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Saturday, July 25, 2009
Bluegrass Nights at the Ryman: Steep Canyon Rangers, The Dan Tymenski Band
This week's concert was the best of the series, largely thanks to the performance of one of my favorites, The Steep Canyon Rangers. I'd put them just behind Cherryholmes and Dailey and Vincent as my three favorite bluegrass groups.

They were high energy, fun and each band member got a chance to showcase his talents during the set. It was one of those sets where they're introduced and it feels like five minutes have gone by when really it's been an hour. I could have easily heard another hour by the guys. I really must go see them in concert by themselves some day or as the headline act. In fact, I'm not sure why they weren't the headline act of the evening.

That honor when to the Dan Tymenski band. Apparently, Dan is the voice of George Clooney in "O, Brother Where Are Thou?" and he's worked with Allison Krauss. He still does, apparently. I guess that's why he got the headliner treatment. And he was good and he did perform "Man of Constant Sorrow," but saved it to the end. I liked Tymenski and his group and found their set was enjoyable enough . But it's hard to follow the Steep Canyon Rangers....

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/25/2009 12:11:00 PM | |
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Saint Tebow
It's not even football season yet and the continuing saint-ifciation of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow has begun in earnest.

Driving around last weekend, ESPN's Freddy Coleman was gushing about how this upcoming season would be the greatest in all of college football history because Tebow was back along with Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford. It lead into an interview with Tebow outside the ESPY Awards (the most overrated and useless awards in the universe) in which the interviewer couldn't kiss Tebow's posterior fast enough.

I will admit that Tebow is a good guy and that I respect what he does off the field and how he lives out his daily walk in a very visible way. In a day and age when we get far too many reports of the other side of the coin, the story of Tebow should be refreshing...

And yet, I can't find it refreshing. Namely because the way its reported it sounds like Tebow heals a colony of lepers on the way to each game. Or don't forget that time he fed 50,000 angry Gator fans with two hot dogs and a 20 oz. bottle of Coke. They all got their fill and had plenty left over to feed the newly healed leper colony.

I have a feeling it will only get worse. Heaven knows (pun intended), the legend to Tebow was only added by his big speech last year. And now they've made it a plaque in the Florida locker room.

The more I hear, the more I want a defensive lineman in Big Orange to clobber him when the Vols head to the Swamp in September for the annual show-down. Not hurt, mind you because I'm sure he'd just heal himself, but introduced to the turf. Until then, I will just have to hope that Lane Kiffin makes good on his desire to hear Rocky Top playing in the Swamp to celebrate a victory over St. Tebow and the Gators....

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/23/2009 04:00:00 PM | |

More Unrelenting Coverage
A couple of weeks ago, I wondered what could possibly be more annoying than the unrelenting coverage of whether or not Brett Favre will play another season in the NFL.

I've found out...

The unrelenting coverage of when Michael Vick will be allowed to play again in the NFL.

I realize it's a slow time of the year and that it's a big story, but I really think this is being covered to death. I am shocked we don't have leaked footage of Vick getting the ankle bracelet taken off by the authorities when he completed the home arrest portion of his sentence. Or maybe it's just out there and I missed it as my eyes glazed over.

I will admit that I am fascinated by the extreme opinions that exist on when and if Vick should be allowed to play football again and the plan or plans he should follow to get back into the good graces of the league.

Of course, I've heard that my beloved Redskins are considered in the mix to get Vick whenever he returns to the league. All I can say to my good buddy Dan Snyder is, please for the love of all that is good, don't go down that road. I know there are at least three or four Virginia Tech fans in the world and they probably live near D.C. and would like to see Vick come to the team. But honestly, the guy has too much baggage for our team to take on right now. Let's continue the progress with Jason Campbell and win or lose with him.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/23/2009 01:46:00 PM | |
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Bluegrass at the Ryman: Ralph Stanley, Jim Lauderdale
It's always interesting to get to hear one of the "legends" of a genre in concert. I'd heard Ralph Stanley perform last year and really enjoyed the show. His old-fashioned, "back woods" blue-grass music is some I really enjoyed, though I was really only familiar with his work from the "O Brother" soundtrack.

And while he was good this year and just as solid as last, I still found the set this time not quite as good. Part of that could be that he included Alison Krauss as a special guest last year. Or maybe it could be that it's another year for Stanley, who is still great but is definitely getting up there in years. It wasn't a bad show by any means.

