Skip navigation

Category Archives: Ep4Records Music

Advent calendars have become big business for children and adults alike, signalling the start of the Christmas countdown.

But for lots of disabled children they can be a no-go – the fiddly doors require dexterity to open, sweets may not be allowed for medical reasons and the concept might not make any sense to them. But rather than miss out, some parents have found ingenious ways for them to join in

When I was a child, my parents hung an advent calendar at the foot of the stairs. It was a square-ish quilt my mother had made with a big Christmas tree at the top and 24 numbered pockets underneath.

Every night my parents placed an ornament and a small gift into a pocket and every morning I – or one of my sisters – would run downstairs to hang the ornament on the tree and examine the small present.

I now have my own family and my own advent quilt, also made by my mother, but I have struggled to continue this tradition.

My four-year-old daughter has a severe learning disability caused by a rare disease – she can’t crawl, talk or see very well. Katy can’t hang the ornaments on the tree or eat any sweets.

In fact, there aren’t many small gifts that she really enjoys. Last year I tried putting some Christmassy hair-slides in the calendar, but the only thing Katy hates more than getting dressed is people touching her hair, so it was no fun for her.

Since Katy doesn’t understand Christmas, gifts, or advent I began to ask myself who the calendar was for – her or me?

That’s when I went online and saw that special needs families around the world had found many ways to include their children in advent.

Festive physio

Australian blogger Julie Jones is mother to Braeden, now 24, who has cerebral palsy.

“As he was growing up I was just really frustrated because there were so many things around Christmas that were traditional, and which he couldn’t participate in,” says Julie.

“The traditional advent calendars have little poky boxes and you have to be able to open them, and they require fine motor skills that he just didn’t have.”

Image copyright

Julie’s solution was to hang up a set of sparkly gift boxes, engineered to be opened with a drawstring. Inside were knick-knacks like bouncy balls and toy cars.

It still wasn’t easy for Braeden to get at these goodies – but it was doable, and he had a great incentive to try. Julie says that over the years Braeden’s fine motor skills improved because of the daily round of festive physio.

Image copyright

Melanie Mills’s advent calendar is like mine – it’s made of fabric with rows of pockets. But instead of ornaments she gives her nine-year-old son Marshall little fabric cut-outs with Velcro on the back.

Marshall, who has learning difficulties and other medical issues, can stick these on the calendar to create a picture – in theory.

“At the beginning Marshall would always try to put them all on top of each other, so you’d have this nice big snow scene with 24 little things all stuck in the same place,” recalls Melanie, laughing. “Whereas a neurotypical child would have put the sleigh with reindeer and that kind of thing.”

Image copyright Melanie Mills

Marshall has gradually learned to spread the ornaments out in a more conventional way. More importantly, in the last couple of years he’s understood that the reappearance of the calendar means Christmas is on its way.

This year, as well as the craft activity, Marshall will get cold hard cash. Every day he will get £1 to drop into a Christmas-tree-shaped coin run that empties into a bucket. Marshall loves shopping, so after Christmas he’ll hit the sales to spend his £24.

In aiming for simple inclusion, the special needs community is compelled to be creative. We often end up giving our children meaningful experiences that able-bodied kids don’t get to enjoy.

Glancing at my online network, I see one mum has found an advent cabinet and gets her son, Alfie, to “eye-point” to the right day whereupon she reads him a joke. Another mother sets her child riddles and a treasure hunt.

Image copyright Samantha Buck

Sally Collett says she would love to be able to buy an advent calendar in a shop that could be enjoyed by her 13-year-old son Adam, who has multiple disabilities. Last year was the first time she felt she had the time and energy to create something herself.

She sought out 24 scented candles, and loosely wrapped them in crinkly paper that she knew Adam would enjoy playing with. In the evening, while he was taking his medication, he picked out a candle, which the family lit to enjoy together.

Image copyright Sally Collett

“I always think this time of year is more poignant than others, to think about how lucky you are,” she says. “To me the meaning of Christmas is family, and you’ve got another year with your child – that’s so important.”

