Posted tagged ‘Oklahoma’

Artist Spotlight: Hillbilly Vegas

May 21, 2016

Today’s spotlight artist is a group that I’ve been keeping my eye on for about two years now. Their name: Hillbilly Vegas.

The name just screams country music and rock & roll, right?

I first discovered these guys a couple years ago, and as I looked at the name, I imagined Duck Dynasty meets the guys from Pawn Stars. In reality, after checking out their website, and listening to a ton of their music over the past two years, I’ve found them to be more of a mixture of Blackhawk, Bon Jovi and John Mellencamp.

Sound good?


Many may consider these guys new, but in reality, they are far from it! Blasting intensity right out of the gate, Hillbilly Vegas got a ton of traction with their debut album Ringo Manor, moving more than 10,000 copies (not bad for an emerging indie band) and scoring traction with its first single “Little Miss Rough and Tumble”. As it turns out, the song was on the national country music charts for more than 25 weeks!

Now on to the band, which is led by Steve Harris (vocals and rhythm guitar), Stacy Thornburg (lead guitar, vocals), Johnny Reed (guitar, vocals), Robb Edwards (bass) and Troy Hollinger (drums). I first caught wind of these guys prior to the release of the song “Long Way Back”, which ended up being one of my Top 10 songs of 2014.

“Long Way Back” has been a very special song for the members of Hillbilly Vegas. According to the band, the video has been used by Battle Saint, an organization who works tirelessly raising money to build treatment facilities for PTSD and traumatic brain injuries in returning veterans.  The Zac Brown Band and the creators of HBO’s Band of Brothers are also supporters of the organization.  The video for “Long Way Back” features the great things Battle Saint does along with a number of veterans and their families.

By the way…it’s also a GREAT song!

Now, since I first discovered the band in mid-2014, they have grown a few years older and have come back with a deeper attitude and sharper edge. They’re currently out on the road promoting their new EP, 76’, and getting everyone to “Shake It Like A Hillbilly” with their new single and high energy music video. Their momentum is bound to continue with the game plan in place for their future singles, including the party anthem “High Time For A Good Time” and “2 Gun Town,” a hard rock tune that was originally written for a National Geographic TV show. I also have a special love for “Can’t Go Home”, which might be my favorite song on the EP.


In Harris’ own words:

“We’ve taken more control this time around as far as our sound and direction. We’ve always been a rock band sort of dabbling in the country market and that’s even more evident this time around, recording with Alex, who’s worked with many major label bands in Texas. We’re grateful for the success of Ringo Manor, but it was a learning experience as was all of our time recording it in Nashville. Our fans kept telling us they loved our giant live sound and that while they liked our album we’re more exciting live. That’s the power we went for on 76’, which we named after Johnny’s 76 Gibson Firebird guitar. We loved the way Alex got those big drum sounds and the cool atmosphere he created for us to do the hard work. He was the perfect co-producer.”

I know there’s more that I could talk about here, but I’ll let you check out the rest of their music, for yourself. Here’s a sample of songs off the new EP, as well as a few older ones:

Little Miss Rough and Tumble

Mason Jars and Moonlight

Oklahoma 3.2

From an Empty Room

Helluva Night

“We’re all about creating fun, high energy, memorable music that gives people a good feeling,” says Harris. “I love hearing tunes on the radio that stir up feelings that take me back to special times and places – and if Hillbilly Vegas can do that for people, it’s a wonderful thing. We know we’re not doing socially groundbreaking material, but it’s real. Each song chronicles the experience and influences of the guys who wrote them.”

If you are anything like me (note the tagline for my blog) and are a huge fan of traditional and modern country, mixed with rock and a little hillbilly, then Hillbilly Vegas is definitely a band you need to take a listen to. When you get the chance, check them out on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at @hillbillyvegas. Also, don’t forget to check out their music on iTunes.

Hey guys, how about a date out West at the Rodeo Club in San Jose or Duke’s in Portland???

So what did I miss? Have you seen Hillbilly Vegas live? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Let the BCS BS Continue…

October 24, 2010

We’re still 8 hours away from the latest BCS poll coming out, but I can already smell more controversy. What else can you expect from a broken system where a Champion is decided by computers.

While I don’t know how the new BCS poll is going to break out, here is what I expect to see come 5 p.m. (PT) this afternoon:

1. Auburn

2. Oregon

3. Boise State

4. TCU

5. Michigan State

Whether I’m right or not, I have no clue. But, after seeing how the BCS moved Oklahoma to the top of the heap last week, it only stands to reason that Auburn will move up to number one, jumping over fellow undefeated Oregon and Boise State. I understand jumping Boise State. As much as I LOVE the Broncos, the only way that they will get into the National Championship game is if they go undefeated, and there are no other undefeated teams from the Big 5 conferences (I only put 5 because I believe that it is a TRAVESTY that teams from the Big East are even considered in a BCS conference).

