Today I Ran

Monday I cried. Tuesday I reflected. Today I ran.

I ran for my city. I ran for the victims and their families. I ran for the first responders. I ran for the police officer directing traffic on the corner of Commonwealth and Massachusetts Avenues who saluted me for lacing up my sneakers. I ran for the man in a suit who high-fived me as I crossed the Bay State footbridge. I ran for the hundreds of other runners I passed wearing blue and yellow.

I’m a writer. It’s what I do; it’s who I am. But today is the first time I’ve been able to write about the act of terrorism that rocked the city I love on Monday afternoon. It took today’s afternoon run for me to be able to sort through my thoughts on the events that transpired on Monday.

Patriots Day is Boston’s day. It the one day a year the entire world is watching and we step up to show the world the incredible city we are. It’s the one day a year I’m woken up by a flyover. It’s the one day a year the Red Sox game is over before lunch. Patriot’s Day will never be the same.

I don’t feel safe. I’m jumpy, nervous. The National Guard members walking down my street with assault rifles don’t comfort me. What comforts me is the images of the amazing people who ran towards the explosions, the first responders who saved lives, the journalists who were on the scene, my friends, family and university that came together to offer love, compassion and solitude.

Boston stepped up. Hundreds have offered places to stay, food, money, blood and their prayers to help those in need. The events of Monday rocked our city; it rocked our city to the core and awaked the heroes within all of us.

One of my friends is a nursing co-op who works in the emergency room at Massachusetts General Hospital. On Monday afternoon she was volunteering at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. She watched the explosion and immediately went into action, helping the first responders care for victims. When the volunteers were sent home she changed and went to MGH to work an eight-hour shift in the ER on her day off. That’s just one person, just one story.

Today I ran and I felt comforted. I felt safe. I felt a part of something bigger than myself. This city has not been defeated. Boston is strong. Boston will continue to step up while the world is watching. Boston is a family. Boston is my home.

Tomorrow, I will run again.

2013 ACM Awards Performers Announced

The Academy of Country Music has announced the first round of performers for the 2013 ACM Awards to be held in Las Vegas on April 7.

The Band Perry, Hunter Hayes, Miranda Lambert, Kelly Clarkson and George Strait are all set to perform. Co-hosts Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan will also sing, in addition to hosting.

The awards will be broadcast live on CBS at 8 p.m. EST on April 7.

Eric Church leads the nominees with seven nods.

Luke Bryan’s Spring Break…Here To Party Available Today

Luke Bryan’s newest album “Spring Break…Here To Party” is now available online and in stores.

The album is the first full collection of Bryan’s Spring Break-themed singles and includes all the tracks from Spring Break 1-4 as well as two new singles.

“Spring Break…Here To Party” is available on iTunes for $9.99. We’ll have a review of the album in the next few days.

Along with the album, Bryan also released the official music video for the new single “Buzzkill.”

Here’s a track list of the singles on “Spring Break…Here to Party”, with the Spring Break album they originally appeared on in parentheses.

1) Suntan City (Spring Break 4…Suntan City)
2) Just a Sip (Spring Break…Here to Party)
3) Buzzkill (Spring Break…Here to Party)
4) If You Ain’t Here to Party (Spring Break 3…It’s a Shore Thing)
5) Little Bit Later On (Spring Break 4…Suntan City)
6) In Love With The Girl (Spring Break 3…It’s a Shore Thing)
7) Shore Thing (Spring Break 3…It’s a Shore Thing)
8) Sorority Girl (Demo) (Spring Break With All My Friends)
9) Shake the Sand (Spring Break 4…Suntan City)
10) Love In a College Town (Spring Break 3…It’s A Shore Thing)
11) Wild Weekend (Spring Break 2…Hungover Edition)
12) Cold Beer Drinker (Spring Break 2…Hungover Edition)
13) Spring Break-Up (Spring Break 4…Suntan City)
14) Take My Drunk Ass Home (Demo) (Sprung Break With All My Friends)

Bryan’s single “All My Friends Say” was originally included on “Spring Break with All My Friends” before being included on his second album “I’ll Stay Me.” “Faded Away” which is a track on “Tailgates & Tanlines” was also originally recorded as a Spring Break themed EP.

