Happy birthday, Brad Paisley!

Paisley,_Brad_(2007)_1Brad Paisley, that West Virginia-born guitar slinger and country hitmaker, turns 42 years old today.

Born in Glen Dale, W.Va., Paisley joined Wheeling’s famed “Jamboree USA” radio show when he was 14 years old, becoming the youngest-ever regular cast member. He stayed with the show for eight years before moving to Nashville in the mid-1990s.

He scored his first No. 1 hit in 1999 with “He Didn’t Have to Be.” He has returned to the top of the country charts 13 more times, including a streak of 10 straight No. 1 hits from 2005 to 2009.

In honor of his special day, here’s my top five favorite Brad Paisley songs:

5. “I’m Gonna Miss Her” I’m not much of a fisherman, but I appreciate this tongue-in-cheek ditty. My wife does, too, for the record.

4. “He Didn’t Have to Be” This is some solid songwriting, and sure to tug at your heartstrings. As I mentioned before, this was Brad’s first No. 1 hit.

3. “Alcohol” Another fine example of his sense of humor, this ode to controlled substances calls to mind country music classics like Roger Miller’s “Chug a Lug.”

2. “Two People Fell in Love” Another warm-and-fuzzy song. You know you like it.

1. “Whiskey Lullaby” First of all, this song is a duet with Alison Krauss. Second, it’s a perfectly written country tragedy. Third, it features Alison Krauss.

W.Va. ranks 1st in Redbox horror movie rentals

The 2013 film "The Purge" was Redbox's top-rented horror movie in West Virginia

The 2013 film “The Purge” was Redbox’s top-rented horror movie in West Virginia

West Virginia is the No. 1 state for horror movie rentals, according to data collected by the kiosk DVD rental service Redbox.

According to a press release from the company, West Virginia leads the nation in horror movie rentals, followed by Mississippi at No. 2, Kentucky at No. 3, Louisiana at No. 4 and Alabama at No. 5.

Does this mean there’s a direct correlation between heart disease and horror movies?

I’m not sure if Redbox is counting total rentals here, or rentals per capita —  I requested the numbers, but the PR people didn’t send them to me — but at least West Virginia is No. 1 something that isn’t totally bad.

To get a little more precise, Wheeling was the top Redbox market for horror movie rentals, followed by Huntington and Charleston.

The top movies rented in West Virginia and the Charleston market are:

  1. “The Purge”
  2. “Carrie” (the 2013 remake)
  3. “Oculus”
  4. “Devil’s Due”
  5. “Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones”

Nationwide, “Carrie” is the most rented horror title, followed by “Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones,” “Devil’s Due,” “Insidious Chapter 2” and “Oculus,” according to the press release.

America’s favorite Halloween movie, however, is “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”

Bob Seger is headed to Charleston

613px-Bob_Seger_2013Get ready for some ol’ time rock ‘n’ roll. Bob Seger and his Silver Bullet Band are headed to the Charleston Civic Center on Jan. 27, 2015.

The stop is part of Seger’s “Ride Out Tour.” Tickets go on sale Saturday, Oct. 25 at 10 a.m. at LiveNation.com.

Seger, 69, is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, and he has written many classic rock songs including “Night Moves,” “Like a Rock” and “Mainstreet.” He released a new album, “Ride Out,” on Tuesday.

Charleston company featured on ‘The Mindy Project’

You can’t pay for this kind of publicity.

Charleston-based homegoods company Kin Ship Goods got a big boost last night when one of their “Black Sheep” sweatshirts appeared on an episode of NBC’s sitcom “The Mindy Project.”


Oh hey. @mindykaling actually wore our shirt on #theMindyproject tonight. #staycozy #kinshipgoods

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The tiny t-shirt company knew Kaling owned the sweatshirt after she posted a photo on Instagram in early September.


@jeremybronson got us the Longboard Ice Cream Truck and. got a bar covered in chocolate and pretzels and here I’m sneaking a bite between takes

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They didn’t know Kaling would be wearing the shirt in an episode of her show, however, or that the shirt would be featured throughout the episode.

If you want to buy the “Black Sheep” sweatshirt, head over to Kin Ship’s website, or stop by the store during tomorrow night’s Art Walk.


‘Brown Bag Concert’ relocated

Due to rainy weather, today’s Charleston Area Alliance “Brown Bag Concert” in Davis Park has been relocated to the Charleston Town Center Mall’s center court.

