Monday, June 29, 2009

Country USA with Brad Paisley

Unlike opening night when I was met with traffic at a dead standstill, there was no waiting to get into the grounds on this fine Friday afternoon. The festival now had that problem under control and the flow of traffic was fast and steady. I was a little disappointed. I didn't mind the walk much and
thought it added to the whole experience of opening night, but nonetheless my legs thank the festival promoters for figuring out a better approach to the traffic for the following nights of the festival!

Keith Anderson
The first performer I saw on this night was Keith Anderson. He wasn't much for my taste. I wasn't a huge fan of his music and in most cases I can overcome that small infraction by a performance enhanced with some sort of dancing, audience engagement, or stage presence. I personally was not impressed with any of it. He barely danced, and stood in one place for most of the songs. He didn't really engage the audience at all. In all reality, that would have been kind of hard to do standing in one place. Then his stage presence seemed lacking. Perhaps I was just expecting a performance in comparison to the energy that emanated from the performances on opening night or maybe he just hit a sour chord with me. Whichever the case this was my least favorite performance of the entire weekend. However, the lack of entertainment that I saw did not stop the rest of the crowd and his fans to flock to him during his performance. I would have to say that was probably the most fascinating part of Keith Anderson's performance; the dedication from his fans, because even though he seemed to be putting forth little effort into his performance, they all cheered and danced as if he were. Overall if I were to rate Keith Anderson's performance at Country USA, I would give him a less than average, so-so, whatever rating. Nothing special in my eyes and I definitely wouldn't have been too overly sad had I missed the performance entirely.

Brad Paisley
Taylor Swift had the energy and stage presence needed to be great. She put on a great show but was lacking in something. I didn't figure it out until I saw Brad Paisley. He had this magnificent connection with the audience. Brad was able to grab the attention of the audience from the first second of his performance and kept them all engaged throughout the remainder of his show. Brad Paisley is the man! Need I say more? Of course I do!

All the stage lights went out. If you looked closely through the darkness that embedded you, you could see the outlines of people and all the commotion at the front of the stage. Then four or five of those individuals ran out at the same time; one of them guitar in hand. They ran six rows into the crowd and stopped. The crowd started screaming before the spotlight ever reached the man holding the guitar dressed in a pair of simple blue jeans, red t-shirt, and cowboy hat. Quickly he was engulfed by surprised fans as he started playing his guitar and singing. Men and women alike reached their arms out to get a mere touch of the Grammy Award-winning American country singer, Brad Paisley. Shortly thereafter the man reappeared from the crowd and the hands that were touching him released him in a wave and allowed him to pass through as he made his way back to the stage.

The remainder of his performance was very much the same. Brad was extremely in touch with the audience and had a very good chemistry on stage. He engaged everyone by throwing out random items for the fans to jump and fight over as well as reaching down and touching them whenever given a chance. In the background of the stage there was a huge screen that displayed different images including shots of the audience. It was evident that the fans were number one throughout the entire concert. Brad had an extremely well tailored stage presence and knew exactly how to use his surroundings to make the show as spectacular as it was.

Normally I would now say something along the lines of keep an eye out for this artist or that I expect to see many things from this artist in the future, however, Brad Paisley being a well seasoned veteran to the country music scene does not need me to state the obvious! If you missed this performance for whatever reason, be sure not to miss the next. Brad Paisley will not disappoint.

With all that being said, at the end of the night if you can make even just one person fall in love with you for the first time, it is a job well done.

Brad Paisley, I love you!

For more pictures check (now posted!)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Country USA Opening Day with Taylor Swift

The traffic into the large country festival located in Oshkosh, WI is quite the obstacle with only one single lane road leading to the premises and hundreds arriving every hour.

Coming in from the prominent highway, Highway 41, you wait a good 45 minutes to an hour to move a mere mile. Then you are forced to take an exit that there is no way to get into the turn lane to the festival. The community service officers direct you to go straight not allowing anyone to turn directly off the highway to the frontage road. This means you have to drive miles out of your way to turn around and wait another couple hours in dead stop traffic just to turn onto the road to the festival. Then once you get through all that and are finally on the road thinking your obstacles are done, you are met with a single lane road for the next couple miles that is moving slower than the rest of the traffic you just sat in. Needless to say I am way too impatient for all that. I pulled over and paid $5 to park in the parking lot to a warehouse, and started my hour long walk to the festival grounds arriving in half the time it would have taken had I drove.

Once arriving at the main gate you see the broad opening to the grounds. That would have been helpful five miles back where the traffic is still at a standstill. The entrance is practically empty as the cars can't get down the road fast enough to fill them. A whole lot of good that does everyone! There are shuttles driving people to parking on the premises, however, they will not assist any off grounds parking as they want you to pay their fees for parking. My advice to anyone planning on attending Country USA, leave at least three hours before you want to get there especially if you plan on parking on grounds. If you are running late, the traffic will not get better, so stop and park at one of the off grounds parking and walk or you will be late!

