Rock News Two: The week in pop

By JOHN SWENSON, United Press International
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The South by Southwest -- SXSW -- Music and Media Conference, scheduled from March 12-16 in Austin, Texas, announced additional panelists this week. In addition to SXSW's Keynote Speaker Daniel Lanois on Thursday, March 14, SXSW has added one-on-one interviews with Anthony Wilson and Lyle Lovett. Wilson is founder of the In The City conference, Factory Records and Hacienda nightclub, and a principal subject of the movie "24 Hour Party People." Wilson's previous appearances at SXSW have illuminated music business issues with his wit and insight. Lovett, an unwavering supporter of Texas music, is set to release "Smile," a collection of his songs from soundtracks and movies on Feb. 28. Conference panels will begin Wednesday, March 12, with The Crash Courses and introductory panels -- Touring and Booking; Merchandising, Management, Legal Matters, Publicity, Publishing, The Basics of Indie Labels and Distributors, and Radio Stations That Actually Play New Music. Conference panel topics Thursday through Saturday will include Label Heads Sound Off, Creating A Rock Biography, Listen For Yourself: Comparing Audio Formats, When Should You Sign With A Major?, Auditing and Accounting at Major Labels, Latin Music and the Media -- Launching A Project, Fair Use Today, Retail: Creating a Customer Base, Music in Games, Be My Guest: Music on Television, AAA Radio: More Listeners, More Impact? and A and R in the Big Picture.



Lisa Marie Presley makes her debut on Capitol Records April 8 with the release of "To Whom It May Concern." "This is me," Presley said. "This record is me. Every song is me. You're going to see who I really am and not what the tabloids say or whatever anyone has to say about me." The daughter of Elvis and Priscilla Presley has lived her life in a fishbowl. "There was press there the day I was born," she said. The album's central song, "Lights Out," looks at the dark side of her fabled heritage. "I never wanted to write a song, ever, about anything indicating my genetic code whatsoever, or my background," she said. "But if I had to do it, then 'Lights Out' would be that song. It's kind of a darker, odd take on it. It's not like, 'Woo! I'm from Memphis and look at my life and it's so wonderful.'" Presley wrote songs for the album with her ex-husband Danny Keough and Smashing Pumpkins leader Billy Corgan (co-writer and musician of "Savior"). "Danny's my best friend in the world and we write all the time," she said. "And he's a huge part of why I'm singing and writing, so I wasn't going to have him not be part of this record. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be writing or singing. Billy's been a friend of mine for a while, ever since I started writing. I played him my first few songs that I was thinking of putting on the record and he was, 'Eh, no, no! OK, I hear where you're trying to go, but no.' He was so hard core with me. A year later he heard I was progressing as a writer. I said, 'Come on and write a song with me.' He's good at dark. This is dark, but the two of us combined with the dark writing thing, it was like, 'OK, somebody just shoot me right in the head.' So it had to be taken up a bit so it would not make you want to kill yourself if you heard it."



The Oneida Indian Nation and Four Directions Entertainment will hold a party Feb. 22 honoring Native American contributions to the performing arts in connection with the official Grammy celebration. "A Celebration of American Music" is planned for 9 p.m. Feb. 22 at Times Square Studios in New York City. This celebration marks a milestone for Native Americans since it's the first time a 100 percent Indian owned and operated business has been invited to host an official Grammy Fest event. The Los Angeles-based Four Directions Entertainment is owned by the Oneida Indian Nation. "It is an honor to be recognized as hosts of an official Grammy Fest event," said Ray Halbritter, nation representative and chief executive officer of the Oneida Indian Nation. "I want to personally thank the Recording Academy for recognizing the important contributions made by Native Americans to the American music scene and for including us in the upcoming celebration in such an elevated capacity." The celebration will feature some of the best Native American contemporary musical talent, including Blackfoot-African-American R and B artist Martha Redbone and Mohawk rock and blues Jimmy Wolf.



