Monday, August 31, 2015

Dallas Smith

Here in the states he's looked upon as being the newcomer to an extremely hot world of Country Music. Back home in Canada he's been to the top and played in front of 40 thousand plus. From the iHeart Radio Studio I'm Unplugged and Totally Uncut with Dallas Smith. Sometime in the distant future, when a wizened Dallas Smith is rocking back and forth on his front porch, stroking his chin and fondly recollecting his astonishing career, he’ll pinpoint this precise period – the release of his second full-length album, Lifted, with its scorching #1 single “Wastin’ Gas”, the ecstatically received ensuing tour, and succeeding win for “Country Album of the Year” at the 2015 JUNO Awards – as the moments when everything came completely together. It’s not just the music and accolades that find Smith having a huge year in 2015, though you can bet dollars and donuts that Lifted, with its twangy mix of guitar-goosed corkers, rollicking sing-alongs and tender ballads drawn both from his critically acclaimed 2014 Tippin’ Point EP and from new sessions, is hands-down his most dynamic record. Smith’s confidence as a performer on the ridiculously vibrant country music live circuit also points to someone at the peak of his powers. That’s saying something considering the platinum-selling singer/songwriter has already racheted up accolades including but not limited to his recent 2015 JUNO win, and eight CCMA Award nominations. His current single, “Lifted” recently went top 10 at radio, making Smith the first Canadian artist to have a top 10 hit for every single released. Named by Mediabase as 2014’s most played Canadian country artist at radio, Smith has skyrocketed to the top of the Country music scene becoming the only male Canadian artist to spend multiple weeks at the top of the Country Airplay Chart in the Nielsen BDS era for the #1 single “Wastin’ Gas”. Additionally, the GOLD certified track broke the record for the highest one week spin total at country radio in Canada ever. Oh, and did we mention that before emerging as a country star to reckon with, the B.C.-based Smith served as howler-in-chief with gazillion-selling rock brawlers Default (see 2001’s smash hit, “Wasting My Time.”) Yup, if Smith hasn’t already got the words “boundlessly versatile and amazingly talented” scripted somewhere on his heavily inked bod, he could rightly do so, although he’s far too modest to cop to that reality. “With this record, the main thing was of course to record the best songs possible,” Smith says of tracks crafted by hit-makers including Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line and Jaren Johnston of The Cadillac Three. “But I also really wanted to take the EP we had and create a full-length record that had a lot of variety… little bits of all the influences I have.” “Compared to my first record (2012’s Jumped Right In), Lifted is like night and day. We took different approaches with my voice and there are different layers. We also expanded the production.” Thanks for the last bit goes to songwriter/producer Joey Moi, who brought similar flair to the Tippin’ Point EP and Smith’s before-mentioned debut. “Joey has a knack for knowing when a song is right,” Smith confirms. “And his work ethic is second to none. He makes me dig in to make the vocal takes better and better. As frustrating as it can be at the time,” he chuckles, “I am always amazed when I look back. Joey always makes me proud of what I have done.” Of course, long-time partners Smith and Moi had heaps of outstanding material to work with when approaching Lifted, which was variously cut in Nashville and Canada in the fall of 2014. As Smith explains, his association with the celebrated Big Loud Mountain label and Big Loud Shirt music publishing company gave him access to some of the best songwriters scribbling in Music City plus dibs on their newest work. “Rodney Clawson was heavily involved in this record again,” Smith says, “Jaren Johnston and of course Joey Moi. And there are some new guys. Matt Dragstrem is a fresh face in the Big Loud Shirt camp and he co-wrote ‘Wastin’ Gas.’” Ask Smith what criteria he looks for when choosing songs and he pauses thoughtfully. “There are a million things. There has to be an interesting melody and I need to be challenged vocally. “I wanted this record to be really dynamic – more so than anything I have done in the past - so with song selection, I wanted breadth, not a bunch of songs drawn from the same bucket. So there are a couple of ballads and a couple of really straight-ahead fun songs and a few that are lyrically more mature sounding.” There were also challenges to be surmounted. For instance, Smith feared the song ‘Thinkin’ ‘Bout You’ – with its punchy, mouthful chorus – would be a recording nightmare. In fact, “It was the easiest song on the record. I banged that off in a couple of passes.” By contrast, ‘Just Say When’ seems like a straightforward mid-tempo country/pop love song. “And I thought it was going to be easy for me to sing. Unfortunately, it was not,” Smith laughs. “We had to mess around with the key a little bit, and it was really hard to match the magic in the demo. You just never know how things are going to shape up until you get in there and start recording.” At the other end of the spectrum is the rowdy slice-of-life vignette ‘Cheap Seats,’ soon to be a much-requested staple of contemporary country radio and possibly the only song to utterly nail the concert experience in a few vivid verses. “The demo for that song was actually sung by Sarah Buxton who wrote it,” Smith explains. “So it was interesting to take a song demoed with a female voice and translate it to what I do. But as soon as I heard it, I knew I had to cut that song before anyone else could get a chance.” Smith’s intuition rarely steers him wrong and he’s felt nothing but encouragement from country radio, the country establishment and, most importantly, from fans both at home and south of the border. He’s selling out shows, smashing both radio and sales records and he consistently fills the airwaves with hook-filled, stadium-worthy anthems. By all accounts, Smith, whose vocal delivery sets him apart from his contemporaries, is a critical and commercial breakthrough in the world of country music – equal parts endearingly traditional and chart topping country star to the core. He’s leading the charge and he’s here to stay.

Heather Storm from Garage Squad

Garages and backyards across America have been overtaken by masterpieces of heavy metal. Classic cars that would look incredible back on the road if we could get them to start. Velocity TV has the keys to the engine. From the iHeart Radio Studio I'm Unplugged and Totally Uncut with Garage Squads Heather Storm. Heather Storm is a professional host and actress with a passion for environmental conservation, delicious cocktails and adrenaline pumping fun. From a classy woman who appreciates fine wine and to one of the guys in the shop, Heather’s charm and quick wit ensite the enthusiast. Heather is currently on Velocity working on classic cars with the Garage Squad team, but you may have also caught her as the slick Mercury Insurance agent, or on the golf course in the Top Flight Gamer commercials. Heather has always been athletic, gravitating towards gymnastics, track n field & cross country throughout her youth and later becoming an NASM Certified Fitness Trainer. While attending Oregon State University, Heather signed with an sports modeling agency & started working for local companies, including Nike & Adidas, she’s now appeared in commercials, films, TV, and fitness videos worldwide. Cleverly comedic, she’s appeared on Tosh.0, several Spike TV shows and in teen comedy features, “Epic Movie” and “Dorm Daze 2”. Heather is the co-founder of Black LAB, a mobile mixology company with and eco-conscious mind. Black LAB’s fresh juice cocktails and dedication to sustainable events are setting new industry standards. Heather hosted the EDM cocktail series, “The MixDown” on Complex TV and is a recurring guest mixologist on “The Playboy Morning Show” where she shares homemade cocktail recipes with over 1 million listeners monthly. Carrying an Environmental Science degree from Oregon State University and a SCUBA Rescue Certification, Heather’s an adventure seeking science nerd who has traveled the globe. She studied the queen conch population off South Caicos Island, designed green practice toolkits for the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism in Puerto Rico and trekked through remote areas of Asia and Central America. Her love of nature and affinity for heights draw her to extreme sports including skydiving, surfing and rock climbing. She’s agile, quick and not afraid to get dirty. A life long pescatarian, Heather recognizes the importance of living consciously and shares her blog, Eco-Conscious Living. Discover recipes, reviews and travel tips that encourage the evolvement into a more sustainable future.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Lachlin Patterson and Joe Machi

Very rarely do radio people locate the right sidekick to generate success on the twin speaker stage. They're thrown together by out of control program directors and lost consultants. Then something happens. You bump into a couple of comedians that have that perfect connection. Two separate sides of the planet and yet they work incredible together. Performing at Charlotte's Comedy Zone this weekend. I am Unplugged and Totally Uncut inside the iHeart Radio Studio with Lachlan Patterson and Joe Machi.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Kunal Nayyar Yes My Accent Is Real

