Friday, April 29, 2011

Elton John On The Royal Wedding: 'It's not the Oscars'

Elton John has had his say on the Royal Wedding after attending Prince William and Kate Middleton's nuptials in London this morning (April 29).

The Rocket Man attended the ceremony at Westminster Abbey with his partner David Furnish as the happy couple tied the knot in front of 1,900 guests.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5Live on his way out of the venue, John said: "It's not the Oscars."

The singer was among a small number of invited guests from the world of music and entertainment, including The Spice Girls' Victoria Beckham - who attended with husband David - and Joss Stone.

Actor Rowan Atkinson, film director Guy Ritchie and TV presenter Ben Fogle also turned up alongside selected royals, politicians and dignitaries.

Ellie Goulding is rumoured to be performing Elton John's hit "Your Song" at the couple's wedding reception later today.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Steven Tyler To Release New Solo Single May 9

Aerosmith frontman and American Idol judge Steven Tyler will release his first U.S. solo single, "(It) Feels So Good," on May 9, with the song going on sale the following day at digital retailers. The video that Tyler shot for the song on Tuesday (April 26) is slated to debut on an episode of Idol.

The song itself, an upbeat, summery tune written by Tyler and frequent collaborator Marti Frederiksen and recorded in Los Angeles, will be premiered on Idol host Ryan Seacrest's radio show KIIS-FM in Los Angeles.

"(It) Feels So Good" is Tyler's second solo step outside the band; in November he released "Love Lives," the theme song for the Japanese film Space Battleship Yamato. It is, however, a stand-alone song and will not be part of a solo album, which Tyler has spoken of wanting to record.

Tyler, in fact, has already started working on a new album with Aerosmith. The band, minus guitarist Joe Perry, convened with Frederiksen during late January and early February to start preparing new songs. The entire quintet, which hasn't released an album since 2004's Honkin' on Bobo, is expected to regroup this summer to continue the process, and Aerosmith is also booked to play dates in Japan and Latin America towards the end of the year, though no dates have yet been announced.

Tyler is also preparing for the May 3 release of his autobiography, Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?: A Rock 'n' Roll Memoir. Tyler sat for a length interview with NBC's Matt Lauer which will air May 1 on "Dateline" and May 2 on "Today;" the interview will also be broadcast on NBC's other broadcast and online platforms, and on Tyler's Absolewdly app via iTunes. Tyler will also be a guest on NBC's Tonight Show on May 6.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Paul Simon Takes Graying Fans On World Tour

Paul Simon strolled onstage at the Pantages Theater, and the crowd rose. Standing-O without having played a note or said a word. Yes, this Hollywood crowd -- though decidedly graying -- was primed, and it was raucous and rolling all night.

And for good reason. Simon delivered an alternately beautiful and boisterous show drenched in the world music he's become so associated with -- but without forgetting that America is part of that world. Along with the African rhythms and island riddims were doses or dollops of blues, country, gospel, soul, New York coffeehouse, pure pop, even an Elvis cover. It was a heady brew.

His graceful knack for rhythm, melody and lyrics - that rare triple threat in rock -- have made his catalog essential, but his concerts go far beyond mere recitals. More than a half-century of performing has made Simon a true master of the stage. It's not that he relies on gimmicky antics, witty banter or showboating; rather, few are more expert in piecing together a set list.

After opening Thursday's show with a deep cut from his most popular album then a swampy-starting one from his brand-new record, Simon knew it was time to throw the pent-up crowd some meat. It took the form of his lone No. 1 single, "50 Way to Leave Your Lover," which the horns in his eight-piece band brassed up as much as the song's jilted third party is brassed off. Win.

He followed with the title cut from So Beautiful or So What, which debuted at a career-high No. 4 on the Billboard 200 last week. The riffy song had more punch than the punchy studio version, its background flute not soothing its irritated narrator. It was one of five songs from the new record, whose themes touch on spirituality and uncertainty, mortality and anxiety, difficulty and tenacity. All were well played and well received, though he opted not to play its catchy and witty lead single, "The Afterlife."

