I just realized that this post isn’t as super-belated as I initially though; I ate birthday cake about a week ago.

My actual birthday was on June 6 and regardless of my Mom celebrating in late fashion with both my sister (June 14) and Uncle Dave (this past Wednesday), I still felt compelled to at some point write a “thank you” for everyone who both sent their well-wishes and/or joined in on the fun in person.

So I turned 21… on June 6, 2006. I was still attending Syracuse University that summer and working in the city. My cousin and best friend Anthony (who ties the knot next weekend) was in law school at St. John’s. My Dad and my buddy Vinnie drove from Niagara Falls to Syracuse, where on midnight we threw back a few celebratory shots at Chuck’s (hashtag never forget). You should’ve seen the bartender’s face when she realized that for the past year that she had served me, I wasn’t of age. Whoops!

The next day we drove to Bayside, met up with Anthony and headed over to the Bronx. The Yankees beat the Red Sox 2-1 thanks in part to Melky Cabrera robbing Manny Ramirez of a home-run.


Now 11 years later, the Yankees were in the Bronx, playing the Red Sox. A friend-of-the-show, Eric, has season tickets and invited me to go to the game with him. Of course I obliged, and despite a much different outcome, was happy that I spent at least part of my birthday at the Stadium.


The celebrations continued Saturday, where I headed back to the Stadium with my friend Riana, John Foxx and his better half. The outcome was much more favorable as the Yankees went home-run derby on the Orioles. I watched the last few innings back in my neighborhood, chowing down on hibachi with my friends Ryan and Gina.

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With me in town the weekend after my sister’s birthday for my cousin Anthony’s stag, my Mom thought it would be a nice idea to have a little cake that celebrated quite a bit, none-the-more-evident than by simply looking at it.

Hunter March, who has amassed 400,000 YouTube subscribers, stops by to chat about the new show he’s hosting on GSN, “Emogenius.” Teams of two, using emojis, play for $10,000.

March also chatted about how he got his start in front of the camera and his grandfather, the late Hal March, who hosted the iconic game show, “The $64,000 Question.”

“Emogenius” airs Wednesday nights at 9 pm on GSN.

Norwegian DJ/producer Kygo is on a hot-streak at the moment between the infectious Selena Gomez-assisted “It Ain’t Me” and “First Time” featuring Ellie Goulding. The songs are the first and second singles, respectively, from his forthcoming sophomore album. He also played two more tracks, one of which John Newman sings on, at Ultra Music Festival this year. But despite these big collaborations that he’s completed, the DJ now has his sights on another, although it might be difficult to accomplish.

“Ed Sheeran is one of my favorite artists,” he told me recently, noting that there are other singers he’d like to share the studio with as well. “(Ed) is so busy all the time so it’s tough to find time to go in to the studio but that’s a dream collaboration for me, to work with Ed Sheeran.”

Working with Sheeran might be a tough task to clear though – pun intended. The only known, notable Electronic Dance Music collaboration the Englishman has ever participated in was on the Martin Garrix track, “Rewind Repeat It.”

Does it sound familiar? It shouldn’t. The song never saw the light of day. Garrix offered up his side of the story this past March during an interview in his home country of the Netherlands.

“It’s all label issues and a lot of headaches,” Garrix told Dutch station Radio 538, via Billboard. “It was going to be an official track, so we postponed all my other singles, but the label delayed the track because they wanted to release other tracks from Ed first. At one point, it was two years ago, I didn’t release a radio single for five, six months. So, then you get annoyed. So, I don’t think we’re ever going to release the track.”

Another person that Kygo has worked with though is Julia Michaels, who is also finding quite a bit of success on the American airwaves these days.

“I’m so happy for her,” he said. “She’s such a nice person as well. She’s been writing so many hits, and now she’s releasing her own hits. It’s just very well-deserved. I think she’s going to do a lot of big things in the future.”

The two teamed up for “Carry Me” off Kygo’s first LP “Cloud Nine.” There is no title or release date for the follow-up album.

If there’s one thing you can expect when Halsey kicks off her “Hopeless Fountain Kingdom” tour later this year, it’s this: fire.

“I’ve always been very extra with the fire,” the Washington, New Jersey-native told me last month. “Any chance I have to bring fire on my stage, I’m going to do it.”

Matter-of-fact, Halsey revealed to me that during her Billboard Music Awards performance rehearsal, she kept practicing the song over-and-over in part due to the fire that was planned for the set. She certainly didn’t mind the rehearsing; she was once hit with her own fireworks during a Coachella performance (Halsey escaped unscathed).

But besides the obvious visual, there is also a meaning behind the use of fire that relates to the singer’s chart-topping album.

“My record, ‘Hopeless Fountain Kingdom,’ is kind of about an underworld,” Halsey, born Ashley Frangipane, explained. “It’s kind of about this parallel universe where love conquers all. It’s a ‘Romeo and Juliet’ story so bringing in the fire is a really, really cool way for me to kind of rope my audience in to my universe that I’ve tried to create.”

