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  • The top 50 musicians from all 50 states

    Posted by Fitz



    From Billy Joel's New York state of mind to the Beach Boys being synonymous with sunny California, each state has given us some amazing music.

    Alabama: As if its name isn't enough, the band Alabama has banked 33 Country Songs No. 1s, the most among groups, including its first since 1993 last year, courtesy of its guest turn on Paisley's "Old Alabama.

    Alaska: Jewel was born in Utah, but her family soon moved to Homer (and a home without indoor plumbing). When asked by Larry King in 2010 her opinion of Sarah Palin, Jewel responded, "I can't say we agree on everything (politically). But, Alaska women are can-do women. I love the state I'm from.


    Peter Green founded Fleetwood Mac in London, but the 1974 addition of Americans Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, the latter from Phoenix, ushered in the band's commercial era that led to its enshrinement in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


    With all due respect to occasional saxman Bill Clinton, Johnny Cash wins this musical election. The Man in Black, born in aptly named Kingsland, won new audiences with new music in even his final years (i.e., his haunting cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt") and topped the Billboard 200 as recently as 2006, three years after his passing.


    California is home to several superstars, from Paula Abdul to Frank Zappa. While Santa Barbara-born Katy Perry self-congratulated "California Gurls" in 2010, American institution the Beach Boys wished they all could be California girls 45 years earlier.

    Colorado: John Denver was born (as Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr.) in Roswell, New Mexico. Still, his name and smashes as "Rocky Mountain High" have made him as much a part of Colorado as Coors beer.


    John Mayer takes a slight edge over New Haven native Michael Bolton, if only since "No Such Thing" so clearly evokes images of Mayer's alma mater, Fairfield High School.

    Delaware: George Thorogood. The Wilmington-born guitar hero's "Greatest Hits: 30 Years of Rock" has spent the most weeks (57) of all entries on Billboard's Blues Albums chart.


    We could pick Flo Rida, or Backstreet Boys or 'N Sync, but with 29 charted titles on the Hot 100 and 30, including 15 No. 1s, on Latin Songs, Gloria Estefan (born in Havana, Cuba) has gotten fans on their feet and in conga lines, moving to her Miami sounds, for more than a quarter century.


    Home to famed alternative acts including R.E.M., the B-52s and Indigo Girls. Still, an easy choice to bestow the honor on the late Ray Charles. "Just an old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind," the R&B titan sang on his 1960 Hot 100 No. 1. Since 1979, "Georgia on My Mind" has served as the state's official song.


    The honor for the 50th state both chronologically and in this feature goes to Bruno Mars, born in the Waikiki neighborhood of Honolulu. With "Just the Way You Are" having wrapped 20 weeks atop Adult Contemporary, the song stands as the longest-reigning debut format hit in the chart's 50-year history.

    Idaho: Paul Revere and the Raiders, formed in Boise, notched 21 Hot 100 hits between 1961 and 1973, including the 1971 No. 1 "Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)," an ode to Native Americans forced to relocate in the 1830s

    Illinois: Originally named Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago has sent 46 songs onto the Hot 100, 20 of which reached the top 10. Even after the defection of lead singer Peter Cetera, the band topped the tally, with "Look Away," sung by Bill Champlin (who departed Chicago in 2009), ranking as Billboard's top single of 1989.


    John Mellencamp has incomparably made his home state a central theme in his music. The "Small Town" singer was even born in just that: Seymour, whose population is, as of the last census, 17,503. It's hard to beat a King, however, and Michael Jackson was born in Gary. (Coincidentally, Seymour is located in Jackson County).

    Iowa: The Everly Brothers' harmonies influenced countless acts, including the Beatles and Beach Boys. Don was born in Kentucky and Phil, Illinois, but their family soon embraced the Shenandoah, Iowa, music scene, with their father Ike often bringing them on to sing on his radio shows on KMA and KFNF.

    Kansas: Sharon-born Martina McBride has placed 55 songs on Country Songs dating to her first on the chart 20 years ago. Still, Kansas is right there in the name of the band, formed in Topeka, that enjoyed such hits as "Carry on Wayward Son" and "Dust in the Wind."


