Thursday, February 14, 2013

Inland Empire spring music roundup

My article originally appeared in the Feb-Mar issue of Foothills Magazine

The Inland Empire's entertainment season gets off to a strong start in 2013, with several big-name acts coming to town. Here are the main ones to look out for...

Carrie Underwood
"Blown Away" is a fitting title for her current studio album because it's often how you feel after witnessing one of the vocal dynamo's live performances.

Since being crowned winner of "American Idol" in 2005, the Oklahoma native and college journalism grad has become the most successful singer to emerge from the show.

Having snagged every conceivable award (CMA, Grammy and CMT) multiple times, with all of her CDs reaching No. 1 with platinum sales or beyond and racking up 16 top 10 country singles (not to mention pop and adult contemporary radio crossovers) and even dabbling in acting (the feature film "Soul Surfer," and TV's "How I Met Your Mother"), Underwood is the definition of a superstar.

On "Blown Away," the Grand Ole Opry member gets a tasty guitar assist from her regular CMA television show co-host Brad Paisley ("Cupid's Got a Shotgun") and tackles such intense lyrical topics as abuse and revenge ("Two Black Cadillacs," the title track). She can even be heard doing guest vocals on Aerosmith's latest single, "Can't Stop Lovin' You."

No stranger to playing in the area, Underwood helped christen Citizens Business Bank Arena as a concert venue in 2008 and headlined the Stagecoach Festival.

Fans who head to her return Ontario engagement in March will witness a visually cinematic stage set with ample costume changes - a show she hopes will "take people on a ride."
Hunter Hayes
This 21-year-old wunderkind is an anomaly in the country music world: Hayes sang, played, co-wrote and co-produced everything on his eponymous 2011 major label bow, which has been certified gold.

Just like Underwood - whom he's opening for on tour now; having previously done the honors for Taylor Swift and Rascal Flatts - he had two singles ("Wanted," "Somebody's Heartbreak") simultaneously in the top 20 of Billboard's country chart.

And he just received six nominations for the 2013 Academy of Country Music Awards to be handed out this spring. 

The Rock & Worship Roadshow
Featuring established and rising stars from Contemporary Christian music, the fifth annual tour is headlined by MercyMe (left).

The veteran pop/rock band has several platinum albums to its credit and nearly a dozen songs that reached the Christian chart's pole position. But the Texans are probably best known for mainstream hit "I Can Only Imagine."

Also on the bill: successful rocker Jeremy Camp, who attended Bible college in SoCal and has a new album ("Reckless") in stores this month; the harder-edged Kutless, Family Force 5, Rhett Walker Band and more.

Flogging Molly
Looking for a way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in raucous style? Look no further than this L.A.-based Celtic punk band, which is equally influenced by The Clash and Johnny Cash.

The septet, coming to Pomona's Fox in March, has done the Vans Warped Tour, sold out the Greek Theatre and received airplay on KROQ-FM, thanks to such topical, politically astute songs as "Float," "Don't Shut 'em Down" and "Requiem for a Dying Song." 

Pat Benatar
The sassy New York rocker was an early MTV fave, who landed several pop/Album Oriented Rock radio hits in the 1980s with "Heartbreaker," "Hit Me with Your Best Shot," "Love is a Battlefield," "We Belong" and many others throughout the decade.
More recently, Benatar released her memoir, "Between a Heart and a Rock Place," in 2010.
Dennis DeYoung 
From the 1970s to the early '80s, DeYoung led Styx through such classic prog rock albums as "The Grand Illusion," "Pieces of Eight," "Cornerstone" and "Paradise Theatre," and their accompanying hit singles, "Lady," "Come Sail Away," "Babe" and "The Best of Times."

Since exiting the band (and a brief return), the singer/keyboardist has delved into Broadway (both onstage and albums), done orchestral versions of Styx songs and concentrated on rock in recent years with 2009's "One Hundred Years from Now."
Highlights from the Inland Empire's spring music calendar

Citizens Business Bank Arena
4000 E. Ontario Center Parkway, Ontario

Feb. 24 - Rock & Worship Roadshow
March 3 - Carrie Underwood, Hunter Hayes

Fox Theater
301 S. Garey Ave., Pomona;
March 8 - Flogging Molly's ninth annual Green 17 Tour
March 20 - The Specials
April 19 - Bullet for My Valentine

Fox Performing Arts Center
3801 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside;
March 1 - Dennis DeYoung, "The Music of Styx"
March 7 - Pat Benatar

March 9 - Benise
April 5 - Dark Star Orchestra
April 13 - Doobie Brothers
April 20 - Foreigner

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