SPIN READERS LIKE STROKES
Spin readers cast their ballots in the Spin Readers Poll 2002; results will be published in the February issue, on newsstands Jan. 14. The Strokes, the White Stripes, Gwen Stefani, and Weezer are the winners but Britney Spears, Creed and Christina Aguilera weren't so lucky. Here are the awards: Best Band: The Strokes; Worst Band: Creed; Best New Band: The White Stripes; Best Solo Artist: Beck; Worst Solo Artist: Britney Spears; Best Live Act: Weezer; Best Song: "Fell in Love With a Girl," the White Stripes; Worst Song: "Complicated," Avril Lavigne; Worst-Dressed Lifetime Achievement Award: Christina Aguilera; Best Dressed: Gwen Stefani; Best Hip-Hop Jam: "Hot in Herre," Nelly; Coolest New Trend: Garage Rock.
GRAMMY UP FOR GRABS
Nominations for the the 45th annual Grammy Awards are among the most evenly distributed in the history of the music industry awards ceremony. Eight artists representing a variety of styles received five nominations, including Bruce Springsteen, Norah Jones, Avril Lavigne, Sheryl Crow, Eminem, Nelly, Ashanti and Raphael Saadiq. The Awards will be televised Wednesday, Feb. 23, from Madison Square Garden in New York. The event has been held in Los Angeles since 1998 after then-New York Mayor Guiliani became involved in a dispute with Grammy officials. The Dixie Chicks, Vanessa Carlton and Alan Jackson also received multiple nominations. Two-time Grammy winner Delbert McClinton stands a good chance of collecting another. His album "Room To Breathe" (New West Records) was nominated for "Best Contemporary Blues Album." McClinton will celebrate the nomination during the eighth annual "Delbert McClinton Sandy Beaches Tour" (delbert.com) from Jan. 11-18, featuring a compendium of legendary country, blues, Americana and rock musicians.
DIDDY'S NEW DEAL
The New York Post reports Sean Combs, aka Puff Daddy aka P. Diddy, is close to cutting a deal with Warner Music's Elektra Entertainment Group for his Bad Boy record label. The Post reports Combs is settling for much less than the $100 million he wanted for the label after leaving Arista Records last year, quoting a source that put the figure closer to $10 million. Combs parted ways with Arista last June after a 10-year run, but the falling fortunes of the record industry put a damper on his label's marketability. The label since has lost several artists, including Faith Evans, who signed with Arista; Jamal "Shyne" Barrow, who is in prison; 112, now on Def Soul, a division of Island Def Jam; and Mace, who quit rapping to become a Baptist minister.
ALL GOOD MUSIC FESTIVAL
Walther Productions has announced initial details about this year's All Good Music Festival and Campout, the seventh renewal of this popular music event. The festival is scheduled for May 15-18 at Marvin's Mountaintop in Masontown, W.Va. Walther Productions introduced this site last year with two other festivals -- the moe. or les festival and the Summer of Love... 35 Years Later festival -- which combined to attract thousands of festival-goers to the panoramic, 643-acre setting. Masontown, located in the wooded, rolling hills of West Virginia, is 10 miles southeast of Morgantown. A complete artist lineup for the 7th Annual All Good Music Festival and Campout will be announced later this month and a limited number of early bird tickets will be made available.
BLAND'S BLUES AT MIDNIGHT
Legendary blues singer Bobby Blue Bland sets a March 11 release for his latest offering, "Blues At Midnight." The album is his 12th release for Malaco Records, capping a career that has spanned 50-plus years, 60 releases, more than 50 Top Ten singles -- in formats ranging from 78s to CDs. He also is the recipient of such honors as a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (1997), a Blues Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award (1998) and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1992). Not bad for this child of Depression-era poverty whose most predictable career path would've led straight to the cotton fields. But his voice, and a valuable driver's license, opened doors at a time when many could sing but few could sing and drive, as Bobby did for his fellow Beale Street members, including Johnny Ace, Earl Forest and, eventually, B.B. King. Gigs with King opened the door to Bland's own, unparalleled solo career. "Blues At Midnight" is classic Bobby Blue Bland, with Bobby delivering songs from Malaco veteran writers George Jackson ("I Caught The Blues From Someone Else"), Larry Addison ("My Sunday's Comin' Soon," "The Only Thing Missin' Is You," "Ghetto Nights"), Rue Davis ("I've Got The Blues At Midnight"), and Sam Mosley and Bob Johnson ("Baby What's Wrong With You," "You Hit The Nail On The Head"). Frederick Knight's "Where Do I Go From Here" gets the disc off to a roaring start, and a remake of Z.Z. Hill's "I'm A Blues Man" tells its story as if it was Bland's autobiography.