Simon had little time for talk during the perfectly paced show, but he offered one nugget before covering Jimmy Cliff's "Vietnam." "This is the song that made me want to go down to Jamaica and record 'Mother and Child Reunion,'" he said. He followed it with that breakthrough solo hit from 1972, to the crowd's delight.

But his juxtaposition of the two songs stirred thoughts that maybe their pairing was more than just the Jamaica connection. "Reunion" was always a dichotomy -- with its jolly, carefree music played over such sullen lyrics as "I can't for the life of me remember a sadder day" and "this strange and mournful day." Was this a subtle poke at war? Maybe imagining an awful reunion of mother and battle casualty?

Even if so, Simon offered no time to dwell on it, as the zydeco-soaked "That Was Your Mother" followed. Its fast tempo and wild-times story riled up the room, bringing many to their feet. And Jamey Haddad's washboard antics drew a roar.

Then ... quickly quiet again. As barely a beat passed, the group dropped into the loping groove of "Hearts and Bones." With the previous song having told of a chance meeting in Louisiana that led to some red wine and easy lovin', this one studied the complex "arc of a love affair." And it segued immediately into "Mystery Train," a shuffling blues that laments how the train "took my baby away from me again." It, in turn, went country as it morphed into the instrumental "Wheels."

Just a typically atypical example of Paul Simon set-list mambo.

Ending the set with "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" was a case of giving the people what they want: a chance to get up dance. Again, the old pro's concert acumen kicked in; he knows how to leave them standing.

When he returned, with everyone still on their feet, Simon was alone onstage with an acoustic guitar. As he hit the familiar opening chords of "The Sound of Silence" -- one of only two he played from the Simon & Garfunkel canon -- there was a collective, very audible reaction from the patrons, and they quickly sat. It kicked off a six-song encore that capped a nearly 2 1/2-hour show. Not bad for someone turning 70 this year. Come back anytime, Paul.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Alice Cooper Band To Stage Holographic Reunion

Alice Cooper and tsurviving members of the original Alice Cooper Band will be "reunited" onstage as part of an event which will see the band turned into holograms for a show at the Battersea Power Station on May 11.

The "Jägermeister Ice Cold Event" is set to make history as the U.K.'s first holographic 4D rock gig and will celebrate the release of the new Alice Cooper box set Old School: 1964-1974. Featuring original band members Alice Cooper, Dennis Dunaway, Neal Smith and Michael Bruce, plus Steve Hunter standing-in for the late Glen Buxton, the "Jägermeister Ice Cold Event" will be the first time the group has "appeared" together in the U.K. since 1972.

"We couldn't resist this," says Alice. "Working with Jägermeister to appear as holograms on the other side of the Atlantic is the ultimate experience, a cutting-edge conjuring trick that celebrates the future and our history. We can't wait to see the results."

Friday, April 22, 2011

Apple Set To Beat Google On Cloud Music: Sources

Apple has completed work on an online music storage service and is set to launch it ahead of Google, whose own music efforts have stalled, according to several people familiar with both companies' plans.

Apple's plans will allow iTunes customers to store their songs on a remote server, and then access them from wherever they have an Internet connection, said two of these people who asked not to be named as the talks are still confidential.

The maker of the popular iPhone and iPod, Apple has yet to sign any new licenses for the service and major music labels are hoping to secure deals before it is launched, three of the sources said. Apple has not told its music partners of when it intends to introduce its music locker, they said.

An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

Amazon.com launched a music locker service earlier in April without new licensing agreements, leading to threats of legal action from some music companies. At the time, Amazon argued that its so-called Cloud Drive service does not need licenses, and said uploaded music belongs to the users.

Last week, however, Amazon held talks with some labels to reach agreements for a new, more sophisticated locker service.

