Archive for February, 2011

Interview With Don Barnes of 38 Special

38_Special_colorpromo 8x10-2011

There is a band that originated quietly enough in Jacksonville, Florida way back when.  That band is called .38 Special and they are coming to the Youngstown/Warren area to perform on March 17 at Packard Music Hall.   Songs like Caught Up In You, “Back Where You Belong“, “Hold On Loosely“, and many other recognizable classics are sure to be a part of this big show.

In the eighties, .38 Special dominated MTV, Billboard Charts, and arenas around the country.  One of the coolest things about this band is they are the prototype of what a blue-collar American group boundlessly strives to become.  They are charged up and ready to put on a great show worth seeing.  Don Barnes, along with Donnie Van Zant, is one of the founding members of the band which has exceeded the 20 million mark in sales.  I was recently lucky enough to speak with Barnes via telephone in hopes of asking him a question or two he may have never heard.  Enjoy the interview, but more importantly, grab some tickets and enjoy the concert!

Paneech: How did your band, .38 Special, end up on A & M Records?  Was it a luck thing or a case of knowing someone?

Don Barnes: Back then, there were bidding wars going on between A & M, Arista, and CBS.  Southern Rock, at that time, was a pretty big deal, kind of what grunge was to Seattle in the nineties.  We went with A & M Records because it was run by musicians.  They had a strong commitment to sticking with up and coming artists and aiding with artistic development.

Paneech: How can a band as big as yours endure personnel changes and retain that magical chemistry?

Don Barnes: When you do this for as long as we have, some will grow tired of living out of a suitcase.  There are musical differences that can push a band apart, like a marriage.  Over time, there will be a difference of opinions, and we have to do what is ultimately best for the band.  Jeff Carlisi had a little girl and took a different avenue in life.  He runs something called Camp Jam where they bring in a bunch of kids every Summer and have a smaller version of a rock and roll fantasy camp.  It is a great program and we all wish Jeff the best with it!  Our original drummer, Jack Grondin, was probably the wildest guy in the band and is now a world traveling evangelical minister and spends time raising money for orphanages.  You just never know.

Paneech: If the opportunity ever presented itself for Don Barnes to be on the panel of American Idol, would you take the opportunity, or do you think Steven Tyler of Aerosmith did the wrong thing by selling out?

Don Barnes: (laughs) You know, people take everything way too seriously.  An old gentleman who I remember seeing when I was much younger always used to tell me “Don’t forget to have fun”.  Steven Tyler has been laying the groundwork for over 40 years.  If he wants to step away for a bit, more power to him, just as long as he is having fun.

Paneech: Something I find particularly disturbing in today’s music is the use of Autotune.  What do you think of it?

Don Barnes: I dislike it because it used to be that a good singer had to learn control and pitch, and now it’s all synthesized.  We like to mess around with Autotune on a bass guitar from time to time.  Overall though, I am not a big fan of Autotune.

Paneech: How much longer can you and your bandmates keep up with the fast lane of touring?

Don Barnes: Ah, we are rolling until the wheels fall off.  We set out to create a heritage and we take great pride in the longevity that we have achieved.  Longevity is a goal, and that goal is reached when everybody gets along and respects each other.  We are laying some tracks at our studio in Atlanta with some new material.  We also just completed video production of some live performances we did in Texas that will be available for purchase real soon.  We have even had some fun with some of our hits in the sense that we have stripped them down and experimented with many different genres.  For example, we did an acoustic version of If I’d Been The One where the arrangement is very stringy and vibrant.  We are also tinkering with doing some soundtrack stuff, so we are keeping really busy.

38 Special Live Credit Carl Dunn

Photo Courtesy of Carl Dunn

Paneech: Having done some research on you, I know you are an avid fisherman.  What else do you do in your spare time?  Are there any sports that the band follows?

Don Barnes: I am a football fan.  We all follow football through the playoffs and the Super Bowl.  Personally, I left the band for a few years because this career was hammering me.  During my time away, I loved to spend time in or near the water and would take my boat out.  I also started playing golf.  I even went snow skiing – imagine that, a guy from the South trying to ski.  I still try to relax and enjoy my time away from the touring as much as I possibly can.

Paneech: You have listed Eric Clapton as an influence.  Were there other influences?

