Billboard Bits: Irma Thomas, Young MC, Music Now Festival

News on Irma Thomas, Young MC, Music Now Festival

R&B veteran Irma Thomas will release her first effort in six years this spring. "After the Rain" will be available April 25 via Rounder. Produced by Scott Billington, it is the New Orleans vocalist's first studio album since 2000's "My Heart's in Memphis: The Songs of Dan Penn."

Thomas enlisted a number of other Louisiana musicians to back her on the set, which consists of newly penned R&B tunes and classics from songwriters like Stevie Wonder ("Shelter in the Rain")and Blind Willie Johnson ("Soul of a Man"). Thomas contributed new lyrics to the traditional tune "Another Man Done Gone."

Thomas is also slated to appear at the 2006 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on May 7. As previously reported, other stars at the fest will include Bruce Springsteen and his new Seeger Sessions Band, Herbie Hancock, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Dave Matthews Band.

-- Katie Hasty, N.Y.

Young MC has filed a lawsuit against music publishing company Varry White Music, Inc., for failing to pay royalties for songs the rapper wrote. The compositions were penned for his at-the-time Delicious Vinyl label-mate Tone Loc and include the hip hop hits "Wild Thing" and "Funky Cold Medina."

The suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, asserts that Young and Varry White entered an agreement in Dec. 1988 for the publishing company to "collect monies from the exploitation" of the songs and that Varry White has breached its duties by failing to collect and credit monies due to him.

He additionally asserts that the company failed and refused to supply an auditor with requested documentation for the songs that are "still broadly used to this day." Young MC, best known for his 1989 hit "Bust a Move," seeks a proper accounting and unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

-- Chris M. Walsh, N.Y.

The National/Clogs principal Bryce Dessner will curate the first Music Now Festival in his Cincinnati hometown. The event will be held April 26-30 at the city's Contemporary Art Center and feature performances by the Clogs, the Books, Celloproject, percussionist Kyaw Kyaw Naing, the Bell Orchestre, Erik Friedlander and the world premiere of a new piece by percussionists David Cossin and Glen Kotche of Wilco.

Classical pianist Awadaggin Pratt will perform at a patron's opening concert on April 26. Music Now will also feature a commissioned installation by sculptor Karl Jensen. Tickets are available through the venue as well as Chamber Music Cincinnati and Shake It Records.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.