Friday, January 30, 2009

Coachella '09 lineup: Not bad upon consideration

The Coachella Festival lineup was unveiled this morning. Headliners are Paul McCartney (!) on Friday (with Morrissey and Franz Ferdinand as the second bill), The Killers on Saturday (preceded by Amy Winehouse and Thievery Corporation), and The Cure to close out Sunday (with My Bloody Valentine and Yeah Yeah Yeahs ).

At first, the announcement was a little underwhelming, but upon further review, I gotta say it's pretty solid, particularly Friday and Saturday. While McCartney is a bit of a head scratcher (isn't he a bit cheese ball for this type of thing?), Morrissey and FF sound awesome for the opening night, especially if they go back to back. And although I'm kinda hit and miss with their last album, The Killers are a great Saturday show closer by themselves. With Amy Winehouse in the mix, that's pretty friggin dope. (I'm kinda ehh on Thievery Corporation, but oh well. Atmosphere would make up for that).

Of course, The Cure is just a great choice to close out the event, and a great bit of planning having MBV and Yeah Yeah Yeahs leading up to Robert Smith and company. If I had like, $2000 to blow, I'd love to go all three days.

The hip-hop representation is a bit spare, but the choices are inspired. Lupe Fiasco, Public Enemy, Clipse, and The Knux are good to go. Surprised folks like Wale, B.o.B., Blu and Exile, Cool Kids or Pac Div weren't invited. Hipster rap is the next big thing, right?

All in all, a solid line up. I'll put in for my credentials once again and I'm sure I'll be rejected once again, but it's worth trying.

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Kinetic Poetics Project @ UC Santa Cruz this weekend

There's a whole lotta-lotta poetry going down this weekend @ UC Santa Cruz, where the Kinetic Poetics Project, the campus's annual spoken word poetry festival, is going down, Feb. 1-4. Included in the mix are four nights of spoken word at the Porter College Dining Hall.

Above is a clip of Buddy Wakefield, a really bad ass poet featuring Monday night. For full info, go to

Here's the info I was able to snag from their YouTube site at

Kinetic Poetics Project
Feb. 1 - Feb. 4
8 pm
Porter Dining Hall, UCSC
all shows free! (donations requested)
Feb. 1
Featuring the Spilljoy ensemble,
four of the youngest and hottest molotov cocktails exploding against the walls between us.Utterly life-affirming. Absolutely unforgettable. Including, composed of, and not limited to Danny Sherrard (2007 National Indi champ), Shira Erlichman (1983 Professional Kitten Wrestler), Jon Sands (2007 NY LouderArts team), and Ken Arkind (2006 National Champ with team Denver).

Feb. 2
Featuring Buddy Wakefield,
2004 World Champion, 2005 National Champion, fresh off of a tour with Ani DiFranco. This man, born to a guitar repair woman and prone to playing marbles in trees, is known or delivering raw, rounded, high vibration performances of humor and heart.

Feb. 3
Featuring Verbobala Spoken Video:
Verbobala es un proyecto artistico de colaboracion binacional. Verbobala crea performances bilingues que confrontan los conceptos tradicionales de los fronteras internacionales y los generos artisticos.

Feb. 4
Featuring Salt Lines: Andrea Gibson, Sonya Renee, Tara Hardy, and Denise Jolly. Unapologetically feminist, Salt Lines speaks with silenced voices that were meant to be heard. Few artists are as articulate and inspired as these four women.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Sound of Young America interviews Meshell Ndegeocello

A lil somethin-some from the good people at "The Sound of Young America" and, probably my favorite podcast/blog on the net because they are so randomly awesome.
TSOYA host Jesse Thorn recently interviewed Meshell Ndegleocello, a supremely talented artist/musician and a long-time personal favorite (my all-time favorite Meshell song is, of course, "Nocturnal Sunshine" from the "Red Hot & Cool" comp). I haven't listened to the full interview yet, but I'm sure it's all kinds of awesome.