Fans across the country will have the opportunity to witness that universe on the singer’s first-ever arena tour, although Halsey is no stranger to big rooms. She headlined and sold-out Madison Square Garden in 2016; the show went on-sale three weeks after her debut LP “Badlands” came out.

“The whole world went, ‘What do you think you’re doing? You just put out your album. You can’t play MSG,’” she recalled of critics’ initial reaction to the news. “That venue has always been the pinnacle of music for me.

“I was playing a show at Webster Hall. I was playing to 1,500 people (the night tickets for The Garden were released). And I walked up-stage and I got the news that we were about to sell-out Madison Square Garden.”

Halsey said that as amazing as she thinks the arena dates will be, it will be hard to top playing MSG, which she described as, “one of the best experiences of my life.”

She’ll find out when the tour kicks off at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut on September 29… her birthday.

“Versatile” would be one way to describe Ne-Yo’s musical capabilities given how many different radio formats have played his songs over the years and the number of genres he has actively participated in. Electronic Dance Music is one of those genres, whether it is working with Afrojack or Calvin Harris for the GRAMMY-nominated “Let’s Go,” and the singer/songwriter doesn’t think that its popularity is going to decline anytime soon.

“It’s a genre that’s based off of crowd participation,” Ne-Yo replied when I asked him if he was surprised at dance music’s sustained prominence, especially in the pop world. “If you’ve ever been to an EDM show, it’s not even so much about the DJ. Most EDM DJs wear a black t-shirt and black jeans…you’re going for the music and the way that the music makes you feel.

“We’re in a time where things that make you feel something are few and far between, and that music has always been based on getting that energy. I don’t feel like energy will ever go out of style, so I don’t feel like EDM will ever go out of style.”

While not of the electronic variety, there is a bunch of energy on Ne-Yo’s new single, “Another Love Song.”

“I wanted to do something kind of up-tempo, summertime, fun,” the artist, nee Shaffer Smith, explained. “Still have an R&B edge but could also you know, play with the pop folks if you felt like it and I feel like ‘Another Love Song’ is just that.”

Ne-Yo wrote the song himself and tasked Dr. Luke to produce it. It’s the first single from his forthcoming seventh studio album. Given his longevity and track record, perhaps he knows a thing or two when he speaks about staying in style.

Since 2010, Niall Horan has been on quite the rollercoaster. The Irish-born singer first came to fame on “The X-Factor” across the pond, where Simon Cowell hatched the bright idea to pair him and four other contestants together. What followed was a phenomenon: five chart-topping albums, sold-out stadium tours and millions upon millions of screaming fans.

But now Horan is signed to a different record label, releasing music as a solo artist and moving at a speed that must feel more comfortable.

“Yeah, it’s great,” when asked Horan about the pace of his new project with Capitol Records. “I kind of just made a decision that I would do everything at my own pace and I said it to my manager and to my label and they were completely supportive of it.”

Horan essentially told them that he would work on the album and he would notify them when it was finished. Update: it’s pretty much done.

“I’ll probably release it in the fall or something,” he said. “I just have to do a little bit of production stuff and it’s all kind of recorded and stuff like that.”

The Irishman doesn’t have a title yet but he has released two songs from the LP, “This Town” and “Slow Hands.” When I asked about the song selection, it sounded like the former wasn’t really intended to be a proper first single.

“I just wanted to let people know I was still doing music to be honest and it just kind of happened,” Horan explained of releasing “This Town.” “It took a life of its own.”

There was definitely a more methodical approach behind “Slow Hands.”

“I wanted to kind of beef things up a little bit and show I was a little bit more diverse,” Horan noted. “The whole album wasn’t going to be all finger-picking stuff.”

Horan started writing for the project in “March or April of last year.” The singer hopped in-and-out of the studio between days off before “This Town” started climbing the charts and the project’s timeline sped up – something Horan credits to those aforementioned fans, who have stuck with him throughout the entire ride.

I love tradition and routine but it was time for a break from both this past weekend: for the first time in recent memory, I took Memorial Day weekend off.

I remember spending Memorial Day weekend in 2010 at a Yankees game and I can’t recall how I spent the holiday in 2011. But I do remember 2012 because Syracuse was in the NCAA Lacrosse Final Four and I drove to Camden, New Jersey where I interviewed Niall Horan of then a burgeoning pop outfit called One Direction.

In 2013 I attended a wedding but on Memorial Day Monday and every subsequent one until this year, I would host my show in New York at its normal time.

And this year wasn’t a complete departure from work: I woke up early Friday morning and drove down the Shore for 95.5’s Pepsi Summer Kick-Off, chatting with Andy Grammer before driving back and doing my show Friday night.

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On Saturday I slept in, grabbed the new Jordan 11’s and met a friend for a drink in midtown. Then my buddy Danny visited for the weekend – we bar-hopped in the hood before hitting the East Village and calling it a late night/early morning.

