Chappell probe confirmed

A REPRESENTATIVE for the Nashville office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed last Friday that the agency is investigating prominent Nashville music attorney Sam Chappell for allegedly embezzling funds intended for contemporary Christian music artists Sandi Patti and Carman.

Chappell, whose practice includes some of contemporary Christian music’s leading artists, is being investigated for allegedly forging the artists’ signatures on checks and depositing them in accounts he secretly opened. Sources familiar with the artists have indicated that as much as $ 500,000 could be involved. The investigation is continuing and no charges have been filed, said the FBI spokesman.

A spokesman for Patti confirmed the FBI’s involvement, but declined further comment. Patti has released a short statement expressing sympathy for Chappell while hoping for restitution.

Chappell fled the country when the allegations became public, but returned to the U.S. April 14 and turned himself in to FBI officials for questioning. Chappel has since closed his law office and is living at his home in Anderson, Ind.

L.A. SEEN: Carrie White (the fab Beverly Hills hairdresser) and the entire staff of popular Westside coffeehouse LuLu’s Alibi joined forces April 20 for an all-star night of spoken-word performances to benefit AIDS Project Los Angeles.

Held at Array, the new, toney all-purpose store (a la Fiorucci) at Santa Monica Place, the event was packed full of young hipsters with dark tans and clunky silver accessories. The readings were short (there were many) and mostly very funny, filtered through a showbiz perspective.

Readers included playwright Lauran Hoffman, musician David Zasloff, actor Michael Harris and writer Lotus Weinstock. Audience included Roberta Rae Rodriguez of Body Electric Tattoos, producer Richard Dooley (“Paris Is Burning”) and actress Anne Archer.

“IT’S A WHOLE LOT easier to dry-hump when you’re in the nude,” says Ethyl Meatplow singer John Napier about the band’s and its dancers’ tendency to perform in varying degrees of undress.

Ethyl Meatplow, short for “gasoline-powered sex machine,” is a technology-driven trio with two singer/keyboardists, Napier and Carla Bouzulich, and drummer/drum programmer Biff Barefoot Sanders III, playing an industrial-dance groove and serving it up in ’90s burlesque fashion.

“Our live show just sort of happened as a result of our fans coming on stage and taking off their clothes or each other’s clothes,” says Bouzulich. “One of the strong points of our music is that people come out of their shells, they loosen up and dance and take off their clothes.”

Meatplow show-goers are everything from leather & chain body-piercers to yuppie art students. “There were three women gynecologists who wouldcome to our shows,” says Napier. “They had seen enough, but they hadn’t seen it all. They were watching naked gay boys dancing with each other.”

After playing an average of three shows a month for four years in Los Angeles underground clubs, and performing on a national tour with Nitzer Ebb, the band signed with New York-based Dali Records, a Chameleon Records division that is putting a big push behind the band.

The label asked the band to change its album cover artwork, which formerly depicted a naked girl. “They recommended we minimize the vaginal area of the child,” says Bouzulich. “We were upset because it’s a piece of fine art, but realized it was a valid concern since we might not be distributed.”

“MUSIC IS A big part of everyday life here in New Orleans. When you get married, you have a band. When you throw a party, you have a band. When you die, you have a band,” says Joe Cabral, saxophonist/vocalist for the Iguanas.

The Crescent City quintet’s eponymous debut album on Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville label isn’t only brimming with authentic sounds from New Orleans. Three of the bandmembers have Mexican blood and into their musical gumbo goes Tex-Mex, country, cumbia, roadhouse blues and any other influence between Tijuana and Key West.

“My father, who’s Mexican and Irish, has a band,” Cabral explains of his musical geneology. “They play more polkas and cumbia stuff, and they also play some country and ’50s rock.”

Cabral says that each of the bandmembers brought influences and “stuff we’ve all been digging. That’s what comes out.” The band will appear before audiences this summer as Buffett’s opening act for more than 40 U.S. dates, including a stop in early June at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre.

Cabral says he and his bandmates are happy they’ve landed a record deal and made it this far while sticking to their musical guns. “That’s basically been the plan all along. This is what we’ve been doing, and we’ve never thought, ‘Well, we have to change our style or buy uniforms,’ ” he says with a laugh.

A new musical ingredient is being tossed into the mix now, with the addition of Memphis drummer Doug Garrison. He replaces founding drummer Willie Panker, whose nimble range provides the basis for the band’s sound on their album. “He’s got that Memphis soul thing happening,” Cabral says of Garrison.

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