Field Reportings from Issue #14
ON THE RECORD: Allstarmag’s daily e-mail news reports the following information on a couple of tribute albums. Emmylou Harris has recorded a duet of Gram Parsons’ “Sin City” with Beck for a Parsons tribute Harris is executive-producing for the Almo Sounds label; and Birdman Records has tentatively scheduled a fall release for its tribute to former Moby Grape/Jefferson Airplane member Skip Spence, with tracks from Son Volt, Alejandro Escovedo, Robyn Hitchcock and Wilco, among others….
Speaking of Wilco, they spent most of December and January in Chicago and Dublin, respectively, tracking more than two dozen songs with Billy Bragg for an album of unreleased Woody Guthrie lyrics set to newly composed music, which is scheduled for release in June. Wilco’s next record likely will be moved to early ’99 to allow for ample promotion and perhaps touring behind the Guthrie record….
Vic Chesnutt’s second album for Capitol, tentatively due out later this year, reportedly features Nashville outfit Lambchop as his backing band.
LET’S MAKE A DEAL: Chicago-based Bloodshot, the original standard-bearers of insurgent country, have finally signed a UK distribution deal. Chip Taylor’s Train Wreck Records will distribute Bloodshot in England and Ireland….
Banjoist Alison Brown’s Compass Records (co-founded in 1995 with bassist/producer Garry West) has signed a distribution deal with Koch International. The Compass roster includes Brown’s solo work and albums from Victor Wooten, Kate Campbell and Farmer Not So John….
Two-year-old Boston label Tar Hut has entered a distribution agreement with Nashville’s E-Squared and the Alternative Distribution Alliance. A re-release of the Ex-Husbands’ self-titled debut is due April 21; May 5 finds the second Angry Johnny & the Killbillies record, What’s So Funny?, hitting the shelves.
TV & FILM: While in New York recently, the Derailers shot a live segment for an MTV pilot called “Cringe”. Whether the show ever airs is an entirely different matter, but MTV is evidently interested in producing some form of alternative country programming….
Mark Rubin has produced and co-written (with fellow Bad Liver Danny Barnes) the soundtrack to Austin filmmaker Richard Linklater’s latest opus, The Newton Boys. Set for release on Sony Music Soundtrax, yet another new corporate splinter, the music accompanies Linklater’s film about small-time bank and train robbers from the early part of this century. Rubin produced a selection of new and old Dixieland and hot-jazz tunes for the project. Maybe the oddest and best Oscar nomination, especially in a year when the nominations fell so blatantly to commercial excess, not artistic triumph, went to ex-Heatmiser Elliott Smith for his song “Miss Misery” in Good Will Hunting. Smith contributed six songs to the film, and now (after three solo records on indies Cavity Search and Kill Rock Stars) is signed to DreamWorks
BITS & PIECES: Riding the heels of a fresh appreciation for the late Harry Smith’s newly reboxed Anthology of American Folk Music), Smithsonian Folkways will celebrate ITS 50th Anniversary on May 1 with a concert at Carnegie Hall, Lineup and ticket price had not been announced at press time. The label’s home page address is 222.si.edu/folkways; Carnegie Hall’s ticket office phone is 212-247-7800….
Whiskeytown has been selling a new T-shirt on its current tour. It reads: “I played in Whiskeytown and all I got was this lousy goddamn T-shirt.”
’97 TOP TEN: Each December, the frequent visitors to America Online’s “No Depression — Alt.Country” message board vote on their ten favorite records of the past year. This year’s list was compiled by Garry Morse. From a total of 69 submissions received, with 10 points given for #1, 9 for #2, and so on, here’s what topped the 1997 tally:
1. Whiskeytown, Strangers Almanac (330 points)
2. Bottle Rockets, 24 Hours A Day (167.5)
3. Richard Buckner, Devotion + Doubt (155.5)
4. Son Volt, Straightaways (125.5)
5. Robbie Fulks, South Mouth (113.5)
6. Steve Earle, El Corazon (112)
7. Buddy Miller, Poison Love (105.5)
8. Jayhawks, Sound Of Lies (104.5)
9. Bob Dylan, Time Out Of Mind (96)
10. Old 97’s, Too Far To Care (92)