Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top 10 Songs of 2011

So I'm not going to go into too much detail as to why I like each of these but as 2011 comes to a close, I thought I share my favorite tracks of 2011. I'm pretty diverse so knocking this down to 10 songs WAS HARD! Feel free to comment and let me know your favorites of the year.

10. Pistol Annies Hell on Heels 

9. Jay-Z and Kayne West H.A.M.

8. Dropkick Murphy's 1953

7. Coldplay Paradise

6. Fitz and the Tantrums MoneyGrabber 

5. Bon Iver Holocene

4. Adele Set Fire To The Rain

3. Drake I'm On One

2. The Civil Wars Poison And Wine

1. The Head and The Heart Down In The Valley 


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Best Albums of 2011

Every December, like many people, I tend to reflect back on the year that just ended in hopes I can remember the lessons that I learned. I'm 34 now but it's amazing how similar my interests are from say, when I was 21.

You would think I would spend time listing my favorite sports moments of the year for a blog post about 2011 but I talk sports all year long (I'll probably do that list later though lol). The list I enjoy making the most is my favorite 10 albums of the year. I spend way too much time and money on music but I simply love it. It's my escape. My muse in a lot of ways.

This was an awesome year musicically for me because I returned home to Boston, the city that started my love of the medium in the first place. WFNX, the Boston radio station, will always be special to me and artists that it exposed me to still are played on my iPod. That internship actually gave me my career because I learned I wanted work in sports and play around in music. It's worked out pretty well for me.  

In 2011, I saw bands like The Head and The Heart, Taylor Swift, The DropKick Murphys (at Fenway as well as 2 other times) Ani DiFranco, The Indigo Girls, Florence and The Machine, Laura Marling, Two Door Cinema Club and other great acts around the country. Live music will always be a part of my life and learning about new bands is probably my favorite hobby.

This was the year of "Americana" for me. Mumford and Sons (see link below) was my favorite album in 2010 and that just sent me down a path of musical discovery that was truly wonderful. So many amazing acts in that genre right now like Old Crow Medicine Show and the Avett Brothers, both whom did not put out an album in 2011, so they aren't below.

While I don't review music for a living and don't listen to everything that is out there ... here are my favorite albums for 2011. For reference - here is my 2010 list

10. Ellie Goulding: Lights 

Let me be honest right off the bat....Ellie can't sing live. Her performances I saw in support of this album were not good. HOWEVER, this is not about that. This is about recorded albums and this album is just really fun brit-pop. The title track Lights is one of my favorite songs of the year and Starry Eyed was a huge hit in clubs with its multiple remixed versions (like the one above). 

9. Florence and the Machine: Ceremonials 

The sophomore album from the talented singer was highly anticipated by me and it did not disappoint one bit.  Florence was on my list of Top 5 bucket concerts and I'm happy to say I got to see her in December in Kansas City. The album is big - really big and tough to recreate live but Florence's voice is glorious. I'm not going to bother listing my favorite tracks because there are too many but if you liked her first album, you will love Florence's second. 

8. Death Cab for Cutie: Codes and Keyes 

In May, the seventh studio album was released by the alternative rock idols. I have been a fan of Death Cab since the early 2000's and they continue to produce amazing, mind-melting albums. They capture so many wonderful emotions in their songs and the sounds they continue to come up with so unique. For anyone with an appreciation for something that sounds different than your normal rock songs, this album is for you. 

7. Laura Marling: A Creature I Don't Know

The (now) 21-year old brit singer/songwriter continues to show signs that she will be a tremendous force in the music industry for years to come. Her latest album puts her once again on my list of favorite albums of the year. Just like last year, her guitar playing and lyrics are something you MUST hear if you love folk music. I got to see her in Boston in late October with only around 500 people in the club. It was an awesome experience and I can't wait to see her again soon. 

6. The Dropkick Murphys: Going Out In Style 

Boston's punk-rock boys dropped their best album to date in my opinion in 2011. From start to finish, the record is extremely strong. Influences of folk, punk, ska, and rock are heard throughout the album and I got the chance to see the band 3 times in 2011 in support of the release. They have become one of the best live acts touring in the country and a band you should not miss if they come to your town. 

5. Bon Iver: Bon Iver  

Late in 2011, I finally came around to buying a full album from the Midwest folk group, fronted by the supremely talented Justin Vernon. I had been hearing amazing things about the band for years but never got around to buying an album of theirs. Shame on me because the self-titled record is phenomental. It's haunting, loving, and scary all at the same time. It might be the best driving album I've ever heard. Check it out - I'm serious. This band's second album is crazy good.  

4. Jay-Z and Kayne West: Watch the Throne 

This wasn't a great year for hip-hop or rap music in my opinion. It was the year of Americana, which you will see coming up but this album matches two of the best ever together. Genius on so many levels. Great beats, rhymes, and lyrics. I'll always like these two solo, so when you put them together, it's awesome. 

