RAK #38: Jean C. Nieves Rodriguez

This is the thirty-eighth of 49 random acts of kindness (RAKs) that I’m doing to honor the victims of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting. Hopefully each small act puts a little bit of happiness back out in the world!

This one is near and dear to my heart and not at all random. My high school band teacher, Mr. Hodge, is retiring this year. With the exception of my parents, I would say he’s the second most influential person in my musical life. Several alumni have started a scholarship in his name, so I donated to that for this RAK. If you’re interested in supporting a young musician, click on the following link: Ritchey Hodge Music Scholarship

This RAK is in honor of Jean C. Nieves Rodriguez, who was 27 years old at the time of the shooting. He had just purchased his first home who was known for his work ethic. Rest in peace, Jean.


This Is What It Sounds Like When Doves Cry

I had planned on posting a little blog tonight ahead of tomorrow’s ACL reconstruction surgery. I probably would have talked a bit about my anxiety going into it and how great my friends and family have been this week in supporting me.

Then, this morning, universe slapped me in the face. The news broke this morning that music legend Prince had died at the age of 57.

“Dearly beloved / we are gathered here today / 2 get through this thing called life”

I was super lucky to have the chance to see Prince live in Vegas back in 2004. Not only do I love his music, but I was supremely impressed by what a stunningly amazing musician he was. In the few hours we were at the show, he literally played every instrument on stage – no joke, drums, guitar, horns, he did it all. And did it all better than most professionals. He had complete control of the audience at all times. His show was flawless. Even those who didn’t know his songs well couldn’t help but be drawn in. It was literally the best concert I’ve ever been at to this very day.

005-Prince Dancing
Prince In Las Vegas, 2004

The details surrounding his death are still mysterious and are no doubt tragic. Regardless of the cause, the music world mourns the loss of one of the best tonight – another angel in that heavenly choir that seems to have added quite a few members this year. Rest in peace, Prince.


Grammys in Your Jammies 2016

Tonight I continue the tradition of watching the Grammys and live blogging – I’ll be updating throughout the show, so check back frequently for updates!

For the 5th year in a row, LL Cool J is hosting. I’ve said before, I love him as a host and can’t wait to see what he has in store this year!

We’ve lost quite a few of my favorite composers and musicians this year… I can’t wait to see how they honor them!

The Clothes

  • LL Cool J’s suit: he seriously has the best style! Loved the simple tux with the cool LL lapel pin.
  • Carrie Underwood‘s performance dress: it was so pretty and feminine! I loved the flowy bottom and fitted top!
  • Ariana Grande: Her dress was really pretty! Love a good red dress!
  • Selena Gomez: I wanted to like her dress, but it did something weird to her boobs. It needed a little more life!
  • Cam: The yellow dress. LOVE LOVE LOVE it!
  • Demi Lovato: Her simple black slacks with white blazer was stunning! She looked great!
  • Karen Fairchild’s (Little Big Town) all black ensemble: Was it pants? Was it a dress? We may never know. It was an awesome combination and I loved the black leather/lace combination!
  • Anna Kendrick: First of all, I loved her simple black dress with the halter top. Stunning. Also, if you need a good laugh, follow her on Twitter.
  • Bruno Mars: loved his purple hat and jacket!
  • Adele: that dress. She is so classy!
  • Beyonce: Ugh… I don’t like this one. Is it old fashioned? Is it not? Is it see through? Not my cup of tea.

The Performances

  • Taylor Swift: I honestly think I like her better as a pop singer than I did as a country singer. She still has the awesome lyrics, high energy performances, and fun feeling, but it fits much better in a pop setting. I’m not going to pretend like she’s the best singer ever, but it feels more honest now.
  • Carrie Underwood & Sam Hunt: I loved the way they wove their songs together – I love “Take Your Time” and, of course, “Heartbeat“, one of my favorites from her latest album.
  • The Weeknd: The man can sing, has great style, and I loved the section of him singing accompanied by just a cello and piano.
  • Andra Day and Ellie Goulding: I hadn’t heard much of Andra Day, but absolutely LOVED her performance. What a stunning voice and really great control! I’m not a huge Ellie Goulding fan, but their duet actually worked!
  • John Legend, Demi Lovato, Luke Bryan, Meghan Trainor, Tyrese: Tribute to Lionel Ritchie (Person of the Year). I love me some John Legend – like a lot. John Legend singing “Easy” is near perfection. He’s on my concert bucket list – I must see him! Demi Lovato did a great job on “Hello“… I was impressed! Luke Bryan was an odd pick for me on this one, but I think he held his own. Meghan Trainor was just ok for me too… I wasn’t totally in love with her version, but did like her new hair. Tyrese’s “Brick House” was ok as well. I loved that they brough Lionel Ritchie up to sing “All Night Long (All Night)“!!!
  • Little Big Town: They are seriously one of my favorite bands ever… I love the harmonies, the songs, and just about everything they do. This version of “Girl Crush“, complete with classical string backup was absolutely amazing!
  • Stevie Wonder & Pentatonics: Tribute to Maurice White – seriously, is there anything Pentatonics aren’t doing these days? They’re awesome!
  • The Eagles & Jackson Browne: My heart still hurts that Glenn Frey is gone… I can’t imagine that this performance was easy for any of the band, but there’s no better way to honor him than a little “Take It Easy“. They kept with the style of the Eagles – simple, harmonies, pure. Well done.
  • Tori Kelly & James Bay: Their acoustic duet was really nice. I love people that stand and sing at each other. Both have amazing voices!
  • The cast of Hamilton: So this is new… a live Broadway performance in the middle of the Grammys! Definitely a musical I’d like to see! They performed the opening number “Alexander Hamilton”.
  • Kendrick Lamar: I liked the jailhouse theme followed by the African bonfire… such a cool stage setup!
  • Miguel: I absolutely love “She’s Out of My Life“… and Miguel did a really great job with it!
  • Adele: Bruno Mars introduced her and mentioned that he helped write “All I Ask“… which makes me love it even more. It’s an amazing song with the most beautiful lyrics. I wish I was blessed with a voice like her… I could listen to her sing the alphabet!
  • Justin Beiber, Diplo, & Skrillex: I just can’t even.
  • Lady Gaga: Tribute to David Bowie. I am a little biased in that I work for Intel and we’ve partnered with Lady Gaga for this performance – so cool to see technology used in such a unique way! I could not have picked a better person to pay homage to David Bowie… Lady Gaga really did him justice! For me, this was one of the best performances of the night!
  • Chris Stapleton, Gary Clark Jr, & Bonnie Raitt: Tribute to B.B. King. I absolutely love Chris Stapleton and think he was the perfect pick for a tribute like this. I am not super familiar with Gary Clark Jr, but absolutely love him after this performance! And you can’t go wrong with some Bonnie Raitt! Their performance reminded me of Mike and I sitting in a little bar on Beale Street in Memphis… perfect blues!
  • Alabama Shakes: I’m still a little peeved that they won best rock band over the Foos, but I can’t fault their music – they have a cool sound!
  • The Hollywood Vampires: Just when you think you can’t love Johnny Depp any more, he joins a band with Alice Cooper and Joe Perry. This is rock!!!
  • Pitbull, Robin Thicke, Joe Perry, & Travis Barker: Pitbull’s performances are just always so fun and totally make me want to dance!