Don Barnes: Growing up, I had pictures and posters of Eric Clapton all over my room.  My father would come in and I would say, “Hey dad, listen to this”, and play him something Jimi Hendrix did.  He would just shake his head and say it all sounded noisy to him.  In those days, we would put the records on a turntable and slow them down so we could pick up the licks.  I also liked Muddy Waters and really like Leslie West from Mountain.  West had that big guitar sound.

Paneech: Any messages for the fans?

Don Barnes: Come out and have a large time!  We are a premier band live and we play what the fans want.  You will see how much fun we are still having and we really feed off of each other having fun on the stage.  Our concerts are an explosive celebration and it is the best job in the world, making people happy.


One Word Answers

Favorite Meal of The Day: Dinner.

Favorite Athlete: Peyton Manning.

Song You Love Playing Live: Chained Lightning.

Favorite TV Show: The Office.

Toppings On A Pizza: Meat Lovers (and well done).

Favorite Drink: Grey Goose and Three Olives.

Biggest Phobia: Fear of Heights.

Favorite Movie: Planes Trains, and Automobiles.  Big John Candy fan.

Worst Habit: Eating Late At Night on The Bus.

Song On Your ipod That No One Would Believe: Britney Spears, Piece of Me.  I love that song, listened to it seven times in a row one night.

YSU Softball Takes Two at NCCU Lady Eagles Classic


Sophomore Hana Somogyi and freshman Casey Crozier each turned in solid pitching performances to lead the YSU softball team (3-3) to two victories at the NCCU Lady Eagles Classic on Saturday afternoon. The Guins defeated North Carolina Central, 3-1, and Delaware State, 3-2.

In the first game, Somogyi allowed just five hits and one run in 6.1 innings pitched for her first victory of the season. Crozier notched her first career save pitching 0.2 scoreless innings with a strikeout.

Freshman Samantha Snodgrass collected two singles for the Guins and scored once while sophomore Sarah Gabel went 2-for-2 with a double that drove in the go-ahead run.  The Guins scored the first three runs in the game – one in the bottom of the second and two in the bottom half of the fifth.

In the second, Snodgrass singled, stole second, moved to third on an error and scored on Kim Klonowski‘s (pictured, top) sacrifice fly.  Junior Kristen Philen led off the fifth with a walk and scored on Gabel’s double down the left-field line. Freshman Kelly Fox pinch-ran for Gable, stole third and scored on Haley Thomas‘ ground out.

In the second game, Crozier fired a five-hit complete game with five strikeouts to pick up her first career victory.

The Guins scored three runs in the top of the first inning keyed by Klonowski’s two-run single that plated Jordan Ingalls, who singled, and Vicky Rumph, who walked.  Kristina Rendle ignited the early rally with a single and scored YSU’s first run on Sarah Ingalls’ bases-loeaded walk.

Delaware State answered with one in the bottom of the first and one in the bottom of the seventh, but Crozier hunkered down and forced a line out to end the game with the tying run on third base.

Penguins Swimmers Set Records At Horizon League Championships


The Youngstown State swimming and diving team set two more school records on Saturday, the final day of action at the Horizon League Championships at Busbey Natatorium. YSU placed sixth at the meet with a score of 308.5.

Sophomore Samantha Roberts finished fifth in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:18.52. Roberts was the previous record holder with a 2:21.16 which she set a last year’s HL meet. Also at the 2011 Championships, Roberts was fourth in the 100-yard breaststroke.

Senior Caitlin Cook had two solid performances in her final day as a Penguin. Cook placed sixth in 200-yard butterfly with a time of 2:06.74 in the finals. Earlier in the day she set a school mark in the event at 2:06.32.

Freshman Megan Ciampa finished eighth in the 1,650-yard freestyle with a time of 17:36.19 while fellow freshman Brittany Vigar was 12th clocking a 17:53.67.

Also for Youngstown State on Saturday, Nishani Cicilson was 14th and Kirstin Walker was 16th in the 100-yard freestyle. Freshman Laura Paz was ninth in the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 2:07.79.

YSU’s 4×400 freestyle relay team just missed the school mark in the event. The Penguins posted a time of 3:30.57. For the meet, the Guins set school records in four of the five relay events.

