* The finals for the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest were held at MerleFest 2002 last month, and we're excited to report that Charlotte's own Michael Reno Harrell won first place in the Gospel Category for his tune "The Baby's Name." Noted artists such as Kate Campbell, Si Kahn, Gillian Welch and Jim Lauderdale (contest chair) judged the finals. Over 800 entries were received for the contest overall, so it was certainly no small feat for Reno Harrell to come out on top. Congrats, Michael!
* Sam Earnhardt, a longtime musician on the Asheville music scene (and, yes, he's related to the racing Earnhardts as well), has moved back to town and is about to release a new album. His CD, titled Tumbleweed, features contributions from drummer Jason Patterson (Chris Duarte Group), Shanna Morrison (Van's daughter), guitarist Audley Freed (Black Crowes) and percussionist Kenny Soule (Dag, Walter Trout). The material was produced by Mike Beard and Scott Matthews (Van Morrison) and mastered by Dave Harris at Studio B. Earnhardt hopes to release the album in mid-June and he's also making himself available to other local musicians (rehearsing regularly each week) who may have industry-related questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* The Talk have a new website at www.thetalkrocks.com. The band plans to release a new album next month titled No, You Shut Up.
* Renelvis, along with Buddy Castillo, has released a new full-length CD titled Listen Elvis Fans. Renelvis has also recently made available his Elvis jumpsuit design kits (he custom makes his own jumpsuits, if you didn't know). The kits, however, come at a much higher cost than the album. For more info, call 704-567-0902 or e-mail email@example.com.
* There's a new band with some familiar faces and they've already got a few gigs under their belts, too. The name of the group is Imperio de Locura (Idel for short) and it features Chris Evans (Thornwheel, Black Sunshine), Dustin Yager, Darin Scott (both ex-Oddity), and Dale Jackson (Protozoa).
They'll be one of several acts appearing at the Carolina's Music Showcase being held on June 29 at the National Guard Armory on Yorkmont Road. For more info on the showcase, check out www.iguanasound.com.
* The kids from S.A.R.A. (Students and Rock for America) and Project Teen, a teen outreach non-profit organization, are putting together their second annual benefit showcase. The show is scheduled for Sunday, May 26, at Tremont Music Hall and will feature The Jukebox Hero, Near The Never and My Dog Kootch (more acts will be announced soon). Proceeds will benefit A Child's Place. For more details, go to www.thejukeboxhero.com or www.tremontmusichall.com.
* Prices for the upcoming Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) Charlotte Regional Workshop with Jerry Vandiver and Gracie Hollombe have been reduced since last reported and a free lunch has been tossed in, to boot. The workshop, Your First Cut, will be held from 10am-3pm on Saturday, June 8, at the Evening Muse. Space will be limited, so early registration is recommended. Registration fees vary for members and nonmembers, ranging from $20-$50. For more info, contact Bruce Johnson at 704-541-5658 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vandiver will also be performing two sets the night before the workshop (June 7) at the Evening Muse. *