3. The Civil Wars: Barton Hallow 

I'm not ashamed to say that I learned about this group from twitter ... Taylor Swift's twitter account to be exact. The young country singer said that Poison and Wine was her favorite duet maybe ever, so I had I hear it for myself. If you can listen to the above song without being moved, you have no heart. It's simple as that for me. It's the most emotional song of the year. Spectacular and gut-wrenching.  

2B.  Alison Krauss and Union Station: Paper Airplanes 

What can I say about Alison that hasn't already been written? She is a legend, an icon. I'm not going to try to say anything that will make me sound stupid but I finally saw her live in 2011. Her music is something that I will always treasure for the rest of my life. Her latest album is as strong from start to finish as anything she has produced. If you don't have this album, you have to own it. Again, "Americana" is the strength of 2011. 

2A. The Head and The Heart: The Head and The Heart 

"Down in the Valley with Whiskey Rivers, These are the places you will find me hiding" ... what an awesome lyric and awesome song. My favorite of 2011. "Americana" music for me really started with Alison and then moved into Mumford and Sons and Laura Marling. However, it exploded for me 2011 when I found this band. It led me to the Avett Brothers and other wonderful artists in the genre. I saw The Head and The Heart in Boston this fall and they were UNREAL. This band is only just beginning.

(Yes, there was a tie. I couldn't decide lol)

1. Adele: 21 

I will admit that Adele's first album, 19, was not one that I fell in love with. I liked it but my reaction was nothing compared to what I felt after listening to 21 for the first time. From start to finish, it's the strongest, most timeless album of the year. This album I believe will be in the running for album of the decade and we are only 2 years in. It's that good. 

Thanks for reading this and feel free to email or post your thoughts in the comment section. I'm always looking for new bands! Happy listening in 2012!  (PS: Here is my favorite rap song of 2011 from an album I don't own :) Drake - I'm On One  love the chorus!) 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Update: Andover sends out a letter to parents

On my last blog post, I called for Andover High School to act on the allegations that two students were hazed last summer at a basketball camp. Well, AHS has yet to act officially but they did send out a letter to parents saying that the hazing rules were violated and that action was going to be taken soon.

Rumor is that multiple suspensions are being handed down and potentially 2 expulsions as well. More to come as it becomes official but it sounds like AHS did what was right in the end. Eagle Tribune's outstanding article on the case is here.

Superintendent McGrath wrote to Andover Parents tonight:

A thorough investigation has been completed and submitted to me, and I am saddened to report to 
you that the investigation concluded there were violations of our policies. As a school district, we will now take all appropriate action in accordance with our district policies and state law.  While I fully understand and appreciate that you are legitimately interested in the outcomes for the violations of these policies, I am prohibited by federal and state laws from disclosing information about individual student discipline.  I can tell you, however, that in the case of violations of our anti-bullying and anti-hazing policies, our school district policies permit a range of disciplinary actions which include suspension and expulsion from school.  You have my assurance that I intend to strictly enforce these policies based upon the evidence and to the extent allowed by our policies and laws.  We will address, separately, the involvement of any Andover Public Schools employees in connection with these allegations. 

AD Chris Bergeron to Andover Parents tonight:

After consultation with Superintendent Marinel McGrath and Andover High School 
Principal Thomas Sharkey, I intend to suspend student-athletes from participation in the 
Andover High School 2011-2012 athletic program for varying periods of time due to apparent violations of Andover High School athletic policies and rules. 

Any student-athletes who may be subject to possible suspensions have certain procedural rights which must be honored and I will be following that process. The Athletic Department is committed to the best interests of all student-athletes who participate in its programs and will rigorously protect those interests. As stated in the rules, which apply to all athletic programs, participation in the AHS Athletic Program is a privilege, not a right, and the highest standards of conduct will be enforced.  

I wonder if Mr. Bergeron would have done this if the Bill Burt's story doesn't run? And for the record, Andover learned of this on November 11th. It's November 30th. Better late than never though.

EDIT: This paragraph from the linked article above is identical to what I first wrote about on Sunday. I'm glad my town and I still think alike: The two ringleaders of the hazing were expelled while the others involved received suspensions for an unknown amount of time and will not be allowed to compete in school sports for the remainder of the school year, sources said.

I wrote:  Any player found to have participated in the hazing of the young men on the campus of Stonehill College should be off the basketball team for no less than one year. 

EDIT 2: Ring leaders who are expelled take to Facebook to plan a secret meeting ... not very secret guys. SMH. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Andover High Needs To Act Now

I sent this Op/Ed to my hometown paper - The Lawrence Eagle-Tribune after reading a story that came out yesterday: 

The incident involving the Andover High School basketball team was brought to my attention on Thanksgiving by my brother who is a junior at the school. He asked me if I had heard about the “Ookie Cookie situation” involving the basketball team and what I thought of it.

After hearing the details for the first time, I didn’t know what to think. Older basketball players forcing fellow younger players to eat a semen covered Oreo cookie in a Stonehill College dorm room was enough to make me (want to) vomit up my turkey.

There is no justification for such behavior and there should be zero tolerance of it. Those committing hazing incidents, while unfortunately common these days, have to be handled swiftly and harshly.

Sadly, that has not happen at AHS.

