Field Reportings from Issue #44
TALK OF THE TOWNES: In The Beginning, a collection of Townes Van Zandt demos recorded in 1966 — a couple years before the release of his debut album — will be released April 22 by Houston label Compadre Records. Nine of the disc’s ten tracks are songs that never appeared on previous Van Zandt recordings. Jeanene Van Zandt, Townes’ ex-wife and executor of his estate, says the demos were recently unearthed by producer Jack Clement, who was converting a batch of old analog tapes to digital format….
Much of Van Zandt’s catalog has fallen in and out of print over the years on Tomato Records. However, in January the label brought back to the racks six of his most prominent titles: For The Sake Of The Song, Our Mother The Mountain, Delta Momma Blues, Flyin’ Shoes, The Nashville Sessions and Van Zandt’s self-titled album. This follows last year’s reissue of the landmark Live At The Old Quarter.
WHAT’S NEW: New to the New West roster are Vic Chesnutt, whose Silver Lake album is due out March 25, and John Hiatt, whose first record for the label is scheduled for April. New West also recently reissued a handful of discs from acts on its roster: Jon Dee Graham’s Escape From Monster Island (originally issued on Freedom Records); Slobberbone’s Crow Pot Pie and Barrel Chested (previously on Doolittle); and Stan Ridgway’s Black Diamond (formerly on SIR)….
Former Lone Justice frontwoman Maria McKee has set an April 22 street date for High Dive, her first album of new material since 1996’s Life Is Sweet. McKee is releasing the disc on her own label, Viewfinder….
The long-awaited solo debut from former Lemonheads leader Evan Dando, Baby I’m Bored, is due April 22 on Bar/None….
May 6 brings the debut of the Thorns, a collaborative effort between songwriters Pete Droge, Shawn Mullins and Matthew Sweet, on Columbia affiliate Aware….
Skaggs Family Records unveils the latest from Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Live From Charleston Music Hall, on March 15. The album was recorded on two successive nights in November 2002 in Charleston, South Carolina….
Expect a new album from IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year Rhonda Vincent on Rounder in April….
Violinist Soozie Tyrell, featured in the E Street Band on Bruce Springsteen’s recent album and tour, issues her solo debut White Lines April 8 on Treasure Records. The disc features contributions from Springsteen and fellow E Streeter Patti Scialfa as well as Larry Campbell and Tony Garnier from Bob Dylan’s band….
Another string player from Springsteen’s latest record, Jane Scarpantoni, is among the guests who turn up on the sophomore effort from Caitlin Cary, I’m Staying Out, due April 22 on Yep Roc. Also making a cameo appearance is Mary Chapin Carpenter….
Husband-wife duo Stephen Dawson and Diane Christiansen of Chicago band Dolly Varden have recorded a duets album due out sometime this spring on Undertow Records.
TRIBUTARIES: New tribute albums on the shelves include the two-disc live Bill Monroe: The Legend Lives On, released February 11 on Koch/Audium and featuring Ralph Stanley, Jim & Jesse, Connie Smith, Marty Stuart, Ricky Skaggs, the late John Hartford, and others; and Almost You: The Songs Of Elvis Costello, issued in January on Glurp/Bar None with tracks from the Damnations, Vic Chesnutt & Jack Logan, Kev Russell’s Junker, Fastball, Hem and others….
Two tributes to Waylon Jennings are due out this spring. Lonesome, On’ry And Mean: A Tribute To Waylon Jennings, is scheduled for a late March release on Dualtone, with tracks tentatively slated from Guy Clark, Kris Kristofferson, Dave Alvin, John Doe, Robert Earl Keen, Alejandro Escovedo and others. RCA follows in April with I’ve Always Been Crazy: A Tribute To Waylon Jennings, featuring Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Chesney & Kid Rock, Ben Harper, Alison Krauss, John Mellencamp, Phil Vassar & Rob Thomas, Dwight Yoakam and others….
Expect an Uncle Tupelo tribute album from Flat Earth Records sometime in mid-2003.
FESTIVALS: The annual South By Southwest Music Conference takes over Austin, Texas, March 12-16. Keynote speaker is Daniel Lanois. Among the hundreds of participating performers scheduled as of press time include Bobby Bare Jr., the Be Good Tanyas, Peter Bruntnell, Camper Van Beethoven, John Doe, Drive-By Truckers, Tim Easton, Kathleen Edwards, Jay Farrar, the Jayhawks, Buddy & Julie Miller, David Olney, Petty Booka, Josh Rouse, Billy Joe Shaver, the Waco Brothers, Lucinda Williams, Lee Ann Womack, and quintessential Austinite Willie Nelson, who turns 70 on April 30….
Merlefest returns to the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, April 24-27. This year’s highlights include Emmylou Harris, Ralph Stanley, the Del McCoury Band, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Guy Clark, Rhonda Vincent & the Rage, Bruce Hornsby, Asleep At The Wheel, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Hot Rize, the Whites, Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, the Sam Bush Band, and the event’s perennial host, Doc Watson, who turns 80 on March 2.
SMOGGY NOTIONS: The Jayhawks canceled a series of tourdates in January and February after leader Gary Louris was diagnosed with pericarditis, an infection of the heart. Louris’ condition was treated and he is expected to make a full recovery….
Chicago Tribune music critic Greg Kot is working on a Wilco biography due out in 2004 on Doubleday/Broadway Books. The DVD of Sam Jones’ film about the band, I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, is due out April 1 (no foolin’).
ALL THE FIXINS: The Shel Silverstein poem mentioned in a live review of Bobby Bare Jr. in ND #43 is called “True Story”, not “I Lied”. (Sorry, we lied.)…
In the “Sittin’ & Thinkin'” essay in ND #43, we misspelled the first name of King Records founder Syd Nathan. (Sorry, we goofed.) Also, James Brown never actually had an ownership stake in King, though his music did account for a significant chunk of the label’s worth at one point (and Brown took the music with him when he left the label).