Billboard Bits: Outkast, Ben Harper, Beta Band!

News on Outkast, Ben Harper, Eddie Vedder, Pearl Jam, Beta Bandy

Outkast's three concerts this week in Florida will be sponsored by the Florida "truth" anti-tobacco campaign. Bandanas, T-shirts, and necklaces were designed for group principals Big Boi and Andre emblazoned with the campaign's logo. Outkast plays Lake Buena Vista tonight (April 11) and Gainesville tomorrow (April 12) in support of "Stankonia (LaFace/Arista), which is No. 32 on The Billboard 200 this week. The Gainesville show, on the University Of Florida campus, is free and open to the public.

The "truth" advertising campaign is part of the State of Florida's youth-oriented anti-tobacco campaign, created by the Florida Department of Health, and funded by the $11.3 billion settlement reached with tobacco companies in 1997.

-- Troy Carpenter, N.Y.

Ben Harper was joined by Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder during a private gig for about 200 radio station contest winners and Virgin Records personnel in Sydney last night (April 11). According to reports on the Pearl Jam site Five Horizons, the pair covered Pearl Jam's "Indifference," a song Harper had previously played live with the full group during his stint as a support act on their 1998 tour.

Harper plays Melbourne tomorrow (April 13) before resuming North American touring April 21 in Providence, R.I. His new two-disc concert album with the Innocent Criminals, "Live from Mars," debuted at No. 70 on The Billboard 200 last week.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

Eclectic U.K. rock act the Beta Band will release its second album, "Hotshot II," on July 3 via Astralwerks. The album, which follows up 1999's acclaimed self-titled release, is described by the label as "at once folky and futuristic, accessible yet adventurous, full of junkyard rhythms, dubbed-out atmospherics, and off-kilter pop." A summer tour is in the works..


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