Rock News Two: The week in pop

JOHN SWENSON, United Press International


"To Whom it May Concern," the debut album from Lisa Marie Presley, entered the Billboard album charts at No. 5, selling more than 140,000 copies in its first week and making it one of the year's highest debuts. Television appearances are confirmed for CNN's "Larry King Live" and NBC-TV's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," where she'll appear as both lead guest and performer on May 1. The video for lead single "Lights Out" is now on "X-Large" rotation on VH1, and also in rotation on MTV and CMT. An episode of VH1's "Driven," dedicated to Presley, will debut June 1. Dates for Presley's debut U.S. tour, kicking off in June, will be announced shortly.



The T.J. Martell Foundation has joined forces with eBay to raise funds for Cancer and AIDS research by auctioning exclusive celebrity experiences and music memorabilia. Items up for auction include an opportunity to be part of an intimate audience with Madonna at her exclusive MTV taping of a performance of music from her soon-to-be-released album "American Life" in New York City April 22. Seats for the taping of Metallica's "MTV:ICON" appearance in Los Angeles May 5, the chance for a winner and guest to stroll down the red carpet in Los Angeles May 31 to front row seats at the 12th Annual MTV Movie Awards, a pair of front row seats for VH-1's "Divas Duets" hosted by Queen Latifah in Las Vegas May 22, and tickets to a taping of a special performance by Radiohead at the Beacon Theatre in New York June 6 also are included. The T.J. Martell Foundation also is auctioning music memorabilia, including award plaques, clothing, scripts, signed CDs and more. For more information visit



The second annual Tribeca Film Festival definitely will strike a different attitude from the ordinary average film festival, with several rock music-related American premieres and off-the-wall films representative of the lower Manhattan's true sensibility. The festival, which runs May 3-11, will feature the U.S. debut of a number of important music films, including several rock titles. "Prey For Rock & Roll," Alex Steyermark's directing debut, stars Gina Gershon as a band frontwoman who questions her dreams of rock stardom as her 40th birthday approaches. David C. Thomas delivers a powerful documentary about Detroit rock heroes in "MC5: A True Testimonial." The festival includes two films about the Ramones -- "Hey Is Dee Dee Home," directed by Lech Kowalski, an unflinching portrait of the bassist; and "End Of the Century: The Story Of The Ramones," directed by Michael Gramaglia and Jim Fields. "Eric Clapton and Friends," a documentary of the guitarist's rehearsals for his 2001 tour, directed by Jana Bokova, also is on the bill. The extensive schedule includes a number of wacky comedies and midnight shows as well, including the legendary claymation sex documentary by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Jimmy Picker, "The Age of Ignorance." "I was just trying to make the stupidest film I could make," Picker said. "I didn't know it was gonna become a cult item."



World-renowned British artist and designer Roger Dean will celebrate the opening of a New York City gallery exhibition with an invited performance by the Boston-based modern music ensemble Birdsongs of the Mesozoic April 24 at The Grant Gallery in Soho. Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, whose new CD "The Iridium Controversy" (Cuneiform) will feature cover artwork by Dean, has been described as "the world's hardest rocking chamber music quartet." Birdsongs of the Mesozoic is known for pioneering a unique musical style that combines a classical sound with an eclectic array of elements, including rock, jazz, minimalism and free-form improvisation. From April 24 to May 25, The Grant Gallery will exhibit more than 20 of Dean's evocative and visionary images, including Green Tower, Yesshows, Dragons Garden, Floating Jungle, Asia Pyramid/Alpha and Race With the Devil. Dean first heard Birdsongs in concert at NEARfest in June 2001 in Pennsylvania, where he was the featured guest. He became an instant fan of the group, and they have maintained overseas contact since.


Kenny Chesney's Margaritas'n'Senoritas Tour is the No. 1 ticket seller for the first quarter of 2003, according to Pollstar figures. It is in front of Bon Jovi, Phish, Shakira, Cher and Tim McGraw, among others. "You're out there, playing the dates, singing the songs -- and truthfully, you're not even thinking about it," Chesney said. "You get out there, you hear those fans and you just go for it. Who knew so many people were coming? Because it's not about the head count... for us, it's all about how loud they get! We said all last year, 'You can sit down if you want to... or you can stand up and get rowdy with the rest of us.' Hearing about this Pollstar thing makes me think a whole lot more people were getting rowdy with us than we ever realized." Having set several venue attendance records -- including Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., -- and maintaining a feverish road pace, Margaritas'N'Senoritas kicked off with the first ever advance sell-out of Nashville's annual Gaylord Center's New Year's Eve show. With the arena leg winding up, Chesney and new tourmates Keith Urban and Deana Carter get ready for the outdoor sheds. "We try to bring a little bit of the islands to the fans," said the triple-platinum-plus superstar, whose "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems" knocked Ashanti out of the Billboard's No. 1 slot on the Top 200 Albums chart. "In the winter, that's a pretty big deal... especially in places like North Dakota and Minneapolis," he said. "But come the summer, there's nothing like being outside under the stars and kinda getting into that groove."