Apple, Amazon and Google are battling for control of new digital media platforms through which everyday users will access their music and videos.

Google had been expected to launch a music service as a feature of its Android mobile operating system as far back as last Christmas.

"They keep changing what they're asking for," said a label executive who asked not to be named.

Two of the sources said Google originally wanted to launch a basic locker service and an 'iTunes-like' store. In recent weeks it has suggested exploring licensing for a subscription service, they said.

Talks are ongoing with major music labels, Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music and EMI.

Music industry executives are pointing to changes in top management at Google as a possible reason for the technology company's uncertain music strategy. On April 1, co-founder Larry Page took over as chief executive with Eric Schmidt moving up to executive chairman. Android chief Andy Rubin led most of the early talks with the labels.

Apple and Google are keen to offer services that give music fans more flexibility to access their media wherever they are rather than tying them to a particular computer or mobile device.

In late 2009, Apple bought Lala, a cloud-based music company, but closed it down in April 2010, leading to speculation that it would launch an Apple-branded cloud service.

Earlier this month, Google bought Canadian mobile music company PushLife as part of its drive to help Android users share and purchase content across devices. Last May, Google also bought Simplify Media, a remote media company, but has since closed it down.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Michael Schenker Group To Support Black Country Communion On UK Tour

The Michael Schenker Group will support Black Country Communion on their forthcoming UK concerts in July 2011.

In a pairing that unites one of the most well-respected metal guitarists of all time with the hottest rock and roll band for years, the BCC / MSG tour dates include - Llandudno Cymru Arena (July 23rd), Leeds o2 Academy (July 26th), Newcastle o2 Academy (July 27th), Glasgow o2 Academy (July 29th) and Manchester Academy (July 30th).

Featuring Glenn Hughes, Joe Bonamassa, Jason Bonham and Derek Sherinian, Black Country Communion’s July UK tour will follow the release of their second album Black Country Communion 2 on June 13th. The band will also appear at London’s High Voltage Festival on Sunday July 24th.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

K.K. Downing Retires From Judas Priest

Judas Priest guitarist K.K. Downing has formally retired from the band and will therefore not be joining them on their forthcoming Epitaph tour. The band respects his decision and naturally all wish him well.

Having thought long and hard about how to proceed, the remaining members of the band unanimously agreed that they should go ahead with the tour and not let the fans down all around the world.

Richie Faulkner, a 31-year-old British guitar player, has stepped in for Downing, blending into the band “perfectly.” The Epitaph tour will include songs from every Priest studio album and also tracks they have never before performed on stage.

with a new album due to be released next year, Priest are preparing to tour the planet one last time before calling it a day. For more information visit www.judaspriest.com.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Iggy Pop On Tonight's Ron Asheton Tribute, 'American Idol'

If it wasn't already clear to those who have seen or heard Iggy Pop during the past four decades, his latest moves confirm he's not one to back down from a challenge.

The punk pioneer and sonic provocateur returns to the Michigan town that spawned his band the Stooges to pay tribute to fallen band mate Ron Asheton in an ambitious, eclectic show in Ann Arbor. The Tuesday concert comes on the heels of a surprise appearance April 7 on "American Idol," where the 63-year-old Pop sang "Real Wild Child," writhed shirtless among enthusiastic contestants and shimmied up to host Jennifer Lopez.

Despite the differences, the two appearances underscore a career of avoiding the expected.

"On the one hand, it's good to go into it ... saying, 'Look, it's just a gig, it's what I do,'" Pop told The Associated Press by phone from his home in Miami. "On the other hand, try to leave room open for whatever you feel on the occasion."

The decision to appear on "Idol" was at once simple - "they invited me" - and complex: He had little love for the long-running show but even less for people "who lurk in the shadows" and complain.

"I was informed very quickly by people who love me and care about me that if I went on the show, everybody who liked the show was going to hate me and everybody who liked me was going to hate me for doing that show," he said. "I'm kind of a stubborn person, so that just made me really determined: 'I'm going to ... do
it anyway.'"

