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Will someone out there please give rockabilly man Joe Clay a good record contract? As proof that the man's still firing on all cylinders, listen to Clay's version of "Shting Shtang," on the forthcoming Nick Lowe tribute, Labour of Love, on Telarc Records. Backed by the honeybee-buzz lead guitar of Cranston Clements, Clay's the highlight of a set that also features tracks by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Graham Parker, and the somewhat bizarre pairing of C.J. Chenier and Sleepy LaBeef. ... Irma Thomas provides a highlight of another new Telarc CD, virtuoso blues guitarist Ronnie Earl's new CD, Ronnie Earl & Friends. Thomas turns in one of her bluesiest vocals in years on a seven minute-plus medley of "I'll Take Care of You" and "Lonely Avenue." ... Young jazz guitarist Brian Prunka is releasing his debut CD, In Praise of Shadows, and playing a CD-release party at Snug Harbor on Sept. 16. Since arriving in New Orleans in 1993 to study music at Loyola University, Prunka's playing has earned praise from New Orleans' modern jazz guitar guru Steve Masakowski, and he currently leads two bands, his quartet and the jazz/Arabic music fusion group, Mahfouz. The quartet -- featuring Prunka's instrumental foil, superb violinist Matt Rhody -- plays the Snug gig. ...

The story of Paul McCartney's unannounced visit at Snug Harbor a few weeks back has made the rounds, but McCartney and his fiancee also showed up at O'Flaherty's Irish Pub and stayed for a set by O'Flaherty's regular Betsy McGovern. McCartney reportedly called McGovern "a breath of fresh air." ... Art Neville sat in with Jimmie Vaughan at House of Blues on Aug. 25, playing keyboards on "Six Strings Down," the Stevie Ray Vaughan tribute penned by Neville and Vaughan. ... Texas guitarslinger Vaughan also plays all the lead guitar on Louisiana swamp blues legend Lazy Lester's forthcoming CD, Blues Stop Knockin', due in mid-October. ... .

Breaux Bridge's Sonny Landreth handles guitar duties on the forthcoming CD from white-hot Southern songstress Shelby Lynne, titled Love, Shelby, due Nov. 13 .... In a move that epitomizes record label stupidity, planned tracks from Buckwheat Zydeco and Vicki Peterson didn't make the final version of The I-10 Chronicles, Vol. 2., making it the second time that the CD concept series that promises tunes "about life and love from the heart of Texas to the Florida coast" hasn't included a single Louisiana artist -- despite the fact that I-10 runs through our entire state. ... On the heels of the Louis Armstrong centennial celebration, Sotheby's will auction off Armstrong's boyhood cornet in a special online auction Oct. 1 through Oct. 15. The cornet's auction value is estimated between $80,000 and $100,000; it will be interesting to see if the city or state, or a local collector, steps up to try and bring the cornet back home. Potential bidders can direct inquiries to Leila Dunbar in New York at (212) 606-7146, or by email at ... Producers for England's longest-running music television series, The South Bank Show, will be in town this month to film a one-hour documentary on Dr. John. ...

The planned match-made-in-heaven's-gutter collaboration between Morning 40 Federation and ribald R&B singer Andre Williams appears to have hit a wall. Williams expressed interest in producing and recording with the band after seeing the 40s at the Hi-Ho Lounge a while back, but lawyers and an MIA Williams appear to have iced the project for now. ... Local rapper Juvenile's new CD, Project Money (Cash Money/Universal), sold 213,000 copies and debuted last week at No. 2 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart; contemporary R&B singer Maxwell's new album, Now, beat out Juvenile for the No. 1 spot. ... Dash Rip Rock has completed recording its first studio album of the post-Hoaky Hickel era, which is being mixed for release in early 2002. An unofficial working title is X-1: Turbo Dash. The band will roadtest the new songs on a fall tour with Reverend Horton Heat. ...

Aaron Neville is finally the recipient of a greatest-hits collection worthy of his name -- one that should stay in print indefinitely. Hip-O Records, a subsidiary of conglomerate giant Universal Music, has just released Aaron Neville: Ultimate Collection. The 20-track compilation covers Neville's entire career, from terrific early b-sides like "Why Worry," to contemporary smashes like "Everybody Plays the Fool," with definitive liner notes from I Hear You Knockin' author Jeff Hannusch ... .

Finally, Gambit Weekly is updating our photo files, and we're hoping to get new or recent publicity photos from as many local bands and artists as possible. If you're a musician and have recent photographs (preferably 8-by-10 black-and-white shots), please mail them to: Gambit Weekly, 3923 Bienville St., New Orleans, LA 70119. Or feel free to drop them off at our Mid-City office.

Guitarist Brian Prunka celebrates the release of his debut CD at Snug Harbor on Sept. 16.
  • Guitarist Brian Prunka celebrates the release of his debut CD at Snug Harbor on Sept. 16.

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