Rock News Two: The week in pop

By JOHN SWENSON, United Press International  |  Aug. 24, 2002 at 3:00 AM
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The Rolling Stones returned to the stage to play "It's Only Rock 'N' Roll" in a surprise Toronto club show as the band revved up for the upcoming tour that kicks off in Boston Sept. 2. Some 700 invited guests, including actresses Liv Tyler and Sharon Stone, and a few hundred ticketholders, took in the 15-song, 80-minute show at the Palais Royale. The band has been rehearsing in Toronto for a month. The Stones Web site features streaming video from the show. After the classic opener the band continued with "Sad Sad Sad," "If You Can't Rock Me," "Stray Cat Blues," "Hot Stuff," a new number "Don't Stop," "Honky Tonk Women," "Torn and Frayed," "Wild Horses," "Happy," "Can't Turn You Loose," "Heart of Stone," "Can't You Hear Me Knocking," "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and "Brown Sugar."


"Xenophobia," a three-disc set taken from Prince's 2002 live concerts and the week-long "Xenophobia" festival at his Paisley Park studio, is set for a fall release. Prince and his band, New Power Generation, were in top form on tour and at the Xenophobia fete, which included such special guests as saxophonist Maceo Parker, percussionist Sheila E., bassist Victor Wooten, vocalist-pianist Norah Jones, blues guitarist Bernard Allison and jazz vocalist Rachelle Ferrell. The record is ready to go and Prince, who remains unaffiliated since his last contract with Warner Bros. records, is looking for a label to handle distribution.


John Sinclair has had a rich career as a poet, musician, activist and radio personality. In the 1960s he was a key counterculture figure in Detroit who managed the legendary MC5. Sinclair's influence was so pervasive John Lennon even wrote a song about him. In recent years Sinclair has been a popular disc jockey on New Orleans' WWOZ and a celebrated poet backed by his band, The Blues Scholars. This past week Sinclair celebrated the publication of his elongated blues work in verse, "Fattening Frogs For Snakes -- Delta Sound Suite," and the accompanying recording of "Volume One -- The Delta Sound." Rooster Blues and Surregional Press kicked off the festivities with a book and compact disc release party at Frenchy's Gallery on Thursday. The party feature a performance by Sinclair and His Blues Scholars, who also appeared that day at the D.J. Davis New Orleans Music Show on WWOZ for a "live" on-air performance. The official CD release party featuring Sinclair's band and special guests Brother Tyrone and the Mindbenders at the House of Blues Friday. The Blues Scholars play an in-store concert at the Louisiana Music Factory on Saturday and are featured at the Cutting Edge Music Business Conference showcase at the Blue Nile club.


Widespread Panic completed its summer tour schedule despite the tragic death earlier this month of founding member and lead guitarist Michael Houser. The band played the Seven Fiddlers Music Festival in Greenwood Village, Colo., along with Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, Steel Pulse, Keller Williams, Ben Harper, Michael Franti & Spearhead and Angelique Kidjo. Widespread Panic headlined each night with guitarist George McConnell, a longtime friend of the group, playing in Houser's place. Houser was laid to rest last Monday in Athens, Ga., with more than 100 family members and close friends in attendance at the private funeral. Singer/songwriter Vic Chesnutt, who teamed with Panic on two albums under the name Brute, performed a heart-wrenching version of "Expiration Day" with the band's Jojo Hermann. Panic vocalist John Bell and gospel artist Dottie Peoples also performed during the ceremony. Widespread Panic is planning a fall tour, tentatively set to kick off around Halloween. It is unknown if McConnell will permanently replace Houser.


Rhino Records has set a Sept. 3 release date for "Ray Charles Sings for America," which will include Charles' classic version of "America The Beautiful" and a new recording "God Bless America Again" with Charles backed by Slash and Billy Preston. Several of the 20 songs hail from Charles' now-out-of-print "A Message From The People" album, originally released in 1972, including "Lift Every Voice And Sing," "Abraham, Martin And John" and the definitive version of "America The Beautiful." After six decades in the recording industry, Charles has earned 12 Grammy Awards -- including the prestigious Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award -- countless gold records and numerous Billboard chart successes. He was awarded a Kennedy Center Honor and is an inductee of the Rhythm & Blues, Jazz, and Rock and Roll halls of fame, in addition to being recognized with a star on Hollywood Boulevard's Walk of Fame. In July he was honored with the first-ever Grammy "Heroes" Award, and earlier this summer his hometown college, Albany State University in Georgia, named him "Dr." Ray Charles.


