COUNTRY BEAT: Dale Watson, Lee Ann Womack, Emmylou Harris …

Honky-tonker Watson recovers from overdose; Womack sings for Bush inaugural; Harris set for Tibet House Benefit.

Dale Watson has recovered from an overdose of pills and alcohol during the holidays, the Austin Chronicle reports. Depressed over the death of his fiancée in a recent car wreck, Watson was hospitalized in Austin on December 28 after mixing alcohol, Sominex and Benadryl. His road manager discovered Watson in his hotel room and took him to a hospital emergency room. After treatment, Watson was transferred to a counseling center for several days and has resumed performing. The honky-tonk singer is known for such songs as “Wine Don’t Lie” (RealAudio excerpt). …

Lee Ann Womack and Asleep at the Wheel will headline an inaugural party on Thursday (January 18) at Washington, D.C.’s Hard Rock Café. The TV show “Austin City Limits” and the Recording Industry Association of America are presenting the event, according to a spokesperson for the RIAA. …

Emmylou Harris will inaugurate the Year of the Iron Snake at the Tibet House Benefit, on February 26 at New York’s Carnegie Hall. Other artists performing at the benefit, meant to preserve the culture of the Chinese-occupied Tibet, include Patti Smith, David Bowie, Moby, Natalie Merchant, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Nawang Khechog and Dana Bryant. The event’s artistic director is Philip Glass. …

Kenny Rogers‘ new single, “There You Go Again” (RealAudio excerpt), features background vocals by Suzy Bogguss and Billy Dean. …

The country music Web site CountryCool.com will shut down at the end of January due to money problems, according to the Tennessean. The site was launched in 1996 and was based in Fairfax, Virginia. CountryCool.com opened a Nashville office last year with eight employees, but closed that office and laid off workers after three months. …

Rodney Crowell‘s hit-studded 1988 album, Diamonds & Dirt, leads a series of Legacy albums being reissued in expanded and remastered form on February 6. Diamonds yielded five #1 songs, including “After All This Time” (RealAudio excerpt). Also included in Sony Nashville/Legacy’s American Milestones series are Charlie Rich‘s Behind Closed Doors, which was #1 for 21 weeks in 1973; Kris Kristofferson‘s self-titled 1970 debut; and the hugely influential instrumentalist Joe Maphis‘ 1957 album, Fire on the Strings. …

Lorrie Morgan and Sammy Kershaw are recording a duet album titled I Finally Found Someone. Due in April, the project will include six Morgan/Kershaw duets as well as three solo recordings by each artist. The duo will perform the title track at the January 18 Bush inaugural bash at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., according to a spokesperson for Morgan and Kershaw. They also plan to tour together later this year. The first single from the album, “He Drinks Tequila,” will be released on January 29, with a video clip following in February. …

Billy Gilman begins recording his third album in February, reports the Associated Press. The 13-year-old said he’s been approached to do acting gigs on “7th Heaven” and “Touched by an Angel,” but has made no decisions on acting. …

Nashville songwriter Don Schlitz wrote the score for a new musical set for Broadway’s spring season, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.” Schlitz has written several hits for Kenny Rogers, including “The Gambler” (RealAudio excerpt) and “The Greatest.” The $8 million show is said to have a spectacular set, with a model of the Mississippi River onstage. The last Nashville-scored production on Broadway, Roger Miller‘s “Big River” musical about Huckleberry Finn, won a Tony in 1986. …

Kenny Rogers‘ 1981 song “Through the Years” (RealAudio excerpt) will be featured in the film “The Pledge.” The film, directed by Sean Penn, features Jack Nicholson, Robin Wright, Vanessa Redgrave, Mickey Rourke and Harry Dean Stanton. …Dolly Parton will tape an episode of “Austin City Limits” on January 18. It will be her first appearance on the PBS series. An air date has not been set. …

