COUNTRY BEAT: Shania Twain, Johnny Cash, Kasey Chambers …

Twain's first child; Cash's bastard sons; Chambers' family story.

Shania Twain has given birth to her first child, a representative for the singer has confirmed. The baby boy, named Eja (pronounced “Asia”), was born on Sunday, August 12. Twain and her husband, record producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange, have been at their home in Switzerland much of this year, working on a new Twain album and awaiting the birth of their child. No further details were available. …

“Red Desert Sky,” the story of Australia’s musical Chambers family, will be released October 5 by Allen & Unwin, Ltd. The family — father Bill, mother Diane, daughter Kasey and son Nash — performed as the Dead Ringer Band. The band’s U.S. manager, John Lomax III, who now manages Kasey as a solo act, wrote the book. Kasey Chambers has recently been in the U.S. to promote her award-winning album, The Captain, which made its debut in 1999. In October, Warner Bros. Records will release her second solo album, Barricades & Brickwalls, in the U.S. Nash Chambers produced both projects. “Red Desert Sky” is not being published in the U.S. but will be available through Allen & Unwin’s Web site and from Amazon.com. …

John Carter Cash, son of June Carter and Johnny Cash, has produced two new tracks for an album by the San Diego alternative country outfit known as The Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash. Led by Mark Stuart, the group recorded the tracks at the Cash Cabin studio in Hendersonville, Tennessee, north of Nashville. “Nowhere Town” and “Spanish Eyes” will appear on a re-release of the group’s 2000 release, Walk Alone. The younger Cash met the band in March at Nashville’s Exit/In. His father, country’s famed Man in Black, has given the group permission to use his name. “My father has always been open-minded, and he chose the right stars to use his name,” said John Carter Cash in a statement. “The Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash are really good guys.” The band appears Tuesday (August 21) in Bonner Springs, Kansas, and Wednesday (August 22) in Maryland Heights, Missouri, opening for Tim McGraw. Walk Alone will be released September 25. …

Marking one his first public appearances after jail time and drug rehabilitation, Steve Earle appeared at Nashville’s Bluebird Café in September 1995 to swap stories, jokes and tunes with his songwriting mentors Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt. Sixteen songs from the show will be released on October 9 by Koch Progressive under the title Together at the Bluebird Café. Earle’s songs include “My Old Friend the Blues” and “Copperhead Road”; Van Zandt’s selections include “Tecumseh Valley” and “Pancho and Lefty”; and Clark’s numbers include “Dublin Blues” and “Randall Knife.” Making a surprise appearance, Emmylou Harris joined in for group sing-alongs. Van Zandt, a hard-living troubadour, died of a heart attack at age 52, a little more than a year after the show. …

Trick Pony have two nominations for Billboard Music Video Awards, and they may not be too happy about it. The new trio will compete against themselves, as both their nods are in the Best Country New Artist Clip of the Year category. Others in that division are Cyndi Thomson, Clark Family Experience and Tammy Cochran. Nominated in the Best Country Clip of the Year category are Steve Earle, the Dixie Chicks, Faith Hill, Jo Dee Messina, and Dwight Yoakam. Cochran and Billy Gilman are nominated in contemporary Christian categories. The awards will be presented November 2 in Beverly Hills, California. …

Pieces supposedly from the wreckage of Patsy Cline‘s death plane will be offered for sale on the eBay auction site. Two brothers from Jackson, Tennessee, own the pieces, ostensibly from the wreckage of Cline’s Piper Comanche, which crashed March 5, 1963, killing her and three others. Scott and Eric Mills drove the wreckage in their pickup truck to Nashville on Wednesday to show to curators at the Country Music Hall of Fame. Curator Mark Medley said the Hall of Fame will not bid on the pieces, to be offered on eBay beginning August 31 with a floor price of $100,000, but would ask any potential buyers to loan them to the Hall, which already has parts of the plane in its archives. The Mills brothers say they bought the wreckage from a man who collected it shortly after the plane crash. …

