News on Oasis, Noel Gallagher, Proud Mary, Sour Mash, Greg Griffin, Captain Soul, Alan McGee, Poptones, Dave Koz, Little Richard

Oasis' Noel Gallagher has produced the upcoming first release on his new Sour Mash label. Proud Mary, a five-piece rock band hailing from Gallagher's home town of Manchester, U.K., will debut next month in the region with the single "Very Best Friend," followed by the album "The Same Old Blues" in the summer.

The band, fronted by vocalist Greg Griffin, recorded the album with Gallagher at Wheeler End Studios in Manchester over a 10-day period and are planning live dates soon. An early listen by Billboard.com reveals a sound less inspired by Oasis and more by the goodtime rock stylings of '70s staples the Faces.

In other U.K. rock news, "Beat Your Crazy Head Against The Sky," the debut album by U.K. melodic rock act Captain Soul, hit retail today (March 12) on former Creation head Alan McGee's Poptones label. Unexpectedly high demand on indie distributor Pinnacle caused the album's appearance to be delayed by a week.

The Northampton-based band will mark the album's release by headlining at Poptones' popular Radio 4 club night Wednesday (March 14) in Notting Hill, West London.

-- Paul Sexton, London





Saxophonist Dave Koz is joining jazz KTWV (The Wave) Los Angeles, to host the station's morning show. Koz will join KTWV in early April, according to station management. "I practically grew up listening to The Wave," says Koz, adding, "This is like a homecoming for me." KTWV already airs Koz's weekly syndicated radio show.

The artist's most recent Capitol album, "The Dance," is no. 12 on the Billboard Top Contemporary Jazz Albums chart this week.

-- Frank Saxe, N.Y.





Little Richard can add another title to his claim to fame -- hometown ambassador. The self-proclaimed inventor of rock'n'roll has scheduled a return to his roots this weekend to kick off the Cherry Blossom Festival in Macon, Ga., which runs from Friday (March 16) through March 25.

Born Richard Penniman, the flamboyant 68-year-old performer grew up in Macon's historic black neighborhood, Pleasant Hill. For over a year, he's been Macon's ambassador of tourism, lending his name and voice to a local tourism campaign.

"What he's done for us has been just priceless," said Janice Marshall, CEO of the Macon-Bibb County Convention & Visitors Bureau. She said his role in the city's "Song and Soul of the South" tourism promotion plan has been worth an estimated $1.5 million.

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