Friday, February 28, 2014


Here's a little geography lesson for you today, courtesy of Mrs. Black-N-Gold. In what part of the United States can you find music lovers congregating in late January for the International Blues Challenge? If you answered "Memphis, TN" give yourself an A. However, you can visit Memphis any time of the year for the 3 B's, BBQ, Blues & Beale St. Mrs. Black-N-Gold had the pleasure of visiting this blues mecca a few years back and hopes to do so again in the future. If you haven't done so, you may want to book that trip. There are many historical landmarks for music fans. Of course, most people associate Memphis with Elvis Presley's home, Graceland. There are far more stops to make, though. You can tour the homes of iconic record labels, Stax and Sun Records. You can catch a show at the legendary Orpheum Theatre. For you guitar heroes, Gibson Guitar has a showroom and factory on Beale Street. Speaking of Beale Street you can get your blues and barbecue fix along the most famous street in Memphis. You may see kings, B.B., that is. He has a nightclub on the strip as does the Killer, Jerry Lee Lewis. The music never stops on Beale Street. You can visit other world-renowned clubs such as Silky O'Sullivan's (Pittsburgh's own Barbara Blue takes up residence there) or Coyote Ugly or the Rum Boogie Cafe. You can even stay out on the street and enjoy the many performers who busk along the sidewalks for your entertainment pleasure. Whew, after all this music and mayhem, you're sure to have worked up an appetite. Feel free to peruse the menus at Miss Polly's Soul City Cafe, The Pig on Beale or King's Palace Cafe. Of course, all this merely scratches the surface of the good times that can be had in the Home of the Blues, Memphis, TN. If you haven't been there yet, call your travel agent. You may run into Mrs. Black-N-Gold on your next trip. Until next time, boys and girls. Keep It Bluesy!

Thursday, February 27, 2014


I'll be cow-kicked! Its, finally, a hockey night in Pittsburgh! Your Pittsburgh Penguins are back in action tonight as they faceoff against the Montreal Canadiens at Consol Energy Center. These are your keys to tonight's game. 1)The Pens are 16-1-1 in their last 18 games at Consol. Love that home cookin'! 2)The Pens go for their 6th win in a row at home versus Montreal. There's no place like home! 3)The Canadiens are coming off a 2-1 loss last night in OT to Detroit. Kick 'em while they're down with lots of Goals, Goals, Goals! Let's Go Pens!!!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Today, Mrs. Black-N-Gold looks at another player who will be called upon to be a key contributor to your Pittsburgh Pirates this season, SS Jordy Mercer. Jordy was drafted by the Pirates out of Oklahoma State University in the 3rd round, 79th overall, of the 2008 MLB Draft. Jordy has competed internationally, winning a bronze medal with Team USA in 2007 at the World Port Tournament and winning silver in both 2007 and 2011 in the Pan-Am Games. While playing for the the Pirates Class A Advanced Carolina League Lynchburg Hillcats in 2009, Jordy finished the season 5th in the league with 83 RBI. This was also second best among Pirates farm teams. Jordy made his MLB debut with the Pirates on May 29, 2012. He collected his first Major League hit a day later, against Reds RH Johnny Cueto. Jordy bounced between the Pirates and their Triple A club, the Indianapolis Indians last season, finally sticking with the big league club on May 13. For the season, Jordy had 95 hits in 333 at bats, good for a .285 batting average. He also cracked 22 doubles and 8 homers to go with a .336 OBP, .435 SLG and .772 OPS. The Pirates re-signed INF Clint Barmes this offseason to back up Jordy and help him improve defensively. If he can do that and continue to provide some much-needed offense from that position, things should look good for the Pirates. Have Mercer! Let's Go Bucs!!!!!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Today, Mrs. Black-N-Gold looks at another player expected to do big things for your Pittsburgh Pirates this season, LF Starling Marte. Starling was signed by the Pirates out of his native Dominican Republic in 2007. In 2011, Starling was the Pirates representative at the 2011 All-Star Futures Game. That same year, while playing for the Pirates Double A affiliate the Altoona Curve, he was named an Eastern League Mid-Season All-Star as well as a Post-Season All-Star. He was also a Baseball America Double A All-Star. He won the Eastern League batting title with a .332 batting average and was honored as Eastern League Rookie of the Year. In 2012, as a member of the Pirates Triple A team, the Indianapolis Indians, Starling was named an International League Mid-Season All-Star. He made his major league debut on July 26, 2012 versus the Houston Astros, homering on the first pitch. He became the first Pirate to do so since 1922. Last season, Starling recorded 143 hits, 26 doubles, 10 triples and 12 homers from the leadoff spot for the Bucs. He scored 83 runs, stole 41 bases, had a .275 batting average, a .332 OBP, a .440 SLG and a .773 OPS. If he expects to have a breakout year for the Pirates, Starling will have to avoid the injury-bug as he has yet to play a full season since his callup. It's time for Starling to step up to the plate and step up his game. Mrs. Black-N-Gold wants to keep the Marte Partay going. Let's Go Bucs!!!!!