They Got Robbed!

  • Little Big Town: They should have won song of the year for “Girl Crush”. Period. And why does Taylor Swift always lose her shit, even when she doesn’t win? She can’t be that happy for Ed Sheeran
  • The Foo Fighters: honestly, none of the other people in that category are rock bands!!! Are you kidding me?
  • Chris Stapleton: Let’s be real, he didn’t stand a chance against Taylor Swift in the best album category, but musically, he should have won. By a lot.

In Memorium: Glenn Frey

It’s taken me a couple of days to pull my thoughts together on this one. On January 18, 2016, Eagles member Glenn Frey passed away at the relatively young age of 67. The Eagles have always been one of my very favorite bands, and there’s not many snapshots from my childhood that don’t play in my head to their music. I learned to sing harmonies to their songs and learned to appreciate amazing musical talent. Glenn co-wrote many of my Eagles favorites, including “After the Thrill is Gone”, “Desperado”, “Doolin’ Dalton”, and, of course, “Hotel California”. In addition to singing lead vocals on some of my favorites (“Tequila Sunrise” and “Take It Easy”) with the band, he also held his own as a solo artist (“The Heat Is On”).

In college, I was lucky enough to get to see the Eagles live in San Diego with my family. I must admit, Don Henley had my attention (I love his voice), but the band really wouldn’t be what it was without Glenn as well. The show was amazing and his voice and musicianship will be missed.

I’ll leave you with a link to one of my favorite songs the Eagles performed once they reunited, “Hole in the World”. Rest in peace, Glenn.


In Memorium: James Horner

The world lost an amazing musician and composer yesterday… in fact, my second favorite, next to Beethoven. I grew up playing French horn, and James Horner was known for some absolutely breathtaking French horn parts.

If you think you haven’t heard James Horner’s music, think again… if you’ve watched Field of Dreams, Apollo 13, Braveheart, Titanic, Avatar, The Mask of Zorro, WillowLegends of the Fall, and a whole host of other amazing movies, you’ve heard his music. Often, the music in a movie is not focused on, yet Horner’s fantastic compositions brought life, magic, sadness, and beauty to the screen. They bring the scene to life.

Music has the ability to move us in ways that words cannot. It transcends words, language, race, and time. Below are a few of my James Horner favorites. Rest in peace.

One of my favorite “angry french horn” songs called “Master Alarm” from Apollo 13:

Braveheart Main Title Song:

“Somewhere Out There” from American Tail, which was sung by Linda Ronstadt:

“Rogue Wave” from the movie A Perfect Storm:

“Death of Titanic” from, well, you guessed it… Titanic:

I also think “A Hymn To The Sea” from Titanic totally makes the movie:

Garth Brooks and The Deadly Red Bull

A few weeks ago we went to one of six Garth Brooks shows in Sacramento. As you may know, I’m a huge fan of music in general… and I believe the best test of how good (or bad) an artist is is to see them perform live. I went into the Garth Brooks experience trying to temper my expectations. After all, he was “in his prime” twenty years ago and for most people, the voice starts to age. Garth was absolutely amazing… he sounded like the Garth Brooks of old and I was completely amazed by his energy… we actually saw him at his second show in one night! He sang all of his old songs… something that really makes me happy because I hate going to see an artist and all you hear is new music that you can’t sing along to!

There was a bit of a disaster, however. You see, for Lent this year I gave up soda… and the concert we were attending started at 10:30pm. I decided that I would try something new and have a Red Bull, to help me stay awake. Well, I was definitely awake… but unfortunately it severely upset my stomach. So much so that we ended up having to leave early, taking our friends with us. Thankfully they were super understanding, but I not only felt physically awful, but bad that they had to miss out on part of an amazing show. Note to self… that stuff is definitely not healthy and I will definitely not be drinking it again!

Favorite Song Friday – “Uptown Funk”

I am absolutely obsessed with this song right now… I can’t not listen to it when it comes on the radio and I constantly have it in the mix on my playlists. I first heard it when Bruno Mars was on SNL… I love the retro feel of the horns and the cool dance moves. Enjoy and happy Friday!