Oklahoman Entertainment Editor Gene Triplett’s story, which includes interviews with Plant, Krauss and Burnett, by clicking here.
In Tulsa, genius guitarist and singer Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac fame will play tonight at the Brady Theater. He is touring in support of his new album “Gift of Screws.”
The show starts at 8 p.m.; doors open at 7. For more information, go to www.bradytheater.com.
I’ll be covering the Buckingham show tonight at the Brady; look for the review here on the blog.
Assistant Entertainment Editor George Lang interviewed Buckingham about his “Gift of Screws” tour, and you can click here to read his column.
George also reviewed “Gift of Screws” this week, and you can read the review here.
As of Thursday, tickets to both the Plant-Krauss Oklahoma City show and Buckingham Tulsa show were still available. This should not be; both Buckingham and Plant – not to mention Krauss and Burnett – deserve to play sold-out shows. Surely, there are enough Oklahoma rock fans to pack both venues.
I urge all of the state’s rock fans to do themselves a favor, make that tough choice, and see a great show tonight with the legendary star of their choice.
Maestro Joel Levine of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic
A look at some of the entertainment options for this weekend:
- Oklahoma City Philharmonic performance: Listen as the Oklahoma City Philharmonic presents “Reinventing the Past: Part I,” featuring the music of Beethoven, Respighi and Dvorak at 8 p.m. Saturday sat the Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N Walker. For more information, call 842-5387 or go to www.okcphilharmonic.com.
- Plaza District Festival and Plaza Music Fest: Take in paintings, jewelry, ceramics and other visual arts, along with fair food, hands-on art activities, children’s games and a variety of live entertainment from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday at the 2008 Plaza District Festival in the Plaza District, at NW 16 between Classen and Penn. After the arts event, the Plaza Music Fest from 7 to 11 p.m. will include live music from Map the Sea, the Sherree Chamberlain Band, The Non and The City Lives. For more information, call 642-0318 or go to www.plazadistrict.org.
“Miracle at St. Anna”
- “Eagle Eye”: Shia LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan are recruited by a shadowy conspirator in “Eagle Eye,” directed by D.J. Caruso (“Disturbia”).
- “Miracle at St. Anna”: Spike Lee examines a true World War II story in which members of a “buffalo soldier” division find themselves separated from their unit in Tuscany while trying to save a young boy.
- “Nights in Rodanthe”: “Unfaithful” stars Diane Lane and Richard Gere in an adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ book.
- “The Lucky Ones”: Three soldiers on leave (Tim Robbins, Rachel McAdams and Michael Pena) face the difficulty of coming home.
- “Choke”: A sex-addicted con-man (Sam Rockwell) pays for his mother’s hospital bills by playing on the sympathies of those who rescue him from choking to death, in this adaptation of the Chuck Palahniuk.
- “Fireproof”: Kirk Cameron (TV’s “Growing Pains,” the “Left Behind” films) plays a firefighter experiencing martial problems in this Christian film.
- Country legends: See a pair of country legends this weekend at Riverwind Casino, 1544 W State Highway 9. Texas singer-songwriter Robert Earl Keen plays at 8 tonight, and crooner Charley Pride performs at 8 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call 322-6464 or go online to www.riverwind.com.
- Robert Plant and Alison Krauss Hurricane Ike benefit concert: See the remarkable duo, who created the terrific 2007 album “Raising Sand,” tonight at the Zoo Amphitheatre, 2101 NE 50. The show also features T. Bone Burnett. Doors open at 6; show starts at 7:30 p.m. For more information, go to www.zooamp.com.
- Lindsey Buckingham: Hear the brilliant Fleetwood Mac guitarist tonight at the Brady Theater, 105 W Brady Street in Tulsa. The show is part of his tour in support of his new solo album “Gift of Screws.” Doors open at 7 p.m.; music starts at 8. For more information, go to www.bradytheater.com.
- Neko Case and Giant Sand: Hear alternative-country singer-songwriter Neko Case with Giant Sand at 8 tonight at the Diamond Ballroom, 8001 S Eastern. Doors open at 7. For more information, call 677-9169 or go to www.diamondballroom.net.