Monday, February 24, 2014


Baseball season is just around the corner. Mrs. Black-N-Gold can't wait to raise the Jollly Roger. Today, she looks at one of the players to watch for your 2014 Pittsburgh Pirates, RH Gerrit Cole. Gerrit was selected #1 overall in the 2011 MLB Draft out of UCLA and quickly rose through the ranks of the Pirates minor league system. Gerrit was named the #9 overall best prospect by to begin the 2013 season. He made his much-anticipated major league debut on June 11 against the defending champion San Francisco Giants. His start elicited banners and signs that read "Cole45" and "Cole Train". He was the winner in the 8-2 decision, collecting his first big league hit as well, a 2-run single. Gerrit out-dueled Rangers ace Yu Darvish on September 9 ending a 4-game losing streak for the Pirates and nailing down win #82, securing the Pirates first winning season since 1992. He was named NL Rookie of the Month for September, going 4-0 with a 1.69 ERA and 39 strikeouts. Gerrit started and won game 2 of the NLDS, defeating the St. Louis Cardinals. He held St. Louis to 2 hits and 1 earned run in 6 innings, striking out 5 batters. Gerrit went 10-7 on the season with a 3.22 ERA in 19 starts. He fanned 100 batters. The Pirates will look to Gerrit to be a key contributor and continue his success as he pitches his first complete season in the majors. All aboard the Cole Train! Let's Go Bucs!!!!!

Sunday, February 23, 2014


It is rumored that Robert Johnson made a pact with the Devil at the Crossroads. The myth goes on to say that Johnson sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for the mastery of blues guitar. Whether Johnson did, indeed, make this deal remains to be seen. What is known is that many blues greats have gone a different route for their craft. As Mrs. Black-N-Gold attended Saturday night mass at her local church one evening, she got to thinking about the influence the church has had on many blues performers. A number of them even played in their local church choirs while honing their skills. Numerous early blues artists where raised in the Baptist churches in the south and fell in love with music in the pews and pulpits of their local masses. These singers and musicians, in turn, took their messages to the streets, busking on corners, playing juke joints and house rent parties. Still, countless remained faithful to the church. To quote the T-Bone Walker classic, "Stormy Monday": "Well the eagle flies on Friday and Saturday I go out to play. Sunday I go to church, I kneel down and pray". When these entertainers migrated north to cities such as Chicago, Detroit and New York, they took their love of the blues with them but they also took their firm beliefs in God. Spiritual songs such as "Wade in the Water" have made their way onto blues playlists for decades. Gospel greats Mavis Staples and Mahalia Jackson have shared the stage with many a bluesman. It was blues musician Thomas Dorsey who is credited with combining the spiritual with the secular, paving the way so that others may do so in perfect harmony. From Blind Willie Johnson to Sam Cooke to Otis Redding to the Slide Brothers, the music continues to reach the masses to this day. Until next time, boys and girls, can I get an "Amen"? Keep It Bluesy!

Saturday, February 22, 2014


Mrs. Black-N-Gold is feeling a little down today. Team USA's men's hockey team were defeated in the semifinals yesterday 1-0. They will faceoff today against Team Finland for the bronze while Team Canada goes against Team Sweden tomorrow for the gold. They were shutout. A shutout? How could the team that led the tournament, averaging 5 goals per game, be shutout in the semis? My friends, it appears we were just Bylsma'ed. We've seen the same phenomenon occur countless times for our beloved Pittsburgh Penguins. Last season, the Pens led the NHL in scoring only to manage a meager two goals in their Eastern Conference playoff  loss to the Boston Bruins. It seems that Coach Disco can run up the score on the register during the regular season but comes up empty when it's time to cash in come playoff time. Dan had built up some good will amongst the black-n-gold faithful with the play of his Penguins this season, especially considering the laundry list of injuries they've endured. However, if they falter again in the postseason, what will the fan reaction be? Yes, he led the Pens to the Stanley Cup in 2009. But I have news for you, my friends, professional sports is a "What have you done for me lately"-league. I can't help but wonder if there is a sense of uneasiness with Penguin Nation today following Team USA's loss. We can only hope that Coach Disco has learned from his mistakes, and applies it to the Pens. We don't need another case of Bylsma being Bylsma. Can't wait for real hockey to return. Let's Go Pens!!!

Friday, February 21, 2014


Mrs. Black-N-Gold is thinking "revenge" today, red, white and blue-style. It's Team Canada vs. Team USA at 12:00 EST today. The winner advances to the gold-medal game, facing the winner of Finland-Sweden. It's a chance for Team USA to serve up some revenge on Canada after suffering a 3-2 OT loss in Vancouver 4 years ago. The men can help soften the blow, too, following the women's heartbreaking 3-2 OT loss in the final yesterday at the hands of Team Canada. Goalie Carey Price hasn't faced many shots for Team Canada, a total of only 51 the entire tournament. Meanwhile, their offense has struggled. Latavia turned back 55 of their shots in Canada's 2-1 squeaker. Team Canada captain Sidney Crosby has yet to score a goal in these Olympics. Remember, it was Sid that broke Team USA's heart with the game-winner in Vancouver. Meanwhile, Team USA have scored the most goals in the tournament, averaging 5 goals per game. Yes, revenge is a dish best served cold, on ice in this case. Sorry, Sid. Sorry, Kuni. Let's Go Team USA!!!

