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We caught up with the Warped Tour in Phoenix, Arizona on one of the hottest days of the tour. In blistering 108-degree heat, we watched performances by Andrew W.K., Sum 41, Pennywise, the Ataris, Glassjaw, the Used, Thrice, Bowling for Soup, and more. Dust storms meandered through the valley that day and were the perfect accent to the thousands of sweat-soaked music fans. The bands provided a great soundtrack for the very talented and brave athletes that skate vert at the AZ concert. I’m sure it’s difficult enough to get up there, facing the threat of eating plywood in good weather-- it’s a whole other story while dripping sweat before you even mount the ramp, when the temperature is nearing 110, but, hey, it’s a dry heat.

This year’s tour had an educational element, atop of being a drunken, heat-exhausting experience. It turns out Warped is environmentally conscientious. There were massive amounts of Warped Tour Energy Water in aluminum cans. Up until the tour, I had no idea how long plastic water containers take to break down into the environment. Thus, musicians, roadies, groupies, and other personnel drank H2O from recycle-friendly, black aluminum cans. Odd, at first, but the band members we spoke with truly appreciated how much colder water is in a can. Ingenious.

Aside from the relentless heat, a good time was had by all. Warped is sure to be the highlight of many summers to come.

A prolific songwriter, Bridget runs her own record label and performs her music on guitar, piano, and harp. She is sometimes compared to Joni Mitchell and her style can be called alternative folk pop rock with a bit of blues and jazz thrown in. All this and she also has a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University!www.bridgetbrigitte.com

As winner of the Axe House Party Contest, I went to Miami to party with Nelly, Andrew W.K., and DJ Z-Trip. With advertising taglines such as "Your odds haven’t been this good since breastfeeding," who wouldn’t want to go? What ended up being in store for me was partying with Nelly, Andrew W.K, hot models, music mogul Clive Barker and more. It was celebrity central.

I flew to West Palm Beach from Tucson, AZ, then took a helicopter onto the lawn of the 50-acre Mida Mansion, AXE House Party HQ. The mansion was lit up with flourescent lights. The mansion had a winding staircase that led upstairs to DJ Z-Trip spinning beats. Jamie Kennedy ("Malibu’s Most Wanted"), Wilmer Valderrama, Danny Masterson ("That 70’s Show") and Seth Green (Austin Powers) were playing pool near a balcony that overlooked the stage downstairs.

Andrew W.K., in his signature dirty white jeans and t-shirt was sweating and bouncing all over the place. At the end of the last song, he jumped on the hood of a car, stood up, and raised his hands in excitement. His set was done, he was out of breath, and it was time for Nelly. Nelly had the crowd amped and singing along. The drinks and the conversation were flowing and everyone seemed to be having an incredible time. My weekend in Miami was one to remember. Thanks to AXE for putting on such a great party.

Ben Harper and Jack Johnson have been able to reintroduce a soulful genre of music full of social commentary and rewarding positive actions. While MTV and the radio waves are full of pseudo-punk and materialist hip-hop, Harper and Johnson have been able to maintain a strong following of fans fed up with power cord riffs and self-glorifying rappers. While the music industry sits at a cross roads trying to determine the next new thing, these are the artists that will continually put on phenomenal live shows and release critically acclaimed albums with little mainstream coverage.

Jack Johnson may have begun his career in the surf industry but he seems to have settled into the music scene quite well. His radio hit “On and On” has become a staple on the airwaves. His laid back mannerisms and anti-rock star attitude give his performances a very personal quality and his ability to move the audience was amazing.

When it comes to live performance, Ben Harper can do no wrong. Best known for his reintroduction of slide guitar in rock music, Harper presents a blend of gospel, funk and blues into a musical genre unmistakably his own. The performance took several turns as Harper moved from acoustic set, to electric and most notably when he pulled out a chair and his slide guitar and brought the crowd into a frenzy. “Ground on Down” and “Burn one Down” from Harper’s second album Fight for Your Mind, may have been two of the best received songs. Ben Harper is one of the few artists who appears to be as genuinely appreciative of his fans as they are of him.

With the perfect blend of recent hits and old favorites Ben Harper and Jack Johnson were able to make even a show of this magnitude carry the same intimate feeling as their smaller venue shows years ago. Both of these artists carry a huge fan base based almost entirely on their ability to move an audience from the concert to the record store. This show surely sent more than a few concert-goers in precisely that direction. I recommend Ben Harper’s Live from Mars.

Fireworks, huge trucks, and great music, all in one night under the stars with Toby Keith. We heard songs ranging from pure patriotism to hilariously funny "bus songs" that Toby himself termed as unfit for recording due to their politically incorrect nature. There were also plenty of drinking songs that Toby says there should be more of and the crowd raised their glasses in full agreement. He then went on to sing his newest single, ‘I Love This Bar’. The concert ended with ‘Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue’, which heightened the energy of the whole audience once a huge American flag appeared on stage and as bounds of confetti filled the air. Toby had plenty of funny wise cracks thrown in as well. Toby Keith is an astounding live performer as well as a funnier guy than I had anticipated.

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