Sound Check: An apology, and Keith Urban at Blossom

By Malcolm X Abram
Beacon Journal staff writer

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Country music artist Keith Urban performs in concert during the NFL football Kickoff 2013 at the Inner Harbor on Sept. 5, in Baltimore. (Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP)

Before I start this collection of random ramblings. I’d like to apologize to Mexie Wilson, whom I misrepresented in my most recent column.

Wilson, who as an independent promoter, brought many good local and national hip-hop acts to downtown Akron over the years. She was enlisted to work with the city of Akron. I wholeheartedly apologize for screwing up the facts.

Keith Urban at Blossom

I’ve been on vacation (happy birthday to me) and generally when I go on vacation, I attempt to completely unplug for a while, save for my fantasy football drafts and the opening weekend of the NFL, of course.

I do know that tonight Keith Urban will country/rock/pop Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls with a bunch of new tunes from his brand new album, Fuse, which was released Tuesday.

Urban has been diversifying his brand and making himself as visible as possible of late. He opened the NFL season in Baltimore last Thursday and signed on for another season of American Idol, where he easily was the best and most useful judge. He gave contestants clear, technical advice and encouragement.

Urban has never been shy about his love of other musical genres, recently citing U2's adventurous Achtung Baby as an inspiration for the eclecticism of Fuse and professing his love of the song writing of ABBA.

Fuse was made with a gaggle of songwriters and producers including former Dr. Dre cohort Mike Elizondo and the Norwegian electronic dance music duo Stargate. It has a mélange of familiar contemporary country-pop moves mixed with electronic bleeps and blips, mechanized grooves and loops and straight-ahead pop songs laced with just enough of the requisite banjo arpeggios, pedal steel colorings, fiddle and Urban’s guitar licks to remind you it’s still rooted in country music.

Dio Disciples

I also know that Sunday night at Ripper Owens’ Rock House in Akron, one of Owens’ many projects, the Dio Disciples, will perform.

Dio Disciples is a group of heavy-metal lifers who were friends and admirers of the late Ronnie James Dio. They all played with the man himself shortly before his death from stomach cancer in 2010.

The band tours the world playing Dio’s music as a tribute to one of heavy metal’s most distinctive singers. The band is Owens on vocals, ex-AC/DC and Dio drummer Simon Wright, ex-Dio and Giuffria guitarist and Cincinnati native Craig Goldy, ex-Dio and Heaven & Hell keyboardist Scott Warren, and ex-Dio, Yngwie Malmsteen and Quiet Riot bassist Bjorn Englen.

The group plays tunes from Dio’s major musical stops including his stints in Rainbow and Black Sabbath along with his solo hits such as Holy Diver and The Last in Line.

All twerked up

So as I said, I honestly haven’t kept up with what’s happening in the music world.

I heard something about Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke in a Beetlejuice suit doing something visually egregious at the VMAs. Apparently, it upset some parental units and folks who haven’t noticed that Cyrus has spent the intervening years since the end of her Disney show crapping on her old squeaky-clean Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus image while insistently sexing up her freshly minted adult pop star image.

Cyrus will host Saturday Night Live in October. As an actress, she has pretty good comic timing, so expect a few self-deprecating jokes about twerking, tattoos and nakedness.

Also, I think somebody owes Jamie Foxx an apology for his apology after he predicted Miley would soon be dancing on a stripper pole, which she did during a 2010 performance at the Teen Choice Awards.

This is 2013 where “any publicity is good publicity” is not just a cliché, but a way of life. So the endgame goes to Cyrus who probably isn’t crying about possibly losing some of her younger fans or losing the cover of Vogue reportedly because the fashion magazine’s longtime editor Anna Wintour found her VMA performance distasteful.

Cyrus has compared her performance to some of the “shocking” VMA performances of the past by other pop stars such as Madonna and Britney Spears.

Mars and Murphy

The NFL is going with singer/songwriter/producer Bruno Mars for the 2014 Super Bowl halftime show.

Mars has got a smoking hot and very tight big band and he is quite the energetic performer with a bit of old-school showmanship. So it should be an entertaining overblown, visual and audio assault/spectacle.

I predict there will be dancers dressed like slutty angels for the Locked out of Heaven section of the cavalcade-of-hits medley and copious fireworks.

Oh, and Eddie Murphy is about to release a new album. Yeah, I know that you're thinking about his 1980s song Party All the Time and that awful song and video he made with Michael Jackson in the ’90s or some such nonsense. But Murphy, who said he is semi-retired from acting, recently told Rolling Stone that he didn’t want to let his musical legacy stand with Party All the Time, although I think Boogie in Your Butt from his 1982 debut album is still his best work musically.

Murphy just released a new video for his upcoming album’s lead single Red Light featuring Snoop Lion (of course) and it’s a solid reggae tune with a very strong Bob Marley vibe.

Flag on the play

Dear Browns, please stop sucking. Go Browns.

Malcolm X Abram can be reached at or 330-996-3758. Read his blog, Sound Check Online, at, or follow him on Twitter @malcolmxabram.

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