Billboard Bits: Spitfire, Big Head Todd, VMAs

News on Spitfire Tour, Big Head Todd, VMAs

Michael FrantiAmbitious political rapper Michael Franti, former Dead Kennedy frontman Jello Biafra, former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, and singer/songwriter Jill Sobule are among those slated to appear on the fourth annual Spitfire Tour, a non-profit jaunt of musicians and actors speaking out on global affairs. The tour is scheduled to hit a number of college campuses, including Mississippi, Wisconsin, Alabama, and Butler, this fall.

Also scheduled to appear on this year's edition are actor Woody Harrelson, former Sierra Club president Adam Werbach, musician Mojo Nixon, and Native American activist John Trudell. The tour, a blend of music, speeches, film, and discussion, was founded in 1998 with the help of former Rage Against the Machine singer Zack de la Rocha.

-- Todd Martens, L.A.

Big Head Todd & the Monsters have completed work on their first studio set in four years. In the wake of the recent closure of its former label, Giant Records, the trio plans to issue the album, titled "Riviera," on its own Big Records label, on which the band released its first two albums, 1989's "Another Mayberry" and 1991's "Midnight Radio." The Colorado-based group is now looking for a distributor for "Riviera," according to manager Mark Bliesener, who adds that the bands hopes to issue the album early next year. The self-produced and self-financed "Riviera," the follow-up to 1997's "Beautiful World," was recorded at Bay View Studios in San Francisco and engineered by Karl Durfler. The set was delayed because of uncertainty at Giant, Bliesener says. The Todd Park Mohr-led band, a relative mainstay on the now-defunct H.O.R.D.E. tour, recorded three studio albums for Giant -- the aforementioned "Beautiful World," 1994's "Strategem," and the group's most acclaimed set, 1993's "Sister Sweetly," which features the tracks "Bittersweet" and "Broken Hearted Savior." The label issued the live BHTM set "Live Monsters" in 1998.

This year's MTV Music Video Awards were "pretty good," according to a recently completed poll. One-quarter of 5,418 respondents agreed that there were some good performances and skits, alongside some lackluster moments during the broadcast. Conversely, 16% felt it was a great show, while an equal amount thought it was just OK. Another 13% weighed in saying it wasn't a very good show, while the same percentage said it was terrible. Those who didn't watch the show made up 17% of the voters. A new poll gauging your opinion on whether or not record companies should continue with album releases and promotional plans in the wake of recent terrorist attacks on the U.S. is already underway at The Voting Booth . Stop by today and register your opinion.