Monday, May 26, 2008

Old Rules-New Rules

To give credit where I THINK credit is due, I lifted this from Joe Larkins' blog (remember him from WBBJ and KFVS???). He originally credited it to the TV column in the Tampa newspaper. It's a funny little bit about the difference between TV News "back in the day," and TV News these days. I'll let the reader decide how much is humor, and how much is true...

Old rule: news is news. New rule: news is marketing.

Old rule: news is never old New rule: news has an expiration date

Old rule: live shots compliment the story New rule: live IS the story

Old rule: weather gets the attention it deserves New rule: rain is a lead story

Old rule: Cover the issues New rule: cover the emotions

Old rule: Staff experience is valuable New rule: 1 year is experience

Old rule: Cover breaking news New rule: make up breaking news

Old rule: Build credibility and you’ll gain a bigger audience New rule: Reach more people through the Internet

Old rule: Be good storytellers New rule: more stories, less telling

Old rule: Report the facts New rule: report what people say

Old rule: Follow the news director’s lead New rule: Who’s the news director?

Old rule: Consultants suggest New rule: Consultants control

Old rule: Ratings rule New rule: Demos dominate

Old rule: Know your community New rule: know your research

Old rule: Bad staff behavior is not tolerated New rule: address your questions to our attorneys

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Good Art & Bad Golf

We played the Lowertown Art Festival over the weekend in Paducah, Kentucky. What a great time and a really unique festival, with artists from all over the country displaying their creations in Paducah's historic Lowertown Art District. They also have all kinds of music, from our style of Blues to Zydeco, Country, Parisian Style Jazz, and more, along with all kinds of great food. The art galleries in Lowertown all had open houses, too. I played the 335 straight into my Fender Twin.

In other Memorial Day weekend news, Bridget and I decided to play golf for the second time this year, as we teed it up in the Guys and Dolls Scramble at the Fulton Country Club. We had a nice time and the weather was great. Bridget battled through some bad joint inflammation, which we think is attributed to a switch in her blood pressure medication. She was determined to finish the tournament though, and we did.....dead last! (83-82). Bridget was responsible for all our (few) birdies. It was good to get out on the course though! Even when I play golf badly, I feel great about making it possible for other golfers, who aren't so good, to feel better about their own games. "At least we didn't score as badly as Lew!!!'

(Photo Courtesy Wm Gross Magee, Suzanne)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Good BBQ-Bad Country

This is the weekend for the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, and not much could be closer to my native West Tennessee heart than good BBQ! Seems I can never drive through Memphis without sampling the best in the world at so many places. Which is the best? Well it depends on what you're in the mood for, and it can differ a little day to day. What a delicious dilemma. I haven't tried all the places listed in the article, but I really do like Interstate BBQ, even though I wish their sauce was a little hotter. I have many more places to try before I'm finished. Most of the tourist have heard of Rendezvous, and it is good, but if you settle for just Rendezvous, you're missing out.

This weekend also brings us the Country Music Awards. While I play Blues, I really like Country music, too, or at least what WAS Country music. I think Tom Petty nailed it when he said Country music today is simply bad rock n roll with fiddles. One of this year's big name nominees is Taylor Swift. She's a beautiful, young, teenage girl. I saw her perform on the CBS Early show Saturday morning. She tossed her hair and strutted about the stage while screaming the words to her "song," surrounded by a writhing fiddler and banjo player. Pretty sad. Pretty bad. No wonder the best Country album of the last two years was made by Loretta Lynn. For most of the current crop of Country stars, the real art and emotion has been pushed aside in favor of image as they aim for more of a Pop-oriented product. Sales are sliding downward. How long before a current Country star gets caught lip-syncing in concert? How many will care? There's a direct correlation between the decline of mainstream Country music, and the rise of Americana and Alt-Country.

One Liners:

Hosted the Twin Cities Chamber of Commerce Banquet Saturday night and was proud to hear and meet Major General Tom Lynn and the county's oldest living veteran on this Armed Forces Day.

Big Brown looks promising, but others have stumbled at Belmont.

Bill Belichick's still a great coach, but he's losing more and more credibility.

Heard guitarist Duane Dennison, formerly of Jesus Lizard replaced David Lee in the Legendary Shack Shackers.

It's going to be a tough year for PATS coming up.

I can't quit listening to The Black Keys "Chulahoma."

Ready to play some golf, very badly, of course!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Lake County = Peyton Place

Lake County, Tennessee has long been known for it's "fertility." It's farmland is among the best in the nation. All my life, I've had friends and relatives living there. The current rage there is not that different from stories which have cropped up at schools, large and small, across the country. The difference is in a small community, where everybody knows everybody, everybody also knows everybody's dirty laundry, or at least the rumors of it. Throw in cellphones and the internet, and news travels at the speed of light. It doesn't take long to travel across the small county, and beyond......perhaps even to Nancy Grace?

Here we go again. A well known teacher accused of improper relations with a student, with alleged cellphone text message to boot and there's more. An assistant principal resigns in the "fallout."
The story is lurid enough in it's "official" form. Now throw in the world wide web version of "beauty shop" gossip: the "comments" on the story on the internet.