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More Salinas Bands invading Monterey: The Dependents, Wasted Noise at Monterey Live Saturday

If you can't get enough Salad Bowl rock Friday night @ Jose's Lounge Underground, check out some Reggae Rock with your folks The Dependents and Wasted Noise Saturday night at Monterey Live.

The Dependents are solid dub rockers with that trashy, irie skate vibe the kids love so much. Caught them at Giovanni's opening for WN a few months ago and they go. Although a bit rough around the edges, they know their way around a Sublime cover, which is always a good start for the up and coming band.

Wasted Noise, well, that's pretty much extended family for me. I'm still waiting on some sort of proper album release. I know y'all won a few battle of the bands competitions, so what's up with an EP or something?

Tickets are $6 at the door and show starts at 9 p.m. For info, visit

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My Refuge, other Salinas bands to perform at Jose's Lounge Underground Friday

Here's a sweet deal for only five bux. My folks My Refuge, along with a slew of other Salinas bands, will perform Friday night at Jose's Lounge Underground on Wave St. in Monterey. Here's the tiny bit of info I was able to snag from Jose's Myspace page:

Friday January 30, Salinas Super Showcase Featuring
Jake Bivins
My Refuge
18 and over, $5 @ the door. Doors open @ 7 p.m.

My Refuge is a pretty potent alt/grunge rock band, headed up by my boy Ronald Butron, who also plays with another local fave of mine, Novela. My Refuge is more in the vein of Alice in Chains/Soundgarden, noisy angst pop with lots of harmony and moodiness. I'm not too hip to the other bands, but if they're from Salinas, hopefully they rep the Salad Bowl proper like.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Forte's Home!

My man John Forte was recently released from federal lock-up. In case you forgot, he was down with The Fugees back in the day, maybe not the best MC in the extended crew, but he had style and swag for days. Here's a short video clip of his initial touch down.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Why no love for Clint and "Gran Torino"?

In my Sunday column, I go into detail on why I believe Clint Eastwood got snubbed at the Academy Awards nominations this year.
Not that he needed my endorsement, but I was really hoping Clint would get some credit from Academy Awards voters for his latest film, “Gran Torino.”
When the nominees were announced Thursday, Clint's movie was shut out entirely — a shame considering rumors that this could be his final acting role, but also considering the quality of the film itself.
Also, no love for "Dark Knight," which I only recently saw but I thought was excellent. Sure, Heath Ledger is a lock for best supporting actor, but the film and director Christopher Nolan deserved a better look. The movie will probably walk away with all the technical awards, but it's a shame that at least Nolan wasn't recognized.
And if this is Clint's last acting role, the Academy should have recognized the moment.

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30 Rock "Retreat To Move Forward" episode review

Last night's episode of 30 Rock was on back on par with the show's usual level of greatness. Of course, folks are mostly focusing on Liz Lemon's bra dance toward the end, which was hilariously ridiculous.

I'm also happy they continued Jenna's pursuit of the Janis Joplin bio flick. I really love Janis, and seeing Jenna's stupid fanny trying to play the role was priceless. Also, I didn't realize Frank was such an office p-i-m-p. Boffing Jenna is one thing, but her hairdresser? And the old maid? Really?

Some highlights below from last p.m.'s episode.

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Reminder: Monte Negro performs Saturday night @ Bankers Casino

Just a reminder, Bilingual rockers Monte Negro will be jamming out Saturday night @ Bankers Casino in Salinas. Tickets are $25 at the door and at

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Sorry for the inactivity

Short week this week for me because management insisted I use PTO that was leftover from last year (hey, you want me to take a paid day off, I'm not going to argue). I didn't get around blogging this week because I was busy getting caught up with other stuff.

Anyway, I got some stuff today, so I'll post it above, and a lot of previews for next week. Folks like Pat Travers, Shifty from VH1's "Celebrity Rehab" and local bands like My Refuge and Wasted Noise will all be performing next week, so I should have some stuff for that. Stay tuned.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

I just saw "Notorious"

I just got out of the matinée for "Notorious," the Biggie Smalls biopic. It ranks somewhere between "La Bamba" and "Walk The Line" in terms of music biopics for me, meaning it's good and at times great ("La Bamba" is a good movie with its flaws, while "Walk The Line" is my all-time favorite musician biopic).

