‘Roses’ wilt, ‘Crue’ is motley at benefit concert

MEMBERS OF Guns N’ Roses, Motley Crue and friends offered a humorous, intentional display of performance ineptitude as they united to raise approximately $ 3,000 for various homeless charities last week via a benefit concert at the Coconut Teazer.

Guns N’ Roses members Gilby Clarke, Slash, Duff McKagan and Dizzy Reed joined with Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee and friends West Arkeen on guitar and journalist-turned-vocalist Del James to rage through a handful of admittedly bad Thin Lizzy, Ramones and Rose Tattoo cover tunes in front of a moderately sized crowd.

“Our motto that night was ‘Do The Wrong Thing,’ ” James said. “We butchered even the simplest songs.” In fact, Slash didn’t even show up until halfway through the evening’s brief (less than an hour) proceedings.

The overflow crowds anticipated by the club never materialized, partly due to the heavy rains that night, but most likely the result of the club’s 21-and-over age limit and the initially high ticket costs. Only 40 tickets, priced at more than $ 50 through Ticketmaster, were sold, but the band later dropped the prices to $ 10. Not that it mattered to the estimated 150 people on the guest list. However, special T-shirts sold at the club (donated by Brockum Merchandising) helped increase the funds raised for the homeless.

EVERY TIME A SONG is played on the radio, the songwriter and artist receive compensation. Not so with poetry/spoken word performance pieces broadcast over the airwaves, and one activist is out to change that.

Poet/songwriter Debbie Patino has organized a loose coalition of poets, performers and producers for a panel discussion and six-hour spoken word showcase at the annual South By Southwest music conference, set for Austin, Texas March 17-21. The March 18 panel/performance will bring together such pop names as Exene Cervenka, Pleasant Gehman (journalist/poet and one of Patino’s partners in local icons The Ringling Sisters) and Hal Willner, producer of spoken word recordings by Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs.

Broadcast Music Inc. and the American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers hold that spoken word performances are not licenseable, nor are comic performances broadcast over the airwaves. Both organizations, however, are open to discussion on the matter.

“Maybe at one time radio play of spoken word material wasn’t significant,” said Patino, “but now, many local stations have a format for it–KCRW, KXLU, KPFK–and Sinead O’Connor even had a poem on her most recent album. Poetry is much more than a written thing, and people have to acknowledge spoken-word performances as a new form of art.”

Patino says her quest isn’t only about money, though such artists as Henry Rollins, Harvey Kubernick, Wanda Coleman, Jim Carroll and hundreds of comedians would stand to benefit from her efforts. “All I know is how I feel when something isn’t right,” she says. “ASCAP said we would have to go to Washington to change things. I think once this seed’s planted, it will really go.”

George Michael has opened a second front in his war on Sony Music. Writs were issued last week in the High Court in London alleging that Sony Music Entertainment UK underpaid royalties to Michael and his partner in the group Wham!, Andrew Ridgely.

Two writs were issued. One claims Sony underpaid Wham! by approximately $ 1.6 million. The other claims Michael is owed $ 650,000 for his solo album, “Faith.” In addition, the writs ask for further accounting from Sony. The writs were issued following an audit by Michael’s accountants. Michael previously filed suit against Sony UK, seeking to have his contract declared inequitable and, thus, invalid. He also issued a statement blasting his treatment by Sony and vowed to never record for them again.

A Sony spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Megaforce Records, which brought the world Metallica, Anthrax, King’s X and Testament, has some surprises in store this year.

The first change of pace will be an album from Warren Haynes, a former Allman Bros. guitarist who will bow on the label in late February. The disc will feature contributions from fellow Allmans Chuck Leavell (who is also producing) and Johnny Neel and keyboardist Bernie Worrell, known for his work with Parliament and the Talking Heads.

Jon Zazula, chairman of Megaforce, says observers shouldn’t be surprised that the company, which built its reputation on speed metal, has branched out. “We listen to every kind of music there is,” he says. “Otis Redding is one of my favorite vocalists of all time, and I find that there are times (Haynes) reminds me of him. He has that deep emotion in his voice.”

Megaforce, which last year ended its relationship with Atlantic and entered into a distribution agreement with Polygram, handles its own marketing, promotion, product development and manufacturing. “For the last 10 years, we left our budgets and costs all in the hands of (Atlantic),” Zazula said. “We were just a production deal. With PGD, we control every penny being spent.”

Expect product this year from Megaforce featuring such diverse acts as Nude Swirl (an alternative band), Tribe After Tribe (“Like a Pink Floyd, U2 kind of thing,” Zazula says) and Maria Excommunicata (“an international lineup of female musicians who play dark, gothic music”).

Megaforce will also dip its toe into the audio/visual realm though its Megavision outlet. “We’re looking to get involved with a major director and possibly get the video rights to one of his motion pictures,” Zazula says. “We’re also looking at certain artists who are involved in computer graphics. We would like to tie that into our music.”

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