Billboard Bits: Opry, Miles/Berg, LaMontagne

Stories on a Grand Ole Opry TV special, Jason Miles pays tribute to Bob Berg and Ray LaMontagne sets tour dates.

VinceVince Gill will host a Grand Ole Opry TV special set to air on PBS and other public stations in March 2005, has learned. The special has the working title "The Grand Ole Opry's Vintage Classics," and will feature various clips from the long-running, Nashville-based country performance program, with much of the footage never before aired on TV.

The Grand Ole Opry TV series will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2005. The TV show began in 1955 on ABC but lasted just one year on the network. "The Grand Ole Opry" then aired in reruns on various local and PBS stations.

In 1985, "The Grand Ole Opry" was resurrected on the Nashville Network, moved to CMT in 2001 and landed at its current home, Great American Country, in October 2003, where the series airs Saturdays at 8 p.m. ET.

-- Carla Hay, N.Y.

Jason MilesJazz composer/ keyboardist/ producer Jason Miles tells he is producing a tribute album honoring late saxophonist Bob Berg, who died two years ago this week in a car accident in Amagansett, N.Y. The disc is expected in the spring on the Savoy Jazz label.

Miles' own "Miles to Miles" tribute to Miles Davis will be released Jan. 11. The set features Berg in one of his last recordings, "Guerilla Jazz," a track co-written by the two artists.

Miles is nominated for a Grammy in the best pop instrumental performance category for "Chasing Shadows," a track from his collaboration with Herb Alpert, Russ Freeman, James Genus and Gene Lake, "Maximum Grooves: Coast to Coast" (Telarc).

-- Christopher Walsh, N.Y.

LaMontagneRay LaMontagne will kick off a brief slate of tour dates Jan. 14 in Portland, Maine. The 11-date tour will also accommodate at Jan. 19 performance on NBC's "Late Night With Conan O'Brien." The singer/songwriter's debut album RCA album "Trouble" is No. 38 on Billboard's Top Heatseekers chart.

Here are LaMontagne's tour dates:

Jan. 14: Portland, Maine (Asylum)
Jan. 15: Boston (Paradise Rock Club)
Jan. 16: Northhampton, Mass. (Iron Horse)
Jan. 18: Philadelphia (Theatre of the Living Arts)
Jan. 19: New York (Bowery Ballroom)
Jan. 20: Arlington, Va. (Iota)
Jan. 21: Carrboro, N.C. (Carrboro Arts Center)
Jan. 23: Nashville (3rd and Lindsay)
Jan. 25: Birmingham, Ala. (Workplay Theatre)
Jan. 26: Louisville, Ky. (Rudyard Kipling)
Jan. 29: Los Angeles (Troubador)

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.


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