But jumping the Oregon Ducks…this is just wrong. Don’t get me wrong…Auburn is one of the top teams in the country, and they have shown this on the field. But, Oregon SHOULD be number one. Auburn has played better competition, but they have only been impressive in a couple of their games. They’ve won a handful of games by less than a touchdown, while Oregon has DOMINATED the teams that they have played.

Is it an East Coast bias…maybe. Is the BCS a joke…yes! Something must be done, and done quickly. I will continue to say this every week…a playoff system needs to be implemented. Let’s take the top 16 teams and let them battle it out at the end of the season. What’s the best sporting event of the year? The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Look at the excitement around the three weeks of March Madness! I have two words for you which demonstrate the need for a tournament like we see in college basketball: Butler Bulldogs. The little school came within a 3 pointer of defeating the Duke Blue Devils in the championship game earlier this year. Boise State is the Butler of football. Shouldn’t they be given a chance too? Let’s play the games on the field…not on computers!

Who would you put #1? Will #1 go down for a fourth straight week next week? Who finishes the season #1 and 2?

The BCS Truly is BS

October 20, 2009

I’ve said it since the beginning: we need a playoff system in college football!

Let either the top 8 or 16 teams play each other to determine who is the true champion each year. Forget the computers. We know who the top teams are each season. Yes, a team or two might get left out, but at least we don’t have to go with just the “top 2” in the country in a winner takes all game.

Great article by Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports who discusses how teams such as Florida and Texas, who play patsy preseason schedules before their actual conference games are ranked at the top, while teams like Oklahoma and USC, who play “real” teams, are left out.

From the article:

On Sept. 5, while Florida feasted on Charleston Southern and Texas opened with Louisiana-Monroe, the Oklahoma Sooners played a strong BYU team on a neutral field.

That’s when Sam Bradford sprained his shoulder while being sacked, an injury that derailed OU’s title hopes.

A week later, while Florida annihilated Troy and Texas blew out Wyoming, Southern California played at Ohio State.

That’s when freshman Matt Barkley was himself sacked and hurt. He was forced to sit out the next game, which the Trojans lost. Now they’re behind the national title 8-ball.

That’s two tough games, two season-changing injuries and two more examples why as long as the Bowl Championship Series exists, there is no good reason any power team should risk playing a rugged non-conference schedule.

Check out the BCS standings. Florida and Texas are ranked No. 1 and 3 respectively, despite playing weak non-conference teams. Both know if they win out, they’ll play for the title anyway.

This isn’t scheduling cowardice, it’s, in fact, what passes for BCS intelligence.

First BCS Rankings: Who’s #1?

October 17, 2009

UPDATE: ESPN has just announced that Florida is #1 in the first BCS rankings for 2009.

UPDATE 2: Good story on the BS that is the BCS.

Sunday, October 18, marks the release of the first BCS standings for 2009. Hold on to your hats, this could be fun!

We almost had a complete upheaval of the top ten this weekend, but #1 Florida and #2 Texas both hung on to win their games. Overall, it was a pretty scary day all around, not just in wins and losses, but for individual players themselves.

Heisman Trophy hopeful Colt McCoy looked terrible throwing for under 150 yards, only one touchdown and one interception. To make things worse in the same game, last year’s Heisman winner, Sam Bradford, re injured his shoulder and judging from the reaction of his coach, Bob Stoops, I would have to assume that he will miss the rest of the season. At 3-3, Oklahoma is having its worst season in recent memory and they appear that they may have to carry on without their team leader.

If not for a last minute drive by Tim Tebow, who knows how the Florida/Arkansas game would have ended. I’ve got to give it to Tebow, he can play and knows how to fire up a team. I’m just not sold on Florida this year. Two straight weeks they could have easily lost their game if not for some late heroics. And what about the Texas Longhorns??? I mentioned McCoy’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day already but looking at the season so far as a whole, they are the most unimpressive undefeated team in the nation right now. I’m pretty sure that they will lose at least one game in their conference and it could happen as early as next week.

As much as it pains me to say it, Alabama looks very impressive and in National Championship form. They dispatched of South Carolina today with some great defense and the running game looks equally good. Virginia Tech said goodbye to any chance they had of a National Championship with their loss at Georgia Tech. USC had Notre Dame on the verge of a blowout until they decided to let them back in the game (and nearly win if not for a last second goal line stand). If not for the hiccup against Washington, USC could easily have their hat in the ring for the top spot in the BCS. Alas, they will have to settle for 4th at best (you can see my predictions below).

