J3C College Football Poll (2016 pre-season)

Finally … the poll … has come back … to the blog.

For the seventh consecutive year, it is indeed time for my weekly College Football Top 25 to return.   Part art, part science, part instinct, only a relatively small part math, it’s my eyeball of the overall.  A combination of (perceived) ability, performance, and positioning. While many of the names are in familiar positions, it’s also a year of possible change.

Five teams in the poll were unranked by me at the end of last season.  While seven teams are making their seventh straight appearance in my preseason rankings, three others (Tennessee, Houston, Utah) are ranked in week zero for the first time.  One team (Oregon) starts the season unranked for the first time in all my lists, despite being one of only three teams (along with Alabama and FSU) to be ranked in every final poll of the past six years.

This is my poll.  There are many like it but this one is mine.

So without further ado, let’s reveal the 2016 Preseason edition of JonsThreeCents College Football Top 25.     (final 2015 J3C ranking follows their name)

  1. Alabama (1)
  2. Clemson (2)
  3. Oklahoma (5)
  4. Stanford (3)
  5. Ohio State (4)
  6. Florida State (14)
  7. Michigan (12)
  8. LSU (18)
  9. Ole Miss (9)
  10. Michigan State (7)
  11. Notre Dame (11)
  12. TCU (6)
  13. Tennessee (22)
  14. Houston (8)
  15. USC (Un)
  16. Washington (Un)
  17. Georgia (Un)
  18. North Carolina (15)
  19. Iowa (10)
  20. Oklahoma State (20)
  21. Louisville (Un)
  22. UCLA (Un)
  23. Utah (17)
  24. Arkansas (25)
  25. Wisconsin (19)

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Ready To Rock (weekly playlists)

Four new additions to my weekly Spotify Top 40, including one of the most talked about songs in recent memory.

Missing songs this week:
Howlin’ Woman – The Lazys

New to the Spotify list this week:
Hardwired – Metallica, Highway – Bleeker, Break Me – One Less Reason, Heart Of War – Message From Sylvia

Dropping off the Spotify list this week:
Fake My Own Death – Sum 41, Electric Chair – 3 Pill Morning, Generation Idiot – Nonpoint, Bulletproof- Young Guns

For the larger (nearly 200 songs) YouTube version there’s over a half dozen songs added including the aforementioned Metallica, a great new song from veteran band Dope, newcomers Silent Theory and more. You can find it at this link 

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Ready To Rock (weekly playlists)

This week’s update to my Spotify Top 40 welcomes two new arrivals and a returning song.

Missing songs this week:
Howlin’ Woman – The Lazys, Break Me – One Less Reason

New to the Spotify list this week:
Breakin’ Outta Hell – Airbourne (re-entry), Beyond The Stars – Spoken , Bulletproof- Young Guns

Dropping off the Spotify list this week:
Asking For It – Shinedown, Dead & Gone – Trivium, Post American World – Megadeth

For the larger (nearly 200 songs) YouTube version there’s nearly a dozen songs added including the latest from I Prevail, brand new Suicidal Tendencies, the next single from Diemonds, an album cut from Devour The Day and more. You can find it at this link 

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Ready To Rock (weekly playlists)

Two new arrivals and two returning songs come with the latest update to my weekly Spotify Top 40.

Missing songs this week:
Howlin’ Woman – The Lazys

New to the Spotify list this week:
Sorrow & Sin – Lola Black (re-entry), Here It Comes – Shaman’s Harvest (re-entry),  I Apologize – Five Finger Death Punch, Devil’s Advocate – Silvertung

Dropping off the Spotify list this week:
Paranoia – A Day To Remember, The Eagle Has Landed – Avatar, Raise Hell – Dorothy, Human (Like The Rest Of Us) – Trapt

For the larger (nearly 200 songs) YouTube version there’s over a half dozen songs added including a new song from Trapt, the return of Stereoside, newcomers Windowpane, and more. You can find it at this link 

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Concert review 8/5/16 – Stuck Mojo

Stuck Mojo / NoSweat / Shifty
Action Church– Canton, GA
August 5, 2016

Of all the rock shows I’ve attended, I’m not sure how many will ever come close to feeling as unique as this one, for a number of reasons.  I’ll address some of those things as we go but that’s really not why you’re here so why don’t I just head straight for the main event for a change?

Stuck Mojo isn’t exactly an unknown commodity.   Founded in 1989, the band was among the earliest pioneers to fuse rap & metal into a form all its own.  Over the next two and a half decades they would become one of the most influential and successful acts in the niche, breaking down barriers, selling records, touring large swaths of the world, touring with some of the biggest names in the business, and kicking countless asses.

The band was not however entirely immune to some of the downsides of the business, including the dreaded lineup changes.  As founding member Rich Ward noted from the stage (paraphrasing), those kinds of changes aren’t always popular with fans and are never easy on anyone, and so we come to last night with a known entity that’s entering a new era.

On the one hand, with Ward and drummer Frank Fontsere still in the saddle, you know that there’s reason for considerable optimism.  On the other hand, new bassist Lenwood Sonnier and new vocalist Robby J.  hadn’t been seen with the band since the release of the (often brilliant) new album Here Come The Infidels.   As a fan you’re hopeful, you’re optimistic but until you see and hear it, it’s hard to be … sure.   Heck, we didn’t really know what the set list would even look like.

After opening with a couple of songs from the new album (as I would have correctly guessed) the band quickly started reaching into the catalog and specifically went to Pigwalk for a pair of tracks early in the set. From there, the new songs and the older material were intermingled consistently, never lingering too long on one specific era or another.  No obvious mishaps that I noticed, just an enjoyable approach that seemed comfortable for the band and, from my observation at least, for the audience familiar with the material as well.  The music was on point, the vocals were confident and solid, really just a nice steady groove.

And then, somewhere past the midpoint of the set, there was one of those … moments.  I don’t always have those, you can’t really predict them or plan for them, they just have to happen.   And when the band followed more of the new material with “Monster”  (another track from Pigwalk) … I knew.  I knew a lot more than I did when I arrived.

I knew that I wasn’t watching “the new Stuck Mojo” … I was simply watching Stuck Mojo.  No more questions about “the new material vs the old”, no more internal analysis about how Robby J would handle the catalog songs vs the new songs he helped create, no more questions about much of anything really.   That’s when it became crystal clear to me that this simply .. works.

That “the moment” happened with a song that I wouldn’t have previously listed as one of my five (or possibly even ten) favorites of the band’s long career made it a little more surprising for me but that’s certainly not a complaint in the least.  Might even make it better somehow.

Rich Ward is … well, how do you even try to describe what he does?  I’ll go with “he’s a master of his craft” in lieu of a few hundred words that wouldn’t really come close anyway.  (My son’s comment to me en route to the car after the show would have been a good alternative though: “He’s … a musician’s musician.  It’s what he was meant to do” ).  Frank Fontsere is some sort of steady force of nature — like wind or rain — he just keeps coming at you.   Len Sonnier fits seamlessly into the lineup, while Terry Chism on keyboard/backing vocals is a talented artist that makes a welcome contribution to the effort.   And that pretty much covers … oh, wait, I almost forgot.

Robby J., that young guy with the microphone.  He was … okay, I guess.   Nah, can’t do that.  Not with a straight face.

I honestly don’t know when I’ve seen someone perform for the first time and walked away more eager to see them the next time.   I was impressed enough by his performance as it was but my biggest single takeaway about the new vocalist was that he’s simply going to get better & better.  And unless  I miss my guess, I mean rapidly.  Considering where he is already, that’s a really high ceiling to consider.

