Belated Condolences to the family and friends of music mogul Tom Ayres who passed away May 30th in Shreveport at age 67; Ayres, a Sabine Parish, LA native, worked for Hanna-Barbera Productions, ABC Records, Columbia Records, United Artists, Kama Sutra Records, Buddha Records, and RCA Records, among others; Ayres is credited with boosting the careers of local talent Victoria Williams and rock superstar David Bowie (Ayres' role in Bowie's career is noted in the biography "Stardust: The David Bowie Story"); Ayres also worked with The Dartells, the Sir Douglas Quintet, Ultra Violet, and Gene Vincent.
P in Picayune: rapper Master P discusses the state of his No Limit empire in a Times-Picayune feature article by Keith Spera.
New Reviews: check out reviews of new CD's from Lonnie Johnson ("Unsung Blues Legend"), Big Tymers ("I Got That Work"), and Britney Spears ("Oops ... I Did It Again").
Going For Gold: May, 2000 certifications by the RIAA included Gold Records for Master P ("Only God Could Judge Me") and Pantera ("Reinventing the Steel").
Ride 'Em Cowboy: singers Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, and their manager were arrested in Orchard Park, NY after Chesney rode off on a sheriff's horse and all three scuffled with police; McGraw faces a felony charge of assaulting a police officer, plus three other misdemeanors; the incident took place after a concert late Saturday that is part of the George Strait Country Music Festival; gee... my dad never did that! (see below).
Top of the Pops: country crooner Tim McGraw was named "Father of the Year" by the National Fatherhood Initiative at their annual summit on June 2nd; the NFI chose McGraw as a celebrity role model for for his contributions to children's charities, his personal vow to his own family of placing them as a priority over his career, and his inspirational childhood story ... McGraw grew up not knowing his biological father, famed ballplayer Tug McGraw; when Tim was eleven, the pair met and have since developed a strong and sincere relationship.
Jimmie Davis Honored: former Louisiana Governor Jimmie Davis will be honored with a special recognition award at the 31st Annual Songwriter's Hall of Fame induction ceremonies scheduled for June 15 in New York; Davis will receive the Towering Song Award for his classic "You Are My Sunshine" .... performers at the event, being held at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers, include Aaron Neville who will pay a musical tribute to crooner Johnny Mathis.
Concert Line: ever-popular Santana will play the New Orleans Arena on 10/03; other upcoming concerts of note include Robert Bradley, Juliana Hatfield, Cash Money Millionaires, The Jayhawks, Trisha Yearwood, Ween, Dwight Yoakam, Tim McGraw & Faith Hill, Pearl Jam with Sonic Youth, Christina Aguilera, Santana, and Willie Nelson with the Dixie Chicks.
Blues Triumvirate: local talents Jumpin' Johnny Sansone (harmonica), Joe Krown (keyboards), and John Fohl (guitar) are joining forces for a few gigs, starting in late June (see the concert page); the three will be featuring their skills in an acoustic, trad blues format; all of these cats are worth seeing on their own - together, they should be awesome!
Musical Passings: Latin jazz legend Tito Puente passed away in New York on June 1st at age 77 ... Jazz guitarist Joe Puma passed away in New York on May 31st at age 72 ... Big band vocalist Tex Beneke passed away in Santa Ana, CA on May 30th at age 86.
Master P Gets Wired: adding new meaning to "I Got the Hook Up", Master P has announced the formation of No Limit Communications, a new venture into the telecom biz; NLC, a joint venture between Master P and local comm's carrier Alliance Network, will offer a wide range of prepaid telecom products including local home phone service, long distance calling cards, cellular, paging, Internet, and e-commerce; Master P will reveal more in a press conference, scheduled for June 1st (10:00 am) at the Windsor Court Hotel.
Billboard & BET Jazz Awards: the 1st annual Billboard & BET Jazz Awards will be held on June 9th in Washington D.C.; finalists for awards include Harry Connick, Jr. (3 nominations), Wynton Marsalis (2), Branford Marsalis (2), and Dr. John (1); the event will be televised on BET and BET On Jazz.
W.C. Handy Awards: congratulations to Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown who picked up the award in the "Blues Instrumentalist - Other" category at the W.C. Handy Awards, held on May 25th (Gate was cited for his fiddle playing).
Get To The Point: the New Orleans Nightcrawlers will host a CD Release Party for their new live album "Live at the Old Point" on May 25th; the performance will appropriately take place at the Old Point Bar in Algiers, where the CD was recorded; the event is scheduled to be covered on radio and the 'net by WWOZ-FM.
Britney No. 1 & Breaks Sales Record: Britney Spears' sophomore album "Oops!... I Did It Again" will enter the Billboard 200 Albums chart at No. 1 (for the week of June 3rd); she will dethrone 'N Sync, who have held the spot for 8 weeks; the first week sales for "Oops!" topped 1.3 million copies, smashing the record for first-week sales by a female solo artist (Britney's 1.3 mil is also the 2nd highest first-week sales figure for any artist in the history of SoundScan); Louisiana music will pack a 1-3 punch in the June 3rd chart - the latest from Cash Money Records rappers Big Tymers ("I Got That Work"), will debut in the Pop chart at #3 and #1 in the R&B albums chart.