Then Sunday it was up to the Bronx to watch the Yankees beat the A’s and witness Aaron Judge’s first career grand slam. We followed that up with a celebratory drink at Stan’s and then a trip to hang in Yonkers with John Foxx for dinner and drinks.

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The bad news for Monday is that I had to set an alarm for 8 am. The good news was that Danny and I were up early because we were driving to Baltimore to see the Yankees and Orioles face off at Camden Yards. The weather was dreary until we reached the DMV area. First pitch was 75 and sunny. The Yanks lost (although Judge hit another homer; he leads the league) but we linked up with friends old and new in the stadium, across the street at Pickles and across town around the Inner Harbor.

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By the way – the people of Baltimore are fantastic. We ate dinner with our buddy Rob at the Oyster House Sunday night. The lobster gnocchi and lobster mac and cheese were out of this world. Everything was super-fresh.

We wrapped up the night with a trip to Horseshoe Casino where I left with a few extra dollars in my pocket and retired to the Hilton by Camden. It was an early-ish night because I had a 10 am train back to New York on Tuesday morning.

And of course, it should come as little surprise that I missed it by about 10 minutes because I accidentally typed in “Penn Street” in to Google Maps as opposed to “Baltimore Penn Station.” But the good news was that 20 minutes later, an Acela departed and dropped me off at New York Penn just before 1.

The timing was perfect: I arrived at the studio with just enough time to interview an old friend… Niall Horan.

Andy Grammer is reading the room. Summertime is here. To some, our nation and the world are in a… let’s just say “precarious” place. And if there is one thing people are seeking, it’s love.

“My mom was an incredible lady and she taught me to basically just give love in every interaction that I had,” the artist recalled of his mother, Kathryn, while talking about his forthcoming single. “I think that with the climate that we’re in right now of the world, maybe sometimes this message would be a little too sweet but I think right now, it actually lands perfectly.”

Grammer immediately followed that assessment with a description of the song’s tempo.

“It’s not too heavy,” he clarified. “It’s ‘up.’ It’s a fun summer thing.”

“Give Love” is the title and that thing will be released June 9. It’s far from the first piece of work that Grammer’s mother has inspired. In 2013, the “Honey I’m Good” singer started the KathyGramm campaign to raise awareness for women who were victims of gender-based violence, a cause that was near to his mom’s heart. And besides the new track, Grammer will have a little more love and to love in his life soon: this past March he and wife Aijia announced that they are expecting their first child.

As for the single, Grammer will celebrate its release on June 10 with a headlining performance at the Belmont Stakes.

“It makes you feel good,” he said of the song. “And we need more of that, for sure.”

Hailee Steinfeld has been no stranger to pop radio over the past few months between collaborating with Zedd and Grey on “Starving” along with her feature on Machine Gun Kelly’s “At My Best.” The 20 year-old is back with her own single, “Most Girls” and maybe some more music to come.

“Maybe,” she slyly replied when I asked if the song was a first single from a forthcoming project. “I’m working on music, which I’m very excited about, and I can’t wait to put more out. It’s going to be a good summer.”

Steinfeld, who I caught up with backstage at the Billboard Music Awards last month, was just as excited for singer/songwriter Julia Michaels. The actress’ first single “Love Myself” was co-written by Michaels, who now has her own breakout debut hit with “Issues.”

“She is genuinely one of my favorite people in the world,” Steinfeld gushed. “We met and five minutes in to our time together it felt like we had known each other for years. She’s so incredibly talented and deserves nothing but the best.”

Whether it’s Michaels, Zedd (who retweeted a fan suggestion that he produce a song with Steinfeld before the two even got in to the studio together) or MGK, the singer keeps a relatively simple rule in place for deciding who she’ll work with on music.

“I love collaborating, especially with friends, because that never really feels like work.”

Bad news if you’re expecting a new DNCE album: don’t.

“For us, we focus on songs right now,” lead singer Joe Jonas told me backstage at the Billboard Music Awards. “We’re always writing so, if something just kind of comes together and it’s an album (then) so be it, we’re going to release it.

“We’re not really trying to lock us down to like, ‘Here’s a release date for a record.’ We got a song? Let’s just put it out.”

Jonas and company dropped an EP with the breakout hit “Cake By The Ocean” before releasing a full length album a year later. The quartet is back with its first single since: the Nicki Minaj-featured “Kissing Strangers.”

“We’re huge fans of her’s,” bassist Cole Whittle said. “We thought about it and she hadn’t really done anything in the rock-and-roll world with like a raw band and we approached her. She was in to it.”

Whittle noted the “aesthetic marriage” between the two acts and how both thought it was a good idea. For Minaj, the only time she really came as close to a “rock band” vibe was her feature on the track “Knockout” from Lil Wayne’s “Rebirth” album. While the song did not fare too well on the charts, it did sell over a half-million copies in less than a year.

Meanwhile, DNCE probably wouldn’t mind replicating the success of “Cake,” which earned platinum-certification in a number of countries including over 3 million served in the U.S. The band will play a smattering of shows this summer before joining Bruno Mars on the Latin America leg of his “24K Magic World Tour.”