Category: Top Headlines

Live concerts at ArtsQuest start making sense for Talking Heads tribute band leader and friends

When Jon Braun — vocalist for (Lehigh Valley-based) Talking Heads tribute band Start Making Sense — was asked about doing a residency at ArtsQuest, the multitalented artist had a perfect idea: Gather a bunch of musical friends for a run of shows featuring not only hits from Dave Byrne’s ‘80s New Wave pioneering band, but also to rock out tributes to Tom Petty and Jane’s Addiction.

The aptly titled Start Making Sense & Friends, begin their Bethlehem/ArtsQuest residency with the music of Petty’s seminal “Wildflowers” album on Feb. 5, and will follow this up with full album shows of alt giants Jane’s Addiction’s “Nothing Shocking” and “Ritual de lo Habitual” on Feb 12.

Braun will then bring the original three-piece rock project, Ruby Dear, to the Musikfest Cafe on Feb. 19 for a record release performance. The residency will culminate on March 5 with a unique and special Start Making Sense concert.

ArtsQuest says all shows are being presented with a safety layout designed to follow CDC guidelines and health measures. This includes mandatory mask requirements, capacity and social distancing measures, limited table reservations (2-6 guests with chairs spaced 6 or more feet apart), as well as regular cleaning of facilities, including major touchpoints.

The venue’s HVAC system has also been reconfigured to allow more fresh air to circulate within the building and HEPA filters have also been upgraded.

I recently spoke with Braun about the upcoming residency and more.

James Wood: As an artist how has it been dealing with the lockdowns imposed by COVID-19 this past year?

Jon Braun: “I assume it’s very similar to everyone else whose work has been restricted. We normally do more than a hundred shows a year. Last year we did 10. Fortunately, a lot of us also teach music throughout the year so that’s given us a little sense of normalcy. We’ve also had a lot of time to put together things like this residency, which is something we’d never have time to do in a normal year.”

What were those first shows like for you after being away for so long?

“We’d already done a few livestreams but the first outdoor show we did was odd because it wasn’t the normal set up, and the crowd size was limited in capacity. At the same time, the first time we finished a song and heard people clapping and cheering was just amazing!”

Read the the rest of my
Interview with Jon Braun by Clicking Here.

Interview: Colonel Oliver North Discusses ISIS, Election and Benghazi Committee

Colonel Oliver North and James Wood
Colonel Oliver North and James Wood

A combat decorated U.S. Marine who’s also served on the National Security Council under President Ronald Reagan; LT. Colonel Oliver North certainly knows and cares a lot about military affairs. In fact, in addition to being the founder of Freedom Alliance, which provides scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed in the line of duty, North currently spends much of his time overseas as a Fox News contributor, where he’s been embedded with more than fifty U.S. and allied combat units.

North recently brought his vast knowledge and experience to Bethlehem, PA, where he spoke at a private event organized by The Veterans & Military Action Committee, a part of the 9/12 Project of the Lehigh Valley.

In his nearly hour long speech, North detailed stories of his recent work in the Middle East as well as his support of the U.S. military and time serving President Reagan – at one point, almost coming to tears while watching a video of his former boss delivering an emotionally driven speech about terrorism.

Although his talk dealt with the danger and uncertainty in troubled times as well as his frustration with the current administration’s failure to identify and offer a solid plan for achieving victory over terror groups like ISIS, North’s engagement left the audience of nearly 200 with patriotic enthusiasm and hope for America’s future.

Prior to his speech, I had the pleasure of interviewing Colonel North at length on a variety of topics affecting the United States and the world.

James Wood: We’ve seen a lot of ISIS attacks in recent days, most notably in Paris and Beirut as well as with the Russian Airline disaster. What are your thoughts on the current state of ISIS and President Obama’s reaction that the group has been “contained”?

