Category Archives: Review

Album Review: Girl Going Nowhere By Ashley McBryde

It hasn’t even been out a month but Ashley McBryde’s Girl Going Nowhere album has quickly become one of my favorites. McBryde is an excellent songwriter with a knack for writing relatable songs. When she sings them with her powerful voice magic happens.

I’ll be honest Ashley McBryde wasn’t even on my radar until she stopped by my radio station recently to hang out, share some stories, and sing a few songs. She was funny and engaging. The type of person you’d love to sip some whiskey with around a campfire swapping stories and songs.

McBryde either wrote or co-wrote all 11 songs on her debut album. I thought I’d share a few of my favorites on it.

Girl Going Nowhere – This title track is awesome! It’s a see, I told you I could do it anthem whose message is don’t let anyone step all over your dreams.

Radioland – As a guy who spent a lot of time listening to the radio growing up, there’s a lot in this one that I can relate to.

Southern Babylon – This one is interesting. It’s bluesy, sexy, and seductive. I don’t know of any other female country singer that could pull this one off. McBryde does it effortlessly.

The Jacket – This song’s opening riff reminds me of a Tom Petty song and then it works into a sentimental journey. Makes me wish I had a jacket or two to give to my daughters.

A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega – I love the message of hope in this song. It’s a reminder that bad things don’t always have to end badly. You might have heard this one on the radio as it’s the first single from the album.

Andy (I Can’t Live Without You) – This starts out like a bitter love gone wrong song that eventually works its way into a tender story of real, honest love. With just a guitar to back her up… this one really showcases McBryde’s voice and her ability to tell a story and bring emotion to a song.

El Dorado – This song makes me want to turn the radio up, roll the windows down, and cruise.

What’s your favorite Ashley McBryde song?

If you enjoyed this please share it with your friends:

Review: Les Misérables At Des Moines Performing Arts

One of the things I love most about attending live theatre performances is you never quite know what to expect. Even if it’s a show you know a lot about or seen before, there usually is some aspect of “newness” every time you go.

When my oldest daughter and I attended the April 17, 2018 opening night performance of Les Misérables at Des Moines Civic Center I really didn’t know what to expect.

I knew it was beloved musical and was highly awarded. I also vaguely remembered singing a song or two in high school or college choir… but I couldn’t tell you which songs they were. The story? Couldn’t tell you a thing about it.

What I discovered was a nearly 3-hour performance of a great story and incredible music and acting. Perhaps the most unexpected thing for me about this show was that all the dialogue was sung. I had never experienced that in a theatrical performance before and it was really interesting.

This music in Les Misérables is very powerful, adding to the action on the stage. Many times I couldn’t believe that such a sound was being created by only a handful of people on stage. It really was pretty cool.

As long as I’m touching on the music, the orchestra deserves a special nod.  They provided a flawless live soundtrack for the performers to sing along with.

When looking at the orchestra members listed in the playbill I was surprised at just how few there really were… considering the big sound they produced. It was also nice to see the conductor watching the show and leading the music. For me, it’s not a distraction, but a subtle reminder that “this presentation features live music and acting”.

Nick Cartell, in the role of Jean Valjean, deserves special recognition. His vocal range and performance were spectacular. There was one particular note in the second act that he held for so long it had me wondering, “how is that even possible”?

According to the Des Moines Performing Arts website, “Les Misérables tells an unforgettable story of heartbreak, passion, and the resilience of the human spirit.”  I found this to be true.

If you’re not familiar with the story, like I was, you should plan to arrive a little early to read the show synopsis in the playbill. I read it and was glad I did.  It really helped me follow along with the story. Had I not read it, I think I might have been a little confused.

The scenery and set changes were impressive. Many happened quickly and silently without me noticing as I was focused on the other action taking place on stage.  There were a few special and visual effects that were so impressive they rivaled anything I’ve ever seen on stage before.

The scenery was based on the painting of Victor Hugo, author of the novel this musical was adapted from.

If you’re attending a  performance of Les Misérables you should plan to get there early because the show starts promptly on time.

It’ll also give you time to review the synopsis in the playbill, like previously mentioned, if you aren’t familiar with the storyline or need a refresher.

 Les Misérables, part of the Willis Broadway Series, at Des Moines Performing Arts runs April 17 through April 22, 2018.  You can learn more about the show and get tickets here.

Are you a Les Miz fan? What are your favorite thoughts, moments, or music from the show?

***I was provided with press night tickets for the show to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.***

If you enjoyed this please share it with your friends:

Review: On Your Feet! At Des Moines Performing Arts

I always enjoy Des Moines Performing Arts opening night, date nights with my wife.  We usually grab a quick bite to eat at our favorite Mexican restaurant and then head downtown for the show.

On Your Feet! The Emilio & Gloria Estefan Broadway Musical is the latest show we’ve been invited to and it was the perfect date night.  It’s fast-paced and fun with lots and lots of great singing and dancing.

Throughout the roughly two hour performance, the audience was taken on a musical journey through the life and songs of Emilio and Gloria Estefan.  Going into it I knew very little of their history and could only come up with two Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine songs off the top of my head.

I left with a greater appreciation for their story… and music.  Song after song was an “Oh, yeah!  I forgot about that one!” moment.

As a radio guy, I found it interesting how hard of a time they had trying to get some of their songs played on the radio… and how they went around the system to get them played anyway.

Christie Prades does such a good job channeling the look, sound, and dancing of Gloria Estefan that you’ll quickly forget you’re watching an actress instead of Gloria herself.  I’ve never actually been to a Gloria Estefan concert but can now say I feel like I have.

The rest of the cast and ensemble is equally talented… but I’d like to give a special nod to Debra Cardona in the role of Consuelo (Gloria’s grandmother).  Her stage presence and comedic timing led to some of the funniest moments of the night.

Going into the show I expected the music to be outstanding (it was) but what I didn’t expect is that it would be equally matched by the dancing.  It rivaled and surpassed the dancing of any Des Moines Performing Arts show I’ve seen.  There were some lifts, turns, and choreography that I’d love to see again.  The dancing was that good.

The band should also get special recognition, too.  They don’t just recreate the sound of the Miami Sound Machine… they become them for a couple of hours.  I loved seeing them on stage at various times throughout the performance.

If you’re looking for a great date night show… or one for a night out with friends, On Your Feet! is definitely it. Catch it at the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines through Sunday, February 25, 2018.

You can learn more about On Your Feet! The Emilio & Gloria Estefan Broadway Musical, get tickets and see all the upcoming Willis Broadway Series events here.

***Disclaimer: I was provided press night tickets to facilitate this review.  All opinions are my own.

If you enjoyed this please share it with your friends: