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14 December 2011 @ 08:30 pm
Bp's Musical Picks of 2011  
Happy Holidays!

The annual tradition continues! My brother and I started creating end of the year lists many moons ago as kids, compiling what we thought were the best albums released that particular year. Of course my list usually included everything that he had purchased that I liked. Now our lists are quite different. These days, his veers into the Country realm mixed with American rock, while mine usually turns out to be a mixture of singer-songwriter and hard-rock/metal. This year is no different for me and the albums on the top of my list fall into those categories. The top three have all been neck-and-neck for the pole position for weeks, and they are all very different from each other. On one hand you have a singer-songwriter duo from Vermont rooted deeply in acoustic folk with a very organic harmonic sound, on the other hand you have a California-based artist with an eye on making an album that captures the essence of timeless albums from the '80s, and on the third hand (if you have a third hand) a Dutch hard-rock/metal band fronted by an amazingly talented female vocalist with a great deal of drama and some bombast thrown in for good measure. I've lived with two of the three for much of the year and they’ve been favorites all year. The third is equally amazing, but a recent release and I wish I had more time with it because I feel it might have given the other two more of a fight for their positions. It was released in October and I feel it's still revealing its layers to me.

Late in the year releases from Kate Bush and Kelly Clarkson also were tough to get a handle on where they fit into the list, but neither could crack the Top 20 in their short time in my ears.

Overall I thought 2011 was a great year for music with a lot of releases from some of my favorite artists as well as some brand new musical discoveries for me (including Dawes, Civil Wars, and Gretchen Menn). If I was stuck on an island with the top 5 I'd be very happy for a long time. If I was stranded with the Top 8 on my list I'd be set for a year. Those eight combine for a wonderfully diverse collection of albums and something for every mood and listening desire. I realize that most of it will be a series of head-scratchers for many as even among industry folks, they aren't well-known names (unless you are up on my Song of the Week posts that is), but they are absolutely stunning artists and defining works.

Speaking of industry folks, as always, my utmost thanks to everyone who kept my ears occupied not only this year, but the 12-years that I was at TW. It was an amazing experience and I was fortunate to cross paths with a lot of amazing people and it's you who I miss the most. You taught me so much and your passion for the music was always inspiring. Thanks you so much!

And speaking of inspiring, here's a wonderful little clip of Matt Nathanson talking about music and a passionate suggestion to a gathering of fans at an in-store earlier this year. I love Matt and this just made me love what he stands for even more. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-TMntRQG6U (feel free to listen to the song after the 'speech' if you want).

Ok, time to put the tissues away and get to the music! Compiled from over 200 records released this year (I know, not quite as comprehensive of a listening list this year) is my list of musical picks of 2011!

I threw my list from 10 years ago at the end of this list just for fun (just the list, not the detailed descriptions). 2001 was the year of U2 and Tara MacLean for me as they helped make sense of a pretty crazy world at that point in time. It's fun to look back and see what was moving my ears back then.

These annual lists are not only fun to come up with and provide a time capsule that's a blast to look back on over time, but as a champion for great music, they provide me with an outlet to highlight some artists and musicians that you, the reader, might not have encountered before. As I mentioned earlier, many of these you won't be familiar with, but don't fear what you haven't heard, embrace it and give it a try! Read a little bit about the albums, click some links, experience the tunes, let them wash over you, run through you, amaze you, move you, and resonate within you.


Bp's Musical Picks of 2011

1.) Matt Nathanson: Modern Love [Vanguard/EMD]
One of my most anticipated listens of the year, and it didn't disappoint. While most think that "Come On Get Higher" (his 'hit' from a couple years back) was from his first album, the new disc is actually his 7th. A host of diverse textures, it's always fresh sounding, even after dozens of listens, or hundreds in my case. From the pop-perfection of the first single "Faster," to the tender, delicate intimacy of "Kept," and the guitar riff heavy "Queen of (K)nots," its depth and dimension helps keep it interesting. The album also includes some of my favorite songs of the year, "Run" with Sugarland (see my Song of the Week entry about this gem), "Mercy" a groovin' dirty acoustic guitar riff rocker, and the aforementioned beauty of "Kept" with a guitar and vocal performance that are stunning.
"I won't be there when the luck runs out, I won't be there when the word gets round, 'cause you're someone else's baby, you're someone else's crazy now" (Queen of (K)nots)
Key tracks:
Run: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tp5UjQy87XA
Kept: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gYwA-7LeD4
Mercy (live): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0C2d5WYaaM
Faster: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyjQFdeFox8&ob=av2e
Drop to Hold You: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-ha9ptqUx4
Matt discusses each song on the album in detail: http://www.amazon.com/Matt-Nathanson/e/B000APOBD2/ref=ac_dpt_sa_videos
"Run" Song of the Week entry: http://squintyt4e.livejournal.com/34437.html

2.) Within Temptation: The Unforgiving [Roadrunner Records/WEA]
Late last year Within Temptation released a video for "Where is the Edge" and I was immediately hooked on the cut, but what would the rest of the album hold? It's been a few years since the last WT record and my expectations were high for the March 2011 release. Sharon den Adel has the best female voice in hard rock/metal, hands down. The combination of her voice and the bands' powerful, melodic, and dynamic songs is hard to beat. The album is a slight departure for them with a slight lean towards more accessible and listener friendly songs (including the disco-metal stomp, "Sinead"), but the power and WT sound has not been compromised, just enhanced.
"She's lost in the darkness fading away, I'm still around here screaming her name, she's haunting my dreamworld trying to survive, my heart is frozen I'm losing my mind, help me I'm buried alive..."
Key tracks:
Lost: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBtufHCIBiA
Iron: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkrDXnigZWI
Faster: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvaPMNq4Ey0
Where is the Edge: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qP22G2PJKQ
"Lost" Song of the Week entry: http://squintyt4e.livejournal.com/31874.html

3.) Last October: Last October [lastoctober]
This album just gets better and better with each listen. It sounds as if James Kinne and Erica Stroem have been working together all of their lives as opposed to just a year. The two singer-songwriters, residing in Vermont, unexpectedly found a songwriting partnership spark that ignited a very creative run of material in October of 2010 (hence the name of the project). Their voices weave in and out of each other, never overpowering, always enhancing one another's instrument. The album is a celebration of enjoying the here and now, the joyous reward for travels down an unpaved road. It's a journey we're lucky enough to go on with them, and we are all better for having taken the ride.
"Deep in the woods in the freshly fallen snow, Lie two tracks in sync towards the unknown, Feeling life in a way we'd almost forgot, As the things behind us can't equal what we've got" (Down This Road)
Key tracks:
Catch a Moment: http://www.reverbnation.com/play_now/song_9976501
An Angel's Touch: http://www.reverbnation.com/play_now/song_9918997
Down This Road: http://www.reverbnation.com/play_now/song_9976479
Work in Progress: http://www.reverbnation.com/play_now/song_9976512
"Catch a Moment" Song of the Week entry: http://squintyt4e.livejournal.com/37096.html

4.) The Heartbroken: Tonight Tonight [The Heartbroken]
From Eastern Canada it's the best roots-country/rock album of the year (better than anything I heard come out of Nashville this year, this is consistently brilliant from stem to stern). When I was in Toronto in '09 for Tara MacLean's album release show, I met the lovely Damhnait Doyle. She was telling my friend Greg and I about a new group she had formed and how excited she was about it. This album is the result. Dav has an amazing vocal tone, but when combined with drummer Blake Manning, they just soar together. Stuart Cameron's guitar work is worthy of note as well, and Peter Fusco lays a nice thick bass groove with Manning. This has been a constant in the rotation all year long.
"You're so perfect in so many ways, I couldn't help myself, if you were standing in front of me, I'd have to stitch my heart so that it wouldn't bleed, I couldn't trust myself, if you were lying in my arms I'd just screw it up like I did before..." (Couldn't Help Myself)
Key tracks:
Save Yourself (live): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LI_jAJvjhRI
Couldn't Help Myself (live): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdAZQKfyF74
Same Mood Today (live): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GqXdT6gk5k
Laid to Waste (live): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_b2yqDiajiY
The Truth (live): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsrEx5_FRgU
"Save Yourself/Couldn't Help Myself" Song of the Week entry: http://squintyt4e.livejournal.com/31352.html