The newspaper story gives the official version. The comments section gives the "beauty shop" version. In a way, it's tough to turn away. In a way, it's also disgusting, and unfair to all involved. As far removed from the situation as I am, even I know or have figured out who the players are in this situation: I know the identity of the kid, his mom and the "Spice girl."

In a way, it's an old, old story. This kind of thing was going on when I was in high school (gulp) 30 years ago, but although it's an old story, it's a new world information-wise. In the old days, teachers "moved on" to different schools, and they had either learned their lesson, or not. Not un-like the situation with Catholic priests. These days, more than not, it goes to court eventually, based on internet rumors, text messages and cellphone images, etc.

For the record, I hope it's not true. The courts will decide that. Defendants ARE innocent until proven guilty. For the record, teachers AND students AND everyone, for that matter, should keep in mind, the same technology that connects you, can also convict you. Keep your pants on, and your cellphones off.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Lew & Ned's Excellent Adventure at the BMAs

It had been several years since I had been to the Blues Foundation's Blues Music Awards ceremonies. The last time I went, it was held on Beale Street and they were called "The Handy's." Now the name has changed and the venue has changed as the awards were moved to the Grand Casino in Tunica, MS. I decided to head back to the show this year, accompanied by my friend and associate, Ned G. Gunn (he says the G stands for "Genius"). It's Blues' version of the Grammies, and the Blues stars were out in force.

The event began with a "pre-show" reception outside the event center at the Grand, and everybody who is somebody in Blues was there! Outside of that, Ned and I were there too.

Cameras were ready to capture Blues' biggest stars and legends! Ned started with the first one he saw: ME!!! (just kidding)

If you've ever been to the Chicago Blues Festival, the Arkansas Blues & Heritage Festival, or any of the bigger blues festivals, no doubt you've seen Bob Corritore, many times accompanied by his lovely girlfriend, Kim. Bob's a walking encyclopedia of the Blues, and a fantastic harp player himself. It was great to finally meet him.

All of the sudden it was as if I was looking in a mirror as I spotted my "twin:" Tab Benoit. Everybody says the only way they can tell us apart is that he's younger, better looking, more talented, a better guitar player, a better singer,a better songwriter, and has better hair.

An Englishman once described my voice as sounding like I smoked 4 packs a day and drank whiskey from the age of 4, while being repeatedly struck in the mouth with a baseball bat. I tried to tell my wife that I thought that was supposed to be a compliment.... Watermelon Slim also has a "unique" voice," so we have that in common, although I don't know if anyone ever accused him of having been hit with a baseball bat.

I asked the beautiful Denise LaSalle where her hubby "Super Wolf" was. "At home!" she said. I remember "Super Wolf" from my days in Jackson. He's the best, and Denise is too! Her music is rated "R" for REALLY GREAT! She's one of my favorites and we love her to death!

Steve Edmonson still remembers his trip to the Hot August Blues Festival, where the locals look good care of him and partner Jackie Payne. It was great to see Steve again, and meet his lovely wife.

Jr. Watson's one of my favorite guitar players. I love his style and I love his beard. If Bridget hadn't talked me into shaving. Mine might be this long by now! I would love to discuss guitar playing technique with Jr, if only I had one...

Two thirds of Saffire, "The Uppity Blues Women" were there! (Get well soon Ann! We missed you!). I love these gals. I asked Gaye and Andra if I could fill in temporarily and become the 1st male member of Saffire, but a quick check of my credentials unfortunately determined that I was not "uppity" enough.

I had heard of Eden Brent prior to the BMA, but had never met her. In addition to being a fantastic talent, she's also officially "a real hoot!" I told her I had been through her hometown of Greenville, MS several times, so I knew better than to mess with her! Her range of talents shows through as she can flash a lovely smile while grinding her heel on Ned's foot. All kidding aside, she's a breath of fresh air!

Time to head inside! Ned called Skee Pryor, Snooky's son, and let Willie "Big Eyes" Smith tell him what he was missing!!!

The stage set up inside the Grand Casino Event Center was great. I actually liked the move to Tunica as the shuttle buses tooks us from the nearby hotel, to the Event Center, and then back. The stage sported 2 Diamondvision screens and a great sound system. One of the coolest things about the BMAs is the mixing and matching and jamming of so many great artists. You don't see it very often, but you see it here every year.

I loved all the different combinations of musicians and singers, but probably my favorite was Jimmie Vaughan, Lou Ann Barton and Omar Dykes.

Later on, I ran into multiple BMA winner Bobby Rush, another of my favorites. I thought it would be really cool to let Bridget congratulate Bobby, and called her, then handed the phone to him. Of course, SHE thought she was talking to Ned and he was pulling her leg and said some things to Bobby which would have thrown a less-seasoned pro! Not Bobby though. Later, I "heard" my wife blushing through the phone, as I told her, "Yeah, that really was Bobby Rush, baby."

Ned told Bobby that he had stolen his shoes, and that Bobby's shoes were too tight on his feet. Bobby didn't miss a beat and said Ned shouldn't complain about things being too tight.

