After turning down offers from Columbia and Sire Records, New Orleans rockers Supagroup has finally landed a much-deserved record deal. The band just inked a contract with Foodchain Records, a California-based label with major-label distribution through the powerful WEA distribution network. Supagroup's Foodchain debut is slated for a spring 2003 release. The band has spent the last few weeks recording its new album at The Truck Farm Recording Studio, the new space owned by a collective that includes Grammy-winning producer/engineer Trina Shoemaker (Sheryl Crow, Queens of the Stone Age), former Kingsway Studio manager Karen Brady, and Soul Asylum frontman Dave Pirner.
Shoemaker was behind the board at a session last week, and is co-producing the album with Supagroup. (The New Orleans Jazz Vipers also recently recorded an album at the studio.) The Truck Farm's living-room vibe and sprawling, serene backyard are pure New Orleans, and the studio promises to be a great addition to the local recording scene. With Piety Street Recording Studio in the same neighborhood, it's worth noting that Bywater now boasts two world-class recording studios. ...
In another case of years of work paying off, Anders Osborne's forays into songwriting in Nashville recently earned him a track on Tim McGraw and the Dance Hall Doctors, the forthcoming album by Start, La., native and country superstar Tim McGraw. Osborne co-wrote the cut "Watch the Wind Blow By." If it's released as a single, Osborne can expect a serious career boost in the songwriting arena; McGraw's last six albums have each sold more than 2 million copies. ... Rhino Home Video's new nine-DVD box set, Ed Sullivan's Rock 'n' Roll Classics, contains performances by Louisiana favorite sons Fats Domino and Jerry Lee Lewis from the legendary TV program. Domino's segments are "Let the Four Winds Blow" and "Blueberry Hill," while Lewis torches "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" and Ray Charles' "What'd I Say." ... The new Paul Simon greatest-hits collection, The Paul Simon Collection: On My Way, Don't Know Where I'm Goin' (Warner Bros.), contains a limited-edition bonus disc that includes a version of "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" recorded at the 2001 Jazz Fest, featuring Aaron Neville on guest vocals. Neville also guests on the new live album, Willie Nelson & Friends: Stars & Guitars (Lost Highway), recorded live in Nashville in May 2002. Neville duets with Nelson on a reading of "Stardust." ... Papa Grows Funk's recent West Coast tour featured a number of new songs slated for the band's sophomore CD due in 2003. ... On the heavy metal scene, guitarist Steve Blaze of New Orleans' '80s hair-metal band Lillian Axe has launched a new locally based record label, Noiselab Records. The label's debut CD is from Blaze's Lillian Axe side project, Near Life Experience, and is titled Day of Silver Sun. Near Life Experience plays a trio of Midwest dates in the fall before a full touring slate in 2003 ... New Orleans-based Groovopolis' recently released eponymous debut CD is virtually indistinguishable from any other sleep-inducing smooth jazz pap, its nadir being a D.O.A. version of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On." But it's getting some national recognition. The CD has been charting steadily on the weekly JazzWeek charts, a weekly report of the top 50 jazz and smooth jazz recordings played on radio stations across the United States and Canada. Groovopolis clocked in at No. 46 on the Nov. 8 chart, sharing the Top 50 with names like Natalie Cole, Al Jarreau and Joe Sample. Bizarre fact: Groovopolis is two slots ahead of Rick Derringer ... For some jazz with a pulse, listen for upcoming releases on three stylistic ends of the New Orleans jazz spectrum: a new CD from superb trad reedman Evan Christopher; the all-female brass band the Pinettes are checking in with Who You Gonna Call; and adventurous guitarist Jonathan Freilich drops his latest concoction in the coming months. ... The new Warren Zevon compilation, Genius: The Best of Warren Zevon (Elektra/Rhino), contains his tough-as-nails rock cover of Allen Toussaint's "A Certain Girl." ... Rampart Street mainstay The Funky Butt got a nice mention in a recent feature article on the Hornets' move to New Orleans in Sports Illustrated ... Multitalented vocalist and trumpeter Sarah Kramer is leaving New Orleans the first week in December, for pastures unknown. She'll head to L.A. first, but hopes to move to Japan in the spring. Travel safely, Sarah.
- The first album in Supagroup's new major-label deal is being recorded at new Bywater recording studio The Truck Farm.