Since leaving Bob Weir's Ratdog in 2000 after a four-year stint -- during which he also toured with the Other Ones and Phil Lesh & Friends -- Dave Ellis has been concentrating on music closer to his heart. His new album, "State of Mind" (Milestone) is a commanding showcase for the distinctive tenor saxophonist with an outstanding support band consisting of Mulgrew Miller, Christian McBride, Vincent Herring, Lewis Nash, Peter Washington, and Carl Allen. "I wanted to do things that were challenging and hadn't been heard all that much," Ellis said. "I like songs -- tunes that can be played on a kazoo or by an orchestra and remain intact. And in approaching an album, I like to think I'm good at constructing an entity, something you want to listen to from start to finish. I'm very proud of this record in that regard."


Artist manager Janet Walden of Blue Cobra Music from San Antonio has started a campaign against the boycott of French products. Walden has circulated the following message to the blues community: "The music business has a friend in the French. The French record company Dixie Frog Records has signed American blues artists such as Neal Black, Johnny Winter, Tommy Castro, Popa Chubby, Chris Duarte, Coco Montoya, Charlie Musselwhite, Calvin Russell, Duke Robillard, Buddy Guy and a slew of other non-French artists. So those Americans who choose to boycott French products are also choosing to boycott these American artists. These artists are welcomed with open arms in the French culture. Especially artists from Texas. It's a big deal for Texas artists to perform in France. The French embrace the American artists, when those same artists may have a hard time filling a room with 200 seats in some areas of this country..." Walden has gotten a wide range of responses. "A lot of people support my position," she said. "One musician said we should boycott French products except Dixie Frog records. But I'm amazed at the level of anger, violence and hatred expressed by people who don't agree with me."



Aretha Franklin, Jefferson Airplane, Thompson Twins, Ace of Base and Perry Como are among the artists who'll be represented on the BMG Heritage "Platinum & Gold Collection," which launches May 6. The series of compilations will be drawn from the diverse BMG family of labels, featuring some of the music industry's hitmakers and the

chart-topping songs that made them world renowned. Collections from artists as diverse as The Guess Who, Harry Belafonte and Evelyn "Champagne" King are in the works. There will be 20 to 30 planned releases each year. Kicking off the series will be collections by Ace of Base, the Delfonics, Aretha Franklin, Hot Tuna, the Thompson Twins, Dionne Warwick and Perry Como. Coming June 17 are collections by Willie Nelson, Jefferson Starship, Gladys Knight, Angela Bofill, Real McCoy, SWV, Carly Simon, Taylor Dayne, Neil Sedaka, and The Alan Parsons Project.


Fabulous Thunderbirds singer and harmonica player Kim Wilson has his first studio album in six years, "Lookin' For Trouble," due out June 10 on M.C. Records, the label's first release under its new distribution deal with Minnesota-based Navarre Corp. "Lookin' For Trouble" is a showcase for Wilson as a singer, songwriter and harmonica player. The album features his regular touring band of Troy Gonyea on guitar, Mark Stevens on keyboards and Jon Ross on bass. It was recorded in two sessions at the beginning and end of 2002, the first with Steve Ramsey on drums, the second with Richard Innes. Guest horns on several tracks are performed by "Sax" Gordon Beadle on tenor sax, Doug James on baritone sax and Scott Aruda on trumpet. The new album features nine songs either written or co-written by Wilson, including two versions of the title song, one done as a blues shuffle and the second as a rock 'n' roll tune. Wilson also puts his unique stamp on five cover tracks: the Willie Dixon classic "Love My Baby," Dave Bartholomew's "Hook Line and Sinker," Jimmy Rogers' "Money Marble and Chalk," Snooky Pryor's "Tried To Ruin Me" and L.C. McKinley's "Down With It."



Metal innovators Anthrax has added additional material to the band's new CD, "We've Come For You All," including an official bootleg video and new photos of the group. The album will be released May 6 on Sanctuary Records. The official bootleg video, shot in Chicago in 1999, features a performance of "Got the Time" in addition to a very rare "Among the Living/I'm the Man/Caught in a Mosh" medley. Vocalist John Bush, guitarist Scott Ian, bass guitarist Frank Bello, drummer Charlie Benante and new guitarist Rob Caggiano currently are on tour in Europe. Anthrax will hit the road in May for a North American tour with Motörhead beginning May 6 in Philadelphia through May 29 in Los Angeles, stopping in New York, Montreal, Cleveland, Chicago and Milwaukee with additional dates to be announced.


Conga master Ray Barretto will be honored by some of the greatest names in Afro Carribean music April 29 at New York's Swing 46 Jazz Club. The show features the Ray Vega Sextet with special guests Carlos "Patato" Valdes, Candido Camero, Larry Harlow, Jimmy Sabater, Eddie Montalvo, Nicky Marrero, Bobby Sanabria, Ray Mantilla, Robby Ameen, Jimmy Delgado, Gilberto "Pulpo" Colon, Ralph Irizarry, and others. One of the first true crossover artists to blend Latin and jazz rhythms, Barretto's artistry has graced more recordings than almost any other conguero of his time. Barreto's nickname is "Hard Hands" due to his driving, compelling technique.