Alongside ingenuity there is realism. For some autistic children, the countdown to Christmas isn’t fun but frightening. Others become too obsessed with their calendars, or can’t stop themselves from gobbling all the chocolates at once. Parents of these kids lock the calendars away or dispense with the tradition altogether.

“The challenge we’ve had in the past is that 24 days is long enough to establish a new routine, and then on day 25 it changes again,” says Rachel Wilson, mother of two children with autism. “I don’t think we could introduce something new into the routine at all, so I think it would be more about adapting part of the day.”

Image copyright Rachel Wilson

Rachel and her husband, Andrew, wrote The Life You Never Expected, a memoir about caring for disabled children, written from a Christian perspective. While the couple’s son Zeke has developed enough to read a book of bible stories, their nine-year-old daughter Anna has a reasoning and conceptual ability that Rachel describes as “pre-toddler”.

For Anna, Rachel is thinking about changing bath-time during advent to give it a special feel, with some candles and music and maybe some plastic nativity figurines to play with.

When I confess to Rachel my worry that maybe I’m just doing advent for my own benefit she tells me: “Even if you are doing it for yourself, it’s still legitimate and it’s still important to have those traditions in place.”

She says: “I have similar worries, particularly on Anna’s birthday, when I think ‘Who is this for?’ But actually, I need to mark it. A lot of taking care of special needs children is trying to manage those moments for yourself.”

Last week, my wife and I found a calendar that might just fulfil this need in me and still be enjoyable – perhaps, one day, meaningful – to Katy.

She loves music and nursery rhymes, and online we found a little plastic gramophone that comes with 24 “records”. We can tuck these into the pockets of mum’s calendar and we’ll help Katy retrieve them each morning to play.

If it’s a hit we’ll be getting it out for many Christmases to come. If it’s not… well… we can always light some smelly candles.

For more Disability News, follow BBC Ouch on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to the podcast. You can also email

Related Topics

Read more:

Can we get a fanfare of trumpets, please? The time has come to introduce you to our TC Top Picks for Disrupt Berlin 2019. The ingenuity and creativity reflected in the international startup community can’t be overstated, and narrowing the field from the hundreds of applications we received was no easy task.

The program showcases outstanding early-stage startups across these categories: AI/Machine Learning, Biotech/Healthtech, Blockchain, Fintech, Mobility, Privacy/Security, Retail/E-commerce, Robotics/IoT/Hardware, and CRM/Enterprise.

Challenging as it was, TechCrunch editors had a (wicked fun) job to do — select up to five early-stage startups they felt represent the best of their specific tech category. This remarkable cadre of early-stage startups knocked our proverbial socks off. Cold toes notwithstanding, we think you’ll be equally impressed.

Founders who earn the TC Top Picks designation receive a free Startup Alley Exhibitor Package, one full day of exhibiting, three free Founder passes, intense investor and media interest and VIP treatment — including an interview on the Showcase Stage with a TechCrunch editor. And we promote that video across our social media platforms.

Alright, it’s time for the big reveal. Congratulations to the TC Top Picks for Disrupt Berlin 2019!

Artificial Intelligence + Machine Learning

  • Apostera: An automotive company offering a set of innovative products world-wide.
  • CYANITE: Music analysis tool — the interface between the music industry, data science and software engineering.
  • Prodsight: Helps companies make data-driven product development decisions.
  • Stormly: An AI-powered platform that works as a data consultant.
  • Timekettle Technologies: Committed to building a global brand of AI translator so immersive that it disappears into the experience.

Biotech + Healthtech

  • Glazomer: An affordable Hi-End Eye Tracking system for professional academic and clinical research.
  • Healthy Quit: Digital health company and a pharmacy that provides vaping and smoking cessation by utilizing an artificial intelligent treatment algorithm and medications to help patients quit.
  • mettleAI: Leveraging ML/AI to predict substance abuse relapse before it happens.
  • Thryve: We power the individualization of health care by providing the API needed by health services to access health data from more than 100 wearables.
  • Volta Medical: Aims at developing a wide range of intelligent software solutions designed to guide cardiologists during interventional procedures.


