Once people get the chance to see Brad Parsons, the Portland-based singer-songwriter, they don’t easily forget him. As an Artist-At-Large for both Winter WonderGrass and the Northwest String Summit this year, Parsons has been enrapturing audiences across the country with his almost-unreal powerhouse of a voice and his genre-bending blend of psychedelic rock and Americana. And, it’s not just his steadily growing fan base that knows that he’s got something special going on. The former member of Horse Feathers gets a lot of love from other musicians, including being tapped as a special guest for Fruition for last year’s Jam Cruise.To get folks excited about the upcoming debut of his new full-length album, Hold True, in January, Parsons is previewing a track off it, “Stay Close,” before it becomes available to the public on digital stores tomorrow. The bluesy song showcases Brad’s soulful vocals and skills on the guitar and keys, and also features Fruition’s Tyler Thompson on drums and vocals, Jeff Leonard on bass, and Jay Cobb Anderson on electric guitar.Listen to the previously unreleased track, “Stay Close,” below.Make sure to keep an eye out for the full release of his album, Hold True, which features members of Fruition, Trout Steak Revival, and the Drunken Hearts.In addition to a tour in the works to accompany the album drop, friends in the Pacific Northwest can check Brad Parsons out with the Lil’ Smokies and Head for the Hills tonight at the Star Theater in Portland. He and the Lil’ Smokies will continue onto the Green Frog in Bellingham, WA on Friday and the Tractor Tavern in Seattle, WA on Saturday.
You know you have a great game coming when 1) some sort of championship is on the line, 2) your opponent is the best possible team you could face and 3) there is no other team you would rather play against for that championship.Given all the on-field storylines this year, the best possible matchup the Big Ten could have hoped for in its inaugural championship game is happening: Wisconsin and Michigan State. There is no sharing this time – the winner takes the whole pie.We can sit here and talk over the schematics of this game all we want, pinpoint the crucial individual matchups, predict the tactics of both teams’ offensive and defensive coordinators and stress which players need to do this and that better than the last time.And while I am game to talk anything regarding this rematch, I do enjoy reserving myself to simpler things in predicting the outcome of any given sporting match. Rather than fidget over personnel and stratagems, momentum and motivation are two factors that remain constant in every sporting event, and they are two factors I often consider first and foremost.A team can win without its leader at quarterback and a team can win in the winter months without a traditional ground game. Conventional wisdom on personnel matters can be fickle. It is all about getting down to the very nature of the game – intangibles. That is what’s key. Watch a game and consider what each play can do for momentum, and you will likely know who’s going down and who’s raising the trophy above their heads before long.So who is rocking the pregame intangibles for Saturday? Follow me to find the answer.Picking up speedBoth the Badgers and the Spartans enter Saturday’s battle royale on four-game winning streaks, good for a combined 8-0 in the month of November, so who is peaking at a higher rate entering this game?Michigan State started slow with a feeble 31-24 win over lowly Minnesota but has since picked up speed with a 16-point win over Iowa, a 55-3 devastation of Indiana and an impressive showing in a meaningless affair with Northwestern.Wisconsin, meanwhile, has been completely blowing teams away, for the most part. The Badgers stuttered against Illinois, scoring their lowest point total on the year (28) but still won by 11. They have also slugged Purdue and Minnesota with a combined score of 104-30, and now Wisconsin enters the title game after ripping apart Penn State in every meaningful statistical category despite the Nittany Lions having just as much to play for as the Badgers.Neither team faced a difficult November to begin with, but the opponents Wisconsin have faced are a collective 14-18 while Michigan State’s are just 9-23, and the Badgers have produced wider margins.Edge: WisconsinButterflies aflutterThis section is actually less about choking and more about rising to the occasion. Athletes of this level are generally well-prepared mentally to step into a big game and perform.I do not know if I have ever seen a team or player completely crumble due to the pressure surrounding a game, but I believe butterflies can still prevent someone from having a memorable night.This is something not too often said of Wisconsin, but after these past two seasons the Badgers have become a team well acquainted with the big stage. Wisconsin toppled No. 1 Ohio State last year with all of sports nation watching and followed that up with another mega-win on the road versus Iowa. The Badgers have also experienced a Rose Bowl (lost, but still experienced) and a game against Nebraska which, again, had all of sports nation watching.Michigan State has not won a bowl game since 2001 and has not even appeared in a prestigious one (that of a BCS bowl) since before I was born. Until it played Wisconsin earlier this season, Michigan State had not played a top-10 ranked team since 2009.The Spartans won that game against the Badgers, sure. But this is a grander stage, one the Badgers have had more practice on.Edge: WisconsinChip on the shoulderWhat was intriguing about the match-up between these two teams back in October was that both had grounds to hold a grudge over the other. That will carry over to the Big Ten Championship Game, but the grudges have evolved some.For Wisconsin to lose to Michigan State on the road two years in a row and to lose in the fashion it did back in October, you have to think that there is nobody else the Badgers would prefer to play in all of college football right now than the Spartans.Michigan State got what it was looking for Oct. 22: a win that hurt Wisconsin bad. Losing to a Hail Mary is painful stuff, especially when you are playing a team that has already tortured you before. Did the Spartans satisfy their hunger for revenge in October? Can they muster up the same kind of motivation again? Considering how they last defeated the Badgers, would they maybe want to play someone else?I will give the Spartans the benefit of the doubt. Mark Dantonio and his staff have proven to be thorough motivators before.Edge: PushAnd a special note before I leave it at that – this is not meant to suggest that the Badgers are clearly prepared to dominate. Personnel still counts for something, and these two teams match up well.Wisconsin just might have a little more drive, is all.Elliot is a senior majoring in journalism. Do you think Wisconsin’s intangibles are better prepared than Michigan State’s? Let him know by tweeting @BHeraldSports or @elliothughes12.