Saturday Night Desk Clearing: John Denver, Johnny Cash, Skinny Puppy and Wild Honey in the news

I have been meaning to share some news that has come across my radar in the past couple weeks.

From the House of Cash comes news that a new, posthumous Johnny Cash collection Out Among The Stars is due in March. The Legacy Records’ album contains a dozen previously unreleased tunes that were recorded with producer Billy Sherrill between 1981-84; however, they went unissued because Cash left Columbia Records in 1986. The songs, which have been remastered, include duets with Waylon Jennings on the Hank Snow hit “I’m Moving On” and June Carter Cash on “Baby Ride Easy” and “Don’t You Think It’s Come Our Time.”

June’s daughter Carlene Carter continues her comeback with her upcoming release Carter Girl, on which she takes on a bunch of Carter Family tunes. This April 8th Rounder release features guest shots from Elizabeth Cook, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson plus vocal appearance from Johnny, June and Anita & Helen Carter (although don’t ask me how that was done).

Speaking of career revivals – Death is back! The incendiary black punk band from Detroit got little attention in the ‘70s but they have been discovered in the past few years. Death III (due April 22 on Drag City) features more unearthed material, ranging from songs done in 1975 through a pair of tunes recorded in 1992 when they started playing again after a decade long hiatus.

Turning to the tribute department. The Royal Potato Family’s Harry Nilsson tribute serves up musicians such as Langhorne Slim, Dawn Landes, Willy Mason and Tracy Bonham covering beloved Nilsson numbers. The bluegrass stalwarts Special Consensus has John Denver on their minds. Their Denver salute. Country Boy (due March 25 on Compass) includes contributions from Jim Lauderdale, Peter Rowan, Claire Lynch and Rhonda Vincent). Moody Bluegrass is a double-disc compilation drawn from two separate releases that have ace bluegrass players having their way with Moody Blues tunes. On the other end of the spectrum, Rhino will be releasing an all-star heavy metal Ronnie James Dio tribute with selections from Scorpions, Anthrax, Motorhead, Rob Halford and Glenn Hughes. The CD will benefit the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund.

Power pop loving Angelenos will want to know about a special benefit happening March 1 at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre. The Wild Honey Foundation has assembled an amazing lineup of performers (including the Bangles, Matthew Sweet, Al Stewart, Chris Stamey, Jody Stephens, Denny Laine, The Muffs, Tommy Keene – oh I could go on til tomorrow) to play the Beatles‘ albums Abbey Road and Revolver in their entirety. It’s all done to raise funds for the Autism Think Tank and the Children’s Music Fund. You can learn more at

While I plan to do another post on interesting upcoming releases, I can’t resist mentioning that a new Baseball Project album 3rd arrives just in time for the new baseball season. This March 25 Yep Roc release features all the Baseball Projects regulars: Scott McCaughey, Steve Wynn, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Laura Pitmon.

The really cool rock doc Festival Express is available now on DVD from Shout! Factory. The movie chronicles the 1970 train tour across Canada that had Janis Joplin, the Band and the Grateful Dead as headliners. The tour is a big financial failure but the documentary offers a fantastic flashback to that time.

Other odds and ends – The Texas rock band The Toadies will have their own brew – Rubberneck Red – available this spring. You can use this beer to toast the Toadies’ 20th anniversary of their Rubberneck album (which will see a special reissue coming out April 1 on Kirtland Records.

Jeff Tweedy will be guest-starring on Parks and Recreation this spring. On the NBC comedy, he’ll be playing, yes, a musician! He’ll play, according to, one singer from a defunct band that several of the show’s characters want to reunite. Yes, Tweedy’s character apparently isn’t very interested in reforming his old band, and no, the old band isn’t named Uncle Tupelo.

You probably have heard the wonderful story of someone finding Marvin Gaye’s 1964 passport that was tucked away in an album that someone bought for 50 cents at a yard sale. Now that’s something that won’t happen when you download music.

I also came across a story ( that the Canadian rock band Skinny Puppy has invoiced (or perhaps is planning on invoicing, or maybe just announcing their invoicing plan) the Pentagon for $666,000 for using their music at Guantanamo Bay as part of their interrogation tactics.

Good night and have a plenty tomorrow…


About Michael Berick

I am a longtime writer, and lover, of music and pop culture. I have written for Entertainment Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, the LA Weekly, the San Francisco Chronicle, Cleveland Scene and more places (that I wouldn't take up more of your time mentioning now).
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