Billboard Bits: Santana, Modern English, MacGowan

News on Santana, Modern English, Shane MacGowan and the Popes, Pogues, Dropkick Murphys

Returning home yesterday (Feb. 27) after a 46-year absence, guitarist Carlos Santana unveiled a plaque in Autlan De Navarro declaring him the "favorite son" of the west-central Mexican town. "I scratch myself and I don't wake up," Santana said.

Mayor Armando Perez also gave him the keys to the town where Santana spent his early childhood and where his father was a well-known musician. The town's main street was named for Santana, and a statue of his father, mariachi musician Jose Santana, was unveiled.

Santana, who said he learned to play music in Autlan's church, and expanded his learning in Tijuana's bordellos, offered to finance a project for the town -- an airport, a hospital, a school, or a soup-kitchen for the poor.

(AP logo)

The most creative years of 1980s new wave act Modern English will be celebrated on "The Best Of Modern English - Life In The Gladhouse 1980-1984." Due March 20 from 4AD/Beggars Banquet and named for a track on the band's 1982 album "After The Snow" (Sire), the set collects 16 tracks from three albums and two EPs, several of which are single or b-side mixes. The band formed in Colchester, U.K., in 1977 as the Lepers around the core of vocalist Robbie Grey, guitarist Gary McDowell, and drummer Richard Brown. The addition of keyboardist Steve Walker and bassist Mick Conroy created Modern English, who split in 1984 amidst the tensions of touring. Grey has continued off and on with different incarnations of the band, and recorded three albums under the old name.

Veteran Irish punk rocker Shane MacGowan, former lead singer of the Pogues, will tour North America this spring with his current backing band, the Popes. The tour will include a St. Patrick's Day performance March 17 at New York's Webster Hall. The band will be recording the shows for a planned live album to be released in the fall. Though it's been five years since MacGowan released "Crock Of Gold," his last album of new material, fans can hear the gruffy-voiced singer slur his way through two songs on the latest album from the Dropkick Murphys, "Sing Loud, Sing Proud" (Hellcat). Shane MacGowan and the Popes' North American Tour March 16: Plainview, N.Y. (Vanderbilt) March 17, 19: New York, N.Y. (Webster Hall) March 20: Baltimore (Recher Theatre) March 22: Providence, R.I. (Lupo's) March 23: Portland, Maine (State Theatre) March 24: Montreal (Spectrum) March 25: Ottawa (Oliver's) March 27: Toronto (Government) March 28: Pittsburgh (Metropol) March 29: Detroit (St. Andrew's Hall) March 30-31: Chicago (Vic Theatre) April 2: Minneapolis (First Avenue) April 4: Denver (Gothic Theatre) April 5: Boulder, Colo. (Boulder Theatre) April 7: Vancouver (Commodore Ballroom) April 8-9: Seattle (Showbox) April 10: Portland, Ore. (venue TBA) April 12: Santa Cruz, Calif. (Catalyst) April 13-14: San Francisco (Fillmore) April 15: Anaheim, Calif. (House Of Blues) April 16: Los Angeles (House Of Blues)