New Music: Nine Times Blue – ‘Matter of Time’

9XBlue_CDNine Times Blue – Matter of Time
***½ (out of 4 stars)
Label: Renegade Recordings

Power pop band Nine Times Blue has just released a six-track EP, Matter of Time. It is the second release from the band, following their impeccable debut, Falling Slowly. The Atlanta-based alternative rock band capture and maintain a modern rock sound rooted in 60s pop songwriting. The result is an infectious experience that combines decades of worthy influences.

If there were such things as record stores still around (I live in a city of 10 million people, all of whom are starved for a way to encounter new releases without being told what to like by the stagnant arts media), they would be selling discs with each and every in-store play. This collection of songs would have been just the thing to perk up your ears and make you ask the store clerk what was playing. Alas, self-sufficient music lovers are on their own, which is why I ignore the stack of new releases from major labels on my desk today to share with you the news that Nine Times Blue (featuring lead singer/songwriter Kirk Waldrop on guitar, Greg King on lead guitar/backing vocals, Jeff Nelson on bass/backing vocals and Jason Brewer on drums) sounds better than ever.

Special kudos to the dynamic backbeat most of the songs receive. Even though underplayed, it is powerful stuff that defines what makes Nine Times Blue so special and so refreshing to hear. This EP is so shiny and smart and satisfying that I hope their next release is a double album. In the case of Nine Times Blue, more music is never enough. (In the meantime, I’ll just keep the breezy and sophisticated last track, “Only Lonely [The Shovel Song]” on constant repeat.)

Essential Downloads: “Falling After You,” “Matter of Time,” “Only Lonely (The Shovel Song).”

To preview or purchase this album on iTunes, click here.

Greg Victor

Greg Victor (Parcbench Culture Editor) covers the worlds of tennis and country music for Parcbench. Based in New York City and frequently on the road.

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Lisa Biales (‘Belle of the Blues’)

Belle_of_Blues_CDLisa Biales – Belle of the Blues
*** ½ (out of 4 stars)
Label: Big Song Music

One of the most consistent singers around, Lisa Biales, has recently released another high quality album — Belle of the Blues. It is produced by E.G. Kight and Paul Hornsby, and features Tommy Talton, Randall Bramblett and Bill Stewart. On it, Lisa Biales’ graceful vocals are framed perfectly by the musicians and, with each of the album’s eleven tracks, it is clear that she can do it all exceedingly well.

She specializes in a brand of blues that relies less on a performer’s histrionic delivery than most. Instead, she sings the song with such an ease that there’s never any doubt that she is the authority on the lyric being sung. To call her refreshing is an understatement. Playing along with Lisa Biales’ golden vocals throughout the album are: E.G. Kight (guitar and harmony vocals), Paul Hornsby (piano), Tommy Talton (acoustic guitar, slide guitar, dobro), Randall Bramblett (Hammond B-3), Bill Stewart (drums), Johnny Fountain (bass), Ken Wynn (electric guitar, acoustic slide guitar), Gary Porter (tambourine), Tommy Vickery (bass) and Pat Bergeson (harmonica).

Belle of the Blues is an intimate album. To listen to it from beginning to end is to appreciate just how well structured a good blues album can be; it is as seamless as Lisa Biales’ vocals. The effect is almost like hanging out with Ms. Biales in her dressing room before or after a gig, rather than being seated in an audience. These are songs that allow her to communicate big ideas in a personal manner, and she conveys them with a relaxed clarity that is almost deceptive in its simplicity.

Lisa Biales has a voice that is always inviting. Sometimes it invites you to nod in agreement. Sometimes it invites you inside a song you’ve never heard before. Sometimes it invites you to sing along. And sometimes, if you close your eyes and turn up the volume just enough, you could swear that it invites you to go back in time to an era when a sexy lady at the mic in front of a live band seemed to be singing to just you alone, and supplying you with answers to all the big questions you have about life and love and all that jazz.

Essential Downloads: “Sad, Sad Sunday,” “Mask,” “Baby, Won’t You Please Come Home,” “In My Girlish Days.”

To preview or purchase this album on iTunes, click here.