David Kunian, a radio documentarian working out of New Orleans, is well known for his documentaries about New Orleans legends James Booker, Earl King, and the Dew Drop Inn. Kunian has a new documentary on the great Guitar Slim. The hour-long program premieres on WWOZ 90.7 FM in New Orleans Thursday, May 15 and Friday, May 16. The documentary features interviews with Jerry Wexler, Earl King, Robert Parker, Gerri Hall, Carol Fran, Kidd Jordan, Lawrence Cotton, Porgy Jones, boyhood friends of Slim's from Hollandale, Miss., and others.


Circus Clone Records, the Brooklyn, N.Y., company that released the groundbreaking Vic Thrill album "CE-5" earlier this year, has announced a national distribution deal with Mayhem Records and Alternative Distribution Alliance. One of the leading distributors of independent music in the United States (Nirvana, Liz Phair, Pavement), ADA falls under the Warner Music Group umbrella. Circus Clone Records was founded in 2003 by Billy Campion, also known as Vic Thrill, former lead singer of The Bogmen, who had several albums released through Arista Records in the late 1990s. Campion formed Circus Clone to release records by an eclectic range of artists in the creative enclave of Williamsburg in Brooklyn. A national release for Vic Thrill through ADA is due in June. Other Circus Clone releases include The Bogmen "Live" CD and DVD recorded at two sold-out benefit concerts last year at New York's Irving Plaza in memoriam to the wife of Bogmen keyboardist Brendan Ryan, who perished in the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Circus Clone also will be releasing "Killed By The Lights," by New York's favorite rockers The Knockout Drops. Circus Clone also has slated releases by Brooklyn's Reverend Vince Anderson, BigBooté, The What, Havana 13, and Vic Thrill's NYC Subway Orchestra, which Campion has been assembling since the summer of 2002.



Vocalist Gary Floyd is best known at the front man for SST/Sub Pop/Warners boogie blues rockers Sister Double Happiness and for fronting the Austin, Texas, provocative punk rockers, The Dicks. Floyd's 1980's SST recordings are often cited by Seattle grunge bands as a seminal influence on that early 90s' style. Floyd's latest work, "Mad Dogs and San Franciscans," is a collaboration with instrumental psychedelic jazz rock groovers Mushroom. Mushroom has collaborated in the past with Bundy K. Brown, Faust, Kevin Ayers and Daevid Allen of Gong as well as individual members' work with Beck, Beth Orton and Don Was. "Mad Dogs and San Franciscans" reworks 1960s and '70s songs from Curtis Mayfield, Spirit, Steppenwolf, Leon Russell, Spencer Davis Group, Clarence Carter, Joe Cocker, and The Who.


Christie's in London will auction off a rare piece of Beatles and Donovan memorabilia April 30. The item is a Philips c-60 compact cassette tape described in the catalog as "partly recorded in India at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's academy in Rishikesh, India, between February and April, 1968. The A-Side label lists Donovan singing The Beatles' "Across The Universe," "Maharishi/Happiness Runs" and "Wedding Of Shiva." The side also includes vedic Chants and a Maharishi speech. The B-side, according to the catalog description, is "inscribed in black felt pen (faded) in an unknown hand Chant/Oobla Dee/Rocky Racoon -- (the Beatles songs taped from a record)." According to the catalog, John Lennon, the Maharishi and others can be heard in the background as Donovan sings "Across the Universe." "The Maharishi laughs at the song's chorus 'Nothing's gonna change my world,'" notes the catalog, "at which point Lennon can be heard saying 'That's why I want to do it again -- change that line'... at the end of the song Lennon comments... 'We've all been humming that in our meditation.'" Christie's estimates the lot is worth roughly $450-$750.



The second annual Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee, featuring headliner Neil Young, has been sold out for some time, but organizers are scheduling a Long Island version of the event for August, reports Newsday. Newsday's Glen Gamboa cites "insiders" who suggest The Dead and the Dave Matthews Band will be announced as the big attractions for the Northeast version of the event, which will take place Aug. 8-10 at Enterprise Park at Calverton in Riverhead. Organizers expect 80,000 fans each day. Tickets will go on sale before the end of the month.


White Stripes, the Detroit-based primitivist rock duo of Jack and Meg White, will fill the unprecedented role of being the guest artist on "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" for four consecutive days April 22-25. NBC notes it's the first time a popular music group has been booked for such a long run on a late night talk show. The Stripes will play a new song from its new album "Elephant" at each show.


A long-unavailable classic album from folk-rock pioneers The Holy Modal Rounders, "Good Taste Is Timeless," has been reissued. Rounders co-founders Peter Stampfel and Steve Weber are captured at the peak of their powers on this 1971 classic, cut in Nashville with guest artists Tracy Nelson (Mother Earth), D.J. Fontana, and pedal steel legend Pete Drake. The album features the definitive version of the Rounders gonzo anti-jock anthem "Boobs A Lot." The reissue includes new liner notes by Stampfel.


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