Blues/Folk Beat: Billy Bragg, Sam Bryant, Willie Nelson ...

British folk troubadour recovering from back troubles; Kenny Wayne Shepherd drummer recuperating as well; country singer's blues album due.

Billy Bragg has returned to the stage after a back problem prevented him from making a solo appearance June 29 in Toronto. The British singer made a trip to New York for a July 1 solo show at Battery Park with Shawn Colvin. After his return to Europe, Bragg plans to perform with his band the Blokes at a few UK festival dates, including Tolpuddle Martyrs in Dorset. Bragg and the Blokes also will make an appearance at Sweden's Falun Folk Festival later this week. For more tour dates visit www.billybragg.com. ...

Sam Bryant also went back onstage Monday night (July 10) after being hospitalized for a severe headache Sunday. The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band drummer was rushed to an emergency room in Hyannis, Mass., with high blood pressure that required immediate treatment. On the advice of doctors, a performance scheduled for later that evening was postponed. Although no new date has been given for that show, Bryant played the final in a series of performances with the Black Crowes and Jimmy Page in Jones Beach, N.Y. Get well wishes can be sent via e-mail to sjb@s-cos.com. ...

Willie Nelson has been working for some time on the blues album Milk Cow Blues. The Island Records set is scheduled for release at the end of August and features collaborations with B.B. King, Dr. John, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Susan Tedeschi, Jimmie Vaughan, Jonny Lang, Francine Reed and Keb' Mo'. ...

New Zealand actor/musician Russell Crowe, who stars in the film "Gladiator," will play the famed Stubb's Bar-B-Q in Austin, Texas, with his band, Thirty Odd Foot of Grunts. The group tackles everything from rap to country, and tickets for their shows Aug. 4, 11 and 18 are being auctioned off for more than $300 a pair on eBay.com. While in Austin, Crowe and his bandmates will also begin recording their next album. ...

Singer/songwriter John Hiatt's new album, Crossing Muddy Waters, will be released Sept. 26 on Vanguard Records. Besides regular retail outlets, the all-acoustic album also will be available online at emusic.com. ...

Arlo Guthrie, Willie Nelson, and Pete Seeger are just a few of the notable artists interviewed in David Crosby's "Stand and Be Counted," a documentary on music and activism in the past 40 years. Crosby — whose "What Are Their Names," off his star-studded solo album, If I Could Only Remember My Name, was itself an eloquent call for social change — said he was surprised that no books or films have been made about music and political activism. He began compiling concert footage, news footage and interviews with prominent artist and activists. Clips from political benefits, Live Aid, Farm Aid and the Tibetan Freedom Concert, to name just a few, will be blended with backstage stories of the preparations and creation of these types of events. The documentary also will feature Joan Baez, R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe and Peter Gabriel. The documentary will premiere on the Learning Channel Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 22 and 23 at 9 p.m. EDT. ...

The Indigo Girls' Amy Ray and '60s girl band legend Ronnie Spector will be keynote speakers at this year's Rockrgrl Music Conference in Seattle. The conference, which celebrates the achievements of women in the music industry, will be held Nov. 2–4. It will offer three nights of music and workshops followed by an awards banquet. Visit the official Web site for more information (www.rockrgrl.com). ... The Derailers, Lee Roy Parnell and Kim Richey will appear on the Monday (July 17) edition of "Western Beat With Billy Block" on CMT. The television series is based on Block's radio show and offers live performances and backstage interviews. ... Country artists Keith Urban will be giving free guitar lessons on the Web next month. After giving an interview July 30, the Australian guitarist will post the first of five guitar lessons on the House of Blues Web site. The rest will follow in later weeks. For more information visit www.HOB.com. ...

Lucinda Williams, Shawn Colvin and Sippie Wallacez are a few of the folkies featured in the Austin, Texas, exhibit "First Ladies: Texas Women in Music." Meant to celebrate the contributions of Texan women from Janis Joplin to Selena, the free exhibit at the Dougherty Arts Center opened July 5 and will run through Aug. 3. ...

A U.S. District Court has given the green light to a lawsuit by five black-owned concert promoters against some of the nation's most prominent white-owned promoters and agents alleging that concert bookings in the United States are racially tainted. Thirty-four companies, including SFX Entertainment, the William Morris Agency and CAA, attempted to quash the suit, which alleges that they have a monopoly over major concert venues that amounts to a civil rights violation. Judge Robert Patterson wrote in his ruling "that the booking agency defendants have not allowed plaintiffs to bid to promote concerts by any white performers or major black performers gives rise to a plausible inference of racially discriminatory intent." ...

Lead Belly's Where Did You Sleep Last Night, Woody Guthrie Sings Folk Songs, Lucinda Williams' Ramblin', and material by blues great Lightnin' Hopkins are among the 272 albums that Smithsonian Folkways has made available for purchase, at $1.49 a track, in Liquid Audio format. The Smithsonian Folkways' Web site is: web2.si.edu/folkways/news.htm ...

Canada's Cowboy Junkies are planning to release their first live album this fall, featuring tracks recorded during their 1999 North American tour. The album, to be titled Waltz Across America, will be available only at maplemusic.com. ...

Coming up on the Web this week from the recent Bishopstock festival in Britain are live-performance webcasts from the following artists, available at virtuetv.com: Magic Slim (July 12); and Susan Tedeschi (July 13). Webcasts from the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival scheduled for this week include: Los Babies del Merengue, Irie Dawtas and Liquid Soul (July 12); Cascabulho and the Revealers, George Porter Jr. and Runnin' Pardners (July 13); and Jamal Batiste, Bruce Daigrepont Cajun Band and C.J. Chenier and the Red Louisiana Band (July 14). All shows start at 4 p.m. PDT. ...

Jackson Browne will perform at the Woody Guthrie Free Folk Music Festival in Okemah, Okla., a benefit for the Woody Guthrie Foundation July 12–16. Also on the bill are Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Slaid Cleaves and Jimmy LaFave. Browne also will do a solo acoustic show July 12 at the Crystal Theatre for the festival. ... Willie Nelson's Fourth of July picnic at South Park Meadows in Austin, Texas, drew 11,000 fans, who heard, among other things, the country legend jamming with blues upstart Susan Tedeschi. ...

Vanguard will release an 18-song album Aug. 15 to complement the documentary "The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack," which chronicles the life of folk stalwart Ramblin' Jack Elliott. His daughter Aiyana produced the film, which nabbed the special jury prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival and recently was screened at the Nashville Independent Film Festival with Elliott in attendance. The set includes never-before-released duets between Elliott and Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie and Odetta.

— sonicnet.com staff report