Green Bay won the event for the seventh straight year with a team score of 788.5

Competitive Lady Penguins Lose Tough One, 76-71, at Cleveland State


Cleveland State rallied from a 12-point deficit in the second half and went 8-for-8 from the free-throw line in the final 40 seconds to beat the Youngstown State women’s basketball team 76-71 on Saturday at the Wolstein Center.

YSU’s Brandi Brown scored 28 points, and Tieara Jones had 14 points and 13 rebounds. Shawnita Garland scored 25 points for Cleveland State, including eight in the final minute. Her steal of a short pass and fast-break lay-up with a minute remaining broke a 66-66 tie.  Shalonda Winton added 20 points for the Vikings, who improved to 17-10 overall and moved into a tie for third place in the league standings at 10-6.

Cleveland State held its largest lead of the game at 43-36 with 15:26 left, but Youngstown State scored 16 straight points over the next three minutes to go up 52-43. Boki Dimitrov’s basket then gave the Penguins their largest lead at 63-51 with 7:04 remaining, but Cleveland State went on a 15-1 run to regain the lead on Garland’s bucket with 2:44 left.

Brown’s basket with 2:24 remaining tied the score at 66-66, and neither team scored until Garland’s steal and lay-up with a minute left. Honesty King hit two free throws with 38.2 seconds remaining to put the Vikings up four, but Brown’s old-fashioned three-point play cut the margin to 70-69 with 25.6 ticks left.  Garland made two free throws for the Vikings to put them up 72-69, and Jones missed the tying 3-pointer from the wing with 14 seconds left. Garland made two free throws with 11.3 seconds remaining, and she hit two more with 4.6 seconds on the clock to finish it off.

Jones had 10 points, six rebounds and three assists at halftime, and Kenya Middlebrooks added seven. Winton had 11 at the break to lead all scorers. Brown had just six points at halftime but erupted for 22 in the second period.

Although the Penguins were turned away late for the second straight game against a top-tier team in the Horizon League standings, they showed a big improvement from their first game against the Vikings. Cleveland State beat YSU 86-65 at Beeghly Center when the teams played on Jan. 29. CSU outscored the Penguins 50-12 in the paint and held a 42-25 rebounding edge in that contest. Today, YSU outscored Cleveland State 34-28 in the paint and matched it on the glass with 30 rebounds.

Phantoms Beat Team USA Again, 4-1


The Youngstown Phantoms (18-24-4, 40pts) scored two goals in the first and two in the third on their way to a 4-1 victory over Team USA.  Ty Loney extended his goal scoring streak to four games and Ben Paulides earned his second multi-point game of the season with two assists.

The Phantoms held Team USA to just four shots on goal in the first period and they were able to find the back of the net twice on 12 shots of their own.  At 7:53 of the first period, Dylan Margonari skated the puck into the offensive zone and fired a wrist shot from the left circle that went over the glove hand of Jared Rutledge and into the back of the net.  Margonari’s goal was his fourth of the season and his first since December 10 against Green Bay.  Just three minutes later, Scott Mayfield intercepted a pass at center ice and like Margonari, he put the puck past Rutledge on the glove hand side.  Like last night, the Phantoms continued to press Team USA in the neutral zone as they generated turnover after turnover.

“We talked about it before the game,” said Carr. “We knew they would come out pressing on offensive, we knew if we played like we did last night that we could shut them down in the neutral zone. We smothered them at times, forcing the turnovers and generating chances off of them.”

The Phantoms came out in the second period looking to feed off of their momentum from the first but neither team was unable to generate those five-on-five chances because of the six different penalties in the frame. In the middle frame, neither team could capitalize on their power play chances and with a shot total of, 10-8 in favor of Youngstown, there was a clear sense of how the style of the game had changed.

“We told our guys between periods to stay within our systems,” said Carr. “With Team USA trailing by two we knew they would need to change their style in order to climb back into the game. It was very important for us to keep playing our game.”

