The Blind Boys of Alabama’s Jimmy Carter talks about new album “Talkin’ Christmas!” and the band’s 70th Anniversary

Jimmy Carter is one of The Blind Boys of Alabama, the five-time Grammy Award winning gospel group. This year marks the band’s 70th Anniversary together and Jimmy is a founding member and has been there since the beginning. The band has collaborated with musicians like Ben Harper, Tom Waits and has performed for numerous Presidents over the year. Jimmy took out some time to chat wiht Media Mikes about their new album “Talkin’ Christmas!” and about the band’s 70th anniversary.

Mike Gencarelli: “Talkin’ Christmas!” is your second Christmas album after 2003’s “Go Tell it On the Mountain”; how did this come about and teaming up with Taj Mahal?
Jimmy Carter: Taj Mahal has been fans of The Blind Boys for a long time and we have been a fan of his as well. When we approached him, he was ready and eager to do it! Then we all got together went into the studio and did our thing [laughs].

MG: I listen to a lot of Christmas albums and if you are lucky an artist includes one new song in their album. You guys have given us seven brand-new holiday songs – six of which you written yourselves with this new album; what made you decide to that this route?
JC: That’s right. It is mostly all original stuff on this album. We all got together and wrote some great songs. I think that is what makes it a good album. The first Christmas that we did was mostly traditional songs but this one we wanted the material to be new. I hope it goes over good. We are trying to remind people what Christmas really is about. Christmas had gotten very commercial, so we are trying to put Christ back into Christmas.

MG: Since this is a holiday themed album, I am curious when was it recorded?
JC: We recorded this one in March, if I remember correctly. With the songs that we had it put us in the Christmas mood. So it wasn’t hard at all to record after the holidays and ended up being quite fun.

MG: 2014 is your 70th anniversary of The Blind Boys of Alabama, what is it like to be performing together all these years?
JC: It still feels good. Every year you get a little older but when you still enjoy and love what you do it keeps you going. Everyone is still in pretty good shape, so I foresee us being around for at least a little bit longer [laughs].

MG: If you were asked to pick the first highlight that comes to your head over the many years together, what would that be?
JC: A few come up actually. We had the privilege to singing to three Presidents. Even got to meet former President Jimmy Carter twice [laughs]. That was really cool. Then we got our first Grammy in 2002 and that was an amazing moment. Those are the two that come up the top of my head right now.

MG: You have teamed up with songwriters such as Ben Harper, Eric Clapton and Prince in the past; any more team ups planned next?
JC: I especially enjoyed working with Ben Harper. He is a great writer, a great singer and a great musician. He brought a lot to the table man. I really enjoyed working with him. I think Ben wants to do something else with us. We have to sit down and talk about it but I think he is ready…so we will see.

MG: Any tour dates planned for this album this Fall?
JC: Yes! We are going to start our Christmas tour on November 28th. We are starting that Friday night in Fredrick, MD and we will end up December 23rd in San Diego, CA.

Blu-ray Review “Casablanca: 70th Anniversary Limited Collector’s Edition”

Directed by: Michael Curtiz
Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt
Distributed by: Warner Home Video
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Release Date: March 27, 2012
Running Time: 102 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Warner Bros. is becoming know for releasing these amazing Anniversary Limited Collector’s Edition Blu-rays. They did it last year with both “Ben-Hur” and “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”, both which were two of my favorite releases of the year. This 70th Anniversary Limited Edition Blu-ray release of “Casablanca” comes packaged in a large rectangle box and is jam packed with amazing collectibles. Inside the box, you get 3-disc Digipak with two Blu-rays and a standard DVD. There is a simply breathtaking 62-page hardcover book with rare production notes and really great behind-the-scenes photos and drawings. There are four drink coasters included but not just loose, they come in a sweet faux-leather collectable box. Lastly there is a 21 x 15-inch 1942 French theatrical mini movie poster. All that amazing stuff is just inside the box, we haven’t even talked about the more than thirteen hours of special features and the amazing Blu-ray transfer yet.

The video presentation of this 70 year old film looks beyond fantastic and really shines on Blu-ray. You can thank this stunning 1080p transfer to an all-new 4K scan and a very in-depth frame by frame restoration. The audio a decent DTS-HD Master Audio Mono 1.0 track. Even though it is a restored single-channel mix, I felt that the audio was great but just a little lacking with the dialogue. Overall still very impressive audio and visual, nonetheless.