    Coal miner's daughter and country icon Loretta Lynn was born in Butcher Holler. Runners-up in the state's musical derby: the Judds, as Naomi and Wynonna each hail from Ashland.


    As New Orleans = jazz, who else but Louis Armstrong? Satchmo not only crossed over to mainstream audiences as early as the 1920s, but stands as a pioneer in breaking racial barriers, as well, through the power of his beloved music.

    Maine: Stephen Hague. A producer, not a known performer, Hague (born in Portland) has, perhaps surprisingly, produced hits most notably recorded by British bands, including Pet Shop Boys ("West End Girls"), New Order ("True Faith") and Erasure ("A Little Respect").


    From Severn, Toni Braxton has enjoyed four No. 1s on R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and 11 top 10s, including two No. 1s, on R&B/Hip-Hop Songs between 1992 and 2010. Just last week, she scored her first No. 1 on Dance/Club Play Songs since 1997.


    Aerosmith. The "Bad Boys from Boston" bests such worthy fellow Bay Staters as James Taylor, New Kids on the Block, the Cars, Boston, Dropkick Murphys and Mighty Mighty Bosstones.


    Heartland rock (i.e., the state's Bob Seger) perhaps best defines the Midwest, but Madonna was born in Bay City, graduated from Rochester Adams High School and attended the University of Michigan before dropping out to move to New York City and create the material that would make her musical royalty.


    As with Jackson and Mellencamp in Indiana, you couldn't go wrong with either a pop/R&B cornerstone - Prince - or rock icon - Bob Dylan - representing Minnesota. We'll give the nod to Prince, as "Purple Rain" vividly transported '80s music fans to Minneapolis, where the movie was filmed almost exclusively.


    As Elvis Presley served as perhaps the most important figure in the popularization of early rock, his Billboard chart legacy is equally astounding. He's scored the most hits among soloists in the Hot 100's 54-year history and the most albums in the 56-year archives of the Billboard 200 albums chart. Simply, he's still the King of Rock & Roll.


    Eminem was born (Marshall Bruce Mathers III) in Saint Joseph, not moving to Michigan until age 12. Eminem is the best-selling rap album artist of all-time, with U.S. sales of 41.5 million, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Among males, he trails only the next two artists on our tour of American music.

    Montana: For such a big state, relatively few mainstream recording acts hail from Montana. Helena's Nicolette Larson reached the Hot 100's top 10 on her first try with 1979's No. 8-peaking "Lotta Love."

    Nebraska: Another band that epitomizes the heartland rock sound, the Eagles, was co-founded by Randy Meisner, who also helped form Poco. Meisner sings lead on the Eagles' No. 4 1976 smash "Take It to the Limit."

    Nevada: While Las Vegas has long been the performing home of Wayne Newton and, more recently, Celine Dion and Garth Brooks, the Killers formed there in 2001. The alternative/dance band, with a stylistic flare in line with that of Sin City, has earned three Billboard 200 top 10s.

    New Hampshire: Ray Lamontagne. The Nashua folk/rocker has reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200 with 2008's "Gossip in the Grain" and 2010's "God Willin' & the Creek Don't Rise."

    New Jersey:

    If from almost any other state, Bon Jovi would surely (shore-ly?) make this list in bold print. Bruce Springsteen, however, seems like the most apt choice if only for career longevity as a tie-breaker. A bittersweet honorary mention, as well, to Whitney Houston.

    New Mexico: "You gotta hear this one song. It'll change your life," Zach Braff predicted about the Shins' "New Slang" in the 2004 film "Garden State." The Albuquerque band roared to a No. 1 peak on Rock Albums and a No. 2 rank on the Billboard 200 with 2007's "Wincing the Night Away.

    New York:

    Some states were almost impossible to symbolize via only one act. Such New York-born superstars include Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey, Lady Gaga and, of course, Jay-Z and Alicia Keys. Before "Empire State of Mind," however, the Bronx's Billy Joel was often in a New York state of mind, from 52nd Street to his Uptown girl.

