Tag Archives: ABBA

Ramada Limited In Jersey City Offers Excellent Service

Ramada Jersey CityOn my recent trip to New York City, my fellow San Diego travel companion (who likes to remain anonymous) and I opted to stay at the Ramada Limited in Jersey City as opposed to a more expensive option inside New York City. Some of the nice benefits of staying there is that they offer complimentary airport shuttles to Newark’s Airport (which we were both flying into, albeit on separate airlines), free Wi-Fi, and complimentary continental breakfast all for about $100 a night. ($110 with all the taxes and fees.)

Another key selling point for booking here was the fact it’s located a block away from the PATH trains which head right into New York City. I used Google Maps to run public transportation estimates on how long it would take to get to Carnegie Hall from the hotel and back, and of the reasonably priced options in Jersey City, this one allowed for easy public transportation options twenty-four hours a day with approximately 45 minutes travel time each way, which is roughly the equivalent of getting a hotel about two miles away from Carnegie Hall and walking but at less than half the price. I absolutely had to do this trip with as much savings on cost as possible so that pretty much ruled out an in the city hotel for this trip for me.

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ABBA Fab Brings Unique ABBA Tribute Show To Escondido

ABBA FabHaving literally just gotten off the plane from New York where I spent two nights with the real Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus as they presented the first English language performance of their musical, Kristina at Carnegie Hall, I took the opportunity to attend the ABBA Fab tribute concert at Escondido’s California Center For The Arts. As the author of the eZine article, “ABBA Tribute Bands – 8 Tips To Improve Your Show” I often like to check out ABBA Tribute Bands to see which ones are worth recommending and which ones are worth avoiding.

ABBA Fab bills themselves as “The Premiere ABBA Experience” on their posters for the event and on their website at ABBAFab.com as “The most amazing tribute show you will see anywhere.” which are some pretty grand statements for a tribute band that has never been seen or heard by me or any of the other ABBA fans I am in touch with around the globe. So I was a bit skeptical of their claim as I have seen some truly great ABBA tribute performances and some truly appalling performances as well.

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On My Way To New York To See Björn & Benny’s Kristina

Kristina Carnegie Hall InfoLater today I will be boarding a couple of flights that will take me to New York City. My flights are “Red Eye” flights that will deliver me to New York first thing tomorrow morning. I’m excited to be seeing the new English translation of the epic musical, Kristina, written by ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson. The show is based on Vilhelm Moberg’s epic novels in “The Emmigrants” series which chronicles the adventures of Swede Karl Oskar and his wife Kristina as they move their family from famine stricken Sweden to the wild’s of America in the late 1800’s.

Kristina is not being staged as a complete show, it is being staged in a concert style at the famed Carnegie Hall. The purpose of which is to record the show as well as gauge the reaction to it to see if there’d be interest in a fully staged version. The original Swedish epic was a definitely considered an epic masterpiece by those who saw it, but at a four hour running time, is going to have to undergo some trimming if its ever going to be staged fully here in the United States. The concerts will be a good indication of where some of the trimming has been done.

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Remembering September 11, 2001

New York City Cop October 2001In some ways it’s hard to believe it’s been eight years since the tragedy of the World Trade Center towers in New York City falling due to two terrorist highjacked passenger planes aiming for and crashing into each tower. In other ways its hard to believe it hasn’t been longer. In any case, this year it seems a little more poignant to remember the tragedy of September 11, 2001 or 9/11 as it seems to be commonly referred to.

I think the reason why I feel like I need to honor the memory of September 11, 2001 is that I had my first trip to New York in October 2001 to attend the Mamma Mia! premiere on Broadway, and this year, in a couple more weeks I will be returning to New York for the first time since 2001 to see Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson of ABBA launch the English language concert version of their musical, Kristina. Kristina is the musical Björn and Benny wrote that tells the story of Swedish immigrants coming to the United States in the late 1800’s. The story is based on the book series known as “The Emigrants” by Vilhelm Moberg. The New York performances are being staged as a concert version of the show instead of a fully staged production at Carnegie Hall. This will be in many cases the public’s first chance to experience the show in English. A workshop version of it was worked on a couple years ago but never heard if it actually had any public performances.