  • Acatena AG: IoT & Blockchain platform to reinvent premium product authenticity.
  • Anytype: An operating system for the new internet.
  • etoshi: The all-in-one crypto platform: trading, wallets and taxes under one roof!
  • SIMBA Chain: A cloud-based, smart-contract-as-a-service (SCaaS) platform, enabling users across a variety of skill sets to implement dapps (decentralized applications).

CRM + Enterprise

  • ChromaWay: Solved integration to legacy systems, scale and usability by combining relational databases with blockchains.
  • A cloud analytics platform for business experts & SaaS companies to integrate intuitive yet powerful data visualization into their daily lives.
  • Your one-stop shop for understanding your users’ experiences online.
  • Radicalbit: Event stream processing self-service platform. One platform for data engineering, data ops & MLOps on top of Kafka.
  • Stack: Internet launchpad, increasing the efficiency of working with the web for the average internet users by allowing simultaneous use of multiple web-apps within a neatly organized working environment.
  • Usercentrics: A CMP that helps enterprise customers obtain, manage and document the user consent, with all different aspects of consent storage, consent API’s, consent in ad tech.


  • CurioInvest: A technology platform that lets anyone invest directly in rare alternative assets.
  • Raison: A platform for operations with investments and personal finance.
  • TXC Markets: Peer to peer fintech trading technologies and marketplaces for illiquid and alternative assets.

Mobility + Transportation

  • DUCKT: The world’s first universal electrical scooter charging station. Better operations, better experience for people & the city.
  • MachineMax: Used to track utilisation, idling, fuel and geolocation for any machine.
  • Pixmoving: Provides universal autonomous driving chassis.
  • Qibus: Making autonomous mobility a reality.
  • TRAXIT: Tracking multi service company changing the way we track our belongings, starting from Aviation vertical.

Privacy + Security

  • Nect: Delivers the self-service future of identity verification as a service — easy to use and with military-grade security.
  • Develops facial identification solutions for integration within smart office frameworks and commercial bank security systems.
  • Sypher Solutions: Software platform that simplifies analysis and helps prevent mistakes when documenting and maintaining GDPR compliance.
  • Wire: The most secure collaboration platform, transforming the way business’ communicate in the same way and speed that our founders disrupted telephony with Skype.

Retail + E-commerce

  • combyne: A social tool for combining clothing. Our vision is to digitize the usage of fashion.
  • Fashwire: A global data-driven marketplace with 200+ fashion designers from 25+ countries.
  • Squareshot: We help consumer, fashion and dnvb brands streamline content production and create beautiful product shots to maximize their online sales.

Robotics + Hardware + IoT

  • Aether Biomedical: A rehabilitation robotics startup focused on building bionic limbs for upper limb amputees.
  • Domotron: The most advanced smart home that adapts to your lifestyle. To make your life easier.
  • Infocode: Smart building solution company that provides smart waste bin for office and public spaces.
  • RoboChef: World’s first fully automated robotic kitchen cooking 500+ recipes with ZERO manual effort powered by IoT, Robotics & AI.

Disrupt Berlin 2019 takes place on 11-12 December. Buy your pass today and be sure to swing by Startup Alley to meet and greet the TC Top Picks. One more thing. It’s not too late to buy a Startup Alley Exhibitor Package and strut your stuff alongside hundreds of companies and sponsors. All exhibiting startups have a shot at winning the Wild Card to compete for $50,000 in our famous pitch competition, Startup Battlefield. What have you got to lose? Nuthin!

Read more:

The Asahi Shimbun/The Asahi Shimbun/Getty Images

Google’s 2019 Year In Search Video Highlights So Many Amazing Women

With 2020 just around the corner, Google is the latest company to take a look back at what was trending over the past year. From Tony Stark to Simone Biles, Google’s 2019 Year in Search video is all about heroes, both imaginary and real — and so many women are highlighted. Get ready to relive Biles’ triple-double, Megan Rapinoe’s winning performance during the World Cup, and more in the inspiring video.