Thursday, February 20, 2014


It's not brother versus brother but it's pretty darn close as Penguins Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz and the rest of Team Canada faceoff against Team USA and Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik and coach Dan Bylsma. Both teams are on a collision course as they meet on Friday at 12:00 EST for the right to play in the gold-medal game. Team USA advanced as they trounced the Czech Republic yesterday, 5-2. Canada edged Latvia yesterday, 2-1 to get to the semifinals. Since the gold medal isn't on the line, it's not quite the excitement that it was when they met for the gold four years ago in Vancouver, but it's close. This will be the second straight time that Team USA has advanced to the semifinal round. They did so following an 8-round, 3-2 shootout victory in the preliminary round over host Russia. They followed that up with victories over Slovenia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic by a combined score of 17-4. Canada will face the USA without F John Tavares who is out for the rest of the tournament with a leg injury. Team USA is expected to try and stop Sid and the rest of Team Canada with Jonathan Quick in goal. Ryan Miller was the goalie four years ago when Sid got the game-winner to win the gold. Team Canada is expected to counter with G Carey Price. Sorry, Sid. Sorry, Kuni. Let's Go Team USA!!!!!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Otis Redding had a voice that could send chills down your spine. "Mr. Pitiful" was the epitome of the Stax Sound and became synonymous with the world-renowned Memphis-based soul studio. Before he became "The Big O", Otis Redding was born in Dawson GA on September 9, 1941. Otis learned multiple instruments as a child, the piano, guitar and drums and cut his teeth singing in church choirs. He eventually worked his way up to singing gospel songs on a Sunday radio program in Georgia.  He quit school at 15 to begin performing as well as working various day jobs to financially assist his family. Otis listed legends Little Richard and Sam Cooke among his inspirations. Eventually, Otis came up performing with his idol, Little Richard's band, the Upsetters. From there, Otis played with the Pinetoppers and worked his way to Stax Records. Stax released his debut single, "These Arms of Mine" in 1962. That was followed 2 years later by his first album, "My Heart". From there, Otis' career began to build steam, touring the south before branching out west and to Europe. Along the way, Otis enjoyed many famous collaborations, Carla Thomas and Booker T & the MGs, among them. Otis continued to tour, impressing audiences from the legendary Apollo Theatre in Harlem to his star-making turn at the Monterey Pop Festival, one of his final performances. He enjoyed many hits along the way, notably "Try a Little Tenderness", "Respect" and his version of the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction". The "King of Soul's " greatest hit would come following his untimely death in a plane crash in Madison, WI on December 10, 1967. "(Sittin' on)The Dock of the Bay" was released in January 1968 and became Otis' only #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. Over 45 years after his passing, Otis continues to receive posthumous honors and accolades. It's a testament to the depth of his tremendous voice and talents. He was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. The United States Post Office released a commemorative stamp in his honor in 1993 and he was awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999.  Otis Redding deserves all the "Respect" he received. There will never be another Otis. Sit up and take notice. Until next time, boys and girls. Keep It Bluesy!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


They come from near and far, from different walks of life and different regions of the tri-state area. They represent many different types of music, blues, classic rock, country, bluegrass, etc. They are the many fine men and women who perform at your local club or tavern. Sometimes, they play for a packed house and make enough to help pay their bills. Sometimes, they play for a scant few and make next to nothing. Have you ever went to a local bar and saw a band and thought "They're better than Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber. Why can't they get signed?" Some of these acts pay their dues in hopes of one day catching lightning in a bottle. Some do it just for the love of the music and to see the joy on people's faces when they're out on the dance floor. These days, it's hard to find the funds to make the trek all the way to Pittsburgh and have a good night out enjoying some local sounds. If we don't support local music, it will become more and more difficult to find a nearby establishment that hosts live music. There are  places in the area that feature excellent performers for a cost of next to nothing. The Kopper Kettle and the Handle Bar are two spots that Mrs. Black-N-Gold and the Big Bossman frequent. Others in the Washington County area are the Trio Lounge, the Friendship Lounge and Rinky Dinks, to name a few. All these musicians ask is that you sit back and enjoy the show. If you really like what you hear, show your appreciation by throwing a few dollars in their "gas" jar or picking up a CD or t-shirt. If we don't embrace the local music community by taking our business to these establishments, they may not continue to bring us this fine entertainment. The opportunity to hear some artists such as Local, Shannon and the Merger, and the Jades will increase when the weather breaks. It's always a good time to go Pike Days, the Monangahela Aquatorium and the Whiskey Rebillion Festival and hear performances by these super-talented acts. I've barely scratched the surface with names of bands and businesses that support them. Even if you don't live in Western Pennsylvania or the tri-state area, I'm sure they are lounges and clubs in your area that encourage area musicians by hosting bands. Support these businesses by frequenting them when they host live music. You'll be doing the proprietor, the performers and yourselves a favor. Support Local Music!