And the team from the land of the Smurf Turf had some major problems putting away Tulsa on Thursday night. They really need some blowout victories, and an undefeated season, to have any chance at at a BCS National Championship game. Heck, they might even get passed by TCU for a BCS Bowl bid if the “frogs” go 12-0 this year. The Broncos looked great against Oregon to open the season, but they’ve played down to the level of their opponents the past two weeks and with a weak schedule, any more games like this could easily relegate them  to a non-BCS game.

Anyways, it will be interesting to see how the players fall tomorrow afternoon when the standings are finally released. I’m looking forward to seeing how both the AP and Coaches poll shift this week, but what will play the most important role is the computers. I’m no expert, so I’m going to go out on a limb here and make my predictions how I see the top ten playing out:

1. Florida

2. Alabama

3. Texas

4. Boise State

5. USC

6. Cincinnati

7. Iowa

8. LSU

9. Miami

10. TCU

To be the best, you have to beat the best. And at this time, Florida is still the team to beat until someone knocks them off their pedestal.

I strongly believe that Alabama is the number one team in the country right now, but can’t see enough voters changing their ballots to drop Florida out of the number one spot. I also see USC leapfrogging Boise State based upon their quality wins over Ohio State and Notre Dame. I’m most intrigued where teams like Cincinnati, Iowa and Miami end up. It’s pretty much a crapshoot after the top 4-5.

It will be interesting to see how it all ends up, though. Personally, I would love to see a lot of upsets the rest of the way and Boise State sneaking into the National Championship Game. Yes, it’s a dream that will most likely NEVER come true, but it would still be fun to finally see someone stick it to the BCS!

Everyone who knows me, knows that I’m in favor of a playoff. Whether it be an 8 or 16 team playoff, let them fight it out on the field to determine who really is #1.


Referees Give #1 Florida Gators a 23-20 Win

October 17, 2009

UPDATE: Virginia Tech knocked off by Georgia Tech! Check out my BCS predictions here.

UPDATE 2: Good story on the BS that is the BCS.

Arkansas played well.

Florida played awful.

The referees were the worst. *A close second goes to the two missed kicks by the Arkansas kicker who could have won the game for them*

I’m not a Razorbacks fan, or a Gators fan, just a college football fan. This was embarrassing to watch. Usually, you see one or two bad calls in a game. But in this game, there was bad call after bad call including two on a 4th quarter drive that got Florida back in the game and eventually the win with a 29 yard field goal with only 9 seconds left to play.

Nice attempt at the hook and lateral on the kickoff, though, by Arkansas.

So Florida hangs on. Texas hangs on. Alabama and Virginia Tech still to play. Who’s number one?

I’m not going to downplay how good the SEC is. They are the best conference in all of college football. But they ONLY PLAY EACH OTHER.

Most of the teams play patsy schedules, outside of their own conference. I saw during the game today that the announcers were talking about the BCS Championship game and how if all the teams end up with one or even two losses, that an SEC team should automatically play a Big 12 team. Honestly, that would probably be a GREAT game. But it should not be automatic because the teams play in the Big 12 and SEC.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: WE NEED A PLAYOFF! That’s all I can say. Whether it be an 8 or 16 team playoff. It’s necessary. Look at a couple years ago when Boise State upset Oklahoma. Last year when Utah routed Alabama. Just because teams play in conferences that are considered “weaker” than others, they get no respect. I would love to see the teams play it out on the field, and not amongst voters and computers.

Just my opinion. What’s yours?

Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford Wins Heisman Trophy

December 13, 2008

What a season he is having. The only thing better for Sam Bradford than winning the Heisman may be winning a national championship four weeks from now.

From the Associated Press:

The first person to congratulate Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford was the player who won it last year — Tim Tebow.

The star quarterbacks from the top two teams in the country shook hands Saturday night, then embraced.

On Jan. 8, with the national championship on the line, it won’t be so cordial.

Bradford, Oklahoma’s amazingly accurate and quick-thinking passer, won the Heisman after leading the highest-scoring team in major college history to the BCS title game.

A year after Tebow was the first sophomore to win the Heisman, Bradford became the second and kept the Florida star from joining Archie Griffin as the only two-time winners.

Bradford and Tebow will soon meet again, when the No. 2 Sooners (12-1) face No. 1 Gators (12-1) in Miami.

“We’re ready to get back to work to get ready for the 8th,” Bradford said. “When we started this season, winning the national championship was the first goal we put down as a team.”

Next month’s game between Oklahoma and Florida marks the second time Heisman winners will play against each other. The first was in the 2005 Orange Bowl, when ’04 winner Matt Leinart and Southern California beat ’03 winner Jason White and Oklahoma for the national title.

From the New York Times:

Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford arrived in Norman three years ago with modest hype and low expectations. The Sooners’ coaches acknowledged that they had recruited him for depth behind Rhett Bomar, who had been the country’s top quarterback prospect.