The 2003 DIY Convention: "Do It Yourself in Film, Music and Books," has announced a new round of panelists for the Saturday, Feb. 8, event to be held at the American Film Institute in Hollywood. The DIY Convention is a series of panels and workshops focused on teaching musicians, filmmakers, authors and entrepreneurs how to create, promote, protect and distribute independent film, music and books. The convention is part of a three-day package of events that includes the DIY Film Festival and DIY Music Festival. The music panelists scheduled to appear at the 2003 DIY Convention include: Wayne Kramer, part of the legendary MC5 and now a successful solo recording artist; Chris Morris, Billboard independent music columnist; Scot Sax, songwriter for Curb recording artists Feel; Jonathan Palmer, Bug Music Publishing; Derek Sivers and Marc Roemer of leading online retailer CDBaby; Jennifer Tefft, booker for Spaceland in Los Angeles; Rory Felton, co-founder of The Militia Group; Janet Fisher, author of "Music Horror Stories"; Todd Clifford of Los Angeles indie retailer Sea Level Records; Nadine Condon, founder of the Northern California festival Nadine's Wild Weekend; Brooke Ramel, an independent musician who has sold 30,000 albums on her own; Anna Waronker (That Dog) and Charlotte Caffrey (Go-Go's), co-founders of Five Foot Two Recordings; Ladybug Mecca, Digable Planets; Mark Stern Hypnogaja; Neville Johnson, attorney; Noel Ramos, Intermixx list founder; Bob Biggs, Slash Records; Bruce Brodeen, Not Lame Recordings; and, Carrie Borzillo-Vreena, author/journalist.



The Willy DeVille Acoustic Trio will release its first recording, "Live In Berlin," Feb. 25 on Eagle Records. Willy DeVille is the founder, leader and principal songwriter of Mink DeVille, a soulful Cajun R and B band that came out of the mid 1970's New York punk scene. Mink DeVille first broke in the United Kingdom with the hit "Spanish Stroll" in 1977 and continued to release albums through the mid-80s when Willy began to perform and record under his own name. His solo single "Storybook Love" was nominated for an Oscar after it appeared in the film "The Princess Bride." The Willy DeVille Acoustic Trio also includes David Keyes on bass and Seth Farber on piano. The material on this two-disc set was recorded during their tour of Europe in the spring of 2002. As a bonus, there are eight tracks on disc two recorded by the still active Mink DeVille band in Stockholm earlier in the year.


Veteran British blues band Savoy Brown has signed a new deal with San Francisco-based Blind Pig Records. Guitarist Kim Simmonds, a founding member of the band, is set to release the group's new studio album, "Strange Dreams," on the new label. The recording is the 30th Savoy Brown album. One of the earliest of British blues bands, Savoy Brown helped launch the U.K. blues/rock movement that paved the way for such acts as Led Zeppelin. "The music of Savoy Brown has never really got that far away from the blues," Simmonds said. "Today, I can still do a show that does straight traditional blues along with rock hits like 'Tell Mama' and it all seems to fit. Everything that I have done with the band has had a blues standpoint to it." Simmonds said the Blind Pig deal marks a new stage for his music. "I've tried hard the past two years to build a new platform that will take me through the next few years of my career," he said. "I've given a renewed look at my singing and have placed that center stage, and also I've dug deeper into my songwriting capabilities. Both these aspects have improved naturally with age but I've worked at it, too. I'd like to think that the results show positively in the new CD." Savoy Brown is planning an extensive touring schedule during 2003, both in the United States and abroad, in support of the new release.



Illinois rockers Revis are readying a debut album, "Places for Breathing" (Epic) for April 15 release. Produced by Don Gilmore (Linkin Park, Trust Company) and mixed by Andy Wallace (Nirvana, System of a Down) and Alan Moulder (Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails) "Places for Breathing" is one of the most talked about rock debuts out of Illinois in years. The album's first single, "Caught in the Rain," will be released to radio Feb. 18 with a video soon to follow. The single also appears on the "Daredevil -- The Album" soundtrack, which also features Fuel, Nickelback and Seether, and hits stores Feb. 4. The quintet from Carbondale consists of Justin Holman (vocals), Robert Davis (guitars), Nathaniel Cox (guitars), Bob Thiemann (bass) and David Piribauer (drums). Several of the songs on "Places for Breathing" first appeared on the band's demo, which generated enormous interest among major record labels and producer Don Gilmore. After seeing Revis' energetic live performance, Gilmore was eager to collaborate with Revis before the band had even signed with a label.


