Rock News Two: The week in pop

By JOHN SWENSON, United Press International


Widespread Panic announced details of a fall tour that begins with three Halloween shows at UNO Lakefront Arena in New Orleans and continues across the southeast, stopping in Memphis, Tenn., Charleston, S.C., and Macon, Ga. Longtime friends George McConnell (Beanland) and Randall Bramblett (Traffic, Steve Winwood) will perform with the band for the entire run. The two have been filling in since the late Michael Houser, the band's lead guitarist, fell gravely ill earlier this year. The band also announced the release of a solo album by Houser, "Door Harp," recorded after he discovered he was terminally ill with pancreatic cancer. The album was written entirely by Houser and showcases the gentle side of his songwriting.



Roy Rogers and Norton Buffalo, virtuosos on guitar and harmonica respectively, have been invited by the government of China to perform at the Beijing and Wuhan International Cultural Festival in late September, 2002. More than 250 artists from 50 countries will perform at the festival, which has a goal "to promote mutual understanding among different nationalities and to enhance the exchange between China and other countries." Since 1998 the festival has been sponsored by the Beijing government and the China National Tourism Administration. Rogers and Buffalo have just released their first duet recording in 10 years, "Roots Of Our Nature," on Blind Pig Records. The disc focuses on American roots, folk and blues, covering a diverse range of styles.



South by Southwest Music and Media Conference's 17th edition will take place March 12-16, 2003, organizers announced. Touted as "the standard by which popular music conventions are judged," SXSW Music draws a Who's Who of musicians, record company executives, club owners, radio programmers, writers, publicists and professionals of all kinds working in the music industry. The first registration deadline is Sept. 20. The music conference offers a broad range of presentations, panels, workshops and interviews. Specialized sessions such as the Continuing Legal Education program, demo listening panels and one-on-one meetings in the Mentor Program distinguish the SXSW experience. The music festival will feature acts from around the world in a plethora of styles. In the past two years, before they made an international name for themselves, artists such as The Strokes, The White Stripes and Norah Jones gave performances at SXSW. Applications for consideration to be a showcasing artist at SXSW 2003 are now being accepted. Complete information is available at with discounted fees for online applicants.


The fourth annual New York Guitar Festival will pay tribute to Jerry Garcia and George Harrison in two events at Merkin Concert Hall on Sept. 19 and 26 at 8 p.m. On Sept. 19, the Kaufman Center presents "A Long Strange Trip: The Legacy of Jerry Garcia," featuring guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, doo-wop singing group The Persuasions and banjo legend Tony Trischka. Best known as lead guitarist for Jefferson Airplane, Kaukonen is one of the founders of the band Hot Tuna -- and a major influence on electric folk and free form rock music. The famed a cappella group The Persuasions (comprised of Jerry Lawson, Jimmy Hayes, Jayotis Washington, Joe Russell and B. J. Jones) has been singing soulful harmonies together since the 1960s and recently released an album of Grateful Dead music. Trischka is one of the world's most inventive banjo players, known for exploring genres usually considered out-of-bounds for the banjo. On Sept. 26 the festival returns to Merkin Hall in a musical tribute to the late Harrison, "All Things Must Pass." The event spotlights music inspired by Harrison and a long list of guest performers including Vernon Reid, of Living Colour fame, with his ensemble; Steve Bernstein, former music director of John Lurie's band the Lounge Lizards and co-leader of the trio Spanish Fly, and his band Sex Mob, with guitarist Dave Tronzo; acclaimed guitarist/composer Wolfgang Muthspiel; and guitarist Joel Harrison with saxophonist Dave Liebman, accordionist Tony Cedras, bassist Stephan Crump, percussionist Jamey Haddad and vocalist Raz Kennedy. John Schaefer will host both events, which will be presented in association with WNYC Radio and broadcast on WNYC's New Sounds Live, 93.9 FM.



"BLACK and BLUE," the 1980 concert film featuring Blue Oyster Cult and Black Sabbath, is being reissued on DVD, the first time this cult classic has been available on home video. More than 1.5 million people saw the tour, which combined Blue Oyster Cult and Black Sabbath in its first tour with Ronnie James Dio replacing Ozzy Osbourne as the lead vocalist. The film was produced by George Harrison, who had moved into the film production business by the late 1970s. The songs performed by Black Sabbath on "Black & Blue" are: "War Pigs," "N.I.B.," "Iron Man," "Paranoid," "Die Young," "Neon Knights" and "Heaven and Hell." The Blue Oyster Cult selections included are: "Cities on Flame With Rock and Roll," "Dr. Music," "The Marshall Plan," "Divine Wind," "Godzilla," the Steppenwolf cover "Born to Be Wild" and the Doors cover "Roadhouse Blues." DVD bonus extras will include a new interview with Dio, biographies, discographies and a reproduction of the original movie poster.


