Country Beat: Steve Earle, Danni Leigh, Alan Jackson ...

Earle has book and play in progress; Leigh to entertain at biker fest; Jackson on soundtrack.

Apart from his new album and an upcoming book (due in the spring), Steve Earle is at work on a play about Karla Faye Tucker, the first woman executed in Texas in 100 years, and has begun researching a novel. An overlap between the play, titled "Karla," and the album is the song "Over Yonder (Jonathan's Song)," written about a friend of Earle's whose execution Earle witnessed. ... Danni Leigh and Montgomery Gentry have signed to play Harley Davidson's Thunder Over Dixie 2000 fest in Daytona, Fla., on Oct. 21. The event caps the weeklong Biketoberfest, which starts in Nashville on Oct. 15. Thousands of bikers will be leaving from there and picking up other riders throughout the South en route to Daytona. Organizers expect a crowd of 150,000. ...

Troy Cassar-Daley, who appeared on the international show this year at Fan Fair, won his third trophy as Entertainer of the Year at the Country Music Association of Australia's 2000 Achiever Awards, held Monday (July 24) in Sydney. ... Brooks & Dunn, Alan Jackson and Pam Tillis join Asleep at the Wheel, Andy Griggs, Junior Brown, Kenny Rogers, Tracy Lawrence, Tracy Byrd and Lynyrd Skynyrd on the soundtrack for "Ring of Fire." The film is about the professional bull-riding circuit and stars Kiefer Sutherland, Daryl Hannah and Molly Ringwald. The soundtrack and film are scheduled for release in October. ...

The International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) will host World of Bluegrass Week, which includes the industry's trade show, the International Bluegrass Music Awards and the Bluegrass Fan Fest from Oct. 16–22 in Louisville, Ky. More than 20,000 people from the United States and a dozen foreign countries are expected. Those slated to play include the Del McCoury Band, the Johnny Staats Project, IIIrd Tyme Out, Lonesome River Band, Jerry and Tammy Sullivan, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, Rhonda Vincent and the Rage and Blue Highway. ...

A documentary on the making of Asleep at the Wheel's multiple-Grammy-winning album Ride With Bob airs on Friday (July 28) on PBS. Additionally, in September BBC Radio 2 will broadcast a Nashville recording session featuring the Wheel with Lee Ann Womack, who was a guest vocalist on the album. ...

Willard Cox and his wife, Marie Cox, the leaders of the Grammy-winning group the Cox Family, remain hospitalized in Louisiana after a severe wreck, in which their car was struck by a logging truck. Willard Cox suffered a crushed spine and Marie Cox sustained a broken arm, broken collarbone, fractured vertebra and other injuries. She has been able to walk since the accident; the prognosis for Willard remains guarded. They remain in fair condition in LSU Hospital in Shreveport. The couple's country-bluegrass-gospel group also includes their two daughters and son. They recently recorded songs in Nashville for the movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou," due for release this year. The group had recently cut back on touring after Marie Cox won a bout with cancer, and they have been operating a sawmill in their native Cotton Valley, La. They earned a Grammy for the 1996 work Amazing Grace — A Country Salute to Gospel. ...

Rockabilly act Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys will open dates for the Reverend Horton Heat in October. Big Sandy's album Night Tide is due Aug. 15. ... Singer/songwriter Kinky Friedman has teamed up with Little Jewford to release a live album taped on their 1999 European tour. Classic Snatches From Europe (on Sphincter Records) includes such Kinky classics as "They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore" and "Asshole From El Paso" (RealAudio excerpt), as well as new gems such as "Willie Nelson's Latent Homosexual Silver Concho Belt," "Bob Dylan's Dream" and "First Jewish Justice of the Peace." ...

Speaking of Willie Nelson, the country music veteran will appear on A&E's "Live by Request" on Aug. 14. The two-hour episode will be divided into two segments — one in which he's backed by his Family band and the other with the Blues Band behind him. Nelson will play material from his upcoming blues album, Milk Cow Blues (Island), with several members of the Blues Band who appeared on the album, including Dr. John, Francine Reed, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and possibly B.B. King. Additionally, if you're ever in Austin, Texas, you can check out Nelson's new restaurant — Willie Nelson's Lighthouse — right off of Lake Travis. ...

Rounder will issue Sad Songs and Waltzes, a posthumous release from stone-country artist Keith Whitley, on Sept. 12. The 15-song album, cut during Whitley's "Somewhere Between" studio sessions, when he played with J.D. Crowe and the New South, features five previously unreleased songs, including "I Don't Know You Well Enough To Say Goodbye," "Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind," "(I've Always Been) Honky Tonk Crazy" and "Where Did You Learn To Love Like That." Alison Krauss and Diamond Rio's Gene Johnson were among those who added new vocal harmonies to the stripped-down tracks. Whitley achieved chart success with a string of #1 hits that included "I Wonder Do You Think of Me," "I'm No Stranger to the Rain," "Don't Close Your Eyes" and "When You Say Nothing at All" (RealAudio excerpt), which Krauss covered. Whitley died of alcohol poisoning in 1989 at age 33. ...

Hit rock-jazz-bluegrass jam band Phish have wrapped an "Austin City Limits" taping. No word on the air date yet. ... Country-rockers Whiskeytown will release Pneumonia, their third and reportedly last album, sometime between this fall and early next year. The label releasing the album has yet to be announced. Frontman Ryan Adams has decided to concentrate on solo projects, and his debut, Heartbreaker, is due in September on Bloodshot. ...

Emmylou Harris' anti-land-mine campaign tour this year also will include artists Steve Earle, Bruce Cockburn, John Prine, Nanci Griffith and Mary Chapin Carpenter. Scheduled dates are Dec. 2 in Stamford, Conn.; Dec. 3 in Ottawa; Dec. 4 in Toronto; Dec. 5 in Burlington, Vt.; and Dec. 6 in Providence, R.I. ... Fan Fair 2001 will be moved from the Tennessee State Fairgrounds to Nashville's Adelphia Coliseum. Artists' booths will be at the Nashville Convention Center in downtown Nashville. The event will be staged June 14–17. ... Mike Robertson Management and Ken Levitan's Vector Management will merge their country operations on Sept. 1. Robertson's clients include BlackHawk and Shannon Brown; Vector's country artists include Lyle Lovett and the Warren Brothers.

— sonicnet.com staff report