Those Darn Kids: MTV will air the season premiere of "The Real World New Orleans" on Tuesday, June 13th.
New Orleans Musical Passings: services were held on Saturday, May 20 for blues and R&B vocalist Otis Jenkins, who passed away on April 18th at age 56 ... noted R&B, jazz, and classical musician and music educator Richard Payne passed away on May 17th at age 68; services are scheduled for Monday morning (May 22nd) at St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church.
Drifters Hit The Road: local favorites the Continental Drifters will be touring the U.S. in June, and will be back in town for a show at the Howlin' Wolf before heading off for a number of gigs in Germany; while they're away, you can check out some video interview and performance clips at icast.com; a list of tour dates is available at the Drifter's web site.
News Bytes: Dan Aykroyd will join with the Louisiana Office of Tourism to host a special "Sounds of Louisiana" concert at the Chicago House of Blues on May 31st; the line-up includes blues guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd and zydeco man Rockin' Dopsie, Jr. ... Britney Spears' former Mickey Mouse Club cohort Christina Aguilera has added a stop in New Orleans to her upcoming concert tour; she will play the New Orleans Arena on September 27th.
Ford Recovering: R&B legend Frankie Ford is recovering from corrective surgery to repair cartilage on his right hand that interfered with his piano playing; doctors have declared the surgery successful, and Ford is expected to resume playing while undergoing physical therapy on his hand.
P on the Big Screen: rap star Master P makes an appearance alongside Academy Award winners Nicholas Cage and Angelina Jolie in the upcoming Touchstone Pictures film "Gone in 60 Seconds", which opens nationwide on June 9th; P plays the role of Cage's nemesis who runs a competing auto-theft ring.
Basin Street in the Charts: congrats to local label Basin Street Records who has 3 albums in the Billboard Jazz Chart for the week of May 20: Los Hombres Calientes, "Volume 2" (at No. 15); Dr. Michael White, "A Song for George Lewis" (No. 38); and Kermit Ruffins, "Swing This!" (No. 49).
Our Sympathy goes out to family and friends of Zydeco trumpeter, flautist, singer, and band leader Warren Ceasar (aka "The Crowd Pleaser"), who passed away unexpectedly in Lafayette on May 11th at age 48; Ceasar's first profesional gig was with Guitar Gable while still in his early teens; he later worked with Clifton Chenier, Isaac Hayes, Luther Ingram, Al Green, Lil' Bob and the Lollipops, Zachary Richard, and many others; recordings include an appearance on the live collection "Zydeco Shootout At El Sid O's" and his 1995 solo album, "Crowd Pleaser"; Ceasar and his band Creole Zydeco Snap performed at this year's Jazz Fest on May 6th; services are scheduled for May 15th in Lafayette.
Fanfare!: more than 20,000 country music lovers will convene in Nashville for the annual International Country Music Fan Fair which runs from June 12 - 17; the week-long festival allows country fans to meet and mingle with their favorite artists for autographs and photos, and enjoy over 30 hours of live performances; Louisiana country stars at the event will include Trace Adkins, Tim McGraw, Brooks & Dunn, and music group River Road; other stars performing or meeting & greeting include LeAnn Rimes, Alan Jackson, Jo Dee Messina, Terri Clark, Sawyer Brown, Kenny Chesney, Billy Ray Cyrus, Lonestar, Alabama, John Berry, Clint Black, Martina McBride and Wynonna Judd.
Pause For A Cause: Ernie K-Doe's "Mother in Law Lounge" is the site of weekend benefits to raise funds for the burial of blues man Otis Jenkins, who passed away recently; similar to the recent case of R&B great Bobby Marchan, there were no family or funds available to arrange a proper burial after his passing; details on Jenkin's passing are unknown, but he had been in poor health for many years, and was a long time sufferer of diabetes; benefit concerts will be held May 12 thru 14, beginning at 9:00 pm each night; call Antoinette K-Doe at (504) 947-1078 for further information (or to make a contribution).
Brit-TV: pop tart Britney Spears takes over MTV this weekend in anticipation of the Tuesday, May 16th release of her sophomore album, "Oops! ... I Did It Again"; the media blitz culminates on Sunday with a live performance from MTV's Times Square studios; see our TV page for details.
Viva! New Orleans: ¡Cubanismo!'s collaboration with local musicians titled "Mardi Gras Mambo: Cubanismo in New Orleans" is scheduled for release on August 22nd; read more.
Comeback for No Limit: the latest No Limit Records release, "Goodfellas" by the 504 Boyz, will enter the Billboard 200 Albums chart at No. 2 (for the week of May 20); the album, featuring No Limit all-stars Master P, C-Murder, Silkk the Shocker, and Mystikal, racked up sales of 139,000 units in it's first week on the street; upcoming TV appearances by the 504 Boyz include The Roseanne Show (May 12) and Soul Train (May 20).
Jazz Fest 2000: check out Fest reviews and recaps from SonicNet.com.
