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UB40 to bring Red Red Wine and irie vibes to Broward Center

UB40

By Joanie Cox-Henry

UB40 shot to fame in 1988 when their cover of Neil Diamond’s tune “Red Red Wine” hit No. 1 on the American Billboard charts. Since that iconic single, UB40 went on to sell more than 70 million records globally. Although the original group disbanded in 2008, Ali Campbell, Terence “Astro” Wilson and Mickey Virtue are now back together and on the road again.

“We put out a country album in 2013 and I was wasn’t happy with it. This was the last straw,” Wilson said. “When we started UB40, the whole purpose was to uprise reggae music. This album really stepped away from what we were about.”

The trio then released “Silhouette (The Legendary Voice Of UB40 – Reunited With Astro & Mickey)” in 2014. The cover of the 50’s doowop song originally recorded by The Rays and later Herman’s Hermits, went back to the playful reggae spirit of the band’s roots. “When we choose a cover song to record, they’re typically songs we love and have known forever,” Wilson said. “‘Silhouettes’ was recorded in London and it’s a song we believed the general public would fall in love with as much as we did.”

Although UB40 actually formed in 1979 in Birmingham, England, Wilson said their group and sound really came together organically. “We’re all self-taught,” said Wilson, who also cites the Jackson family, Stevie Wonder and Bob Marley as musical influences. “Gregory Isaacs really inspired us. Everybody established their points and there’s no great mystery to it.”

While UB40 kicked off their tour last November, Wilson is excited to tour North America with the band for the first time in eight years. “I have family in Fort Lauderdale so it’s always a good time when we get to play there,” Wilson said of UB40’s Oct. 24 gig at the Au-Rene Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

The group also enjoys performing at various wineries and of course, sipping “Red Red Wine.”

“We performed at winery tours in New Zealand,” Wilson said. “And we’ve become quite versed with wines. We enjoy all sorts of wine, especially pinot noir.”

Although Wilson admits the music industry has “changed beyond all recognition” since he and UB40 cut their first record, the heart of UB40’s music and message remains the same. “Stay true to yourself and do what you do,” Wilson said. “Reggae is more influential now than ever. The baseline of reggae unifies everyone around the globe. Whether you go to Hawaii, Germany or Sicily, reggae is internationally loved. Being with UB40 again has been fantastic. The chemistry is still there and it’s like we’ve never been apart. There’s no ego and no band politics. We’re surrounded by great musicians and we’re doing what we love to do.”

UB40 performs 8 p.m. Oct. 24 at the Au-Rene Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 S.W. Fifth Avenue in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $30-$60. Call 954-462-0222 or visit Browardcenter.org.

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5 reasons country music needs Brad Paisley now more than ever


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Few artists in country music can combine the magic of pop culture with the rhythm and roots of what makes the genre great. Brad Paisley is the exception. Paisley recently closed the first leg of his Crushin’ It Tour at Perfect Vodka Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach Oct. 3. This was my sixth time seeing Paisley live and his show never disappoints. Paisley pulled from his extensive catalog of hits including “Water,” “Celebrity,” “Beat This Summer,” “Perfect Storm,” “Ticks” and “Old Alabama.” Newcomer Mickey Guyton shined on her “Whiskey Lullaby” duet with Paisley. The angelic-voiced 32-year-old singer also opened for Paisley on this tour alongside Justin Moore, who revealed he just bought a home in Florida.

Here are 5 reasons Paisley is currently country music’s most valuable asset:

1. He is socially aware. Paisley is on top of national news trends as well as cultural issues. His 2009 album, American Saturday Night, was a love letter to the magical melting pot of America’s culture. He is erasing stereotypes in country music one lyric at a time with songs such as “Southern Comfort Zone” and “Accidental Racist,” where he addresses the controversy of the confederate flag, its different meanings and how leaving one’s comfort zone is the only way to grow and experience the world.

2. He’s a techie. Brad has been creating his own animation videos for concerts for years and doesn’t miss the chance to try out a new way to deliver a song. In lieu of a Carrie Underwood hologram he used for previous tours, he now sets up his duet on the road of “Remind Me” with Carrie as a FaceTime call on the big screen behind him. On the Crushin’ It Tour, Paisley also introduced a segment of the show where he invites a fan to come on stage to play Mario Kart. “This is what happens when a bunch of rednecks get a 60 foot television screen,” Paisley joked at the West Palm beach show. He’s also known to take selfies with fans in the middle of song or grab their cell phone or video camera to records some once in a lifetime videos on. 

3. He’s not afraid to break new artists. Paisley always tours with special guests and typically invites these guys to perform a song or two with him during his own set. Paisley has toured with everyone from Taylor Swift and Easton Corbin to Guyton, who rocked Perfect Vodka Amphitheatre Oct. 3.

