Rock News: Music's high and low notes

By JOHN SWENSON, United Press International  |  May 21, 2003 at 3:00 AM
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When Asleep at the Wheel played a sold-out show recently in Bakersfield, Calif., at the Crystal Palace, the legendary Buck Owens presented Wheel leader/guitarist Ray Benson with one of his custom-made "Buck Owens" metal-flake red, white and blue collector's edition Fender Telecaster guitars. Owens also thanked Benson for his efforts all these years in keeping Western Swing and the music of Bob Wills alive. Owens was returning the favor of two years ago, when Benson gave Buck one of his own signature "Texas" guitars, which is on display at the club.

"Buck Owens has been an inspiration to me since my earliest days," said Benson in accepting the guitar. "His singing, writing and musical style have been one of the cornerstones of my band, Asleep at the Wheel, from the beginning to the present day. For Buck to give me one of his famous red, white and blue Telecasters is like winning a gold medal in the Olympics -- the Pickin' Olympics! Thanks, Buck, I am truly touched and grateful."

Benson's new solo CD, "Beyond Time," which features special guests Dolly Parton, Delbert McClinton, Jimmie Vaughan, Flaco Jimenez and Stanley Jordan, is set for release June 24 on Audium Records.


Lou Reed laughs when he sings the blues, The New York Post quotes filmmaker Win Wenders as saying. Wenders is the director of "The Soul of a Man," the first installment in Martin Scorsese's seven-film series on the blues, which premiered Friday at the Cannes Film Festival. In the film, Reed joins Beck, Bonnie Raitt and Nick Cave in interpreting the songs of Mississippi delta blues legend Skip James.

"For Lou, it was so much fun, I am proud to announce he actually laughed," the Post quotes Wenders. "And we have it on tape -- no photographer has ever captured him smiling on film."


Alternate-rock duo the Cash Brothers will put out their new album, "A Brand New Night," Aug. 12 on Zoë/Rounder Records. Produced and written entirely by Andrew and Peter Cash, "A Brand New Night" features the brothers' intertwined harmonies mixed with acoustic and electric guitar hooks, creating melodic roots-rock on songs ranging from the pulsating "Shadow of Doubt," "You're It," and "Sweet" to the contemplative "Dealing with the Distance" and title track "Into a Brand New Night." David Leonard, known for his work with artists such as the Indigo Girls, Dwight Yoakam and Shawn Colvin, mixed the album. "A Brand New Night" follows up the successful 2001 release of their U.S. debut, "How Was Tomorrow."


Legendary guitarist Steve Hackett will release his latest solo album "To Watch the Storms" June 3 on InsideOut Music America. It's his first new material in four years. "To Watch the Storms" is a notable addition to Hackett's canon because he used his current touring band in the studio.

"It's been awhile since I had a band on a record," said the former Genesis axeman. "There has been a very nice atmosphere, a camaraderie that exists. In fact, we all met up for a drink recently, just to socialize."

A broad range of musical styles is covered on "To Watch the Storms," from progressive rock and hard rock to jazz, classical, folk and music hall styles. Deliberately humorous elements and dry British wit are found as well, specifically on the droll "The Devil Is An Englishman," which was written by Thomas Dolby ("She Blinded Me With Science").

"This was a two-year project in all, but most of the recording was done in one year," Hackett said. "I have a home studio but I wanted to get away from the domestic din so I recorded this album in my new studio, which is not too far from my house. Things tend to be sketched out when I make a new album. I make pretty elaborate demos. For me, songwriting is like baking a cake and playing guitar is the icing on the cake."


Seattle-based heavy soul band Maktub made its first music video with the help of director/Maktub fan Daniel Korn. The clip for "Just Like Murder," described by Korn as "beautifully disturbing," depicts the subconscious images of a man torn apart by the end of a romantic relationship. The haunting and occasionally bizarre video complements the tone of "Just Like Murder," one of the darkest songs on Maktub's Velour Records release, "Khronos."

As lead singer Reggie Watts intones the lyrics, "When you take your love away from me/It's just like murder," the song's main character is depicted as isolated, floating in a canoe down the hallways of Oakland's Paramount Theater, where the video was shot in early April. The man's ex is seen in lingerie, seducing a man in a Woody Woodpecker costume. These eerie nightmare visuals are cut together with scenes of a happier time in the relationship, as well as early childhood. Korn's stark lighting and quick editing lend the video a classic horror movie feel and enhance its surreal quality.

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