Rock News: Music's high and low notes

By JOHN SWENSON, United Press International  |  Nov. 29, 2002 at 3:00 AM
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Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Keb' Mo', Jerry Garcia, Curtis Mayfield, David Crosby, Peter, Paul and Mary, Arlo and Woody Guthrie are among the artists featured on "Freedom: Songs From The Heart of America," a three-CD boxed set due out Dec. 10 on Columbia/Legacy Records. The set is a companion to the PBS series "Freedom: A History of US," an eight-hour PBS series that will debut in January 2003. The series features numerous celebrity voiceovers, including Paul Newman, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Meryl Streep, Christopher Reeve, Glenn Close, Morgan Freeman, Robin Williams, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hanks, Angela Bassett, and many others. The series, based on the best-selling book series by Joy Hakim, has been in production for more than five years. Columbia/Legacy's soundtrack set will feature contemporary artists singing songs about freedom, in addition to legendary blues, gospel, folk, and country recordings from the past century.


A group of mostly New York-based artists have collaborated on a tribute to Jimi Hendrix on the week of what would have been the rock legend's 60th birthday. "The Electronica Files -- J. H. Dossier" reinterprets the classic Jimi Hendrix catalog through the vision of producer CoolNerd. Hendrix was born Nov. 27, 1942. Independent Exile Records has assembled a cornucopia of underexposed talent to bring Hendrix's legendary sound back to the future with an "Electronica" attitude.


iMUSIC recording artists Tom Tom Club are gearing up for the holidays with a special treat for their worldwide fans -- free downloads of new Christmas songs. While the Toms' American fans have been buried in Turkey Day preparations, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth have been buried in the studio, readying two tracks to be released in December on their Web site, The first song is a French track called "Il Est Ne* (He Is Born)." Chris Frantz describes it as a "very traditional French carol with sacred overtones." "Il Est Ne*" has been Tom-ified by the chillout sounds of an old fashioned TR 808 drum machine under live cellos and organ, topped by harmonies from Weymouth, and will be available Dec. 1.

"Christmas In The Club" is an original track that oozes "party secular overtones and is not sacred at all," said Frantz. The song features vocals from both Tina and Chris. "Christmas In The Club" should go live at the band's Web site Dec. 15.


Does the planet need a new name? Vic Thrill thinks so. Find out why on his debut album, "CE-5," an extraordinary combination of science fiction themes, punk rock energy and electronica. Thrill's band was founded by former members of the Bogmen and Garden Variety. After the demise of both bands, the two camps fused their exotic alternative and indie punk in the electronic realm. The music often is described as "electro-trash." The live show ranges from full-on multimedia, electronic circus extravaganzas to trashy basement gigs. The crowd at Brooklyn's Luxx nightclub, which was packed with musicians -- including members of buzz band My Outdoor Life -- danced wildly at the CD release party last week. "CE-5," produced by Robbie Adams (U2, Smashing Pumpkins, Rollerskate Skinny, Bogmen) is the band's first full length DIY release on Circus Clone Records. "CE-5" (Close Encounters of the 5th Kind) delivers a sonic shout out to the far reaches of the universe, and soon there will be an answer, Thrill insists.


The newly created New Orleans Mayor's Office of Economic Development is sponsoring a music series to benefit the local music community. The series, which will be held at the Parrish room of the House of Blues, opens Dec. 3 with Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen, and Bleu Orleans. The Leroy Jones Quartet and the Little Rascals Brass Band will be on the Dec. 10 show, while rock up-and-comers Catch Velvet and World Leader Pretend appear Dec. 17. The series continues in the new year with a reggae show Jan. 7 starring The Revealers supported by Iris May Tango. On Jan. 14 Kelly Love Jones and Myself take the stage, followed Jan. 28 by the Joe Krown Organ Combo and Troi Bechet. The lineup for the remaining seven shows in the series will be announced soon.

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