My live music wrapup, 2014 Part 1

Hey all, starting 2015 I thought I’d get more active with blogging about music, as well as all the sports stuff I follow.

Since I attend, on average, about a gig every single week here in London, I thought I’d compile a list of all the gigs I can remember going to this year.  And then…I’m going to follow that post up with a series of posts listing the best concerts I’ve been to in my entire life (yeah, I’m going to go way back on some of those shows).

So.. trolling through my stub collection, here’s what I’ve got for 2014…so far (being the frugal fan, I must also mention whether I got a deal on the tix too):

Boyz II Men (Indigo at the O2 – face £41 / Paid avg £22.50) Dec 5

I was expecting more. It was a great venue and a good crowd who were really up for it, but the three remaining members of Boyz (maybe the greatest R&B band in the past 30 years?) played for just 1.15 mins and had backing vocal tracks accompanying them. A little too effortless for my liking, but it was fun.

Sun Kil Moon (St John at Hackney Church – paid face £28) Dec 3

One of the strangest gigs I’ve ever been to. Singer Mark Kozelek has a haunting voice and is the most ‘literal’ lyricist I know of (song titles include ‘Richard Ramirez Died of Natural Causes’). But he was sitting for most of the gig, and we got there late, stuck way in the back of a huge chapel (1400 capacity). He mumbled often in between songs, and started a strange beef with the band ‘The War on Drugs’ who were playing a gig across town the same night. After launching into a cover of ‘I got you babe’ with a female member of the crowd, and a few Christmas carols, he rounded off the night with an impromptu encore entitled ‘The War on Drugs: Suck My Cock’. There you have it.

Rich Robinson (of The Black Crowes) – (O2 Islington Academy – paid face, £70 for VIP ticket including pre-gig meet and greet and private acoustic 3 song session). Nov 12

Rich is one of my all-time favorite guitarists and the show was a treat. He’s a great dude too, and getting a signed photo pre-gig made it even better. Catch him either solo or with The Crowes any chance you get.

Ryan Adams (O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire – Face £35 / Paid avg £22.50) Sept 18

Probably my favorite singer-songwriter out there at the moment. Just a tremendous talent and his new self-titled album worth playing on loop. Johnny Depp came out and played three songs with the band for encores. How bout that for a good night out?

Read more of this post

The recording studio conundrum: preservation vs. redevelopment

Hello all, this weekend AlJazeera English published my article about the changing face of music and film studios in London.

I embarked on this mission because the iconic Sarm Studios (formerly Basing Street Studios, where Bob Marley lived for a year and recorded two albums) is a short walk from my flat in Notting Hill. I noticed that it was being converted into flats (with plush studios moved into the basement, along with new facilities opened on Ladbroke Grove) and decided to look into how big a trend this was in London.

I had no idea.

Over the past 10-15 years, well over a dozen notable music studios have closed in London alone. It’s an expansive list, ranging from the groundbreaking (Olympic Studios in Chiswick, where Hendrix recorded all three of his studio albums, and the Stones did their best work – now a Cinema), to the niche (Maison Rouge, in Fulham, known for 80s bands Wham! and Duran Duran – now a car park for Chelsea FC).

Along with Abbey Road, one studio that was rescued — despite planning permission to convert it into flats — is Church Studios in Crouch End. Ironically, singer-songwriter David Gray owned the converted church (founded by Dave Stewart of the Eurithmics) and was behind the move. Eventually, it found its way into the hands of Adele’s producer who modernized it in time for U2 to record their new album a few months back.

Here’s a partial list of London studios shut down in recent years: Read more of this post

My CNN Op-ed: Luis Suarez: Do sporting suspensions work?

Greetings all! Please check out my new op-ed feature for CNN.com on the sensitive topic of suspensions in professional sports. Luis Suarez is famously set to make his Barca league debut tomorrow against arch-rivals Real Madrid. How did his four month ban from playing competitively affect him?

Check out the link below. Pls share, tweet, like, etc, and have an awesome weekend. The match is on at 5pm UK time tomorrow, should be a ‘classico’!

Luis Suarez: Do sporting suspensions work?

By Motez Bishara, special to CNN
October 24, 2014 — Updated 1015 GMT (1815 HKT)

(CNN) — Although he’s vowed to keep his famous chops to himself, the world will soon find out if Luis Suarez can keep bagging goals without literally leaving his mark on defenders.

This weekend, the 27-year-old forward will complete his four-month ban for a third on-pitch biting offense, and could make his Barcelona debut in the battle known as “El Clasico” against Real Madrid on Saturday.

“Don’t worry, I won’t do that again,” the gifted Uruguayan promised, soon after arriving at his new club.

But will he?

How players are affected when they face lengthy suspensions can vary between recovery and meltdown depending on their support network, according to football insiders.

And surprisingly often, that support network is lacking.

“If someone has done this a third time, I’m not sure he can change so easily without addressing the issue,” says Roger Barnes, founder of London-based agency Sports Management International.