    North Carolina:

    Bucking the trend of country/rock artists best representing Southern states, Jermaine Dupri has produced 11 Billboard Hot 100 No. 1s for such R&B acts as Nelly, Usher and Monica. All 11 leaders have spent multiple weeks at No. 1, led by Mariah Carey's 14-week topper "We Belong Together" in 2005.

    North Dakota: Lawrence Welk, Bobby Vee ("Take Good Care of My Baby," 1961) and Wiz Khalifa are the only artists born in the state to top the Hot 100. Based on longevity - and, despite "Black and Yellow" having served as the postseason theme to two championship teams last year - acting/singing favorite Welk takes the title.

    Ohio:While the Pretenders formed in England in 1978, frontwoman Chrissie Hynde hails from Akron. In 2005, the band joined the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (in Cleveland). Fictitious runners-up: the "Glee" cast. Lima's McKinley High School singers own the record for most Hot 100 hits (203) in the chart's history.


    Garth Brooks. With U.S. sales of 68.6 million, the Tulsa native and Oklahoma State University grad (advertising major, FYI) is the best-selling album artist in SoundScan's 21-year history.

    Oregon: 2011 Best New artist Grammy Award winner Esperanza Spalding was born in Portland. The acclaimed jazz instrumentalist/singer famously won the honor over presumed favorite (and Canada native) Justin Bieber. Also from the Portlandia region: the Decemberists, Everclear and Courtney Love.


    Wyomissing's Taylor Swift proves that you don't need to hail from the South to make great country music. She is also the only woman to pull five Country Songs top 10s from each of her first two albums. Runners-up: with their blue-eyed Philly soul, Daryl Hall & John Oates.

    Rhode Island: Jeffrey Osborne. The Providence-born R&B singer fronted L.T.D. before launching a solo career that yielded such hits as 1984's "Stay With Me Tonight" (a Rhody radio favorite).

    South Carolina:

    The late, legendary "Living in America" singer himself, James Brown. The Godfather of Soul sent 91 songs onto the Hot 100, the third-best sum among solo acts after Elvis Presley's 108 and Lil Wayne's 102.

    South Dakota: While not a hotbed of Hot 100 activity, the state gave us author L. Frank Baum, who wrote the children's novel "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." Adapted for the silver screen, Kansas/Oz-based "The Wizard of Oz" helped popularize such timeless songs as "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."


    As with Springsteen in New Jersey, it's hard to imagine anyone other than Dolly Parton representing Tennessee, especially since her "Dollywood" theme park welcomes approximately 2.5 million visitors annually. The Nashville queen, born in Sevierville, boasts the most No. 1s (25) of any female artist in the 68-year history of Country Songs.


    Even if all his exes reportedly live there, George Strait can't hide from the fact that he's sent more songs to No. 1 on Country Songs (44) than any act on any Billboard chart. With top 10s annually on Country Songs since 1981, Strait, born in Poteet, is the only artist to score a top 10 on the same survey for as many as 32 "Strait" years.


    Stars of songs and stage the Osmonds are synonymous with the Salt Lake region, having collected 13 Hot 100 hits, while Donny has scored 16 as a soloist. He and sister Marie debuted at No. 30 on the Billboard 200 just last year with "Donny & Marie," the pair's highest-peak duets set.

    Vermont: Who else but Phish? The jam band formed at the University of Vermont in Burlington in 1983. Ben & Jerry's, headquartered in nearby Waterbury, famously concocted its "Phish Food" ice cream flavor as a tasty tribute.

    Virginia: Bruce Hornsby. Not only has the singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist serenaded his home state in such descriptive songs as "The Red Plains," "The Valley Road" and "The Road Not Taken" (in which he sings of falling in love "with an Appalachian girl").


    As such states as Tennessee and Texas symbolize country music, Seattle is likewise the birthplace of grunge, with no act perhaps better representing the genre than Nirvana, who defeats Pearl Jam in a tight race if only because "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (No. 6, 1992) marked the sound's first crossover to the Hot 100's top 10.