For the Michigan show, there's also determination born of a desire to give his late friend a proper musical send-off. He's excited to hear and play Stooges' songs with the band as well as other musicians such as Henry Rollins, and even a classical ensemble.

"(Asheton's) best themes are particularly really, really good and fun and easy for people to use as get-together songs -- they're almost like campfire songs," Pop said of such songs as, "I Wanna Be Your Dog," "No Fun" and "T.V. Eye." "That's why so many groups record early Stooges songs as B sides or album tracks, because they're simple and a hell of a lot of fun to play and they have a certain dynamic."

Plus, he said, "When you pass away, why not have a trumpet, kettle drum and some string players? That doesn't sound too bad to me."

The show is a benefit for the Ron Asheton Foundation. Asheton died in 2009, a year before his band's long-awaited induction into the Rock and Hall of Fame.

The accolades are a far cry from the late 1960s, when the man born James Osterburg met Asheton and his drummer brother, Scott. Pop, who dropped out of University of Michigan after a semester, nonetheless stuck around the university town near the trailer park where he grew up and played area venues with the Ashetons.

"We really benefited and grew our horns on that campus," he said.

The university also exposed him to culture that equipped him for a career that's taken him down paths far beyond bare-bones, riff-heavy rock.

On tap is a solo project, a French-flavored album of "love and angst" ballads that could be out by year's end and serves a sequel to a 2009 collection called Preliminaires. Working title: Après.

Still, the Stooges, which reformed in 2003 after a three-decade layoff, occupy much of his body and mind. He's begun working on songs for an eventual Stooges album and has been consulting on a documentary of the band by filmmaker Jim Jarmusch.

Lest anybody be fooled, the eternally wild child says he works hard behind the scenes to prepare for whatever comes on stage. That means sitting down with the old records and singing along with himself "at the top of my range," and mentally preparing in a way befitting a mature punk.

"You need a real close connection with the words, and you really can't sort of waltz in there between calls to your broker and expect to stand up there and be able to sing the songs and tell what they mean," he said.

Still, he adds, "I'm really not looking for a job at the Met, you know?"

Monday, April 18, 2011

Rod Stewart And Stevie Nicks Dust Off Oldies At Hollywood Bowl

A warm, invigorating breeze traipsed through the Hollywood Bowl as the boomer-fantasy pairing of Rod Stewart and Stevie Nicks played the first of two nights.

And the coziness factor was ratcheted up as the co-headliners played hit after comfy hit for an appreciative veteran crowd that was out for a night of just that.

The L.A. stop on RaspFest '11, officially dubbed the Heart & Soul Tour, was a pleasing if occasionally uneven affair that juxtaposed Nicks' straightforward quasi-mystery and Stewart's broad-playing rock-star antics. She stood at the microphone, strumming occasional air guitar and making graceful little gestures; he peacocked around the stage, preening and teasing.

Ultimately, both were entertaining -- for the young, young at heart and otherwise. And that's what it was all about.

Nicks opened with a 70-minute set that she seemed more into than during her 2009 arena tour with Fleetwood Mac, likely invigorated by a new album due May 3. "The best year of Stevie Nicks' life just happened because of Dave Stewart," she said of the man with whom she wrote much of "In Your Dreams," her first studio record in a decade. Lead single "Secret Love," a likable mid-upper-midtempo track she'd sung on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" three days before, drew a genuine cheer from the sellout crowd.

The rest of Nicks' show mined her solo/Mac catalog, including three songs from her 2001 album "Trouble in Shangri-La." Dressed in trademark dripping, glittery gown, Nicks, 62, began with a vocally rough "Stand Back" but settled in by the time her six-piece band locked into the laconic/iconic groove of "Dreams." Her smoky vocal enveloped the 1977 hit.

