Michael Cavacini

An award-winning arts and culture blog.

Archive for the month “October, 2018”

Manilow Magic In Vegas

Barry Manilow is a class act. He and his team care about the fans on a level unlike any other celebrity I’ve met, and they go above and beyond across the board. A perfect example of this is my recent trip with my wife to Las Vegas to see Barry Manilow’s new residency, which is entitled Manilow Las Vegas: The Hits Come Home! Back in June I was invited, along with 19 other lucky fans, to attend a special interview Barry did in the Rainbow Room in New York. At the end of the interview he turned to the fans and said that he wanted all of us to come see his new show in Vegas on opening night, which was the following week, and that he was going to give us free tickets to the show and pay for our airfare and hotel expenses. In addition to paying my expenses, Barry included a +1 with my package so my wife could join me. Naturally, my mind was blown by this astounding act of generosity.

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Book Review: Super Mario Bros. Encyclopedia

Super Mario Bros. Encyclopedia covers the first 30 years of the most well-known video game franchise ever. This book was originally released in Japan three years ago and it is now finally available in an English translation. Unfortunately, it doesn’t cover any Super Mario games beyond it’s original publication date: 2015. So, you’re not going to get any info about Super Mario Odyssey or any other recent titles in this 255-page tome. Another strange omission is there’s no essay from Shigeru Miyamoto, the visionary producer and director of the original Super Mario Bros. game and a constant creative force in the franchise. Instead, we get an introduction by Takashi Tezuka, one of the designers from the original game. Sure, his insight is interesting. But I would have preferred an introduction by Shigeru Miyamoto and an afterword by Takashi Tezuka, since Miyamoto is more important and well known. Aside from these gripes, there’s plenty to enjoy in this book. It covers all of the major games from the original Super Mario Bros to Super Mario 3D World. This beautifully bound book will let you track the evolution of the Goomba, witness the introduction of Yoshi, and relive your favorite levels. It also includes tips to help you find every coin, star, sun, and mushroom, and it even provides explanations for glitches. Overall, Super Mario Bros. Encyclopedia is an excellent book that fitingly pays tribute to my favorit video game character of all time. It’s a reminder and celebration of the magical characters and games that only Nintendo can create.

Nashville Music City

Behind the keyboard featured in Journey’s “Separate Ways” music video. Below it is the piano that Jonathan Cain and Steve Perry wrote “Faithfully” on.

In September, my wife and I went to Nashville to celebrate our one-year wedding anniversary. We chose Nashville because we wanted to go someplace that felt new but didn’t require a ridiculous amount of travel time or money. Also, everyone I’ve spoken with that’s been to Nashville has enjoyed their time there. In addition to eating an insane amount of fried food and meat, our trip was punctuated by several music-related excursions, which I detail below.

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Dennis DeYoung’s Grand Illusion

fullsizeoutput_35bdDennis DeYoung is one of the greatest vocalists in the history of music, and he’s currently on tour performing one of the best rock albums of all time – The Grand Illusion by STYX – in its entirety, along with a handful of classics fans know and love. I attended his recent concert in Philadelphia and it was excellent. From start to finish, it was a tour de force of musicianship and showmanship.

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Book Review: The World Of The Rock

DK Publishing is back with another new hardback WWE book: The World of the Rock. Is it worth buying? Below is my video review of this 160-page book, which is available now.

A Conversation With Night Ranger’s Eric Levy

Photo: Ash Newell

As far as I’m concerned, Night Ranger is the most underrated classic rock band on the planet. Not only do they have a rich history comprised of countless classic hits and terrific albums, but they also continue to record and release stellar new music and play live for thousands of adoring fans. The band’s keyboardist, Eric Levy, was kind enough to speak with me about what it’s like being in Night Ranger. I hope you enjoy our discussion.

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Review: Steve Perry’s Traces

Steve Perry is the greatest male vocalist I’ve ever heard. I remember buying Journey’s Greatest Hits album many years ago and listening to the songs and discovering that I already knew most of them but didn’t realize the band behind these timeless tracks was Journey. While the guitar, piano, drumming, and bass were all exceptional, what captivated me most was that voice. How it soared to heights unimaginable for most humans and how it lovingly and soulfully intoned every word that was sung. With my headphones on, a Discman in my hands, and my eyes turned skyward, I gazed at the stars as the balmy beach breeze and Steve Perry’s vocals washed over me. It was a defining musical moment for me and one I fondly look back on when I think of this special band and this epic voice.

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Review: Love Never Dies

Love Never Dies

Photo: Danny Knaub

Love Never Dies, the sequel to the legendary Phantom of the Opera, is playing at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia from October 2 through October 7 and tickets can be bought here.

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Why Did James Patterson’s BookShots Fail?

On June 7, 2016, I reported that James Patterson, the world’s best-selling author, set out to start a revolution in the publishing industry with the launch of his BookShots line. These bite-sized books were marketed as being 150 pages or less and they were priced at $4.99. Patterson said, at the time, that he had 117 ready to go and planned on releasing 50 in 2016. As of right now, only 66 have been published over the past 16 months and there hasn’t been a new thriller in the line since December 2017’s Avalanche. With all signs pointing to this revolution not succeeding you might be wondering, why didn’t BookShots take off the way James Patterson had hoped? Let’s take a look.

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