Rykodisc has announced an Oct. 15 street date for the first two releases in its "Zappa Picks" series: "Zappa Picks -- By Jon Fishman of Phish" and "Zappa Picks -- By Larry LaLonde of Primus." These compilations, comprised of tracks hand selected from the Rykodisc catalog of original Zappa recordings, were prepared with the loving care and affection of admitted Zappa fanatics. "It is safe to say that the work of Frank Zappa, his music primarily, but also his humor, politics, social commentary -- all of it -- has not just been a fundamental influence on me, but is actually more like part of my metabolism," Fishman noted. "I find this music so wonderful that no matter what I'm listening to, or just finding out about, Frank's music is always on my personal play list, and I never get tired of it. How could you?" added LaLonde.

Phishman's picks are mainly witty Zappa pieces such as "Magdalena," "Cheepnis" and "I'm the Slime," while LaLonde heads more for instrumentals like "five-five-FIVE," "G-Spot Tornado" and "Black Page #2."


During his current tour with the reunited Mountain, guitarist Leslie West has been holding radio contests in various cities inviting local guitarists to come up and jam during "Mississippi Queen." The guitarists show up at soundcheck and West decides if they can cut it. Last week in Los Angeles West announced that night's contest winner, and out walked Eddie Van Halen to join him on a wild version of "Mississippi Queen." Van Halen, who rarely is seen in public these days, is a huge fan of West and showed up unannounced backstage before the concert. He didn't have to audition.


Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Enrique Iglesias, Alan Jackson, Gloria Estefan, Josh Groban, Renee Fleming, Placido Domingo, and the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by music director Leonard Slatkin head the lineup for the Concert For America, which will be broadcast Sept. 11 by NBC as part of the network's coverage of the one-year anniversary of terrorist attacks on The World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The event, chaired by first lady Laura Bush and hosted by Tom Brokaw, will be taped Sept. 9 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. "In addition to honoring the victims and heroes of Sept. 11, the special will also use words and music to reflect on the year that has followed since the terrorist attacks, and the spirit of unity that has emerged across the country," an NBC official statement said. "Featuring the voices of everyday people, as well as famous figures past and present, the special will remember lives lost, and celebrate the resiliency of the American spirit."


Joe Walsh has joined the gang of musicians featured in the NASCAR/United Parcel Service "Big Brown Truck" TV ads. In Walsh's piece, based on his signature 1978 hit "Life's Been Good," the idea is to convince NASCAR driver Dale Jarrett to trade in his racecar for a UPS truck. The ad debuts Saturday, Aug. 24, during the Sharpie 500 on the TNT cable network. Previous ads in the campaign have featured Charlie Daniels adapting "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" and Geroge Thorogood recasting "Bad To The Bone."


The Indigo Girls, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, will embark on a new leg of the "Become You" tour on Sept. 13 in Baltimore and roll through an Oct. 3 show in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Epic recording artists will be supported by Belgian modern rock act K's Choice. The Indigo Girls will warm up with Labor Day weekend performances Aug. 30 in Cary, N.C., and Aug. 31 in Asheville, N.C. The backing band is the same group that recorded the album -- Carol Isaacs (Hammond B-3, Wurlitzer, piano, accordion, penny whistle, recorder, percussion), Clare Kenny (acoustic and electric bass), and Brady Blade (drums and percussion).


Gomez return to North America for a tour in support of the "In Our Gun" album released earlier this year. The tour begins Sept. 23 in Washington, D.C., and finishes Oct. 14 at the Los Angeles House of Blues. Since the five members of the enigmatic British group joined forces in 1996, the band has taken down four of the top music prizes in England; the Mercury Music Award, The Q Music Award for Best New Band, and two NME awards.


Fox News Channel's Greta Van Susteren interviewed Ozzy Osbourne Thursday in the first of a two-part series with the rock icon turned reality TV star. It was Ozzy's first interview since his wife, Sharon, was diagnosed with colon cancer. Osbourne talked about his wife's illness during the interview, saying "it was like an atomic bomb going off in my head."


British folk-rock legend Linda Thompson will tour the United States for the first time in 20 years this fall in support of her new album "Fashionably Late." The tour begins Oct. 5 at the Aladdin Theatre in Portland, Ore. Thompson will be backed by a three-piece band, including her son, Teddy (guitar and vocals), Jason Crigler (guitar and mandolin), and Martin Green (keyboard, accordion and percussion). Thompson will appear Sept. 12 on "The Late Show with David Letterman." Thompson hasn't toured in the States since 1982's "Shoot Out the Lights" tour with then-husband Richard Thompson. She earned Vocalist of the Year honors from Time Magazine and Rolling Stone that same year.


Adriano Giannini, the star opposite Madonna in the upcoming remake of Lina Wertmuller's "Swept Away," told the London Sunday Express Madonna's husband and the film's director, Guy Ritchie, encouraged him to beat and humiliate his wife during filming. "When I first slapped her, she thought it wasn't violent enough and told me to hit her harder," Giannini. "On another occasion I was asked to humiliate her by making her bark like a dog. It got a bit masochistic, but she's good."

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