    West Virginia: Brad Paisley. Since his arrival, by way of Glen Dale, Paisley has tallied 18 No. 1s - including a streak of 10 in-a-row - on Billboard's Country Songs chart and six No. 1s on Country Albums

    Wisconsin: Les Paul, whom the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has deemed an "architect" of the genre, originated the solid-body electric guitar and perfected multi-track recording technology. "I've never let anybody know exactly how I get my sound," said Paul, who passed away in 2009. "That big, fat, round, ballsy sound ... nobody else has it."

    Wyoming: Although born in Biloxi, Mississippi, Chris LeDoux became a Wyoming rodeo legend. After Garth Brooks sang of listening to a "worn-out tape of Chris LeDoux" in his debut single "Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)," the singer tallied 21 appearances on Country Songs until his death in 2005.

  • Yikes!

    Posted by Fitz


    One of the highlights of the 2012 Olympics will undoubtedly be diving. There’s been some stiff competition this year, especially in the preliminary rounds, and all the athletes have been killing themselves trying to look as graceful as possible while tumbling through the air. How do we know? There’s something on each diver’s face that just reads, “This stunt is kind of difficult to do.”

    These competitors may look like elegant swans from a distance, but when the camera gets right up close for those slow-motion instant replays, not one of them is capable of hiding the pain in their faces.

    If diving isn’t the one event you’re looking forward to watching during the 2012 Olympics, it will be after you’re done browsing through this gallery of all the best diver faces.

    Funny Diver Face

    Richard Heathcote, Getty Images

    Funny Diver Face

    Quinn Rooney, Getty Images

    Funny Diver Face

    Al Bello, Getty Images

    Funny Diver Face

    Clive Rose, Getty Images

    Funny Diver Face

    Adam Pretty, Getty Images

    Funny Diver Face

    Matt King, Getty Images

    Funny Diver Face

    Clive Rose, Getty Images

    Funny Diver Face

    Harry How, Getty Images

    Funny Diver Face

    Richard Heathcote, Getty Images

    Funny Diver Faces

    Chris McGrath, Getty Images

    Funny Diver Face

    Al Bello, Getty Images

    Funny Diver Face

    Bryn Lennon, Getty Images

    Funny Diver Face

    Adam Pretty, Getty Images

    Funny Diver Face

    Adam Pretty, Getty Images

    Funny Diver Faces

    Ian Waldie, Getty Images

    Funny Diver Face
  • Tips to make you a BBQ pro!

    Posted by Fitz



    The sun is out, your friends are over and the kids are splashing around in the pool. Ah yes, it’s summertime, and you’re just dying to break out your grill or smoker and throw an amazing barbeque party in your backyard, at the beach, or wherever you happen to be.

    Once you’ve invited all your friends, selected the meat, vegetables and other menu items, bought the booze and soft drinks, it’s time to get down to the very important business of grilling. Opinions vary as to what you should and shouldn’t do when cooking meat outdoors. Every barbeque chef seems to have his or her own secret methods and recipes. Keeping that in mind, here are some basic tips to make your grilling experience, and the culinary experience of your guests, top notch.



    rigues, Flickr

    Marinades can often make the barbecue. You want your friends to tell you how zesty and tangy that burger or cut of steak was. Don’t be afraid to be a little bit daring with your marinade and rub recipes. Use strong flavors for some of your meat selections.

    Some of the most potent tastes come from chili sauces, soy sauce, garlic infused olive oil and Worcestershire sauce. No matter what type of marinade you choose, try to get the meat in the mixture at least 24 hours ahead of time. When you’re getting ready to actually cook, let the meat (especially the heftier cuts) sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before placing them on the grill, which will allow for more even cooking.


    Notting Hill Carnival 2006

    Miles Willis, Getty Images

    Everyone has a different preference as to what good food is. Kids love hotdogs and hamburgers. Those time-honored staples can be an important part of a great barbecue party. But you should also splurge a little, and get some choice meat cuts for the grilling connoisseurs out there.

    If you’re on a restricted budget, marinated flank steak is often a good choice. And just in case there are some people in attendance who aren’t big meat fans, have some vegetables ready to grill as well. If you marinade the vegetables in advance, they should caramelize nicely when you toss them onto the BBQ. If you’re stuck for time, at least give your greens a nice coating of olive oil, which will add extra flavor, and create a nice texture.