The solo album George Harrison was working on at the time of his death last December has been completed by Harrison's son, Dhani, and Jeff Lynne, who were co-producers. "Brainwashed," is due Nov. 19 on Harrison's Dark Horse records and EMI. The set will be his first studio album since 1987's "Cloud Nine," which produced the No. 1 hit "Got My Mind Set on You." "Before we started working on the album, George and Dhani had collaborated extensively on pre-production," said Lynne, who worked with Harrison in the Traveling Wilburys. "George would come 'round my house and he'd always have a new song with him. He would strum them on a guitar or ukulele. The songs just knocked me out. George constantly talked about how he wanted the album to sound, and there was always that spiritual energy that went into the lyrics as well as the music."



The Wallflowers, led by Bob Dylan's son Jakob, are set to release "Red Letter Days," the band's third album for Interscope Records, on Nov. 5. The album's 12 original songs were recorded over five months in Los Angeles and produced by Tobi Miller, a founding member of the original Wallflowers line-up, and Bill Appleberry. Recording in such comfortable surroundings gave the band "the freedom to make the kind of record you always thought you were going to make as a kid," Dylan said. Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready played on several tracks.


Folk music icon Richie Havens recently joined Blind Pig recording artist Bill Perry in the studio to guest on Perry's new disc, "Crazy Kind Of Life." Havens and Perry collaborated on a rendition of the Rolling Stones' "No Expectations." "I really enjoyed working on this song with Bill," Havens said. "It's a song I've always wanted to record." Co-producer Jimmy Vivino added, "Richie and Bill in the studio together was magic, like an intimate conversation amongst musicians." More than 20 years ago, Havens was in a nightclub in New Jersey and overheard Perry playing a set of Jimi Hendrix songs. He approached and asked for Perry's phone number. Perry continues the story: "One day he called me up out of the blue and asked if I wanted to do a gig with him that weekend. I asked, 'Where's the gig' and he says, 'Japan.' I'd never flown before on a jet, but next thing you know I'm on a plane to Japan, and I don't even know his songs! Richie said, 'Don't worry, you'll do fine.' And just as we're ready to go on stage, he whispers to me, 'Just play like B.B. King behind me.' That was it." After that tour, Perry played guitar on the road for four years with Havens. Today Perry, whom Havens calls "my favorite blues guitar player," continues to play with Havens on occasion when he is not touring with his own band.



Scottish rockers Big Country bring their bagpipes-and-guitars sound back on the two-DVD live set "Final Fling" on a Sept. 24 release from Classic Pictures. The set, which covers two concerts over 200 minutes of footage, includes a tribute to the band's late vocalist/guitarist Stuart Adamson. Also included are band biographies, band member profiles, a photo gallery, discography, memorabilia and a Web link to Big Country's official site. Bonus videos include "Live at the Peppermint Lounge," "Live at Das Fest" and "The Rolling Stones Voodoo Lounge Tour." The first DVD was recorded live in East Berlin, Germany, on June 18, 1988, at The Peace Concert before 120,000 people and includes a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Honky Tonk Women." Big Country's last-ever concert is captured on the second DVD. It was recorded at the end of the "Driving to Damascus" Tour in 2000 in front of a sell-out crowd at the Glasgow Barrowlands in Scotland. "Final Fling" serves as a tribute to Adamson, who, at age 43, tragically took his own life in 2001 after battling personal problems, including alcoholism.


Mark David Chapman, Ike Turner and Rev. Marvin Gaye are the top evildoers in rock history, according to the October issue of Blender magazine. The hot pop publication, which has taken over from Rolling Stone and Spin as the must-read 'zine for contemporary music fans, put together a list of rock's "most dastardly villains" for the issue. Chapman, the assassin of John Lennon, is tops on the list of rock villains, followed by the unlucky Ike Turner, whose spousal abuse of wife and protege Tina and legendary cocaine abuse has overshadowed his credentials as one of the true inventors of rock 'n' roll. The Hell's Angels were tabbed No. 3 for killing a concertgoer during the Rolling Stones set at the 1969 Altamont festival. Gaye, who killed his son, the great soul singer Marvin Gaye, earned the four spot. Fifth place was reserved for the evil white powder cocaine, which has accounted for an untold number of rock 'n' roll deaths.



