Rock News: Music's high and low notes

JOHN SWENSON, United Press International


"Art For Art's Sake," the city-wide celebration of the New Orleans art scene, took place over the weekend with a dramatic series of rock themes and music-related art openings. Cartoonist/humorist Bunny Matthews' much talked-about show "Art for Heterosexuals" at the Space Gallery featured art work based on traditional blues themes and the music of New Orleans avant-garde lounge keyboardist Quintron.


"He wanted to play muzak," said Matthews, "so he placed an amplifier in the middle of the room and sat quietly in the corner working his keyboard like the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain. Everybody thought we were playing prerecorded music."

The gallery openings were followed by "The New Orleans Experience," a conceptual concert in which six New Orleans groups -- Astral Project, Bonerama, Gregory Davis and Friends, Renard Poche, Ernie Vincent and Leigh "Little Queenie" Harris -- played a program of the music of Jimi Hendrix in various styles. At midnight all the groups collaborated on a "Voodoo Chile" jam.


Elvis stopped the Rolling Stones from toppling his greatest hits package, "Elvis: 30 No. 1 Hits," from the top of the U.K. charts with their own hits package, "Forty Licks." The Stones set debuted at No. 2, but the Elvis set held at No. 1. Oddly, it marked the 25th anniversary to the week of the last time Elvis and the Stones both were in the United Kingdom top five. That week the Stones debuted at No. 3 with "Love You Live" and Elvis was No. 5 with "Moody Blue."



Bono, recently tabbed as the most powerful figure in popular music, also has been chosen as the 2003 MusiCares Person of the Year. Bono will be presented the award Feb. 21 during the Grammy week celebration in New York. Established by the Recording Academy in 1989, MusiCares works to focus the resources and attention of the music industry on human service issues that directly affect the health and welfare of the music community.

"Bono is a living symbol of what the MusiCares Foundation and the Recording Academy stand for," Recording Academy Chairman Garth Fundis said in a statement. "His musical accomplishments are matched only by his endeavors to effect positive change on the human condition worldwide." Bono joins previous honorees Billy Joel (2002), Paul Simon (2001), Elton John (2000), Stevie Wonder (1999), Luciano Pavarotti (1998), and Phil Collins (1997).


The Ramainz, featuring the late guitarist/vocalist Dee Dee Ramone, drummer Marky Ramone and bassist/vocalist Barbara Zampini, release "Live in NYC" on Sanctuary Records this week. The "Live in NYC" liner notes feature a dedication from Marky to Dee Dee, who passed away in June. Dee Dee and Marky were members of the legendary punk pioneers the Ramones, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's Class of 2002 last March. Dee Dee was a founding member, primary songwriter and bassist; Marky joined in 1978, just before the band's appearance in the classic cult film "Rock and Roll High School."



"The Bristol Sessions, Vol.1," out this week on BMG Heritage, celebrates the 75th anniversary of RCA record executive Ralph Sylvester Peer's historic recording session in Bristol, Tenn., of musicians who ultimately would be known as the mothers and fathers of country music. The 18 tracks on "The Bristol Sessions" resonate into the 21st century and many appear here for the first time on compact disc with extensive liner notes and rare photos. The release documents a trip by Peer, of the Victor Talking Machine Co., who came to Bristol in July 1927 with a carload of state of the art recording gear and high expectations. A record business veteran, Peer stumbled onto Southern music and its sales potential while producing music for OKeh Records. As a Victor employee, Peer was in the field recording all the rural Southern music he could find. In Bristol, he recorded 76 songs by 19 different acts. Two were fountainheads: the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers, appearing here along with brilliant music by other lesser-known artists.

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