Longtime Wilco member Jay Bennett has left the group, a spokesperson for the band told the Chicago Sun-Times. “Creative differences” were cited as the reason for his split. Shortly before the news of Bennett’s departure, Wilco separated from their longtime record label, Reprise, also over creative differences. In an earlier interview, bandleader Jeff Tweedy had said that Bennett did not play a big part in the band’s latest LP, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which Reprise refused to issue in its present state. Wilco begin a fall tour in September as a quartet, with Tweedy joined by bassist John Stirrat, new drummer Glenn Kotche and multi-instrumentalist Leroy Bach. …

A PBS special featuring Toby Keith and Larry Gatlin will air at 8 p.m. ET on September 6. “In Performance at the White House: The President’s Own” pays tribute to the United States Marine Band on the occasion of the band’s 200th anniversary of performances at the White House. The performance was taped July 30 before President and Mrs. Bush in the East Room of the White House. Gatlin co-hosts the program with actor Gerald McRaney. Keith sings “Oh! Susanna” and “Heart to Heart.” Nell Carter performs “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Coming to America.” Gatlin’s selections include “God Bless America,” “This Land Is Your Land” and “Houston (Means I’m One Day Closer to You).” Keith, Carter and Gatlin join the Marine Band for a finale performance of “America the Beautiful.” …

Chicago roots rock band Wilco, favorites with alternative country fans, have split with Reprise Records after three studio albums, founding member Jeff Tweedy said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. Reprise asked Wilco to make changes to their recently completed album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and the band refused. Wilco retain rights to the album and are looking for another label to release it. Tweedy was a member of the influential early ’90s alt-country group Uncle Tupelo. Wilco will begin a fall tour September 21 at the Gypsy Tea Room in Dallas. …

Following in the footsteps of his hero, Johnny Cash, Mark Collie will record a live album in a maximum-security prison. With producer Tony Brown at the helm, Collie will record at the Brushy Mountain Correctional Complex in East Tennessee in October. Collie is writing new songs for the project, tentatively set for release next spring by MCA. Collie recorded for MCA in the early ’90s before moving to Giant. His last album of original material appeared in 1995. Cash, whom Collie has portrayed in an independent film, recorded landmark albums at Folsom and San Quentin prisons in California in the late ’60s. Collie wraps up his national tour with Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney on Aug. 25 in Nashville. “Private Radio,” a song Collie co-wrote with actor/director Billy Bob Thornton, is the title track for Thornton’s upcoming debut album, in stores September 25. …

Lonestar will undertake a fall tour of more than 30 cities, with help from new country stars Jamie O’Neal and Blake Shelton. No dates or cities have been announced, but a publicist for the group says the tour will run from October through December. O’Neal will appear on all dates, and Shelton will join the tour in November. Lonestar’s latest album, I’m Already There, debuted at #1 on Billboard‘s Top Country Albums chart. The group’s new single is “With Me.”…

The Dixie Chicks and Emmylou Harris have agreed to perform at an all-star concert to benefit a breast cancer awareness campaign. The Women Rock! Girls & Guitars concert will be taped at Los Angeles’ Wiltern Theatre on October 18 for airing on the Lifetime channel on October 26. Also performing will be India.Arie, Pat Benatar, Mary J. Blige, Nashville songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman, Nelly Furtado and Shea Seger. Allison Janney of “The West Wing” will host. Although the Dixie Chicks are taking a year off from performing and recording, they have also agreed to play a pediatric AIDS benefit in Austin, Texas, in September. …

The new album from Hank Williams Jr., The Almeira Club & Other Selected Venues, has been delayed. Originally scheduled for release September 11, the album has been pushed back to January 8, according to Williams’ publicist. The roots-oriented project was recorded in locales of personal and historic significance for Hank Jr. and his late father and mother, Hank and Audrey Williams. Meanwhile, Hank Jr. is at work in the studio, recording his “Monday Night Football” drop-ins for the upcoming season. …

After two albums on the Sony-owned Lucky Dog label, Bruce Robison will release his next CD himself. Titled Country Sunshine, the set is due September 4 on the singer’s Boar’s Nest Records. Lee Ann Womack recorded Robison’s “Lonely Too” on I Hope You Dance. Tim McGraw‘s current single, “Angry All the Time,” comes from Robison. Songs on Robison’s new album include compositions co-written by Robison with Allison Moorer, Martie Seidel of the Dixie Chicks and Robison’s wife, Kelly Willis. Tracks include “What Would Willie Do?” and “Friendless Marriage” (a Willis collaboration). Robison recorded the album at Jack Clement’s Nashville studio. …

