* Another new band has also risen out of the ashes of its former incarnation. Ex-Cyclone Mack members Chris Johnson and Leon Daniel have a new project called the Full Moon Ensemble. The band features Johnson on keys and Daniel on bass, along with Johnson's brother, Wes on lead vocals, guitarist Tim Hill, drummer Tim Benson (ex-It Could Be Nothing), and Tracy Whitten on flute. The Ensemble made their local debut last month at Cafe Bisous.
Former Mack members Tom Byars and Shannon Mims are said to be working together on a new project that will concentrate on upstate South Carolina and the mountains. And former bass player Jeff Isley is currently gigging with Rigel.
* Singer/songwriter Chris Cook has returned to the Queen City and has a new CD to release. Cook, who has spent the last several years working and traveling for the Department of Defense Overseas Shows Program, will host a CD Release Party on Saturday, January 26 at the Double Door Inn. (The disc has yet to be titled.) Cook's former projects include Stone Blue, Zeke's Wheel and, more recently, The Critters. For more info, go to www.chriscookmusic.com.
* The Stragglers (once known as the Unsung Stragglers) have recently added sax player Bill Bradford to their line-up.
* Dead Beat Baby have just finished recording a four-song EP that was tracked at Mt. Hollywood Studios, mixed at Old House Recording Studio by Tracey Schroeder, and mastered at Studio B by Dave Harris. The new tracks can already be heard at www.mp3.com/deadbeatbaby. The band has also been asked to be guest speakers/performers at the SC Governor's School this month.
In addition to singing for Dead Beat Baby, Syd is also playing guitar for Mercybox. They'll be performing at Garbo's and Tremont Music Hall in February and March.
* Billarabi just wrapped up a tour of the Southeast, which included stops in Georgia, Texas and Florida. The band will head to Charleston, WV next month to play at the KanawhaPalooza Music Showcase & Conference.
* The George Hatcher Band had a song selected for the Mars Music Band Together... Artists Unite compilation CD. Mars compiled five regional discs, all of which will benefit the United Way's disaster relief efforts, and the GHB will appear on the Southeast comp. Raleigh's Mike Corrado Band is the only other NC act to appear on the disc. A handful of national artists, like Peter Frampton, Seven Mary Three and Eric Johnson, donated tracks that will be included on each of the regional comps as well.
* Jay Garrigan of Poprocket was the proud recipient of a $500 scholarship that will allow him to attend the Future of Music Collation Policy Conference in Washington, DC this month. He and Columbia, SC artist Danielle Howle will be representing the Carolinas.
* The Sundowners recently worked with multi-platinum producer Michael Wagener on a remix of their tune, "How Close I Came to Falling," off their latest release. Wagener has produced and mixed material for the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica and Janet Jackson, among others. For more info, go to www.thesundowners.net.
* Rick Schilling has released his debut CD titled Earth, Sky, Sea. Schilling composed, arranged, performed and produced each of the 10 tracks featured on the disc. For more details, visit www.rixmusic.com.
* Chris Shinn (former Charlotte resident and son of the infamous George), along with the other fellows from Unified Theory (which featured former members of Blind Melon), have decided to call it quits. It's reported that the spilt was amicable, and the singer has already started working on a new project.
* In the studio: Jebbi, Shiver and The Ray Gradys are working on material at Old House Recording Studio in Gastonia. Bessie Mae's Dream, Bel Air Saints, Exit 23 (which features vocalist Shelly Lowe), Dead City Radio, the Rachel Garcia Band and Blush are among the acts who have recently worked at the Sound Farm.
* The Muzak Heart & Soul Foundation will host a celebrity music auction on Wednesday, February 6, at the Charlotte Convention Center. Items autographed by the likes of Carlos Santana, Faith Hill, Bruce Springsteen and The Doors will be auctioned. The event will support the Muzak Heart & Soul Foundation's 2002 Summer Camp. Doors will open at 6pm and the auction will begin at 6:30pm. For more info, call Charla Muller at 704-916-6163 or Stephanie Niblack at 704-916-6165. *