Greg Victor

Greg Victor (Parcbench Culture Editor) covers the worlds of tennis and country music for Parcbench. Based in New York City and frequently on the road.

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Idina Menzel Becomes The First Tony Award Winning Actor With A Top 10 Hit

Screen shot 2014-03-16 at 4.02.23 PMThe Billboard Hot 100 chart, which ranks the week’s 100 most popular songs in the United States, began in August of 1958. This week, for the first time, there is a Top 10 hit by a performer who has also won a Tony Award for acting.

With a pop hit that is defying Billboard chart gravity, Idina Menzel has reached the Top 10. The song, of course it “Let It Go,” which makes her the first person with both a Top 10 hit and a Tony Award for acting. The Oscar-winner (from the film “Frozen”) jumped into the number 9 position on the Billboard Hot 100 chart this week.

John Travolta mispronounced her name (as Adele Dazeem) on the March 2nd broadcast of the Academy Awards when she sang the song for an audience of 43 million viewers, guaranteeing that the entire world would soon know her real name. Ironically, that (and the fact that the song won the Oscar) could only have helped.

Menzel is a Tony Award winner — the highest accolade for Broadway theater — for her performance in the megahit “Wicked,” where she originated the part of Elphaba. Playing the role of the green witch who belts out the show’s anthem, “Defying Gravity,” won Ms. Menzel the 2004 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.

In 1996, she was nominated for Best Featured Actress in a musical, for her performance in “Rent” (with the award going to Ann Duquesnay for her performance in Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk).

There have been many Tony Award winners (among its eight acting categories) that have also charted on the Billboard Hot 100…

Ruth Brown (1989 Best Actress in a Musical for “Black and Blue”) – Brown has had six songs in the Hot 100, including “The Little Girl’s Gone Rockin’” (No. 24)…

Kristin Chenoweth (1999 Best Featured Actress in a Musical for “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”) – With her appearances on the TV series “Glee,” Chenoweth has had six hits, the highest-ranking entry being her cover of “Alone,” which hit No. 51…

Robert Goulet (1968 Best Actor in a Musical for “The Happy Time”) – Goulet has charted on the Hot 100 three times. His biggest hit was No. 16, with “My Love, Forgive Me (Amore, Scusami)”…

Heather Headley (2000 Best Actress in a Musical for “Aida”) – Headley has charted three times on the Hot 100. Her biggest hit is “I Wish I Wasn’t,” which hit No. 55…

Jennifer Holliday – 1982 Best Actress in a Musical for “Dreamgirls”) – Holliday has had four Hot 100 hits, including her signature hit “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” (from “Dreamgirls”) which climbed to No. 22…

Linda Hopkins (1972 Best Featured Actress in a Musical for “Inner City”) – Hopkins had two hit singles with Jackie Wilson: “I Found Love” (No. 93) and “Shake a Hand” (No. 42)…

Melba Moore (1970 Best Featured Actress in a Musical for “Purlie”) – Moore had two Hot 100 entries: “This Is It” (No. 91) and “You Stepped Into My Life” (No. 47)…

Bernadette Peters (1986 Best Actress in a Musical for “Song and Dance) & 1999 Best Actress in a Musical for “Annie Get Your Gun”) – Peters’ hit single was “Gee Whiz,” which reached No. 31…

Leslie Uggams (1968 Best Actress in a Musical for “Hallelujah, Baby”) – Uggams hit the Hot 100 once, with “One More Sunrise (Morgen),” a No. 98 hit…

Dick Van Dyke (1961 Best Featured Actor in a Musical for “Bye Bye Birdie”) – Van Dyke performed (with Julie Andrews) “Super-Cali-Fragil-Istic-Expi-Ali-Docious” in the film “Mary Poppins,” and it hit No. 66…

Although there have been Tony Award winners in other categories that have also notched top 10 Hot 100 hits, they were not Tonys awarded in competitive acting categories. For example, Barbra Streisand, who has had 12 Top 10 singles, including five No. 1s, was given a special Tony Award in 1970 as “Star of the Decade.” Like Streisand, Bette Midler, Barry Manilow and Diana Ross all won special Tony Awards in the 1970s. Roger Miller had five top 10 singles before he received the Tony Award for best score in 1985 (for “Big River”). Marvin Hamlisch took home the 1976 Tony Award for best score for “A Chorus Line,” shortly after netting a top 10 single with “The Entertainer.” Pete Townshend won the 1993 Tony Award for best score for “The Who’s ‘Tommy’,” Elton John won a 2000 Tony Award for best score for “Aida” and Billy Joel won in 2003 for his orchestrations for “Movin’ Out.” Cyndi Lauper won the 2013 Tony Award for best score for “Kinky Boots.”