My family has a long history with Andover High including graduating myself, father, mother, stepfather, 2 of my brothers and 11 of my aunts and uncles. I was a varsity athlete as was my stepfather and 2 of my brothers.

I’ve been in those AHS locker rooms and played briefly for AHS head coach David Fazio’s program. As a sports media and broadcasting professional for the past 15 years covering sports at every level (including high school sports for, I have seen this story before.

I’m just sorry to see it happening in my hometown.

The argument being made in defense of Coach David Fazio is that since the crime (and yes, I’m calling it a crime) occurred off school grounds and not at a school sponsored event that, according to a statement from his attorney “Mr. Fazio did everything possible to deal with this 4-month-old situation. This is not a school-related issue."
While that might resolve Coach Fazio from any legal responsibility, it does not excuse the conduct by the student-athletes and does not explain why none of them have been suspended from the basketball team by the school as of yet.
Athletic Director Chris Bergeron needs to explain when exactly he was made aware of the incident and why the players have yet to be suspended from the team. The Easton Police Department opened an investigation but so far, AHS hasn’t done anything besides issue a statement on their website claiming they are investigating the accusations.   
According to the story in the Eagle Tribune, Coach Fazio was made aware of his players’ behavior on November 11th, four months after the fact, but it’s the end of the month and we haven’t heard from AHS officials yet. Why wasn’t there something sent out to parents as soon as the victim came forward?
My mother is the parent of a current student. She has received nothing from AHS on the matter.
The student-athlete who had the courage to come forward has since transferred from Andover High due to the attack, which shows how serious this was. If accounts of Fazio informing the parents of the victim immediately are true, then I believe Coach Fazio did what needed to be done in his position. This did happen during the summer and he did not witness it obviously.
My issue is with the young men who perpetrated the act. There should be an immediate suspension of anyone suspected of being present during the hazing event. Reportedly, 9 AHS basketball players were there. All should be placed on indefinite suspension until an independent investigation can be carried out into what actually happened in that door room. 
If that causes AHS to forfeit the basketball season, so be it. If the Penn State sex abuse scandal has taught us anything is that allowing a sports program to investigate itself is just plain stupid. There is money and power involved in AHS basketball and losing an entire season could hurt the school’s bottom line.
As an alum, I don’t care.
The fact that AD Bergeron hasn’t suspended the players suspected of that attack is extremely troubling. I’m not calling for anyone to lose his or her job … yet. However, an INDEPENDENT investigation must be conducted to find out when the AD and head coach really knew about the incident and what was done with that information.
If it was handled correctly, then we move on to the players themselves.
Any player found to have participated in the hazing of the young men on the campus of Stonehill College should be off the basketball team for no less than one year. It is conduct unbecoming of a student-athlete at Andover High School. It is gross, lewd, and completely unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.
Sports are a privilege, not a right. Even though we are taught to believe that they are bigger than life, in particular at AHS, behavior such of this must be handled with an iron fist. No excuses. 
There is no grey when you are abusing a fellow student. You commit acts like ones being reported, and you lose the privilege to wear the AHS uniform. The integrity of the program is at stake.
I sincerely hope AD Bergeron does what is right and suspends the suspected athletes immediately until an independent body can investigate the accusations against its basketball players.
Right now, the lack of action makes it look like AHS has been caught trying to bury an awful story.  
Matt Perrault is a 1995 AHS graduate and former AHS student-athlete and host of “The Home Team with Matt Perrault” on WGAM “The Game” 900 AM in Nashua, NH and 1250 AM Manchester, NH

EDIT: The camp has been kicked off Stonehill College's campus for lack of protection of young people. The latest: Story is here

EDIT 2: Sadly, Chris Bergeron refused to talk to 

EDIT 3: This is from a dear friend of mine who works in college athletics. His thoughts on this story speak to exactly what AHS is failing to see:
"We often say "there is no 'I' in team."  But this is not accurate--when the team (or protection of the team, or school, or "brand") becomes more important than protecting the rights of the individual, then there should be no team.  A great team is often not comprised of the most talented individuals, but more often comprised of individuals with talent who recognize the value of each member of the team and use those talents--they understand that by improving the conditions of one, they improve the conditions of all.  When you have a team that does not recognize the values of each member (and it appears that this is the case at Andover HS) then you have a severe breakdown of the team concept."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Am I The Only One Still Angry?

“Let me tell you somethin’…. I’ve had enough of Irish-Americans who haven’t been back to their country in twenty or thirty years … and come up to me and talk about the revolution back home. And the glory of the revolution and the glory of dying for the revolution. FUCK the revolution! They don’t talk about the glory of killing for the revolution. What’s the glory of taking a man from his bed and gunning him down in front of his wife and his children? Where’s the glory in that?”                  
 -Bono during the Sunday Bloody Sunday Rattle and Hum performance. 

I’ve always believed that through great pain comes art. Pain leads to anger and anger leads to a message that requires a medium to be expressed.

I’m 34 years old and as I look at the current state of music... I have to ask – where the hell is the anger? Where the hell is the art? Where the hell is the message?