2013 Academy of Country Music Awards Nominations and Predictions

Wednesday morning, the Academy of Country Music Association announced the nominees for the 2013 ACM Awards, to be held April 7 at 8 p.m. EST at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Before we get to the nominees and predictions, here’s a run down of the event. This year’s show will be hosted by Luke Byran and Blake Shelton (both nominated for Entertainer of the Year) and will be broadcast live on CBS at 8 p.m. EST. The ACM Awards are fan-voted and the voting will start on March 25 at VoteACM.com.

Eric Church leads the pack with seven nominations, while Hunter Hayes received six and Miranda Lambert and Taylor Swift both pulled in five nominations. The full list of nominees and my early predictions are available below, but let’s make some overarching claims now.

Prediction: Taylor Swift won’t win anything.
Reasoning: While Swift is a two-time winner of both the Female Vocalist of the Year and Entertainer of the Year crowns, she hasn’t been very big on country radio this year – at least not compared to the past. You can’t forget that this is a fan voted award, and country music fans know T-Swift isn’t country. There are too many really good female stars right now (Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood) for her to compete. Her Grammy performance last weekend isn’t going to help her cause either.

Prediction: Luke Bryan will win his first major award.
Reasoning: Luke Bryan has only ever lost one fan voted award and his album Tailgates and Tanlines was HUGE this year. It helps that he’s hosting the show and his face will be all over the advertisements. It also helps that’s he’s currently out on a nearly sold-out tour and fans are looking forward to seeing him in his first headlining experience this year, keeping him fresh on voters minds as they hit the polls. He’s had some of the biggest fan support of a country star in recent memory and his cross-over appeal will certainly help with the less-than-diehard voters. Oh, and those hips, let’s not forget those hips.

Here’s the rest of the nominees and predictions:

Entertainer of the Year
Jason Aldean
Luke Bryan
Miranda Lambert
Blake Shelton
Taylor Swift
Prediction: Miranda Lambert.
Reasoning: Husband Blake Shelton won it last year and just hasn’t had as many hits to follow up for two in a row. While I think Luke Bryan will come close, Lambert has been on top of country music all year and is continuing to pump out big hits as the time for voting rolls around.

Male Vocalist of the Year
Jason Aldean
Luke Bryan
Eric Church
Toby Keith
Blake Shelton
Prediction: Luke Bryan.
Reasoning: If this wasn’t a fan voted award, I think Eric Church would probably take the category, but fans love Bryan and his supporters will come out in full swing to vote.

Female Vocalist of the Year
Miranda Lambert
Martina McBride
Kacey Musgraves
Taylor Swift
Carrie Underwood
Prediction: Miranda Lambert.
Reasoning: Pretty much for the same reasons as mentioned in the Entertainer of the Year category. Carrie Underwood close second.

Vocal Duo of the Year
Big & Rich
Florida Georgia Line
Love and Theft
Sugarland
Thompson Square
Prediction: Thompson Square.
Reasoning: This one is really a toss up. I think country music’s biggest fans right now are too young to vote Big & Rich but a newcomer like Love and Theft, Thompson Square or Florida Georgia Line would be surprising. But then again, Sugarland hasn’t been very big this year.

Vocal Group of the Year
The Band Perry
Eli Young Band
Lady Antebellum
Little Big Town
Zac Brown Band
Prediction: Zac Brown Band.
Reasoning: This will be a very interesting category. The Band Perry has enjoyed big success, but I don’t think they can pull off the win in the same way that “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” and “Say Goodbye” aren’t big enough hits to carry the Eli Young Band to the title. Little Big Town won a Grammy for Pontoon, but that’s their only big song. Zac Brown Band has staying power and has released a slew of hits this year.

New Male Vocalist of the Year
Lee Brice
Brantley Gilbert
Hunter Hayes
Prediction: Brantley Gilbert.
Reasoning; Gilbert is country to his roots and I think we’ll see him get rewarded for that. Hayes has gotten a lot of accolades for being so young with two big hits, but he hasn’t impressed in live performances. Gilbert has some great songs out right now and he’s on the road with Tim McGraw, so that helps.

New Female Vocalist of the Year
Jana Kramer
Kacey Musgraves
Sunny Sweeney
Prediction: Jana Kramer.
Reasoinging: Kacey Musgraves has made waves with “Merry-Go-Round”, but Jana Kramer had a monster hit with “Why You Wanna” and her second single, “Whiskey” has gotten decent radio play. Let’s also not forget she played Alex on One Tree Hill and will gather a lot of votes for that familiarity.

