Saturday, May 31, 2008

Hoping the best for those at KFEST

While you're listening to Wyclef Jean, Sean Kingston and Blake Lewis, among others, at Sunday's KFEST concert at Dutchess Stadium, enjoy and think of "Sean's Space!"

Despite having this pair of tickets, we don't be headed to the show for several reasons.

But if you're headed to the concert, feel free to head back to "Sean's Space" when you get home, leave a comment and tell all of us how it was.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

"ENJOY!" Blake Lewis on Friday

For those of you who aren't in the Poughkeepsie Journal's coverage area, here's Friday's story in "ENJOY!" about Blake Lewis' appearance this weekend...

(And a big thanks to Veronica and Lisa for their insight)

'American Idol' sensation Blake Lewis ready for KFEST

By Sean T. McMann
Poughkeepsie Journal

He won over millions of fans on one of TV's biggest shows. Now Blake Lewis is looking to thank them in person.

"I love playing shows. It never gets old for me," said Lewis, the runner-up on the sixth season of "American Idol." "I'm just excited, and I want to give some love back to the fans."

Lewis, 26, will do that Sunday, when he performs at the annual KFEST concert, hosted by radio station WSPK (104.7 FM) at Dutchess Stadium.

Along with Lewis, KFEST will lure acts such as Wyclef Jean, Sean Kingston and Sum 41, among others, to the Fishkill ballpark.

Known for his beatboxing acumen -in short, that's the ability to produce beats and musical sounds with his voice and mouth -Lewis told the Poughkeepsie Journal earlier this month his KFEST set will essentially consist of a guitar, a keyboard and his vocal loops.

"It's kind of like a one-man-band show," Lewis said. "It'll be me and my loop pedals."

That's the formula that made him a sensation on "Idol," falling just short of the title Jordin Sparks took home.

"I could never have dreamt about 'American Idol,' " Lewis said. "I wasn't even going to try out; my friend dragged me there. It's crazy."


At that audition, Lewis covered "Crazy," the song Seal made a hit in 1991, and impressed judges Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell enough to punch his ticket to Hollywood, becoming a top "Idol" contender.

"I didn't know what I was going to sing (at the audition)," Lewis said. "I didn't want to beatbox for them; they made me beatbox. They were like, 'We want you to,' but I thought, 'This is a vocal audition.' "

Once on "Idol," Lewis' vocal ability separated him from the rest, being voted into the bottom three just once following a week of country music performances.

"While on 'Idol,' he was the only singer - and still is - on the whole entire series, all six-plus years, that made me enjoy the old songs the contestants perform," Veronica Rainone, a Lewis fan from Richmond Hill in Queens, told the Journal. "His beatboxing added to his music, and gave him a great way to entertain people while singing his songs."

Millions of viewers agreed with Rainone, as their votes for Lewis' talent and popularity set up a finale showdown with Sparks. Though the then-17-year-old songstress took the title, Lewis said he had no regrets about his time in the "Idol" spotlight.

"I had fun with that experience, and I think it showed because people voted for me," Lewis said. "It's really surreal and amazing. I'm really happy people tuned in and liked my music. That's all I could ask for."
Experience gained

Being on one of America's top-rated shows taught Lewis many lessons: everything from public perception to the inner workings of a television studio.

"I was on the No. 1 show and learned how America can judge me without even hearing my voice," he said. "That's a hard thing to handle. I don't get wrapped up in those things.

"I didn't care about anything when I got on the show. I had more fun than anyone there. I'm the nerd that asks everyone everything: 'What's your job?' 'What are you doing?' The guys working on the crew were like, 'You're the first person who has ever come up to me and asked me a question.' "

Lewis released his first post-"Idol" CD, "Audio Day Dream," in late 2007, and said he's been flattered by the encouragement he's gotten from fans since "A.D.D." has dropped.

"The support is amazing," he said of his fans. "I support them so much. I keep going because of them."

By using Web sites such as YouTube and MySpace to promote his music, Lewis has helped connect with fans across the globe, building an international following.

Living in Windsor, Ontario, in Canada, Lisa Williams told the Journal Lewis and his music have deeply touched her.

"He really knows how to connect with his fans," she said. "I haven't seen him perform live in person, but just by watching the different videos on YouTube, he makes you feel like you are there. He has that vibe and connection with the audience."

Fans in Fishkill will feel that "vibe and connection" Sunday.

