Billboard Bits: Strummer, Sugarcult, Polyphonic Spree

Stories on Joe Strummer tributes, a new Sugarcult album and Polyphonic Spree holiday shows.

Joe StrummerA pair of Joe Strummer tribute shows will be staged in the coming weeks, one in the Windy City and one in the Big Apple. The Dec. 16 Chicago event at Schubas Tavern will feature former Wilco member Jay Bennett, as well as a host of local musicians and promised special guests. Dubbed Chicago Calling: A Very Special Clash Christmas, the event's $10 cover charge will benefit the Carole Robinson Center for Learning.

In New York, a Celebration of the Music of Joe Strummer has been slated for Dec. 22 at Irving Plaza. The lineup features Jesse Malin, Clem Snide, Ted Leo and Hammel On Trial, among others. The proceeds from $15 tickets will benefit Strummerville, a charity started by Strummer's widow in the wake of his sudden death in December 2002.

In the past year, Strummer tribute shows have been held in London and Manchester, England, and Milan, as well as in several North American cities.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

SugarcultModern rock act Sugarcult will release its sophomore album March 9 via Ultimatum/Fearless Music Group. Titled "Palm Trees And Power Lines," the set was produced by Gavin MacKillop (Toad The Wet Sprocket, Goo Goo Dolls).

As reported
earlier today, Sugarcult will join Simple Plan and MxPx for a winter tour kicking off Jan. 26 in Kansas City, Mo.

"Palm Trees" will be the follow-up to the band's debut, "Start Static." Released in 2001, the album peaked in January 2003 at No. 6 on Billboard's Top Independent Albums chart. The set has sold 285,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen Soundscan.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

Polyphonic SpreeThe Polyphonic Spree will host its fourth annual Holiday Celebration concerts Dec. 19-20 in Dallas' Lakewood Theatre to benefit Toys for Tots. The shows will also feature Patrick Park, the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players, Syncopated Ladies, Celebration Ringers, Shibboleth and Spread A Little Love Soundsystem.

Santa and Mrs. Claus and others will be on hand outside the venue to entertain families. At the concert's conclusion, the 1964 animated classic "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" will be screened for the audience, which is encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots.

To ring in the new year, the choir-like 23-piece symphonic group, will join Grandaddy, Corn Mo, Virgil Shaw, Dios and surprise special guests for a Dec. 31 show at Los Angeles' Wiltern LG.

Led by former Tripping Daisy frontman Tim DeLaughter, the Spree is expected to release its as-yet-untitled second studio album sometime in 2004.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.