Arista records will release Santana's "Shaman," the long-awaited follow-up to the 1999 smash hit "Supernatural," on Oct. 22. "Shaman" includes three songs written by Matchbox Twenty frontman Rob Thomas and sung by three different vocalists, plus collaborations with Latin rock band Ozomatli and opera singer Placido Domingo, according to the artist's official Web site. Vocalist Michelle Branch is featured on first single, "The Game of Love," which arrives Sept. 23 at U.S. radio outlets. "There are many great artists, producers and writers that have helped to create this masterpiece of joy," reads a post on the site. "A few songs like 'Adouma,' 'Foo Foo,' 'Victory Is Won,' and 'Aye Aye Aye' have been played on the last few Santana tours. All of these songs feature members of the Santana Band." Ozomatli plays on "One of These Days," while Domingo sings on "Novus." On the same day "Shaman" hits stores, fans also will be able to purchase "The Essential Santana," a 33-track, two-disc retrospective chronicling the first 20 years of Carlos Santana's recorded output. Beginning with excerpts from his band's 1969 eponymous debut -- "Soul Sacrifice," "Evil Ways" -- and wrapping with "The Healer" -- a 1989 collaboration with late blues icon John Lee Hooker -- "The Essential Santana" houses the bulk of the guitarist's Top 40 singles. The band is gearing up for a tour starting Sept. 29 in Las Vegas.



Chickfactor Magazine is celebrating its 10-year anniversary with a series of indie-pop concerts beginning Sept. 22 at downtown New York mecca Tonic, starring Jennifer O'Connor and Linda Smith. Smith will accompany O'Connor on some songs in addition to her own set. O'Connor will be backed by Billy Villano and Eddie Ocampo of the Fandanglers playing pedal steel guitar and drums, respectively. At this year's Chickfactor-sponsored Nick Drake tribute, O'Connor's husky, deep voice was the perfect match for Drake's classic "Time Has Told Me." O'Connor's debut six-song EP, "Truth Love Work" (Courage), featured such folk-pop gems as "1983" over a simple, spare backing. Her new self-titled album, released this week, expands upon the same style. Smith is a Baltimore writer and musician who played with the Magnetic Fields in their early days. Like the early MFs recordings, her records have an intimate, home-recorded feel well-suited to her literate songs and wistful vocals.


"Eddie's Archive," three double compact discs packaged in a mock casket and containing Iron Maiden's earliest live recordings from 1979 through 1988, is set for release Nov. 5 on Columbia records. In addition, a compilation of "The Best of the B'Sides" will be issued. "We've been talking for a while about issuing a special release for our fans and I think the live recordings are very important to the history of the band," said Maiden manager Rod Smallwood. "In fact, other than the 'Maiden Japan' EP and a couple of live B' Sides, there were no live recordings released until 'Live After Death' in 1986. "These recordings encompass the early days with Paul Di'Anno through to Bruce Dickinson's arrival. Maiden's career went on from one high to another -- it really was a rollercoaster ride. I think they capture the essence of what the band was and still is all about: pure, raw energy, great musicianship and an in-your-face attitude. I've seen the casket and it looks fantastic. This is a great way to celebrate our history with the people who helped us make it," Smallwood said.



Bert Berns was one of the most influential songwriters of the rock era, penning such classics as "Twist And Shout," "Under The Boardwalk," "Brown Eyed Girl" and "Piece of My Heart." His songs will be collected together for the first time on "The Heart and Soul of Bert Berns," due out Oct. 1 on Universal Music. Universal Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Doug Morris spearheaded the project, even writing the liner notes. "There was only one reason why I decided to put this album together," said Morris, "and that was to celebrate the music and life that was Bert Berns. He was one of the few people in the music business who did in fact change the world through his talent; he made a virtue of being different, and everyone from the Rolling Stones to the Beatles recognized this and wanted to be part of it. What this record really is then is a monument to the extraordinary vision and impact of one man, Bert Berns." Berns died nearly 35 years ago at the age of 38, and his legacy has been obscured since then. "Bert wanted his kids to know him through his music," said his sister Cassandra. "So we were delighted when Doug approached us about putting this album together."


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