Monday, March 12, 2007

March Madness and More

It's the most wonderful time of the year
NCAA hoops tourney time baby!

The second Sunday in March is always a special day. College basketball fans are glued to their televisions or are spending the day at their favorite sports bar, watching the various conference championship games play to the final buzzer. When the final game ends it signals the NCAA tournament committee to make their final decisions regarding the 65 team tournament bracket. At 6pm EST or 5pm CST, the hopes and dreams of college athletes and their faithful alumni and fans are revealed as CBS sports announce who is in and where. More interesting in many respects is who is did not make the tournament and the debate on why begins.

This year the supposed biggest surprises was that Syracuse and Drexel did not make it to the big dance. The fact was that Drexel played three tough games all year and Syracuse finished 6Th in the Big East. I still believe both teams should of squeaked in, but nobody should be shocked that neither team got in.

Personally I was surprise my Alma matter, Indiana, received a 7Th seed. After ending the season poorly and losing their first Big Ten conference game to Illinois, I expected no better than a 9Th seed. IU did not deserve their 7Th seed. I was surprised that Purdue got a 9Th seed. I believed they earned the right to go to the tournament, but I expected a seeding closer to 11 or 12. After beating Indiana, I knew Illinois was in, while many sports pundits still had them falling short of an invitation. To be completely honest, I believed Illinois would get a better seeding than 12.

Over the next few weeks your brilliant blogger and many of my friends and family members will be engulfed in the phenomenon known as March Madness. Check back with me every so often as I discuss the tournament. I will announce my predictions before the games begin, but for now lets just say I expect strong showings by Georgetown, Southern Illinois and Maryland.

Let the madness begin!

A great voice is silenced
Boston Singer Brad Delp Dead at age 55

Summertime 1986 was a very special time for me and my closet friends. Besides the fact that it was when most of us received our drivers license, it was a summer of discovering great music. The Rock'n Roll wasn't new, in fact it was nearly ten years old. As we drove around in our hand me down cars which had stereo systems that cost more than the cars themselves, three great bands occupied our cassette players, Aerosmith, Kansas and Boston. This past Friday, Boston lead singer Brad Delp was found dead at home, he was 55.

Delp had a great voice and in the late 70's he with Boston founder Tom Scholz made one of the most memorable albums in rock history. The group's self-titled debut album is the biggest selling debut album of any band in music history. It actually held the title of most debut album sales by any artist, until recently when Whitney Houston's debut album finally surpassed them.

I recall waking up one morning in late 1986. While I was getting ready to go to school, I turned on my Kenmore (Sears) stereo and tuned into 98 (97.9) on the FM dial. The disc jockey was talking about a long anticipated new album coming out. It was Third Stage, the first studio album by Boston in over eight years.

To say I was excited would of been an understatement. The album was released in October of 1986 to mixed reviews. Personally I thought it was a great album, not as good as their first two, but still excellent. Delp and Scholz took the band on the road in 1987 and nothing was going to stop me from seeing them live, including Cancer.

I will never forget when he group announced their tour dates for the summer of 1987. Two shows at Alpine Valley in East Troy Wisconsin (1 hour north of Chicago). There was an eight ticket limit and I had at least eight friends who wanted to go. Tickets went on sale on a Monday morning, but I had a problem. My cancer was in remission at the time, so I had a bi-monthly check-up in the hospital where I got a chest-xray. My appointment was the morning tickets went on sale.

Wearing shorts, a hospital gown and packing 5 bucks in quarters, I called Ticketmaster at 10am, while waiting to be called by the nurse. I waited on the phone for over twenty minutes and then heard my name called. I yelled across a crowded waiting area, "dad get your ass over here." I explained to him that he needed to stay on the line and wait for the ticket agent. I told him to ask for eight tickets, best available for either of the two shows.

Forty five minutes later, my x-rays were done and I was waiting to see my doctor. My father came into the room and didn't say a word. His mind was on my results, while I was thinking about the concert. I looked at him like he was an idiot and promptly asked him,"did you get me my tickets?" He replied, "oh ya, I got eight tickets right?" I was ecstatic to say the least. Oh, and my doctor said I was clear and still Cancer free (that would change months later).

The final result was one of the greatest concerts I ever saw. 3 hours, 3 encores and a time in my life that will always bring me joy when I look back.

Sadly, that would be the only time I would see Boston live. As the years went on they released two more studio albums, but Delp only sang on one of them, which was released in 2002. I regret the fact that I had an opportunity to see them perform in 2005, but scheduling conflicts, forced me to miss the show. A close friend went and said they were better than ever.

My condolences to Brad Delp's family and fiance. He had a reputation of being, "the nicest guy in Rock'n Roll." He will surely be missed, but his voice and music will live on forever.

Paulie

2 Comments:

At 3/12/2007 2:53 PM , Anonymous Lou Stone said...

Paulie Said:
It actually held the title of most debut album sales by any artist, until recently when Whitney Houston's debut album finally surpassed them.

Lou Said:
Whitney Houston's album was released in 1985. That was 9 years later and about 22 years ago - hardly a recent event.

 
At 3/12/2007 4:42 PM , Blogger Paulie said...

Lou,

All time album sales don't have a time limit. Remember when you bought all those Michael Bolton and Johnny Mathis albums during that "find yourself time in college?" That was years after those albums were released? Your purchase still counts as sales for those LP's.

IN 2003, Houston's debut album sales surpassed Boston's first album. I believe 2003 is somewhat recent.

 

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