The Hag Leaves CT with Legendary Memories

Merle Haggard
Warner Theater
Torrington, CT
April 19, 2012

In a time where music is dominated by autotune, backup dancers, and absurd clothing, it is not every day an audience can see a real living legend.  Thursday was the exception, as country music legend Merle Haggard took to the stage at the intimate Warner Theater in Torrington, Connecticut.  The Hag, as he is often referred to by his real fans, has overcome a recent bout with pneumonia and has taken on an ambitious tour packed with plenty of back to back tour nights. 

Despite all of these speed bumps, Merle sounded absolutely magnificent on Thursday night.  His son, Noel, and his daughter started things off with a short set.  They sang some classic style country music and you could see that the talent has spread throughout the Haggard Family.  At approximately 8:15, The Hag took to the stage with a black hat, sunglasses, and electric guitar.  He started things off with a lesser known song, “All My Friends” (see video below), and followed it up with a slew of mega-hits: “Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down”, “Mama Tried” (see video below), and “Big City” and “Silver Wings”.  The night quickly turned into a sing-a-long as fans, young and old, knew the songs word for word.

I read a review of Merle’s show from this past weekend at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville and saw the setlist from that night.  I was expecting an identical setlist, but was very surprised that it was not.  He sang some of my personal favorites on this night, such as “Heaven Was a Drink of Wine”, “I Am What I Am” and his closing song, the legendary song “Pancho & Lefty” (see video below), originally recorded with Willie Nelson.  He even sang a song, “Back To Earth” from the iconic double album “Last of the Breed”, which he recorded with Willie and Ray Price.  It was a dream setlist and Merle’s vocals were spot on. 

Merle did not do much talking between the songs, but when he did he showed his sense of humor.  He poked fun at himself when he introduced his Band, The Strangers, and said they were the Band of the Year when he was twenty years old and now his is forty.  He told the crowd that he expects his song “If We Make It Through December” to be more valuable and royalty checks to go up because of all of the doomsday predictions for this coming December.  He also facetiously stated that his career was going so well until he had to release a song called “Okie From Musgokee” (see video below) and everything was downhill from there. 

I have had the pleasure of seeing various artists who have achieved legendary status, such as Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson, Elton John, Carlos Santana, and Paul McCartney.  Merle’s performance and vocals stacked up to the best of the icons I have seen live.  He even surprised me when he took hold of a fiddle and played it to perfection during his new song “Working In Tennessee”.  Everything Merle did that night was just that, in my eyes, perfection.  It has been a long wait for me to see The Hag, but sitting in the 13th row in such an intimate theater such as the Warner Theater, it made me appreciate what he has done for music history, that much more. 


“Pancho & Lefty”

Intro & “All My Friends”
“Mama Tried”

“Okie From Muskogee”

“Are The Good Times Really Over”


  1. All My Friends
  2. Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down
  3. Mama Tried
  4. Big City
  5. Silver Wings
  6. I Am What I Am
  7. The Highway Is My Home
  8. Ramblin’ Fever
  9. What Am I Going To Do With the Rest of my Life
  10. Heaven Was a Drink of Wine
  11. Are The Good Times Really Over
  12. Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink
  13. Back To Earth
  14. If We Make It Through December
  15. Working In Tennessee
  16. Sing Me Back Home
  17. Okie From Muskogee
  18. Pancho & Lefty

Kevin Costner Brings His Modern West Show to Connecticut

Kevin Costner and Modern West
April 10, 2012
Ridgefield Playhouse
Ridgefield, CT

On Tuesday, April 10, 2012, Kevin Costner and Modern West brought their tour to the intimate Ridgefield Playhouse, located in the beautiful Ridgefield, Connecticut.  Costner and his band are set to release their third album and have embarked on a nationwide tour.

 Modern West features Teddy Morgan on lead guitar, Larry Cobb on drums, Park Chisolm on guitar, and the impressive Bobby Yang on fiddle.  Also appearing as a special guest on numerous songs this tour is Costner’s daughter, Lily Costner. 

Thanks to, I was able to attend a pre-party at the Playhouse before the show which included a backstage meet and greet pass to meet Kevin Costner.  I was able to speak to him for a few minutes and he seemed relieved that I asked him about his music rather than his acting career.  We discussed the music chords to a few of his songs and he was extremely talkative to me. 

In case anyone is wondering, “Superman 14” is played with a G major, A Minor, and a C Major.  After the party and my time with Costner, we took our seats in the unbelievably intimate Ridgefield Playhouse.  There is simply not a bad seat in the house. 

