Billboard Bits: Daft Punk, Van Morrison, Elf Power

News on Daft Punk, Van Morrison, Elf Power

In what will be a rare live appearance in the United States, French techno duo Daft Punk has joined the lineup for the 2006 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival. The group didn't play any shows in North America in support of its 2005 Virgin album "Human After All," which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Electronic Albums tally.

The set spawned the singles "Technologic" and "Robot Rock," which reached No. 10 and No. 15, respectively, on Billboard's Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart.

Sources say several more acts are still being eyed for the Coachella lineup, the majority of which was announced yesterday (Jan. 31). The event will be headlined by Depeche Mode and Tool.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

Van Morrison will support the March 7 U.S. release of his country album, "
Pay the Devil " (Lost Highway), with a handful of shows. The early March run consists of just six dates, two of which are in San Francisco. In Europe, where the album is due a day earlier, his tour opens Friday (Feb. 3) with the first of two shows in his native Belfast, and closes with a Feb. 22-23 stand in Zurich. Shortly after the U.S. shows, he'll be back in Europe for several gigs in England (March 16-28). Come May, he's got dates booked in Duisburg (18) and Berlin (19).

March 2: San Francisco (Rancho Nicasio) March 3: San Francisco (Masonic Hall) March 4: Los Angeles (Wiltern Theater) March 6: Dallas (Nokia Theater) March 7: Nashville (Ryman Auditorium) March 8: Boston (Opera House)

Elf Power will release its eighth full-length, "Back to the Web," April 25 via Rykodisc. The self-produced set is the Athens, Ga.-based group's first album for the label after two on its own Orange Twin imprint.

"I was listening to a lot of middle eastern folk and gypsy music when I started writing these songs and I tried to emulate some of those sounds by combining 12 string acoustic guitar with violin and accordion," says singer/songwriter Andrew Rieger. "Our last album [2004's 'Walking With the Beggar Boys'] was more of a straight-ahead rock record, so in reaction this one came out as more of a dark, orchestrated folk rock album."

The band is planning to tour North America and Europe in support of "Back to the Web." U.S. dates begin with a March 11 hometown show and include March 17-18 performances in Austin, Texas, as part of the South By Southwest music festival. Visit the band's
official Web site for details.