Monday, February 17, 2014


John Lee Hooker was one of the most influential singer/guitarists in blues history. One of eleven children, he was born on April 22, 1917 in Coahoma County, Mississippi. John Lee started out playing Country Blues and Delta Blues but soon developed more of a Talking Blues style to accompany his unique guitar technique. John Lee left home at 15 and supplemented his income while he honed his playing by gigging in Memphis on Beale Street and at house parties. He eventually worked his way up to Detroit. While in Detroit he made the decision to switch from acoustic to electric guitar. The switched worked and in 1948 he recorded a demo for Modern Records. "Boogie Chillen'" was the first of many hits. During the 1950's, Hooker was able to earn extra money by recording under variations of his name (ex: John Lee Booker, John Lee Cooker, etc.) to help pay the bills. Along the way, he recorded some of the most highly regarding tunes in the blues community, "Boom, Boom", "House Rent Boogie", and "Crawlin' Kingsnake" are just the tip of the iceberg. These songs and many others influenced such artists as Bonnie Raitt, Carlos Santana, and Canned Heat. He appeared in the "Blues Brothers" movie in 1980 along with many other legendary blues acts. That same year, he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was named to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. He won three Grammy awards during his illustrious career as well as receiving a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. He was still going strong at 83 when he passed away on June 21, 2001. John Lee Hooker left a legacy that will span lifetimes. Mrs. Black-N-Gold knows that when she says "I'm in the Mood", she's in the mood for some John Lee Hooker. There are many great collections of his recordings available. Check some out for yourself. You'll be "hooked". Until next time, boys and girls. Keep It Bluesy!

Sunday, February 16, 2014


It may be snowing for what seems like the millionth time this winter, but Mrs. Black-N-Gold has baseball on her mind. Pitchers and catchers reported this past week and position players report to Bradenton this week for your Pittsburgh Pirates. The Battlin' Bucs are eager to prove that last season's playoff team is no fluke and that they are committed to fielding a competitive, winning team year in and year out. However, Mrs. Black-N-Gold is afraid that Pirates owner "Bottom Dollar" Bob Nutting did not receive this memo. Yes, the Pirates success did dare Mrs. Black-N-Gold and all Pirates fans to dream again. I've even watched the MLB Network in the offseason, something I'd been unable to do in years' past. The problem is, when I watch MLB Tonight, Clubhouse Confidential, or any of the other programs, the continuous scroll at the bottom of the screen tells the depressing story of the Pirates offseason. MLB likes to gives fans up-to-the minute info on all the dealings in the majors. So far the Pirates key offseason moves are as follows: FA signings-RH Edinson Volquez, re-signings-SS Clint Barmes, trades-C Chris Stewart. Pretty unimpressive, isn't it? Oh, we must not forget the minor deals for OF Jaff Decker and 1B Chris McGuiness. They are to compete with Travis Snider and Jose Tabata in rightfield and Gaby Sanchez at firstbase, respectively. Andrew Lambo also figures to be in the mix. The Pirates also failed to offer RH A.J. Burnett a qualifying of $14.1 million for 1 year in November. The Pirates recently made an offer to A.J. of 1 year for $12 million. Their cross state rivals, the Philthedelphia Sillies, won the bidding in the AJ Sweepstakes with a 1 year, $16 million deal. Had the Pirates made the qualifying offer and AJ signed elsewhere, they would have received a draft pick as compensation. Had he not signed with another team, the offer would have at least driven down AJ's price tag. The Pirates also lost out on 1B James Loney in free agency this winter and haven't been able to swing a trade for some much-needed power from right field or first base. Sanchez is said to have shed some weight and added on muscle, in hopes of winning the everyday first base job. The Pirates are also looking for injury-free seasons from LF Starling Marte and 2B Neil Walker. C Russell Martin could improve offensively in year 2 of his return to the NL. SS Jordy Mercer will start the season in the lineup and should upgrade the 8th spot in the batting order. The Pirates will also need repeat performances from NL MVP Andrew McCutchen and NL home run champ Pedro Alvarez. But is all of this enough? The starting rotation is questionable after Franciso Liriano, Charlie Morton and Gerrit Cole. The Shark Tank will need to continue to feast on opposing batters in the later innings, as well. Yes, hope does spring eternal for your Pittsburgh Pirates and their fans. But this fan wishes they would have made more significant improvements in the offseason. There's still time. Make the most of spring training and spring into action, boys. Let's Go Bucs!!!!!

Saturday, February 15, 2014


Mrs. Black-N-Gold is feeling blue. Recently, Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks, guitarists-extraordinaire for the iconic Allman Brothers Band, announced they would be leaving the band at the end 2014. They are eager to pursue other projects with their own bands, Gov't Mule and Tedeschi Trucks Band, as well as re-charge their batteries after so many years on the road with ABB. Following that announcement, Gregg Allman declared that this, the 45th year of the Allman Brothers Band, would be the last. Gregg is also anxious to explore other musical avenues with his solo band. 45 years? It's hard to believe that it's been 45 years since Gregg, his late brother Duane, Dickey Betts, the late Berry Oakley, Butch Trucks, and Jaimoe (Johanny Johanson at the time) joined forces to bring fans their mastery mix of blues, jazz, and fusion to form what would later be called "southern rock". Even after suffering the loss of leader Duane and later, Berry Oakley, the Brothers forged ahead. Through the years they would record and tour in different incarnations, sometimes breaking up and reuniting in between. They enjoyed a revival in recent years thanks to jam band followers. The crowd always enjoyed the sweet tones of the pairing of Haynes and Trucks when they came on board. ABB enraptured audiences the world over, sometimes joining together with the likes of Eric Clapton, The Band and The Grateful Dead, to name a few. They were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1995 and were honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. Rolling Stone magazine named them #52 of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. They also listed "At Fillmore East" at #49 of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Unfortunately, time is running out on this American treasure. You'll still be able to catch the various members in one form or another but this will be your last opportunity to see the Allman Brothers Band in all their glory. I'm sure they'll be breaking out classics such as "Whipping Post", "Midnight Rider" and "Mountain Jam" as well as a surprise or two. Catch them while you can before they're just a fabulous memory.  Unfortunately, the road doesn't always go on forever. Until next time, boys and girls. Keep It Bluesy!