Jamal Woolard plays Biggie with boyish charm and nervous menace glazing the surface. I used to hate pretty hard on Woolard, the MC formerly known as Gravy, because his most notable moment prior to the film's release a shooting incident in front of Hot 97 FM in New York, where he was reportedly shot in the ass and still showed up for the interview (a similar scene had played out on an episode of "The Sopranos" a few months before that).

In "Notorious" he steals the show, at moments becoming Biggie on screen. It's pretty mesmerizing.

His performance anchors the film when it leans dangerously toward the edge of parody, particularly when other real-life characters are introduced. Diddy, Lil' Kim, Faith Evans and, of course, Tupac Shakur all figure prominently in the film. While the ladies do a good job capturing their characters both physically and emotionally, the men sometimes fall a little short.

Which makes it difficult to get really excited about the film for me, because I already had this attachment to the real deal. Unlike Johnny Cash or Ritchie Valens, artists who I was not privy to during the height of their fame, watching "Notorious" is tough because I remember watching a lot of the story unfold in the music and stories of that time that I was listening to.

But then, a close-up shot of Woolard erased most of that, because for the long two-hours plus (the movie is looong), he becomes Biggie.

I recently watched "Dark Knight" for the first time (yeah, I know, late pass), and watching Woolard reminded me of the unsettling experience watching Heath Ledger become the Joker. It was a case study in reverse, where as with Ledger we're watching a dead man come back to life through his character on screen, Woolard manages to bring Biggie back from the dead with his spot-on take.

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On the recent violence in Salinas

What good are words when violent pronouncements of madness mute resolve?

My town is a war zone right now, and I'm beginning to question whether there is any good left, whether we have completely lost our resolve.

Last night, Salinas suffered through three separate shootings, one dead, five injured. The new math is all to familiar to my fellow Salinas residents.

I'm left with the sense that words are no good where bullets are exclamation points, where resolve is blocked off by yellow police tape and silent victims.

I'm hurt and angered and fearful and numb and with few words. Enough is enough. This is no longer acceptable in my community.

The O.G.'s and veteranos need to step up and do something. This is no longer a job for the police or the mayor. They are ineffective. It's up to the gang leaders themselves to figure out what's worth dying for.

All I know is that I'm sick of it all, and words are useless at times like this.

Below is the link to the KSBW interview with Mayor Dennis Donohue. Dennis is a good guy, but this may be too much for him. Let me know what you think.

Quick edit: I usually reserve comment on the TV news folks because they're our comp and all, but Dan Green kinda went in on Donohue during that interview. I'm cool with the mayor and all, but I gotta give props to Danny Boy, way to do us journos proud and step your game up.

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"Blow Bad Blues Brother Lateef" by Garland Thompson Jr.

This is possibly my favorite poem from Garland, "Blow Bad Blues Brother Lateef," his tribute to the Jazz legend. Filmed live @ The Rubber Chicken Poetry Slam 1.14.09.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dawn Davison Live @ The Rubber Chicken Poetry Slam, 1.14.09

Poet Dawn Davison performs live @ The Rubber Chicken Poetry Slam, 1.14.09.

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Bernadette Live @ The Rubber Chicken Poetry

Local musician Bernadette performs live @ The Rubber Chicken Poetry Slam, 1.14.09.

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Ben Cooper Live @ The Rubber Chicken Poetry Slam, 1.14.09

My man Ben Cooper performs live @ The Rubber Chicken Poetry Slam, 1.14.09. I really love this song. Ben's got a CD out and I'll post info on that shortly. In the meantime, enjoy!

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American Idol: Sorry people, I tried

I really tried getting into the season premier of American Idol on Tuesday, really I did. I put it on right at 8 p.m. and sat there with my laptop on, trying to edit this video I'm working on for The Joint Venture (more on that in a later blog), but I just couldn't do it.