The medium? Well, corporate America has done a good job of turning that into vanilla ice cream but more on that in a second.

The quote above was spoken in the middle of a song during a U2 live performance around 1988. Ten years later, the band Pearl Jam would appear on MTV’s “Unplugged” and lead singer Eddie Vedder would scribble the words “Pro-Choice” violently on his arms during the song “Porch”.

Anger. Message. 

U2’s Rattle and Hum movie followed the band on their Joshua Tree tour and director Cameron Crowe honored the 20 year anniversary of Pearl Jam’s release of the album Ten with “20”. Both were video diaries mixed with concert footage and were amazingly done. I highly recommend seeing each one several times to get the full impact.

Not surprisingly, both of those bands have been hugely influential on me and it struck me this week as I watched each bands’ Rock-u-mentary: they had SOMETHING to say. 

I came away thinking … What in the HELL is going on right now? What happened to the anger in rock music?

The current problems in this country should bring out the most violent, deep, animalistic anger in those with the microphones in their hands and stages beneath their feet.

Instead….we get Coldplay’s new album release this week.

Now, I like Coldplay, don’t get me wrong, but the image of a giant yellow balloon bouncing around is not going to fire me up to change the world nor is hearing “every tear is a waterfall” going to change the way I think.

I need passion. I need fire.

Who is going to write lyrics like this in the future?  

   “Don't mean to push, but I'm being shoved!
   Ohh, I'm just like you, think we've had enough
   I can't believe a thing they want us to...oh..
   Oh, we all got scars, they should have 'em too
                                          - Pearl Jam “Whipping”

High unemployment, record debt, the Occupy movement, abortions trying to be banned in Mississippi, tuition costs spiking, the Tea Party, the Gulf oil spill, the bank bailout, Gay marriage rights, and on and on and on….

There is so much to be angry about but we have ZERO response from our lyricists and our music artists.  

Where are the bands like Rage Against the Machine, Ministry, Marilyn Manson, (OLD SCHOOL) 311, Metallica, Nirvana, Sound Garden, Alice in Chains, Pantera, Biohazard, or Operation Ivy, bursting onto the rock scene with something to say with a message wrapped in a power cord and double bass?  

I’m sorry but Taylor Swift telling me about me that the thing she does best is “revenge” is not exactly going to get my heart beating.

Am I the only one seeing this? Rock music is the least profitable radio format in the country. Thus, rock music commercially is dying fast. SO WHAT!? I don’t get why the artists are going down with them? The medium is our hands now with power of 4G but it has stalled for some reason. Could twitter be the answer? Maybe. 

Yet, is creativity tied to being able to monetize it? I’m seriously asking because I don’t have the answer to what is happening right now.

Is it because artists aren’t being promoted? Well, I thought the power of the Internet was going to allow us to discover new bands and not have to worry about the record label's agendas anymore. That hasn’t happened or am I missing something?

Are there too many options now? Where are the grassroots artists selling albums out of the back of their cars? If that can't happen anymore, where are the websites with free downloads so bands can be heard? Who are the poets that vomit words that pull back the curtain over your eyes and allow you see things from a different point of view?     

Are we all just a bunch of pussies, living at home in our mother’s basement, waiting for the Genius Bar to call our names so our fixed iPhones can tell us what to do next?

What is this generation standing for…..text messaging?

I found Ani Difranco in a time where my personal anger was beginning to soften and I was willing to look deeper at societal issues. Gay people were unknown to me growing up in Andover, MA and bi-sexual, folk singers sure didn’t exist either.

While the genesis of her rage wasn’t something I related to, the questions she raised about who we are and what we value helped to shape who I am as an adult. I loved her uncompromising, unforgiving fire and willingness to piss people off.  

Where is the next self-publishing, self-motivated, activist artist with a message that has to be heard? I don’t see a counter-culture anymore.  

I can’t be the only one noticing the SERIOUS lack of a social movement in this country right now. Musically, we are so ripe for the next big thing. We had Seattle in 90’s, so I’m biased towards rock, but has Rap music won? Is THAT the only place we can go for socially aware music now?

I refuse to believe that.

Americana music has taken a large step forward in the past 3 years with acts like Mumford and Sons, Avett Brothers, and The Head and The Heart but their message is more timeless. It looks at the bigger picture of love and life and doesn’t get into the dirty stuff. Also, a band like Old Crow Medicine Show would have tough time being taken seriously if they started singing about racial oppression.  

But who will be next to sing lyrics like:

 “Who stuff the banks
  Who staff the party ranks
  More for Gore or the son of a drug lord
  None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord

  Lights out guerilla Radio
  Turn that shit up" 
                        – Rage Against The Machine

On the day the nation’s largest radio company, Clear Channel, fired hundreds of on-air talent in order to automate their stations with computers and to standardize their playlists, I’m afraid I sound like our fathers and uncles who pulled out records of Neil Young, Led Zeppelin, The Clash, The Rolling Stones, Credence Clearwater and said “back in my day, music meant something.”

Well, back in my day – music SAID something.