On Wednesday, Dec. 11, the tech giant gave its users a peek at the people, events, and phrases they were searching most in 2019. In this year’s edition of their annual Year in Search video, the focus is on heroes of all shapes and sizes. The video starts with the text: “Throughout history, in times of uncertainty, the world looks for heroes,” before highlighting some of the search phrases that people used to look them up. Unsurprisingly, several film superheroes are highlighted, including Robert Downey Jr. as Ironman and Brie Larson as Captain Marvel from the franchise, but the real magic of the year came from the real-life heroes who’ve captivated people all over the world — and, inspiringly enough, quite a few of them are women.

Sports lovers might remember 2019 as a year of athletic achievement, and the video recognizes that by showcasing Simone Biles’ history-making triple-double during the 2019 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in August (You can see it at the 1:25 mark in the video). The vid also highlights Megan Rapinoe, who co-captained the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team to their second consecutive World Cup victory and was recognized as ‘s Sportsperson of the Year. In addition, the video features Coco Gauff, who beat out her idol Venus Williams at just 15 years old to qualify for Wimbledon. The feat cemented her status as the youngest player ever to do so.

Google on YouTube

In addition to all of this year’s athletic achievement, 2019’s Year in Search video also applauds the women who captured the world’s attention in the fields of literature, music, and science.

One notable figure is Katie Bouman, the 29-year-old scientist who helped capture the world’s first image of a black hole back in April by developing a ground-breaking algorithm. In addition, author Toni Morrison, who died on Aug. 5, was remembered for her award-winning work, and body-positive, empowering singer Lizzo — who is up for eight Grammy Awards was searched for by fans more in 2019 than in any other year.

In addition to the amazing women who ruled the year, the video also features heroes who came together during hard times like Hurricane Dorian and the Notre Dame Cathedral fire. Looking back at all the figures who lived up to the word “hero,” 2019 was undoubtedly a year for the books, and it’ll be interesting to see how 2020 will top its predecessor.

Read more:

Courtesy of Spotify

Here’s How to Share Your Spotify 2019 Song Of The Year To Hype Your Fave Jam

Spotify Wrapped is finally here, and it’s time to find out what your year sounded like. With insights like your top songs, genres, and artists from the past decade, you’ll have plenty to look over. Once you find out how to share your Spotify 2019 song of the year, you can hype your most-played jam on all your social media accounts.

Spotify Wrapped is easier than ever to check out this year, with the data and playlists available on your mobile app and tablet. To find your Spotify 2019 Wrapped section, you can check out the website on your computer or open your Spotify app. While you should be able to find Wrapped directly on your homepage within the app, if it doesn’t appear, you can find it within the search homepage, or search for “Wrapped 2019,” which will show up as a Music and Genres item.

Once you’ve found the Wrapped 2019 page, you can tap the prompt: “See how you listened in 2019.” There, you’ll get a personalized Spotify Story, which showcases your top insights from the past year. Watch the Story to see what you really loved to listen to. To find your No. 1 song from the past year, do to the third from last post in the Story called “The music that defined your decade.” You’ll get your top songs and artists from all the years you’ve used Spotify since 2010.

To share your 2019 Top Song by itself, you’ll need to screenshot the 2019 post. Once you’ve taken a screenshot, you’ll be able to upload the photo to Instagram or any other social media apps.


If you’d like to share the entire breakdown of your Best of the Decade, then simply choose “Share this Story” at the bottom without taking a screenshot. The image will be an entire list of your Spotify top songs and artists from 2010-2019, or beginning from the first year you started using Spotify. You can then choose to share your Story to a variety of apps, including Instagram and Snapchat.


After sharing your own insights, you can also compare your “Top Songs” and “Top Artists of the Decade” Spotify’s app-wide insights. Spotify gathered data from listeners everywhere to ring in the new decade with a celebration of the ’10s. The most streamed artist on Spotify around the world was Drake, but other artists who rose to the top include Ed Sheeran, Post Malone, Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, Eminem, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Sia, and Beyoncé. However you stack up to the rest, make sure you share your most popular jams with all your followers.

Read more:

US rapper accuses Jessica Chiha and her online retailer The Little Homie of knowingly infringing on his trademarks

An Australian woman says shell fight US rapper Jay-Zs copyright lawsuit because she thinks she should be able to use the Grammy winners name and lyrics to sell childrens books.