Col. Oliver North: I’m not sure whether this President is just in denial or if they’re giving him bad information but he is living in a parallel universe. Contained? Are you kidding me? When we first went to war against ISIS they were in one place, and that was on the Syria / Iraq border. At that time, they were just thinking about a caliphate. Now they’ve got a caliphate, they’ve taken ground and they print their own money. They’ve got the city of Mosul, which is the second largest city in all of Mesopotamia and now stretch from Yemen and the base of Saudi Arabia all the way north into the Mediterranean. Every country along the southern coast of the Mediterranean has ISIS elements or people who are loyal to ISIS and say that they’re part of the caliphate. Just in the last few weeks they’ve downed a Russian airplane with 200+ dead along with 129 dead in Paris in six different suicide attacks. Then you’ve got Beirut, which was an attack on Hezbollah of all things. In the midst of all of this, our Commander in Chief said that they are contained. That’s a denial of the reality of what’s going on.

You can read the rest of my AXS/Examiner interview with Colonel North
by Clicking Here.


A New Challenge

me1Hey everyone! Just wanted to check in with a quick post! You may have been wondering where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to! But then again, maybe you haven’t….hehe!

In any case, the truth is I’ve taken on another brand new writing assignment for and have spent the last week working on my first round of articles!

I’d like to share them with you now, so please feel free to check them out:

 Hard Rock Band Vixen ‘Revs it Up’ at Penns Peak Show: My review of the band’s show with pictures taken by my daughter.

Great White Guitarist Mark Kendall: My new interview with Kendall discusses touring and new music (with exclusive pics).

Interview with Chase Bryant: My new interview with Chase discusses his Grand Ole Opry debut and touring with Brantley Gilbert.

My articles on AXS will focus primarily on music and entertainment events in the Philadelphia, PA area but will also include some of my interviews from time to time.

In addition to my normal rants and Guitar interviews, I’ll periodically be posting links to my AXS articles here. If you’d like to see my articles and interviews sooner – please follow me on Twitter @JimEWood as I’ll be posting links as soon as they go live.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my articles. I’m looking forward to this next stage challenge!

Parafest 2013 Brings The Festival Experience Home


Being a fan of horror and the paranormal, I always lamented hearing about all of the awesome conventions being held in remote locations of the country. My biggest problem with these festivals was the fact that they were always in places (States) where I’d need to take days off of work and drive long distances just to get to. But there would always be tons of vendors and guest celebrities from my favorite genre mingling with fans during these conventions, making the decision to go all the more difficult. I often wondered what it would be like to have one of these cool festivals in my hometown.

Thankfully, the spirits have answered.

Parafest 2013 will bring stars from The Walking Dead, True Blood, Supernatural, Ghost Hunters and Ghostbusters movies to the Sands Event Center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The event runs from noon-10 p.m. Sept. 6 and 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sept. 7 and 8.

Billed as a premier Para-horror convention, Parafest 2013 will feature the very best in paranormal, horror and sci-fi genres and will include celebrity appearances, Q & A sessions and meet & greets. There will also be vendors, exhibits, seminars and a film festival. If all that isn’t enough, fans can also take part in ghost hunts; a Gallery Reading with internationally acclaimed psychic Chip Coffey and even partake in a Ouija Board Experience.

Among the guests I’m most excited to see are: Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead), Tony Todd (Candyman/Sushi Girl), Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes, The Lords of Salem) and Mark Sheppard (Supernatural). Then there are the stars of television shows from my youth like Geri Reischl (the “Other” Jan Brady) and Lisa Loring (Wednesday from The Adams Family).

But it just wouldn’t be a scare-fest if I wasn’t afraid, and Parafest 2013 certainly gives me cause for concern. One guest will be on hand during the festival that I’m almost (dare I say) frightened to encounter.

Most folks probably remember actor Richard Kiel from his amazing performance as Jaws in the James Bond film, Moonraker. But for me, I’m still frightened by his guest appearance on a campy 1960’s television show.

ghostWhen Kiel guest starred as an apparition on the Gilligan’s Island episode “Ghost A Go Go”, he became the product of my nightmares for years (even Freddy Kreuger didn’t have that effect on me).