Today, it’s all about American Idol wanna-be artists rehashing songs and asking for the country to “vote” for them to stay on the island of fame for one more week.

Nobody is willing to ask the tough questions or stand up for something real anymore. Nobody has the balls to say what is really happening around them…. all we want is the same cookie-cutter bullshit. 

Who isn't afraid to say something unpopular? 

    they caught the last poor man on a poor man's vacation
    they cuffed him and they confiscated his stuff
    and they dragged his black ass down to the station
   and said "ok the streets are safe now”.
   all your pretty white children can come out to see spot run
   and they came out of their houses and they looked around
   but they didn't see no one.

   and my country tis of thee
   to take swings at each other on talk show tv
   why don't you just go ahead and turn off the sun
   'cause we'll never live long enough to
   undo everything they've done to you
   undo everything they've done to you
                                                     -Ani Difranco

I know she isn't ... but who is next? 

I ask you - What the F is going on?!!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I know I said I'd write more on here and I've obviously choked on that claim but for the moment...just enjoy the VIBRANT excitement that I have for this movie trailer and soon-to-be released Cameron Crowe doc on Pearl Jam.

PJ, as I called them in High School, was first discovered by me in Homeroom of my freshman year. A blonde, pretty girl was singing "Alive" under her breathe with headphones on. I asked her "who was that?" she was listening to. She put the headphones on my head. Magic I tell ya for a angry teenager who needed someone to explain that being pissed at your parents was O.K.

I was just 14 years old. Shit, I'm old huh? 20 years ago this all started. I'm 34 now.

But at that time, I was just learning about the power of music and becoming a nut for its ability to move me. I wanted to know everything about every new band on the scene and wanted to hear all types of music for myself to experience it and to be first to find the band everyone would be talking about in three months. U2 was the band of middle school for me but then grunge took over. Soon I would be wearing flannel shirts tied around my waste and Doc Martin shoes on my feet. Bands like The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Stone Temple Pilots, SoundGarden, and Mudhoney would follow ... but Pearl Jam was special.

"Alive" was the first song I heard from Eddie Vedder and it shook me, changed me. I don't have vivid memories about a lot things in my life prior to becoming an adult ... but I will always remember where I was when I first heard Pearl Jam.

Hours and hours of music listening followed, including my senior year quote in my yearbook. PJ was my high school band and I owe PJ a lot ... the music helped me get through some tough times and was an outlet for my emotion. I would blast songs like "Indifferent" and "Black" when I was sad and "Rearview Mirror" when I knew I wanted to leave Mass.

"State of Love and Trust" is still my favorite song by them ... after all these years. "Ten" and "Animal" are amazing records. I joined the "Ten Club" for almost a decade and belonging got me amazing seats in Hartford for my first PJ show in the late 90's. I still have the ticket stub.

I can not wait to see this movie. This movie will help me see what I missed over all those years when I was in college and not able to go to shows as much as I would have liked . I wasn't old enough to really enjoy seeing PJ when they were at their best ... the club years. By the time I was 21, Pearl Jam had already changed dramatically. Later on, I would promise myself to never miss a band when they were at their most pure.

I've been pretty lucky to see some amazing acts but I never saw Pearl Jam with 1000 people in the crowd. This movie will show what it was like and I can't freakin' wait!

Pearl Jam Twenty from Pearl Jam on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sorry ...

I've really slacked with my blog posting. I apologize. I've got some time coming up this weekend so I'll get something up for sure soon. Thanks for checking it out!

Thursday, June 16, 2011


39 Long Years are HISTORY!! 
For Boston, for Boston, 
we sing our proud refrain 
for Boston, for Boston 
'tis wisdom's earthly fane
for here are all one 
and our hearts are true 
and the towers on the heights 
reach the heavens own blue.
for Boston, for Boston 
'til the echoes ring again

For Boston, for Boston 
thy glory is our own
for Boston, for Boston 
'tis here that truth is known
and ever with a right 
shall our heirs be found 
'til time shall be no more 
and thy work is crowned
for Boston, for Boston 
thy glory is our own

                 - Dropkick Murphys 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Full Circle Graduation

AHS 1995 grad book

“The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.” – Oscar Wilde

My brother Colin graduated from Andover High School on Monday. This blog has always been a place where I have discussed my life, my thoughts, and my feelings on a variety of issues. While some are made uncomfortable by the frankness of my words on here … I don’t know how to be any other person but me.

And being me means being honest. So …

In 1992, my mother informed me that I was going to have a second brother as her and my stepfather were expecting their first child.

I was 15 years old.

My brother Ben and I were the offspring of my mother's first marriage which ended when I was 11 years old. I never thought that 23 years later, my family would look like it does today. Hell, I didn't think I would live in Iowa, Nebraska, Alabama or Virginia either but don't try to predict how your life will go. You'll just end up completely wrong. 

Tomorrow in Andover, my "modern family" will celebrate the high school graduation of Colin from AHS, a school that my mom, dad, stepdad, and brother Ben all graduated from at one time or another. I have an 18-year-old brother, a 15-year-old brother, and an 11-year-old sister to go along with my 31-year-old brother.