Jessica Chiha and her business The Little Homie are being sued in the federal court by the US billionaire, legally named Shawn Carter, who accuses them of knowingly infringing on his trademarks and misleading conduct.

We are unbelievably disappointed to find ourselves caught in a legal battle with someone whose music we love and adore, Chiha said in a statement on Thursday.

She said The Little Homie was created so parents could connect with their children through something they love during the transition to parenthood and her love of hip-hop and the artists I grew up listening to.

The online retailer raised $8,000 on Kickstarter to publish the AB to Jay-Z picture book, which refers to well-known rappers to teach the alphabet, and has since expanded to include a colouring book and clothing.

Other artists featured include the Notorious BIG, Pharrell Williams and Snoop Dogg.

The book reportedly came to Jay-Zs attention after controversy broke over accusations of cultural appropriation and racism in 2017 when a customer asked if the company was black-owned.

The back of the book includes the quote If youre having alphabet problems I feel bad for you son, I got 99 problems but my ABCs aint one.

Jay-Zs song famously opened with If youre having girl problems, I feel bad for you son, I got 99 problems but a bitch aint one.

To have someone like Jay-Z file legal proceedings is daunting beyond belief and hugely dispiriting, Chiha said.

We maintain we have done nothing wrong and intend to give it everything weve got for common sense and common good to prevail, to the extent we can fight the fight.

Its that persistence to keep trading that has landed the company in court.

Documents filed earlier this month by the rappers Australian legal counsel note Carter asked Chiha to stop in March 2018 and again in July this year.

Letters were sent between lawyers until September.

Unless restrained, the respondents threaten to and intend to and will continue to engage in the conduct referred to above, the statement of claim reads.

The lawyers said the retailer and director deliberately and knowingly attempted to trade off the reputation of the rapper, who is married to singer Beyonc.

Read more:

Image caption Miller was knighted in 2002 for services to music and the arts

Sir Jonathan Miller, the distinguished theatre and opera director who famously starred in the Beyond the Fringe satirical revue, has died aged 85.

In a statement, his family said he had died “peacefully at home… following a long battle with Alzheimer’s”.

A man of many parts, Miller was also an author, a photographer, a sculptor, a broadcaster and a qualified doctor.

Born in London in 1934, Miller studied medicine at Cambridge before embarking on a career in the arts.

The catalyst was Beyond the Fringe, in which he appeared with Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Alan Bennett.

The groundbreaking revue premiered at the 1960 Edinburgh Festival before transferring to the West End and Broadway.

Image caption Miller (far right) appeared in Beyond the Fringe with Alan Bennett, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore

Its success led to Miller becoming editor and presenter of BBC arts programme Monitor and a director of plays at the National Theatre.

His productions included a modern-dress staging of The Merchant of Venice, with Laurence Olivier as Shylock.

He went on to direct six of the BBC’s 1980s Shakespeare productions, among them The Taming of the Shrew with John Cleese and Othello with Anthony Hopkins.

He served as artistic director of London’s Old Vic theatre from 1987-90. Despite being unable to read music, he also directed operas for the ENO, Glyndebourne and the Met in New York. Who’s Who listed his only recreation as “deep sleep”.

‘A supreme intellect’

In a tribute, the Royal Opera House’s director of opera Oliver Mears said Miller was “one of the most important figures in British theatre and opera of the past half century”.

He continued: “Combining a supreme intellect with a consistently irreverent perspective, formed from his experiences in both comedy and medicine, Miller shone a unique light on our art form.

“His intolerance of inauthenticity and laziness on stage was matched by the urgency and rigour of his search for the composer’s vision, historical accuracy and psychological truth – resulting in so many productions which have stood the test of time.”

The English National Opera added on Twitter: “His contribution to comedy, theatre and ENO in particular was immeasurable. For over four decades Jonathan created some of ENO’s most celebrated and popular opera productions.”

And the National Theatre described him as “a legendary figure across theatre and opera”.

‘Creative genius’

Miller, who was knighted in 2002 for services to music and the arts, was witty and erudite but could be cantankerous.

“I’ve got this, I think, unjustified reputation for being grumpy,” he once said, insisting he only objected to “people who are 30 years younger than I am and know 100% less than I do”.

