July 2004

Shortlist Prize Long On Big Names

Although the recipient of the Shortlist Music Prize won’t be announced until Nov. 11, as an indication of the event’s growing prestige, the Shortlist has already lined up judges and sponsors.

This year’s judges — or Listmakers, as they’re called — are Norah Jones, the Dixie Chicks, John Mayer, Jack Black, Jim Jarmusch, the Cure’s Robert Smith, System Of A Down’s Serj Tankian, Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am, Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba, Massive Attack’s 3D and three returning names: Perry Farrell, Queens Of The Stone Age’s Josh Homme and the Roots’ ?uestlove.

MTV2 returns for the third time as TV sponsor, and XM Satellite Radio is this year’s radio partner. As it did last year, MTV2 will air a special on the Shortlist Prize that will include concert footage from the awards ceremony, which will take place at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles.

XM, in addition to presenting the winner with a $5,000 check, will add programming elements for the six weeks leading up to the awards.

“The growth we’re seeing is the size of the platform we’re able to offer the finalists,” awards co-founder Greg Spotts says. “Here we are just starting, and we’ve already cemented programming with two of the most progressive national [music] outlets.”

Providing exposure for emerging acts has been the goal since Spotts and co-founder Tom Sarig started the awards in 2001. “The world doesn’t need another ivory tower award that doesn’t mean anything,” Sarig says. “We wanted it to have practical goals that help break artists who are left of center.”

That was certainly the case with last year’s winner, Damien Rice. Sarig says Rice’s album “O” (Vector/Warner Bros.) had sold about 100,000 copies in the United States at the time it won last year. It has now sold 282,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

“Winning the award is another piece of the pie that shows he’s an artist to be reckoned with,” Sarig says.

The criteria for eligibility remain the same: any artist’s full-length release that came out between July 1, 2003, and June 30, 2004, that at the time of its nomination has not been certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Listmakers submit up to seven albums. They then receive a list of all judges’ submissions and rank their 10 favorites. From that list, 10 finalists are determined and announced at the end of September.

Sarig says the Shortlist is also looking into a possible compilation album from the nominees and a tour.

Source billboard.com.

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Mark Knopfler’s Fourth Solo Album Due Sept. 28th

Mark Knopfler’s fourth solo album will be released Sept. 28 via Warner Bros. Dubbed “Shangri-La,” the set is the former Dire Straits leader’s follow-up to 2002’s acclaimed “The Ragpicker’s Dream.”

The 14-track album is named for the Malibu, Calif., studio where it was recorded. “People like Bob Dylan, Neil Young and the Band used to hang out there,” Knopfler says. “Old California seemed to go with a pile of the stuff I was doing and some of it rubbed off on the recordings. I found myself in the ’60s a fair bit and even earlier influences from when I was small, like Lonnie Donegan and the Shadows.”

In creating “Shangri-La,” Knopfler relied on longtime collaborators Richard Bennett (guitar), Jim Cox, Glenn Worf (bass), Chad Cromwell (drums) and his Dire Straits bandmate Guy Fletcher (organ, piano).

In March 2003, Knopfler was forced to cancel tour dates in support of “The Ragpicker’s Dream” to recover from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident. He returned to live performance in November, joining Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings on a bill at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

“The Ragpicker’s Dream” debuted at No. 38 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 183,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

In other news, one of Knopfler’s guitars was among those auctioned earlier this summer to benefit the Eric Clapton-founded addiction treatment facility Crossroads Centre in Antigua. The artist’s Tobacco Sunburst Schecter Strat netted just over $50,000.

Source billboard.com.

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New Audioslave Album To Sound Unlike Soungarden & Rage

If you haven’t already forgotten about Audioslave’s roots in Rage Against the Machine and Soundgarden, Tom Morello thinks you will come the next record.

“The thing that feels different [about the upcoming second album compared to the first] is there’s even more spontaneity to it,” Morello said recently. “With the last record, each of us was inevitably bringing some of our musical histories to the room. This record, it feels like, is just Audioslave. A lot of the songs grew up out of this fresh soil of getting to know each other.”