Greg Victor

Greg Victor (Parcbench Culture Editor) covers the worlds of tennis and country music for Parcbench. Based in New York City and frequently on the road.

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1Rounder Records, a division of leading independent music company Concord Music Group, today announced the completion of the company’s relocation from its longtime base of Boston, Massachusetts to its new home in Nashville, Tennessee. The region’s vibrant creative community and dynamic business environment offer Rounder an enormous opportunity to build on its legacy as one of America’s most revered music labels. Located in The Gulch, Nashville’s popular shopping and entertainment district, Rounder’s new headquarters (1209 Pine Street, Suite 100 Nashville, TN 37203) is centered in the heart of the city’s thriving metropolitan core.

A major force in a broad range of musical genres including Americana, bluegrass, country, folk, rock, Cajun/Zydeco, and children’s music, Rounder Records has helped shape American roots music for over 40 years. Its outstanding artist roster includes Alison Krauss, Steve Martin, RUSH, Gregg Allman, Raffi, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Carlene Carter, Steep Canyon Rangers, Tony Trischka, and rising stars such as J.D. McPherson, Della Mae and others.

Concord Music Group and Rounder are additionally delighted about the effort to broaden their presence in children’s entertainment, anchored by the recent acquisition of the beloved record label Music For Little People. The company will operate as an imprint under Rounder, which shares a long and complementary history in children’s music. A premiere children’s music showcase for 25+ years, Music For Little People releases have featured artists such as Willie Nelson, Faith Hill, Taj Mahal, Los Lobos, Laurie Berkner, AC/DC’s Brian Johnson, Pete Seeger and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, to name but a few. Music For Little People founder Leib Ostrow will continue to be an essential contributor to the label going forward. A slate of new projects is scheduled for release in 2014 and beyond.

Headed by President, John Virant, Rounder’s Nashville team includes Vice President of A&R, Scott Billington; newly appointed Vice President of A&R, Tracy Gershon and Director of Project Management, Eliza Levy. Rounder will continue to be supported by Concord’s integrated national sales and marketing services.

Rounder Records founders, Ken Irwin, Bill Nowlin, and Marian Leighton Levy remain in the Boston area and continue to be actively engaged in the company, producing and consulting on various Rounder projects.

“Rounder has always been driven by the music, and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute and be part of the Music City community,” said Rounder President John Virant.

“In many ways, the move to Nashville feels like a natural transition,” stated Concord Music Group President and CEO Glen Barros. “The region’s deeply-rooted, artist friendly culture and its surrounding business community make it the ideal home for Rounder. Additionally, Music For Little People is a great label that will strengthen Rounder’s commitment to quality entertainment for children. We couldn’t be more excited about this next chapter in the company’s incredible story.”

Greg Victor

Greg Victor (Parcbench Culture Editor) covers the worlds of tennis and country music for Parcbench. Based in New York City and frequently on the road.

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Eric Church To Tape Debut Performance For “AUSTIN CITY LIMITS” On September 23

ec_pubphotoMulti-platinum country music superstar Eric Church will tape his debut performance for “Austin City Limits” on Sept. 23, 2014 as part of the ground-breaking music program’s 40th anniversary season. The television show is taped live before a concert audience at the venue ACL Live at The Moody Theater in downtown Austin, Texas, and will air nationally on PBS Television on a date to be revealed later.


“Eric Church is working on a level that few other country artists of his generation can touch,” said Ken Tucker at NPR Music in his review of Church’s new album The Outsiders, which recently debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and Billboard Top Country Album Chart. “Shrewd, defiant, sly and funny, Eric Church has succeeded in what he set out to do: He’s using the power he’s accrued from making hit records to make exactly the kind of album he wants, heedless of industry approval. And this is how good he is: Now he’ll go out and — through the singles he’ll release, the touring he’ll do and the videos he’ll make — probably turn this personal project into a big commercial deal. The Outsiders deserves nothing less.”

