Rock News: Music's high and low notes

By JOHN SWENSON, United Press International  |  Dec. 10, 2002 at 3:21 AM
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New Orleans rockers The Radiators spent the weekend partying with a group of fans at the Atlantis Resort complex in the Bahamas.

The "Aztec Vacation" theme party was arranged by graphic artist Kingsley Stoken, whose colorful poster designs are the calling card of his Radiators appreciation society, S.N.A.F.U., which uses a yellow submarine sticker as its logo. The band played (opening one set with the party's anthem, "Snafu You," custom-written by keyboardist Ed Volker) in a gazebo close to the Atlantis casino on Paradise Island in the resort's labyrinthine garden complex.

Volker also referenced the event by playing an old Radiators favorite, "Little Paradise." The fans got a special treat when the Rads started off the final set of the last night by switching around the instruments -- Volker and bassist Reggie Scanlan played guitars, guitarists Camile Baudoin and Dave Malone played keyboards and bass -- to play a raucous garage rock rendition of "Gloria."

"We played 'Out On the Rolling Sea'," said Volker "and one of the guys who works here came up to me and said, 'That song you all did, that's "Out on the Rolling Sea" right?' I said, 'Yeah, that's a Joseph Spence song.' He said, 'I was telling one of the women who work here that's Bahamian history you're listening to.' The sweetest gospel music came out of this island. It's amazing to be here but I don't think I'm in any of the realms that Joseph Spence, Freddy McQueen or the Pindar family were in when they were making all of that wonderful music.

"I don't have to go eat the food and go to the church ... the music itself is the church. The song is the food, that's the stream wherein I find my nourishment. It's what sustains me. It's good to help nourish and sustain what nourishes and sustains you because maybe then it will sustain other people too," Volker said.


Songwriter-producer Michele Vice-Maslin is wrapping 2002 the way she entered it, topping the charts. Last year, Vice-Maslin co-authored the No. 1 single "Get Over Yourself," which was one of the best-selling singles of the year and served as the theme song to the WB Network's television series "Popstars."

On the radio now is the Vice-Maslin co-penned song "Help Me," the debut single from Backstreet Boy Nick Carter (Jive Records). Vice-Maslin contributed material to the debut album from "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson, which is due for release on RCA Records early next year. The veteran tunesmith also has two cuts coming out in January by Nobody's Angels on Hollywood Records.

Vice-Maslin has also co-written and is co-producing a song for the debut album by Jive recording artist Nikki Cleary. In other media, Vice-Maslin wrote three songs featured in the season premiere episode of the Fox Network's animated comedy hit, "King of the Hill," and scored a major television commercial campaign for the legendary Barbie doll line.

"What keeps things interesting to me is constantly growing and expanding my craft," Vice-Maslin said. "I pride myself on being able to write in a variety of styles for a variety of different artists, outlets and situations. Not only does that challenge me to come up with fresh melodies and lyrics, but also it keeps me flexible and provides the freedom to explore various genres.

"It really doesn't matter if you dress a song up to fit pop, R&B, adult contemporary, dance, Latin or even smooth jazz projects. Once you strip away the production, it's all about the quality of the songwriting that either works or doesn't," she said.


Grande Diva Nancy Wilson celebrated her 50th year in show business this year but she's not stopping for breath. On Monday, Jan. 13, 2003, Wilson will be honored with a tribute concert featuring the Grammy-winning vocalist accompanied by a 12-piece string ensemble and a swinging 16-piece orchestra, "Nancy Wilson with Strings: Celebrating Four Decades of Music."

Wilson intends to perform a variety of popular songs and jazz tunes, including her classic interpretations of standards like George and Ira Gershwin's "Embraceable You" and "Someone To Watch Over Me." Wilson has recorded more than 80 albums, appearing most recently on a compilation with Ramsey Lewis called "Meant to Be" (Narada) and her re-issued "A Nancy Wilson Christmas" (Telarc).


Funky saxophonist Bill Evans is set to release "Big Fun," the followup to his Grammy-nominated "Soul Insider," on ESC Records Feb. 4, 2003. With a supporting cast of Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, Ricky Peterson on Hammond B-3 organ, Hiram Bullock on guitar, Clifford Carter on piano, Manolo Badrena on percussion and James Genus on bass, along with special guests Randy Brecker, Robben Ford, Les McCann, Mickey Raphael and Willie Nelson, the former Miles reedman has concocted his most groove-conscious outing to date while making no concessions to his own natural stretching aesthetic.

From the title track, an earthy throwdown fueled by ex-Frank Zappa drummer Colaiuta's slamming backbeats and Ford's blues-drenched guitar work, to the urgent closer "Street Corner Man," Evans digs in on tenor and soprano to deliver the goods with a touch of swagger tempered with tons of soul. The Voodoo Horns -- a crack studio section comprised of Conrad Herwig on trombone, Lew Soloff on trumpet and Evans himself overdubbing alto, tenor and baritone horn parts -- lend extra punch to this decidedly kicking affair.

"This record was so much fun to make," Evans said. "It was just a big party in the studio with these cats. We laughed and joked our way through the whole session so I thought 'Big Fun' would be an appropriate name for the CD."


BMG Heritage will be reissuing "Quah," the first solo album from Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna guitarist Jorma Kaukonen Jan. 7, 2003. The lost classic 1974 release has been long unavailable, and now comes with four additional bonus tracks selected by and remastered in collaboration with Kaukonen himself.

Kaukonen's diverse career began as a guitarist for Janis Joplin and founder of pioneering groups Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna to a solo career that spans three decades. In 1973 Kaukonen was in the midst of the acrimonious breakup of both his marriage and Jefferson Airplane. From this tension came "Quah," an album of exquisite beauty. Originally conceived as an equal collaboration with fellow Bay-Area guitarist and singer-songwriter Tom Hobson, upon completion the label had judged most of Hobson's contributions too esoteric for release.

Several of these rare tracks are released here for the first time, including "No Mail Today" and "Barrier." The album's lead track, "Genesis," is one of several semi-autobiographical songs about Kaukonen's dissolving marriage.

"It's about a guy who cheated on his wife and got caught," he said. "The good news is I got a good song out of it."

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