5.) Dawes: Nothing is Wrong [ATO Records/RED]
I had listened a couple times and put it on the 'continued listening' shelf until I heard "Time Spent in Los Angeles" at our convention during a break in meetings. The chorus hooked me and I wrote it down to google. I haven't stopped listening to the album since. I just needed the door to open a little bit more than it had originally. Some great lyrics, stunning harmonies, expert songwriting, and an all around fabulous record! You'll find something new on each listen that tickles and entices.
“When it hits me that she’s gone I think I’ll be an astronaut, make the moon my home and leave the Earth behind, so when she steps out into the night and finds the light that makes her prettiest, she’ll be facing me every time she shines...” (Million Dollar Bill)
Key tracks:
Time Spent in Los Angeles: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=KtxKFpJ39HM
Million Dollar Bill: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hf3co_Rz2hk
So Well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scLkk7MMxgM
If I Wanted Someone (live): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZJWeFU9gA4
"Time Spent in Los Angeles" Song of the Week entry: http://squintyt4e.livejournal.com/36735.html

6.) Anna Nalick: Broken Doll and Odds & Ends [Nyctograph Records]
It's been a long and winding road to the release of this album from Anna. Her debut was first released in 2005 (reissued in 2006) and then she was one of many artists who were caught in the tangled web of record label confusion and re-organization. She's now fully independent and this started as a more acoustic based collection as a predecessor to a full blown record in 2012. But she had so much fun with the band that this became a little bit more than a simple stop-gap. It's great to hear her songwriting and voice again. It's been far too long and she doesn't disappoint with a stylistically diverse group of tracks (not wildly diverse, but tastefully different). There are some absolute gems on the album, stunning, haunting, soul-strengthening songs. However, she also gets the award for the worst front and back album cover of the year as well.
“I’m not going home without you, I’ll save your life, not going home without you, I’ll make this right, and wait all night, if that’s what it takes…” (Scars)
Key tracks:
Scars (live): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_C6bo339fzo
Walk Away (live): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZ0dJfJag-E
These Old Wings: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZxmFzjDqjM
"Words" Song of the Week entry: http://squintyt4e.livejournal.com/35096.html

7.) John Wesley: The Lilypad Suite [John Wesley Music/Madfish/eOne]
At Wes' core he is a singer/songwriter creating honest, real life lyrics and melodies that are presented within a rock arena. While the musical styles differ slightly, in my mind he reminds me of Springsteen in his ability to reach deep to present songs that are deeply personal (either about his life directly or those around him) and yet universal. The relationships he writes about and the struggles within are unique, but absolutely relatable on many different levels.
Wes on the album: "The Lilypad Suite is a collection of songs inspired by the struggle of a young girl to come to terms with the absence of her father. The character of “lilypad” is an amalgam of several people who, through the years, have shared with me the stories of their journeys from loss into understanding."
Key Tracks:
Firelight: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r98Cx0a5LN0
A Glittery Nothing (live): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJMkdLDLrDI
Still Waiting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ey71v1aEbPQ
"Firelight" Song of the Week entry: http://squintyt4e.livejournal.com/32506.html

8.) The Civil Wars: Barton Hollow [sensibility]
The chemistry between Joy Williams and John Paul White is unmistakable and discussed in almost every interview I've come across. Their spouses are incredibly supportive. Paired-up for a songwriting session the musical sparks started to fly and the result was Barton Hollow, an intimate and introspective look at the many facets of relationships and their pitfalls (hence the band name).
“You only know what I want you to” / “I know everything you don’t want me to” / “Your mouth is poison, your mouth is wine” / “You think your dreams are the same as mine” / “I don’t love you, but I always will...”
Key tracks:
Poison & Wine: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfzRlcnq_c0
Barton Hollow (live): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDXmj2n0ey0
Forget Me Not (live): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=014z_6iamEw
"Poison & Wine" Song of the Week entry: http://squintyt4e.livejournal.com/33250.html

9.) Mr. Big: What If [Frontiers/EMD]
Back after too long away, the original line-up sounds as tight as ever. Produced by Kevin Shirley, known for his 'full band playing live in the studio' recordings, he captures the classic Mr. Big essence on a fantastic set of songs. Amazingly talented musicians, kept in check by well-constructed, harmony and melody laden songs. Welcome back, Mr. Big!
Key tracks:
Undertow: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHGv5FCS2j8
I Won't Get in My Way: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWgMsg_2bT4
As Far as I can See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MkKbhiNXw0
Stranger In My Life: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgcfsbGFpdY
"Undertow" Song of the Week entry: http://squintyt4e.livejournal.com/31063.html