The band came out to “Red River” and followed it up with “Long Hard Night”.  Costner explained (as you can see in the video below) he wrote “Long Hot Night” about the night with a woman, which you realize, whatever is broken with her, is just not going to get fixed.  This set the theme for the night, Costner takes his music seriously and set up each song with an explanation on why it was written. 

Costner explained that “90 Miles an Hour” was a metaphor for how he wants to live.  Especially since he thinks it must be a bad feeling for father not to know how to help his son. He made a few jokes about his father and his relationship.  His stories really brought to life Modern West’s songs and lyrics.  The explanations were meaningful, deep, and extremely creative. 

The crowd, for the most part, was very respectful.  There was a moment where a younger woman shouted out “My Mom loves you Kevin!”  He laughed and responded with “wow, that’s the point I am in my life.”  He was playful and interactive throughout the night.  At no point did you see any sign of the arrogance one might expect from an Oscar Award Winning Actor.  Instead, his humble approach and love for music made me admire the man even more. 

Costner brought his daughter, Lily, out for three songs including one of his hits, “Let Me Be The One” (see video below) as well as new songs “Indian Summer” and “All the Women In The Hills”.  Lily has a beautiful voice and an attractive appearance.  Costner explained that she went to school in Connecticut and called her his “little rascal who was a joy to raise”.  On “All the Women In The Hills”, Daddy let his daughter take the spotlight as the entire band stood behind her as she took lead vocals on a song about the women who raised the men who fought and died in the Civil War.

  Costner explained that his next acting project is going to be a series on the History Channel entitled “Hatfield and McCoys” in which he plays Devil Hatfield.  He states it relies a lot of the Civil War and the Appalachian feeling going into the next century.  He also wrote a song for the series, entitled “How Deep The Water Runs” which he performed (see video below). 

Costner told a story about 1969 when he was young and politics were “moving fast”.  He said he saw people with blue glasses and tie die shirts.  However, all he wanted to do was kiss Debbie Anderson at the county fair.  He said his friend told him to buy her some jewelry so he got her a St. Christopher pin, thinking that would do the trick.  In the crazy 1960’s he was lost and only wanted a kiss at the county fair.  And that was the basis for writing his song “Where Do We Go From Here”. 

The encore consisted of two songs, the first is the Band’s newest single “Angels Came Down”, which is about the last moment a soldier has before he dies on the battlefield.  The final song is clearly the band’s most popular, “Superman 14”.  As you can see in the video below, Costner explains it comes from a time where you a small child and think you can be or do anything.  The fiddle, played by Bobby Eng, on the song is infectious and it was the perfect way to end an impressive night. 

Costner made sure his Band got credit as he got them all together for a final bow.  He then came back out with a bottle of champagne, which he poured a few glasses for the lucky ones up front.  He showed his appreciation for the crowd and took a final bow. 

I have always been a big fan of Kevin Costner.  Tin Cup, Dances With Wolves, and The Untouchables have always been some of my favorite movies.  When I heard his music I was very impressed.  He has a country vibe mixed with a Paul Simon/Bruce Springsteen feel to it.  He obviously has a great passion for the music and that really shined bright in his live show.  I look forward to Costner’s next project, whether it be in music, acting, or whatever he decides to do next. 


Long Hot Night

Superman 14
Let Me Be The One
How Deep the Water Runs


  1. Red River
  2. Long Hot Night
  3. 90 Miles an Hour
  4. Moon So High
  5. Top Down
  6. Down In Nogales
  7. Let Me Be The One (with Lily Costner)
  8. Indian Summer (with Lily Costner)
  9. How Deep The Water Runs
  10. All The Women In The Hills (with Lily Costner)
  11. Hero
  12. Where Do We Go From Here
  13. Hey Man, What About You
  14. Angels Came Down
  15. Superman 14

Mr. 305 Ignites Radio City

Radio City Music Hall
New York City
April 6, 2012
Planet Pit Tour

On Good Friday, Pitbull brought his Planet Pit Tour to the immaculate Radio City Music Hall in New York City for a two night affair.  I was in attendance for the first night and the fiery hit maker did not disappoint.  Backed by a full band, a large projection screen, and a catalog of recognizable songs, the man who has self-proclaimed himself as Mr. 305 and Mr. Worldwide, showed that he is an artist who loves to give his fans exactly what they want.

