Rock News: Music's high and low notes

By JOHN SWENSON, United Press International  |  Sept. 24, 2002 at 3:00 AM
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Ruben Blades' new album, "Mundo," is a breakthrough release for the Panamanian-born singer and songwriter, a visionary world music statement combining Latin, Celtic, Middle Eastern, African, Afro-Cuban Sounds and more.

"There is, we hold, a common patrimony, bigger and richer, that transcends all artificial differences and persists in our souls, throughout time and distances," Blades said. "The shared memory of a unique route, which will forever identify us, even in our darkest hours. It is to this universal memory that we appeal with the creation of this collection of songs and we dedicate it to all beings, wherever they exist."

Blades will tour the United States beginning in October in support of "Mundo." The record, Blades' 17th, is designed to highlight the commonalities that bind all people.

"Racism is absurd and my new record reflects that," he said. The tour opens Oct. 12 in Miami. An acclaimed actor, Blades also will appear in "Imagining Argentina" with Antonio Banderas and Emma Thompson, "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" starring Johnny Depp, Enrique Iglesias and Willem Dafoe, and "Assassination Tango," produced and directed by Robert Duvall. Blades also composed the score for "Empire," starring John Leguizamo, and appeared in an episode of Showtime's "Resurrection Boulevard" on Sept. 11.


Courtney Love was in the sunniest of moods Friday when she guested on "The Howard Stern Show." Love told the radio audience she has buried the hatchet with the former partners of her deceased husband Kurt Cobain in Nirvana.

"We love each other," Love said of Dave Grohl and Krist Noveslic, the former Nirvana members now in the Foo Fighters. "We're getting along. We worked it all out."

When Stern asked Love how the reconciliation occurred she said, "Lots and lots and lots of money." The reconciliation has paved the way for new Nirvana material, long under litigation, to be released.

"You'll get the new Nirvana album by Christmas," Love promised.


Carly Simon is set to release her first Christmas album, "Christmas Is Almost Here," as well as a two-disc, 40-track set of her biggest hits, "Carly Simon: Anthology," on Rhino records. Simon's first Christmas-themed album was recorded at the Peninsula Hotel in Los Angeles and produced by Don Was.

With liner notes written by Simon herself, the album includes versions of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," "Silent Night," "O Come, All Ye Faithful," and "I'll Be Home For Christmas," as well as three originals -- "The Land Of Christmas (Mary)," "Christmas Is Almost Here," and "Heaven Can't Be Far."

Also included is a new version of John Lennon's "Happy X-Mas (War Is Over)" as well as a Simon/Willie Nelson duet on Nelson's classic, "Pretty Paper." Additional musicians contributing to the release include keyboardist Benmont Tench (Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers), drummer Jim Keltner, keyboard player Billy Preston, and Simon's son, Ben Taylor.

"Anthology" features 40 tracks from Elektra, Warner Bros., Mirage, Angel, Epic, and Arista spanning 1971-2000. The collection features the gold singles "You're So Vain," "Mockingbird" (with James Taylor), "Nobody Does It Better," and "Jesse" as well as the Grammy- and Oscar-winning song "Let The River Run" from the film "Working Girl."


Musicians from New York's West African community will perform Oct. 12 at Joe's Pub in celebration of the compact disc release "Badenya: Manden Jaliya in New York City." The concert, co-sponsored by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and New York's Center for Traditonal Music and Dance, will feature performances by Abdoulae Diabete (Mali), Abou Sylla (Guinea), Keba Cissoko (Guinea-Bissau), Bah Baillo (Guinea), Tapani Cissoko (Guinea-Bissau), and Mahamadou Salieu Susso (Gambia), all of whom contributed to the "Badenya" CD.


New Orleans' tightly knit music community is rallying behind one of its own, bassist Will Ainsworth, for an Oct. 9 benefit at the Maple Leaf. Ainsworth, who has played with many of the musicians performing that night, is suffering from a particularly rare and aggressive type of cancer, and has been unable to work for most of this year. Ainsworth is one of the city's most popular bass players, most recently with the Kenny Wayne Shepherd band.

At the benefit, vocalists Charmaine Neville, Irene Sage, Kim Carson, Leslie Smith, Denise Marie and Paula Rangell will be joined onstage by drummer Cory Walters, bassist Cassandra Ankrum, violinist Nancy Buchan and others.

Although the evening promises several surprise guests, at press time the scheduled performers include Chris Thomas King, Walter "Wolfman" Washington and the Roadmasters, Mem Shannon, Bruce "Sunpie" Barnes, Coco Robicheaux, Washboard Chaz, J. Monque 'D, Rockin' Jake and Jerry Embree. Food will be provided by Rockin' Jake and Chef Emile. Door prizes will be given out during the evening and all proceeds will go to help Ainsworth with his expenses. Donations can be made directly to Will Ainsworth c/o P.O. Box 57812, New Orleans, LA 70157.

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