Now in its second decade, KFEST brings some of music's most popular acts to the Hudson Valley. Past performers have ranged from Nick Lachey and Rihanna, to Color Me Badd and Inner Circle.

Controversy marred last year's KFEST, as hip-hop and R&B artist Akon tossed a young fan from the stage, resulting in both criminal charges and a civil suit; neither situation has been resolved to date.

Lewis, though, is looking at KFEST as the next stop on the ride he's been on since garnering that international following on America's top reality show.

"So much has happened in the last year. So much fun has been had," he said. "It's really interesting: A lot of things have changed, but a lot has stayed the same.

"I'm still playing music every day, and I've got the support from a major label to make music that I'm really proud of."

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"If it's too loud, you're too old!"

That's a common line my colleague Pete Colaizzo likes to throw around when recalling his younger, concert-going days, but it will be true on August 17th at 7 p.m.

That's when Good Charlotte, Boys Like Girls and Metro Station head to the Mid-Hudson Civic Center here in Poughkeepsie.

I actually caught part of Metro Station's set at last week's Z-Village leading up to the Zootopia concert at the Meadowlands. They were more or less background music for me as I was doing other stuff, but let me tell you: they were loud!

Metro Station (featuring Miley Cyrus' brother, Trace, on vocals and guitar) will also be playing at KFEST this Saturday along with, among others, Blake Lewis.

Tickets for the Aug. 17th show are $26 each and they're all general admission. For all the information on the show, including ticket info, click here.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Look! It's the NKOTB n' me!

Admittedly, I'm going to sound like a sixth-grade girl (from 1989) when I say this, but here goes: I MET THE NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK ON SATURDAY!!!Yes, that's (from left) Joe McIntyre, Danny Wood, Donnie Wahlberg, me looking all sun-burned, Jordan Knight and Jonathan Knight!

Just about 20 years since they first hit it big with "Please Don't Go Girl" and I became a fan, I was one of a select few to actually meet the guys before they headlined Saturday's Z100 "Zootopia" concert at the Izod Center in NJ.

Out of the thousands of people who packed the Meadowlands parking lot for the pre-show Z-Village festival (seen here), I was able to get backstage for a meet-and-greet with the guys, fulfilling a 20-year dream thanks, in great part, to my loving and supportive GF, without whom none of this would have been possible. Let's just say that thanks to her, I had a simple plan for meeting the New Kids.

See, the New Kids played back-to-back shows in Poughkeepsie back in the summer of 1989, but circumstances kept me from being able to go. Since then, despite the ribbing from friends, co-workers and even my fav HS teacher of all-time (and believe me, I've heard it all from everybody over the years!), I've remained a loyal NKOTB fan, with hopes of one day meeting the guys.

To make a long story short, I got my chance on Saturday (against all odds) — even before I actually got to see them perform live for the first time — and it was amazing! I first shook Joe's hand and told the guys I've been a fan since '88, and they were so appreciative they piled on top of me to say, "Thanks!"Everything after that was a blur, so I was happy to see I remembered to smile for the photo. (Glad to see they did, too!) I did, though, make sure to get my autographed photo of the guys.

Being a reporter, I've got to meet and interview a bunch of famous people, yet the only time I've ever been starstruck was when I covered Michael Jordan's return to the NBA when he faced the NJ Nets at the same Meadowlands a few years ago. That, though, couldn't even compare to my New Kids opportunity on Saturday.

Again, being a long-time New Kids fan I've heard all the insults over the last two decades, but Saturday's encounter made me happy I'd kept Hangin' Tough all these years!

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Beginning their weekend takeover of the New York City area, the New Kids On The Block rang the closing bell today at the New York Stock Exchange.

Here are (from left) Jonathan Knight, Donnie Wahlberg, Jordan Knight, Joe McIntyre and Danny Woods closing today's trading session.

Following an invitation-only rehearsal at the House of Blues in L.A. earlier this week, the guys will perform Friday morning on NBC's "Today" show, followed by a meet n' greet at Macy's in Herald Square from noon to 1 p.m. ... the only catch being you have to be one of the first 150 people to spend at least $100 in Izod merchandise.

The Big Apple is already braced for the New Kids' return, as is evident by this Times Square billboard.From there, the New Kids will headline Z100's Zootopia concert Saturday night at (of all places) the Izod Center at the Meadowlands in NJ.

Good to see the guys still have (say it with me now...) the right stuff!

Monday, May 12, 2008

What a "Summertime" it's going to be

That's because at long last, with tomorrow's release of their new single, "Summertime," my fav group of all time, the New Kids On The Block, are officially reunited!!!