That one episode literally scared the sh$t out of me as a child and still gives me the heebie-jeebies whenever I watch it (which of course, isn’t often).

I know it may sound silly, but my hope is that by meeting Mr. Kiel in person, any remaining childhood demons I have leftover from the 1980’s will finally be exorcised. Here’s hoping.

Tickets for the weekend festival are $25 a day for adults and $10 for ages 12 and under when accompanied by an adult. For an extra $25, you can also gain access to celebrity Q&A sessions and panels. There’s also $100, $150 a day and $300 full-weekend VIP packages available as well.

For more information on Parafest 2013 Click Here

Today’s Headlines: February 17th, 2012

I swear, you just can’t make this stuff up. It’s ridiculous. It makes me reconsider just what journalism majors are being taught in college. It’s certainly not good reporting.

News media websites in particular are becoming more and more blatantly biased and not taking things seriously. Either that or they’ve just gone off the deep end.

Here are a few legitimate headlines from various “news” websites around the Internet this morning. I have not doctored them up in any way. These are actual headlines, many of which displayed as one of the “Top” stories of the day.

From Yahoo!:

Plane carrying marijuana strays into Obama LA Airspace: I’ve heard about pizzas being delivered but never knew there was a Mary Jane Express. Hmmmm, could it be that SOMEONE is having a party?  I wonder who’s bringing the munchies?

From FoxNews:

‘Underwear Bomber’ gets life in prison’: I don’t know about you, but I sure wouldn’t want the name “Underwear Bomber” to be associated with me. I can just imagine the abuse this guy’s going to take spending life in the pokey. It sounds too generic. Wouldn’t a better name have been “The Bugle Boy Bomber” or maybe “The Fruit of the Loom Annihilator“?


FDA warns of mouth-destroying toothbrushes: Thanks a lot FDA… as if I didn’t already have enough problems trying to get my kid to brush her teeth.

From The Huffington Post:

‘Half Head’ Mugshot Subject Explains Half Head: I don’t even wanna know about this one….

From CNN:

George Clooney’s open to marriage: Well, I’m glad we figured that one out. I don’t know what I’d do if he wanted to be single for the rest of his life.

and finally (I just couldn’t resist on this one):

Dems ask ‘Where are the women?’: Is Bill Clinton running for office again! 😉

Today’s Headlines – Dec 3, 2011

If it’s Saturday morning and nothing else is going on you know it’s time for Today’s Headlines. This is where I  post actual top story headlines from reputable “Top News” websites and give you my take on them.


I always find it funny how these news organizations choose their “Top Stories”.  I mean, who decides why stories about Lindsay Lohan going to rehab take precedence over mass killings in the Middle East?

All of the headlines that follow were all emblazoned in bold when I saw them on the actual website and deal with topics considered to be the most important things you need to know. Things that without such knowledge of you would be in danger of ignorance.

Have a Great Day!


George Mcgovern Hospitalized
Is that guy still alive? I thought he died right after Nixon resigned.

Jobless Rate Falls to 8.6%
“Falls” to 8.6%? Ok, maybe this headline’s relevant but how about this next one:

Authorities Take Custody of Singer McCready’s Son
We have out of control unemployment, an economy in shambles with a dangerously teeter-tottering stock market and they’re more concerned about a country singer who hasn’t been relevant in 15 years losing custody of her son because she’s a train wreck.

Megachurch Pastor’s Wife Says Divorce is On Again
This is news? And why is it ‘on’ again all of a sudden?


U.S. Judge Rejects Apple Bid to Halt Galaxy Sales:
Damn, I knew Steve Jobs had a lot of money but I didn’t know he owned a whole bunch of actual galaxies. That’s impressive. I knew I should have bought some stock back in the day. I’d probably be blogging from the moon right about now.

And finally:

From FoxNews.Com:

Sandusky: I Never Spoke To Joe (Paterno) About Allegations: Former Penn State coach reportedly says Joe Paterno never asked him about alleged molestation incidents.

Yep, that one I can believe.