    Rick, Flickr

    Burgers are often the king of the summer barbeque fiestas. They are the perfect shape for even grilling, and are very affordable. A few tricks will help make your burgers the best around.

    First off, avoid frozen and packaged patties. The amount (and quality) of the meat is often questionable with premade burgers. If possible, go for fresh burgers made from ground sirloin, which you can find from a local butcher, or at the supermarket.

    Don’t press your patties down with the spatula and make them sizzle (even though that’s a fun sound), and stop flipping them over and over. Really, once the burgers are on the grill, try not to touch them too much. This will help the juices remain intact. Also, burgers tend to shrink, so try and make them (or buy them) a little bit bigger than the buns you’re going to use. And, of course, the buns should be toasted.




    When dealing with ribs, larger cuts of steak, and other meats, the general rule is to marinade them overnight, and then cook them slowly, on a low heat. The result is a tender and very tasty piece of meat. One of the best ways to slow cook is to keep the meat off of the direct flames. You can do this by placing the ribs or steaks on the grill away from the flames, or you can use some kind of heat shield. Additionally, you can only turn on one or two burners (when working with gas) under the grill. It might take longer to cook the meat, but the mouth-watering flavors you’ll get will be well worth the wait.


    BBQ meat

    Naotakem, Flickr

    You and your friends are hungry. You’ve been loitering around the barbeque for what seems like hours, just waiting for the meat to finish. But if you really want the best flavor, you should wait a little bit longer, once the food is taken off the grill. An extra 10 minutes or so will let the juices inside whatever grill item you’ve selected reabsorb inside the meat, making it that much juicier. Otherwise, if you dig in right away, the juices will just flow down your chin, and then onto you shirt, or onto the plate. What a waste that would be.


    10th Anniversary Big Apple Barbecue Sponsored By Southern Living

    Brian Killian, Getty Images

    Like we’ve already told you with hamburgers, let the poor meat be. Lots of people like to poke and prod the food, and then give their opinions about what stage of “cooked” it happens to be. That is a mistake.

    The meat, and the fish, will come off the grill smoothly enough when it’s cooked through. You really only need to flip it once, or perhaps a few times (depending on what’s being cooked). If the meat is sticking, it probably needs a bit more time. Don’t force it in order to flip it. The more you mess with your food, the greater chance you’ll have of spoiling the taste. Check the meat with your eyes and your nose to make sure it isn’t burning, but stop throwing it all over the place.


    If you use any kind of lighter fluid or fuel to get your charcoal burning, you run the risk of getting some of that “fuel” taste mixed in with your BBQ flavor. You want to be a cool grill master, of course, who doesn’t have to douse his or her charcoal to start the embers burning. A chimney starter, and a bit of newspaper, is a pretty smooth and handy way to light your charcoal. Chimney starters can usually be purchased in hardware stores, or any place that retails grills and barbecue tools. All you have to do is place the paper at the bottom of the “chimney” beneath the charcoal, and set it on fire. You’ll have smoldering coals in no time at all.


    Gas grills aren’t known for producing that delicious “smoky” meat flavor naturally, but this can be easily remedied when using the smoker. As long as you’re grilling something that needs a bit of time to cook, a “smoke bomb” should do the trick. You’ll have to get some wood chips — preferably something like cherry, hickory or oak — and then wrap them up in sturdy aluminum foil (the “bomb” shell). Once you’ve got foil and wood prepared, poke some holes in the foil so the smoke can escape, set it on the burner and then get ready to cook.


    When working with fire, charcoal or gas, accidents can and do happen. You want your guests to have a blast, but not get blasted away by the flames. Keep a fire extinguisher handy, know how to cut off the fuel supply to a gas cooker, never drench the charcoal with fuel for fun and always have the numbers of emergency services nearby. By keeping fuel lines clean, cleaning up the grease buildup in grills and having someone minding the flames at all times, you’ll have a safe and successful barbecue this summer.