Sometimes raspy, sometimes reedy, Nicks was at her best during crowd favorites "Gold Dust Woman" and the still-lovely "Landslide." During the latter, a video screen showed photos of her from infancy through stardom, many featuring her father.

A hard-rocking intro to "Edge of Seventeen" -- courtesy of guitarist Waddy Wachtel, who has played with Nicks for most of her 30-year solo career -- fired up the crowd. But its repetitive riff and lyrics were more grating than stirring, especially in the endless version that closed her main set.

Stewart delivered his rock 'n' soul canon with a pro's aplomb but without any of the Great American Songbook material that has been his stock in trade -- and bread and butter -- for the past decade. Instead, he showcased his legion of pop hits, from barroom rock to bedroom schmaltz, often punctuated by extended jams and theatrical codas.

His love of American soul -- not necessarily blues, like so many of his British Invasion contemporaries -- remains evident in his 21st century show. He covered the O'Jays and Sam Cooke (twice), and his revue-like act included brass players and female backup singers.

Stewart brought Nicks out to duet on two songs -- saying she'd picked one of his and he one of hers. It turned out to be a double of shot of 1981: They traded verses on Stewart's postdisco hit "Young Turks," a rather uninspired choice for their vocal teaming, but rebounded with a sultry take on "Leather and Lace."

Stewart deployed his familiar, crowd-pleasing versions of songs by the likes of Chuck Berry, Van Morrison, Cat Stevens, Tim Hardin and Tom Waits along with such self-penned smashes as "Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright)" -- no less catchy or unchaste 35 years on -- and the beautiful "You're in My Heart."

His voice held up nicely until the late stages of the 100-minute set: He meandered through "Hot Legs" -- forgivable as he delighted the crowd with his trademark launching of dozens of soccer balls into the seats -- and, less excusably, the set-closing "Maggie May." Having dabbed his face with a handkerchief throughout the evening, the 66-year-old seemed fairly spent by the time he sang his breakout 1971 smash.

An encore of "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" -- the third of his No. 1 singles that were sprinkled throughout the '70s -- got many in the crowd dancing, but it was a rather lurching end to a solid show.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Outside Lands Announces 2011 Lineup

The lineup for the fourth annual Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival has been announced. The festival will once again take place in San Francisco's historic Golden Gate Park August 12 - 14, 2011. Tickets will go on sale Thursday April 14 at 12 Noon PST via www.SFOutsidelands.com. A significant portion of every ticket sold will directly benefit San Francisco's Recreation and Park Department.

In its first three years, the Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival has diligently worked its way into becoming a welcomed and beloved tradition in its hometown, as it is now known throughout the country as the event that celebrates in grand style all the things that make the Bay Area one of the most desirable places to live and visit.

Besides raising nearly $3,000,000 for the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, the festival has set a new standard for live music in Northern California and the 2011 lineup is perhaps one of its most diverse and exciting to date. As in the past, major national headliners such as Muse, Phish and Arcade Fire perform alongside the best emerging artists in the world. The complete list of performers is below.

Outside Lands has partnered with Twitter, using their "Promoted Trend" platform, to exclusively give fans that follow "Ranger Dave" @SFOutsidelands early access to the lineup. With incomparable vision marrying food, wine and music in a fashion unlike any other festival in the country, Outside Lands has created a glorious atmosphere in one of the greatest parks in the world and, as a result, has become one of the most popular summer events in the country.