Tony Hall, the BBC’s director general, said Miller was “a creative genius whose imagination knew no bounds… he brought arts and culture to millions on the BBC”.

He was also remembered by BBC Radio 3 broadcaster Petroc Trelawny as “a polymath and cultural giant” whose “contribution to British cultural life was as varied as it was vast”.

Follow us on Facebook, or on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts. If you have a story suggestion email

Read more:

Asbury Park may be more closely associated with the star but a new exhibition in Freehold the town where the Boss grew up tells an earlier tale, along with 250 years of American history

Darkness on the Edge of Town That Bruce Springsteen song always comes to mind when, on visits to my mother, I drive through Freehold, the town I grew up in, and hit the intersection of East Main Street and Jackson Terrace. This is actually the meeting point of two Freeholds: Freehold Township, once farmland and now McMansions and other unchecked suburban horrors; and Freehold Borough, the old colonial town, dating from the 1600s. Long before that, the area was steeped in the traditions of the displaced Leni Lenape people.

The junction of Jackson and Main still feels like where farmland meets town, a stretch of dark country road, marked by a lonely gas station and a dilapidated barn before the asphalt corridor redefines itself with late-Victorian and early-20th-century buildings often draped in red, white and blue bunting. One Queen Anne-style house is so striking it was used as the family home in 1990s TV show Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

Bruce Springsteens childhood home on Institute Street in Freehold. Photograph: James Leynse/Getty Images

Several blocks away is Freehold High School, a 1920s colonial revival structure mimicking Philadelphias Independence Hall. Thats where Springsteen went to school. I did too, though many years later. When I was young, a popular story told of Springsteen playing guitar in the schools courtyard while teachers rained insults, insisting hed never make anything of himself. Springsteen may be most closely associated with nearby Asbury Park, where he first sang to acclaim, but Freehold is the place the Boss called his hometown.

How the musicians fame stretched from this little town about an hour from Manhattan to the rest of the world is the theme of a new exhibition at Monmouth County Historical Association (70 Court Street) entitled Springsteen: His Hometown.

Scrapbook made by Bruce Springsteens mother, Adele.

More than 150 objects are on display at the exhibition, which runs until the end of September 2020. Some are the MCHAs own, others come from the Springsteen Archives of Monmouth University in Long Branch (his town of birth), with more from private collectors and the Boss himself. There are unreturned keys from hotels Springsteen stayed at early in his career, and a letter to his landlady where he admits to practising his autograph. Clothes, including boots and a leather bomber from the 1980s, sit alongsde a Bruce Springsteen board game created and marketed in Europe by a French fan. Parked in the museums garden is an antique truck the musician and his manager used to travel from gig to gig and to Woodstock.

The exhibitions genealogical section, tracing the life of Joost Springsteen, the Bosss earliest New Amsterdam ancestor, offers ways to explore beyond the towns famous son.

In the museums permanent exhibition, the 1778 Battle of Monmouth is commemorated by two valuable objects: a Dennis Carter painting of revolutionary folk heroine Molly Pitcher with George Washington; and another of the battle itself by Emanuel Leutze, better known for his Washington Crossing the Delaware (in New Yorks Met).

Springsteens 1967 school yearbook

Borough historian Kevin Coyne, who is also a Columbia University journalism professor and features in a mini-documentary about the town, said: A little piece of everything that has happened in America has happened here: colonial settlers, the revolution, the civil war, agricultural prosperity, the rise and fall of manufacturing, racial tensions, creeping suburbanisation. It all played out here, and Springsteen and his ancestors have been part of every stage.

So while Springsteen is Freeholds main lure, it holds centuries of American lore, too. The exhibition blends recent musical history with revolutionary heritage of this town, which was once called Monmouth Courthouse, an important early stagecoach link between New York and Philadelphia.