Once inside the gates, you are met with a wide variety of activities. The main stage is located to your left. It is a decent stage with two huge screens on either side. The ground admission seating is first then multiple different sections of various seating leading up to the stage. If you were lucky enough to get front row seating, you noticed that the seats started only a couple yards from the main stage with only security between you and the performers! To the right of the main stage is the Y100 tent where they have interviews with all the artists. It is a very intimate environment and a lot of fun! Here you can be a part of the meet and greets for most of the artists and even see the interviews done with all the headlining acts. Any one a fan of country should look into getting passes to this tent! It really is a fun and intimate experience. Even further to right, past the Y100 tent is where all the rides and carnival games are located. There is something for everyone here!

Taylor Swift

I adventured around the grounds getting acquainted with everything before making my way to the stage. I got to the main stage shortly before Taylor Swift went on. The security was very helpful and in good spirits! I was in awe of the friendly nature of the workers. They had been standing outside all day in 90 degree weather yet here they were still with smiles on their faces cracking jokes to anyone that would listen. They walked around holding real conversations with the people sitting in the VIP seating while everyone waited for the main act. It passed the time and helped everyone stay calm and excited for what they came for, Taylor Swift! The mayor of Oshkosh even came out during the wait.

Around 10:30 p.m., the music got louder and the lights dimmed. It was time.

Taylor Swift stood at the top of the left hand platform dressed in a band member uniform. Her backup dancers were on the lower level of the stage acting out a scene that could have taken place in any high school. The choreography was great! I love music and love dance even more. I was very impressed with the dancers and their moves.

"Hello Oshkosh!" Taylor said as she walked down the stairs to join her dancers. The crowd screamed, jumped, and went crazy. "How are you doing this evening?"

She took the audience by surprise moments later when three of her dancers tore the band uniform off her leaving Taylor Swift standing there in nothing but a tiny little silver dress glistening in the lights. Throughout the performance, Taylor played the guitar and piano while acting out numerous scenes from what reflected a high school musical. She touched on the many different struggles many teens face while in school including the popularity factor to having a crush on a guy that doesn't even know you exist. Taylor reached out to many of the youth in front of her by personalizing with their struggles through her songs.

“I was never popular in high school. I never had too many friends, but who needs friends from high school when you have thousands of your best friends right in front of you,” she said as she pointed to the crowds of fans in front of her.

Overall the performance went very well. There were many different costume changes to keep everything moving forward. The acts were tailored to the younger teen generation, but still exciting enough for the adults that also love the 19 year old country star. Taylor Swift is definitely a role model for all. It is no wonder she has become a country icon so fast and at such a young age. I expect to see big things from this young teenage star as the years go on.

For more pictures check (now posted!)

Friday, June 5, 2009

How to Open a Mac

To my amazement while I sat work today, the FedEx guy stopped by with this package for me:

Words cannot express the excitement I had when the delivery guy said, "Package for Jean." I knew exactly what it was! It was the newest addition to my multimedia battleship. Lucky for me I only had to work a half day, so I only had an hour to wait to unwrap my new MAC!!!

Here is my tutorial on how to open one of these magnificent pieces of technology!

Supplies needed:

* One medium size, slightly heavy cardboard box containing the beautiful piece of machinery. It should in fact be addressed to you. If the package is in fact addressed to someone else, please make sure you have proper permission to open before proceeding. But then again I won't tell if you don't!

* One pair of scissors, but be sure not to run with them! Unless it makes you feel like a rebel, then by all means. Just don't hurt yourself.

Step 1: Carefully cut the tape the long way to ensure a quick and proper entry into the box.

Step 2: Then cut both of the small horizontal pieces of tape. You can try to rip them with your hands but this will not ensure a clean cut, and maybe frustrating if you are not in physical strength.

Step 3: Carefully pull up both tabs. I would suggest at this point take a brief moment to pause as the following couple steps are crucial, so take a deep breath because yes we are going in!

Step 4: Carefully lie the package on the side and prepare to pull the white box out of the brown cardboard box.

Step 5: Next you will have to gracefully remove these little cardboard corners that have kept the machinery held in place within its box.

Step 6: Remove plastic wrapping! We are getting so close I bet you can taste it!

Step 7: Bask in its rays!

Step 8: Next cut the tape to ensure yet another clean cut. You may want to keep this box as a souvenir in the years to come.

Step 9: Go ahead! Lift the top! I know you want to! Do it quickly! You're almost there!

Step 10: Ooooo! Yes! That is it! Your first glimpse of heaven!

Step 11: Take a few seconds and just stare at this marvel! You will appreciate taking your time in this process and letting it all in slowly when this is complete.

Step 12: Now go ahead and take it out of the box. Handle it with extreme care, next to having children, this will be the most wonderful experience of your life! Holding the machine in your hands for the very first time!!

Step 13: Feel the smooth and silky surface as you take it out of the sleeve!

Step 14: Now set it down and open it up! Look at that fresh screen! Isn't it amazing? If you haven't been photo blogging this as I have, run and get your camera! You MUST take a picture of this remarkably perfect screen. It is completely smudgeless and fingerprint free. I know as well as you that this won't last forever, so take a picture!

Step 15: Make sure you hold and cuddle and love your Mac. This friendship will last a lifetime!

To be continued....