New Vocal Duo or Group of the Year
Florida Georgia Line
Love and Theft
Thompson Square
Prediction: Thompson Square.
Reasoning: Both Thompson Square and Florida Georgia Line are on tour with Luke Bryan right now and both have a good shot at this award. In the end, I think Thompson Sqaure’s three hit singles (“Are You Going to Kiss Me or Not,” “Glass,” and “If I Didn’t Have You”) to FGL’s one (“Cruise”)  is going to be the difference.

New Artist of the Year
Florida Georgia Line
Brantley Gilbert
Jana Kramer
Prediction: This is a category I think we might see FGL take home.
Reasoning: “Cruise” was a huge hit and resonated far beyond the country charts. Gilbert and Kramer are both serious contenders though.

Album of the Year
Blown Away, Carrie Underwood (19/Arista Nashville, produced by Mark Bright)
Chief, Eric Church (EMI-Nashville, prod. by Jay Joyce)
Red, Taylor Swift (Big Machine Records, prod. by Jeff Bhasker, Nathan Chapman, Dann Huff, Jacknife Lee, Max Martin, Shellback, Taylor Swift, Butch Walker, Dan Wilson)
Tailgates & TanlinesLuke Bryan (Capitol Nashville, produced by Mark Bright, Jeff Stevens)
Tornado, Little Big Town (Capitol Nashville, prod. by Jay Joyce)
Prediction: Tailgates & TanlinesLuke Bryan.
Reasoning: Again, Bryan gets the fans votes consistently and he had four huge singles off this album. It definitely helps that he’s on tour right now. Eric Church will be a close second.

Single Record of the Year
“Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” Eli Young Band
“Over You,” Miranda Lambert
“Pontoon,” Little Big Town
“Springsteen,” Eric Church
“Wanted,” Hunter Hayes
Prediction: “Springsteen” Eric Church.
Reasoning: “Pontoon” was easily the country song of summer this year and “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” is everyone’s favorite song, but “Springsteen” has staying power. When summer is over and you’ve heard the single 8,000 times on the radio, you still don’t touch that dial.

Song of the Year
“A Woman Like You,” Lee Brice
“Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” Eli Young Band
“Over You,” Miranda Lambert
“Springsteen,” Eric Church
“Wanted,” Hunter Hayes
Prediction: It’s easy to give this one to Church for “Springsteen” again, but I think “Over You” by Miranda Lambert is going to take it.
Reasoning: Everyone knows the story behind “Over You” and no one can deny its emotion. After Lambert and Shelton’s acceptance speech at the CMA Awards a few months back, fans will want to see more of the same.

Songwriter of the Year
Rodney Clawson
Dallas Davidson
Josh Kear
Luke Laird
Shane McAnally
Prediction: This is kind of a silly category for a fan voted award, because let’s be real, most fans have never heard of any of these songwriters. I’m giving it to Rodney Clawson for writing “Drunk on You” (the only song on Tailgates and Tanlines Luke Bryan didn’t write), “Did It For the Girl,” Feels Like a Rockstar” and “Get Your Shine On.”

Video of the Year
“Creepin’,” Eric Church
“Merry Go ‘Round,” Kacey Musgraves
“Tornado,” Little Big Town
“Wanted,” Hunter Hayes
“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” Taylor Swift
“The Wind,” Zac Brown Band
Prediction” “The Wind” by Zac Brown Band.
Reasoning: It was so weird, it has to win, right?

Vocal Event of the Year
“Don’t Rush,” Kelly Clarkson Featuring Vince Gill
“Easy,” Rascal Flatts Featuring Natasha Bedingfield
“Feel Like A Rock Star,” Kenny Chesney (Duet With Tim McGraw)
“Let It Rain,” David Nail Featuring Sarah Buxton
“The Only Way I Know,” Jason Aldean With Luke Bryan & Eric Church
Prediction: “Feel Like A Rock Star,” Kenny Chesney (Duet With Tim McGraw)
Reasoning: Two of the biggest names to every play country music come together, produce one hell of a song that they sing every night on tour – I don’t see Chesney and McGraw losing this one. However, I’ll be honest, I’m pulling for buddies Aldean, Bryan and Church because I think that would be one of the most entertaining acceptances ever.