“… this is the kind of record critics imagine Kanye keeps making: a freakish statement of confidence and power from an artist in full command of his gifts,” wrote Michael Robbins in his review for Spin. “Nashville has the deepest grab-bag in contemporary pop right now, but nothing else comes together like Eric Church in the wild.”

Dan Hyman wrote about The Outsiders in Esquire saying, “It’s buck-wild, over-the-top, loud, distorted…and decidedly fearless. It’s a gem…. It’s the sort of take-no-prisoners rock-centered country album that’s doing exactly what Nashville’s Music Row elite, with their risk-averse, trend-following predilections growing ever more predictable by the day, never could have anticipated: packing stadiums and making massive dollars.”

For more information on The Outsiders and Eric Church, please visit www.ericchurch.com or follow on Twitter @EricChurch and Facebook at www.Facebook.com/ericchurch.

Greg Victor

Greg Victor (Parcbench Culture Editor) covers the worlds of tennis and country music for Parcbench. Based in New York City and frequently on the road.

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Will Ferrell, Kevin Spacey, Rebel Wilson, Novak Djokovic & Others Turn ‘Desert Smash’ Into A Day In The Sun To Remember


If the PNB Paribas is known as “High Drama in the Desert,” then the annual Desert Smash is the comedy relief. Held at the La Quinta Resort & Club, it’s a prestigious day full of celebrities, tennis stars and entertainment, all for a great cause – the Cancer for College charity. If you hope to attend the event next year, get your tickets early (to visit the Desert Smash website, click here); the pro-celebrity tennis exhibition ends up selling out quickly.

Things kicked off after Chris Mann (‘The Voice’ finalist) did a fine job singing the National Anthem…

This year’s celebrity host, the hilarious Will Ferrell, was joined by Kevin Spacey, Rebel Wilson, Joel McHale, Timothy Olyphant, Lance Bass, Jon Lovitz, RedFoo and a number of others. The tennis world supplied its own share of celebs, with such players as Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka, Bob and Mike Bryan, Daniela Hantuchova, Ana Ivanovic, Fernando Verdasco and more. Other celebrities, including Timothy Olyphant and Jon Lovitz, participated in a ProAm tournament during which regular folks paid to play with a celebrity and a professional player, such as Nick Monroe and Simon Stadler.

RedFoo (of LMFOA) at the Desert Smash Celebrity/Pro-Am Tournament

RedFoo (of LMFOA) at the Desert Smash Celebrity/Pro-Am Tournament

Ferrell, kicked off the event by teaming with his wife against actors Joel McHale and Rebel Wilson. I had a chance to chat with Rebel before the match and she shared her excitement at being asked to participate in the event, calling it a “win-win” situation; she loved being able to help raise money for the charity, and she got to come hang out in the desert and play tennis at the gorgeous La Quinta Resort & Club. Of her game, Rebel stated that she loves tennis, qualifying that by saying “years and years of working in comedy have taken their toll on my game.”

Rebel Wilson (left), and Jon Lovitz (right) at Desert Smash

Rebel Wilson (left), and Jon Lovitz (right) at Desert Smash

Other matches included Bob and Mike Bryan vs. David Marrero and Fernando Verdasco, Redfoo and Donald Young vs. Boris Kodjoe and Sam Querrey, Ana Ivanovic vs. Daniela Hantuchova and, the final match of the day, Novak Djokovic vs. Stan Wawrinka.

