Billboard Bits: SummerStage, Grateful Dead, Music Nation

Ticketed benefit concerts from Rufus Wainwright and the Black Crowes have been added to the schedule for New York's Central Park SummerStage, joining a previously announced slate that includes Joss St

Ticketed benefit concerts from Rufus Wainwright and the Black Crowes have been added to the schedule for New York's Central Park SummerStage, joining a previously announced slate that includes Joss Stone with Common and the Decemberists with Grizzly Bear and Land Of Talk. The remainder of the shows on the schedule are free on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Crowes will play on Aug. 9 as part of a summer outing that comes in between finishing work on the first new studio album in six years, while Wainwright will perform on Aug. 19. Other benefits include the Levon Helm Band on June 28 and Bob Weir & Ratdog with Keller Williams on July 9.

Among the groups performing for free throughout the summer are Television, Neko Case and Cassandra Wilson.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.






Known for creating exclusive channels for such music legends as Elvis Presley, The Who, Bruce Springsteen, George Strait, Frank Sinatra and more, Sirius Satellite Radio is launching a channel dedicated solely to the music of the Grateful Dead and it band members.

"We have fans [that have] driven hundreds of miles to see us," says the Dead's drummer, Mickey Hart. "Now you can save on greenhouse gas emissions with Sirius without driving a mile."

-- Mike Boyle, N.Y.






Three new artists have earned a recording contract with Epic as part of Music Nation's first online video music competition. Rock act Kid Deposit Triumph, pop singer Yolanda Ruiz and rapper T-Max triumphed over 2,500 contestants to impress judges like Epic Records president Charlie Walk, Good Charlotte's Joel and Benji Madden, producers Jonthan "J.R." Rotem and Howard Benson, Nelly and the Game.

The
music networking site will launch its next installment of the competition June 18, when artists of all genres can submit their tracks for the competition and for user feedback. The initial round of finalists will be chosen after 12 weeks; winners will be signed to Original Signal, Music Nation's new Epic imprint.

-- Katie Hasty, N.Y.