Billboard Bits: Ashanti/Lonestar, Bravo, Dee Dee Ramone

News on Ashanti/Lonestar, Bravo, Dee Dee Ramone

AshantiR&B star Ashanti will give a private concert tonight (April 3) at the Huntington Townhouse in Huntington, Long Island. The audience will be made up of invited parents and spouses of U.S. military personnel in Iraq; Ashanti's Def Jam labelmates Ja Rule and Redman are expected to make guest appearances.

Ashanti can currently be heard guesting on Ja Rule's "Mesmerize," which is No. 8 on Billboard's Top 40 Tracks chart and No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 this week. Her only confirmed spring tour date is a May 4 stop at Atlanta's annual Music Midtown festival.

In related news, country act Lonestar was on hand to perform for military troops this morning at North Carolina's Camp Lejeune, just prior to President Bush's address at the military base. The group played a 20-minute set that opened with a rendition of the National Anthem, and received kudos from the President in his opening remarks.

Following the President's speech, the members of the group had the opportunity to meet and take pictures with the President and First Lady Laura Bush. The North Carolina performance will not be the end of Lonestar's military service, as the group is scheduled to perform May 17 for troops in Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Ariz., and May 30 at Virginia's Norfolk Naval Base.

-- Jonathan Cohen & Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

BobCable TV network Bravo is gearing up for several new music shows next year. First on tap in the second quarter of 2004 are the two-hour special "Reggae: The Story of Jamaican Music" and the 13-episode series "Cirque Du Soleil Variety Show." Performers featured in the reggae special will be Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Eric Clapton, UB40, the Police, and Shaggy.

Premiering in the third quarter 2004 will be "The Voice," a two-part special about the greatest vocalists in popular music, and "More Than Music," an eight-episode series that explores how music has helped define key moments in history. The Songwriters Hall of Fame will also return as a telecast on Bravo. This year's event will be held June 12 in New York; inductees include Phil Collins, Little Richard, Van Morrison, and Queen. Next year, Bravo will televise the ceremony in July. The date of the 2004 event and honorees are to be announced.

-- Carla Hay, N.Y.

TonyThe 1993 film "What About Me?" -- which featured acting turns by late punk icons Johnny Thunders and Dee Dee Ramone -- will be released May 20 on DVD by Eclectic DVD/Music Video Distributors. In the film, director Rachel Amodeo stars as a young woman forced to live on the streets of New York, and chronicles the people she meets, including Ramone and Richard Hell. Thunders, who portrays the brother of Amodeo's character, contributed several instrumental tracks to the film, as well as the title track of his 1978 album "So Alone" (Sire).

Dedicated to the memory of Ramone, Thunders, and New York punk scene mainstay/actor Rockets Redglare, the DVD also features a pair of Amodeo's short films, "Rest in Peace" and "Pierre Paolo."

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.