With their return, comes fall tour (as you can see from the front and back of this promotional poster), for which I secured tickets for two concerts earlier today! I even spared my GF the trauma of seeing them, as I found a friend here at work to go with me. (Thanks, Christine!)

I missed out on two chances to see the New Kids back in the summer of '89, when they played back-to-back shows here at Poughkeepsie's Mid-Hudson Civic Center. With that in mind, I wasn't going to miss my opportunity this time.

Before their tour, the guys will perform live on Friday's "Today" show in Rockefeller Plaza, and then Saturday night at Z100's "Zootopia" concert in New Jersey. (Yup, we'll be there, too!)

With all the horror stories I've heard about Ticketmaster, my experience today was pretty painless. Tickets were reasonable (the most expensive ones were $75), especially considering they have to split the revenue five ways (not to mention management, the band, etc.) so it made seeing two show easy.

Now, I just have to sit back, enjoy "Summertime" (both the song and the months leading up to September's tour) and wait for the fun to begin.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

It's a David-versus-David story

All along, I kept thinking David Archuleta would win Season Seven of "American Idol," but "Sean's Space" readers are making me think twice.

For more than two weeks, I've had my "Who Will Win 'American Idol?' " poll up over there on the right, and David Cook is becoming the runaway winner to this point.

I've enjoyed his performances all season long — I thought his "Music of the Night" and "Hungry Like the Wolf" was the best of the season so far — but I was sure David Archuleta would be the winner, picking up millions of votes from little girls.

While I think David A. is a very good singer, I still think David C, is better. Still, I think all the teens and pre-teens will jam the phone lines and send text messages til their thumbs are worn out, all in an attempt to secure David A. the title.

That said, I think both will have successful careers after "Idol," with each catering to their specific niche.

If you've yet to vote in the poll, feel free to vote for your favorite (don't forget Syesha!) and keep coming back to see how your pick is doing.

The poll will accept votes up until the season finale on Wednesday, May 21st, so let's see if "Sean's Space" readers can predict the "American Idol" before America does!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Lucky Bucky fans get a second chance

Bucky Covington must have liked something when he came to Poughkeepsie in late March.

The former "American Idol" finalist is coming back to the area on Aug. 22nd, when he and Keith Anderson perform at the Dutchess County Fair.

Back on March 28th, Bucky opened up for fellow country crooner Dierks Bentley. This time, he joins a weeklong lineup at the fair that includes fellow country singers like Blake Shelton, Jason Michael Carroll, Jake Owen and the group Little Big Home.

As I've mentioned in the past, I'm not a big country music fan, but I know Bucky from his "Idol" past.

The one group playing the fair that I am keenly aware of is the Beach Boys, who my parents often listened to when I was a kid.

Mike Love and the rest of the Boys were particular favorites of my mom, who I'm guessing will head to Rhinebeck to see the show.

Sadly for my GF, I don't think John Stamos will be joining them on stage for "Kokomo."

For more on the shows at the Dutchess County Fair, including ticket info, click here.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Blake Lewis answered YOUR questions!

So Blake Lewis and I chatted for about 15 minutes Tuesday afternoon for a story I'll be writing for the May 30th edition of "Enjoy!" which is the Poughkeepsie Journal's weekly entertainment supplement.

Probably half of our conversation centered around his fans, dozens of whom e-mailed me questions to pose to him during our interview.

Coming from as close as Long Island and Pennsylvania to Seattle, Canada and even Singapore, Blake's fans sent me questions spanning just about every topic imaginable.

Of the several dozen I received, I was able to fit a few into my interview, so here they are accompanied by Blake's answers...

Nikki from Brownsville, Texas: What made you pick Seal’s “Crazy” as your audition song on “American Idol?”
Blake Lewis: I was preparing to play a gig at a piano bar, and I never do covers. But I was working with my loop pedals I came up with this version. I had just done that two weeks before. I don’t rehearse; I didn’t know what I was going to sing. I didn’t want to beatbox for them. They made me beat; they were like, "We want you to.” I mean, this is a vocal audition. Every friend of mine was like, "Don’t do it."

Kasia from Pennsylvania: Which songs of Sting and Bono influenced you most as a musician?
Blake Lewis: I got to meet Bono, and that was amazing. "War" was a very influential album for me. "Sunday Bloody Sunday" was a huge song for me growing up.