10.) Journey: Eclipse [Nomota LLC]
This is Neal Schon's album. His guitar presence is right at the forefront and he riffs and wails all over it. Arnel Pinada does a fantastic job vocally on some very tough and reaching material. Deen Castronovo is a drumming powerhouse, Ross Valory keeps the bass solid and Jonathan Cain provides some keys, but a lot of spiritual themes lyrically. It's a hopeful, positive, and uplifting album dripping with melody and great hard rock songs. A triumphant return after a few albums that didn't quite stand up to the catalog, this one absolutely does!
Key tracks:
City of Hope: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2G9nDMyZDAo
Resonate: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6umCccJOZY
Edge of the Moment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HEO8bOAhIU
Tantra: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJu6MTxmaf8
"City of Hope" Song of the Week entry: http://squintyt4e.livejournal.com/34265.html

11.) Billy Falcon: When [Falcon Music]
This is a tough one. Last year I bought a package that included Roughs, a disc of demos that Billy was working on that would become this album, and then the completed fully produced record when it was finished. Roughs was done in his home studio, very bare and raw. A handful of those songs ended up on this, the fully produced record, but for me the magic was in those early demos with just Billy and some backing vocals or violin. It's not a big surprise as I've always liked Billy's stripped down work best. There is definitely some great material on here though, including some wonderful new songs, but I have a stronger connection to the rough demos.
Key tracks:
When: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phFG7nzW9HY
The Boat: http://soundcloud.com/billy-falcon/the-boat-edit
Rare and Beautiful Thing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6muVXwvNKA
Wouldn't Change a Thing (demo): http://soundcloud.com/billy-falcon/wouldnt-change-a-thing-demo

12.) Adele: 21 [XL Recordings/Columbia]
This was an early favorite in January & February, but I honestly haven't listened to it for much of the second half of the year. Listening back to it late in the year however, I'm pleasantly surprised and reminded how good this album is. I wouldn't have guessed it would be the biggest selling album of the year, but "Someone Like You" is one of the best songs of the year, and the album is wonderful, so it's not too surprising. I was definitely not on the Adele-bandwagon on her first release, but this album, with it's great textures and different feels, is really solid all the way through.
Key tracks:
Somebody Like You: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLQl3WQQoQ0&ob=av2e
Don't You Remember: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWakZcEGB38
Turning Tables (live): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omkUG4kugvw
KCRW video performance: http://www.kcrw.com/media-player/mediaPlayer2.html?type=video&id=mb110225adele
"Somebody Like You" Song of the Week entry: http://squintyt4e.livejournal.com/30925.html

13.) Gretchen Menn: Hale Souls [Mach Zero Records]
I stumbled upon Gretchen via an online banner ad while reading an interview on a guitar magazine web site. Who was this extremely attractive red-headed female with a guitar (who reminded me of Nancy Wilson a bit)? I wanted to find out what she sounded like. Turns out she was in a long-running Zeppelin tribute band and had just released her first instrumental solo record (with some bass assistance from Stuart Hamm). The melody of "Valentino's Victory Lap" had me hooked after the first listen - such great tone and the song's chorus reminded me of Eric Johnson (a lot), which was a good thing.
Key Tracks:
Valentino's Victory Lap: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5u27ecCY9NA
Oleo's Strut: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1GHf_z0vMo
"Valentino's Victory Lap" Song of the Week entry: http://squintyt4e.livejournal.com/37336.html

14.) Chickenfoot: III [Chickenfoot/eOne]
I feel like this should be a guilty pleasure, but it's a lot of fun to put this one in the CD player and let it rip. Lots of melodic guitar work from Joe Satriani, harmony vocals between Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony, and the way Chad Smith and Anthony set up a groove and ride it out is just sublime. It's a great driving disc, full of good time rock.
Key tracks:
Three and a Half Letters (I Need a Job): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjyAPdiickk
Different Devil: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7v4umdrtWtg
Alright Alright: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNJqtecfQS8
"Three & a Half Letters" Song of the Week entry: http://squintyt4e.livejournal.com/37453.html

