Billboard Bits: Shaggy/Kevi, Yoakam, String Cheese

News on Shaggy/Kevi, Dwight Yoakam, String Cheese Incident

NellyPop/reggae artist Shaggy and singer/songwriter Kevi are the latest artists to create titles for Scholastic's Hip Kid Hop "Read & Rap-A-Long" children's book series. Set for a February release, the book/CD projects join previously released titles by LL Cool J and Doug E. Fresh in the series.

Shaggy's "Hope" is an inspiring story of a young boy guided by his mother's love to a brighter future. Kevi's "Don't Talk to Strangers," meanwhile, turns an essential safety message into an anthem with tips for staying safe. Each book spells out the lyrics across 32 illustrated pages, and includes a CD with the artist performing the song, and a karaoke-like version that lets kids sing along with the music.

September saw the release of LL Cool J's "The Winner Is" and Fresh's "Think Again," which introduced the Hip Kid Hop series. Scholastic promises yet more titles in 2003, including a book/CD project by Common.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

NellyCountry star Dwight Yoakam is planning to release a new studio album in the spring on his own Electrodisc Records, Billboard Bulletin reports. The set will be distributed through Nashville-based Audium Records, a Koch-owned company.

Yoakam recorded for Reprise from 1986-2001, scoring 14 top-10 hits on Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart. As previously reported, much of his output for the label is collected on "Reprise Please Baby: The Warner Bros. Years," a four-disc, 89 track box set released Nov. 5 via Warner Bros./Rhino.

-- Phyllis Stark, Nashville

NellyNoted jam band the String Cheese Incident has set a trio of shows in San Francisco to close out the year and ring 2003 in style. The group's Dec. 28-31 shows will be held at the Bill Graham Civic Center, with the final night dubbed the Time Traveler's Ball. On its official Web site, the band encourages fans to dress in the period costume of choice on New Year's Eve. "Human history runs deep, so explore," the site implores. "Attendees are encouraged to dress from any and every era -- past, present or future."

Tickets to the first two shows -- which will feature Michael Franti & Spearhead and Gomez supporting, respectively -- are priced at $32.50 and are available via Ticketmaster. The New Year's Eve show is costlier at $60 per head, with Keller Williams slated to open. A three-night pass is also being offered for $120. Tickets for kids under 12 are half price, while those under 2-years-old are free.

In other news, the String Cheese Incident will play a hometown show Dec. 19 at the Boulder (Colo.) Theater that will benefit a number of charities. The night will include a screening of "Waiting for the Snow to Fall," a new Warren Miller film about the band, who will turn out an intimate performance afterward.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.