The night began with an impressive DJ set from Alex Sensation, a latin DJ/producer.  Sensation mashed up popular latin songs with today’s top 40 hits.  He had half of the crowd already up and dancing – and had everyone energized.  The next two opening acts did the complete opposite and were the one real downfall of the night.  Jamie Drastik was especially terrible.  He wore orange sweatpants, a red sweatshirt and a jean vest and attempted songs such as “White Boy Wasted”.  He failed to connect with the crowd whatsoever.  For a venue as great as Radio City, I would have preferred a lot more of DJ Alex Sensation and a lot less of White Boy Wasted.  Nevertheless, the opener’s sets were short and it was time for the main event.  The lights went black and the curtains went up, and out walked Mr. 305.

The speakers pumped out the Intro from Pitbull’s latest album, “Mr. Worldwide” as he made his grand entrance.  The lights and giant screen behind him illuminated as he blasted into one of his biggest hits to date, “Hey Baby (Drop It To The Floor)”.  Pitbull is ever the performer.  He was dressed in an all black suit, complete with a black button down, black tie, and black sunglasses. 

Pitbull continuously and energetically dances around the stage with a plethero of latin dances moves mixed hip-hop swagger.  He jumps, he runs, he dances, and  he interacts with the crowd.  All throughout the show, he was very gracious, constantly thanking his fans in both English and Spanish.  Very often you heard him say “thank you guys and mucho gracias.” 

The setlist was designed perfectly and could pass as both a mix for a dance party at a club or a tracklist for a Zumba class at the gym. To the crowd’s delight he performed a great deal of the songs he has been featured on, such as “Party Rock”, “I’m In Miami”, “I Like It”, “Get It On the Floor”, and “DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love”.  Lately, it is difficult to listen to a top 40 radio station for even twenty minutes and not hear a song Pitbull is, at least, featured on.  He has become a master a picking his guest spots. 

Pitbull certainly did not forget where his roots are as he gave a lot of love to the dominant group of people in the crowd that night: Latinos.  Several times during his show he busted out latin dances as merengue music exploded through the speakers.  He shouted to his fans phrases such as “latinos para arriba para delante y al que no le guste para el carrajo” and made it known his pride for being Cuban.

Real standout portions of the show included his hits “International Love”, “Rain Over Me”, and his final song, “Give Me Everything” (video below):

Although featured guests such as Enrique Iglesias, Chris Brown, Marc Anthony, Nayer, and Neo did not come out on stage, Pitbull’s energy and passion made up for the absence of such stars.  The crowd responded to his energy the entire night as no one sat down and everyone was sweating at the end of the night from dancing so much.  It is not often that an artist can carry a crowd on its feet throughout an entire live set. 

Pitbull did have one special guest, as latin rapper Sensato took the stage with him for a few songs.  The two did their Latino rendition of Jay-Z and Kanye West, as they performed “Latinos in Paris”, obviously a remix of the mega-hit off of the Watch The Throne album.  Pitbull ended his set by once again thanking the crowd and shouting out “Mister 305, checking in and checking out” and left the stage while his newest single played in the background, “Back In Time” off of the Men In Black 3 Soundtrack. 

It has been the second time I have seen Pitbull perform live.  This time it made is quite apparent that Pitbull has both real star power, and staying power.  He continues to crank out hit after hit and unlike many rappers before him, his live shows are spectacular.  He has been able to  take the best from all worlds, be it the Latin music community, the pop world, and the rap world and combine them into one extremely enjoyable experience.  I look forward to attending the next dance party with Mr. 305. 


  1. Mr. Worldwide
  2. Hey Baby (Drop It To The Floor)
  3. Can’t Stop Me Now
  4. Give You What You Want
  5. WataGataPitusBerry (Black Point Cover)
  6. Sexy and You Know It (LMFAO Cover)
  7. International Love
  8. Pause
  9. Say Hello
  10. Party Rock Anthem (LMFAO Cover)
  11. I’m In Miami
  12. Move, Shake, Drop
  13. Shut It Down
  14. Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana Cover)
  15. Let It Rain
  16. Bon, Bon
  17. Throw Your Hands Up
  18. Merengue Song Medley
  19. The Anthem
  20. Krazy
  21. Shake Senora
  22. Shake
  23. Culo
  24. I Know You Want Me
  25. Get It On the Floor (J Lo Cover)
  26. I Like It (Enrique Iglesias Cover)
  27. DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love (Usher Cover)
  28. Hotel Room Service
  29. I Got a Feeling (Black Eyed Peas Cover)
  30. Crazy People (with special guest Sensato)
  31. Latinos In Paris (with special guest Sensato)
  32. Give Me Everything