Tickets have gone on sale for Fan Fair, set for downtown Nashville on June 14-17. Artists already committed to appear are Alan Jackson, Andy Griggs Bill Engvall, Billy Gilman, Billy Ray Cyrus, Brad Paisley, Collin Raye, Jo Dee Messina, Joe Diffie, Kenny Chesney, Lonestar, Martina McBride, Montgomery Gentry, Patty Loveless, Sara Evans, Susan Ashton, the Kinleys, Tracy Byrd, Travis Tritt, Trisha Yearwood and Vince Gill. …

Joe Diffie hosts the “Country Steps In For First Steps 2001″ concert on February 11 at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. Featured performers include Mark Wills, Keith Urban, the Martins, Chalee Tennison and Mike Snider. The event will include a silent auction with items donated by George Strait, Vince Gill, Kenny Rogers, Clint Black, Ricky Skaggs and others. Proceeds benefit the First Steps school for children and their families. Diffie’s son, Tyler, was born with Down Syndrome and attended First Steps school until he was 3. Over the years, Diffie has raised more than $600,000 for the school through his annual benefit concerts and golf tournament. …

The Del McCoury Band, Jim Lauderdale and Ricky Skaggs have announced they’ll play Merlefest. The annual Americana music festival, named for late guitarist Merle Watson, runs April 26-29 in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. Artists already booked include Mary Chapin Carpenter, Stacey Earle, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, the Lonesome River Band, Dolly Parton, Earl Scruggs Family and Friends, and Merle’s father Doc Watson. …

The only female record label head in Nashville has stepped down, the Tennessean reported. Evelyn Shriver’s resignation as president of Asylum Records came 10 months after Asylum had been shifted from the control of New York-based Elektra Records to Warner Bros. in Nashville. Shriver says she will start a new record label with former O’Kanes co-leader Jamie O’Hara as the first artist. Warner Bros. will keep Asylum as an imprint with a roster including Chalee Tennison Bryan White and Chad Austin. The label recently released Australian singer Kasey Chambers‘ American debut. …

Asylum under Shriver won Grammy awards for the George Jones album Cold Hard Truth and the Trio II project by Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt. …

Dolly Parton and Patty Loveless wrote original songs for the soundtrack to “Songcatcher,” due February 13. Parton sings “When Love Is New” on the soundtrack, and Loveless contributes “Sounds of Loneliness.” Also on the album are traditional folk songs sung by Roseanne Cash, Gillian Welch, Sara Evans, Emmylou Harris, Allison Moorer, Deana Carter, Maria McKee, Iris DeMent, Julie Miller, and Hazel Dickens. The film features Aidan Quinn and Janet McTeer and made its Sundance Film Festival debut in January 2000. …

Pam Tillis has been in the studio recording a duet with her father, Mel Tillis. Their duet on “Waiting on the Wind,” their first collaboration on an album cut, will appear on Pam Tillis’ upcoming album, Thunder and Roses, due March 6. …

T. Graham Brown is readying a live album for release in the spring. T. Graham Brown Lives features Bekka Bramlett on guest vocals and includes such Brown staples as “I Tell It Like It Used to Be,” “Darlene” (RealAudio excerpt), “Come as You Were” and “Wine Into Water.” …

Willie Nelson will celebrate his 68th birthday on the road. The Country Music Hall of Fame member heads out on tour again beginning February 2 at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida. For now, he’s booked 39 dates through an August 21 appearance at the Kentucky State Fair in Louisville. …

Sara Evans has added more dates to her opening gig with Alan Jackson. She’ll open for him January 31 in Albany, New York; February 1 in Salisbury, Maryland; February 2 in Pittsburgh; February 3 in Auburn Hills, Michigan; and February 7 in Augusta, Maine. …

Dolly Parton‘s second bluegrass album, Little Sparrow, is scheduled for a January 23 release. Guest artists include Rhonda Vincent, Alison Krauss, Chris Thile, Sonya Isaacs and the Irish group Altan. Parton includes a version of the Cole Porter song “I Get a Kick Out of You.” …

Jo Dee Messina‘s first headlining tour will start February 8 in South Bend, Indiana. She’s calling it the “Burn Tour 2001,” after Burn (RealAudio excerpt of title track), the title of her third album. Rascal Flatts will open dates during the 75-city tour. …

— sonicnet.com staff report