News on Pageant of Peace, Hooper, Richard & Mimi
Country artist Travis Tritt, Broadway star Audra McDonald, vocal group the Manhattan Transfer, and mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade will perform at the 78th annual lighting of the National Christmas Tree, set for Dec. 6 on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, D.C. The event, dubbed the Christmas Pageant of Peace, will also include performances by the United States Marine Band and the Ford Bend Boys Choir of Stafford, Texas, and will be available to U.S. broadcasters via satellite.
Also to be lit are 56 smaller trees, representing the 50 states plus the five U.S. territories and the District of Columbia. In the three weeks following the initial lighting, musical acts from the Washington, D.C.-area will perform on the Ellipse stage.
-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.
In-demand producer Nellee Hooper, known among other hits for his work with Massive Attack, Bjork, and Madonna, and previously as a member of influential British act Soul II Soul, has formed a new recording project on which he has enlisted the vocal support of Moloko's Roisin Murphy.
Hooper's new "band" is called the Psychedelic Waltons, whose single "Wonderland" has already received support from U.K. club DJs and national pop/rock station BBC Radio 1. The track will be released in Britain on Dec. 3 via Echo, the label to which Moloko are also signed, and will feature a remix by hot U.S. DJ/mixer/artist Roger Sanchez.
-- Paul Sexton, London
Studio and live material recorded by pioneering folk duo Mimi & Richard Farina will be collected on "The Complete Vanguard Recordings," a three-disc set due Nov. 13 from Vanguard Records. Along with the pair's three studio albums -- 1965's "Celebrations for a Grey Day" and "Reflections In a Crystal Wind," and 1968's "Memories" -- the set will include their complete performance from the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, including seven never-before-released tracks.
The rare live recordings will be included on the "Memories" disc. Originally released two years after Richard died in a motorcycle accident, the album cobbled together outtakes from earlier sessions, two songs recorded at Newport in 1965, and two songs Richard was producing for Mimi's sister, Joan Baez.
As previously reported, Mimi Farina died in July, just 18 months after being diagnosed with cancer.
-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.