England's legendary Yardbirds is putting the finishing touches on its first new studio recording since "Little Games" in 1968. The new Yardbirds album, "Birdland," will be released April 22 on Favored Nations Recordings. In addition to founding members Chris Dreja (rhythm guitar and backing vocals) and Jim McCarty (drums and backing vocals), the new Yardbirds are Gypie Mayo (lead guitar and backing vocals, formerly of Dr. Feelgood), John Idan (bass and lead vocals) and Alan Glen (harmonica and backing vocals, from Nine Below Zero and Little Axe). Former Yardbirds guitarist Jeff Beck guests on "My Blind Life." Other special guests include guitarists Brian May (Queen), Steve Vai, Slash, Joe Satriani, Steve Lukather and Jeff "Skunk" Baxter. Producer Ken Allardyce (Weezer, Fleetwood Mac, Green Day, Goo Goo Dolls), actually saw the Yardbirds open for the Beatles at Hammersmith Odeon in 1964 and has been a fan ever since. The album contains newly recorded versions of eight of the Yardbirds' best known hits -- "I'm Not Talking," "The Nazz Are Blue," "For Your Love," "Train Kept A Rolling," "Shapes of Things," "Over, Under, Sideways, Down," "Mr. You're A Better Man Than I" and "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago" -- plus seven new songs. "To make our first album in so many years has been a lasting ambition of ours," Dreja said. "We wanted to do our original songs and our new ones with modern production while preserving the essence of our sound. It was a labor of love, and we're grateful to everyone who helped -- our guest musicians and especially to Steve Vai. To me, it doesn't sound like we've been away for 35 years. The Yardbirds are still a kick-ass, high-energy band -- and that comes across on this album."
ROSS DUI IN PERSPECTIVE
England's Daily Mail quotes friends of accused drunken driving diva Diana Ross as saying her DUI arrest last week in Arizona could be a much-needed turning point for the troubled singer. "Maybe this is what she needed to finally put the past behind her -- all of those ghosts of days gone by," a friend of Ross told the Mail. "The past has always come back to haunt her. Maybe it's time to deal with it, to accept her mistakes and put them behind her." Ross, 58, was once Motown's top star as leader of the Supremes, but recently she has struggled through a series of personal setbacks in her family life as well as the humiliating spectacle of the failed Supremes comeback tour. Last summer Ross did time at the celebrity rehab center Promises, but last week's arrest suggests her problems may not be over.
RADIOHEAD ON THE HORIZON
Radiohead fans have plenty to get excited about in 2003. The band has been working on material for a new album scheduled for release this summer. Britain's New Musical Express reveals the band has recorded demos for the album during eight weeks of recording sessions, describing the new music as "dark pop not too dissimilar to 'The Bends'." The band also is distributing free MP3s to its fans via the Internet. "Punch Up At A Wedding," "Good Morning, Mr. Magpie," "I Froze Up" and "Walking in a Winter Wonderland" are available for download at greenplasti.com.
America's loudest lounge singer Richard Cheese is back in black tie with "Tuxicity," an all-new CD featuring his trademark lounge-style covers of rock hits. With his swingin' Lounge Against The Machine band, the finger-snapping, liquor-lapping, night-capping crooner has turned another round of alternative, rap, and rock songs into traditional pop vocal standards. The CD is on sale online at iloverichardcheese.com. While his critically acclaimed 2000 CD "Lounge Against The Machine" showcased lounge music interpretations of alternative songs, "Tuxicity" features 19 uncensored selections from the alternative, rap, pop, Eighties, and classic rock charts. "We hope these new tunes will attract an even bigger audience," says Cheese, "and that equals more free drinks for me and the band."
