New York's Times Square is primed for an enormous party on New Year's Eve starting at 10 p.m. when Dick Clark begins broadcasting live from the ABC-TV "Good Morning America" studio, then picking up steam at 10:30 with MTV's Pajama Party, hosted by Carson Daly and the "It" couple, Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy, and featuring Foo Fighters, Busta Rhymes and Good Charlotte. Also on tap are the Riverside Ringers bell choir and gospel singer Anita Ward leading the world's largest synchronized bell ringing performance. Just before midnight New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be joined by Christopher and Dana Reeve at Duffy Square for the countdown to 2003.
BRITNEY'S ALREADY PARTYING
The New York Post reports Britney Spears has been on a colossal bender that has friends worried about her well-being.
"She has gone out every single night since she said she was taking a break six months ago," the Post quotes a source as saying. "She's always at clubs drinking and dancing."
Though Spears' own New York nightspot, Nyla, closed its doors, the Post reports she has been seen frequenting Lotus, Spa, Bungalow 8, Suite 16 and Suede "on a regular basis." The Page Six item went on to detail a Spears appearance at Bungalow 8 when she started a fight.
"She had been flirting and drinking with one guy," said the Post source, "and then got up and did a wild dance with another. The two guys tried to duke it out."
WALLFLOWERS SET NEW TOUR DATES
The Wallflowers will continue their 2003 U.S. tour with an additional 15 dates beginning Jan. 15 in Boise, Idaho, at the Big Easy. The band is touring in support of its fourth album, "Red Letter Days" (Interscope). The album's second single, "How Good It Can Get" clearly is in the mold of music made by Jakob Dylan's father Bob Dylan. The tour continues Jan. 16 in Missoula, Mont.; moves through Seattle; Portland, Ore.; and Santa Rosa, Calif., before a show at the legendary Fillmore in San Francisco followed by House of Blues dates in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. The final stage of the tour takes it through San Diego, Phoenix, Dallas, Houston and Austin, Texas, before wrapping up Feb. 4 at the House of Blues in New Orleans.
DEEP BANANA BLACKED OUT
Jam band Deep Banana Blackout has called it quits. Tuesday's show at Toad's Place in New Haven will be the band's last performance for a while. Guitarist James Sangiovanni, bassist Benj LeFevre, drummer Eric Kalb and percussionist Johnny Durkin are the remaining charter members of the group, which started in 1995. The rest of the current lineup includes Cyrus Madan on keyboards, Rob Somerville on percussion, Bryan Smith on trombone and Hope Clayburn on sax and vocals.
"For a little while, especially the past year, we found ourselves drifting apart a little bit," Sangiovanni said. "We weren't working intensely toward a common goal. People got burned out of the routine of it."
Smith and Clayburn have found themselves much in demand sitting in with other jam bands in need of a horn section.
CHRIS CAGLE FINISHES NEW ALBUM
He didn't get home for Christmas vacation, but Chris Cagle did manage to finish the follow-up to his nearly platinum album "Play It Loud." Given the momentum of the hit single, "Whatta Beautiful Day," the heat was on for the Baytown, Texan to deliver his self-titled sophomore album to coincide with the single peaking.
"There's no crystal ball," says the hard-working songwriter, "but we made it in time to have this record out on March 11 (2003). Robert (Wright, his co-producer) and I put our heads down ... the musicians were amazing ... and we just kept doing the work."
On the self-penned "Just Love Me," Cagle declares, "I'll never know what it's like to swim in money/Or how it feels not to have to go to work on Monday..."
It's that sense of where he comes from that grounds even his most earnest songs of devotion, passion and commitment: the consuming attraction of "I Love It When She Does That" and "Growin' Love" and the Don Schlitz declaration of happily ever after, "Look What I Found."
"Monty Powell came out on the road with us some this summer," said Cagle of his writing. "And Charlie Crowe spent some time with us, too. So much has happened, and I just keep writing about it all -- the stuff that's happening, the stuff that's happened, even the things that I hope for. ... If you're about writing, then you're always doing it. So when it was time to hit the studio, we were well on our way to getting this album pulled together."