I am 34 years old and I’m going to guess that you aren’t closer in age to your mother than your sister. Today in fact, my mother informed me that my little sister played at a friend's whose house is the one my father's parents lived in for the better part of 40 years. I spent my first year of life in that house. 

It really has all come full circle for me.    

In May of 1999, I graduated college and left three months later for Virginia in search of a career, a journey, and myself. My stepfather, in order to comfort my crying mother as I drove off in my U-Haul, said to my mother “He’ll be back in 6 months.”

I did not move home to New England until March of 2011.

My yearbook photo
During those years of being gone, I dated a various number of women, even living with two of them but I was never was 100% committed to spending the rest of my life with any of them. However, I returned home a much different person than I left as you could imagine. The South and Midwest made me into a man. 

As I sit here now in Massachusetts, I do have to wonder however, what impact my brothers had on me while I was a high school student and how it shaped eventually who I am today.  

Two years after the news of Colin, my mother, now 36 years old, stopped me as I was walking into my house after soccer practice one day. “I have something I need to tell you”, she said to me on our front porch step. “You are going to be a brother again.”

My response as I blew past her: “Whatever.” I refused to discuss the news for several days, injuring my mother for several months.

I was 17 years old.

It didn’t matter to me that I was about the same age as my mother was when she gave birth to me, I was furious that she was going to pregnant again and was going to be pregnant at my high school graduation.

Four years later at my college graduation from UMass, my mother would be pregnant again with my sister Maggie. I was 21 years old and by that time, numb to the uncomfortable looks parents would give to my family after seeing a pregnant woman celebrate the graduation of her oldest son.  

So, as I sat in the Tsongas Arena in Lowell this past Monday evening, watching the class of 2011 receive their diplomas, I began to think about how different my life was back then compared to my brother’s right now. I pulled out my old high school yearbook and began to reminisce about the child I once was and how I used to handle myself. The memories weren’t always easy to re-live but things happen in your life for a reason and the lessons you learn always help you later on in life. 

As I thought about how I've changed, I'm proud that I’ve always been an open person. I know that scares a lot of people, especially in my professional life, but I will never again be ashamed of who I am or what I came from.

I’m different. So what? I’m home now and had to leave to understand the importance of that.  

I kept journals for all the years I was gone and there are pages full of my wanting to return home to New England. While I knew the transition would not be easy, I’m very thankful to be here now and to be a part of my family again. Professionally, this is where I want to be and have a long-term future here, something I never saw at any of my four stops along the way. Sure, I love Omaha will always love Omaha (I still work in Omaha really) but I wasn’t going to raise a family in Omaha and didn’t want to drag another girl around the country with me after doing so after college. It wasn’t fair.

But I was only 24 then and the mistakes I made were much different than the mistakes my father made at that age while he was married to my mother.   

Watching Colin graduate from Andover High School was pretty special for me, something I would have surely missed if I hadn’t moved back. I have never been married and have never seriously thought about having a child of my own but Colin was the first human I got to see from diapers to diploma.

The teen-angst he went through (and is still going through) was so familiar to me and I related so much to that uncomfortable-in-your-own-skin suffering of a teenager. It really is wild to watch someone raised by your mother appear so similar to you in so many ways, yet be so different as well.

Tomorrow, we celebrate Colin’s achievement and send him off to Merrimack College where he will be a starting pitcher for their baseball team next fall. He earned a scholarship that is worth over $80,000.

The journey for him is just beginning while mine is starting another chapter. I’m just really glad I’m around to be a part of celebrating the good news. Sometimes, it feels like I never left. Other times, it feels like I missed too much. 

As the oldest of my mother's 5 children however, I'm proud of my family and proud of who we all are today. My mom raised two adults so far. I'm in radio working for two stations in New England. My brother owns and operates his own organic farm in western Mass with his wife Liz and their two kids. Tomorrow, number 3 sets off to find out who he wants to become. 

Seems like a long time from when I was 15 and my mother told me that I was going to be brother for the second time. 

Don't we all love to "Remember When"? From 1995... 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

HELP ALABAMA and the South!!

I spent 4 years in Huntsville, Alabama while I was on my radio journey and met some of the most amazing people. I learned how to be a talk show host in Alabama. The storms that ripped the apart the south have left my friends down there REALLY hurting and in need of your help!

Watch this video. It's by the band Emphatic of Omaha, NE - another stop on my career path and then contact to donate money. PLEASE help. This story has broken my heart. Over 200 people died in storms that took only seconds to destroy lives and families.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Harrison Barnes' Mom doesn't like Marty Tirrell

Don't take my word for it ... read the release yourself from Mrs. Barnes, Shirley:


Marty Tirrell, Mouth of the Midwest at it again

Ames, Iowa - Marty Tirrell of Mouth of the Midwest and Calling All Sports, acting apparently on his desire to be in the know, is again making inaccurate and uninformed statements about former Ames High student and current University of North Carolina freshman, Harrison Barnes.