AC/DC ON EPIC
AC/DC has signed with Epic Records and will re-release the band's back catalog on the new label in addition to future recordings. The reissue program begins in February with the re-release of the classic albums "Back In Black," "Live," "Highway To Hell," "High Voltage," "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" and "Live" (two CD collector's edition). Following in March and May will be "Who Made Who," "Let There Be Rock," "The Razor's Edge," "For Those About To Rock," "Powerage," "If You Want Blood You Got It," "Flick Of The Switch," "Fly On The Wall," "'74 Jailbreak" and "Blow Up Your Video." Re-issue titles will feature restored album art, enhanced packaging -- including additional rare and historic photos -- new liner notes and comprehensive track information. In addition to premium packaging, each AC/DC title will include Sony's proprietary ConnecteD technology, which allows fans who purchase the disc to unlock exclusive content on a special Web site created specifically for the release.
JAZZFEST ACTS NAMED
New Orleans-based OffBeat magazine has published a list of acts that will appear at this year's New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. On opening Thursday, April 24, Dash and New Orleans Klezmer Allstars will appear. Saturday, April 26, it is: Otis Taylor, Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Cha's, Motorway, Terrence Simien, Andi Hoffmann and B-Goes, Theresa Andersson, Marva Wright, The Dudes, Cassandra Wilson and New Leviathan Oriental Foxtrot Orchestra. On Sunday, April 27, the list includes the Iguanas and Cowboy Mouth. The Thursday, May 1, schedule has Papa Grows Funk, Tab Benoit, Los Lobos, Sonny Landreth and Woodenhead. On Friday, May 2, it is Marcia Ball, Los Lobos, C.J. Chenier and Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band. Saturday, May 3, includes The Holmes Brothers, The Vipers, Sean Ardoin and Zydecool, The Neville Brothers and Glenys Rogers. On Sunday, May 4, it will be Dwayne Dopsie and The Zydeco Hellraisers, Ben Eyler, Wayne Toups, Kim Carson and Joe Krown Organ Combo.
Long Island's Scoldees are set to release a second album, "Nightcap World," on the Off Hour Rockers label Feb. 4. The album is the followup to the band's 2000 debut, "My Pathetic Life." The album takes listeners from the internal struggle and emotional captivity of "Cocoon" and "Just Like Rita" to the hope and compassion of "Better Day" and "Come To Me." A moving version of the Joni Mitchell classic, "A Case Of You," highlights the warm, expressive quality of Nancy Sirianni's voice. "Nightcap World" was produced by the same team that made "My Pathetic Life," producer John Michel (Lee Nestor, Little Blue) and engineer Brian Harding (Billy Joel, Ray Charles). Guest artists on the album include guitarist Jeff Pevar (CPR, Carly Simon) on all tracks, as well as Mario Cruz (Bruce Springsteen, Joe Cocker) and returning player Richie Cannata (Billy Joel, Beach Boys) for a tenor sax duet on "Just Like Rita."
HOWLIN' FOR HUBERT SUMLIN
A benefit will be held at B.B. King's in New York City Jan. 22 to raise money for Hubert Sumlin's medical expenses. Sumlin underwent surgery in November to remove his lung; doctors believe the 71-year-old guitarist is now cancer-free. Sumlin, who backed Howlin' Wolf, will be the guest of honor at the show, which is being billed as "Howlin' for Hubert." Scheduled performers include David Johansen, Levon Helm, Shemekia Copeland, David Maxwell, Jimmy Vivino, Michael Hill's Blues Mob, Marc Ribot, and Jon Paris. Sumlin is also expected to perform, and organizers say "special surprise guests" could join the celebration as well.
RAP BY DESIGN
Back-to-school fashion next fall will be heavily weighted toward gansta rap. Eminem and Ice T are the latest rap stars to endorse a line of designer fashion. Eminem has agreed to a clothes licensing deal with Nesi Apparel. The collection will be named after Eminem's alter ego, Slim Shady, the misogynist character who vowed to kill his own mother. The Eminem duds will sport a "Shady" logo. It should be ready for mass marketing in time for the new school year next fall. Now you can hate Mom and be fashionable while you're doing it, just like Eminem. Ice T's "Icewear" is slated to appear on the rack in July. The rapper's logo, framed in a diamond design, reads "His name demands respect. A clothing line will command it."