The special features are split over two Blu-rays and the main downfall to this otherwise amazing release is that most are in standard definition. There are two commentaries, though none with principal cast or crew. The first with film critic Roger Ebert and the second with historian Rudy Behlmer. Both are still very interesting though and informative. The only HD feature on disc one is “Casablanca: An Unlikely Classic”, which runs about 35 minutes and is a newly produced documentary. Many notable talent speak about the film, its impact including like Steven Spielberg, William Friedkin and Rudy Behlmer. There is an introduction by Lauren Bacall speaking about Casablanca’s enduring appeal. “Warner Night at the Movies” runs just under an hour and dives into the 1940s experience of “Casablanca”. “Great Performances: Bacall on Bogart” runs just over 80 minutes and is a solid documentary on Bogart. “You Must Remember This: A Tribute to Casablanca” runs about 35 minutes and carries a bit of repeat from the last documentary on the film but still worth a watch. “As Time Goes By: The Children Remember” features Stephen Bogart and Pia Lindstrom as they discuss their parents and the effect the film has had on them. There is about 75 minutes of audio-only content including a 1943 “Lady Esther Screen Guild Theater Radio Broadcast”, a “VOX Pop Radio Broadcast” from 1947, a series of “Scoring Stage Sessions” featuring alternate versions of the a few songs. There is some additional footage included along with some deleted scenes, as well as outtakes, “Who Holds Tomorrow” (a “Casablanca” television remake), and “Carrotblanca,” a Looney Tunes parody of the film. Lastly on disc one there are the film’s original theatrical trailer and theatrical re-release trailer as well.

The second Blu-ray of special features contains less features but more content. “The Brothers Warner” is an hour and a half feature on Harry Warner and his brothers. It really goes behind the scenes about the brothers and about their process for creating films. It is also presented in high definition. The next feature is a real zinger racking in at almost five hours. “You Must Remember This: The Warner Bros. Story” is a five-hour documentary from director Richard Schickel and narrator Clint Eastwood. It focuses on Warner Bros, obviously. It is split over a few chapters include “A Rising Power (1923-1937),” “War and Peace (1937-1949),” “Age of Anxiety (1950-1969),” “Starting Over (1970-1990)” and “A Living Tradition (1988-2008)”. Lastly there is a feature, which runs about an hour called “Jack L. Warner: The Last Mogul” and looks into this legacy.

Buy It 3/27 on Blu-ray™ + DVD Combo Pack
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Synopsis: Casablanca: easy to enter, but much harder to leave, especially if you’re wanted by the Nazis. Such a man is Resistance leader Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), whose only hope is Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), a cynical American who sticks his neck out for no one – especially Victor’s wife Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), the ex-lover who broke his heart. Ilsa offers herself in exchange for Laszlo’s transport out of the country and bitter Rick must decide what counts more – personal happiness or countless lives hanging in the balance. Winner of three Academy Awards including Best Picture, Casablanca marks its 70th anniversary as a beloved favorite with so many bonuses that no matter how often you’ve seen it, this beautiful 70th Anniversary (Limited and Numbered) Edition looks like yet another beginning of a beautiful friendship with an unforgettable classic.


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Disney’s “Dumbo” 70th Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray Giveaway [EDNED]



Available on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack, DVD and Movie Download Tuesday, Sept.20th

To celebrate Disney’s 70th Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray™ release of “Dumbo”, Media Mikes would like to giveaway 10 copies of the Blu-ray™ Combo Pack (Blu-ray™ + DVD). If you would like to win one of these great prizes, please leave us a comment below or send us an email and let us know your favorite Disney song. This giveaway will be open until Monday September 26th at Noon, Eastern Time and is only open to residents of the United States. Only one entry per person, per household; all other entries will be considered invalid. Once the giveaway ends, Movie Mikes will randomly pick out winners and alert the winners via email.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment invites audiences to let their spirits soar with the release of the beloved animated classic Dumbo, for the first time ever in high definition as a 70th Anniversary Edition, coming on September 20, 2011. The Academy Award®-winning (1942, Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture) favorite will take flight for the first time with a premium restoration in stunning Blu-ray™ high definition featuring pristine 7.1 Digital Theater System High-Def Surround Sound, allowing fans to see more, hear more, interact more and share more of this timeless adventure about believing in yourself.

Film Synopsis
In celebration of this landmark film‘s 70th anniversary, experience the daring adventures of the world‘s only flying elephant with a dazzling all-new digital restoration and brilliant Disney Enhanced High Definition Theatre Mix Sound. The inspirational tale of Dumbo, the courageous baby elephant who uses his sensational ears to soar to fame with the help of his clever best friend Timothy Q. Mouse, will thrill and delight audiences of all ages. And now, the award-winning music and empowering messages about friendship and belief In yourself reach new heights in this must-have Blu-ray high-definition presentation of Walt Disney‘s classic Dumbo!

Bonus Features:
DVD:  Deleted Scene – “The Mouse’s Tale” Deleted Song – “Are You a Man or a Mouse?” Taking Flight: The Making of Dumbo – A journey back to the origins of the film as everybody‘s favorite baby elephant takes wing. The Magic Of Dumbo: A Ride of Passage – Witness the excitement and magic of Disneyland‘s most popular ride through the eyes of a child. Audio Commentary with Pete Docter, Paula Sigman and Andreas Deja Sound Design Excerpt from The Reluctant Dragon Original Walt Disney Television Introduction
Blu-ray: Everything on the DVD plus: Cine-Explore Disney View “What Do You See?” Game, “What Do You Know?” Game, “Celebrating Dumbo”, Featurette Animated Short: “The Flying Mouse” Animated Short: “Elmer Elephant”
Movie Download (Standard Definition & High Definition Versions): Deleted Scene – “The Mouse’s Tale”, Deleted Song – “Are You a Man or a Mouse?”, “Celebrating Dumbo” Featurette


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