The Dixie Chicks will interrupt their yearlong vacation from performing, playing a concert in Austin, Texas, on September 15. The invitation-only Texas Twilight Gala at the Austin Music Hall is a benefit for the Pediatric AIDS League of Texas and other pediatric AIDS programs in the state. The Chicks will perform with the Austin Symphony — their first performance with a full orchestra. Shawn Colvin and Terri Hendrix will also perform. The benefit came about after Chick Natalie Maines gave birth to her first child, and requested that donations be made to pediatric AIDS groups in lieu of baby gifts. …

Delbert McClinton will be inducted into the Buddy Holly Walk of Fame on August 29 in Lubbock, Texas. McClinton is a Lubbock native, as was Holly. The Buddy Holly Walk of Fame honors influential West Texas natives with a plaque at the base of the city’s Buddy Holly statue. At 8 p.m. that day, McClinton will perform at the induction concert at Lubbock’s Civic Center Theater. McClinton also will join fellow songwriters Terry Allen, Marshall Crenshaw, Jo Carol Pierce and the FlatlandersJoe Ely, Jimmy Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock on a panel at the Buddy Holly Symposium in Lubbock on September 6. …

Terri Clark appeared in court in Nashville on Thursday (August 9) and pleaded guilty to a charge of reckless driving stemming from an arrest May 1. She was fined $350 plus court costs, placed on six months’ supervised probation and ordered to take an alcohol education course. She was originally charged with DUI, but the charge was reduced to reckless driving. Clark is nominated for six awards at the Canadian Country Music Awards, set for September 10 in Calgary. …

Neko Case undoubtedly won some Nashville fans and lost others during a concert at the Opry Plaza on Saturday evening, August 4. She was the headliner at the free outdoor show, but apparently did not play as long a set as Opry management expected or wanted. After an argument, Case removed her shirt onstage, revealing her bra. The stage crew immediately killed the sound and lights, and that was that. Case returns to Nashville on October 10 for a club date. …

Emmylou Harris has lined up a busy fall season of activist concerts. She’ll perform at a series of dates to benefit the anti-landmine movement, beginning with the September 20 Acoustic Concert for a Landmine Free World at the Warner Theater in Washington, D.C. It will also feature Steve Earle, John Prine, Nanci Griffith and Bruce Cockburn. Other concerts will be announced this fall for Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and New York. Harris will also join such artists as Dave Matthews and Pearl Jam for Groundwork 2001, a series of concerts in Seattle. The shows, taking place October 14-22, will benefit the U.N.’s Food and Agricultural Organization …

Clay Davidson and his band, who were involved in a bus crash in Illinois on July 20, were more shook up than they initially thought. They were treated for cuts and bruises at a hospital and released. After canceling two dates, Davidson and band planned to return to the road but were forced to cancel additional dates on doctor’s orders. They have now missed nine dates and still have not scheduled a tour resumption.

Vince Gill, Kenny Chesney, Tammy Cochran and SheDaisy will be part of the first annual All Star Music Bash on October 1 at Opryland Hotel in Nashville. Like the Sizzlin’ Country event in Los Angeles every May, the All Star Music Bash will benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Also in the early lineup are Kenny Loggins, Michael W. Smith and Richard Marx. Cochran’s current single, “Angels in Waiting,” was inspired by her late brothers, whose lives were claimed by cystic fibrosis. …

In mid-September, Trisha Yearwood will launch Proctor & Gamble’s “Bring Out the Beautiful You” campaign, which benefits the Society for Women’s Health Research, for which Yearwood is spokesperson. …

Faith Hill, Brooks & Dunn and Alan Jackson are among the country artists finding good news in the latest round of gold and platinum certifications by the Recording Industry Association of America. The RIAA has certified Hill’s Breathe with shipments of 7 million copies. Two Brooks & Dunn CDs are now multiplatinum — Greatest Hits at 3 million and If You See Her at 2 million. Jackson’s Everything I Love is now at the 3 million mark. Trisha Yearwood‘s Songbook — A Collection has reached the 4 million plateau. Tracy Byrd‘s Keepers — Greatest Hits is now certified gold, as is Lonestar‘s recent release, I’m Already There. Pam TillisGreatest Hits is now platinum. And George JonesHigh Tech Redneck, which was released in 1993, finally reached the gold landmark …