The complete Outside Lands 2011 Lineup is below:

Muse
Phish (2 sets)
Arcade Fire
The Black Keys
Deadmau5
MGMT
Girl Talk
The Decemberists
John Fogerty
Erykah Badu
The Original Meters
Beirut
The Roots
Arctic Monkeys
Big Audio Dynamite
STS9
Warren Haynes Band
Big Boi
Major Lazer
Little Dragon
Julieta Venegas
Sia
OK Go
The Greyboy Allstars
Josh Ritter & The Royal City Band
Old 97's
Mavis Staples
!!!
Latyrx feat. Lyrics Born & Lateef
Best Coast
Collie Buddz
Phantogram
Charles Bradley
Foster The People
Lotus
STRFKR
Junip
Pajama Party
The Infamous Stringdusters
The Vaccines
Toro Y Moi
Vetiver
The Limousines
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
The Stone Foxes
The Joy Formidable
Wye Oak
Ana Tijoux
Orgone
Lord Huron
Tamaryn
Grouplove
The Fresh & Onlys
Ximena Sariñana
Ty Segall
Sunbirds
Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers
Diego's Umbrella
Ghost Robot

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Ian Anderson's Out Of This World Concert

When worldwide fame and notoriety have been achieved, taking your music into outer space is the only place left to go.

On April 12, Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson will be taking part in a duet with US astronaut Colonel Catherine Coleman to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Russian astronaut Yuri Gagarin’s first manned space flight in 1961.

However, this duet is no ordinary collaboration. Whilst Anderson will be live on stage in Perm, Russia, Coleman will be in orbit in the International Space Station as she contributes to a truly out of this world concert.

Coleman’s part of the performance will be screened by video link to the audience in Perm from somewhere in the galaxy as part of this gravity defying gig.

The pair will be playing an excerpt from "Bouree" from Tull's Stand Up album.

Coleman has been practicing her Ian Anderson trademark of playing the flute whilst standing (or in her case, floating) on one leg. For

three months, Anderson's flute accompanied Cady Coleman and her own flute in orbit allowing her to perfect her Anderson stance ahead of the duet.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Universal Music Group Distribution Launches Groovetown Vinyl

Universal Music Group Distribution (UMGD), the award-winning sales, marketing, and distribution arm of Universal Music Group (UMG), the world’s leading music company, today announced the launch of Groovetown Vinyl, an exciting new online storefront specializing in high-quality audio products for the discerning music fan. For the first time, visitors to the site will be able to purchase “lossless” audio FLAC files bundled with collectible high quality vinyl at a discounted price.

“In recent years, there’s been a revolution in sound quality and consumers are clamoring for the richest experience from their audio collection,” stated Mitch Rotter, SVP Marketing & Product Development for UMGD. “Music fans have fallen in love all over again with the vinyl experience, from the packaging to the distinctive sound to the collectability, and the FLAC file provides the ease of digital listening without any of the sacrifice that normally accompanies digitally compressed audio files. Groovetown’s quality audio products will satisfy all types of consumers - the audiophile, the technologist, and the true music aficionado.”

For a limited time, visitors purchasing bundled FLAC and vinyl products will receive a 15% discount on all purchases and free shipping on transactions over $50.00. Visitors can also enter a sweepstakes to win a vinyl starter collection consisting of 1 copy of every LP available on the site. This promotion will run through April 19th.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Cars Announce North American Spring Tour

The Cars have announced an initial string of concerts across North America, due to begin Tuesday, May 10th, at Seattle's Showbox SoDo. The set list will draw from the band's remarkable career and include songs from their eagerly awaited new album Move Like This, set for release by Hear Music/Concord Music Group on May 10th, 2011.

Move Like This, produced by Garret "Jacknife" Lee and The Cars, finds the beloved band - Ric Ocasek, Greg Hawkes, Elliot Easton and David Robinson - brimming with confidence and creative energy, in full charge of their considerable power and enduring influential artistry.

Previewing the new album and debut single, "Sad Song," Rolling Stone affirms "It's as if they never left." The magazine calls Move Like This "A total recall of the precise swagger, art-rock minimalism and chrome-gleam pop" that defines The Cars.

The project's genesis came in the fall of 2009 as Ocasek considered how to proceed with his latest batch of songs. He realized that his best option was the three players with whom he had the most symbiotic relationship. Ocasek reached out to Hawkes, Easton, and Robinson, each of who were excited at the opportunity to play together again.

