Rock News Two: The week in pop

By JOHN SWENSON, United Press International


Simon and Garfunkel might be planning a reunion performance at the Grammy awards, during which they will be presented with Lifetime Achievement honors. The duo has planned a rehearsal but has not publicly committed to a performance yet. Garfunkel told the New York Post he and Simon are "in contact about what we'll do. I don't know what will be asked of us. I'm preparing some things, but really, I don't know." Garfunkel, 62, told the Post he was pleased with the Lifetime Achievement award. "I don't want to seem like I have an inflated ego, but I did take making records seriously," he said. "When you record, you put down the very best you have, so I always spelled recording with a capitol 'R.' I always wanted the finest from myself. I wanted to deliver the maximum amount of feeling in a song. So even in the '60s, I knew if a song was really wonderful, it just might last 100 years. That was a far-out notion, but I had that notion."



50 Cent has the hottest album in the country, but Jennifer Lopez is hanging onto the top single on the Billboard Hot 100, with "All I Have," which features LL Cool J. "All I Have" held No. 1 for the fourth week in a row, although 50 Cents' "In Da Club" is a hot track on its own. "In Da Club" tops the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles and Tracks chart for a third consecutive week, and is No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Rap Tracks chart for the fourth week in a row.


A classic live concert from the Beach Boys recorded in 1980 is set for March 4 CD release on Eagle Records. "Good Timin' -- Live at Knebworth, England 1980" documents the last concert the five original Beach Boys -- Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Mike Love, and Al Jardine -- played together in the United Kingdom. A DVD/VHS version of the show will be released later in the month. The concert originally was intended as a television special that never materialized but the whole thing was recorded and finally will see the light of day. The band began to fracture in the years following the concert, with Brian Wilson leaving in 1982 and brother Dennis dying in 1983. The show is a greatest hits package that includes "California Girls," "Sloop John B," "Darlin'," "God Only Knows," "Do It Again," "Little Deuce Coupe," "Surfer Girl," "Help Me Rhonda," "I Get Around," "Surfin' USA," "Good Vibrations," "Barbara Ann" and "Fun, Fun, Fun."



Shock rocker Marilyn Manson is set to co-headline Ozzfest, which will start its summer run June 28 in San Antonio. Manson has a new album, "The Golden Age of Grotesque," scheduled for release May 13 on Interscope Records. Manson co-produced the album with Tim Skold. The first single will be "mOBSCENE." "This album is about expression," Manson insisted. "The imagination and personality of the individual cannot be trapped by small minds or defined by any one person. The genius of art finds sanctuary among children and madmen to survive. That, is who we are."


Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera's Justified and Stripped tour is set to roll June 4 at America West Arena in Phoenix. The pair will vamp across country until winding up Aug. 24 in St. Paul, Minn. Timberlake's first solo tour is designed to promote the former 'N Sync star's solo debut, "Justified" (Jive). Aguilera is promoting "Stripped" (RCA), which has launched the hit singles "Dirty" and "Beautiful."


"Last of the Mississippi Jukes," a documentary tribute to the blues and juke joints of Mississippi by filmmaker Robert Mugge, will be made available on DVD by Sanctuary Records March 18. The featured music -- performed by such artists as Alvin Youngblood Hart, Chris Thomas King, Bobby Rush, Vasti Jackson, Patrice Moncell, the King Edwards Blues Band, and many more -- also will be made available on an audio CD soundtrack. From the single-room plantation shacks where the blues was born a hundred years ago to the handful of urban and rural lounges that rapidly are becoming extinct, "Last of the Mississippi Jukes" captures the essence of the blues and the juke joint legacy. The Sanctuary Records DVD and soundtrack document and celebrate the origin of blues in America and an important part of our musical heritage. The film takes you on a musical journey to Clarksdale, Mississippi's Ground Zero Blues Club, established by actor Morgan Freeman and his partners to recreate the mood and style of a traditional juke joint. Then it's on to Jackson and the remarkable 35-plus-year-old Subway Lounge, a thriving urban club now on the verge of losing its home in the historic but rapidly crumbling Summers Hotel, Jackson's first black-owned hotel. The hotel/lounge played host to many notable jazz and blues performers in the days of segregation, including Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Lionel Hampton, James Brown and Aretha Franklin.



Warner Music is releasing "The Very Best Of Cher," the ultimate collection of the diva's hits, April 1. It's the only release to have all of her American No. 1 hits on one disc. The package contains more than 70 minutes of music -- 21 songs in all -- encompassing Cher's five-decade string of unforgettable songs. The Oscar winner and musical legend also will celebrate her enduring career with a live, two-hour NBC-TV concert special, scheduled to air April 15. The album includes "Believe," "If I Could Turn Back Time," "I Found Someone," "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)," "Half-Breed," "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves," "The Beat Goes On," "I Got You Babe" and others.


