December 30

Trail Mix – Woody Pines

first_imgWoody Pines returns with a brand new collection of vintage ragtime Americana.I first came across Woody Pines a number of years ago when I had what I believed to be a killer idea for a story. Myspace had reached its popularity zenith and I had come to realize that this whole social networking thing was a fantastic way to discover new bands.My idea? A story on bands that I discovered by hopscotching across Myspace, checking out friends of bands that I got turned on to just by clicking on their profiles.Sadly, the story didn’t get picked up and I have forgotten virtually all of the bands I was going to write about, save one.Woody Pines.Since reaching out to Woody about that piece, I have been a big fan and have been fortunate to see him live many times and feature many of his tunes on Trail Mix. His jump blues/viper jazz is a throwback to sound of a bygone era, one of juke joints and speakeasies, and he and his band epitomize a sound representing the perfect blending of the best of American music.I recently chatted with Woody about his new record and the brand new tune, “Make It To The Woods,” that we are premiering right here on Trail Mix.BRO – Yours is definitely a vintage sound. What old school musicians do you look to for inspiration?WP – I love bands like the Memphis Jug Band, Charlie Feathers, Bob Wills, and jazz bands like the Washboard Rhythm Kings and the Harlem Hamfats.BRO – Are you into vinyl? If so, got a favorite record?WP – Yeah, I have a small but beloved vinyl collection. I have a lot of my dad’s old Bob Dylan and The Band records, as well as some short run illegally pressed blues collections that I love.BRO – I know you play a National Estrelita guitar. How is that guitar essential to your sound?WP – I originally got this guitar for busking, because it cuts through the sound of city buses. The guitar has a great banjoesque sound. Our touring band has two guitars, and the sound of this reso against the sound of the hollow body is just great.BRO – We are premiering “Make It To The Woods” today on Trail Mix. What is the story behind the song?WP – This song is a folk song that has taken many meanings over the years. Now, not only does it mean to head out to the old whiskey shack, but it also means to get out of the city and into the country for a good time barn dance.BRO – Every time I have seen you live, you look quite dapper in your vest, suit, and hat. But let’s be honest . . . wouldn’t you rather be up there in shorts and a tee shirt? Just once?WP – Hah! I play almost every day in my tee shirt, on my front porch with a cold beer. When we go out of town and perform, we like to put on a show.For more information on Woody Pines, when he and the band will be taking to a stage near you, or how you can grab a copy of that new record, make sure to point your browser towards his website. Also, be sure to check out “Black Rat” on this month’s Trail Mix.last_img read more

August 17

Now in the Olympics: Could 3-on-3 basketball catch on in America?

