News on Helmet, Taste Greatness, Disc Makers

Veteran rock act Helmet has inked a new deal with Warcon Enterprises, which will release its next album this summer. The as-yet-untitled set will be produced by Wharton Tiers, who engineered the early Helmet albums "Strap It On" and "Meantime."

After a seven-year break, vocalist/guitarist Page Hamilton reactivated Helmet in 2004 for the Interscope album "Size Matters." The group will hit the road this summer as part of the Vans Warped Tour, but beforehand, will perform later this month at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, alongside labelmates Opiate For The Masses, My American Heart and Street Drum Corps.

At that show, Hamilton will be backed by drummer Charlie Walker (Institute, Chamberlain), bassist Chris Traynor and guitarist Anthony Truglio. It is unknown if this lineup will remain intact for the summer dates.


-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.







Artists like Jamie Cullum, Ambulance LTD and the Pat McGee Band have been tapped to perform as part of the first Bass Pale Ale/Rolling Stone Taste Greatness concert series. Michael Tolcher will kick off the shows on April 13 at the Loft in Atlanta.

The lineup is as follows:

April 13: Michael Tolcher, Atlanta (The Loft)
April 19: Pat McGee Band, New York (Irving Plaza)
April 20: Danielia Cotton, Chicago (Double Door)
April 24: Ben Lee, New York (Irving Plaza)
April 26: Electric Six, New York (Irving Plaza)
April 29: Ambulance LTD, Boston (Paradise)
May 3: Marc Broussard, Philadelphia (TLA)
May 5: Van Hunt, Baltimore (Recher Theatre)
May 7: The Fray, Las Vegas (House of Blues)
May 8: Jamie Cullum, Miami (Culture Room)


-- Katie Hasty, N.Y.







Disc Makers has upped the ante for its 2006 Independent Music World Series, increasing the prize pool for its four regional contests to $250,000 in cash and goods. Winners of showcase events in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Chicago will each take home $5,000 cash, musical and recording equipment, performance slots at select music conferences and 40 hours of studio recording time.

As many as 5,000 artists are expected to enter this year's 11th annual competition series, with showcase finalists selected by a panel of Billboard editors. A group of music industry professionals is assembled to judge each regional event.

Registration is open to artists not signed to a major label through May 3 at Discmakers.com/imws.


-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.