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Awesome Remix Of “Story Of A Heart” By Benny Andersson Band

Benny AnderssonThe release of Benny Andersson’s latest album entitled “Story Of A Heart” earlier this year featured a very pop like song also entitled “Story Of A Heart” this song was released to radio stations to promote the album. With the song being the most ABBA-like song, Benny Andersson and his lyrical partner in crime Björn Ulvaeus have written in more than a decade, it was really just a matter of time until some home made remixes of the Benny Andersson Band’s “Story Of A Heart” got made.

One such remix that has popped up that I’ve actually been quite addicted to listening to over the last week is one by someone who just simply goes by the name “DJ Matt” The Matt Mix of “Story Of A Heart” speeds up the song a little bit to give it a bit of urgency, additionally a really well done drum beat has been added to help set and maintain the pace, and just for some fun at the end, the final time through the chorus, the Swedish language version of the song is used to close out the mix. The mix is really quite fun to listen to. Whoever this DJ Matt is, he’s done some really good work. If the number of times I’ve played it hasn’t already cracked the top 25 most played songs on my iPod, it soon will. I’ve really been enjoying it on repeat for hours at a time. Who knew Helen Sjöholm’s amazing voice would sound great on a dance mix? (She is mostly known for show tunes style songs.)

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Hooked On Classics – Blast From The Past

Hooked On ClassicsHaving hit a little bit of music boredom with the more limited selections on my iPod Touch, I decided to bring out the iPod Classic which is loaded with over 11,000 audio files. I let it play on random and one of the things that came up was “Hooked On Classics – Part 1 and 2” from the original “Hooked On Classics” album by Louis Clark and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

I ended up taking the iPod off random and played the full album. It’s been a very long time since I last listened to it. I don’t remember when exactly I added the Hooked On Classics albums to my iPod as the last crash of my iTunes wiped out the date added for every track I added prior to December 10, 2008. In any case, I was happy I had it on my iPod to enjoy without having to dig out the CD.

I remember having worn out two cassettes of this album back in the early 1980’s. I loved it. To me it was all the good parts of classical music without so much of the really boring stuff. And I suppose a disco-esque drum track didn’t hurt either for helping keep those classics going at an upbeat pace. I remember Hooked On Classics being very popular when it was originally released in Canada. It was released on the K-Tel label which I always had some collections of popular music from them. Probably my favorite of which was “Raiders Of The Pop Charts” which capitalized on the Indiana Jones theme which was current at the time.

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My First Official ABBA T-Shirts

ABBA T-shirtsI just purchased my very first “official” ABBA T-Shirts. Sure I’ve had a couple of t-shirts promoting the ABBAMAIL website I used to write columns for and have a couple of unofficial shirts here and there, but now I have legitimate and real ABBA T-shirts that even have official ABBA tags in the collar. How cool is that?

I ordered the shirts from ABBA’s official website at ABBAsite.com and the webshop there is really a specialty shop with fulfillment handled by a great Swedish music retailer, Bengans.se. I’ve ordered tons of music from them over the years and they’re a great shop. So acting as ABBA’s official store, they have in addition to the ability to purchase music CDs and DVDs, they have some merchandise. They’ve had merchandise in their webshop for a couple of years now, but I’ve never ordered any because let’s face it, they didn’t make T-shirts in my size. Well that was before I started losing weight with Jorge Cruise’s Belly Fat Cure program.

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The Tube Of Nestlé Smarties Finally Reach The End After Three Months

SmartiesMy good friend Liesbeth was very kind to bring me back a tube of Nestlé Smarties from the Netherlands when she attended the International ABBA Fan Club’s Annual ABBA Day in Roosendaal back in April. I was unable to attend myself this year, and I had asked if she would be so kind as to bring me back some Smarties from her trip. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, sometimes it’s good to get a little bit of the goodies you grew up on, but aren’t available in the area you currently live. In this case, a tube of Smarties candies which are available in several countries, just not the United States.