I got as far as the first hour, sort of half-watching the intro to the new judge and how wonderful she is, then the train-wreck contestants who don't stand a snowball's chance in hell of making it, like the one guy who was doing pop locking/majorette dance moves and had a big afro, or the one deep-voiced guy who sounded like a cross between Louis Armstrong and Boris Karloff, and the one wimpy rocker dude who had all the rock stuff down except the fact that he couldn't actually sing.

Every year, when AI starts up, I make an honest effort to try and blog on it, but it's really a chore. I just hate the fact that they force feed us this glop and then unleash it on the public like it's the cure for cancer and the public willingly whoofs it down and asks for more and then texts in how much they like it. The corporate tie-ins and cross promotion and the ensuing publicitsunami is maddening. It's like a giant corporate suicide bomber plants itself in your living room twice a week and threatens to push the button unless you buy something, now!

But at least I tried, and who knows, maybe I'll try next week. I just hate corny stuff is all,and American Idol is popcornstarchsyrurtrash at it's cornpop trashiest.

Where am I going with all of this anyway?

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New Mos Def: "Quiet Dog"

The second single from the Mighty Mos, off his upcoming album "The Ecstatic" which is rumored to be dropping as soon as next month(!). We'll see about that.

Shout out to Jordan and the gang at for hooking up the link. I'm like a proud older brother watching from the distance. Lol.

Oh, and before we go, R.I.P. to Ricardo Montalban (aka Mr. Roarke on "Fantasy Island"). The new generation may know him as grandpa from the "Spy Kids" movies. I known him as one of the best Latino actors and role models in Hollywood, an inspiration. Bless the dead.

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New MF Doom "Ballskin"

New joint below from MF Doom titled "Ballskin." Who knows if this guy is going to release any new material since he has been sending imposter's to his shows and was rumored dead. I still want a Madvillainy 2, but I guess this will have to suffice. The Super Villain is back?

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Kings of Rock! Run-DMC inducted into Rock Hall of Fame (swipe)

Congratulations to The Kings of Rock, Run-DMC, for being named to the 2009 class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! Along with Metallica and Bobby Womack, Run-DMC are in pretty good company this year. AP swipe below, and I'll update this post as the day goes on.

Run-DMC, Metallica lead list of 2009 Rock Hall

NEW YORK (AP) — Run-DMC once hailed themselves as the Kings of Rock, so it’s fitting that the pioneering rappers have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Run-DMC joins the heavy metal band Metallica, guitarist Jeff Beck, soul singer Bobby Womack and doo-wop group Little Anthony and the Imperials as this year’s inductee class.

Rockabilly singer Wanda Jackson gets a nod for the early influence category, and the sidemen inductees are session musician Spooner Oldham and two of Elvis Presley’s musicians — drummer D.J. Fontana and bassist Bill Black.

The induction ceremony will be held in Cleveland — where the Rock Hall is based — on April 4.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Link: the Battle for J-Dilla's Legacy

Above, I've posted a link to the page on, where you can read the Vibe magazine article on the controversy surrounding the estate of J-Dilla. A sad story all around, particularly where his mother and children are involved.

Dilla was a great artist and his legacy deserves better than this.

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Monte Negro coming to Salinas Jan. 24

L.A. Latin-Alt rockers Monte Negro are coming to Salinas later this month. Read the press release below to learn all about it.

Aguas Brothers Entertainment Presents: Monte Negro, Fatima, Niña Azufre, & Los Tiliches Live @ the Bankers Casino - January 24, 2009 | All ages welcome - Doors @ 8:00 PM.

Aguas Brothers Entertainment in association with La Neta Alternative Media and The Bankers Casino are proud to announce the return of three of L.A.’s hottest Latin Alternative Rock bands – Monte Negro, Fatima, and Niña Azufre - to the Salinas Valley for a one night only concert event. Joining the L.A. trio is local favorite Los Tiliches (; for what is sure to be a great night of “Rock En Tu Idioma”

MONTE NEGRO is coming off a banner year which saw the release of their Debut Album CICATRIX on Epic Records; and of course, the headlining spot on The MTV TR3S Circo Rocktastico Tour to promote the album. 2008 also marked their participation in the RED BULL SOUND CLASH EN ESPAÑOL where approximately 900 people saw them defeat Mexico City Pop/Punk powerhouse Allison in a four round musical duel. Already slated to participate in the 2009 Ruta Sol Festival in Mexico, their Salinas performance is sure to be the kick-off to another great year. (