I began our conversation with a simple statement, "You are the most mysterious man in Hollywood." His reaction and story will captivate your imagination. From the Big Bang Theory I'm Unplugged and Totally Uncut with Raj! Kunal Nayyar on iHeart Radio. Kunal Nayyar’s life, both onscreen and off, can be properly summed up in two words: lovable underdog. Luckily for readers, i>YES, MY ACCENT IS REAL: AND SOME OTHER THINGS I HAVEN’T TOLD YOU (Atria Books; September 15, 2015; $26.00 hardcover) is a much longer book. Nayyar’s literary debut traverses the globe without following a map, by combining autobiographical essays with cocktail napkin scribbles, alphabetized rundowns, and amusing interstitial non sequiturs. The resulting book is refreshingly frank, and offers both homage to Nayyar’s New Delhi childhood and a wry nod to the listicles and first-person storytelling that populate much of the modern Internet landscape. YES, MY ACCENT IS REAL unfurls as an intercontinental journey replete with nostalgia by way of familiar cultural references and lighthearted musings on the origins of Indian holidays and traditions. Chapters romp through standard-issue coming-of-age tropes in a fashion that is anything but standard. Strange juxtapositions of the utterly embarrassing and the ultra-smooth abound—for instance, Nayyar grabs your heart in the book’s first pages by detailing the defining occasion of his very first kiss. He deftly muddled through the occasion, with only Kevin and Winnie from TV’s The Wonder Years as inspiration, only to be paired with the one and only Danica McKellar (a.k.a. Winnie Cooper herself) in a Big Bang Theory kissing scene years later. After bluffing his way into his first “real job” writing a manual for computer software, he spent his shifts masquerading as a tennis star in chatrooms and got a promotion anyway. He found himself auditioning for plays as a college business administration major at the University of Portland—not because he fancied himself a star or envisioned a luxurious future in the biz, but because he saw it as a way to make friends and get girls. Nayyar illustrates poignant relationships in his uniquely droll style, tempered by tenderness and respect. We meet his French expat college roommate, Diaby, a 6' 8", 250-pound power forward who defines the term “gentle giant” and lends Nayyar an assist with both losing his virginity and nearly becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg, among other more typical collegiate exploits. Nayyar expertly recounts some of his father’s advice—including “Use a spreadsheet” (“Dad was an accountant, so I knew how to use Excel before I knew how to unhook a bra”) and “Treat a king and a beggar the same” (“This says it all”). When he first meets his first true love, Sarah, she’s wearing intoxicating Egyptian Musk perfume, a smell that haunts him to this day. She also makes him lick her eyeball, and then introduces him to Radiohead—all in the same night. Throughout YES, MY ACCENT IS REAL, Nayyar’s quirkiness and self-deprecation imbue even the most commonplace scenarios with levity and intrigue. We learn that Nayyar’s sport isn’t cricket or track, but badminton—and that a birdie is technically named a shuttlecock. We come to understand that the holiday tradition of Dessehra (a Hindu festival that celebrates the victory of good over evil) also closely resembles a real life Game of Thrones. Nayyar teaches himself guitar by learning Poison’s seminal hair-rock hit “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” ultimately parlaying his talents into a two-man emo band called the Prince and the Pauper (he’s the Prince). They play their first gig at the Java Bean—a gig you can reenact by following the lyrics included to the Prince and the Pauper original “So I’m Lonely Again,” (sample lyric: “I note I was barely breathing / Did you feel the same?”). As far as his first big break as an actor goes, it was for the play Huck and Holden, for which he auditioned not on a stage or via video, but in a New York City Apple Store, via iChat with the play’s L.A.-based director. Nayyar insists on the spelling aeroplane; he is addicted to mints, estimating he’s consumed over 19,000 Altoids since The Big Bang Theory began taping; and his wife, Neha, is an actual beauty queen. (Their meeting is touchingly described in the chapter “And Then I Fell in Love” and their “Big Fat Indian Wedding” recollected in a dizzying blur of one thousand guests, a band of friendly neighborhood eunuchs, Prince of Persia outfits, and time honored traditions, including riding a bejeweled horse into the wedding ceremony.) YES, MY ACCENT IS REAL will embolden anyone whose name has been mispronounced countless times, whose background has been constantly misunderstood, or whose social awkwardness has been a consistent barrier. The ultimate achievement of the book is in collecting all of these happenings, which add up to the meaningful life that Nayyar enjoys today—convincing us to believe in a sliver of advice from his father: “If it happens, good. If it doesn’t happen, very good.” Accidental miracles and relationships forged in inexplicable circumstances give Nayyar’s life story its own patently believable Big Bang Theory. You will be inspired, amused, and mildly appalled—at least as much as you are when you watch Raj fumbling through life as an astrophysicist on TV. And at the book’s completion, you’ll be compelled to follow a bit of Nayyar’s own advice, jotted on a reliable aeroplane cocktail napkin: “Keep pushing forward. You’re stronger and more resilient than you can imagine. We are incredible creatures.”