Friday, February 14, 2014


Quite a few storylines have developed in the black-n-gold sports world these past few weeks. Mrs. Black-N-Gold looks at a few.

1)Your OlymPens are off to a great start in Sochi. Every member of the Pens that is participating in the Winter Games won yesterday. Here's hoping that can translate back home when real hockey begins again.

2)Your Pittsburgh Steelers brought in HOFer Mike Munchak to coach the offensive line. This looks like a good hire as Munchak is very well qualified to teach these youngsters the zone-blocking scheme that the Steelers had hoped to employ last season.

3)Pitchers and catchers for your Pittsburgh Pirates reported this week. The Pirates are eager to show that last year's playoff team was not a fluke.

4)Prayers for Pens D Kris Letang. Now which Penguin will be constantly mentioned in trade-talk?

5)The Steelers brought back former LB Joey Porter as a defensive assistant. He's expected to work with the outside linebackers, especially 1st round-pick Jarvis Jones. Hopefully, Porter can light a fire under these guys. I just can't help but wonder, what does this say about linebackers coach Keith Butler's position?

6)RH A.J. Burnett did not retire and he did not re-sign with the Pirates. He apparently turned down their offer of 1 year for $12 million and jumped to Philly for $16 million for 1 year. A.J. is this year's model of Jaromir Jagr. Now who is going to be this year's A.J. Burnett for the Pirates and give us 190-some innings and get the ground ball outs?

Here's hoping all things work out in the world of the Black-N-Gold. Mrs. Black-N-Gold can't wait for the Olympics to end and we get back to some meaningful hockey. And she can't wait for the first pitch of the season. And, before you know it, training camp will start. Let's Go Pens!!! Let's Go Bucs!!!!! Let's Go Steelers!!!!!!

Thursday, February 13, 2014


This week the famous Westminster Dog Show was held in New York City. As Mrs. Black-N-Gold and the Big Bossman watched the parade of pooches across the screen, Mrs. Black-N-Gold starting thinking about the classic song "Hound Dog". Yes, some fella named Elvis Presley took it and ran with it. Elvis' version was the most famous, topping the pop charts for 11 weeks in 1956. At one point, the song was simultaneously listed on the pop, country and R&B charts. Elvis' recording was also listed on Rolling Stone Magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Well, apologies to Rolling Stone and the King, it was Big Mama Thornton that did it first and Big Mama Thornton that did it best. Big Mama was looking for a hit for Peacock Records back in 1952 when legendary songwriters Leiber & Stoller (Stand By Me, Kansas City, Jailhouse Rock) wrote this for her. It became the first song that Leiber & Stoller also produced as well as Big Mama's biggest hit. This version topped the R&B charts for 7 weeks. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame also named it one of "500 Songs that Shaped Rock & Roll" and it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in February of 2013. It also spurred numerous cover versions as well as "answer" songs. Big Mama lets it be known from the first notes that she belts out that she isn't going to let any man dog her. She drives that point home with the classic finishing line "And bow-wow to you". If you haven't heard the Big Mama version, it's the dog pound for you. Check it out Until next time boys and girls, keep it bluesy!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Today, Mrs. Black-N-Gold presents to you #1 of the 5 Biggest Rivals of the Black-N-Gold. Before we do, let's look back at the contenders. #5 Cincy Reds-Boo! #4 Washington Craps-Yuck! #3 Cleveland Clowns-Hiss! #2 Philly Cryers-Ewww! And now, #1 of the 5 Biggest Rivals of the Black-N-Gold is......The Baltimoron Ravens! When Art Modell moved the first incarnation of the Cleveland Clowns to Baltimore, in 1996, they remained your Pittsburgh Steelers division rivals. The Steelers promptly won that first meeting on September 8 by a score of 31-17. As a matter of fact, the Steelers lead the series 23-16. When the NFL restructured the divisions, the Steelers and Baltimorons both moved from the AFC Central to the AFC North where they continued a rivalry that runs deeper than the 3 Rivers. These two teams and their fans clearly don't like each other. That has been made evident on the field with the countless numbers of injuries. There was the time Ray-Ray Lewis broke Rashard Mendenhall's shoulder ending Mendy's rookie season. How about the bounty that Terrell Suggs said the Baltimoron's had on Hines Ward? And remember when Ryan Clark knocked both himself (briefly) and Willis McGhahee out with a concussion? The best knockouts in this series come when the Steelers knock the Baltimorons out of the postseason. The Steelers have done that three times. Remember back in 2008? The Steelers swept the season series, then won a third time in the AFC Championship game thanks to Troy Polamalu's pick-six to end the game. Good times. Of course, our last meeting with the Baltimorons didn't end so well. Last Thanksgiving night we were treated to Coach Mike's two-step on the sidelines in a Steelers loss. The beauty of this rivalry is that we'll always play them at least twice a year. Get ready for payback. That is why the Baltimoron Ravens are #1 of the 5 Biggest Rivals of the Black-N-Gold. Let's Go Steelers!!!!!! 