    Also, if the meat is sitting around for a long time, keep it cold beforehand and during the preparation stages. And make sure it’s nice and covered after it has been cooked. Bacteria loves raw meat and meat that is cooling off. It’s a poor host who burns his guests (or his house down) or gets people sick with improperly maintained food.



    ATOMIC Hot Links, Flickr

    When you grill either with gas or charcoal, you are letting direct heat cook the food, which then makes it edible, and hopefully very delicious. This method is best for smaller cuts of steak, short ribs, chicken breasts, hamburgers, sausages and other similar items.

    When you smoke meat, you’re cooking it with indirect heat in order to achieve that “smoky” flavor. This way of cooking takes longer but is very effective for larger items, like whole chickens and turkeys, big racks of rib, fat hams and so on. There are different types of smokers available, and different types of wood for producing a variety of flavors.

    If you’re just flipping burgers, hotdogs and simple steaks, a direct heat grill should serve you well. But as you venture deeper into the art of the barbecue, you might want to take a look at some of the more sophisticated smoking contraptions and methods out there. Regardless of the type of food you’re going to cook, or the method you’re planning to use, always be safe, and have loads of barbecue fun.

  • Tom Cruise is 50 today!

    Posted by Fitz

    What is your favorite TC movie?  That's tough. For me, it's a toss up between Risky Business and War Of The Worlds.


  • Fitz homemade salsa

    Posted by Fitz



    1 small onion

    1 jalapeno (or more if you love heat)

    garlic pickles (only the ones in the refridgerated section - Klaussen)

    Fresh Garlic

    cilantro leaves

    Half of a salsa flavor packet (Wegmans is the best in my opinion)




  • 4th of July fun facts

    Posted by Fitz



    Happy 4th of July! These days, it's customary to celebrate the national holiday with red, white, and blue, fireworks and parades, stars and stripes, flags and BBQs. But before you go enjoy America to its fullest, take a quick look through our 4th of July fun facts!

     - Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national animal but was outvoted when John Adams and Thomas Jefferson chose the bald eagle.

     - Over an estimated 150 million hot dogs will be consumed today. That's roughly one dog for every two people in the US

     - Over $211 million has been spent on the importation of fireworks from China.

     - Oddly, the majority of the nation's flags and patriotic paraphernalia in relation to the Fourth of July is produced in China. Nearly $349 million are used each year to import the flags, banners, decorations, and emblems.

     - The first Fourth of July party held at the White House was in 1801.

     - The words Under God were not added to the Pledge of Allegiance until the year 1954.

     - More than 74 million Americans will BBQ tomorrow.

     - The Fourth of July was not declared a national holiday until 1941.

     - The national anthem is actually set to the tune of an old English drinking song called To Anacreon in Heaven

     - The stars on the original American flag were arranged in a circle to ensure that all colonies were equal.

     - Malia Obama, George Steinbrenner, Neil Simon, Ron Kovic and Calvin Coolidge were all born on the Fourth of July.

     - Presidents John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe all died on the Fourth. Adams and Jefferson died on the same day within hours of each other in 1826.

     - The number of Americans who will spend the holiday at other people's homes is approximately 41 million.

     - The amount of chicken purchased the week before the holiday is 700 million pounds.

     - The percentage of American homes with an outdoor grill is 87 percent.

  • Father and son weight loss plan. Walk across the U.S.A!

    Posted by Fitz




    Todd Gouge or “Toddzilla” as he’s known, is walking across the entire country this summer with his son Colin. Their mission: to lose weight and better themselves spiritually, mentally and physically. And at 435 and 330 pounds, that’s no easy task.

    Gourge simply says on his Facebook page that he decided it was time to do something positive and healthy in his life once and for all. The father and son duo are walking from Georgia to San Diego, California and hope to be down to 275 and 230 respectively by the end of their journey in September.

    They are mid-way right now, just crossing through Texas, and so far, so good, according to what Todd told local news station KYTX:

    It’s turned into a walk of inspiration for a lot of people that have followed us along the way.

    Inspiration, indeed.

    Follow this amazing father and son on their Facebook page.