"It totally clicked immediately," Ocasek says. "Everybody got right into it, as if we had never stopped playing. After two days I thought, 'Oh yeah, this is going to be cool.'"

Even as the band fell naturally back into rhythm, Hawkes says, "We tried hard to keep it from just being a nostalgia thing. We definitely wanted to bring a modern slant to it."

"The Cars have always had a futuristic sound," Producer Jacknife Lee (U2, REM, The Hives, said, before adding, "and this is something we wanted to keep - tight, taut and lean. There's a freshness and clarity to The Cars and Move Like This that most new bands don't have. That's pretty special."

Easton said, "The years melted away and within minutes we were up to our usual mischief. We had a blast making the record and I think that shows in the music."

Looking forward to the upcoming live performances, Robinson said, "We have such a great catalog of songs to choose from. The new songs should blend in nicely."

The Cars - North American Spring Tour:

5/10 in Seattle, WA @ Showbox @SODO
5/12 in Los Angeles, CA @ The Hollywood Palladium
5/13 in Oakland, CA @ Fox Theatre
5/15 in Denver, CO @ The Fillmore
5/17 in Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
5/18 in Chicago, IL @ The Riviera Theatre
5/20 in Toronto, ON @ The Sound Academy
5/23 in Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
5/25 in New York City, NY @ Roseland
5/26 in Boston, MA @ The House of Blues

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Johnny Winter Taps All-Star Lineup For 'Roots' Album

It should be no surprise that Johnny Winter's next album finds him playing the blues. But on Roots, due out later this year, he's playing other people's blues.

The veteran guitarist, singer and band leader's first studio album in more than seven years finds him covering material such as Robert Johnson's "Dust My Broom," Son House's "Death Letter," Elmore James' "Done Somebody Wrong," Bobby Blue Bland's "Further On Up the Road," Chuck Berry's "Maybellene," Jimmy Reed's "Bright Lights, Big City," Muddy Waters' "Got My Mojo Working" and Walter Davis' "Come Back Baby." "Roots" also features a pair of instrumentals, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown's "Okie Doke Stomp" and "Honky Tonk," which features a guest appearance by Winter's younger brother Edgar.

Also helping on the album are ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, Gregg Allman, Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks and his wife, Susan Tedeschi, and "Conan" bandleader Jimmy Vivino. More guests are expected to be announced soon.

"It's all old material that I grew up being influenced by," Winter said. "I do a lot of songs I grew up loving. I've been wanting to do something like this for a long time. It actually is my manager's idea, but I love it."

Growing up in Beaumont, Texas, Winter -- who played clarinet and ukulele before picking up the guitar -- says blues is something that appealed to him as soon as he was exposed to it. "I first started hearing it on the radio before I saw anybody live," he recalls. "I was about 12 when I heard it on the radio and I thought, 'This is the greatest music I've ever heard. What is this stuff?' The first album I ever bought was 'Singing the Blues' by B.B. King, then I started playing it."

Roots is not Winter's only recording project this year, however. He played on a new version of "Thank You (Falletinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" for an upcoming album by Sly Stone and on a rendition of Deep Purple's "Space Truckin' " for William Shatner's new album, Seeking Major Tom.

"It was a funny song," Winter says of the latter project. "[Shatner] doesn't sing; he just talked it. He sent the tape down and I played on it; I didn't meet him or anything. But I always liked Star Trek, so it was fun to do."

This year also marks the 40th anniversary of Live Johnny Winter And, the concert recording that was Winter's greatest commercial success. His own feelings about the hard-rocking album are ambivalent, however.

"It's not one of my favorites," he confesses. "I like rock 'n' roll second to the blues; I just pretty much went into doing more rock 'n' roll because my manger back then thought the blues was kind of fading. He thought [rock] would be a good idea. I really wasn't happy about it, but it was my biggest-selling album, so it still feels a little strange to me."