Tuesday, February 11, 2014


It's Tuesday so Mrs. Black-N-Gold brings you #2 of the 5 Biggest Rivals of the Black-N-Gold, the Philthedelphia Cryers. Penguins fans and Cryers fans are known as fanatical followers of their respective teams and both fan bases have a deep-rooted hatred for Pennsylvania's other hockey team. Both the Pens and Cryers joined the NHL in 1967. During the Cryers heyday, many, many moons ago, they won back-to-back Stanley Cups as the Broad Street Bullies in 1974 and 1975. The Pens suffered an embarrassing winless streak of 42 game at the Philthedelphia Spectrum from February 7, 1974 to February 2, 1989, going 0-39-3. All that changed when Mario Lemieux arrived in Pittsburgh and led the Pens to their own back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992. Since then, the intensity of this rivalry has been amped up. There was the Eastern Conference Seminfinals of 2000 that went to 5 overtimes. And don't forget the shouting match between Cryers coach Peter Laviolette and Pens assistant Tony Granato on April 1, 2012. And you can't ignore the fact that Jaromir Jagr teased Mario and the Pens and signed with Philly as a free agent back in 2011, the same year that Max Talbot jumped ship to the Cryers. And remember, it was the City of Brothers on Drugs that got their nice, new, shiny arena before the Pens did. All the more reason to loathe these jagoffs and kick some Philly butt next time the Pens and Cryers faceoff. That is why the Philthedelphia Cryers are #2 of the 5 Biggest Rivals of the Black-N-Gold. Let's Go Pens!!!


Monday, February 10, 2014


Mrs. Black-N-Gold brings you #3 of the 5 Biggest Rivals of the Black-N-Gold. Today's team is a team your Pittsburgh Steelers have been playing since 1950. When the NFL-AFL merged, both teams made their home in the newly created AFC. #3 is the Steelers longtime division rival, Cleveland Clowns. The Steelers lead the all-time series 67-57. However, this series wasn't always dominated by the Steelers as it is today. The Steelers didn't pick up their first victory over the Clowns until 1954. Things really got rolling for the Black-N-Gold when Three Rivers Stadium opened in 1970. The Steelers beat Cleveland 16 straight times on their home turf. The Clowns haven't swept the series since 1988. The Clowns did get a bit of a reprieve when Art Modell moved the original Clowns team to Baltimore to become the Baltimorons (more on them at a later date). When Cleveland did return a football team to the NFL, they were welcomed in their nice, new, shiny stadium with a trouncing at the hands of the Steelers, 43-0, in 1999. Another fantastic Steelers victory in this series was on Christmas Eve of  2005, 41-0. What Steelers fan could forget the image of Steelers LB James Harrison bodyslamming a drunken Clowns fan that stupidly ran onto the field of play? Merry Christmas, Clowns. The Steelers continue to dominate this series, winning the last 3 games. Cleveland will forever be the Mistake by the Lake and their football team will forever be the Clowns. Maybe, someday, they'll put together a team that is worthy of playing with the big boys. Until then, Steelers fans will have to appreciate the rich history of this series and the fact that if they can't get tickets to a Clowns-Steelers game at home, they can always make the trek north to root on their team. That is why the Cleveland Clowns are #3 of the 5 Biggest Rivals of the Black-N-Gold. Let's Go Steelers!!!!!!

Sunday, February 9, 2014


Mrs. Black-N-Gold continues today with the 5 Biggest Rivals of the Black-N-Gold, bringing to you #4, the Washington Capitals. Your Pittsburgh Penguins rivalry with the dreaded Washington Craps isn't a decades-long rivalry like some. However, it is a rivalry with a deep-rooted hatred. The apex of this rivalry would have to be the legendary 2009 playoff series, which the Pens rode all the way to a Stanley Cup championship. This rivalry has also pitted the best player in the NHL, Penguins C Sidney Crosby against Craps RW Alex Ovechkin. Some people have dared to compare Ovechkin with Sid. Others have tried to compare him with another Pens great, C Evgeni Malkin. That comparison comes into play as they're both Russian and they were drafted in the same year. There have been rumors of PED use by Ovechkin. Perhaps that is how he wormed his way into the conversation as the best player in the NHL. Otherwise, it's no contest. Sid, Geno and the Pens have been to 2 Stanley Cup finals, winning 1. How many have Ovechkin and the Craps won? Zero. The NHL has made it more of a rivalry now that re-alignment has the Pens and Craps both in the Metropolitan Division. The Pens are first with 83 points. The Craps are 5th at 63 points. At least, Ovechkin has made it a little interesting again. He leads the league with 40 goals. Sid leads the NHL with 78 total points. Geno and Ovechkin may renew their rivalry while playing for Mother Russia in Sochi this winter. Really, though, it's no contest. At one point, Ovechkin was the player that everyone loved to hate. And there were those who would have appreciated him had he been on their team. Now? Please, I'll take the Pens with Sid and Geno any day. It is always fun when these 2 teams meet. Then we can watch the Pens beat the crap out of Ovechkin and the Craps. That is why the
Washington Capitals are #4 of the 5 Biggest Rivals of the Black-N-Gold. Let's Go Pens!!!