Bill Monroe‘s childhood home in Rosine, Kentucky, has been restored and will be formally opened to the public on August 23. A day-long ceremony will include concert appearances by Ralph Stanley, Mike Seeger, the Sullivan Family, Karl Shiflett and the Big Country Show and other artists. A number of Monroe’s former Blue Grass Boys are expected to appear. The home is on the National Registry of Historic Places and a Monroe museum is planned by the Bill Monroe Foundation to be adjacent to the home …

Kenny Rogers‘ landmark album The Gambler will be reissued on August 21. Originally released on November 15, 1978, The Gambler earned the CMA’s Album of the Year award and gained a CMA Male Vocalist of the Year award for Rogers. The song “The Gambler,” a #1 hit on both Billboard‘s top country and pop charts, yielded a Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance, and spawned five made-for-television movies starring Rogers …

Members of the Nashville bluegrass AC/DC tribute band Hayseed Dixie finally met a member of their favorite group. AC/DC bassist Cliff Williams invited the band to play a party at his place and he joined them onstage for a rendition of “Have a Drink on Me”…

Newcomer Carolyn Dawn Johnson is up for 10 Canadian Country Music Awards, including Album of the Year, Female Artist of the Year and the Rising Star Award. Her songs “Complicated” and “Georgia” are each nominated for top single, song and video. Johnson contends in the Fans’ Choice Award against Paul Brandt, Terri Clark, Jason McCoy and the Wilkinsons. Clark has six nominations and McCoy and Lisa Brokop each have five. The awards show on September 10 will be broadcast live from Calgary’s Pengrowth Saddledome on the CBC in Canada and CMT in the U.S. (MTVi’s parent company, Viacom, also owns CMT.) …

Carlene Carter and her boyfriend, Howie Epstein, are in trouble again. Carter, the daughter of June Carter Cash and Carl Smith, and Epstein, the bass player for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, were arrested in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in June and charged with drug possession and car theft. Now they’re being sued. The owners of Kiki’s All Breed Grooming outside Santa Fe, New Mexico, allege that Epstein and Carter owe more than $22,000 in kennel fees for dogs they left to be boarded in 1999 and 2000. …

Country Music Hall of Fame members Charley Pride and Jimmy Dickens will headline the Fifth Annual Grand Ole Opry Caribbean Cruise from December 2-9 on the cruise liner Carnival Victory. Bill Anderson, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in October, and Grand Ole Opry member Jean Shepherd will also perform on the cruise …

Former Boy Howdy lead singer Jeffrey Steele is launching his solo career with the new single “Somethin’ in the Water.” Also well known as a songwriter (his cuts include “Couldn’t Last a Moment” by Collin Raye, “Unbelievable” by Diamond Rio, “Big Deal” by LeAnn Rimes and “I’m Trying” by Trace Adkins), Steele will release his debut album, Tip Your Hat on October 30 …

Hank Williams Jr.‘s 3rd Annual Rolling Titan Thunder Rally is scheduled for September 8 at Nashville’s Riverfront Park. Confederate Railroad and Lee Roy Parnell will also perform at the show, which marks the opening of the Tennessee Titans’ football season. …

Robert Earl Keen‘s Lost Highway debut album Gravitational Forces has been set for a September 11 release. He is said to be re-recording “The Road Goes On Forever” for the album. Gurf Morlix is co-producing with Keen. …

Gordon Lightfoot and Gary Buck have been elected to the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Country Music Association announced Thursday (July 26). The entertainers will be inducted into the hall during the September 7-10 Canadian Country Music Week celebrations in Calgary, Alberta. …

Willie Nelson‘s next album, The Great Divide, is scheduled for release October 2. Guest artists are said to include Rob Thomas from Matchbox Twenty, Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crow, Brian McKnight, Lee Ann Womack, Alison Krauss and Kid Rock. Thomas also wrote songs for the album, as did Bernie Taupin. …

— sonicnet.com staff report