15.) Dream Theater: A Dramatic Turn of Events [Roadrunner Records/WEA]
The big drama in Dream Theater-land was that Mike Portnoy was replaced with Mike Mangini. On record I can't tell the difference. It's typical Dream Theater, soaring vocals, majestic instrumental passages intermixed with 'play-as-fast-as-you-can' instrumental sections. Solid stuff, but not ground breaking. I really wasn't expecting to get into it as much as I did and it's turned into one of my favorites from them.
Key tracks:
Build Me Up Break Me Down: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPjG_OKlgic
Beneath the Surface: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVfL1Jlxqq4
This is the Life: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hs55-JBlPI

16.) Tommy Shaw: The Great Divide [Pazzo Music/Fontana]
This isn't a Styx record. This isn't a Damn Yankees record. Nor is it a Tommy Shaw solo record (like you've heard before). Its closest relative is Shaw Blades, but only in its acoustic and melodic quality. Tommy's been wanting to record a bluegrass album for years and he finally has. He assembled a great crew of bluegrass musicians and wrote a brilliant album of Southern-inspired songs (he's Alabama born and bred after all) that will keep your foot tapping. His songwriting usually does not fail, and this adventure is no exception. It's Tommy like you've never heard him before, but at the same time it's very familiar.
Key Tracks:
Shadows in the Moonlight: http://www.thegreatdividemusic.com/songs.php (click to 2nd song)
The Great Divide: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxo5UaMRfDI
I'll Be Coming Home: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmWWPb1oN_0
Afraid to Love: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Vi0oJuIN34

17.) Imelda May: Mayhem [Decca/UMGD]
I absolutely adored her first record, Love Tattoo, and was excited to hear this new one that came out last year across the pond, but early in 2011 here in the U.S. That debut was a breath of fresh air. Maybe it was because that one startled my senses so much that I didn't initially get into this new one, because it wasn't that shock to the system the first had provided, I don't know. Thankfully, my friend Ray, continued to rave about this so I kept coming back to it month after month, trying to find the door into the party. After many, many listens I found myself singing along to each cut and the songs started to stick in my head. I was late to the party, but at least I showed up.
Key Tracks:
Psycho: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oEowpzOba8
Mayhem: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxj5wlXY9No
Pulling the Rug: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hzf0_EDTxXg

18.) Night Ranger: Somewhere in California [Frontiers/EMD]
Their first studio record in many years and they worked hard to combine a modern sound with their classic mid-80s layered harmonies and twin guitar hard rock sound. They definitely succeeded. Brad Gillis and Joel Hoekstra join forces for a guitar tour de force and Jack Blades and Kelly Keagy trade off vocals and harmonies in typical classic Night Ranger style.
Key tracks:
Time of Our Lives: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIZHXJHXnmk
Growin' Up in California: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6CfEKIubSY
Bye Bye Baby (Not Tonight): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIQZ40cVTm4

19.) Joe Bonamassa: Dust Bowl [J&R Adventures/Fontana]
In the liner notes Joe thanks his fans for supporting him over the last 10 years, 10 albums, and 2000 shows. He is old school in many ways, including the '70s album-tour-album-tour cycle of recording and releasing an album every year and touring each day that he's not in the studio. Combining that with a shrewd marketing team and a management philosophy of artist development and long-haul determination has rewarded Joe with a great catalog, devoted fan-base, and the freedom to record and pursue his musical passions. Guest artists like Vince Gill, John Hiatt, and Glenn Hughes don't hurt (although the Gill & Hiatt collabs are my least favorite songs on the disc for some reason). The guitar solo and lead work on the Barbra Streisand classic, "Prisoner," is worth the price of admission alone.
Key tracks:
Prisoner: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJ8-3_0Epo4
Dust Bowl: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGluBXVtntY
The Meaning of the Blues: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnqTINa-VBg
"Prisoner" Song of the Week entry: http://squintyt4e.livejournal.com/35922.html

20.) Manraze: Punk Funk Roots Rock [Rocket Science/RED]
This is the sophomore album from the English rockers Phil Collen (Def Leppard), Paul Cook (Sex Pistols) & Simon Laffy (Girl). Phil's vocals and blinding guitar work are the highlights for me on this uber fast-paced, all-out rockin' disc. They also put in a lot of groove underneath all that rock.
Key tracks:
Dogbite: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6fjdJnCbE8
I Superbiker: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cf1HrEI9Sgs
Lies Lies All Lies: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6nwMqVmeLo