Los Angeles rock quartet FATIMA's emotionally charged lyrics, energetic live shows, and D.I.Y. work ethic have won them a loyal fan base in both the U.S. and Mexico. 2008 was an impressive year for the high energy band with the release of their CD "Escuchame" in Mexico, and a well received tour throughout the U.S. & Mexico. They are currently gearing up to return to Mexico to continue spreading the sickness. Rock on! (

The ball of energy that is NIÑA AZUFRE can best be described as great straight ahead rock and roll meets improvisational comedy. Armed with an infectious sound and a wicked sense of humor; this young ensemble is rapidly scaling the L.A. food chain and establishing itself as a force to be reckoned with. (

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Boots Riley on Oscar Grant Shooting

Boots Riley, leader of The Coup, speaks up on the Oscar Grant case in Oakland. Boots is a pretty eloquent speaker, and I was waiting to hear some reaction from him. Please listen.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

50 & Preemo: Say what?


So this popped up on the internets today. 50 Cent and DJ Premier. I know they've gotten down in the past, but this was pretty much a complete shocker to me. Preemo, in this day and age, getting hired by 50 when dude is like a shell of his former self?

I hate to rain the hate (double hateration on my part, I know), but every time I see 50 I see a dude gasping for straws, desperately trying to stay relevant. Then something like this comes out and I'm just not sure what to make of anything anymore.

The beat is solid, just an eerie, chaotic symphony/adrenaline rush. Someone at okayplayer called it NY winter on the subway music,or something like that. 50 kinda goes in, with his gun talk and gangsta roll in full command of the track. For his part, Preemo goes a little out of the pocket, but the beat bangs. Preemo can do no wrong in my eyes.

Still, I almost can't get over this. We saw a magazine cover with Fif over the weekend, and my girl, noticing that I was eyeing it, said "pick it up. 50's still hot."


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Friday, January 09, 2009


Hate to bump the videos I just posted, but in case you haven't noticed, we got a new look here @ "The Beat."

Thanks go out to our web goddess Lisa for setting up the new look, which I think is just splendid.

With a new look comes a bit of a new attitude.

I'm going to open up the format a bit, switching slightly so. While hip-hop music and culture will still be a cornerstone of the blog, I'll also be doing some more pop culture reviews and previews, particularly in the realm of my secret, guilty pleasure, reality television.

It's all meant to cast a wider net for our online audience. No doubt I'll still be bringing the noise on the hip-hop side, but we're going to run a bit more of a spread offense. Opposing defenses aware.

And I promise to keep the cheesy sports analogies to a minimum from now on. Now, Play ball!

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Some More from The Rubber Chicken Poetry Slam

Some more of my home videos from Wedneday night's Rubber Chicken Poetry Slam.

Youki Bae

Murat Luleci

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Flo performing @ The Rubber Chicken Poetry Slam Jan. 7

I got me one of those nifty Mino HD cameras for Christmas (thanks babe!) and am now on the loose, shooting video of everything and anything. Of course, I co-produce The Rubber Chicken Poetry Slam every Wednesday at East Village Coffelounge in Monterey, so that's a pretty obvious place to start recording.

Below is a video from our girl Flo, aka Ashley Chisholm. This was her last performance at the Rubber Chicken, as she's being shipped off to Texas (she's a U.S. Marine).

"A Moment" by Flo

"Dedication to Solomon" by Flo

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Reality Reviews: “Rock of Love Tour Bus,” “The City,” and “Bromance”

Sorting through some of the new reality television that's premiered the past couple of weeks.

First stop on the line is rocker Brett Michaels latest bachelor fantasy, “Rock of Love Tour Bus.” For two seasons, Michaels has searched for true love amidst two separate households of celebrity groupies. With no luck at home, he's taking his act on the road.

