Project/Object, the most successful of the Frank Zappa repertory groups, returns to New York City this Halloween with Zappa veterans Ike Willis and Napoleon Murphy Brock fronting the group. Zappa had a longstanding tradition of playing New York at Halloween, performing some of his most memorable concerts at the Palladium. Project/Object will bring the Zappa experience once again to the Lion's Den in downtown Manhattan Oct. 31. The group promises surprises on what it expects to be the highlight performance of its fall tour. Last year's Halloween event marked the 20th anniversary of Zappa's infamous Halloween concert broadcast from New York City, the world's first satellite digital simulcast, over MTV and the Westwood One radio network.
When Project/Object played at B.B. King's in Manhattan Sept. 18, special guests included percussionist Ed Mann, the longest running Zappa band member, and Zappa big band leader Ed Palermo in revisiting Zappa's "One Size Fits All" album in its entirety, as well as numerous other fan favorites and obscurities. Many other Zappa alumni have been similarly inspired to perform with Project/Object, as have other notable artists such as Phish's Jon Fishman, Capt. Beefheart/Jeff Buckley guitarist Gary Lucas and Chuck Garvey, Al Schnier and Jim Loughlin of moe.
HE WADDLED LIKE A DUCK
Saxophonist and bandleader Paul Williams, the rock 'n' roll prophet who scored one of the first big hits of the R&B era in 1949 with "The Huckle-Buck," based on Charlie Parker's "Now's the Time," died last month of cardiac arrest. The song was the biggest selling record in the history of Savoy records, spawning cover versions by Tommy Dorsey, Frank Sinatra and numerous others. "The Huckle-Buck" topped the R&B charts for 14 weeks in 1949, and was one of three Top 10 and five other Top 20 R&B instrumental hits that Williams scored for Savoy in 1948 and 1949. The song is featured on the newly released 2-disc set, "Savoy at 60," which celebrates the 60th anniversary of the storied Newark-based label. Other Top 10 hits for Williams were "35-30" in 1948 and "Walkin' Around" in 1949. He was later part of Atlantic Records' house band in the '60s and directed the Lloyd Price and James Brown orchestras until 1964. Williams was born in Birmingham, Ala., on July 13, 1915. He played with Clarence Dorsey in 1946, and then made his recording debut with King Porter in 1947 for Paradise before forming his own band later that year. Saxophonists Noble "Thin Man" Watts and Wild Bill Moore, trumpeter Phil Guilbeau, and vocalists Danny Cobb, Jimmy Brown, Joan Shaw, and Connie Allen were among Williams' band members.
MARIAH BACK IN FORM
Before last Sept. 11, the weekly tabloid scandal sheets were ablaze with Mariah Carey "exclusives" detailing the sordid decline of the pop singer, who wasn't helping her cause by leaving a string of incoherent messages on her official Web site. Carey was in a tailspin after breaking up with Latino heartthrob Luis Miguel and reading the negative reviews from her disastrous film, "Glitter." Carey hit bottom when her record label, Virgin, bought out her contract. Carey has bounced back dramatically, with a new label, Island/Def Jam, and an album set for release. Carey was in New York over the weekend turning heads on Park Avenue South as she shot scenes for a video to promote "Therough the Rain," a song from the upcoming album about dealing with her problems.
A STAR IS BORN
Blues-rock sensation Shemekia Copeland is enjoying a vertiginous rise to stardom with her third album, "Talking To Strangers." Copeland's Dr. John-produced CD debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Blues Chart the same week she opened for the Rolling Stones at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago with Dr. John directing her band. Copeland, the daughter of legendary Texas blues singer Johnny Copeland, kicked off a West Coast tour with Buddy Guy last week. The tour continues Wednesday night at the Fillmore in San Francisco. "Talking To Strangers" is getting terrific national radio support, checking in as the most-added disc in several formats, including both commercial and listener-supported adult rock networks. Though her dad was known as a blues singer, he also crossed over into rock, recording a series of regional hits in the 1950s and early '60s including "Rock 'n' Roll Lilly."
BLOOD BROTHERS ON TOUR
The Blood Brothers will kick off a 34-date national tour opening for Glassjaw beginning Oct. 16 at The World in New York City. The Blood Brothers will be playing new material from their Ross Robinson-produced, ARTISTdirect Records debut, "Burn Piano Island, Burn," which is scheduled for release early next year. According to Robinson, the recording experience of the CD recaptures the anarchy of the original punk explosion of 25 years ago.
"It's not the sound that matters," he explained. "It's the integrity that you keep within the music. A lot of bands today claim punk rock, but they really have nothing to do with it. If you asked any of The Blood Brothers to do something with their music or their lives that they don't want to do, they'd actually get physically ill. To me, that's punk rock right there. It's a way of life and a state of being, more than a style of music."