Category Archives: Reviews

Red Rebel County Review

Last night I found myself in a small town called Manhattan, Illinois. At only 7093 people, it’s one of those towns you drive through that if you blink, you’ll miss it. But last night, I got a small glimpse of what happens when you turn the whole town green for St. Patrick’s Day.

The 22nd annual Manhattan Irish Fest was well underway when I arrived at 7pm. Starting at 11AM with parades and 5k’s and plenty of activities for families, there was plenty of Irish celebrations to choose from. What I showed up for was the band Red Rebel County. A nine person live Irish music band from Chicago, Illinois.

The band got its start in 2009 playing everything from covers of Dropkick Murphy’s and Flogging Molly to traditional Irish drinking songs to their own original music. They are sure to bring life to any venue, as I saw last night.

Red Rebel County got the large tent dancing and drinking. The show sure was fun, plenty of girls in front row doing their best Irish gig impressions turned into a beer slinging mosh pit by the end of their two hour set. The band even inviting a few up on stage for more dancing. Safe to say the show is not for the wee lads and lasses. I got a heck of a deal, a t-shirt and CD for $20 to which I’ll be listening to for weeks in prep for the real St. Patrick’s Day.

This is definitely a band you’ll want to see in person. You can follow the band on Facebook and check out their website at redrebelcounty.com for a show near you.

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Flavour Cooking School Review

Anyone who’s read my blogs should know that along with writing, I have a growing passion for cooking. So much so, that I will be going back to school to be a chef. I want to learn all that I can and with that in mind, my generous aunt has signed me up for some classes at Flavour Cooking School in Forest Park. Last night I attended the Hands On Surf and Turf night.

The menu:

Green tomatillo Salsa

Grilled balsamic beef and cucumber salad

Lobster mac and cheese

Lemon rosemary olive oil cake.

The class started out great. The teacher, a personal chef, was very energetic and full of knowledge. With some slight introduction and instructions we jumped right into preparing the cake so it would be done on time. We were split into two groups of five. All the measurements had been made ready for us to just dump in the bowl to save on time. We zested and juiced the lemon, chopped up the rosemary, mixed it all together and popped it in the oven. We prepped the tomatillos and onion for roasting. Then we grated cheese and boiled noodles for the mac and cheese. The Mac and cheese was completed first (a little out of order, but that was okay by us) and we got to eat our creation. It was some of the best Mac and Cheese I had ever tasted, sounds so complicated but was almost easier than the boxed variety. Our tomatillos were done roasting and I got to put it all into the food processor, once blended I did a taste test. Our group may have put too much of the green chile in, but it was fantastic as I said with a red face and tears streaming. Then we got to work on the grilled balsamic beef. Our chef taught us proper technique for grilling our flank steak, we sliced the cucumber and shredded carrots and made a dressing for the salad. We ate and talked, I got to know my group a little better as we bonded over our dishes. Then it was time for cake. There was a perfect balance of lemon and rosemary and the lemon glaze was perfectly sweet.

The experience was awesome. I had taken a class before, but it was just a demonstration. There’s something about hands on learning that is so gratifying. As for the menu, the Mac and Cheese I will probably make again and again. The salsa would be a good treat for my co-workers who love hot and spicy. The salad however good, was lacking something for me. It was oddly sweet, I think there were too many carrots. I also didn’t get much of the balsamic flavor from the flank steak. I’ll have to make it at home or tinker with the recipe and see if I like it. The cake was good, but I’m not big on lemon flavor. I’ll still keep the recipe around, maybe impress some friends down the road.

The class got done about half hour before the allotted time so we all finished our slices of cake and wine if we had it and talked more. A really interesting question was brought up to our teacher. After learning that he was a personal chef for a family in the city someone asked what his favorite places to eat where. You might expect some fancy restaurant but his answer was simple. “Dirty mom and pop type places.” He said. This class was very inspiring and I can’t wait for the one I’m going to next weekend.

What’s great about Flavour is that you don’t need to be a chef or know anything about cooking to attend one of their classes. Anyone can be a chef and they show that in their lessons. They have a full list of classes to take including demonstrations and hands on, even date nights so you can take a significant other. I would recommend classes to anyone, check them out if you’re in the Chicago area!


Minus Six Review

Nothing like a hot summer day to enjoy the feel good tunes of Minus Six. Named appropriately for their missing six stringed guitar, the band is made up of piano/vocals (Kevin Carton), bass/harmony vocals (Kameron Rummans), drums (Rob Baner), and saxophone (Matt Sivertsen). Minus Six was founded in Moline, Il in 2003. They have four studio albums and one live album. I had the pleasure of seeing them live a second time on the seventeenth of July, 2015.

If you don’t find yourself dancing to this upbeat rock band it would be because you’ll find yourself mesmerized by the high passionate energy each member of the band portrays. This band truly loves what they do, you can tell by the smiles on their faces. People of all ages come to see them play live where they play mostly original songs with a few covers mixed within the set. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard Piano Man by Billy Joel, but I would give up anything to hear Kevin Carton sing it again.

Their original songs are just pure musical bliss. Written by Carton himself, the songs are a journey through life and love and travel. Their most recent album released in December of 2013 titled “Come Out From Where You Hide” documents Carton’s life experiences traveling to France to teach English. But you don’t have to visit France yourself to pick up on the lessons he tries to convey. You can really visualize the lyrics so even if you can’t make their show, you’ll have something to enjoy. My favorite song “Good Days” from their Album “Hidden in the Deep Green” leaves you feeling nostalgic for those days of as a kid, seeing them perform the song live is magical as the whole crowd sings along and children dance in front of the stage.

You can find the band at minussix.com as well as Facebook and YouTube. Give them a listen and I promise, they’ll have your feet stompin’ like mad.

Kevin Carton, lead singer/piano Minus Six and me

Kevin Carton, lead singer/piano Minus Six
and me