Saturday, February 8, 2014


Mrs. Black-N-Gold was bored one day and got to thinking about the teams that are the black-n-gold's biggest rivals. I'm sure many fans have certain teams that they love to hate and want nothing more than to see the Pens, Pirates or Steelers kick said team's behinds. So allow me to present to you the 5 Biggest Rivals of the Black-N-Gold beginning today with #5, the Cincinnati Reds. The mere mention of their name makes Pirates fans see "red". And if you're old enough (unfortunately, I am) you remember well the days of the Lumber Company and the Big Red Machine battling it out for NL supremacy. That was back when the Pirates were in the NL East and Cincy was in the NL West. When re-alignment rolled around, MLB put both teams in the NL Central. True, there wasn't a real rivalry between these teams whilst the Pirates were mired in their losing streak. That all seemed to change when Manager Clint Hurdle came to town. Things starting to get interesting as the Pirates became competitive. Baseball suddenly turned into basebrawl when the Bucs battled the Reds. Remember that series in August a few years back when their fireballer, Aroldis Chapman, threw at Andrew McCutchen's head? Now you can't have a Pirates-Reds game without some bean ball action, or at least a little chin music. Sure Cincy has former NL MVP Joey Votto. But Cutch won the award this past season. And how about last year's NL Wild Card game? All the fans wearing black for the blackout and chanting "Cue-to, Cue-to". They got into his head, causing Cueto to drop the ball right there on the mound. I must admit, I was a little happy to hear that the Reds fired Manager Dusty Baker after our Wild Card win. That is because, I hate the Reds that much. This is why the Cincinnati Reds are #5 of the 5 Biggest Rivals of the Black-N-Gold. Let's Go Bucs!!!!

Friday, February 7, 2014


Call Arnold Slick from Turtle Crick, it's a hockey night in Pittsburgh! This is the final game for the your Pittsburgh Penguins as they go into the Olympic break. Tonight, they faceoff against the New York Strangers at Consol Energy Center. These are your keys to tonight's game. 1)This season's Pens got to 40 wins faster than any team in franchise history, 57 games. Keep that train a rollin'! 2)Both the Pens and the Strangers are 7-3-0 in their last 10 game. Something has got to give. Crank up the Crue and the Goals, Goals, Goals! 3)On home ice, the Pens have beaten the Strangers in 5 straight. #6 would be great! Let's Go Pens!!!

Thursday, February 6, 2014


Mrs. Black-N-Gold continues her review of Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival that was recorded live at MSG in New York City last April. Today she is listening to disc #2. This disc starts off with a rollicking version of "Congo Square" by Sonny Landreth with some tasty guitar licks courtesy of Derek Trucks. This is one of Mrs. Black-N-Gold's favorites. Yum. Next up is John Mayer and Doyle Bramhall II channeling Stevie Ray Vaughan on "Change It", another fave. Speaking of SRV, his brother Jimmie follows with "Ooh-Ooh-Ooh". It's nice to hear from Jimmie. We don't hear him enough. Derek Trucks is back for more with a fellow named Blake Mills, a young songwriter-guitarist from California. They perform a lovely rendition of the Drifters' "Save the Last Dance for Me". Los Lobos make an appearance with a ripping "Don't Worry Baby". Now it's time to get a little bit country with Vince Gill doing "I Ain't Living Long Like This". Gill gets an assist from English guitarist Albert Lee, of all people. They certainly mix well, rocking this one up a bit. Next is blues icon Taj Mahal giving us a case of the "Diving Duck Blues" with Keb' Mo'. Way to bring the blues! Gary Clark Jr. keeps the blues rollin' with his original "When My Train Pulls In".  Legendary guitarist Jeff Beck provides an instrumental interlude with the Irish song "Mna Na Heireann". The strings in this song are phenomenal. Gregg Allman, Warren Haynes, and Derek Trucks are back from more with a beautiful version of Neil Young's "The Needle and the Damage Done". They follow that up with the Allman Bros' fave "Midnight Rider". Then Clapton steps back into the spotlight and brings special guest Keith Richards with him for a trip down memory lane with "Key to the Highway". This trip just mesmerizes the listener. Welsh guitarist Andy Fairweather Low, a veteran of the London blues scene in the 60s, joins Clapton for some "Gin House Blues". Another highlight for Mrs. Black-N-Gold. Clapton goes solo after this. He breaks out the rocking "Got to Get Better in a Little While" from his latest effort. He closes it out with the Cream classic "Sunshine of Your Love". This brings down the house on a 2-disc set that is worth every penny. If you didn't get to the Crossroads Festival, this is like being right there at the Crossroads. Until next time, boys and girls. Keep it bluesy!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Hop in the Cordova, baby, we're going bowling! It's a great day for hockey! Your Pittsburgh Penguins shuffle off to Buffalo as they faceoff against the Sabres tonight. These are your keys to tonight's game. 1)The Pens sit atop the Eastern Conference at 39-15-2 for a total of 80 points. The Sabres are a league-worst 15-32-8, good for 38 points. Don't get caught napping on this team. Beat 'em like a rented mule! 2)Since November 26, the Pens are 24-6-1. Buffalo is on a 7-game home losing streak. They've allowed 25 total goals during that streak. Time for a home invasion, Penguins-style!  3)The Pens are 7-3-0 over their last 10. Buffalo has surrendered at least 3 goals in 10 of their last 11 to go 2-6-3. Pack up the Crue for some Goals, Goals, Goals! Let's Go Pens!!!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Mrs. Black-N-Gold recently purchased the 2 CD set for Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival that was recorded last April at Madison Garden in NYC. Clapton stages this festival every few years to help raise money for his Crossroads rehab facility. And he always brings out the biggest guns for this gig, too. The first CD kicks off with a Clapton tune that never gets old to Mrs. Black-N-Gold, the haunting "Tears in Heaven". Considering the personal nature of the song's content, it always feels as if Clapton is baring his soul to the listener. The next track is an old Clapton favorite, "Lay Down Sally", this time with bit of a country twang, courtesy of guest Vince Gill. Then the CD takes a decidedly Stax-y feel thanks to Booker T & Co on "Green Onions".  This is always a great guitar tune. Next up is a fellow named Kurt Rosenwinkel. I must admit, I wasn't familiar with his work as he's a jazz guitarist and Mrs. Black-N-Gold usually keeps her head buried in the blues and rock-n-roll. It was definitely a change-of-pace and certainly otherworldly. The jazz continued to flow with a gentleman named Earl Klugh. He shared two of his original compositions, "This Time" and "Mirabella". Both were very smooth and melodic. Robert Cray followed with "Great Big Old House". Cray has been on the blues circuit for many years and has played with Clapton several times. He doesn't get nearly the recognition that he deserves. Next was Clapton's right hand man of late, Doyle Bramhall II with young blues gunslinger Gary Clark Jr. They dueled on Muddy Waters' "She's Alright" one of Mrs. Black-N-Gold favorite tracks on this CD. DBII next jams with Citizen Cope on "Bullet and a Target", one of Cope's originals. It has a reggae vibe to it. Something for everyone on this CD, I tell ya.  Then, out steps John Mayer for one of his songs, "Queen of California". A lot of people give Mayer grief because of his pop background. But, the guy does have chops. He and Keith Urban follow up with a scorching version of the Beatles' "Don't Let Me Down". Gary Clark Jr is back for more with his tune, "Next Door Neighbor Blues". It sounds like something that would be right at home back in the day with some very impressive guitar work here. The penultimate song on CD 1 features one of the ultimate, all-time bluesmen, Mr. Buddy Guy telling the listener, "Damn Right, I've Got the Blues". Right on, Buddy! The CD finishes with Clapton and the Allman Brothers Band jamming to the Derek & the Dominoes show stopper, "Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad". I wear my love for all things Clapton, Derek & the Dominoes & Allman Brothers Band on my sleeve with pride. This does not disappoint. Man I wish I could have been there. This 2 CD set is the next best thing. I'll review the second disc next time. Mrs. Black-N-Gold has to go smoke a cigarette after this one! Until next time boys and girls, keep it bluesy!