Just across the street from the MCHA, the Battle of Monmouth monument has a dramatic bronze of Molly Pitcher, hair fiercely windswept as she loads a cannon. The 1950s Monmouth Courthouse, with its mix of period enamelled turquoise panels and classical columns, was the site of another battle with international implications: the 1980s Baby M court case, one of the earliest to rule on surrogate parenting. (Mary Beth Whitehead had contracted with a family called the Sterns to carry a child for them, but changed her mind after giving birth. The court ruled surrogacy contracts invalid, but the Sterns won a protracted custody battle.)

Old artillery at Monmouth Battlefield Park

Theres more about the revolution at Monmouth Battlefield state park, in neighbouring Manalapan Township, behind the Freehold Raceway Mall. The preserved land here is all that is left undeveloped from the massive battle nearly 250 years ago, at which the British had to abandon hope of a military victory. The bucolic setting is now better-known for summer weddings and autumn apple picking.

The shopping mall takes its name from Freehold Raceway, Americas oldest harness horse racing track, dating from the 1830s. The old track is a remnant of Monmouth Countys long history of racehorse breeding, before Kentucky became pre-eminent.

Equestrian stables such as Burlington Farm, on a colonial road laid over an ancient Native American path to the Atlantic, continue this tradition. My school was across the street, and the horses running through the fields and poking their heads through the mossy split-log fencing mesmerised me as a child. Springsteens daughter, Jessica, was just as taken by horses, though her parents had the means to actually own them. She learned on her fathers estate in neighbouring Colts Neck and is now a champion rider.

Dedicated Springsteen fans can a take tour of the area. Stan Goldstein and Jean Mikle, members of the Spring-Nuts fan club, runs Springsteen tours (from $20pp, book through NJ Rock Map). As well as Asbury Park, their four-hour tour also includes Freehold, taking in Springsteens Catholic elementary school, St Rose of Lima, and the Karagheusian rug mill, where his father worked and which made carpets for Radio City Music Hall and the US Supreme Court.

If exploring on your own, check out Federicis Family Restaurant on 14 East Main Street. Owned for nearly 100 years by relatives of late founding E Street Band member Danny Federici, it is steeped in Italian-American and Springsteen history. Outside, in good weather, its one of the busiest downtown venues, with sidewalk seating near where bands play in summer. Much of the inside space is dark, cavernous and cosy, with booth seating and a menu heavy with Italian choices.

Nearby St Peters Episcopal is one of Americas last colonial churches and oldest continuous congregations. The current clapboard structure was begun in 1771. Construction halted in the Revolution, though it served as a storehouse and hospital during the Battle of Monmouth. As children, we were told the pews had patriots blood stains and there was a mass unmarked grave out front.

The American Hotel, on Main Street.

Freehold isnt a big town: most places are within walking distance of the bus station, from which half-hourly buses run to Manhattan. He mentions the bus stop in My Hometown (on the Born in the USA album) as the place his eight-year-old self would buy his father a newspaper.

If staying overnight, try the American Hotel (doubles from $135 B&B), which dates from 1827 and the stagecoach era. The facade is a more New Orleans than Mid-Atlantic, with its ornate wrought iron balconies overlooking outdoor tables on East Main Street. The rebuilt interior maintains the large Federal-style wooden fireplace, but the 20 spacious rooms have a neutral modern feel. The hotels lobby and bar have long made the American Hotel an important social centre in the middle of town a perfect place to raise a glass to the Bosss hometown.

Looking for a holiday with a difference? Browse Guardian Holidays to see a range of fantastic trips

Read more:

Image copyright Hafod Hardware
Image caption Two-year-old Arthur is the star of the heart-warming story

A shop owner who has made a Christmas advert starring his two-year-old son wants it to encourage people to buy local.

Hafod Hardware in Rhayader, Powys, has been making festive adverts for several years and this year’s cost just £100 to produce.

The advert sees Arthur setting up the shop along with members of his family.

Tom Jones, Arthur’s father, said the “underlying message” is to “shop at your small independent shops”.

The video received more than 50,000 views on YouTube within two days.

Mr Jones said: “It has been crazy… we’ve been overwhelmed with nice emails and messages from all over the world.

“The underlying message… is these big companies like John Lewis, they do really well at Christmas.

“I understand Christmas can be a very expensive time for everyone and they need to save money where they can, but if they can afford to, just try and shop at your small independent shops and support us, it makes a big difference.