Ana Ivanovic at Desert Smash

Ana Ivanovic at Desert Smash

The highlight of the day had to be when Ferrell partnered with Novak Djokovic to play against two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey and Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka. One of the things that makes Mr. Ferrell so successful as an actor and comedian — his revealing of truths, large and small — is also what made him such fun to watch on the tennis court. He communicates the continual inner angst (and occasional thrill) that comes during the playing of a good tennis match in a way that the crowd understood from experience. They roared with approval at Mr. Ferrell’s cleverness. After chasing a drop shot delivered accidentally by the opposing team, Will Ferrell crashed to the ground. He missed a shot at the net, but announced achieving some abrasions on his knee. When an arriving ball (that was clearly on his side of the court) ended up being unreachable, Ferrell had no problem yelling to Dojokovic, “Yours!” Djokovic responded, asking “Mine? Shouldn’t that be yours?” To which Ferrell replied, “Well, yes… normally… but I thought you could get it and it’d boost your confidence!” Meanwhile, the ball delivered by Kevin Spacey’s weapon of a backhand went unreturned. Ferrell also gave some free advice to the players: “Make sure you hydrate, OK? I’m doing that by drinking a lot of Herradura Tequila and Finlandia Vodka” (two of the events sponsors).

The money raised at the event goes to College for Cancer, an organization that provides college scholarships to cancer survivors. Cancer for College has been helping young people who are diagnosed with cancer by providing them with scholarships since 1994. Cancer for College has given out over $2 million in scholarships over the years, providing priceless inspiration to young people in the process. Will Ferrell is a member of the Cancer for College Advisory Board and he volunteers as the organization’s spokesperson. Visit their website (click here) to find out more about this great cause.

After the tennis exhibition, the fundraising events continued into the night, at The Show at the Agua Caliente Casino. Will Ferrell kept up his hosting duties at his ‘Epically Awesome Desert Showdown Concert Extravaganza,’
 a concert that featured a number of special guests and musical performances by Boyz II Men and Nelly.

Partners Will Ferrell and Novak Djokovic encounter one of those dreaded "Yours!" moments that many tennis doubles players know all too well.

Partners Will Ferrell and Novak Djokovic encounter one of those dreaded “Yours!” moments that many tennis doubles players know all too well.

Greg Victor

Greg Victor (Parcbench Culture Editor) covers the worlds of tennis and country music for Parcbench. Based in New York City and frequently on the road.

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Come To The DESERT SHOWDOWN With Academy Award Favorites Will Ferrell and Kevin Spacey

Will Ferrell, star of “Anchorman” and one of the funniest presenters in the history of the Academy Awards will host the DESERT SHOWDOWN golf and tennis charity event.

Tuesday, at La Quinta Resort & Club, Will Ferrell and another Oscar favorite (and two time winner), Kevin Spacey, will appear on the hard court. For the 10th Annual DESERT SMASH tennis event, Ferrell will team up with No. 2-ranked Novak Djokovic to play against “House of Cards” star Kevin Spacey and No. 3-ranked Stan Wawrinka. Other celebrities and pro players also are scheduled to play against each other throughout the day.


DESERT SHOWDOWN also includes the “Will-Powered Golf Classic” on Monday at the Bighorn Golf Club and “Will Ferrell’s Epically Awesome Desert Showdown Concert Extravaganza” Tuesday night featuring Nelly and Boyz II Men at The Show at Agua Caliente.

The money raised during the Desert Smash tennis tournament will benefit Cancer for College. “Cancer for College is an amazing cause. To see these cancer survivors realize their dream of a college education is inspiring,” said Ferrell in a prepared statement. “You know what else is inspiring? Me embarrassing Kevin Spacey on a tennis court in front of a thousand people. Those Academy Awards aren’t going to help him one bit when I’m raining fire on him from the baseline,” he continued.

Other celebrities who will show off their tennis strokes include: Rebel Wilson, (“Pitch Perfect” and “Super Fun Night”), Kaley Cuoco (“Big Bang Theory”), Justin Chambers (“Grey’s Anatomy”), Kevin McKidd (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “Brave”), Timothy Olyphant (“Justified,” “Live Free or Die Hard”), RedFoo (LMFAO) and Jeremy Piven (“Entourage”). Tennis players include Daniela Hantuchova and doubles team Bob and Mike Bryan.

