Billboard Bits: Blake Babies, 'Millionaire,' and more

News on Blake Babies, Juliana Hatfield, John Strohm, Freda Love, Evan Dando, Amy Grant, Chaka Khan, Gene Simmons, Metallica's Lars Ulrich, Sisqo, Emily Robison of the Dixie Chicks, Sugar Ray singer Ma

Newly-reformed rock trio the Blake Babies -- vocalist/bassist Juliana Hatfield, vocalist/guitarist John Strohm, and drummer Freda Love -- have scheduled a short U.S. tour in support of "God Bless The Blake Babies," the group's first album since disbanding in 1991. The trek will kick off March 3 in Bloomington, Ind., the group's defacto homebase and the city in which the new album was recorded last year. "God Bless The Blake Babies" is due out March 6 on Zoe Records.

The album expertly blends the sensibilities of its participants, from the driving, Strohm-sung "Picture Perfect," to Hatfield's breakup ode "What Did I Do?," the slow-burning, fuzzed-out "On," and soothing harmonizing of "Waiting For Heaven." Lemonheads principal Evan Dando duets with Hatfield on "Brain Damage," co-written with Australian singer/songwriter Ben Lee.

The Blake Babies have played just two shows since 1991, one in Bloomington on Dec. 31, 1999, and another last August at a warehouse in Birmingham, Ala., where Strohm lives.

Here are the Blake Babies' tour dates:
March 3: Bloomington, Ind. (venue TBA)
March 9: Boston (Paradise)
March 10: New York (Knitting Factory)
March 11: Philadelphia (Theatre Of The Living Arts)
March 12: Washington, D.C. (9:30 Club)
March 13: Carrboro, N.C. (Cat's Cradle)
March 14: Atlanta (Echo Lounge)
March 16: Austin, Texas (Momo's - South By Southwest Music Festival)

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

Amy Grant and Chaka Khan have joined the lineup of music stars slated to appear on the latest celebrity editions of ABC-TV's "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire." Also, Kevin Richardson will replace fellow Backstreet Boys member Nick Carter, who was previously announced as a contestant along with bandmate Howie Dorough. The newly announced participants join Kiss' Gene Simmons, Metallica's Lars Ulrich, Sisqo, Emily Robison of the Dixie Chicks, Sugar Ray singer Mark McGrath, and Gladys Knight in the trivia competition. Those who make it to the hot seat opposite host Regis Philbin will attempt to win as much as $1 million for a favorite charity. All participants are guaranteed a $32,000 donation. The music celebrity episodes are scheduled to tape today (Feb. 1) in New York, and will air Feb. 11 and Feb. 14.

After spending several years as the star of the Las Vegas spectacular "EFX" at the MGM Grand and the last year across town in the Rio's "At The Copa," David Cassidy will return to the concert stage on Valentine's Day. The former teen idol and star of "The Partridge Family" will give his first concert performance at Harrah's Tunica Mardi Gras hotel/casino in Tunica, Miss. Cassidy, who is under contract with Harrah's Entertainment Inc., will perform at least 30 concert dates at the company's 21 casinos. He also co-produces "The Rat Pack Is Back" at Las Vegas' Sahara hotel/casino.