Lisa from Windsor, Ontario: What has been the craziest thing a fan has said, done or given you?
Blake Lewis: There hasn't been a lot of craziness. I’ve got the greatest fans; they've been really respectful. I wish I could really do more for them. People are fans of my stuff on TV, and there are fans who are fans of my music, and that’s great. When we were still on the show, I had one girl who attacked me at a Cheesecake Factory. She was there with her friends. I was like, "You're totally embarrassing yourself, and your friends are never going to let you live it down."

So there you go. Of course, I couldn't have asked all the questions I received from "Sean's Space" readers, but of the ones I was able to pose to Blake, I thought he answered them pretty thoughtfully.

Thanks again to everyone who participated, and be on the lookout for the full story with Blake in the May 30th edition of the Poughkeepsie Journal!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Just got off the phone with Blake Lewis!

In anticipation of his June 1st appearance in Fishkill, I just interviewed Blake Lewis, the runner-up on Season Six of "American Idol."

Calling me from the West Coast, Blake was really excited about his K-Fest appearance at Dutchess Stadium and about getting out in front of a live crowd.

"I love playing shows," Blake told me. "It never gets old for me. I’m just excited to give some love back to the fans."

Our conversation touched a lot of topics, from his experience on "Idol" to his musical influences to even being a self-proclaimed "nerd." You can read the complete story on Blake in the May 30th edition of "Enjoy!" in the Poughkeepsie Journal.

In short, he was a really cool guy to talk with, he loves his fans and he seemed genuinely grateful for the success he's been afforded.

Blake was kind enough to answer three questions from "Sean's Space" readers, the answers to which I'll post here on Wednesday. Check back then to see if Blake answered yours!

Until then, I just wanted to pass along a big thanks to Michelle from 19 Entertainment, to the dozens of fans who submitted questions and, of course, to Blake for taking the time to chat.

Can't wait til "Summertime"

Even though it doesn't come our for sale, iTunes or wherever digital musical is available, until a week from today (that's May 13th), I've been listening to the New Kids On The Block's first new song in almost 15 years, and it's awesome!!!

It's called "Summertime," and it's kind of a mix of all the New Kids' later work, before they disbanded in late 1994. It's light, it's fun and (I know I'm going out on a limb here) I'm sure it'll be a hit!

Don't believe me? Go here to listen to the entire song and judge for yourself!

Monday, May 5, 2008

YOU can ask Blake Lewis a question!

Seeing how well I've done with former "American Idol" finalists, I've got another "Idol" interview in the works ... and I'm letting you in on the fun!

Just as I did before when I interviewed "Idol" stars Clay Aiken and Taylor Hicks (not to mention, most recently Bret Michaels), I'm giving you a chance to ask Blake Lewis a question when I interview him!!!

I've spent the afternoon working with the good folks at 19 Entertainment, setting up an upcoming interview with Blake Lewis, the runner-up on Season Six of "Idol." It looks like I'll be talking to Blake later this week.

Now, all you've got to do is e-mail your first name, your hometown and your question for Blake to me at I'll pick the best one out of all the questions I receive and pose it to Blake when I speak to him. Then, I'll post his answer to your question right here at "Sean's Space."

Blake will be performing at the annual K-Fest concert at Dutchess Stadium on June 1st, and I'll be working on a cover story for the Poughkeepsie Journal's weekly entertainment supplement, "Enjoy!" just like I did with Taylor Hicks here.

So be creative and fill my inbox! Think of a question you think no one else has asked Blake, and you might see Blake's answer to your query right here on "Sean's Space!"

Thursday, May 1, 2008

I miss you, Brooke White!

Needless to say, I'm heartbroken today, as Brooke White's "American Idol" dream has been dashed.

Brooke, my sentimental favorite (though I knew she wouldn't win 'cause David C. and David A. are going to battle it out ... just look at the poll to the right!), couldn't crack the final four last night, singing (literally) her swan song with tears in her eyes.

I feel your pain, Brooke, and I'll miss you.

I enjoyed Brooke's rendition of "I Am ... I Said" but I wasn't a believer in her cover of "I'm a Believer."

Still, I'd always had a soft spot in my heart for Brooke. She did an amazing version of "Let It Be," back during the Top 12 round, and I was a fan ever since.

I've always contended Carly Smithson had the best female voice (if not the best voice overall) in the competition, and I was shocked when she went home last week.

While Brooke was, I thought, the second-best female contender, with Carly out of the way, I was hoping she'd make it further.

And how does that Jason Castro stay in the competition??? He's got to be the next to go!