Early Monday on Calling All Tirrell reported that Barnes had made a decision about his collegiate future and would make those plans known on April 5th. Tirrell also made several tweets on the subject:
Harrison Barnes returning to Chapel Hill for sophomore years..."unfinished business " and cites desire to win a championship
2:38 PM Mar 29th via Mobile Web from Des Moines, IA
Harrison Barnes to make it official Tuesday.... Back to Heels-
about 19 hours ago via Mobile Web from Charlotte, NC
Harrison Barnes prattle 10a east at Monday
about 16 hours ago via Mobile Web from Augusta, GA
Harrison Barnes commits to "work left to be done" at NC Tells family and friends wants and feel Heels can move forward and " win a title "
about 12 hours ago via Mobile Web from Georgia, US

In 2009 as Ames High was preparing for their first state tournament appearance in 18 years, Tirrell, who worked for KXNO Radio at the time, reported that then-junior Harrison Barnes would attend Oak Hill Academy, a college preparatory school in Virginia known for its basketball prowess, in the fall of 2009. 

This major distraction for the school and the team resulted in Barnes' family responding with a press release stating the report had no merit and was solely generated by those reporting it. 

Again, Terrill's statements have no merit and are solely speculation by the reporter.
Terrill has not spoken to the Barnes family or to anyone in their inner circle. His actions are irresponsible and amount to harassment. As a result, the family is fielding calls to rectify inaccurate reporting.

Harrison Barnes and members of his family will not field further questions on the subject of his future until a decision has been made.

EDIT: Ken Miller of KXnO contacted Shirley Barnes to make sure the press release did come from her. There were some saying that the release was a fake:


Thank you for checking. Yes, the release did come from me and sorry for spelling Mr. Tirrell's name incorrectly in the closing paragraph.

Sadly Mr. Tirrell gave his opinion as fact which included a decision date.  What should be a low key private family decision has turned into a media circus.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Pretty Cool Birthday Gift

It's been a crazy few weeks for me and I haven't had much time to write about the opportunities that have been flying at me or how great it has been to be back in New England but with tomorrow being my birthday (April 4th) and the Red Sox about to get swept to start the year, I've found a few moments to write.

First, the new show on WGAM, The Hometeam, has gotten off to a tremendous start. Justin Bastinelli and myself have gelled quickly and our chemistry on air is easily heard. I hope you will check out the show from M-F 4 to 6 pm est either on air or stream it. We are really enjoying ourselves and I think it's a good show. I've know Justin since I was 16 years old and to host a radio program with someone who you have that kind of history with is extremely rare. It's been a lot of fun and we start our 4th week on the air tomorrow. The first month has FLOWN by, which is great.

The other angle of my job in New Hampshire is that I've returned to selling ads on my own show. This was something I did for 6 years earlier in my career in Virginia and Alabama. While it can a frustrating at times and tough given the economy, I've always enjoyed the business side of radio and frankly, I missed it. My mind has always been geared towards radio promotions and marketing and getting to have control over my own show in that capacity again has been refreshing. I'm working for a locally owned company again which has give me the flexibility to use my full arsenal of ideas.

That's job 1. Most of you know that I run a Creighton Bluejay website which is job 2. The latest job is the one that will get me the most exposure.

This past Saturday, my new show on the WEEI Sports Radio Network debuted as 'Sports Saturday' with myself along with Rob Bradford and Kirk Minihane of hit the airwaves to talk about the Red Sox.  The show will be on every Saturday from 9 a to 1 pm.

I was so pumped up after the first show that I crashed my car in the parking garage across the street from the station. Not good, but it was just cosmetic damage, nothing major.

For the past 8 years, I've been telling Jason Wolfe, the PD of WEEI, that I was going to work for him one day. While hosting a Saturday show is not the end of my career climb in Boston, I am very proud that I was able to finally land a position with WEEI. Next week, I'll cross off another career bucket list item as I'll get to host a radio show live from Fenway Park before the Red Sox and Yankees play that afternoon!!

To say that I'm over the moon for that show would be a dramatic understatement and with tomorrow being my birthday - HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME.

As I turn 34 tomorrow, it hasn't been lost on me that I'm finally able to relax about my career.  Gone is that ticking clock in my head that kept me awake at night countless times. I'm covering the teams I've always wanted to cover and while still working to get up to speed on everything that has happened in New England over the past 10 years, I'm where I'm supposed to be.

I've been able to spend time with my family in a way that I haven't been able to for over a decade. While I'm still not moved into my own place and won't be for a few more days, being home is as great as I thought it would be. I'm needed here.

It hasn't been all good news as my past caught up with me here in New England like I thought it might and a cool opportunity was taken away from me because of something that happened years ago but for the most part, this is has been a dream come true.

I'm not sure I'm fully aware of how much fun I'm having yet but as soon as I get my own place set up, I'm sure I'll be letting you all know!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Matt and Maggie Review "Beastly"

So, now that I'm living at home - I get to spend more time with my little sister Maggie. One that we got to do during my visits were to go movies and then review them together. It was a nice way of doing something with her each time I was home and got her comfortable speaking on camera. Maggie wants to be an actress and is very talented on stage.