We’ll have more information here as presenters and performers get announced and obviously post-award show recap, where we’ll see how these predictions stood up.

Country takes a backseat at People’s Choice Awards

It wasn’t such a great night for country music at the People’s Choice Awards, held at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles last night.

As the fan-voted winners were announced, country music stars inevitably took a back seat to their pop counter parts.

Blake Shelton was the only country singer nominated in the Favorite Male Artist category and he lost out to Jason Mraz. Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift were both nominated for Favorite Female Artist, but Katy Perry took home that prize.

Underwood’s newest platinum-selling album “Blown Away,” was up for Favorite Album was British pop group and obsession of teen girls everywhere, One Direction took the win with their album “Up All Night.”

One Direction also beat out Swift in the Favorite Song category with “What Makes You Beautiful” coming out ahead of Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”

The only all-country category was Favorite Country Artist, which was taken by the not-so-country-anymore Swift. Also nominated were Underwood, Shelton, Jason Aldean and Tim McGraw.

Shelton’s reality singing competition show, “The Voice,” on which he serves as a judge and mentor, was nominated for Favorite Competition TV Show, but lost out to the similarly-formatted show “The X Factor.”

The one moment where country music took center stage was when Aldean performed his biggest hit, “My Kind of Party.”

The event was hosted by Kaley Cuoco for CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory.” Over 475 million votes were cast, breaking previous records.

Luke Bryan to host 48th Annual ACM Awards alongside Blake Shelton

After a week of furiously checking twitter and promoting the Academy of Country Music’s twitter contest, we’ve finally found out who is going to join Blake Shelton in hosting the 48th Annual ACM Awards.

And the winner is…Luke Bryan!

It’s no surprise I was secretly hoping Bryan would be the winner and after his successful hosting debut of the Country Music Association’s Country’s Night To Rock this past fall, it shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Bryan is easily the fastest rising star in Country music and his cross-over appeal must have been a factor in the ACM selecting him to help host the show.

This will be the third consecutive year reigning ACM Male Vocalist of the Year Blake Shelton hosts the show.

Other details about the awards show are minimal. The event will take place on April 7, 2013 at 8 p.m. eastern time at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. It will be broadcast live on CBS on the east coast and will be tape-delayed for those watching on the west coast.

The nominees have yet to be announced and information on performers is forthcoming.

The Academy hosted a twitter contest in order to reveal the votes, requiring 25,000 fans to tweet a pre-written promotional tweet for the show. The promotion started slow, but picked up a ton of steam at the end, gaining almost 15,000 tweets in the last 48 hours.

Once again, the Academy will make it a week long series of events as they host ACM Fan Jam Sunday, April 7th at the Orleans Arena, hosted by Brad Paisley. The organization will also take it’s tradition of filming a concert series to go along with the show into its fifth year. The concert will take place on April 8, and will be broadcast at a later date on CBS. Information on performers are forthcoming and all ticket proceeds with benefit the ACM’s charity Lifting Lives.

 

The Boston Globe trying out new media model with RadioBDC

Henry Santoro and Julie Kramer sit in the RadioBDC studios in Boston Globe headquarters on Morrissey Boulevard DJing their morning show. Kramer comments on how Santoro won’t go see The Nutcracker with her and within minutes listeners are tweeting at her, telling her they’d love to go with her.

That type of consumer response is exactly what Boston.com was looking for when they developed the business model for RadioBDC, an alternative music radio station streaming online through Boston.com. The business model is new to the newspaper market and was an experiment The Boston Globe has decided to run with.

“The landscape is changing, and a lot of these print entities are having to do more and more to kind of retain readers because people aren’t going and buying newspapers anymore,” said Adam Chapman, a DJ for the station known as “Adam 12.”

RadioBDC came about after WFNX was dismantled by the Boston Phoenix. All at once there was an entire staff of people out of work and a hole in the Boston music market. Boston.com picked up the pieces and took advantage.

“What happened in this market was really unique. It was almost like we have a perfect storm,” said Jane Bowman, executive director of sales development for Boston Globe Media.

However, the market isn’t completely open for RadioBDC’s taking. WFNX was streaming online prior to it going off the air and has continued provide music online for its listeners. The station also recently hired new on-air talent to help relaunch the station.