Top new jam band Perpetual Groove has a new album, "Sweet Oblivious Antidote," ready for release Jan. 21 on Harmonized Records. The Savannah, Ga., foursome has been one of the fastest growing acts of the South in 2002. The band, known as "P-Groove" to its dedicated audience, has created a unique promotional machine utilizing the Internet, live CD trading of shows, and online music downloads. The band has replaced traditional flyers with live CDs that simultaneously advertise upcoming shows and showcase its music. "What we're doing is setting the biggest goal behind everything," said keyboard player Matt McDonald. "Every show we play and everywhere we go, the goal is to bring good music to our listeners and let everyone forget about their troubles. We try to collectively bring positive energy and vibe to a room and the audience."



Jam band stalwart Soulive has just finished work on a new album for Blue Note Records, scheduled for release April 8. On the new album the group plays exclusively as a trio -- no guest artists -- for the first time in years, stripping down the instrumentation and stepping up the energy level. The self-titled album marks an infectious return to roots for the trio, which consists of Alan Evans (drums), Neal Evans (organ, keyboards) and Eric Krasno (guitar). Incorporating elements of soul, funk and hip-hop on a range of new material, the group continues to push boundaries, never losing its trademark chicken-shack grittiness. The originals on "Soulive" range from the loping funk of album opener "Alladin" to the driving grooves of "First Street" and the explosive "Elron." On "Shaheed," the group's hip-hop instincts get a workout over clipped organ phrases, while the up-tempo "Solid" mixes bluesy harmony over a staccato -- almost electronic -- rhythm section. The lone cover, "Lenny," is a soulful take on the Stevie Ray Vaughan classic, and the album is rounded out with "Turn It Out," the title track from their independent 2000 release.



Sundance Channel will celebrate St. Patrick's Day with the U.S. television premiere of "If I Should Fall From Grace: The Shane MacGowan Story." This riveting theatrical feature, directed by Sarah Share, is one of five films that Sundance Channel will air as part of the cable network's new weekly documentary series DOCday, that launches Monday, March 3, and continues every Monday from noon until midnight with a weekly feature premiere at 9:00 p.m. Taking its title from the Pogues classic album, "If I Should Fall From Grace with God," the film celebrates MacGowan's astonishing talent without shying away from the more painful aspects of his famously chaotic life. This unflinching, music-driven documentary provides the first real insight into the background and career of the legendary Irish artist who, as lead singer and songwriter for the Pogues, became a worldwide punk icon. "If I Should Fall From Grace" is a portrait of one of the most outrageous figures in the music world. It demonstrates why, despite years of serious drug and alcohol abuse, MacGowan still is widely regarded as one of the most gifted songwriters of his generation. The 90-minute film features rare early footage, video clips and live performances interspersed with contemporary interviews that trace MacGowan's path from his first forays into London's punk scene with his band The Nips through five legendary albums with the Pogues. We are privy to his controversial departure from the group with which his name is synonymous and with which he now is re-united. The piece includes extensive interviews with MacGowan, his former bandmates, longtime girlfriend Victoria Clarke, his parents and fellow musicians Nick Cave and Elvis Costello.



Blackmore's Night has a double live CD, "Past Times With Good Company," set for North American release on SPV Records Feb 25. Legendary hard rock guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and vocalist/lyricist Candice Night created Blackmore's Night in 1997 to blend rock, pop and folk in a Renaissance-inspired pastoral style. Blackmore plays acoustic and electric guitars, but the arrangements are written for traditional and archaic acoustic instruments such as hurdy-gurdy, shawm, cornamuse, rauschpfiefe, mandolin, mandola, pennywhistle, tambourine and Renaissance drums. The album was recorded in May 2002 in Groningen, The Netherlands. It includes songs from the three Blackmore's Night studio albums -- "Shadow of the Moon," "Under a Violet Moon" and "Fires at Midnight" -- as well as two songs that Blackmore originally recorded with Deep Purple ("Solder of Fortune") and Rainbow ("16th Century Greensleeves").


