Billboard Bits: Son Volt, Grandaddy, Monk Competition

News on Son Volt, Grandaddy, Monk Competition

JayRoots-rock outfit Son Volt has reunited and is about to begin work on a new studio album. Group members Jay Farrar, Dave and Jim Boquist and Mike Heidorn recently ended a five-year hiatus to record a track for the Alejandro Escovedo tribute album, "Por Vida." The group is planning to return to the road next year.

"It felt like we hit the ground running," Farrar says. "Give years seemed like five days at that point. It proved that more recording and performing as Son Volt is something that should happen."

Son Volt's last studio album was 1998's "Wide Swing Tremolo," which peaked at No. 93 on The Billboard 200. Farrar's most recent solo release came in June with the live collection "Stone, Steel & Bright Lights," issued on his own Transmit Sound label.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

JasonGrandaddy frontman Jason Lytle has assembled a mix CD to be issued under the moniker "Below the Radio" this fall via Ultra Records. Beyond tracks by Pavement, Beck, Snow Patrol and Elbow, the set features a new Grandaddy track, "Nature Anthem."

"I canĀ¹t help but notice how they are not big 'heavy hitters' off of the albums that they came from, or the songs that the record labels would have suggested as being 'singles,'" Lytle says. "They did although end up being my favorite songs from those albums and this fact has intrigued me since childhood. Why am I usually more smitten with the unobvious hits than the obvious hits? Somewhere in this list lies the answer."

Other artists represented on the album include Beulah, Earlimart, Giant Sand, Goldenboy, the Handsome Family and Blonde Redhead. Grandaddy's most recent album was 2003's "Sumday" (V2), which debuted at No. 84 on The Billboard 200.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

MonkJazz vocalist Gretchen Parlato walked away with first place honors and a $20,000 scholarship at the 17th annual Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, held Sept. 13 at Washington, D.C.'s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. This year's competition was sponsored by General Motors.

Parlato has studied and performed with such jazz greats Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones, and Gerald Wilson. Misha Piatagorsky was picked as winner of the annual Composer's Competition, which is sponsored by BMI and comes with a $10,000 cash prize.

-- Bill Holland, Washington, D.C.