Coachella acts see volcano delay

Numerous flights grounded out of Europe

An ash cloud from a volcanic eruption in Iceland, which has grounded a number of flights out of Europe, has threatened at least a handful of acts due to appear at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which kicks off today in Indio, Calif.

None of the stranded talents are headliners, although suspended flights are affecting some music fans who were making the trek from overseas. Known delayed acts, all from the U.K., include rockers the Cribs, Bad Lieutenant and electronic music pioneer Gary Numan.

Associated Press said it could take days for the skies to become safe again in one of aviation’s most congested areas. “All the headliners are in the country and we’re in contact with the acts that are having travel issues based on the ash,” said Coachella promoter Paul Tollett in a statement. Organizers were unavailable for comment.

“The last thing I expected this morning when I woke up was to hear that volcanic ash might be preventing us from flying to America,” Numan, due to appear at Coachella on Sunday, said on his website. “At the moment, the very best British Airways are offering us, and this without any guarantee, is to put us on a Sunday flight that gets in to Los Angeles in the afternoon on Sunday. That is one step away from useless and means that, if we are very lucky, we might just make it to the festival site (a three hour plus drive from Los Angeles) in time for our slot but without a single second of rehearsal…”

The Cribs might be most affected by the delays, since the band was due to appear on the opening day of the fest. The band hopes to get a slot later in the three-day program.

Bad Lieutenant’s handlers issued a statement Thursday announcing that “at this point, all four of their U.S. dates, including Saturday’s performance at the Coachella festival, are expected to take place.”

* * *

The Hollywood Renaissance Hotel will once again be crawling with songwriters, composers, musicians, techies and wannabees when the fifth annual ASCAP “I Create Music” Expo kicks off Thursday for a three-day weekend of panels, pow-wows and live performances.

Among the more anticipated events will be a one-on-one conversation between Justin Timberlake and Bill Withers, the legendary singer-songwriter behind songs like “Ain’t No Sunshine.” Other musicians scheduled to be on hand include Quincy Jones, who’s being interviewed by Ludacris, John Mayer and Loudon Wainwright.

Attendance is anticipated to top 2,500 this year — a far cry from the 1,500 who showed up the first year when organizers were expecting 600. Lauren Iossa, senior vp marketing for ASCAP, says about 55% of the attendees come from out of state, while 20 different countries will be represented at next week’s edition.

For a complete schedule visitascap.com/eventsawards/events/expo/2010/schedule.aspx.

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