HOT TALK: Jo Dee Gets New Producer

(HOT TALK is a weekly column by longtime contributing writer and former Billboard country music editor Edward Morris.)

Curb Links Jo Dee Messina With New Producer
It isn’t something the involved parties are willing to talk about, but it appears that Curb Records didn’t like the album Jo Dee Messina ’s producers, Byron Gallimore and Tim McGraw , turned in for her. Consequently, the label is releasing a greatest hits package instead of the expected album of new material. Messina is now working with producer Mark Bright. Whether other producers will be brought in is unclear. Hot Talk spoke with Gallimore, who declined to discuss the matter, beyond saying that, “We’re all friends. We’re all family.” Messina’s publicist and manager referred questions about the aborted project to the label, which has yet to respond.

Voices of Bluegrass Tour Planned for Fall
Immortal Entertainment, the folks who brought you the two successful Down From the Mountain tours last year, is planning a Voices of Bluegrass tour for this fall. Immortal’s Kevin Lyman tells Hot Talk that the acts expected to be involved are the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band , Rosanne Cash , Nanci Griffith, Australian singer Kasey Chambers and the group Robinella & the CCstringband.

Ralph Stanley Invited to Perform With Boston Pops
The Boston Pops orchestra has invited bluegrass patriarch Ralph Stanley to perform on its May 12 “Evening at Pops” series, which will be taped for broadcast on PBS. Details of the appearance are still being worked out. Stanley recently shared a best bluegrass album Grammy award with Jim Lauderdale for Lost in the Lonesome Pines.

Rick Trevino Records Album for Warner Bros.
Raul Malo, lead singer of the recently reconstituted Mavericks , has produced a country album on Rick Trevino for Warner Bros. Records. Trevino was a bright star for Columbia Records during the 1990s, hitting the Top 10 with “She Can’t Say I Didn’t Cry,” “Doctor Time,” “Bobbie Ann Mason,” “Learning as You Go” and “I Only Get This Way With You.” He hit No. 1 in 1996 with “Running Out of Reasons to Run.” After leaving Columbia, he performed with Los Super Seven, which won a Grammy in 1998 for Best Mexican-American/Tejano Music.

Kentucky Hotel Sets Bluegrass Festival
The Executive Inn Rivermont Hotel in Owensboro, Ky., the original home of the International Bluegrass Music Association convention, will stage its second annual bluegrass festival April 10-12. Performing Thursday will be David Peterson & 1946 and the Isaacs. Friday’s lineup is Karl Shiflett & Big Country Show, Mountain Heart, IIIrd Tyme Out and Fisher & Co. Saturday’s stars are J. D. Crowe & the New South, the Del McCoury Band, Honi Deaton & Dream and Ronnie Reno & the Reno Tradition.

Open Wide: More Books From the Country Music Foundation
The Country Music Foundation has announced the publication this year of five more books of interest to country fans and scholars. Out this month is Vinyl Hayride: Country Music Album Covers 1947-1949 by Paul Kingsbury and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum staff. In June or July, the Foundation will release a revised edition of the Robert K. Oermann and Mary Bufwack study, Finding Her Voice: Women in Country Music 1800-2000. (The original study was published in 1993.) Coming this summer will be Country Music Trivia Book, which will be packaged with a CD-ROM game. The Country Music Pop-Up Book, also by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum staff, is due out this fall, as is The Complete Country Music Discography 1922-1942 by Tony Russell. The pop-up package promises to be a real treasure trove. In addition to containing more than 20 essays about country music, it will include sound chips (that activate when pages open), die-cut images, reproduced objects, historic photos, as well as the aforesaid pop-up images. The volume even includes a tray that contains a guitar pick, postcards from the Country Music Hall of Fame collection and a booklet covering all the Country Music Hall of Fame members. The tray also includes a copy of a vintage Grand Ole Opry fan — the kind waved on summer nights before air conditioning was installed at the Ryman Auditorium.

Asleep at the Wheel’s Ray Benson Cuts Solo Album
Ray Benson, leader of Asleep at the Wheel , has recorded a solo album for Koch-Audium Records. Titled Beyond Time, the 12-cut collection will be released April 22. Performing with Benson on various cuts are Dolly Parton , Delbert McClinton, Jimmie Vaughan and guitarist Stanley Jordan. Benson teams up with Flaco Jiminez on a cover version of Marty Robbin ’s “El Paso,” the only song on the project Benson didn’t write or co-write. On April 1, Capitol Records will release Asleep at the Wheel’s 20 Greatest Hits.

CMA Chief Easing Back Into Work
Ed Benson, executive director of the Country Music Association, is easing back into work after having been sidelined for several months with a life-threatening illness. “He’s still working from home,” his assistant tells Hot Talk. “He’s been in [the office] a few times but not on a daily basis. He is getting better.”

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Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to