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Paul Williams and Tracey Jackson

People tell me I work all the time. I laugh out loud because I know I'm addicted to creativity. Addiction isn't always attached to shopping, drugs and alcohol. From the iHeart Radio Studio I'm Unplugged and Totally Uncut with the legendary Paul Williams and the very creative Tracey Jackson. Williams, the award-winning songwriter, actor, and performer, has embraced a traditional alcoholism recovery plan for more than two decades of sobriety. Jackson, a well-known TV and film writer—and veteran of many years of traditional therapy—though never an alcohol or drug abuser, has struggled with other negative behaviors to numb her pain such as men, cigarettes, and over-spending. Jackson realized that many of the tenets of Williams’s program could apply to her. Together, they have written GRATITUDE & TRUST: Six Affirmations That Will Change Your Life, applying the principles of the recovery movement to help countless individuals who are not alcoholics or addicts, yet seek effective help with their difficulties — credit card debt, anger issues, a victim mentality — and pain. Please let me know if you would like an interview with Paul Williams and Tracey Jackson. In GRATITUDE & TRUST, Williams and Jackson ask: What happens to those who struggle with vexing problems yet are not full-blown addicts? Are there any lessons to be learned from the foundational and time-tested principles of the recovery movement? Whether you’re tethered to your phone or you turn to food for comfort; whether you’re a perfectionist and can’t let things go or are too afraid to fail to even try; whether you can find intimacy only on the Internet or you’ve been involved in a string of nasty relationships—the first step toward feeling better about yourself and your life is the realization that you are what’s standing in your way. Williams and Jackson have designed a new, positive program, based on a half-dozen new affirmations, that can help conquer your vices, address personal dysfunction, and start to brighten the darkest moods. Paul Williams is an Oscar-, Grammy-, and Golden Globe-winning Hall of Fame songwriter (“Rainbow Connection,” “Evergreen,” and “We’ve Only Just Begun”). Winner of a 2014 album of the year Grammy as a collaborator on Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories” and President of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), he is a major public force in the recovery movement, a graduate of UCLA’s Drug and Alcohol Counseling Certification Program, and has served as a member of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Board of Directors. He was a founding board member and counselor for the Musicians Assistance Program (MAP), now the treatment wing of MusiCares. He has been a passionate public advocate for the recovery movement for the past twenty-five years. Follow Paul on Facebook and @IMPaulWilliams on Twitter. Tracey Jackson wrote the films “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” “The Guru,” and “The Other End of the Line,” among others. She has also written twelve TV pilots, and created the series “Babes” for Fox TV. Tracey wrote, directed, and starred in the controversial documentary “Lucky Ducks,” which can be seen on Amazon, Journeyman Docs, and pay for view. Her first book, Between a Rock and Hot Place: Why Fifty is Not the New Thirty, came out in 2011 and was optioned for a TV movie by Lifetime. Tracey blogs on www.traceyjacksononline.com, and has blogged for Huffington Post, WOWOWOW, Society for Drug Free America, Tiny Buddha, and various other sites. Follow Tracey on Facebook, Pinterest, and @TraceyJackson4 on Twitter.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Dennis Bryon You Should Be Dancing

