The CMJ convention wrapped up in New York over the weekend with a healthy dose of Les Claypool. The Primus founder and rock innovator gave a lively keynote speech Saturday to the DIY section of the seminar, then performed with his band Frog Brigade later that night.
"Depending on what you want, being tied to a major label can be more of a hindrance than a help," he told a packed crowd of young musicians at the conference. "If you sound like Stone Temple Pilots or Korn, a major label is a good place to be. Get a good lawyer and in 10 years your career will be over. If you sound different, you want to be on an independent label."
Claypool used his own experience as a guide, describing how he built Primus up from scratch, then abandoned that group for other projects when he felt it was getting too predictable.
"It's harder to do commercial radio and TV that way," said Claypool, "but at this point in my career I'm not looking for that anyway."
Claypool concluded that "touring is the key to it all, especially now with the Internet and the new jam band audience out there."
SANTANA'S 'SHAMAN' HIGHEST CAREER DEBUT
Carlos Santana added another first to his long list of career achievements when "Shaman" entered the Billboard 200 Album chart and the Top Internet chart at No. 1, his first such debut ever. "Shaman" features collaborations with Michelle Branch, Seal, Dido, Macy Gray, P.O.D., Citizen Cope, Musiq, Chad Kroeger, Ozomatli and Placido Domingo among others.
The album racked up first week sales of 298,973 units, over four times the first-week total of the worldwide 25-million selling "Supernatural" album in 1999. The fast-breaking success of "Shaman" is propelled by its top five status on the Modern and Hot AC charts, and Top 10 place on top 40 and Mainstream AC for the album's first official single pick, "The Game Of Love," featuring multi-platinum singer Michelle Branch ("Everywhere"). In the third week since its impact date, "The Game Of Love" logged more than 78 million listens, according to BDS figures.
The promo video for "The Game Of Love," shot on location in Chicago by director Paul Fedor, already is firmly entrenched on the VH1 and MTV playlists. On opening night of the NBA season, millions of TNT cable viewers watched Santana and Michelle Branch perform "The Game Of Love" live during the pre-game festivities at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
SIMON RHYMIN' AGAIN
Singer-songwriter Paul Simon has a new greatest hits collection, "The Paul Simon Collection: On My Way, Don't Know Where I'm Goin'," just out on Warner Bros. The set features 19 Simon singles and album tracks released by Columbia and Warner Bros. from 1972-2000. The classic tunes include "Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard," "Kodachrome," "Loves Me Like A Rock," "Still Crazy After All These Years," "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover," "Slip Slidin' Away," "Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes," "You Can Call Me Al" and "Graceland." Also included are two tracks from Simon's "You're The One" album, "Love" and "Hurricane Eye."
The package also includes a limited-edition bonus disc featuring five previously unreleased live tracks -- "American Tune" (recorded in New York City, 1973) "Duncan" (recorded in London, 1973), "The Coast" (recorded in Montreux, Switzerland, 2002), "Mrs. Robinson" (recorded in New York City, 1999), and "Bridge Over Troubled Water" with Aaron Neville (recorded in New Orleans, 2001).
Bruce Springsteen showed up over the weekend for an impromptu jam session at the Light of Day benefit. Springsteen joined longtime pal Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers for a 90-minute set that included "I Can't Turn You Loose," "Fire," "Boom Boom," "96 Tears" (with Garland Jeffries), and "The Twist" (with Gary US Bonds).
RAP SLAYS CONTINUE
Another figure in the rap world was gunned down over the weekend in New York, just days after Jam Master Jay of Run-DMC fame was killed. Kenneth Walker, 31, a Yonkers-based rap promoter, was shot and killed while sitting in his van in the Bronx. Police officials, who have been investigating the possibility Jam Master Jay's slaying was the beginning of a new rap gang war, have so far been unable to establish a connection between the two attacks.