“It did cost £100 to make and most of that was the cost of the music.

Image copyright Hafod Hardware/Thomas Lewis Jones/PA Wire
Image caption Arthur stars in the shop’s advert helping customers, carrying out handiwork and putting up decorations

“You really see him [Arthur] developing every year from the baby to the little boy he is today.

“The story this year is, Christmas isn’t just for kids, [you] can all just be a kid at Christmas.”

The only expense was paying a singer to record the song, which is a cover of Alphaville’s 1984 hit Forever Young, performed by American singer-songwriter Andrea von Kampen.

Mr Jones said the locals “really do love it.”

The store opened its doors in 1895 and Mr Jones has worked there for 10 years.

“People have been coming in this morning saying congratulations… they’ve been bringing in bottles of champagne for us to say well done.

“The locals are incredible, they’re our bread and butter, we’re very lucky to have the community we have here in Rhayader.”

Read more:

Chances are when you think of music streaming services to stream artists like hip-hop upstart Megan Thee Stallion, you think of Spotify or Apple Music. The platforms have reigned as the streaming front-runners for years now, boasting more than 150 million paid (combined) subscribers. However, several new music services have entered the playing field and proven legitimate alternatives.

Many feature exclusive content, while others feature sound quality that will convert the staunchest audiophiles. TIDAL, for example, offers premium options boasting must-see content and master-quality music streaming. Here’s what the landscape looks like for hip-hop fans pondering a music streaming service.

How to stream Megan Thee Stallion online


Launched in 2014 and acquired by Jay-Z the following year, TIDAL is the first artist-owned streaming service and claims to pay the highest royalties of all its competitors. But it’s also a smart choice or audiophiles who don’t mind shelling out extra money for a higher-quality listening experience. TIDAL HiFi uses FLAC-based audio files, which offer a fuller and more realistic sound than mp3 files, while TIDAL Masters allow users to stream digital music in the highest possible resolution. These files have the quality of original master recordingsin other words, youre hearing the closest version of these songs as the ones that came out of the studio.

This means you can listen to Megan Thee Stallion’s growing catalog of hit songs in the highest quality available among the major music streaming leaders, while also getting premium content that can only be found first on TIDAL properties.

The 24-year-old Houston rapper has been a catalyst for the empowerment of women through her performance. In fact, Megan will be honored atBillboard‘s 14th annual Women in Music event, alongside Alicia Keys and Rosala. In 2019, she released “Big Ole Freak” as a single from her 2018 extended playTina Snow. Megan pushed into the mainstream, achieving her first entry on Billboard Hot 100 with the suggestive hit, which peaked at No. 65.

However it would be her single and video for “Hot Girl Summer”, that would thrust her into the stratosphereturning a phrase she coined a year before into a certified anthem.

TIDAL’s RapRadar podcast/show featured Megan, following the release of her critically-acclaimed full-length debut, Fever.

It’s this of-the-culture content that also makes TIDAL appealing for rap fans. In addition to its music library, TIDAL boasts a compelling and rich editorial and multi-media wing.

  • Streaming quality: 320 kbps (Premium), 1,411 kbps/FLAC (HiFi)
  • Available offline: Mobile only
  • Library size: 60 million
  • Cost: $9.99 (Premium), $19.99 (HiFi)
  • Family plan: $14.99 (Premium, 6 devices), $29.99 (HiFi, 6 devices)
  • No-cost trial: 30 days

2) Apple Music

Read more:

Tyler, The Creator is embarrassed for y’all!

In case you hadn’t heard, Drake got booed so hard at Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival on Sunday night, he left the stage!

After some intense jeers from the crowd (

Now Tyler, the founder of Flog Gnaw, is speaking out, writing in ALL CAPS on Twitter Monday morning:


That narrative was apparently the speculation the secret surprise guest was going to be Frank Ocean. Those fans were not happy to see Drake instead…

But Tyler defended the popular rapper from the haters, writing:



Praising Drake once again, he said:



He then quickly gave up the ghost on his anger, writing:



He then revealed the performance everyone lost out on by booing:


They booed him off before Hotline Bling??

Read more: