TOURING & FESTIVAL NEWS: Madonna's International Tour To Start On May 24

(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — "I'm happy to confirm the rumors. Madonna will be going out on tour this spring and summer," said Madonna's longtime manager Caresse Henry. Clear Channel Entertainment is the promoter of Madonna's worldwide tour, which begins in Los Angeles on May 24. The tour will play major markets in the U.S. including Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Atlanta and Miami and then continue with stops in London, Paris and proposed visits to Israel and Ireland. Creative Artists Agency is the booking agency.

"Madonna has already started rehearsals for 'The re-Invention Tour,' " said Henry, "and she can't wait to get back on stage to recreate her songs from the earliest days of her career up until the present. There is no doubt that this tour will be the pinnacle of her long-standing and well deserved reputation as one of the most exciting live performers of our time. And as a special treat to her fans, existing Icon fan club members will have access to tickets prior to the on-sale dates in local markets."

Initial Madonna Itinerary:


May 24 Los Angeles, CA Forum

May 29 Las Vegas, NV MGM Grand Garden Arena

June 8 San Jose, CA HP Pavilion

June l3 Washington, DC MCI Center

June 16-17 New York, NY Madison Square Garden
June 27 Boston, MA Worcester Centrum

July 4 Philadelphia, PA Wachovia Center

July 11 Chicago, IL United Center

July l8 Toronto, ONT Air Canada Centre

July 24 Atlanta, GA Philips Arena

July 28 Fort Lauderdale, FL Office Depot Center

August l Miami. FL American Airlines Arena

August l8 London, ENG Earls Court

September 1 Paris, FRA Bercy

–Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen

McGraw, McEntire Announce Tour Plans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tim McGraw and his band have their summer work cut out for them. He's announcing their summer tour, currently set for more than 33 cities, set to kick off in Virginia Beach, Va., on June 11. The string of dates is being dubbed the "Tim McGraw and The Dancehall Doctors OUT LOUD Summer Tour 2004."

McGraw has tapped two duos, newcomers Big and Rich, and the Warren Brothers, for the opening slots. And he will be "dancing with the one who brung him" for the past six years: the tour will again be sponsored by Bud Light.

And before he starts that tour, McGraw will finish filming his feature film debut in "Friday Night Lights." He's also finishing up his next album, which is due in stores on Aug. 31. No title has been announced yet.

In other tour news, Reba McEntire is continuing her longtime policy of finding tour sponsors that aren't tobacco- or alcohol-related.

For her 2004 tour, McEntire will be sponsored by Whirlpool, and the tour will benefit Habitat for Humanity International. She'll kick off the string of concert dates on June 4 in Connecticut, and visit more than two dozen cities across the U.S.

Whirlpool donates a refrigerator and range to every Habitat for Humanity home built in North America, and Whirlpool employees have volunteered on Habitat buildings in their communities.

Jackson, Strait And Buffett To Perform

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Alan Jackson, George Strait and Jimmy Buffett will join for a May 29 concert at Texas Stadium near Dallas.

The three superstars will share equal billing as they perform individually and together, FrontPage Publicity announced Wednesday.

Jackson will kick off the concert, followed by Strait and then Buffett. The show will close with a finale of all three.

"The three of us have talked about doing this for some time," Strait said. "We've had the pleasure of working with each other before, and not only do we enjoy each other's music but we have a lot in common."

Strait's hits include "Amarillo By Morning" and "Write This Down;" Jackson's "Chattahoochee" and "Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning);" and Buffett's "Come Monday" and "Margaritaville." Jackson and Buffett had a country and pop hit last year with their duet "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere."

Tickets for the concert in Irving, Texas, range from $39.50 to $125 and go on sale April 3.

Britney Spears' Tour Back On Track

NEW YORK (AP) — Britney Spears planned to resume her Onyx Hotel Tour Tuesday night in Atlanta, after missing two shows last week due to a knee injury.

Her performance was to take place at the Phillips Arena, Jive Records said Tuesday. She postponed shows in suburban Chicago and Detroit as a result of the injury to her knee that she sustained while performing in Moline, Ill.

The 22-year-old pop singer is in the midst of her tour, which runs through the summer.

She will perform April 13 at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill., and April 14 at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

Jive Records said all tickets for the original shows will be honored for the new dates or refundable at point of purchase.

Paisley To Be Part Of Memorial Day Show

NASHVILLE (AP) — Brad Paisley will be part of PBS' 2004 National Memorial Day Concert, commemorating D-Day. He'll share the stage with many talented musicians and actors, including Alison Krauss, Joshua Bell, Amber Tamblyn and others.

But before Paisley does that gig at the end of May, he'll find out whether he receives the ACM/Home Depot Humanitarian Award. Paisley is also nominated for Album of the Year for "Mud on the Tires," and ACM/Launch Video of the Year for "Celebrity."

Fans get to choose the winner of the Home Depot Humanitarian Award. Log onto the Home Depot website: www.homedepot.com. Voting will continue through the second hour of the telecast on the May 26 show.

Paisley's next song will be "Whiskey Lullaby," a duet with Alison Krauss.

Hank Williams Jr. To Sing In Arizona

NASHVILLE (AP) — Hank Williams Jr. is going back to sing in Scottsdale, Ariz., for the first time in eight years, and it's Waylon Jennings who's bringing him there.

Williams will be a special guest of Jessi Colter's for The Outlaw Connection on April 4. It's a live music event dedicated to the late Waylon Jennings, and will also feature performances by Colter, Ray Herndon, Steven Van Zandt, Shooter Jennings, Beth Neilsen Chapman, Tony Joe White and Tony Furtado.

The show will be broadcast on Sirius Satellite Radio, and all the proceeds will benefit Rosie's House, a music academy for children in Arizona.

Williams' latest album is "I'm One Of You," and is currently in stores. His current song is "Why Can't We All Just Get A Longneck?"

Atlanta's Music Midtown Set For April 30-May 2

ATLANTA, Ga (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) –- The initial lineup for Atlanta’s 11th annual Music Midtown 2004 on April 30-May 2 has been released with approximately 100 rock, pop, hip hop and R&B acts expected to perform on multiple outdoor stages throughout the festival’s expansive, 42-acre site situated between Midtown and downtown Atlanta. The largest festival of its kind in the U.S., Music Midtown 2004 anticipates a crowd of over 300,000 people over the festival’s three days.

Among the acts confirmed so far for Music Midtown are Foo Fighters, Twista, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Fountains of Wayne, Joss Stone, The Offspring, Wyclef Jean, Lil Jon & the Eastside Boyz, The Doors of the 21st Century, Damien Rice, Puddle of Mudd, Smithereens, Story of the Year, Drive By Truckers, Trapt, Gavin Degraw, Cee-Lo, Katy Rose, Musiq, Tantric, Fuel, Anthony Hamilton, Finger Eleven, Switchfoot, Galactic, Default, Carl Thomas, Chris Robinson &the New Earth Mud, Journey, REO Speedwagon, Smile Empty Soul, Steve Miller Band, Angie Stone, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Toby Lightman. More major acts will be announced in coming weeks.

“We’re proud of the diversity we offer concertgoers year after year,” shares veteran concert promoter Alex Cooley, who co-founded Music Midtown with business partner Peter Conlon over a decade ago. “It’s a testament to Atlanta, it’s diversity and appeal, and there really isn’t a festival like Music Midtown that offers so much as far as talent and tastes for such an affordable ticket price.”

“The fact that we have so many big name acts year after year is what draws an audience from around the world to Music Midtown,” notes Conlon. “But it’s the opportunity to offer so many up and coming acts the chance to play in front of thousands that makes the festival unique.”

Tickets are priced at $45 for the three day event or $40 per day." –Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen

Virgin College Mega Tour Kicks Off March 27

(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Virgin Megastores North America and Integrate Marketing, LLC have set the initial dates of the Virgin College Mega Tour, a national college music tour featuring headliner Michelle Branch and supporting artists, Gavin DeGraw, Rooney and Joe Firstman.

"We're thrilled to host this program which will expose an eclectic group of musicians to college students. Virgin takes pride in delivering customers the best possible experience inside of our stores, and now through this tour we can deliver the latest music to college music fans right on their campuses," states Glen Ward, president & CEO, Virgin Entertainment Group, North America.

The tour will also incorporate an interactive village for students complete with special performances by Tyler Hilton, Michael Tolcher, and Chris Grace on the Behringer Day Stage as well as sponsor giveaways, activities, and a music learning center from Gibson and Epiphone guitars on select dates.

The Virgin College Mega Tour itinerary:

March 27 Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, VA

March 28 Manhattan College Riverdale, NY *

April 1 University of Memphis Memphis, TN**

April 2 Western Carolina University Cullowhee, NC**

April 4 University of Arkansas Fayetteville, AR

April 8 Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ**

April 9 Cal Poly- San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo, CA

April 10 Cal State – Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA**

April 16 Louisiana Tech University Ruston, LA

April 17 Mississippi State University Starkville, MS

April 18 University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa Tuscaloosa, AL

April 20 Southeastern Louisiana University Hammond, LA **

April 21 Arkansas State University Jonesboro, AR**

April 24 Regis College Weston, MA *

April 29 University of Rhode Island Kingston, RI**

April 30 Niagara University Niagara Falls, NY

May 1 Southern Connecticut State University New Haven, CT

*Closed Private Show **Gavin DeGraw will appear with Michelle Branch and the rest of the line-up on these dates only

“We are thrilled about the buzz that the Virgin College Mega Tour has generated,” says tour producer Martin Berman of Integrate Marketing, LLC. “It has exceeded all of our expectations.”

“The feedback we have received for this tour and the talent line up is phenomenal,” says Marcie Cardwell, president of Mad Booking & Events, the company responsible for booking the tour. “This has become the most talked about college tour of the spring.”

The Virgin College Mega Tour is presented by Dentyne Ice and Dentyne Fire and also sponsored by Volvo, Uno, Mattel, Gibson Pure, Rock the Vote and Epiphone Guitars. –Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen

Visual Terrain Launches Lighting For Space: A Journey To Our Future

(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Visual Terrain recently completed the lighting design for “Space: A Journey To Our Future," a traveling exhibit created by Clear Channel Exhibitions. Space opened at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, WA on November 22 .and continues until May 9.

Designers Lisa Passamonte Green and Matt Levesque developed a lighting system to blend the creative desires with the practicalities of the project’s lifespan. "Our goal was to create a design that enhanced the special features of each environment by integrating much of the lighting within the scenic elements,” Passamonte explains. Using a combination of architectural and theatrical fixtures, Visual Terrain created the coolness of space with the warm magic of discovery.

“We were fortunate to work with such a creative and experienced team lead by Nancy Seruto of Seruto & Company," added Levesque. "Chip Foody, the master electrician, was instrumental in executing the complexity of the design."

"Space: A Journey To Our Future" opens next: in St. Louis, MO at the St. Louis Science Center, June 5 –October 3. –Jane Cohen and Bob Grossweiner

Aventis Pharmaceuticals New Sponsor For New Jersey Jazz Society

(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) The New Jersey Jazz Society has contracted with Aventis Pharmaceuticals to be the lead sponsor for Jazzfest 2004, one of the region's premiere jazz festivals. Aventis takes over the festival sponsorship from Atlantic Mutual, which had provided major funding for the weekend event for several years.

The Aventis Pharmaceuticals Jazzfest, as the popular jazz picnic will be known, will take place on June 12-13, on the Madison, NJ campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University. Featuring more than three dozen musicians, this year's event will celebrate the 100th birthdays of three giants of American Jazz: Count Basie, Coleman Hawkins and Fats Waller.