Going into the third period the game had the same special teams style like the one seen in the second period. A total of seven penalties were issued, but one in particular swung the game further away from Team USA. Austin Wuthrich, was issued a five minute major and a game misconduct for his hit from behind on Margonari. On the ensuing five minute power play, Danny Mattson found the back of the net for his first goal as a Phantom. The power play goal put the Phantoms up 3-0 and five minutes later Loney scored on a feed fromAdam Berkle to put the Phantoms up by four. Team USA would deny Jordan Tibbett his second shutout of the season when Frankie Vatrano scored with just 1:49 left on the clock. The Phantoms 4-1 win was their third straight over Team USA. Paulides tallied his second multi-point game of the season with two assist during tonight’s game.

“Getting the points are great,” said Paulides. “What is even more important is that we picked up two more points in the standings. Tomorrow I will go back to playing my defensive style of hockey and we will hopefully pick up two more points.”

Green Bay Defeats Youngstown State, 71-60


Youngstown State University could probably describe this season in two words, up and down.  Thursday at Beeghly, YSU played a sloppy game and lost to Green Bay, 71-60.  Damian Eargle shined in the loss, but too many chances eluded the home team in defeat.

“We did not have a good effort tonight”, said Coach Jerry Slocum. “In fact, it was probably our worst effort in the last three weeks.  Tonight was a step backwards, it was very disappointing.  As bad as we played, at the media timeout we were only down eight and had the ball, but couldn’t execute.”

In the first half, the Penguins struggled from the field shooting only 37%.  YSU also suffered one of their worst halves from three-point distance all season managing to make only 2 of 12 attempts (16.7%).  Green Bay, holding a 30-23 lead at intermission, attempted exactly as many threes and hit two more than YSU did which was pretty much the difference in a sloppy first half for both teams.  Damian Eargle had 8 points and a pair of blocks, needing just one more to take sole possession of second on the all-time swat chart, which he got in the second half.  Rahmon Fletcher and Alec Brown had eight points each to lead Green Bay.


The Phoenix opened the second half on a 10-2 run and opened a 40-25 lead, but Youngstown State responded and cut the lead to 42-34 when Kendrick Perry canned a three with 13:26 left in the game.  For three possessions in a row, YSU seemed to have control of things.

Each time Youngstown State would hit a couple of shots, Green Bay would roar back.  Green bay was having a good game tipping in offensive rebounds.  With the Phoenix ahead 52-41, Eargle grabbed an offensive board and hit a reverse layup to cut the lead to 54-46 with 7:22 left.  Green Bay got a three from Bryquis Perine hit a three to extend the Green bay lead to 59-46 with 4:54 remaining.  The Penguins were losing on the mini-run exchanges as time was slipping away.


Youngstown State made a final push with three minutes to go, but trailed 60-51.  The Penguins would never get closer and ultimately played the intentional fouling game the rest of the way out in the loss.

Youngstown State was lead by Eargle who tallied 19 points and had 4 blocks.  Kendrick Perry (above) chipped in with 19 points for the Penguins who dropped to 9-19, and 2-15 in the Horizon League.  “We got on a run, then we would get lazy.  We dug a big hole early and couldn’t get out of it.  We thought we could just come in here after the big win against Bowling Green and pick up where we left off, but it doesn’t work that way”, remarked Perry, who is playing with a couple of jammed fingers on his shooting hand.

Green Bay got 18 points from Fletcher, and 19 more from Perine.  The Phoenix ran their series record against YSU to 23-6 with the win and improved to 14-16 and 8-9 in the Horizon.

Pavlik Refocused, Ready To Silence Doubters


Kelly Pavlik held a press conference at Jack Loew’s Southside Boxing Club on Tuesday afternoon.  I attended the press conference with hopes of hearing that an opponent had been signed to fight on the Pacquiao vs Mosley undercard on May 7 in Las Vegas.  The plans were discussed and nothing has been finalized as of yet, although an announcement should be coming within a month.  The main topic of discussion was Pavlik completing a 60-day stint at the Ranch Recovery Center.

“I felt like I had to go and there would be consequences either way.  I’m not knocking it, the system works for a lot of people, but most of the people there were forced to go from prisons.  I don’t believe I ever really had a problem.  Most of the rumors start when a guy in a bar sees me having a drink and it turns into a big deal.  What was he doing in there?  What gives anyone the right to be in a bar, but not me?   Was he drinking green tea and acting like an angel?  I know it is not so much what I did, as much as who I am at that point”, said Pavlik in response to an array of questions pertaining to his rehabilitation stint.