As Liesbeth returned and presented me with the tube of Smarties, I was within my first couple of weeks on the Belly Fat Cure program by Jorge Cruise. So I wasn’t going to be able to enjoy the whole tube in a single sitting or even spreading it out to two or three sittings. I wasn’t sure of the exact sugar content as the Dutch nutrition labeling didn’t quite give me the information I was looking for, so I peeked at Nestlé’s website in Canada to see what the Canadian version of Smarties had for sugar content and basically, in order to enjoy this tube of Smarties, I was going to have to limit myself to about five pieces a day. Which I was perfectly willing to do in order to enjoy my Smarties and be compliant with the Belly Fat Cure program.

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Benny Andersson Band – Story Of A Heart

Benny Andersson Band - Story Of A HeartThanks to one of my good local friends, I’ve had Benny Andersson’s new album for well over a week now. The Benny Anderssons Orkester (BAO) has compiled a bunch of songs from their three previous albums and translated a handful of songs originally sung in Swedish into English, and added an all new song and released the album with the intention of releasing it outside the Swedish market. To help make it more readily accessible for the English markets, they’ve even renamed the band for the album calling themselves, the “Benny Andersson Band”

The most successful singles from the previous albums have been sung by Helen Sjöholm. From BAO’s first album, “Vår Sista Dans” topped the Svensktoppen (Swedish language song charts) for 30 weeks of it’s 56 week stay on the chart. It makes it’s official English language debut on “Story Of A Heart” as “(If This Is) Our Last Dance.” The song has been performed in English for the live performances BAO has done outside of Sweden such as Glasgow and Minneapolis, but now fans can officially have a studio recording of the English language version. And from BAO’s second album, “Du Är Min Man” which was originally released on July 11, 2004, and to this day still hasn’t left the Svensktoppen charts, that’s 5 years on the chart, 261 weeks and counting according to Swedish Radio. It is officially the longest charting song in the history of the Svensktoppen list and it also has the distinction of being the longest running song in the number one spot, which it held for its first 38 weeks on the chart. The song makes it’s officially released debut as “You Are My Man” on the album. However, it does have some interesting history as an English language song. Prior to the Minneapolis, Minnesota appearance of BAO, a promo CD containing a recording of the song in English was sent out to the attendees. However, the lyrics to that recording are different from the new lyrics featured here on the officially released album. So the promo CD as a collector’s item retains it’s value. I’m still undecided if I like the new lyrics as featured on the album, I think it could be that I’m just so used to the promo CD’s lyrics that I can’t get into the new ones. In any case, it’s still a welcome addition to the original Swedish version.

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Benny Andersson Band Played London On July 4th

Benny AnderssonBenny Andersson Orkester, also known as BAO for short, recently released an album aimed at the English speaking market under the name of Benny Andersson Band. To commemorate the Swedes taking over the presidency of the EU, the Benny Andersson Band headlined a Swedish festival in Hampstead Heath on July 4th in a free performance just slightly north of London.

It’s not the first time the Benny Andersson Band has performed for a mainly English speaking audience. The band has performed previously in Glasgow as well as in Minneapolis. Brining a touch of Swedish folk along with several other styles of music, an evening with the Benny Andersson Band is always an eclectic experience. One of the joys of seeing Benny Andersson perform is his true love for music. He is clearly in his element and it becomes a pure joy to see him perform the music he’s crafted in both the most traditional of Swedish styles as well as his own pop styles.

Those expecting to hear a slick ABBA style performance would be clearly disappointed by what Benny dubs “14 middle aged men” and two vocalists, the incredible Helen Sjöholm, and Tommy Körberg. The very traditional folk and vocal styles are often more reminiscent of a big band era performance than a modern pop band. The band plays a variety of styles of traditional dance music and often encourages dancing while they play instead of a more traditional concert performance. Because of this their performances often last far longer than traditional concerts. When I saw the band in Minnesota a few years ago, they played for four hours. The London performance lasted for two and half hours and according to the reports that have come in, the show was excellent.

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