Prolific blues musician John Hammond is preparing to release his 28th solo album, and fifth for Pointblank/Virgin, "Wicked Grin." Due March 13, the album sports 11 tracks written or co-writt

Prolific blues musician John Hammond is preparing to release his 28th solo album, and fifth for Pointblank/Virgin, "Wicked Grin." Due March 13, the album sports 11 tracks written or co-written by Hammond's longtime friend, Tom Waits. Waits also produced the set.

"It's the most evocative, imagistic, incredible material I've ever recorded," Hammond says. The artist covers such Waits songs as "Heart Attack And Vine" and "16 Shells From A Thirty-Ought Six," the latter from the 1999 Grammy-winning album "Mule Variations" (Epitaph). The sessions also inspired Waits to pen a new song for Hammond, "Fannin Street," which he co-wrote with his wife and frequent writing partner, Kathleen Brennan.

Having previously produced only his own records, "I almost backed out because it was too intimidating," Waits admits, although Hammond and the cast of musicians made it much easier. "Sometimes 'producing' is just drinking coffee, waving your arms around and nodding 'yes' or saying nothing at exactly the right time," he says.

Among those who play on the set are bassist Larry Taylor (Canned Heat, Jerry Lee Lewis, Big Joe Turner), keyboardist Augie Meyers (Bob Dylan, Texas Tornadoes, Flaco Jimenez), percussionist Stephen Hodges (Fabulous Thunderbirds, Smashing Pumpkins), and blues harmonica great Charlie Musselwhite. Waits also contributed rhythm guitar to the session, and chimed in with vocals on "I Know I've Been Changed," a traditional gospel song that closes the album.

"The musicians involved were all inspirational players," says Hammond, who kicked off a tour last weekend in Chester, N.Y. "We worked as though we had been playing together for years. It was an unforgettable experience for me."

Here is the track list of "Wicked Grin":

"2:19"
"Heart Attack And Vine"
"Clap Hands"
"'Til The Money Runs Out"
"16 Shells From A Thirty-Ought Six"
"Buzz Felderjohn"
"Shore Leave"
"Fannin Street"
"Jockey Full Of Bourbon"
"Big Black Mariah"
"Murder In The Red Barn"
"I Know I've Been Changed"

Here is John Hammond's confirmed tour itinerary:

Feb. 2: Pawling, N.Y. (The Towne Crier Cafe)
Feb. 4: Boulder, Colo. (E-Town)
Feb. 9: Dayton, Ohio (Canal Street Tavern)
Feb. 10: Lexington, Ky. (Lynagh's Music Club)
Feb. 11: Charleston, W.Va. (Mountain Stage)
Feb. 13: Carrboro, N.C. (Cat's Cradle)
Feb. 14: Columbia, S.C. (Workshop Theatre Of South Carolina)
Feb. 15: Atlanta (Smith's Old Bar)
Feb. 17: Virginia Beach, Va. (The Jewish Mother)
March 3: Shirley, Mass. (Bull Run Restaurant)
March 18: San Juan Capistrano, Calif. (Coach House)
March 19: Hollywood, Calif. (Knitting Factory)
March 20: Solana Beach, Calif. (Belly Up Tavern)
March 21: San Francisco (Great American Music Hall)
March 23: Portland, Ore. (Roseland)
March 24: Seattle (Experience Music Project)
March 25: Vancouver (The Yale)
March 28: Englewood, Colo. (The Gothic Theater)
March 31: Chicago (Martyr's)
April 1: Ann Arbor, Mich. (The Ark)
April 2: Toronto (Horseshoe Tavern)