Both WFNX and RadioBDC are alternative radio stations streaming online, bringing with it some competition.

Kurt St. Thomas, executive director of WFNX.com, has recently returned to The Phoenix and WFNX to oversee its relaunch. He said in an e-mail interview that the FM signal was sold because it wasn’t generating enough revenue operate, but the company decided to keep the station going online to “continue the great legacy and continue to do it without the restraints of the FCC.”

As for the competition Radio BDC poses to WFNX.com, St. Thomas isn’t concerned.

“There is no competition,” he said. “We play Japandroids and they play Coldplay. It’s a totally different approach and attitude.”

So far RadioBDC has found a listener-base for Coldplay.

Bowman said research showed that Boston.com visitors were 62 percent more likely to listen to alternative rock than the average person listening to a traditional radio station, and with a new need for that type of station in the market, it was the perfect opportunity to launch the online radio station.

The radio arm of the Boston Globe media empire has not only brought additional an additional audience to the Boston Globe entities, but also new advertisers. Chapman said beer advertisers, who don’t have a place in a print newspaper or on many of the Boston.com web pages, have come aboard with RadioBDC.

“We’ve seen a lot of new advertisers come in,” Chapman said. “And we’ve been able to utilize our contacts from WFNX and bring them over to Boston.com.”

Bowman has also seen a rise in advertisement sales and has noticed trends that advertisers purchasing time on RadioBDC are also buying space on Boston.com, BostonGlobe.com, the Globe’s pay-for website and the print editions of the daily newspaper.

“We have gotten new advertisers to come on with us and what we are finding is they are buying our other products as well,” Bowman said. “We also have the brand name of being Boston.com and the Boston Globe and I think that gave us some credibility.”

In order for the advertisers to keep purchasing time on the station, RadioBDC consistently needs to be bringing in listeners and engaging consumers. “So far, so good,” on that end says Santoro.

“We’ve really been able to bring over our listeners from WFNX, while also engaging the Boston.com audience,” he said. “Our listener base is continuing to grow and we’re finding ourselves very successful so far.”

The DJs at RadioBDC use social media platforms to connect with audiences and to promote events and live concerts held in their studios. One of the station’s premier events is “Live in the Lab,” where bands come straight into the Globe Media Lab and play live to a small group of fans while the event is streamed live online.

So far, the station has hosted such groups as Gaslight Anthem and the Lumineers. Recently, RadioBDC created a stir when they announced The Dropkick Murphy’s would be taking part in the event on December 6.

“The listeners are our friends and we are their friends,” said Santoro. “They are the ones tuning in, coming to “Live in the Lab” and packing venues when we host our events. We have a focus on the listeners and a focus on advertising.”

The event is open to a select group of listeners who have the opportunity to come into the Globe office and see the intimate concert. It’s also streamed online for all listeners to take part in.

RadioBDC has another advantage, which is being in the Boston Globe newsroom. The radio studios are located just down the hall from the newsroom and sports department, which Bowman said can only serve the radio station in a positive way.

“The day we launched was the day Johnny Pesky, the Red Sox legend, died,” she said. “We were able to call over to the sports department and ask if the editor [Joe Sullivan] could come on air.

“All he had to do was walk down the hall, do a two-minute segment on air and then walk back to his desk. You can’t beat that kind of access.”

Santoro also points to the benefit the proximity to the news department can have on breaking news stories.

“If something happens, all you have to do is have one of the reporters working on the story come to the studio and give a quick update,” he said. “We can tell the story as it’s happening.”

Having launched only recently, on Aug. 12, the station has a small sample size to measure success. But Bowman said that all indications are that the station will continue to grow and prove to be a successful business venture for the Boston Globe.

“I think we’re a tiny bit ahead of the curve,” Bowman said. “I think our listener base will continue to grow as the habit of listening to music online continues to grow.”

RadioBDC isn’t the only place to find great music in Boston. Most area colleges have multiple a cappella groups which put together multiple performances throughout the semester. Click the photo below to check out a gallery from Northeastern University’s Treble on Huntington’s winter showcase. 

Click the photo for more pictures.

Click the photo for more pictures.

Alternative radio and live a cappella aren’t the only popular types of music in Boston or the northeast. Watch the video below for a younger generation’s view on how and why country music is becoming more popular in the northeast.