4. He doesn’t forget where he comes from. For every concert, Paisley always makes a point to travel to the back of the venue to play for the people in back where he said once sat for concerts.

5. He can really play guitar and he never holds back at live shows. While many famous musical artists who are mainly vocalists who use a guitar as a mere prop they occasionally strum melodies on, Paisley really plays his fleet of Fender Telecasters. He’ll throw in random riffs from “Foxy Lady” or “Hot For Teacher” and always uses a bottle of beer to play slide guitar on his usual closing song, “Alcohol.”

The Crushin’ It World tour picks up again Jan. 21, 2016 in Arkansas. 

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Lana Del Rey delivers hauntingly delightful set at Coral Sky Amphitheatre while the selfie generation photographs themselves watching the show

IMG_8906I’m not old but I sure felt like it last night. Lana Del Rey made her last stop on The Endless Summer Tour at Coral Sky Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach, Fla. June 16. The crowd was much younger than I expected. Hundreds of sweaty, half-dressed teenage girls meandered through the packed venue. Hippy-chic halter tops, ridiculously short denim cut-offs and crowns of flowers in their hair was the uniform for last night. I had never seen a live performance of Del Rey before. I also may have been the only person who never saw her SNL debacle of a live performance. I did Google it on YouTube today. Thankfully, none of what she did on SNL transpired on stage last night.

Del Rey was cooler, much more confident and belted out crowd favorites such as “Born To Die,” “Serial Killer,” “Summertime Sadness” and “Off To The Races.” Her mesmerizing live rendition of “Shades of Cool” proved there’s 50 shades of Rey we still haven’t seen.

The median age of Del Rey fans in the section me and my friend Kari Barnett were sitting was age 15. I didn’t feel old because I was surrounded by teenagers smoking cheap weed and wearing skimpy get ups from Forever 21. I felt old because I couldn’t relate to anything they were doing. There was an opening act called Grimes who no one in my section had ever heard of. Throughout their entire set, the teen girls around me took selfies on their iPhones. They posed provocatively, then cutesy, then cheerful, then somber. Almost every girl’s iPhone had a cracked screen and some of the girls were taking shots of each other’s butt cheeks spilling out of their cut-off shorts. This went on and on and on. Just as one would put their phone in their back pocket, another one would pull their phone out to relaunch the photo shoot. It’s like they’re their own paparazzi. But to watch the power social media has over this generation is fascinating. In fact, at times I was more intrigued with watching the crowd than the performance. It was incredibly distracting. Del Rey’s songs became a soundtrack for this social media festival.

I come from an era where cameras were forbidden in a venue. If you got caught snapping a photo or attempting to film the show, you’d get a warning and if you repeatedly did it, you’d eventually get kicked out.

With nearly every concert-goer these days having a smart phone with a camera, it’s impossible to stop anyone from bringing in a camera into a show. And why would an artist want to stop concert-goers from doing this now? With hashtags, it’s a media explosion. It’s free publicity. The hype keeps you relevant.

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When Del Rey finally took the stage, they screamed with glee but never actually put the phones down. Now, they faced the phones toward Del Rey and watched the concert through the iPhones. During the songs they didn’t recognize or care for, the iPhones were then flipped back in their own direction to capture more candid selfies. Some girls just ran the video recorder for the majority of the set, as they swayed back and forth and captured a bunch of shaky, unwatchable footage. The point wasn’t to actually enjoy the show. They want to film themselves “enjoying” it.

I am in awe of “Generation selfie.” These kids are operating with a completely different set of social skills and a totally new way of communicating. It doesn’t actually matter unless it’s been captured on social media. So here I was sitting in this venue where I was once their age. Ironically, after switching its name to Mars to Sound Advice to Cruzan, it’s back to being called “Coral Sky” again just like when I was a teen.

And all I could think was, thank God there was no such thing as a selfie when I was 15-years-old sitting in Coral Sky watching Live, Barenaked Ladies and Aerosmith shows. I still had my innocence. I watched the show and held onto every lyric like my life depended on it. It was just me, my best friends and the sweaty, music-soaked memories made under the awning at Coral Sky that only exist now in our hearts. We had quarters for the pay phone to call our moms when the show was over. I had a Sony Ericsson flip phone that was purely to let my mom know when I was leaving the show. My primitive cell phone didn’t take pictures or text and I am so thankful for that. What happened at Coral Sky stayed at Coral Sky. For Generation Selfie, freedom is more of an illusion. When parents can use hashtags to look up images of their kids at last night’s show maybe it’s not so cool anymore.

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