Spokesman Matt Thompson made the announcement in a press release this morning.

The show, which begins at 11:30 a.m. and runs until 1:30 p.m., will feature local guitarist Robin Kessinger, Romanian instrumentalists and the Davis & Elkins Appalachian Ensemble.

Nonfiction gets no respect

No respect.

No respect.

Early this morning, the Nobel committee in Sweden announced this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature will go to French novelist Patrick Modiano.

He’s certainly a deserving recipient. Committee members praised Modiano’s “art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation.”

But this morning the New Yorker published an essay by Philip Gourevitch, wondering why nonfiction writers don’t get more respect when it comes to literary prizes. Journalist Svetlana Alexievich was on the short-list of possible Nobel recipients, a somewhat rare honor for nonfiction scribes.

Gourevitch (who obviously specializes in nonfiction) lays out an excellent argument, but here’s the jist of it:

Every mode of expression has its formal demands. For writing that’s not fictive, that means fidelity to documentable reality; yet the best of it can only be done when the writer has an imagination as free as any novelist, playwright, or poet. So perhaps, given the favorable odds at Ladbrokes for Alexievich, we may, before long, see novels routinely praised as having all the power and scope of nonfiction, rather than the other way around. And, as soon as the Nobel’s nonfiction barrier is, at last, broken, the fact that it ever existed will come to seem absurd. Literature is just a fancy word for writing.

Hear, hear. As a huge fan of nonfiction writing — and someone who strives to write good, creative but accurate nonfiction — it always depresses me to see nonfiction writing regarded as the red-headed stepchild of “literature.”

There is, however, a growing interest in “documentary writing” (to steal a term from Gourevitch), so maybe it won’t be this way for long.

Bill Withers nominated for Rock Hall

withers-bill-5096d68b895a0Bill Withers — the West Virginia-born writer of soul classics like “Lean on Me,” “Use Me,” “Hope She’ll Be Happier” and many more — is among the nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s class of 2015, along with 15 other bands and solo artists.

Now he needs our help.

The Rock  and Roll Hall of Fame selects its inductees through a ballot process. The artists who receive the most votes are inducted into the hall, with usually five to seven artists added each year.

(The international voting body includes more than 600 people from fellow musicians, music historians and members of the music industry, according to the Hall of Fame’s website.)

Fans also get a vote, however.

Click here to cast your ballot. Be sure to support Bill and, in true West Virginia political fashion, vote early and often.

At the time of this writing, he was in seventh place with 6.45 percent of the vote.

Poll results

If you doubt his worthiness, here is a video of Mr. Withers performing one of my favorite songs, “Hope She’ll Be Happier With Him.” (Have y’all noticed I have lots of favorite songs?)

By the way, Bill is already a member of the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame.

“Mountain Stage” update

Two quick updates on upcoming “Mountain Stage” shows for you guys.

The Oct. 12 show — with Shovels and Rope, Kat Edmonson, San Fermin, Robert Ellis and Hiss Golden Messenger — is now sold out.

If you don’t have your tickets yet, don’t worry. More tickets usually become available the day of the show. Additional tickets will go on sale at 5 p.m. Sunday at the Culture Center for $25 apiece.

(By the way, look for my interview with Kat Edmonson later this week in the Daily Mail.)

Also, the Nov. 2 show (featuring Yonder Mountain String Band, James McMurtry, The Devil Makes Three and Lily & Madeleine) has been moved to the Civic Center Little Theater in downtown Charleston.

It’s a bigger venue, meaning more seats for “Mountain Stage” fans who want to catch what will surely be a dynamite show. Tickets are still available via Ticketmaster.

Aretha’s coming to the Clay Center

ArethaThe Queen of Soul — Ms. Aretha Franklin — is headed to West Virginia next month.

She’s going to perform a stop-over concert at the Clay Center on Tuesday, Nov. 25 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $65, $90, $115 and $150, and are on sale now for Clay Center Fall 2014 season ticket holders.

Clay Center members and donors with performance benefits can purchase tickets Friday, Oct. 10 at 10 a.m. through Saturday, Oct. 11 at 6 p.m.

Tickets will go on sale to the general public next Monday, Oct. 13 at 10 a.m.

You can buy tickets online at www.theclaycenter.org, over the phone at 304-561-3570 or in person at the Clay Center’s box office.

In the meantime, here’s one of my favorite Aretha tracks (with her playing piano, no less).