As a warm-up to the on-court comedy of DESERT SMASH (and since it’s Oscar Night), let’s enjoy some of the memorable moments from Will Ferrell and Kevin Spacey at the Academy Awards over the years…

Dianne Wiest presents Kevin Spacey with the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance in “The Usual Suspects” at the 68th Academy Awards in 1996…

Gwyneth Paltrow presents Kevin Spacey with the Best Actor Oscar for his performance in “American Beauty” at the 72nd Academy Awards in 2000…

Will Ferrell and Jack Black sing “Get Off the Stage” at the 76th
Annual Academy Awards in 2004…

Will Ferrell, Jack Black and John C. Reilly sing at the 79th Annual Academy Awards in 2007…

For DESERT SHOWDOWN tickets and information go to WillFerrellDesertShowdown.com or call (760) 599-5096.

Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis onstage at the 84th Academy Awards (2012).

Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis onstage at the 84th Academy Awards (2012).

Greg Victor

Greg Victor (Parcbench Culture Editor) covers the worlds of tennis and country music for Parcbench. Based in New York City and frequently on the road.

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Parcbench’s 2014 Academy Award Predictions

The 85th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 24, 2013.

In the fall, “Gravity” was at the forefront of the Academy Awards race. Then, along came “American Hustle,” gaining most of the enthusiasm until just this week — when most of the critic’s predictions were announced. Now, on the eve of the big awards handout, “12 Years a Slave” is looking like the frontrunner. “American Hustle” has still has the potential to score a few upsets in the acting categories, thus creating at lest some unpredictable excitement on Oscar night. One things I’ll bet you can count on: a Best Picture/Best Director split. And possibly a replacement for Ellen Degeneres as host next year.

Here are the Parcbench Academy Award Predictions for 2014:

“American Hustle”

“Captain Phillips”

“Dallas Buyers Club”





“12 Years a Slave”

“The Wolf of Wall Street”

WILL WIN: “12 Years a Slave”
SHOULD WIN: “Nebraska”

Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity”

Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”

Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”

David O. Russell, “American Hustle”

Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
WILL WIN: Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity”
SHOULD WIN: Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”

Christian Bale, “American Hustle”

Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”

Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”

Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
WILL WIN: Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
SHOULD WIN: Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”

Amy Adams, “American Hustle”

Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”

Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”

Judi Dench, “Philomena”

Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County”
WILL WIN: Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
SHOULD WIN: Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”

Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips”

Bradley Cooper, “American Hustle”

Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”

Jonah Hill, “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”
WILL WIN: Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”
SHOULD WIN: Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Sally Hawkins, “Blue Jasmine”

Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”

Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”

Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”

June Squibb, “Nebraska”
WILL WIN: Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
SHOULD WIN: June Squibb, “Nebraska”

“Before Midnight,” Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke

“Captain Phillips,” Billy Ray

“Philomena,” Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope

“12 Years a Slave,” John Ridley

“The Wolf of Wall Street,” Terence Winter
WILL WIN: ”12 Years a Slave”
SHOULD WIN: ”12 Years a Slave”

“American Hustle,” Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell

“Blue Jasmine,” Woody Allen

“Dallas Buyers Club,” Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack

“Her,” Spike Jonze;
“Nebraska,” Bob Nelson
WILL WIN: American Hustle”

“The Act of Killing”

“Cutie and the Boxer”

“Dirty Wars”

“The Square”

“20 Feet From Stardom”
WILL WIN: “The Act of Killing”
SHOULD WIN: ”20 Feet From Stardom”

“The Broken Circle Breakdown”

“The Great Beauty”

“The Hunt”

“The Missing Picture”

WILL WIN: “The Great Beauty”
SHOULD WIN: ”The Broken Circle Breakdown”

“The Grandmaster,” Philippe Le Sourd

“Gravity,” Emmanuel Lubezki

“Inside Llewyn Davis,” Bruno Delbonnel

“Nebraska,” Phedon Papamichael

“Prisoners,” Roger A. Deakins
WILL WIN: “Gravity”
SHOULD WIN: “Gravity”

“American Hustle,” Michael Wilkinson

“The Grandmaster,” William Chang Suk Ping

“The Great Gatsby,” Catherine Martin

“The Invisible Woman,” Michael O’Connor

“12 Years a Slave,” Patricia Norris
WILL WIN: “12 Years a Slave”
SHOULD WIN: “American Hustle”

“The Croods”

“Despicable Me 2”

“Ernest & Celestine”


“The Wind Rises”
WILL WIN: “Frozen”