It was a night to remember, for a lot of reasons.   And I suppose that brings me to my traditional “GBU” for the evening …

The Good — A lot of things that need to make their way in here.  Let’s start with the event making charitable contributions to both the #ForCanton food pantry (www.facebook.com/ForCanton) and the family/expenses of recent cancer victim, beloved local musician Chris Chandler.  The rock genre probably doesn’t get enough credit for doing this sort of thing, and to see it be done at such a personal & local level was particularly rewarding … The venue, and yes you did read that correctly earlier:  Action Church is relatively new to the area and that they were gracious hosts to a rock show kind of illustrates my point that they aren’t exactly your stereotypical church.  I’d say that’s a good thing in a number of ways so while my familiarity with them is limited to a few hours on one night, I’ll happily recommend that anyone curious discover more for themselves at their website  http://www.actionchurch.tv/ … Opening bands Shifty and NoSweat ably warmed up the crowd, with the latter making an exceptionally good impression on me.  I’d gladly see them again in a heartbeat and hope for a chance to do so at some point.  The vocals in particular are downright scary good … Witnessing the best mosh pit ever formed in a church in Canton, Georgia has to be noted here as well

The Bad — This is kind of stretching it, but I need to at least fill one more section of the GBU so … I’ll allow myself a bit of personal disappointment that my all-time favorite Stuck Mojo song — “Southern Born Killers” — didn’t make the set list.  With so much to choose from, I understand how that can happen so I can’t really be put out about it.   I do think that the setlist could have benefitted from the inclusion of at least one more track from the latest album — either “The Business Of Hate” or “Worst Person On Earth” — both of which seem to be among the higher profile songs from the album thus far & were surprisingly (to me) absent.

The Ugly — Ah, such a pleasure to honestly have nothing that just has to go here.   But since I don’t like to just leave a segment unfilled, I’ll take the liberty of making a substitution

The Really Personal — this show marked if not the end of an era for me then at least a likely interruption in one.  For about 2/3rds of his life, my son has been my constant concert companion.  From arena shows to festivals to smaller venues, I’ve enjoyed making some of the favorite memories of my lifetime with him at my side.   This time next week, we’ll be moving him several hundreds miles to begin college so those opportunities are going to become a lot more limited.  To mark that change with such a strong performance, while also spending time with some old friends that I hadn’t seen in person for literally decades, on such a unique occasion … well, I don’t know that I could have come up with a more fitting way to end a chapter or begin a new one.

A memorable night indeed.

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Ready To Rock (weekly playlists)

I thought last week was busy, with five new additions to my weekly Spotify Top 40.  Apparently this week took that as a challenge and produces SIX changes.

Missing songs this week:
Howlin’ Woman – The Lazys

New to the Spotify list this week:
Give In To Me – Letters From The Fire, Human (Like The Rest Of Us) – Trapt, Show Me A Leader – Alter Bridge, Devil’s Calling – Parkway Drive, Amnesia – Red Sun Rising, Remember We Die – Gemini Syndrome

Dropping off the Spotify list this week:
The Devil’s Bleeding Crown – Volbeat, No Good – Kaleo, Here I Am – Asking Alexandria, Break Free – Like A Storm, Breakin’ Outta Hell – Airbourne, Here It Comes – Shaman’s Harvest

For the larger (nearly 200 songs) YouTube version there’s over a half dozen songs added including the aforementioned Red Sun Rising, an album cut from Volbeat, new music from One Less Reason, a fantastic track from Maverick (featuring a great guest vocal) and more. You can find it at this link 

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Ready To Rock (weekly playlists)

Five new additions to my weekly Spotify Top 40, that’s nearly a dozen changes in the past two weeks.   If the music were any fresher you’d have to slap it.

Missing songs this week:
Howlin’ Woman – The Lazys

New to the Spotify list this week:
Rotting In Vain – Korn, Bad Guy – Islander, The Enforcer – Monster Truck, Breakin’ Outta Hell – Airbourne, Push – Thousand Foot Krutch

Dropping off the Spotify list this week:
From The Pinnacle To The Pit – Ghost, Stick To Your Guns – Sick Puppies, Remember Every Scar – Escape The Fate, Know My Name – Sate, Fire Will Be Free – Shadow Hunters

For the larger (nearly 200 songs) YouTube version there’s nearly a dozen songs added including the aforementioned Korn, Monster Truck and Airbourne, brand new Alter Bridge, good stuff from Silvertung, a rockin’ wrestling theme from Downstait and more.   You can find it at this link

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