I've been home for exactly 8 days and here is our first movie review.

One thing that "Beastly" does an outstanding job of is highlighting how hurtful superficiality can be to young people. I didn't mention this in the video below but I thought the message of this movie was outstanding and really worth showing your pre-teen or high schooler.

The message makes the movie.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Top 10 Things I've Covered

I spent the better part of the drive back from Arch Madness thinking about endings and the fact that on Friday I will be driving my life back home after leaving 11 years ago. I never like this week, the final week because all I do is reflect on what I just experienced. I really don’t like endings. 

I never have.

There are clear memories in my brain of crying as a 10 year old when my summer camp experience was over after being away from home for 2 months. I hated that I had to go home and would ask my mom if I could just stay for one more day. 

While I’m very excited to be going home, I can’t help but feel like my summer camp experience is over and now, after 11 years, it’s time to go home. It’s caused me to be introspective and reflective on the experiences that I was lucky enough to enjoy.

I thought it might be fun to list my Top 10 favorite things that I got to cover since I left Andover in August of 1999.

10. Play by Play Voice of the NBADL’s Huntsville Flight: The first year was by far the best of the four seasons of play by play I did for the minor league of the NBA. That was the season that I went on the road with the team. I will never forget Eric Chenoweth, former KU player, lighting off firecrackers in the parking lot of a Georgia gas station at 2 am. He earned the nickname “Cheno-bomb” for the rest of the season from Bob Thornton who was the head coach. I’ve stayed in touch with Bob over the years and he now coaches with the T-Wolves. I learned a ton about the game and the business of basketball.

9. Virginia vs. Virginia Tech: The only football game I saw between these two featured a certain QB named Michael Vick in 2000. He was kinda good that year. It was my first taste of a instate college football rivalry and I’ll never forget the first time seeing guys and girls dressing UP to go to a football game. It blew my mind but southern belles sure know how to go to games.  

8. Iowa vs. Iowa State: I only covered two of these games but the build up to them will be what I remember. It’s a pretty angry, intense rivalry that can get nasty on message boards. The only problem was the games were not competitive as Iowa rolled in both years. Honorable mention goes to Nebraska vs. Iowa State though.  

7. Creighton vs. Nebraska basketball: For six years, this was the best college basketball rivalry that I got to personally cover. I never saw the Jays lose at home but only saw 1 win at Nebraska for CU. My radio show in Omaha had a lot of coverage of this yearly brawl. I still don’t like Nebraska basketball and probably never will.

6. Broadcasting from Cameron Indoor: In college, I called a men’s game from Phogg Allen Field house at Kansas but as a pro, it was a women’s game that I called from atop the crow’s nest at Duke’s home arena that was awesome. It’s crazy how high the broadcasters have to go up, including climbing a ladder, to get up to the location but it's a mecca of basketball. Honorable mention goes to the 2000 ACC tournament that I covered too. 

5. Four full seasons of Alabama football: During the middle of the 2000’s, I went to every Alabama football game in a RV. It was crazy but so much fun like the time we partied with a millionaire dentist and his wife inside their 1 million dollar RV, complete with stripper pole. I got to see so many awesome football games as well, in some of the best college towns in this country. I also learned how to drive one of those beasts around.

4. Arch Madness: For six seasons, I traveled to St. Louis to cover the Missouri Valley Conference basketball tournament. In 2007, Creighton won the whole thing and went to the NCAA tournament. From drinking on Morgan Street at Sundeckers and Big Bang to seeing the sites of the city, it’s one of the most entertaining weekends you can have. If you’ve never gone – go! It's an amazing 4 days of basketball. 

3. 2007 World Series win for the Red Sox: This wasn’t an event that I covered at first but I became a media member as I got to go on the field after Game 4 in Denver. Because of the combo fan/work angle, I dropped this to 3. It’s my favorite sports moment that I witnessed personally however.

2. Alabama vs. Auburn: AKA The Iron Bowl. There is nothing like it in college football. The passion, the tailgating, the players, the atmosphere is all second to none. Throw out the records and buckle up for a crazy ride. I’m really happy I watched one of the four that I was present for from the stands. It gave me a great perspective of just what the game means to the fans.

1. The NCAA Tournament: I went to one as a college broadcaster and 3 as a pro and simply put – I think that March Madness is the greatest thing we do as a sports country. It’s my favorite thing to cover. In 2007, I watched Creighton play Nevada in New Orleans. Then in 2009, Omaha hosted eventual National Champ Kansas for their first two games and then last year – I watched UNI pull the upset of the dance by sending No. 1 seed Kansas home. That win sent me to my first Sweet 16 game as UNI lost to Michigan State in St. Louis.

Other fun events worth mentioning:

-2010 and 2011 Insight Bowls for Iowa State and Iowa.
-Every Nebraska football home game for 4 years 
-Every Creighton basketball home game for 4 years
-Big 12 Media Days for 6 straight years for football

I’ve seen some awesome things over the past 11 years and I know I won’t be seeing as many games in person with my new job but I feel like I’ve been very lucky in what I’ve be able to witness.