Honorable Mention (in alpha order):
Alison Krauss & Union Station: Paper Airplane [Rounder/UMGD]
Anathema: We're Here Because We're Here [The End/RED]
Avantasia: Angel of Babylon [Nuclear Blast/EMD]
Black Country Communion: 2 [J&R Adventures/Fontana]
Dracula: The Musical - The Studio Cast [Global Vision Records]
Duran Duran: All You Need is Now [S-Curve/UMG]
Edwin McCain: Mercy Bound [429 Records/SLG]
Jack's Mannequin: People and Things [Sire/Warner Bros./WEA]
Joe Bonamassa & Beth Hart: Don't Explain [J&R Adventures/Fontana]
Kate Bush: 50 Words for Snow [Epitaph/ADA]
Kelly Clarkson: Stronger [RCA/Sony]
Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band: How I Go [Roadrunner Records/WEA]
Noah & the Whale: Last Night on Earth [Mercury/UMG]
Pendragon: Pure [Madfish/Snapper/eOne]
R.E.M.: Collapse Into Now [Warner Bros./WEA]
Sonia Leigh: 1978 December [Southern Ground Artists/RED]
Tedeschi Trucks Band: Revelator [Masterworks/Sony]


Favorite Live Shows:

Arena/Shed

1) Trans-Siberian Orchestra: 5/21 - Mid-Hudson Civic Center, Poughkeepsie, NY (2nd row)
2) Trans-Siberian Orchestra: 12/26/2010 8 pm show - Times Union Center, Albany, NY (front row)
3) Trans-Siberian Orchestra: 5/20 - Broome County Arena, Binghamton, NY (front row)
4) Trans-Siberian Orchestra: 11/26 3 pm show - XL Center, Hartford, CT (front row)
5) Trans-Siberian Orchestra: 11/12 3 pm show - Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, CT (front row)
6) Heart: 8/2 - SPAC, Saratoga Springs, NY
7) Trans-Siberian Orchestra: 11/26 8 pm show - XL Center, Hartford, CT (3rd row)
8) Trans-Siberian Orchestra: 12/26/2010 3 pm show - Times Union Center, Albany (5th row)
9) Trans-Siberian Orchestra: 11/12 8 pm show - Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, CT
10) Def Leppard: 8/2 - SPAC, Saratoga Springs, NY

Theater/Club

1) Rob Evan: 10/29 - Jr/Sr High School, Ilion, NY
2) Matt Nathanson: 8/25 - Six Flags, Agawam, MA
3) Within Temptation: 9/9 - Palladium, Worcester, MA
4) Blue Man Group: 4/14 - Proctor's Theater, Schenectady, NY


Live Songs:

Trans-Siberian Orchestra "Who Is This Child" 5/21 Poughkeepsie
Trans-Siberian Orchestra "Someday/Child Unseen" 11/26 Hartford 3pm
Trans-Siberian Orchestra "Christmas Canon Rock" 11/12 Uncasville 3pm
Blue Man Group "Zygote Finale" 4/14 Albany
Heart "The Battle of Evermore" 8/2 Saratoga Springs
Def Leppard "Bringin' on the Heartbreak" 8/2 Saratoga Springs
Rob Evan "I'm Alive" 10/29 Ilion
Matt Nathanson "Wedding Dress" 8/25 Agawam
Within Temptation "Ice Queen" 9/9 Worcester


My Memorable Music Moments of 2011:

Meeting TSO Producer Paul O'Neill at my 25th TSO show in Poughkeepsie
Meeting Ann & Nancy Wilson of Heart
Meeting Phil Collen of Def Leppard and talking about his Ibanez Destroyer
Talking "Photograph" & Def Leppard with Matt Nathanson
Rob Evan with TSO's Beethoven's Last Night front row & second row on back-to-back nights
Finally seeing Within Temptation
Rob Evan Ilion, NY
Matt Nathanson with Sugarland performing "Run" on the CMA Awards


Somewhat Random You Tube Awards:

Promo Video of the year award:
"Poison & Wine" from The Civil Wars: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfzRlcnq_c0

In-between Song Banter of the year award:
Matt Nathanson's physical reaction to Def Leppard's "Armageddon It" discussion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8cvONWLDCE

Not from this year but stopped me in my tracks award:
Dawes "When My Time Comes" live on Craig Ferguson: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0wyP8Ekt9w

Siren performance of the year award:
Trans-Siberian Orchestra "After the Fall" by Chloe Lowery: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UJs-x22bmQ

For a deaf & dead guy, Beethoven sings pretty amazing, performance of the year award:
Trans-Siberian Orchestra "This is Who You Are" by Rob Evan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M234h6GcEAI

Dead center of venue equals sweet laser cross-point of the year award:
Trans-Siberian Orchestra "Mozart & Madness" featuring Roddy Chong & Al Pitrelli: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfwNfM6wYBY

Spontaneous crowd sing-along award:
Marillion "Sugar Mice" from 2011 European Convention: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TQGaBYSx1c

Funniest In-Studio Morning Show sing along award:
(to Journey's Don't Stop Believin' instigated by Matt Nathanson): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2PPZ08TNVU

Likely to induce chills award:
Anna Nalick "All Fall Down" live: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJdD5OY5SiA

Pin-drop, Gut-wrenchingly heartbroken vocal performance award:
The Heartbroken "Save Yourself" (live): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LI_jAJvjhRI


10 Years Ago:

Bp's Picks of 2001:
1) Marillion - Anoraknophobia
2) Melissa Etheridge - Skin
3) Matthew Good Band - Beautiful Midnight
4) Josh Joplin Group - Useful Music
5) Our Lady Peace - Spiritual Machines
6) Jann Arden - Blood Red Cherry
7) Remy Zero - The Golden Hum
8) Saga - House of Cards
9) The Calling - Camino Palmero
10) Live - V
11) The Verve Pipe - Underneath
12) John Wesley - Chasing Monsters
13) R.E.M. - Reveal
14) Jewel - This Way
15) Jimmy Eat World - Bleed American
16) Shea Seger - The May Street Project
17) Treble Charger - Wide Awake Bored
18) *64 - You May Be Beautiful
19) Tantric - s/t
20) Dezery's Hammer - Immune

Almost made the cut (21-25):
John Mellencamp - Cuttin' Heads
The Black Crowes - Lions
Default - The Fallout
Creed - Weathered
Paul McCartney - Driving Rain

**Joe Bonamassa not eligible (original release by Sony in 2000) but would have placed top 10 if 2001 re-release was eligible

List Compiled from over 160+ CDs released in 2001

Most Important/Listened to Album in 2001 (not release date specific):
1- Tara MacLean - Passenger
2- U2 - All That You Can't Leave Behind
3- Tangerine Dream - Force Majeure

Live Performances

Theatre/Arena:
1- [Tie] U2 - Pepsi Arena, June 2
[Tie] Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Palace Theatre, Dec 13
2- Live - SPAC, May 25
3- Melissa Etheridge - Palace Theatre, Oct. 19
4- Sarah Brightman - Pepsi Arena, March 26

Venue less than 500 cap.:
1- James Kinne - Hartwick College, Nov 2
2- Angie Aparo - Larkin Restuarant, May 20
3- Chantal Kreviazuk - Empire St. Plaza, Aug 8
4- Joe Bonamassa - Valentine's, Nov 8

Live Songs:
1- "Brenda's Song" - Chantal Kreviazuk (Pepsi Arena, March 20)
2- "Better Now" - James Kinne (Hartwick College, Nov 2)
3- "Independence Day" - Martina McBride (Pepsi Arena, Aug 9)
4- "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24" - Trans-Siberian Orchestra (Palace Theater, Dec 13)
5- "Bad" - U2 (Pepsi Arena, June 2)
6- "Lightning Crashes" - Live (SPAC, May 25)
7- "Welcome to the World Unknown" - Angie Aparo (Larkin Restuarant, May 20)
8- "Born to Run" - Melissa Etheridge (Palace Theatre, Oct 19)
9- "Sunday Bloody Sunday" - U2 (Pepsi Arena, June 2)
10- "Wayne" - Chantal Kreviazuk (Empire St. Plaza, Aug 8)


Bp