Monday, February 3, 2014


How much fried chicken can you eat? It's a hockey night in Pittsburgh! Your Pittsburgh Penguins look to get back in the win column tonight as they faceoff against the Ottawa Senators at Consol Energy Center. These are your keys to tonight's game. 1)The Pens continue to sit atop the Eastern Conference with 78 points. The Sens, meanwhile, have only 58 points. The Pens have developed a dreadful habit of playing down to their competition, of late. Show them that to be the best, you have to beat the best! 2)Pens C Sidney Crosby is in a scoring drought. Sid hasn't recorded a goal in 4 straight games. The Pens are 2-10-0 when Sid is held to 0 points. Light the lamp! 3)The Pens are 22-4-0 at home. They have won 15 of the last 16 on home ice. Crank up the Crue and the Goals, Goals, Goals! Let's Go Pens!!!

Sunday, February 2, 2014


Well today is a big game day for many football fans. Unfortunately, your Pittsburgh Steelers won't be playing in the Super Bowl. Some of you may still watch the game though. You could watch for the football or the commercials. Some may even watch it for the Bruno Mars halftime show (Ugh!). Today, Mrs. Black-N-Gold is going to try her hand at prognostication by carefully weighing the pros of each team.

What Seattle Has to Offer
1)Starbucks-Yuck! I don't drink coffee.
2)Grunge Music-Ok, you will find Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam in Mrs. Black-N-Gold's music collection but grunge is sooo over.
3)Jimi Hendrix-One of the greatest guitarists of all time

Score 1 point for Seattle

What Denver Has to Offer
1)Rocky Mountain Oysters-Yuck! I'll pass, thanks.
2)Coors Beer-Mr. Black-N-Gold may like it but I'm an Iron City gal.
3)Legal Weed-Mile high, indeed.

Score 1 point for Denver

Uh-oh. It ends in a tie? So, who does Mrs. Black-N-Gold think will win the game? Screw it! Who cares if the Steelers aren't in it. I'm watching the Puppy Bowl. Get it together for next year, guys. Let's Go Steelers!!!!!! Let's Go Puppies!

Saturday, February 1, 2014


Get in the fast lane, grandma. The bingo game is ready to roll. It's a great day for hockey as your Pittsburgh Penguins travel to the desert to faceoff against the Phoenix Coyotes tonight. Mrs. Black-N-Gold has your keys to tonight's game. 1)The Pens have beaten the Coyotes 3 straight. #4 would be great! 2)Marc-Andre Fleury is expected back in goal tonight. The Flower leads the league with 29 wins. Let's see the Flower bloom in the desert! 3)In 5 starts versus Phoenix, Flower is 3-1-0 with a 1.95 GAA. Give him some help with lots and lots of Goals, Goals, Goals! Let's Go Pens!!!