Rock News: Music's high and low notes

By JOHN SWENSON, United Press International  |  May 13, 2003 at 10:38 AM
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Blues legend B.B. King and rock guitar hero Jeff Beck will be the headliners at the 12th annual B.B. King Music Festival. This nationwide tour kicks off on the West Coast July 25 and will include amphitheater stops in major U.S. markets through September. The landmark event, presented by VH1 Classic, will feature King and Beck on tour together for the first time ever. Rounding out the tour are New Orleans-based progressive funk outfit Galactic and up-and-coming Florida-bred blues band Mofro. This year's festival lineup marks a turning point with the inclusion of newcomers Galactic and Mofro signaling the festival's desire to embrace the exploding American grassroots rock scene. These two bands not only will bring their particular brands of funk, soul and blues to the shows, but also a dedicated and ever-growing fan base that defines the genre. In years past such greats as George Thorogood, Buddy Guy, Etta James, The Neville Brothers, Little Feat, Dr. John and many more shared the stage with King.


Columnist Liz Smith reports Courtney Love is putting the finishing touches on a new album entitled "America's Sweetheart" in the south of France before deciding which label to sign with. Smith writes Virgin, Sanctuary and Richard Branson's V2 labels all are in the running for the disc and one will get the nod from Love before the week is out. Love proceeds from there to the Japanese MTV awards May 25, where she will present the Best Rock Video trophy. Later this year she's slated to begin filming Luc Besson's "Macbeth," in which she will play the malevolent Lady Macbeth.


Grunge pioneers Pearl Jam are looking for a new record label, the New York Post reports. The Seattle-based band completed its contractual obligations to Sony last year. The Post quotes sources as saying talks with other labels have been "heating up." A band spokesperson declined to confirm the Post report. Pearl Jam currently is on tour. Sony, which has undergone a reorganization since the departure of company chief Tommy Mottola at the beginning of the year, recently lost top artist Wyclef Jean. Another star, Ozzy Osbourne, quit Sony's Epic subsidiary after 23 years on the label.


Randy Jackson, a judge on the "American Idol" TV series, told TV Guide he's bored by the talent he's being asked to evaluate on the show. "These kids are singing terribly," Jackson said of the final contestants. "I miss the showmanship of Justin (Guarini) and Tamyra (Gray). I think some of these contestants have tried too hard to play it safe."


The Radiators, New Orleans premier rock band, played the closing performance at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival last week, then hit the road for a pair of weekend gigs at New York's hottest club, B.B. King's. The band, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, played one marathon set Friday night because the club was concerned that patrons would go outside between sets to smoke in compliance with New York's ban on indoor smoking and not return. The group's incendiary performance and the enthusiasm of its followers apparently changed minds at the club, which allowed the band to return to its usual two-set format for Saturday's show.

Highlights included "Barnburner," "Welcome To The Monkey House," "River Run," "Death Of The Blues," "Stealin A Feelin," "Jump Back," "Furthur On Up The Road" and "Out On The Western Plain." The entire audience stayed for the second set, which included several terrific extended medleys and outstanding guitar interplay between Caile Badoin and Dave Malone.

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