- “Hootenanny at the Harn”: Taste barbecue, wine and beers; participate in a horseshoe tournament and live auction; and hear live music from Camille Harp, Bryon White and Pinebox Serenade from 7 to 11 p.m. today the fourth annual “Hootenanny at the Harn.” The event is a fundraiser at and for the historic Harn Homestead Museum, 1721 N. Lincoln Blvd. For more information, call 235-4058 or go to www.harnhomestead.com.
Tulsa State Fair
- Tulsa State Fair: Take in the fair food, midway games, carnival rides, livestock shows, craft exhibits and more at the Tulsa State Fair, which started Thursday and runs through Oct. 5 in Tulsa Expo Square. For more information, go to www.tulsastatefair.com.
Run, Shia LaBeouf, run from the implausibility of “Eagle Eye.”
My colleages Matthew Price and George Lang and I break down the new movies and great music offerings in Oklahoma this weekend in this NewsOK podcast.
Let’s put it this way, if you can’t find something to do tonight in this state, it’s your own problem.
Famed Oklahoma fiddler Byron Berline, founder and president of the Oklahoma Internationa Bluegrass Festival. (The Oklahoman Archives photo)
From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
Guthrie fest lines up top musicians
GUTHRIE – Famed fiddler Byron Berline will be sawing happily away next week, when the 12th annual Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival brings thousands of likeminded lovers of acoustic music to his town.
The festival is Thursday through Oct. 4 in a pecan grove on Cottonwood Creek near downtown Guthrie. Not only is Berline scheduled to play all three days of the event with his Byron Berline Band, he also will see the festival is running smoothly as its founder and president.
“I’m going to be busy,” he said. “It’s real quality entertainment what we’ve got. I think people will really enjoy it, and it’s a good variety of music.”
The top draws at this year’s festival include Grammy-winning guitarist Mason Williams, who grew up in Oklahoma City; “The String Wizard” John McEuen, founding member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt band; and singer Claire Lynch, who is nominated for the International Bluegrass Music Association’s female vocalist of the year. Another highlight will be Berline’s reunion with his buddies of the bluegrass band California.
Several of this year’s performers will appear at the festival for the first time, including Cajun fiddler Frenchie Burke, New York bluegrass players the Gibson Brothers and Irish acoustic group the David Munnelly Band.
Oklahoma City acoustic guitarist Edgar Cruz will make his festival debut Thursday; other Oklahoma performers in the lineup are the Red Dirt Rangers, Hunt Family Band and Rockin’ Acoustic Circus.
In addition, Oklahoma musicians will perform a tribute to Stillwater singer-songwriter Bob Childers at 2 p.m. Oct. 4 at the festival’s Cottonwood Creek Stage. Childers, known as “the godfather of Red Dirt music,” died in April.
The event also will include an open mike, children’s activities, random band jam, merchandise tent and musicians’ workshops.
Many of the performers will play Oct. 5 in a golf tournament to raise money for the nonprofit festival.
The festival typically draws about 3,000 visitors a day, and Berline believes it’s growing, especially in the number of campers it attracts.
“There’s a lot of people that come every year that wouldn’t miss it,” he said.
“Camping’s really neat there; it’s close to the festival grounds. After hours, that’s where the fun is, to go out in the campgrounds, and people bring their own instruments and play and cook out and have a good time.”
WANT TO GO?
What: 12th annual Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival
When: Activities begin at 9 a.m. Thursday and Oct. 3 and 10 a.m. Oct. 4
Where: Festival grounds on Cottonwood Creek, State Highway 33 at U.S. 77, Guthrie
Admission: Advance tickets are $25 for Thursday, $30 for Oct. 3, $35 for Oct. 4 and $65 for three-day pass. Tickets at the gate are $30 for Thursday, $40 for Oct. 3 or 4 and $80 for a three-day pass.
Information: Call 282-4446 or go online to www.oibf.com
From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
BAM Note: Don’t forget, Metallica will play Tulsa’s BOK Center Nov. 18. For more information, go to www.bokcenter.com.
