News on Rob Thomas, The Cure, Costa/Spears

RobAfter contributing songs to recent releases by Mick Jagger and Willie Nelson, matchbox twenty frontman Rob Thomas is getting to work on his primary band's next Lava/Atlantic album. Thomas tells Billboard that the set could be out as early as this summer and will be produced by frequent collaborator Matt Serletic, the newly named head of Virgin Records in the U.S.

"That had to be part of his contract," Thomas says of Serletic's freedom to work with matchbox twenty. "What he's allowed to do outside of Virgin are me and me-related things." Along those lines, Thomas says he is considering recording a solo album backed by "people I've met through my travels." In the meantime, both matchbox twenty drummer Paul Doucette and guitarist Kyle Cook are working on solo albums of their own.

Matchbox twenty's "If You're Gone" is No. 6 in its 67th week on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart this week.


-- Melinda Newman, L.A.







CureThe Cure has begun lining up appearances at summer European festivals, with slots at the Arvika Festival (July 11 m Arvika, Sweden), the Zillo Festival (July 13 in Berlin), and the Woodstage Festival (July 14 in Glauchau, Germany) confirmed so far. The veteran U.K. rock act has not released a studio album since 2000's "Bloodflowers," but last year issued the "Greatest Hits" album and home video, featuring 16 favorites and two new songs.

Elektra's microsite for the project features exclusive sound and video clips, as well as lyrics and other goodies. The Cure's own official Web site says the microsite will eventually be home to "quite a lot more [exclusives] over the next couple of weeks."


-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.







NikkaPop soulster Nikka Costa has been tapped to open a handful of dates on Britney Spears' upcoming summer tour. Costa will support Spears' Dream Within a Dream trek beginning with the May 24 opening show in Las Vegas through a June 16 stop in Houston. Spears will continue her tour through to a July 22 finale in Dallas. No other opening acts have been announced.

Costa will be out on the road supporting her 2001 Virgin album, "Everybody Got Their Something." The set's title track was recently heard in "Crossroads," Spears' recent feature film debut.

Prior to joining Spears, Costa has a handful of club dates on tap, including a stop tonight (March 22) in Providence, R.I., and tomorrow in Washington, D.C. On April 3 she's set to perform in Asbury Park, N.J., followed by an appearance the next night in Allentown, Pa.


-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.