About this time, we started getting hungry, so it was decided Ned should use his devilish wiles to cast a love spell on the security lady in charge of guarding the door where the food was and charm her into letting us pass. We left hungry....

After that we decided to seek out lessons in how to charm women from the great Pinetop Perkins. Out of respect for Pinetop, we left when we realized we were scaring all his women away.

We were still hungry and would have settled for simply a baked potato. At that point, we ran into the beautiful Idaho potato expert Sheila Wax, who explained we'd never get anything close to as good as a real Idaho potato outside of Idaho. Dang...

I was wasting away. When the night began, I was the same size as Nick Moss, and only a few hours later, he dwarfed me.

It was time to seek out more guitar heroes. Jimmie Vaughan and I were both raised with brothers named Ray, who were musicians. Jimmie's brother, Stevie Ray, became fairly well known, while my brother Ray rose all the way to 4th chair trumpet in the Peabody High School Band.

One of my biggest thrills of the night was meeting one of my all-time favorite players: Derek O'Brien. He said, "Any friend of Snooky's is a friend of mine." As the night ended, we wound up on the same shuttle bus heading back to the hotel. It was a huge thrill to meet Derek, and especially to discover what a nice person he is, in addition to his great talent. I've met a lot of big stars over the years, and don't care for most of the big stars. Blues people are the exception for the most part. They're great people. The few who I am in awe of are those with a real talent and gift. He's one of the few.

Regrets? I had a few. I regret that I never caught up with XM Radio's Bill Wax to offer my personal heartfelt thanks, although I asked his lovely wife to pass along the sentiment. I regret that Candye Kane didn't win for Contemporary Female Blues Vocalist. I had voted for Candye. One of the reasons I went to the BMA's this year was to see Candye sing again. The good news is that her health is improving every day!

All in all, it was a wonderful night. It was great to meet my fellow Blues_L listers Amy, Deb and more. It was fantastic to see so much talent in one place, at one time, and meet a few of them for the first time, while reconnecting with others. I can't wait til next year!

The 2008 Blues Music Awards. The winners selected by the vote of the Blues Foundation's
members are.

1. DVD - Kenny Wayne Shepherd – 10 Days Out: Blues from the Backroads
2. Traditional Blues Male Artist - Hubert Sumlin
3. Traditional Blues Female Artist - Koko Taylor
4. Acoustic Artist - Bobby Rush
5. Acoustic Album Bobby Rush - Raw
6. Pinetop Perkins Piano Player - Honey Piazza
7. Instrumentalist-Guitar - Bob Margolin
8. Soul Blues Male Artist - Bobby Rush
9. Soul Blues Female Artist - Irma Thomas
10. Soul Blues Album - The Holmes Brothers – State of Grace
11. Historical Album - Epic/Legacy – Breakin’ It UP, Breakin’ it DOWN
12. Contemporary Blues Album - Tommy Castro - Painkiller
13. Contemporary Blues Female Artist - Bettye LaVette
14. Contemporary Blues Male Artist - Tab Benoit
15. Instrumentalist-Harmonica - Kim Wilson
16. Instrumentalist-Bass - Bob Stroger
17. Instrumentalist-Drums - Sam Lay
18. Instrumentalist-Horn - Deanna Bogart
19. Instrumentalist-Pedal Steel- Robert Randolph
20. Best New Artist Debut - Diunna Greenleaf & Blue Mercy
21. Song - “Gonna Buy Me a Mule” – Koko Taylor
22. Traditional Blues Album - Koko Taylor – Old School
23. Album - Watermelon Slim & the Workers – The Wheel Man
24. Band - Watermelon Slim & the Workers
25. B.B. King Entertainer - Tommy Castro

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Sex "Storm Stories" on The Weather Channel

We first got wind of the brewing storm developing a couple of weeks ago, as former Weather Channel Meteorologist Hillary Andrews filed suit to release details of a sucessful sexual harassment claim against The Weather Channel. Now, a deluge of details are raining down, and it's not pretty.

Sexual harassment happens far too often in broadcasting, just like in other businesses. In the broadcasting biz, the mix of pretty, young women along with a few men with overblown egos can unfortunately lend itself to these situations. I know. I've seen it firsthand.

At one stop in my broadcasting career, I worked under one of these types. He was despised by almost everyone, but especially by female employees because of his crude comments, "come-ons" and leering. It was utterly disgusting. Unfortunately, legal action was never brought, but it's not like he wasn't punished at all. You see, the broadcasting community is a small one. Everybody knows somebody who knows somebody everywhere. Word gets around, and gets around fast. His career never advanced because none of the bigger markets wanted anything to do with him. Among themselves, just like on the air, bad news travels fast.

Now the spotlight is much brighter on the seemingly gentile and gentle Meteorologist Bob Stokes. His career is most likely over. Especially as far as the big stage is concerned. Word gets around even quicker when it hits "The Smoking Gun." At The Weather Channel? I guess if it could happen there, it could happen anywhere, and unfortunately, it does: Wherever the career advancement of one depends on the subjective whims of another. How sad.