The progressive rock band Spock's Beard has announced drummer Nick D'Virgilio will step from behind his kit and become the group's new lead vocalist. He will play drums on Spock's Beard's studio albums and occasionally live, but primarily a touring drummer will be used for all future concert dates. D'Virgilio, guitarist/cellist Alan Morse, keyboardist Ryo Okumoto and bass guitarist Dave Meros decided to continue the band and move forward after the departure of vocalist/keyboardist/guitarist Neal Morse in October 2002. "I'm taking all that practice I got by singing background vocals and bringing it out front," D'Virgilio said. "I am still playing drums on the recordings and will also play live some, but yes I am doing the Phil Collins and Dave Grohl drummer-to-frontman thing." A new studio album targeted for release in June will be Spock's Beard's first with D'Virgilio as the frontman.



Singer/songwriter Bret Michaels will release his first full-length enhanced solo CD, "Songs Of Life," April 22 on his own Poor Boy Records. Written and produced by Michaels, all 14 tracks on "Songs Of Life" are inspired by events in his life. The music tells his story and the CD booklet is loaded with photographs and images of Michaels' life, including a photo of him after his horrific car crash. "This is my sound and these are my songs," Michaels said. "Love it or hate it, 'Songs Of Life' is me, a straight-up rock record and the fans are getting the real deal. Always have and always will. I don't know any other way." Michaels, who turns 40 March 15, has been an insulin-dependent diabetic since the age of 6. The vocalist has suffered and survived the complications of the deadly disease. "In many ways, diabetes is as much a blessing as a curse," he said "It's taught me that even if I've had to work twice as hard to get half as far, it's shown me to never give up, no matter what the conditions."


AC/DC will perform a free show for its fans at New York's Roseland Ballroom March 11, the band's only U.S. performance in 2003. Tickets will be distributed to radio, retail and online contest winners from around the world. The only way to win a ticket to this performance is through select radio and retail outlets and at AC/DC will perform songs from their entire catalogue, which is being re-issued, re-packaged and re-mastered by Epic Records. The first six titles, "Back in Black," "Live" (single disc), "Highway to Hell," "High Voltage," "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap," "Live" (two-CD collector's edition), come out this week. In recognition of its achievements, the band will be inducted into and also perform at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony March 10.



A record 157 international acts have been invited to South by Southwest Music Conference and Festival 2003. Two international panels are planned and more internationals have been invited to participate in general interest panels such as Accounting and Indie PR. The United Kingdom, Ireland, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil all have substantial representation this year, and bands from China, Peru, Slovenia, Italy and more also will appear. Finland is making a splash with the backing of the newly formed Music Export Finland office. A handful of the top Finnish bands will perform at SXSW 2003, including the death metal act Children of Bodom (Spinefarm Records), which dominated the Finnish Top 40 at No. 1 for three weeks with its latest album "Hate Crew Deathroll"; Koneveljet (Exogenic Records), whose sound is described as "techno-jazz ranging from trance to big beat"; and RinneRadio (Rockadillo Records), also representing the burgeoning Finnish electronic music scene. SXSW 2003 takes place Wednesday, March 12, through Sunday, March 16, in Austin, Texas. For more information, visit


The Mystic Knights of Mau Mau have announced the lineup for the second annual Ponderosa Stomp, which will take place April 29 through May 1 at the Rock'N'Bowl Mid City Lanes in New Orleans. Last year's three-day Ponderosa Stomp was an unqualified success, featuring the best blues, rockabilly and rock'n'roll musicians in the world, from the historic reunion of New Orleans' own Cosimo Matassa studio band to seldom heard blues players, original rockabilly stars and show-stoppers galore. More than 1,000 people attended the three-day event. For the past eight months, the Mystic Knights have continued their quest to bring lost blues, rock'n'roll, country and soul to the forefront.



Spinal Tap's Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer return to the virtual stage with "A Mighty Wind" at The South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival. The film, directed by and starring Guest, is a mockumentary from the creators of "Waiting For Guffman" and "Best In Show." The reunion of 1960s folk trio the Folksmen is captured as they prepare for a show at Carnegie Hall to memorialize a recently deceased concert promoter. The cast features Guest, Shearer, Eugene Levy, Michael McKean, Parker Posey, Bob Balaban, Ed Begley Jr., Catherine O'Hara and Fred Willard. The South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary March 7-15 in Austin, Texas.