Boston-based Tone-Cool Records will release a 24-track compilation, "The Story of Tone-Cool, Vol. 1," Feb. 25. Ranging from the label's first act, the 11th Hour Band, through the late-2002 release of Susan Tedeschi's "Wait For Me," the two-CD set marks the label's 50th release. "The Story of Tone-Cool, Vol. 1" includes two tracks from Tedeschi, including the 1999 breakout hit "It Hurt So Bad" that helped earn her a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist, as well as two songs from the North Mississippi Allstars. The Allstars' tracks on the set are "Shake 'Em On Down," from their 2001 Grammy-nominated "Shake Hands With Shorty," and "Sugartown" from their 2003 Grammy-nominated "51 Phantom." Other award-nominated artists on the compilation include harmonica-Blues legends Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers, winners of the W.C. Handy Award for Blues Band of the Year in 1999, 2000 and 2002; Paul Rishell and Annie Raines, 2000 Handy winners for Best Acoustic Blues Album; and, multiple Handy award nominees Bernard Allison, Double Trouble, David Maxwell and Toni Lynn Washington. The collection also features tracks from current Tone-Cool releases by Rick Holmstrom, Hobex, and Todd Thibaud.



Pioneering blues-rock guitarist Peter Green has a new album, "Reaching The Cold 100," set for release Feb. 25 on Eagle Records. The title is taken from a Robert Johnson lyric in the song "Terraplane Blues." "Reaching The Cold 100" refers to hitting the speed of 100 miles per hour in the Hudson Terraplane, an early 20th century automobile favored by John Dillinger. Green, an early member of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and an original member of Fleetwood Mac, has overcome many obstacles throughout his 35-year career, from rotating bands and lineups to a bout with mental illness. His three recent albums have been part of a dramatic revival in the guitarist's career. After releasing "Time Traders" (Spitfire Records) and "Peter Plays The Blues: The Classic Compositions of Robert Johnson" (Eagle Records) in 2000, Green put together a new band, The Peter Green Splinter Group. The group spent most of 2002 on a world tour. The group also has released an album of blues covers, "Blues Don't Change," for sale exclusively on the road and the Internet.


Reverend Horton Heat will perform a special show Jan. 31 at the Deep Ellum Live club in Dallas, which will be filmed for a live DVD. It also will be shot in high definition and aired subsequently on the high definition network HDnet. The show will be a retrospective of the band's 12-year career. The band chose Deep Ellum Live for the filming because the Deep Ellum neighborhood is where they got their start and performed for the first time. Award-winning director Mike Drumm of Music Link Productions in Denver will direct the shoot. Drumm's production credits include DVD features on the Indigo Girls, Widespread Panic, Bad Company and Ringo Starr. For the Deep Ellum Live show, the Reverend Horton Heat also is offering a special low-price advance ticket of $5 as a thank you to their local fans over the years.



Scottish rockers The Remote Part have a new album scheduled to hit U.S. stores March 25. The recording is a follow-up to the group's critically acclaimed 2001 album "100 Broken Windows." Idlewild also will kick off a U.S. club tour in Boston March 5 with a newly expanded lineup and a performance at the South-by-Southwest music conference in Austin, Texas. Formed in Edinburgh in 1995 as a quartet of distortion-wielding punks, Idlewild's debut single and raucous live shows drew the immediate attention of influential Radio One disc jockey Steve Lamacq, leading to the release of their first full-length album, 1999's "Hope Is Important." During a week in New York City in early 2002, the band met Patti Smith guitarist Lenny Kaye, who encouraged the group to build its sound further. The band retreated to a friend's Highlands sheep farm to apply Kaye's advice to more than 20 new songs. The album closes with "In Remote Part/Scottish Fiction," featuring octogenarian Scottish poet Edwin Morgan, who utters his brief poem "Scottish Fiction" atop the rising tide of guitars, piano and drums. Idlewild singer Roddy Woomble taped Morgan in his flat after a years-long correspondence, maintained since Woomble's school days.



Britney Spears as Bruce Willis' daughter? That's what the rumor-mongers are saying these days. Spears, who has been casting around for film roles, is being considered for the part of Willis' daughter in "Die Hard 4: Die Hardest," according to the London Mirror. "Britney is in talks with bosses and is delighted about starring in a 'Die Hard' film," the Mirror quoted a source as saying. "Being a big fan of Bruce Willis helps, and she can't wait to star alongside him." In the film Willis' daughter is kidnapped, then Willis rescues her, but in the end he dies, the Mirror reports.

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