Billboard Bits: Brand New, Vida Blue, Kristofferson

News on Brand New, Vida Blue, Kristofferson

BrandFollowing a bidding war, Brand New has signed to DreamWorks, Billboard Bulletin reports. The rock group's "Deja Entendu," issued in June on Triple Crown/Razor & Tie, has sold 104,000 units in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. The album will be issued Oct. 13 in Europe and a week later in Australia.

Frontman Jesse Lacey tells that although "Deja Entendu" does differ in sound from the group's 2001 debut, "Your Favorite Weapon," the album "doesn't seem like we're departing from anything, really. I think we always knew that we had a lot of potential and there's a lot of different stuff we were able to do, and a lot of different sounds we wanted to make. Not too long after we recorded the first record, we were already wondering where we were going to go from there."

Brand New is in the midst of a North American tour with Dashboard Confessional, MXPX and Vendetta Red. The trek hits New York's Roseland Ballroom tonight (Sept. 4) and tomorrow and will run through Oct. 7 in St. Paul, Minn.

-- Melinda Newman, L.A., Annie Zaleski, Boston

VidaVida Blue, the band led by Phish keyboardist Page McConnell, will release its second studio album, "The Illustrated Band," Oct. 14 through Sanctuary Records. It's is the follow-up to the group's
self-titled debut, released last year on Elektra.

Vida Blue -- which also includes bassist Oteil Burbridge (Allman Brothers, Aquarium Rescue Unit) and drummer Russell Batiste (Funky Meters) -- recorded the album in April in Miami and elicited help from Afro-Cuban sextet the Spam Allstars, who contribute to four songs on "The Illustrated Band."

The group is planning a U.S. tour in support of the new album, with the Spam Allstars in tow. For more information and free MP3 downloads of live Vida Blue tracks, visit the act's official Web site.

-- Troy Carpenter, N.Y.

KrisSongwriter/musician/actor Kris Kristofferson will receive the 2003 Spirit of Americana Free Speech Award. It will be handed out Sept. 19 in Nashville at the second annual Americana Awards ceremony, part of the Americana Music Association's (AMA) yearly conference. Kristofferson also plans to perform during the show.

The award -- presented by the First Amendment Center in conjunction with the AMA -- recognizes Americana artists for civic and social activism.
Last year's inaugural award was presented to Johnny Cash.

As previously reported, the 2003 Americana Awards will also feature performances by Allison Moorer, Kathleen Edwards, Ricky Skaggs and Rodney Crowell. The show will be hosted by Jim Lauderdale. Cash leads the nominees with three, including artist of the year and song of the year for his cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt."

-- Troy Carpenter, N.Y.