BMG Heritage completes its reissue of the Lovin' Spoonful's catalog this week with the release of "Hums of the Lovin' Spoonful" and "Everything Playing," the band's last two albums, complete with previously unreleased tracks, unpublished photos and authoritative notation. With restoration by acclaimed reissue producer Bob Irwin (Bob Dylan, Byrds, Janis Joplin) from the long-lost original master tapes, these releases mark the first time the albums have been remastered since the original recording sessions. Within a year of their debut in 1965 the Lovin' Spoonful were superstars, anchored by the charismatic frontman John Sebastian and guitarist Zal Yanovsky. Containing all of the classic tracks from the originals in addition to a wealth of unreleased highlights, these two key albums chart the sound of a generation-defining band at their peak. "This re-issue of 'Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful' is criminally overdue," noted R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck in January 2003, calling it "the best, most consistent record by America's most underrated band." The reissued "Hums..." is enhanced with five previously unreleased bonus tracks, highlights including a rare demo version of "Darlin' Companion," plus instrumental versions of album tracks "Rain on the Roof" and "Full Measure." The Lovin' Spoonful's fourth studio album "Everything Playing," recorded in 1967, turned out to be John Sebastian's last recording with the group. Included here are remastered versions of three Top 20 hits "Six O' Clock," "She's Still a Mystery," and "Money" plus "Younger Generation," a Sebastian classic made famous at Woodstock.



Last week, on a rare night off from her current gig playing violin in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, violinist/singer/songwriter Soozie Tyrell was reunited with two old friends, John Hammond and David Johansen. Hammond and Johansen were playing a co-billed show at New York's Bottom Line, to help the venerable club ring in its 30th year. Tyrell, who plays on Hammond's new album "Ready For Love" (Back Porch Records), and who was a member of Johansen's band during the Buster Poindexter years, came to the Bottom Line intending to cheer her old friends on from the audience. But when Hammond called Tyrell to the stage to join him on violin and vocals for two tunes from his new album -- George Jones' "Color of the Blues" and the Freddie Hart ballad "Easy Lovin'" -- she couldn't resist. Tyrell complimented other top-notch players in Hammond's band, including keyboard legend Augie Meyers, and percussionist Stephen Hodges. Tyrell steps to center stage April 8 with the release of "White Lines" (Treasure Records), her debut album.


Rock iconoclast Frank Zappa is depicted in an unusual manner in a new book put together by his younger sister, Patrice "Candy" Zappa. Zappa's sibling has collected the charming "My Brother Was a Mother: A Zappa Family Photo Album" (California Classics), featuring more than 60 previously unpublished candid shots of the Zappa family. Candy reminisces about life back in Baltimore, where the Zappa family lived before moving to California.



The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, known worldwide as "Jazz Fest," will mark its 34th year by opening one day sooner, expanding and intensifying its legendary presentation of Louisiana's historic and contemporary contributions to world culture, organizers said last week. The festival is set for Thursday, April 24 through Sunday, May 4. Jazz Fest Producer/Director Quint Davis said, "Adding a day to Jazz Fest has given us the ability to go even deeper into the culture, highlighting both the classic and the current like never before."


Otis Clay, backed by the terrific Platinum Band, scorched the ship full of blues fans on the Legendary Blues Cruise, which ended over the weekend. Backed by the terrific Platinum Band, which also supported soul legend Tyrone Davis, Clay played a magnificent set of classic Memphis rhythm and blues. At the climax of his set Clay launched into his signature hit, "Trying to Live My Life Without You," pulling off his tie, then his jacket, as the dancers, many dressed in pirate outfits after a week cruising through the Caribbean, sang along and stabbed fists into the air. Breaking into "Take Me To the River," Clay had the pirates singing along as the band did choreographed dance steps. "Give it that Sunday morning feeling," urged Clay, who began an impassioned sermon over the music. "We don't need no more war there's too many dying all over this world." Clay and the band went on to play an electrifying medley of "Love and Happiness," "Soul Man," "I Wanna Testify" and "Respect Yourself." At the most intense moment of "Respect Yourself," Clay waved his hand and the band stopped dead, bowed their heads in unison and held the position for over a minute as the crowd stood in awe, then slammed back into the beat for a stirring finale. Clay also starred at the St. Croix Blues Festival during the cruise ship Melody's day in port at that island, along with Saffire and Taj Mahal, who brought his Hawaiian band for the last seven days of the cruise after showcasing a series of Piedmont blues artists during the first four days.



"Wall to Wall," the annual day-long free concert celebrating the work of a single artists, will examine the songwriting of Joni Mitchell at New York's Symphony Space March 22. The 12-hour marathon will feature more than 100 performers, including Laurie Anderson, Joan Osborne and the Mingus Big Band. The concert will be presented in association with WFUV, Public Radio from Fordham University, which will broadcast the entire program live, along with a live audio stream on The 33rd annual Wall to Wall will explore in-depth this extraordinary artist's continuing legacy. Participants are drawn from diverse backgrounds including pop, jazz, classical/new music, international music, cabaret, poetry, as well as the contemporary singer-songwriter scene. The 12-hour presentation is divided into four three-hour segments. Each segment will afford the listener a chance to hear some well-known favorites, like "Circle Game" and "Both Sides Now," as well as music from her less well-known albums such as "Don Juan's Reckless Daughter" and "Night Ride Home." Mitchell's output, 21 albums over 30 years, is widely regarded as one of the most significant and consistent collections of work by an artist of her generation.

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