“It was a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation for me.  If I get up and leave Youngstown, then I am turning my back on the city I have defended.  If I stay here, I’m going to do what I do and have to suffer through the rumors.  At first it was rough, and I was angry, but I manned up and dealt with it”, said the former champion.  “I haven’t had a drink in three and a half months, but I would be a liar if I were to sit here and make promises that I will never have a drink again because I don’t know that for sure.”

If there is an underlying story in the dramatic world that is Kelly Pavlik, it would have to be the unconditional support of Bob Arum and everyone at Top Rank Promotions. Pavlik could have been chided by the management monsters, but Arum stuck by his fighter and will surely have him on the fast track back into the limelight where he belongs.  Jack Loew has also been criticized in the past.  Loew has been respectful every time I have talked to him, has never ducked a question, and most importantly, will be in Pavlik’s corner because he helped construct a champion.


Pavlik talked about what he had been and concentrated on where he wants to go.  “I had a lot of time to think and really welcomed more spirituality into my life.  I had time to clear my head and get my thoughts straight.  I want to get back into the ring and I feel refreshed from my time away.  I will be fighting at 168 and have been starting to train.  We are trying to get a fight on the May 7, Pacquiao-Mosley undercard against a decent fighter.  I don’t want to beat a tomato can, I want to be tested.  I weigh about 193 right now, but getting down to 168 should not be a problem. “

Pavlik says he is going to start training in mid-March for a fight he expects to have on May 7.  “I am running, lifting, and training and I feel good, I feel hungry and I feel ready to get back in the ring.  I will start full training and sparring eight weeks out, but will take the fight with six to seven weeks advanced notice.  I want to be a world champion again.

The obvious tingle to compete was in his eyes, a good sign for Pavlik fans everywhere.

Thank You to John D’Altorio and everyone at Team Pavlik for access and use of the above photos!

The Cavs Join The Browns And Indians And Set New Lows


Being geographically close to Cleveland, I feel bad for my fellow sports fans who root for Cleveland teams.  Admittedly, I am a Cavs fan and will continue to root for the team with a shiny new record for most NBA losses in a row with 26. The overall compilation of these three teams has produced zero championships in 50 plus years in any of their respective sports.  Certain towns (Cubs fans, turn your heads), have a team who hasn’t won anything over a longer time span, but collectively, the Browns, Indians, and Cavs comprise the worst trifecta of a regional sports market that currently exists.

Let’s start with the oldest, the Cleveland Indians.  The Indians won a World Series in 1920 then had to wait 28 years to get another.  This is when there were no more than 20 teams in the league and the odds of winning were greater.  The 1954 Indians, who won a then-record, 111 games, failed to complete the mission and are simply a highlight of a Willie Mays running over-the-shoulder catch.  Did this start the futility on the diamond?  In 1995, with a start studded lineup and a brand new stadium, the Indians drew large crowds and won games, but no trophies or flags.  Nowadays they are playing the Pittsburgh Pirates price is right.  Dump Cliff Lee, Victor Martinez, etc. but make some scratch.


Brad Daugherty, Mark Price, and Larry Nance were the nucleus of some of the best Cavs teams of the late eighties and early nineties.  Unfortunately, as Craig Ehlo can testify, they played during the Michael Jordan Era.  We all know about Lebron James and the “decision” he made.   Before his decision, he got Cleveland into the 2007 NBA Finals to play San Antonio.  It was big progress for a franchise that never won.  Now that James is wearing a Heat uniform and playing with two All-Stars and his former supporting cast starring Anderson Varajeo and Antwan Jamison has set the NBA standard for consecutive losses, did he still do the wrong thing?  Or was he that good?  I think he was.  His supporting cast sucked, and still do.  The guy wanted to win a championship, not babysit Delonte West or teach JJ Hickson how to dribble.

Then there are the Browns.  Always a good supporting cast, but no stars, and Phil Dawson may have his own “decision” show on the deuce here pretty quick.  Granted, Art Modell is a hated man in Cleveland and rightfully so.  However, the drafting and coaching since Palmer took over in 1998 for the return season have been awful.  Butch Davis? Wow. The worst part is that Browns fans have argued with anyone who questions the ability of a hired hand in Cleveland.  Draft Day is a mess too. Hopefully the Browns can pick something other than a new season ticket package offering reduced ticket prices for 2011.

