Billboard Bits: Field Mob, Taj Mahal, Head Automatica

Field Mob and Head Automatica ready new albums and , Taj Mahal headlines Congressional Blues Festival.

Atlanta rap duo Field Mob, who recently signed to Ludacris’ Disturbing the Peace/Geffen imprint, has set June 20 as the release date for its third album "Light Poles and Pine Trees." The set boasts guest appearances by Ciara (cousin of Field Mob member Smoke), Ludacris and Bobby Valentino, among others.

The first single, "So What" featuring Ciara, was produced by Jazze Pha. Field Mob also appeared on the single "Georgia," featuring Ludacris and Jamie Foxx, the lead cut from the 2004 compilation "Ludacris Presents... Disturbing Tha Peace" (Disturbing Tha Peace/Def Jam).

"Light Poles" is the follow-up to Field Mob’s 2003 disc, "From Tha Roota To Tha Toota," which peaked at No. 33 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 342,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

-- Clover Hope, N.Y.

Taj Mahal will headline the third Congressional Blues Festival, set for June 21 at Washington, D.C.'s Mellon Auditorium. The event is a benefit for the
Music Maker Relief Foundation, which provides financial and day-to-day assistance to older musicians rooted in a Southern musical tradition.

The event "provides a national stage for this great art form, that is truly an American creation and revered internationally: roots music," says festival founder and director Ryan Costello. "Our blues artists are our national treasures."

In addition to his own set, Taj Mahal will introduce and perform with Beverly Guitar Watkins, Mudcat, Cool John Ferguson and the the Carolina Chocolate Drops, all of which are Music Maker artists. Also performing will be the Second Amendments, a group consisting solely of Congressmen and Senators (guitarist/vocalist Collin Peterson (D-MN), keyboardist Jon Porter (R-NV), drummer Kenny Hulshof (R-MO), bassist Dave Weldon (R-FL) and guitarist Thaddeus McCoter (R-MI)).

Tickets for the event have been purchased by the show's sponsors (Volkswagen, the Recording Industry Association, Federal Express, Tyson, XM Satellite Radio, Southern Company and America Online) and are being distributed free via lottery at the event's Web site.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

Head Automatica is readying the release of its sophomore album, "Popaganda," due June 6 via Warner Bros. The disc is led by the timely single "Graduation Day," which is supported by a Tony Petrossian-directed video styled after 1980s-era John Hughes high school films.

"'Popaganda' is more musical than anything I've ever embarked on in my life," says vocalist Daryl Palumbo. "It's very melodic -- we're drawing a lot from the Beatles-era backbeat sound, as well as the mod-revival of the late '70s." The disc is the follow-up to 2004's "Decadence," which debuted at No. 10 on Billboard's Top Heatseekers chart.

Head Automatica support the set with roadwork and plans to join Taking Back Sunday, Angels And Airwaves and the Subways on tour beginning June 22 in Jackson, N.J.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.