Read entire article on CNN.com by clicking here

Motez Bishara previews the USA – Portugal World Cup match, and reflects on the Spurs NBA championship on Yahoo Sports Radio

Greetings all!

The Big E Sports Show had me on this week to preview Team USA’s chances against Portugal Sunday night, and wrap up the San Antonio Spurs’ convincing victory over the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.

The interview stream is available here: 

It’s always a pleasure to be interviewed by Elissa Walker Campbell, who has a super interesting past herself. She played college basketball for the University of Oklahoma Sooners, and is the daughter of Country Music Hall of Fame star Charlie Walker.

Her weekly show, featured on Yahoo Sports Radio and syndicated across America, features many current and former pro-sports coaches and players (like Ken Griffey), as well as other prominent sports reporters. She recently interviewed legendary New York Times writer George Vescey, who just released the book Eight World Cups: My Journey through the Beauty and Dark Side of SoccerIt’s a terrific interview, and I’m thrilled to be a contemporary of someone of his stature.

But back to the World Cup: Who would have bet that after two matches, Costa Rica would head the group that includes Italy, England and Uruguay? Hold on to your seats, I think think there are more surprises to come.

C’mon Team USA!!

America, f- yeah!

America, f- yeah!

 

 

Qatar’s World Cup rigged, but what about Russia’s?

By now everyone knows that Qatar won the right to host the World Cup in 2022. Everyone knows, however, for all the wrong reasons.

I think I'll go shopping today...I hear there's a fire sale on World Cups!

I think I’ll go shopping today…I hear there’s a fire sale on World Cups!

The messiness that engulfs Qatar’s bid has been littering the news lately. First the unbearable summertime weather was red flagged (an Ecuadorian footballer died in the Qatari league last July). Next, a slew of modern-day slavery charges were made. Meanwhile, bribery accusations are not going away, while the momentum for a re-vote gains traction daily. In fact, the media blitz in the UK is so constant that until two days ago my girlfriend mistakenly thought Qatar was hosting this World Cup (she is not much of a sports fan, clearly).

The Qatar games are actually eight years away, yet it appears impossible that the 2022 World Cup will follow its original blueprint. Something’s bound to give.

But ask any random passer by who’s hosting the next World Cup – the one taking place in just four years — and you’re likely to be met with blank stares (an Australian friend who does follow football guessed South Africa; a terrible guess as they just hosted the last one).

It seems odd that the casual fan doesn’t realize Russia is hosting straight after Brazil, since the ammo to bombard its games with negative press is as loaded as Qatar’s.

You want graft and corruption? Russia’s recent Sochi Winter Olympics were branded by The New Yorker as “the greatest financial boondoggle in the history of the Games,” citing embezzlement in construction as reasons why its budget ran from $12 billion up to an unheard of $50 billion.

Corruption is so prevalent in seemingly every major global tournament now that even Fifa’s 96-year-old honorary president, a Brazilian, was thrown out for taking kickbacks last year. Accusations, it would appear, are pointless.

“International sports couldn’t even exist without bribery,” said veteran sports journalist Michael Wilbon on ESPN. “And this started with the Olympic movement. That’s why they had all those reforms, none of which [stuck].  So I’ve always assumed there was some bribery. Why would the World Cup be any different from the Olympics?”

His colleague Tony Kornheiser was equally blasé about the Qatar allegations, dismissing the notion of recasting the vote: “In terms of bribery, the entire world other than [the US] and about five other countries bribes everybody all the time. I’m not going to throw them out because of bribery.”

Bribery, check. Onto human rights abuses. The exposés on Qatar’s migrant worker deaths, alongside the news of a French footballer who was denied the right to leave for two years, have added fuel to the fire that Qatar is an unfit potential host.

Yet not a peep has been mentioned about the Russian Federation’s recent annexation of a big slab of Ukraine, or the constant jailing of opposition leaders, not to mention the two year imprisonment of the punk band Pussy Riot.

And in terms of football fandom, Russians have a much darker stain on their hands than Qataris: a pattern of racist behavior. Last October, Manchester City’s captain Yaya Toure’ was subjected to monkey chants from the stands at CSKA Moscow. Rather than suspend the guilty parties, the top CSKA official amazingly claimed the accusation was a “smear campaign” against Russian football.

So while Labour MPs and corporate sponsors are calling for a re-vote to the Qatar games, not one suggestion has been made to do the same for Russia’s winning bid. This, despite a laundry list of viable reasons. One wonders whether the Kremlin is nervous about Qatar’s growing stink pile wafting towards its own games, or whether it’s basking in the deflected attention it’s enjoyed thus far.

Motez Bishara on Yahoo Sports Radio Dissecting the Donald Sterling fallout / Kindle Countdown Deal Kickoff

Hello all!

Yesterday I was interviewed by the always terrific Elissa Walker Campbell for her Big E Sports show out of Houston on Yahoo Sports Radio.

We went over all the nail-biters in the first round of the NBA playoffs, but kicked off discussing the supercharged controversy involving Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Sterling’s racist rant caught on tape by his 20-something year old mistress was legitimate global news, on a viral level. The NBA came down hard on the 80-year-old, banning him from the league on every possible level (no attending any arenas, no communication with management, etc) and is pushing for a majority vote of fellow owners which would force him to sell. This is totally unprecedented in global sports (and even, perhaps, in every level of business).

My take on the Sterling scandal and more can be heard on this 11 minute segment

But that’s not all! I’m running a Kindle Countdown Deal that kicks off today at the low LOW price of $1.99 (US customers only, sorry). Access the Kindle purchase from here

Clippers – Warriors Game 7 is in LA tomorrow, promises to be a good one! Have a great weekend everyone.

Vanessa, you can instagram me anytime you want.

Vanessa, you can instagram me anytime you want.

A fresh print review and an archived radio interview

Good morning and happy Friday!

Yesterday, Alibi.com, an arts and events website based out of Albuquerque, New Mexico published a review of Beating the NBA. The reviewer, Michael Sanchez, had this to say:

“It thrives when Bishara gets to dig into the personal details—like in the epilogue, where he lists the best and worst bars near the arenas—and goes over approaching scalpers like people as opposed to criminals who are always out to rip you off. It’s a refreshing look at a time-honored tradition: saving money while getting to enjoy something that you truly love.”

Amusingly, he called me out for using a lot of “adjectives and sloppy similes.” No one told me adjectives are now verboten in writing! What next, pronouns? Modifiers!

Read the review in its entirety here

And while we’re on the media tip, here’s an interview that I did back in November, 2013 with Champion Sports Radio in upstate New York. I was at a Planet Organic café and had no idea the call was coming in (I was on the schedule but no one told me!), so this was all stream of consciousness:

Have an awesome weekend, and let’s hope Arsenal bounce back tomorrow against Sunderland. We need a win, Come on You Gunners!!

KMA Radio Shenandoah, Iowa Interview on How to Beat the NBA AND how to beat the holiday eating buldge

More radio talk, this time coming out of Shenandoah, Iowa! The Dean and Don show had me on as their guest a couple of weeks back and, of course, we talked all things to do with ticketing and the NBA. Here’s how it went:

Hope everyone has an awesome Thanksgiving weekend! I am a sucker for holiday food. If you’re anything like me and are a little nervous about how to beat the Thanksgiving and Christmas food bulge then I’ve got some good reading for you.

This study suggests working out before breakfast is the only way to avoid gaining weight if yu’re going to binge eat later in the day

And this article suggests 45 mins of cardio workout per day during the holiday period. Either way, the point is don’t just sit around on the sofa eating turkey, as smugly satisfying as it feels.

Happy holidays everyone!

#TheFrugalFan Interview with the legendary Pat Williams of the Orlando Magic

Pat Williams, the Orlando Magic executive enshrined in the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame, recently interviewed me for his weekly in-depth radio talk show. Williams is famous for landing the top lottery pick in the 1992 and 1993 NBA drafts (first and only time a team has done this back to back) and using the successive #1 picks on Shaquille O’Neal and Chris Webber (and then immediately trading the latter for Penny Hardaway).

During the half-hour program I shared a bunch of amusing tales from my NBA-hopping sojourn, as well as some golden tips to use in the ticket hunting trade.

The interview took place in two parts:

Segment one:

and Segment two:

Off air, I couldn’t resist the temptation to ask Williams, who has 35 years of pro-basketball experience management under his belt following a brief stint as a Minor-League baseball player, a question of my own. If he could do it all over again, would he have kept Chris Webber and let him play with Shaq to form the most fearsome frontcourt in the NBA, rather than trade him for an upstart point guard?

Williams did not stop to think about it. “No,” he said firmly. “People forget how great a player Penny Hardaway was, and we needed a point guard. Unfortunately his career was affected early by injuries to both his knees, but for a few years he was one of the best.”

Indeed, the Magic made it to the NBA finals (where they got swept by Hakeem Olajuwon’s Rockets) in just their second season with Hardaway at point guard. He also won All-NBA first team honors that season.

Ultimately, conversing with industry leaders like Pat Williams is what makes writing books worthwhile.

The Big E Sports Show interview, Houston

Howdy y’all, last week I was graciously interviewed by the wonderful Elissa Walker Campbell from Houston, Texas for her weekly radio show. Elissa had me on as a guest during the NBA Finals back in June to give my take on the Heat and the Spurs, and so naturally I had to return for a follow-up for this fascinating start to the NBA season. Here’s me waxing lyrical on the undefeated Indiana Pacers, the Dallas Mavs, Houston Rockets and, finally, the Miami Heat (not to mention, discussing all things ticket related and “Beating the NBA”):

The Big E Sports show is broadcast out of Houston to dozens of local affiliates in the United States, as well as on Yahoo! Sports Radio and its 400 affiliate stations.

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