SHOULD WIN: “The Wind Rises”

“American Hustle,” Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten

“Captain Phillips,” Christopher Rouse

“Dallas Buyers Club,” John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa

“Gravity,” Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger

“12 Years a Slave,” Joe Walker
WILL WIN: “Gravity”
SHOULD WIN: “Gravity”

“Dallas Buyers Club,” Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews

“Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa,” Stephen Prouty

“The Lone Ranger,” Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny
WILL WIN: “Dallas Buyers Club”
SHOULD WIN: “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa”

“Happy” from “Despicable Me 2” music and lyrics by Pharrell Williams

“Let It Go” from “Frozen,” music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez

“The Moon Song” from “Her,” music by Karen O; lyrics by Karen O and Spike Jonze

“Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” music by Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen, lyrics by Paul Hewson
WILL WIN: “Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”
SHOULD WIN: “The Moon Song” from “Her” 

“The Book Thief,” John Williams

“Gravity,” Stephen Price

“Her,” William Butler and Owen Pallett

“Philomena,” Alexandre Desplat

“Saving Mr. Banks,” Thomas Newman
WILL WIN: “Gravity”

“American Hustle,” production design: Judy Becker; set decoration: Heather Loeffler

“Gravity,” production design: Andy Nicholson; set decoration: Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard

“The Great Gatsby,” production design: Catherine Martin; set decoration: Beverley Dunn

“Her,” production design: K.K. Barrett; set decoration: Gene Serdena

“12 Years a Slave,” production design: Adam Stockhausen; set decoration: Alice Baker
WILL WIN: “12 Years a Slave”
SHOULD WIN: “American Hustle”

“All Is Lost,” Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns

“Captain Phillips,” Oliver Tarney
“Gravity,” Glenn Freemantle

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” Brent Burge and Chris Ward

“Lone Survivor,” Wylie Stateman
WILL WIN: “Gravity”
SHOULD WIN: “Gravity”

“Captain Phillips,” Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith and Chris Munro

“Gravity,” Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick and Tony Johnson

“Inside Llewyn Davis,” Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland

“Lone Survivor,” Andy Koyama, Beau Borders and David Brownlow
WILL WIN: “Gravity”
SHOULD WIN: “Gravity” 

“Gravity,” Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, David Shirk and Neil Corbould

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and Eric Reynolds

“Iron Man 3,” Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick

“The Lone Ranger,” Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams and John Frazier

“Star Trek Into Darkness,” Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann and Burt Dalton
WILL WIN: “Gravity”
SHOULD WIN: “Gravity”


“Get a Horse!”

“Mr. Hublot”


“Room on the Broom”
WILL WIN: “Get a Horse!”

SHOULD WIN: “Get a Horse!”

“Cave Digger”

“Facing Fear”

“Karama Has No Walls”

“The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life”

“Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall”
WILL WIN: “The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life”

SHOULD WIN: “Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall”

“Aquel No Era Yo” (“That Wasn’t Me”)

“Avant Que De Tout Perdre” (“Just Before Losing Everything”)


“Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa?” (“Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?”)

“The Voorman Problem”
WILL WIN: “The Voorman Problem”
SHOULD WIN: “Avant Que De Tout Perdre” (“Just Before Losing Everything”)

Greg Victor

Greg Victor (Parcbench Culture Editor) covers the worlds of tennis and country music for Parcbench. Based in New York City and frequently on the road.

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John Isner & Lleyton Hewitt Commit To Play Hall of Fame Tennis Championships (in Newport)

IsnerHewettNo. 1 American John Isner and No. 1 Australian Lleyton Hewitt, both fan favorites in Newport, have had successful runs at the event in recent years. Isner won the title in 2011 and 2012, and Hewitt has made two recent appearances in the final.

No. 1 American John Isner and Aussie tennis great Lleyton Hewitt are the first two players to commit to the field for the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, to be played at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, July 5 – 13. The tournament, which is held directly after Wimbledon, is the only event played on grass courts in North or South America, and the only ATP World Tour event in New England.

“I always enjoy playing the tournament in Newport. The fans, the venue, and the field always make for a great week, and I’m looking forward to coming back this summer,” commented Isner.