Musically, Chris Cornell naturally fit in with Rage’s former musicians from the beginning, Morello said, but now there’s a level of comfort that’s yielded more creativity (see “Audioslave ‘Surprised’ By Adventurous New Songs, Morello Says”).

“When we played the last record, we had never even played a single live show together,” Morello said. “Now we have over a year’s worth of touring under our belts and the chemistry has developed further to make it more of a unique entity.”

Audioslave have 22 songs written for their second record and are about halfway through recording them with producer Rick Rubin.

“He’s the fifth Beatle,” Morello said of Rubin. “He’s a great collaborative partner. He has a big-picture way of looking at music, which only tends to bring out the best with the artists he works with” (see “What’s Up With That Bearded Guy In The ’99 Problems’ Video?”).

Audioslave are hard at work on the album, but the bandmembers made time for a few other endeavors. Drummer Brad Wilk recently starred in a short film (see “Tool, Audioslave Members Act Out Murder Mystery” ) and Morello and Wilk performed at last weekend’s benefit for Axis of Justice, Morello and Serj Tankian’s political activist organization (see “Flea, Tool Singer Join Fight Against Hunger, Homelessness” ). Like he did on a solo tour last fall, Morello performed material under the name the Nightwatchman, but he still has no plans to record the songs.

“The Nightwatchman plays for the people,” he said. “When shows like this arise, it’s a great opportunity to play those songs that are politically-based and from the dark recesses of the Nightwatchman’s psyche. Other than that, I’m very busy.”

Source VH1.com.

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Phish To Play Hampton Coliseum One More Time

Phish will play Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, VA on Monday, August 9, adding one additional show to the August leg of their Summer 2004 tour. It will be one of the final five shows before the band permanently breaks up following the Conventry festival on August 14th and 15th. The band has held Hampton as one of its favorite venues the past nine years, leading to the band’s release of Hampton Come Alive, recorded from Phish’s two night run there in 1998.

A limited number of tickets are available directly through PHISH TICKET-BY-MAIL’s secure online ticketing system at phish,com beginning on Friday, July 30 at 10 AM EST.

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Bluesman Keb Mo Assembles Covers For Next Album

Seeking to define his feelings in troubled times, contemporary blues singer/songwriter has assembled a collection of covers to serve as his next album. Due Sept. 21 via Okeh/Epic, “Peace … Back By Popular Demand” boasts songs made famous by the likes of Bob Dylan, Donny Hathaway, the Youngbloods and Elvis Costello.

“I wanted to this record to be meaningful and relevant to what I was feeling in our own time,” the artist says. “It started out as a collection of protest songs — but it ended up as an album about peace and freedom.”

Recorded in Los Angeles in just a month’s time, the self-produced set opens with a version of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” and closes with a rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

Along the way, the artist, whose given name is Kevin Moore, revisits such classics as Costello’s “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love and Understanding,” Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Happening, Brother,” Hathaway’s “Someday We’ll All Be Free,” and the Rascals’ “People Got To Be Free.” Tucked amidst the covers is one original, “Talk.”

Keb’ Mo’ plays a host of stringed instruments on the album, including electric and acoustic guitars, dobro and mandolin. Two members of his band, keyboardist Jeff Paris and bassist Reggie McBride, joined him in the studio.

Rounding out the studio team is a collection of storied session players: drummers Stephen Ferrone (Average White Band, Eric Clapton) and Harvey Mason (Herbie Hancock, George Benson), percussionist Paulinho Da Costa (Earth Wind & Fire, Dizzy Gillespie) and guitarist Paul Jackson Jr. (Temptations, Aretha Franklin).

Here is the “Peace… Back By Popular Demand” track list:

“For What It’s Worth”
“Wake Up Everybody”
“People Got to Be Free”
“What’s Happening, Brother”
“The Times They Are A-Changing”
“Get Together”
“Someday We’ll All Be Free”
“(What’s So Funny About) Peace, Love, and Understanding”
Source billboard.com.

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