Billboard Bits: ACM Awards, Joey Ramone Benefit, !!!

News on ACM Awards, Joey Ramone Benefit, !!!

Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts and Sugarland are the first performers confirmed for the Academy of Country Music Awards, which will be held May 23 at Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena and broadcast live on CBS. The first award presenters are actress Kathryn Morris ("Cold Case") and Dr. Phil and Robin McGraw.

The ACMs will be hosted by Reba McEntire and will also honor Vince Gill with the Academy of Country Music Home Depot Humanitarian Award. The performers are up for some of the top awards of the night; Underwood is nominated for top female vocalist and song of the year, while Chesney is nominated for top male vocalist and country music entertainer of the year.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

The Strokes, the Dictators' Andy Shernoff, the Dead Boys' Cheetah Chrome and DKT with guest vocalists Corey Glover and Marshall Crenshaw will perform at the Joey Ramone Birthday Benefit next month.

The event will be held May 19 at New York's Irving Plaza on what would have been the late Ramones frontman's 55th birthday. Ramone died of cancer in 2001. Also on tap to appear is Richie Ramone, who manned the drum kit from 1983-1987 but was estranged from other group members for many years.

Proceeds from the show will be donated to the Lymphoma Research Foundation. Also in the works is an exhibition of work from well-known rock photographers in the days leading up to the bash.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

New York-based dance/rock act outfit !!! is at work on its third studio album, which should be out in early or mid-fall via Touch & Go, according to its
Web site. Bassist Justin van der Volgen "is behind the dials so it should be, if anything, a sonic wonderland," the band writes. A single is being targeted for release in late June.

The as-yet-untitled album is the follow-up to 2004's "Louden Up Now," which debuted at No. 4 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart and No. 14 on the Top Independent Albums tally.

The group will return to live duty for a June 9 show in New York and another two days later in Brooklyn. The dates will serve as a warm-up for a run of July shows with the Red Hot Chili Peppers in the United Kingdom, which will be sprinkled in with a handful of headlining club dates.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.