Isner is currently world No. 13 in the ATP World Tour rankings and the No. 1 American player. He will be making his fourth consecutive appearance in Newport, where he won the title in 2011 and 2012, and was a semifinalist in 2013, falling to Hewitt. This year, his season got off to a strong start when he captured the title at the Heineken Open in New Zealand in January- his eighth career title. Following New Zealand, Isner was out for a few weeks dealing with an injury, but made a strong comeback last week at the Delray Beach Open by The Venetian Las Vegas, where he was a semifinalist.

Hewitt, a former world No. 1 who has been runner up at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships the past two years, commented, “The Hall of Fame Tennis Championships has been a highlight of my summer the past couple of years. I’ve had some great matches there and strong results, and I’m eager to get back to compete in Newport again this July.”

Hewitt has had strong start this year as well, winning the title at the season opener in Brisbane. It was the 29th title of his lengthy career, which has included two victories at Grand Slam tournaments- the US Open in 2001 and Wimbledon in 2002. An ATP World Tour veteran of 17 years, Hewitt consistently continues to deliver some of the most exciting matches on tour. He is currently the No. 1 Australian player and is ranked world No. 42.

“With John Isner and Lleyton Hewitt in the player field, tennis fans should look forward to an exciting week of tennis this summer in Newport to kick off the ATP World Tour’s North American summer swing,” said Tournament Director Mark L. Stenning. “We look forward to welcoming John and Lleyton back to Newport.”

A unique part of the festivities of the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships is always the Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony, when the highest honor in tennis is presented to great champions and leaders in the sport. The Hall of Fame Class of 2014 will be announced on March 3 as part of World Tennis Day. The nominees are Lindsay Davenport, Mary Pierce, Conchita Martinez, Chantal Vandierendonck, Nick Bollettieri, Jane Brown Grimes, and John Barrett. The Enshrinement Ceremony will be held on Saturday, July 12, just prior to the semifinals of the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships.

Tournament tickets, including access to the Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony are available now. Hall of Fame Members save $5 on tickets, and enjoy many other benefits throughout tournament week, including access to a Member Lounge, first-in-line status for autographs, and much more. Tickets and membership info is available on HallofFameTennisChampionships.com or by phone at (401) 849-6053.


Greg Victor

Greg Victor (Parcbench Culture Editor) covers the worlds of tennis and country music for Parcbench. Based in New York City and frequently on the road.

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JoshTurnerSince signing with MCA Nashville in 2003, country music superstar Josh Turner has sold more than five million albums, had four singles climb to the top of the charts, entertained fans with sold-out shows across the country, received numerous award nominations, and was one of the youngest artists asked to join the Grand Ole Opry. Throughout this successful and demanding career, his life has remained strongly centered on his Christian faith and his family. Sharing stories from both his life and lessons he’s learned over the years as a son, brother, friend, husband, and father, Turner has written his first book, Man Stuff: Thoughts on Faith, Family, and Fatherhood, which will be released on April 29 with Thomas Nelson, an imprint of Harper Collins Christian Publishing.

“I was raised in a strong Christian family in a tight-knit community in rural South Carolina,” said Turner in the book’s introduction. “I was taught essential life lessons, like the value of a dollar, what hard work feels like, and how important an education is. I was taught why being thoughtful, respectful, and considerate of others makes life more fulfilling, and why trusting God with your life’s decisions is wise. If all that sounds a little old-fashioned, well, that’s because it is. And I’m okay with that.”

He continues, “In this book you’ll learn a little bit more about how God has shaped and continues to shape me. You’ll also learn about my wife, my boys, and the family I grew up in. I hope you see that the everyday small things in this life really do add up to matter a great deal in the long run. And I hope you’ll smile—even laugh—and gain a little wisdom along the way. Maybe even a lot.”

Jase Robertson, star of A&E’s hit television series Duck Dynasty, will provide the forward for Man Stuff. Last year, Turner sang a duet with Robertson’s wife Missy on the song “Why I Love Christmas” from the Platinum-certified holiday album, Duck The Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas…

Greg Victor

Greg Victor (Parcbench Culture Editor) covers the worlds of tennis and country music for Parcbench. Based in New York City and frequently on the road.

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