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersGlobally, 3-on-3’s rise is playing out in similar fashion. As an international event, organized by basketball governing body FIBA, the discipline is really only seven years old. A new FIBA World Tour just finished its second season. And in America, despite the country’s pickup patronage, 3-on-3 — with its blistering pace and unique set of rules — has existed mostly on the fringes of basketball competition, at street fairs and on playgrounds.But if 3-on-3 is ever going to have its moment stateside, that day seems to be fast approaching. Two weeks before Mavraides and his teammates took the court for the FIBA World Cup quarterfinals, the IOC voted to add 3-on-3 basketball to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. A five-alarm fire of sports takes followed, sparking a mix of sideways glances and 3-on-3 lineup hypotheticals. Even LeBron James was asked if he might partake.The Olympics isn’t the only thing 3-on-3 has going. Today, a showcase of retired NBA stars will debut their own professional 3-on-3 league. Founded by Ice Cube and populated with recognizable former All-Stars such as Allen Iverson and Jermaine O’Neal, the BIG3 is America’s most serious attempt yet to bring 3-on-3 into the mainstream.“Summer is boring as (expletive),” Ice Cube declared at a news conference in January. “The BIG3 is just what the doctor ordered.”Fox seems to agree. The network signed on to broadcast BIG3 games on Fox Sports 1 every Sunday for the next 10 weeks. David Nathanson, Fox Sports director of operations, even called the league “one of our top priorities of the summer.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Whether Olympic 3-on-3 or the BIG3 can capture America’s attention remains to be seen. But in France, as Mavraides and his U.S. teammates trade lightning-quick punches with Serbia, the action — even over a 5 a.m. YouTube stream — is awfully captivating. The rules are starkly different from 5-on-5, with a slightly smaller ball and games played on half-courts. With just 12 seconds on the shot clock, the tempo is often turned up to breakneck speed. The 10-minute game clock runs constantly, leaving it impossible to catch your breath. True to its playground roots, takebacks to the 3-point line are required after both makes and misses. Shots outside the arc are worth two points — inside, they’re worth one — putting long-range shooting at a greater premium than in traditional hoops.“The slow, big post player who could dominate 5-on-5 by soaking up the paint — that’s not the type of player you want here,” Mavraides said. “You need quick, agile players, who can all dribble, pass, and shoot.”Unlike the bruising squad that brought home America’s first 3-on-3 medal last year, Mavraides and his Team USA teammates live and die by the 2-pointer. They make for an eclectic collection of sharpshooters. Craig Moore, a Manhattan wealth manager and Northwestern alum, is sixth all-time in the Big Ten in 3-pointers. Damon Huffman, a shooter who played at Brown, owns an assisted living facility in Michigan. Zahir Carrington, a Lehigh alum and the team’s most physical presence inside, works in medical device sales.The team qualified for the World Cup by winning an invite-only tournament run by USA Basketball — a format the organization favors, for the time being, over handpicking a national team. In theory, the door is open for you and your weekly pickup team to compete for an Olympic 3-on-3 berth, come 2020.The vision for 3-on-3, according to USA Basketball spokesperson Craig Miller, is to make it possible for “someone who lives remotely and only has two buddies to get a team together and actually be competitive.”More accessible than traditional 5-on-5, 3-on-3 can be played pretty much anywhere from alleyways in the Philippines to a shopping mall in India. Not only does the ease of entry make for a more level international playing field, but for many in the international basketball world, it means huge potential for growth in countries that struggle to field full, 12-person rosters.“(FIBA) really likes the idea of seeing smaller countries, less traditional powers, compete,” Miller said.For the BIG3, it’s all about big names and flash. “I know Ice Cube’s dream is to have Kobe Bryant,” BIG3 commissioner and former NBPA president Roger Mason said. “This is a league built for someone like him.”Kobe passed, but the roster of players and coaches the league will feature is intriguing, nonetheless. Hall of Famers Julius Erving, Clyde Drexler and George Gervin will walk the sideline as coaches. Iverson, at 42, is the obvious draw among former players, but retired fan favorites such as Jason Williams, Mike Bibby, and Kenyon Martin could prompt some fans to tune in. Other big-name former players, Mason claims, are monitoring the league in its debut season.With rules catered to fans, it should be a sight to see. The BIG3 will introduce a 4-point shot. Hand-checking is allowed. And players who are fouled must shoot their free throws from wherever they are on the court.“There’s no doubt this product will do well,” Mason said. “Our guys still have gas in the tank. They still feel like they can compete at a high level. I think it’s a recipe for success.”The track record for other upstart leagues with similar ambitions isn’t exactly sterling. But Fox is bullish, and Mason is dreaming big. “Our league certainly has global appeal,” he said. Right now, plans for the future of both international competition and the BIG3 are almost entirely unwritten.“It’s still kind of a wait-and see-game,” Jay Demings, USA Basketball’s point man on 3-on-3, said.The current international structure is a mess of qualifiers and participation point totals, and the available prize money is insignificant, which is likely to discourage the best American players from getting involved. Of course, that won’t stop speculation over whether NBA players might someday get involved and what that might mean for the amateur, grassroots identity of the game as it currently stands.USA Basketball won’t rule out the possibility of NBA player involvement — “We always want to field the best team possible,” Miller said — but suggested the current qualifying structure likely wouldn’t work with the league season.Mavraides isn’t holding his breath.“I don’t see LeBron James or Stephen Curry coming to play on the halfcourt at the Olympics and putting their bodies on the line, given all that they do,” he said.Regardless, Mavraides said that as 3-on-3 hits its stride, the likelihood of him appearing in a Team USA jersey again subsides. A handful of D-League players already dotted the rosters of this year’s World Cup teams. Mavraides, who is ranked 431st in the world by FIBA, has no delusions of dominating 3-on-3 into 2020. Just to take part in the first 3-on-3 Olympic qualifying, he said, “would be an honor.”But as 3-on-3 prepares for its moment in the sun, in France, Mavraides and Team USA weather challenge after challenge from the world’s No. 1 team. A force in the 3-on-3 game, Serbia boasts league infrastructure, legitimate salaries and Red Bull sponsorship. Team USA is merely a collection of amateurs with day jobs.Nonetheless, Mavraides is confident. Down 10-9, he drives the baseline, beckoning for contact as he lifts for a lay-in. With the score tied, Mavraides looks out into the crowd and flashes a flexed bicep.But before long, the sun sets on Team USA’s World Cup run. Serbia is too much to handle. As Serbia pulls away, its top scorer and the world’s No. 1 player, Dusan Domovic Bulut, returns a flexed bicep in Mavraides’ direction. The final seconds tick off, and as the buzzer sounds, 10,000 are watching on YouTube.It’s far too early to tell what the future holds for 3-on-3. The BIG3 is coming. The Olympics are on the horizon. As basketball continues growing exponentially across the globe, it’s not difficult to imagine that number multiplying in the years to come.For now, the investment portfolio manager will return to his day job in Beverly Hills, knowing he got in on the ground floor.BIG3 FACTS AND FIGURESWhat: New professional 3-on-3 basketball league created by rapper Ice Cube featuring eight teams composed of former NBA playersTV: Fox Sports 1Captains: Allen Iverson, Julius Erving, George Gervin, Clyde Drexler, Rick BarryNotable players: Iverson, Charles Oakley, Mike Bibby, Rashard Lewis, Kenyon Martin, Corey MaggetteSchedule:June 25 – Brooklyn, N.Y.July 2 – Charlotte, N.C.July 9 – Tulsa, Okla.July 16 – PhiladelphiaJuly 23 – ChicagoJuly 30 – DallasAug. 6 – Lexington, Ky.Aug. 13 – L.A. (Staples Center)Aug. 20 – SeattleAug. 26 – Las Vegas (championship)Website: big3.comcenter_img The U.S. national 3-on-3 basketball team’s leading scorer has never played in an NBA game. He’s not a Drew League standout or a star on the streetball circuit. Dan Mavraides is, in fact, an investment portfolio manager in Beverly Hills.Four years ago, when Mavraides left a professional basketball career in Italy, he figured hoops would never again extend beyond pickup games at West Hollywood Park. The pull of a stable day job was too strong. Basketball, which took him to Princeton and then Europe, took a back seat.“I still felt like I had a lot more to give to the game,” Mavraides says, but with a busy schedule at work, some weeks he struggled just to find time for pickup games.So, Mavraides, 28, did not expect to be standing atop the key of a halfcourt arena in western France a few years later, with a Team USA logo across his chest, as music blared and fans lined bleachers around the court. For him, 3-on-3 started as merely a curiosity. But he quickly fell for its frenetic energy and the strategy the game demanded.last_img read more