But Bradford’s rise from relative obscurity to national pre-eminence was sealed Saturday night when he won the Heisman Trophy, which is given annually to the country’s most outstanding college football player.

Bradford, a redshirt sophomore, seemed giddy and overwhelmed as he hugged his parents and his coach, Bob Stoops, and shook hands with a row of former Heisman winners.

“I was definitely surprised,” Bradford said. “I think it was everything I imagined. It’s going to take a few weeks for it to sink in.”

His victory did not come without a dash of drama. Bradford edged Texas quarterback Colt McCoy in the voting, 1,726 to 1,604, in the closest finish since Eric Crouch beat Rex Grossman by 62 points in 2001.

In a sign of how top-heavy the balloting was, McCoy’s second-place total was high enough to have won four of the past eight Heismans.

“Now I know what it’s like for those people on ‘American Idol,’ ” McCoy said. “My heart was pounding. What a great experience.”

The third-place finisher, Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, received more first-place votes than Bradford (309-300), becoming the first third-place finisher to do so since 1956. That did not seem to matter to Tebow, who last season became the first sophomore to win the Heisman.

“You lose, you lose,” he said with a smile. When told he had been left off 154 of the 904 ballots, Tebow added, “Either they love us or they hate us — that’s Florida.”

Ball State…What Are You Thinking?

December 5, 2008

Yes, you are currently 12-0, one of just a few undefeated teams left in college football. You are having a great season. So, why in the world would you turn down the opportunity to play Boise State in the Humanitarian Bowl? Yes, the game will be played on Boise State’s home field, the so called “Smurf Turf”, but you are missing out on a GREAT opportunity! Not just for your school, but for all of College Football!

Jason King had a great posting on Yahoo! Sports discussing this very topic. I’ve posted some of it below. Does anybody have any thoughts on this decision by Ball State?

From Yahoo! Sports:

A few days after Ball State finished the regular season with a 12-0 record, folks around the Mid-American Conference began referring to the Cardinals as one of the best teams in league history.


Elite programs don’t cower in corners when faced with a challenge, which is exactly what Ball State did Wednesday when it declined an invitation to play Boise State in the Humanitarian Bowl.

The game would’ve been one of most intriguing matchups of the postseason. Both 12-0, the Broncos and Cardinals are the only two undefeated teams in college football that won’t be playing in a BCS Bowl.

Yes, the Humanitarian Bowl is played on the Broncos’ home field in Boise, but that shouldn’t matter. The stadium would’ve been packed, television ratings would’ve been huge. Win or lose, the Cardinals would’ve received a level of exposure their program has never known.

Unfortunately, though, the game will never happen.

The Cardinals were too scared.

In some ways it wasn’t difficult to understand Ball State’s position. Coach Brady Hoke had plenty of legitimate reasons for wanting to steer clear of the Humanitarian Bowl.

With the economy in such turmoil, Hoke realizes that many Ball State fans would not make the 1,900-mile trek from Indiana to see the Cardinals play Boise State, which is just two years removed from its upset of Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.

Even more daunting was that the Broncos are 35-3 in three seasons under Chris Peterson. Over the last 10 years they tout the best winning percentage in all of college football.

Simply playing Boise State is tough enough. Doing so on its home turf would’ve been an even taller task.

Still, the challenge – the opportunity – is one that most up-and-coming programs would welcome. Pat Hill’s “any-time-any-place” approach helped Fresno State earn a reputation as one of top non-BCS programs in college football. Even in their down years, the Bulldogs are admired for being fearless. People respect them.

Right now, not too many people respect Ball State.

Yes, the Cardinals are 12-0, and it’s true Ball State has one of the top three or four quarterbacks in college football in Nate Davis. But take a look at its schedule.

The Cardinals’ 12 opponents are a collective 54-88. Only three of them finished with a winning record. Ask any Ball State diehard, and they’ll tell you the team’s marquee victory came against in-state rival Indiana, which went 3-9.

The bottom line is that people still want to see if Ball State is for real. All season long, fans and notable alums have complained that media-types and voters haven’t given the Cardinals their due, but it’s tough to shower too much praise upon a program that displays such cowardice the one time they have a chance to face a quality opponent.

In trying to save face by avoiding a potential butt-kicking in Boise, Ball State actually made itself look worse. Humanitarian Bowl executive director Kevin McDonald called the situation “unfortunate for college football.”

Unfortunate? Try embarrassing. Not just for Ball State, but for the Mid-American Conference, too.

MAC Commissioner Rick Chryst should’ve done everything in his power to convince Ball State to accept the H-Bowl’s invitation. His failure to do so makes his league look small-time in comparison to non-BCS conferences such as Conference USA, the Western Athletic Conference and the Mountain West.