Metallica “Death Magnetic” (Warner Bros. Records)
Metal greats Metallica finally achieve the fine balance between speed and weightiness on their 10th studio album, “Death Magnetic.”
Their first album in five years returns to the intensely high-velocity thrash roots they planted with “Kill ‘Em All,” “Ride the Lightning,” “Master of Puppets” and “… And Justice for All,” while keeping the thunderously heavy, blues-influenced rock elements they branched into with their 1990s material.
After 2003′s lackluster “St. Anger,” the influential metal band worked with Rick Rubin, who produced comeback discs for the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Johnny Cash, to give the album a unified theme and sound. The result is the band’s best disc in more than a decade.
Sterling guitarist Kirk Hammett, who was granted no solos on “St. Anger,” seizes the spotlight, wowing with forceful high-octane shredding. Rob Trujillo, playing on his first Metallica studio album, adds a dose of power and complexity to the basslines. Their pairing proves especially effective on the album’s prime headbanger, “Broken, Beat & Scarred.”
Lars Ulrich continues to provide pounding percussion, while James Hetfeld can growl as tunefully as anyone in metal.
The instrumental “Suicide & Redemption” stands out. The songwriting is solid enough, and “The Unforgiven III” effectively expands on the themes of endurance, acceptance and forgiveness the band first began exploring on 1991′s “Metallica.”
From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
BAM Note: The second season of “Chuck” premieres at 7 p.m. Monday on NBC. Or, you can watch the first episode of Season 2 online now at www.nbc.com/chuck.
Witty spy send-ups, fun action sequences and colorful supporting characters made the geeky-cool series “Chuck” one of the best new offerings of last year’s strike-shortened TV season.
Zachery Levi brings the right blend of hopeless dork and leading man to the part of Chuck, a computer geek who once attended Stanford but now works at BuyMore, a big-box electronics store. His hum-drum life is shaken up when he gets an e-mail of specially encoded government secrets. When the supercomputer containing the secrets is destroyed, Chuck suddenly becomes an invaluable resource and a big liability for the nation’s spy networks.
Chuck is put in the care of two undercover handlers: lovely but deadly CIA agent Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) and hardnosed NSA agent Casey (Adam Baldwin). As they accompany Chuck on dangerous spy missions, they also help him maintain the illusion of a normal life for his needy best friend Morgan (Joshua Gomez) and protective sister Ellie (Sarah Lancaster).
The premise requires significant suspension of disbelief, but “Chuck” offers smart, escapist fun and good-natured digs at spy movies, consumer culture and workplace politics.
Extras: Deleted scenes, character shorts with audition footage, gag reel, featurettes and Xbox 360 demo of “Madden NFL 2009.”
From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
Writer-directors Larry and Andy Wachowski’s faithfulness to their source material stands out among the best and worst aspects of their big-screen adaptation of “Speed Racer.”
Temper your expectations of a movie based on a cheesy 1960s anime series about a boy who is a genius behind the wheel but too dim-witted to realize his little brother and pet chimpanzee stowed away in the trunk in virtually every race. Consider that the movie credits include this quote from the original cartoon: “We’ll be counting on you, Speed, and the future of world peace will rest upon your shoulders.”
Fortunately, the Wachowski brothers don’t let the movie version get that goofy, though they do stuff it with self-important, overly complicated plotlines and unneeded peripheral characters.
Their candy-colored story is set in a retro-futuristic alternative dimension where sleek cars use jump jacks, spearhooks and oil slicks in crash-bash races along loop-the-loop tracks.
The Wachowskis take a family-friendly approach, though the movie runs too long with too much violence and language for children younger than 8. Emile Hirsch stars as Speed Racer, whose skills on the track have conglomerate-sponsored race teams scrambling to sign him.
When Speed decides to stick with Mom and Pops Racer’s (Susan Sarandon and John Goodman) independent business, the sinister suits conspire against him. But Speed, with the help of the mysterious Racer X (Matthew Fox), takes on corporate evil and all comers on the track.
Speed’s brother Spritle (Paulie Lett) and pet Chim-Chim get into shenanigans along the way.