I will have to admit I wasn't a big fan of the opening act of Jim Lauderdale. Show presenter Eddie Stubbs spent a lot of time talking up Lauderdale's career and talking about his talents as a song-writer. And maybe he is very good, but I found his whole show a bit bland. It reminded me of a lot of the reasons I'm not a huge fan of the current crop of country music--it all sounds too much the same. The one song I did like was called "Zaccheus" and I found myself wishing the set had more of songs like it or that sounded different than what we got....

Oh well. This week should be better because it's the Steep Canyon Rangers, a group I am looking forward to hearing again....

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/22/2009 02:00:00 PM | |
Monday, July 13, 2009
Bluegrass at the Ryman: Rhonda Vincent & the Rage, Bobby Oscbourne and the Rocky Top Express, Next Big Thing
Thursday evening, I heard the third in this years "Bluegrass Nights at the Ryman" series for the year. It was the return of one of my favorites, Rhonda Vincent and the Rage along with Bobby Osbourne and the Rocky Top Express and new group, Next Big Thing.

Starting the show was Next Big Thing, a younger group that was OK, but I still think they're finding their voice. It was one of the few bluegrass groups I've seen play that didn't include a mandolin on a majority of their songs. Their best song was a trio performing "I Come To the Garden." The blend of voices between the Sanker sisters and the male portion of the trio was nicely done and the strongest portion of their set. The rest was good, but not among my favorite portions of the evening.

As for Rhonda Vincent, I liked her show, but it was cut a bit short. Vincent is great, but she often features new acts in the bluegrass world, meaning that her time can be cut a bit. Or maybe it's that I've seen her the past four seasons and I'm starting to get used to the show. There are a couple of favorites that make it every year into the set and she weaves in the newer stuff--especially if she has a new album out. I found myself wishing we could here "Jolene" and "Ghost of Chance." Maybe she did them in the encore (which ran long and we had to leave). Perhaps I'll follow the example of some of those who attended and send her a request via her web site next year.

That left the middle act as my favorite of the evening. Heading into the concert, I figured that any group that featured "Rocky Top" in their name and featured one of the two guys who gave us one of the greatest songs in the history of the universe, we'd get to hear "Rocky Top" at least once. Then when Bobby came on stage in an orange sport coat ala Bruce Pearl, I knew we'd hear at some point. Wisely, they left it until the end so you can go out on a high note. Before that, we heard a lot of great songs, a mixtures of old and new. One highlight was their version of the John Denver song, "Country Roads."

And then, we got to the end and what Osbourne called "the greatest Christmas present" ever. Seems that "Rocky Top" was released on Christmas in 1967 and the world hasn't been the same since. We heard it and it was...well, the highlight of the evening for me.

And it helped remind me (as if I needed it) that God's sport will soon be back with us....

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/13/2009 01:00:00 PM | |
Sunday, July 05, 2009
Rembering Steve McNair
I was stunned yesterday to get a news alert, informing me of the death of former Titans' quarterback, Steve McNair. And I'm sure in the days and weeks ahead, as the story continues to unfold, we'll get more details that we ever wanted to know about McNair and the woman whose body was found with his in a Nashville apartment.

And I'm sure we'll all eventually get tired of hearing every tiny angle played up and every detail dissected in much the same way I'm ready for this whole Michael Jackson story to be done and over with.

I hope that as we get every sordid detail dredged up, that we won't forget the player that McNair was on the field. There were so many times when McNair just willed this team to win and made some stunning and spectacular plays that resulted in a crucial first down, a much-needed touchdown or some incredibly needed momentum of the Titans. He was an electric player and one that could really get the fans fired up and going. In his prime, there was no deficit too big for McNair to overcome--or at least that's how it seemed and seems in my memory. I only regret the Titans couldn't win at least a Super Bowl or two with McNair. But I won't forget the Sunday afternoons when he thrilled me with this athletic ability on the field and helped me to come to love the Titans as much as I do today.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Mr. McNair. He will be missed.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/05/2009 07:22:00 AM | |
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
Here's Something I Never Thought I'd Say...
So, it turns out I'm actually missing jogging/running.

I've been in a walking cast the past five or so week with a stress fracture in one of the toes of my left foot. And while I can still swim and use the exercise bike, that's put a damper on my jogging and/or going to ultimate cardio/boot camp.

And I realized the other day that I've kind of been missing both activities.

Which if you'd told me six months ago I'd miss running, I'd have told you were out of your mind.

Hopefully only a little bit longer with the walking cast. I am starting to feel better but I am worried I'll push myself too soon and go back to square one. And since I'd like to participate on the Chick-Fil-A 10 K in September and the Murfreesboro Half Marathon in October, I'd like to not have a relapse.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/01/2009 01:19:00 PM | |
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