The one constant that amazes me is the fan support of all three teams.  Hats off to Cleveland sports fans for remaining some of the most loyal people who root for a team.

Cody Strang and Scott Mayfield Named USHL All-Stars


The USHL has announced the 2010-11 USHL All-Star team and Phantoms defenseman Scott Mayfield and forward Cody Strang have been named Eastern Conference All-Stars.

Both Mayfield and Strang are in their final season with the Phantoms and their hard work on the ice has been recognized by the general managers and head coaches of the USHL.   Even though this is an individual accomplishment, Strang was quick to credit his teammates for this award.  “It’s a great honor,” said Strang. “It takes a lot of hard work but I have to give a lot of thanks and credit to my teammates. Without the hard work they put in on the ice we would not have been able to succeed like we have.”


 Mayfield, a first time all-star, was quick to say that this award would mean a lot less if the Phantoms do not qualify for the post season.  “It feels really good, but I know my teammates are focused on the games ahead,” said Mayfield.  “This accomplishment ranks up there with all of my other personal awards but what means the most is how well the team does.  If we do not make the playoffs, no disrespect, this award does not mean nearly as much.”

Assistant Coach Anthony Noreen gave credit to both players for the accomplishment, but like his two assistant captains, he was also quick to give credit to the entire team.  “It’s a great accomplishment for both of our guys, said Noreen.  “This is also a testament to all the guys in our locker room. What they said is exactly why they are two of our captains. It shows their leadership on and off the ice and this award just gives them the gratification for their hard work.”

For Mayfield this has been a season where the all-star award is just one of a few personal accomplishments that he has earned since this summer.  Over the summer Mayfield competed at the NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp and back in November,  he also played for Team USA at the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge.   At the Junior ‘A’ Challenge Mayfield won a gold medal and was named the tournament MVP.   With all of these accomplishments Noreen pointed out that the 6’4 defenseman has not changed one bit since he arrived in Youngstown last season.  “If you know Scottie and how humble he is this does not mean much to him,” said Noreen. “The way he comes to the rink would not change even if was not named an all-star. This is great for him and his family but since day one he has not changed who he is or what kind of player he is.”

YSU Men’s Tennis Dominant in 6-1 Victory Over St. Francis


The Youngstown State men’s tennis team picked up a strong 6-1 win over Saint Francis (Pa.) on Sunday morning at the Boardman Tennis Center. YSU won five singles matches and won the doubles point against the Red Flash.

It was the first dual win for first-year Head Coach Mark Klysner.

YSU won the doubles point to start the morning winning at No. 2 and No. 3.

In singles, Tariq Ismail won by default over Elahn Pogque and Rob Emig dispatched of Kirby Medes 6-0, 6-0 to put YSU in front 3-0.

Max Schmerin won a hard-fought two setter 7-5, 7-6 (5) over Andres Rosa while Rodrigo Campos defeated Youlian Natchev 7-5, 6-2.

In the final match of the day, Zeeshan Ismail came back and then held off Stephen Kowalski 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in a three-set victory.

The Penguins return to action on Feb. 26 when they visit Niagara.

YSU 6, Saint Francis (Pa.) 1
Feb. 20 at the Boardman Tennis Center

No. 1 – Tariq Ismail (YSU) def. Elahn Pogue 3-0 by default
No. 2 – Max Schmerin (SFU) def. Andres Rosa (YSU) 7-5, 7-6 (7-5)
No. 3 – Nate Fleming (SFU) def. Felipe Rosa (YSU) 5-7, 6-2, 10-3
No. 4 – Zeeshan Ismail (YSU) def. Stephen Kowalski (SFU) 5-7, 6-4, 6-4
No. 5 – Rodrigo Campos (YSU) def. Youlian Natchev (SFU) 7-5, 6-2
No. 6 – Rob Emig (YSU) def. Kirby Mendes (SFU) 6-0, 6-0

No. 1 – T. Ismail/Rosa (YSU) lost to Pogue/ Fleming (SFU) – 8-6
No. 2 – Schmerin/Z. Ismail (YSU) def. Kowanski/Rosa (SFU) 8-6
No. 3 – Campos/Emig (YSU) def. Natchev/Mendes (SFU) 8-3