The Bee Gee's were three brothers with a guitar and harmonies. They were often accused of being the Beatles. B, G. Beatles Group. Something very interesting happened while playfully mixing the music for something called Saturday Night Fever. The laid back harmonies that brought them to world had suddenly shifted. And this man was there. In fact it was his drum beat that became the infection. From the iHeart Radio Studio I'm Unplugged and Totally Uncut with Dennis Bryon. With worldwide sales of over 220 million records, the Bee Gees are the 6th bestselling music artists in history. Now—for the first time ever—acclaimed musician Dennis Bryon tells the story of how he became the Bee Gees drummer for 8 years during their peak period, including the Saturday Night Fever explosion, in his new book You Should Be Dancing: My Life with the Bee Gees (ECW Press, August 1, 2015). Dennis goes behind the scenes to present never-before-told stories of his experience on one of the wildest rides in pop/rock history. Along the way, he shares his unforgettable personal encounters with many of the world’s most famous musicians, including the Bee Gees themselves, Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix, Stephen Stills, Olivia Newton-John, Andy Gibb, and Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys. Peppered with photographs from Dennis’s personal collection and rare Bee Gees memorabilia, You Should Be Dancing is a must-have for any Bee Gees fan, drummer, or pop/rock junkie. Dennis Bryon is the acclaimed drummer who first tasted success with Amen Corner, the celebrated Welsh rock band that had six hits in the U.K., including a number one. In 1973, Dennis joined the Bee Gees and played drums on nine #1 singles and on the 40-million-copy album Saturday Night Fever. Dennis lives in Nashville, Tennessee. "It’s all here — the gold, the glory and the groove! This book is essential reading for anyone who loves music, history, and the adventure we call life." — Zoro, award-winning drummer for Lenny Kravitz, Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, and Bobby Brown "You Should Be Dancing: My Life with the Bee Gees is an engaging and fun insider’s look at an important time in music history, as chronicled by the drummer of one of rock’s most iconic bands. Dennis Bryon’s charismatic autobiography features history, insights, and stories from his captivating adventure, and we are enveloped, once again, in the unique and wonderful music we’ve loved and celebrated throughout our lives." — Marley Brant, author of Tales from the Rock 'n' Roll Highway

Dale Brown Iron Wolf

Do you remember when authors would release books like 1984 From Orwell that would scare you into thinking the pages were possible? Wait until you feel the war raging with the pages of Iron Wolf. You'll be convinced that we are inches from the final buzzer. From the iHeart Radio Studio I'm Unplugged and Totally Uncut with USAF Captain Dale Brown. In IRON WOLF, it’s the spring of 2017, the U.S. economy is finally starting to show signs of life under President Stacy Anne Barbeau, the country’s first female president. But in Eastern Europe, all hell is breaking loose. Russian president Gennadiy Gryzlov has sent Special Troops forces, disguised as pro-Russian activists, into Ukraine and Moldova under the pretext of protecting Russian-speaking citizens. NATO is outraged, but does little in response, leading former U.S. president Kevin Martindale to take matters into his own hands. Martindale approaches Polish president Peter Wilk with a radical solution: strike back at Russia not with the Polish army, but with a covert force of Cybernetic Infantry Device (CID) manned robots. Eventually, Martindale argues, the series of hit-and-run raids will force the Russian troops to withdraw. Wilk signs on, financing the operation with his own personal fortune. Operation Iron Wolf is underway. The initial strikes are successful, destroying a Russian base in Western Ukraine, and drawing the furor of Gryzlov. Barbeau, still completely in the dark as to Martindale’s scheme, pledges to aid the Russians in an investigation, and an epic standoff between Russia, NATO, and the Martindale-Wilk coalition ensues. Will Martindale’s secret alliance, supported by the best military technology, win the day? Or will the Russian forces emerge victorious in the end? In this newest high-powered installment from New York Times bestselling author Dale Brown, tensions in Eastern Europe inform a political thriller of the highest order. ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Former U.S. Air Force captain Dale Brown is the author of numerous consecutive New York Times best-selling military-action-aviation adventure novels. Dale's novels are published in 11 languages and distributed to over 70 countries. Worldwide sales of his novels, audiobooks and computer games exceed 10 million copies. Dale was born in Buffalo, New York. He graduated from Penn State University with a degree in Western European History and received an Air Force commission in 1978. He was a navigator-bombardier in the B-52G Stratofortress heavy bomber and the FB-111A supersonic medium bomber, and is the recipient of several military decorations and awards including the Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Combat Crew Award, and the Marksmanship ribbon. Dale was also one of the nation's first Air Force ROTC cadets to qualify for and complete the grueling three-week U.S. Army Airborne Infantry paratrooper training course. Dale is a director and volunteer pilot for AirLifeLine, a non-profit national charitable medical transportation organization who fly needy persons free of charge to receive treatment. He also supports a number of organizations to support and promote law enforcement and reading. Dale Brown is a member of The Writers Guild and a Life Member of the Air Force Association and U.S. Naval Institute. He is a multi-engine and instrument-rated private pilot and can often be found in the skies all across the United States, piloting his own plane. On the ground, Dale enjoys tennis, skiing, scuba diving, and hockey. Dale and his family live near the shores of Lake Tahoe, Nevada.