Billboard Bits: Diamond, Mellencamp, Jewel & More

News on Neil Diamond/Rick Rubin, John Mellencamp, Jewel, Cary/Cockrell

NeilPop legend Neil Diamond is collaborating with producer Rick Rubin on a new studio album, sources have confirmed to The as-yet-untitled set will be Diamond's first album of original material since 2001's "Three Chord Opera," which debuted at No. 15 on The Billboard 200.

Rubin helped Johnny Cash flourish late in his career by producing his series of "American" albums, one of which ("American III: Solitary Man") was named after and featured a cover of Diamond's 1966 hit "Solitary Man."

Diamond just wrapped a tour of Australia and New Zealand, and will begin a run of dates in the United Kingdom beginning May 17 in Sheffield. A North American tour is expected to kick off in July.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

JohnJohn Mellencamp will follow up a successful spring run in primarily secondary markets with a summer amphitheater tour with John Fogerty, has learned. The approximately 40-date trek begins June 14 in West Palm Beach, Fla., and runs through Sept. 3 in Charlotte, N.C.

The spring run, which featured Donovan as support, wraps April 17 in Louisville, while tickets for the summer tour go on sale April 23. Mellencamp recently told Billboard an expensive summer tour was likely. "If I go out and I enjoy this, then I'll continue," he said. "If I go out and it's a pain in the ass, I'll go back home."

-- Ray Waddell, Nashville

BowSinger/songwriter Jewel will return to live duty with a handful of June acoustic shows, beginning June 15 at Denver's Botanic Gardens. Beforehand, the artist will also perform at the Candie's Foundation's "The Event to Prevent" on May 3 in New York.

Jewel is in the studio at work on her sixth album, due in September via Atlantic. She
told last year she expected the set would constitute "a really simple, kind of lo-fi record" to follow up 2003's "0304," which took her in an unexpected dance/pop direction.

June 15: Denver (Botanic Gardens) June 16: Boulder, Colo. (Chataqua Concert Series) June 17: Telluride, Colo. (Bluegrass Festival) June 18-19: San Diego (Humphrey's) June 20: Palm Desert, Calif. (McCallum Theatre) Juny 21: Thousand Oaks, Calif. (Civic Arts Plaza) June 23-24: Saratoga, Calif. (Mountain Winery) June 25: Murphys, Calif. (Ironstone Amphitheatre) June 26: Temecula, Calif. (Pechanga Resort)

CaryFormer Whiskeytown member Caitlin Cary and singer/songwriter Thad Cockrell have recorded a duets album, "Begonias," due June 14 via Yep Roc Records. "We'd actually planned to make this album a long time ago," Cockrell says. "It was merely a matter of fitting in with each other's schedules."

"Half the material is older and very familiar," Cary adds. "The other half was written in three weeks in the studio, so half the songs are old friends, and the other half are pure spontaneous combustion." The set also features guitar work by Pat Buchanan (Kenny Chesney) and pedal steel player Pete Finney (Patty Loveless, Allison Moorer).

Beyond a few appearances at the recent South By Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, Cary and Cockrell are planning a U.S. summer tour. At deadline only a June 18 show in Raleigh, N.C., and a July 9 date in Norfolk, Va., were confirmed.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.