Per the usual “Rock of Love” fare, contestants compete against one another for the prize of Queen Groupie, or rather, the honor of being Michael's “girlfriend,” which is a dubious distinction at best. Contestants are eliminated during each episode, leading to all kinds of backstabbing and behind the scenes drama, fueled by loads of alcohol provided on set (oh, sorry, it's reality TV, so there are no sets).

All of this would normally be despicable if the contestants weren't so seeming genuine in their pursuit of the ultimate prize, presumably Michael's love and devotion. And all of this takes place on tour, as Michaels goes from one Indian Casino to the next, kicking out the jams.

It's all train wreck voyeurism at its trashy finest, the type of irresistable fast food entertainment that you can actually feel killing your brain cells as you watch. But who cares because you can't get enough. And props to Michaels for making himself completely relevant some 20 years after his band's last true hit song. You gotta love the guy for that alone.

Can't say the same for MTV's recent Monday night offerings, “The City” and “Bromance,” which are lite beer versions of other reality shows. “The City” is merely “The Hills” set in New York; “Bromance” is sorta-kinda like “Rock of Love” only with dudes, and the head dude, Brody Jenner, has neither the charm nor talent of Michaels.

In “The City,” former “Hills” cast member Whitney Port leaves Los Angeles for NYC, and, well, that's it. All of the same hallmarks of “The Hills” are there: fashion industry power sharks, dark lit bar scenes and glittery sky lines are abundant. Even the fonts on the character intros are the same.

Port would appear to be an amalgam of Heidi and Lauren from “The Hills,” sporting Blonde tress and fashion industry credentials in one nifty package. The first episode deals with her new job as a marketing assistant and re-introduces scuzzy rocker Jay, Whitney's presumed paramour.

There will be struggles, foreshadowed by snooty co-workers and boy toy's free floating ways. Will Whitney make it in "The City?" Who knows, but expect at least one cameo from Lauren somewhere down the road.

“Bromance” is a little more obvious in its crassness, thanks in large part to its lead. The premise alone is laughable: Jenner is looking for a new best bro, and a pack of horny males are competing for said distinction. The winner gets, among other things, access to c-list ragers and possibly Laker floor seats (when they're playing the Grizzlies).

One unexpected twist is the homo-eroticism that pops up from time to time. Witness Brody and four male contestants crammed into a spa, with one guy sporting a cabana hat even. If MTV decides not to pick it up for a second season, the show might have a shot at a time slot on LOGO network.

I could barely sit through the premiere episode, which featured a contest where contestants had to bring in a pack of hotties to a private party before 9 p.m. In the end, everyone gets to party, but the losers had to clean up afterwards. They didn't seem to mind, so long as they got in the door.

Previews for future episodes have promised heated exchanges and close ups of bro's crying. These guys should man up and maybe take some lessons from the "Rock of Love" girls on how to act right.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Eminem, Dr. Dre & 50 Cent - "Crack A Bottle"

New song featuring Eminem, Dr. Dre and 50 Cent, “Crack A Bottle." An unfinished version of this was floating around on the internet, but this sounds like a finished version. Nice beat, familiar to anyone who got the "Think Differently Music: Wu-Tang Meets Indie Culture” album (not sure which song it was used on, but I know it was on there).
Not sure if this is slated for Em, 50 or Dre's album, but a nice offering none the less from the quote-unquote "Three-Headed Monster."

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Monday, January 05, 2009

The Real Guitar Heroes in Salinas on Saturday

Happy new year to everyone.

The new year kicks off with a bang Saturday at Wise Music in Salinas, where the “Real Guitar Heroes” come out in the form of local youth bands August Sky, Population 5 and The Sledge Grits Band, as part of a music appreciation/concert even. The event starts at 3 p.m.

All three bands consist of school age children ranging from elementary to high school. August Sky does classic rock covers and originals. Population does more modern rock covers, while The Sledge Grits Band is an adorable all-girls group who cover a number of musical genres, fromfunk to rock and R&B.

There is no cover. Local music instructors will also be on hand with info on taking music lessons. Wise Music is located at 233 Monterey Street, Salinas. For information, visit

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