Local Remixer Wins Competition: mixmaster Tears of Technology (Danny Carrone) recently won a beatflow.com and Jive Eletro Records remix contest; his winning remix of Jive Records recording artists Hardknox's "Attitude" will appear on their upcoming 12" release, due later this month.
Harry To Film Down Under: crooner/actor Harry Connick, Jr. has been cast opposite Glenn Close in ABC's upcoming version of Rodgers & Hammersteinís "South Pacific"; Connick will portray Lt. Joe Cable and Close will play nurse Nellie Forbush; the film is scheduled to start shooting in Austrailia in early July.
Britney Does It Again: teen pop queen Britney Spears made her second Rolling Stone cover appearance in issue 841 (May, 2000); Britney was previously featured on the cover of the April 15, 1999 issue.
McGraw Named Top Vocalist: congratulations to crooner Tim McGraw who was named Top Male Vocalist at the Academy of Country Music Awards held in Los Angeles on May 3rd.
Goines Headed Back To School: New Orleans born reeds man Victor Goines has been named as the first director of the Jazz Studies program at the famed Julliard School in New York; prior to this assignment Goines taught music at UNO, Xavier, Loyola, and Florida A&M.
Pearl Jam update: alt rockers Pearl Jam have announced venues & on-sale dates for their upcoming tour to support their new album, "Binaural"; the tour includes a stop at the New Orleans Arena on August 14 (tickets go on sale on June 3rd); this will be Pearl Jam's first visit to New Orleans since their 1995 performance at Tad Gormley Stadium; Sonic Youth are scheduled to open the 08/14 show..
Billboard Music Award for Los Hombres: congratulations to Los Hombres Calientes and our friends at Basin Street Records for their coup at the Billboard Latin Music Awards held April 27th in Miami; the Hombres self-titled debut album was named Contemporary Latin Jazz Album of the Year; the show airs on cable channel Telemundo on April 30th at 8:00 pm Eastern.
Neville's Go Postal: the New Orleans post office and the Jazz & Heritage Foundation will honor the Neville Brothers with a commemorative souvenir envelope in ceremonies at the main New Orleans post office (Loyola Ave.) on April 27 (at 11:00 am); the limited edition (only 2,500 printed) envelopes can be purchased at the event for $10.
Wolfman Honored: Mayor Morial has declared April 30th as Walter "Wolfman" Washington Day; events include a concert in The Blue Room at The Fairmont Hotel, followed by a party at the Dew Drop Inn; call 949-7988 for more info.
Big Easy Awards: the 13th Annual Big Easy Awards were held at the Hilton Hotel on April 24th; musical winners included the Greater St. Stephens Baptist Church Choir, Trinity 5:7, Mike West, BeauSoliel, the late Beau Jocque, the Preservation Hall Band featuring Wendell Brunious, Astral Project, the Treme Brass Band, ReBirth Brass Band, Juvenile, MuleBone, the Continental Drifters, Galactic, Deacon John, Mem Shannon, Egg Yolk Jubilee, the Revealers, Fredy Omar, Fats Domino, and Leigh "Little Queenie" Harris; special honorees were The Hackberry Ramblers (Musical Heritage Award), Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown (Lifetime Achievement Award), and Britney Spears (Entertainer of the Year).
Rappers Get Label Deal: Modern Records have signed a long term recording contract with popular New Orleans Rap group Lil' Jay; the contract includes 5 new albums, with the first due for release in early July; Lil' Jay, which includes Frank (Jay) Shamberger, Jr. and Lil' Shack, are the founding members of the group Paid, which has been together for about eight years; Modern Records, Inc. was founded in 1980 by Paul Fishkin, Danny Goldberg, and long time Fleetwood Mac singer, Stevie Nicks.
In Brief: keyboard wiz Henry Butler is among the artists scheduled to perform at the W.C. Handy Awards on May 25th; he will perform with Traditional Blues Female Artist nominee Odetta ... perennial hoops hopeful Master P has signed with the Atlantic City Seagulls of the United States Basketball League.
W.C. Handy Awards Y2K: The Blues Foundation announced the candidates for the 21st Annual W.C. Handy Blues Awards on January 11th; nominees with Louisiana connections include: Bobby Rush (Blues Entertainer of the Year and Soul/Blues Male Artist); Irma
Thomas (Soul/Blues Female Artist); Larry Garner (Contemporary Blues Male Artist); Marcia Ball (Contemporary Blues Female Artist and Blues Instumentalist - Keyboards); Dr. John (Blues Instumentalist - Keyboards); Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown (Blues Instumentalist - Other); Lonnie Brooks, Long John Hunter, & Phillip Walker (Contemporary Blues Album and Blues Album of the Year for "Lone Star Shootout"); Lazy Lester (Comeback Blues Album of the Year for "All Over You"); and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown (Reissued Blues Album of the Year for "Okie Dokie Stomp"); awards will be handed out on May 25th at the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis; here's the full list of nominees.
Louisiana Blues Progeny Up For Awards: nominees for this year's W.C. Handy Awards also include Ronnie Baker Brooks (son of blues guitarist Lonnie Brooks) and Shemekia Copeland (daughter of late guitar legend Johnny Copeland).