Archives For Summer Kick-Off

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.”

Keeping with my own Summer Kick-Off tradition, I hung back in the meet-and-greets with the artists that performed at the 95.5 PLJ concert and asked them what they were looking forward to this summer.
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A few weeks ago, I wrote that Rachel Platten “has experienced a lot in 2015.” And that was before she performed her hit “Fight Song” in front of 50,000 people with Taylor Swift.

The latest chapter of the fairy tale that has been Platten’s year might trace back a little further in time, but for our sake let’s rewind to about a week and a half ago. Swift, in the midst of her massive “The 1989 World Tour,” was set to perform at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field. Backstage she held court with Platten and a couple of country artists: singer Kelsea Ballerini and the group Little Big Town.

This is public knowledge because of Swift’s Instagram page. The “Shake It Off” singer posted a series of videos to the social network, including one of her and the rest of the crew singing along to “Fight Song.”

A video posted by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on


A week later the 34 year-old artist found herself in the middle of Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field, singing her uplifting anthem with Swift.

And to think, when I spoke with Platten just after her birthday in May, she was simply looking forward to touring with Colbie Caillat and Christina Perri this summer.

“I can’t wait! I’m so excited,” she told me before joking about the tour’s title, “Girls Night Out, Boys Can Come Too.”

“Thank God (the word ‘Boys’) was added (to the title),” she added while laughing. The trek kicks off July 10 at Mohegan Sun Arena. “So sorry!”

Platten probably still can’t wait to support Caillat and Perri but the singer has to be just as excited about the trajectory of her single on the charts. Prior to the Swift co-sign, “Fight Song” peaked at 36 on the Billboard Hot 100. It’s now at 25.

On the Nielsen BDS Pop Chart, the single moves to 30 this week, up five spots and over 400 spins. That chart reflects the number of times a song is played on Top 40 stations across the country.

It is probably not a coincidence that this all takes place after Platten’s cameos with Swift. Still, it is a testament to the Massachusetts-born singer’s talent along with the fact that “Fight Song” clearly had a lot more fight left in it as well.

Photo: http://instagram.com/taylorswift

Photo: http://instagram.com/taylorswift


Rachel Platten has experienced a lot in 2015 – from performing her uplifting anthem “Fight Song” on “Good Morning America” to enjoying cupcakes emblazed with her face.

“Which I didn’t even know you could do!” exclaimed Platten of the dessert, which friends at her record label served for her birthday last week. “It makes them more delicious.”

Everything has to taste better for the New England-born singer these days. Platten dropped her first album in 2003. Her next release came eight years later. Both were recorded independently from a major label. Then Platten, “Fight Song” in tow, shopped around her and the track from label-to-label. I jokingly mention that she “may have heard ‘no’ a few times;” rightfully so she quickly dismisses this.
RACH
“I think I’ve been rejected by probably every single person in the industry,” she responded, with little sense of hyperbole in her tone. “But I just won’t give up. I don’t know. I have this crazy little thing in my head that won’t quit.

“I didn’t care. Of course it hurt, but something in me just wouldn’t let me stop. I felt like I had this message to give the world.”

So did Columbia Records, the label that signed Platten and released her Fight Song EP. In addition to the “GMA” performance, Platten is enjoying her greatest chart success yet. “Fight Song” peaked last week at 11 on the Billboard Adult Pop chart; it’s been on the chart for 11 weeks.

“As I spread this message, I get the privilege of listening to other people’s struggles and what they’re working on overcoming, and what I’ve found to be so true is that we all have something,” she said. “Sometimes we’re shy about saying it publicly; sometimes we don’t want to declare it. But when you do there’s this power that comes from that, and you get this rush of love and support from your friends and family.”

And that rush will probably continue through the summer for Platten, as she tours in support of co-headliners Colbie Caillat and Christina Perri. The “Girls Night Out, Boys Can Come Too” trek kicks off at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut on July 10.