"We are thrilled to have such a major multinational corporation recognize the importance of Jazzfest," said Joe Lang, president of the board of the New Jersey Jazz Society. "It would not be possible to present such a great jazz event without considerable support and Aventis has demonstrated a true commitment both to the arts and to New Jersey. They deserve a standing ovation for their generosity."

Sponsored by the nonprofit New Jersey Jazz Society for the past 30 years, Jazzfest is New Jersey's oldest jazz festival. Some of this year's featured performers include Bucky Pizzarelli, Lew Tabackin, Randy Brecker, Kenny Davern, Houston Person, Frank Foster, Joey DeFrancesco and Frank Wess. The gates open at 10:00 AM each day with simultaneous music stretching into the early evening in three adjacent locations ranging from a spacious tent to an air-conditioned auditorium. Tickets are priced at $35 per day and $65 for the weekend if purchased in advance. At the gate, tickets will be $40 per day and $75 for a two-day package. There is a $3 handling fee per order. To encourage families to attend, students are only $10 and children 12 and under are free. –Bob Grosswiener and Jane Cohen

Singer Clay Walker Reaches Out To Others

DALLAS (AP) — The title cut from Clay Walker's latest album, "A Few Questions," asks: "How in this world can we put a man on the moon and still have a need for a place like St. Jude's?"

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., treats kids with cancer. Walker didn't write the song, but the first time he heard it, he said, "I got it immediately. There was no mistaking that the song would belong to my life."

That's because the 34-year-old country crooner with the black cowboy hat, who has sold 8 million albums and notched 11 No. 1 singles, was diagnosed in 1996 with multiple sclerosis.

No one would ever guess it, though, by looking at the strapping Texan, who takes a daily injection of Copaxone to keep his MS in check.

"When I was first diagnosed, it was the most broken that I've ever been. You know, I don't think faith is faith until you have to test it," said Walker, a Christian who will kick off a nationwide, 15-city "MS Road Tour" April 1 in Dallas.

"It was like, my faith lit on fire at that point," said the Houston resident, who is married with two daughters, ages 4 and 8. "I went home and I got on my knees and I prayed. I don't know how long I prayed and cried. I got my guitar and I played hymns I learned as a child."

The tour _ an effort to call attention to the disease and raise money for research to find a cure _ marks a remarkable transformation for a singer who first experienced facial spasms and numbness in his right leg and arm eight years ago.

For a long time, Walker preferred not to talk about the disease. He didn't try to hide it, he said. But he didn't bring it up either.

After meeting people with MS at many of his concerts, though, Walker's outlook changed.

They wanted to know about his experience so they could relate it to their own lives, he said. At the same time, he was surprised to learn that many people with MS don't treat the condition, either out of fear or ignorance.

"It's a serious disease and the worst thing you can do about it is nothing," said Walker, whose No. 1 hits include "If I Could Make a Living," "This Woman and This Man" and "Then What."

Last year, Walker decided to do something.

He started the nonprofit Band Against MS Foundation to raise money for research. The foundation recently awarded its first grant, for $150,000, to the University of Texas at Houston.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society recognized Walker in November with its "Ambassador of the Year" award _ only the fourth time in the organization's 58-year history that it has bestowed that honor.

"There are many celebrities that will lend their names to organizations such as ours, and that's very important and very helpful," said Arney Rosenblat, the MS society's spokeswoman. "But sometimes they go beyond that point and they give of themselves as well. That is even more deeply appreciated."

About 400,000 Americans have MS, which starts with such symptoms as numbness, tingling and fatigue but progresses to difficulty walking and seeing and, in some cases, paralysis. It usually strikes people ages 20 to 40.

Some patients, including Walker, have "relapsing-remitting MS," periods of severe symptoms after which patients almost totally recover until the next attack. Other MS patients have the worse "secondary progressive" form, where the flares become more frequent, and they don't recover from the damage each one causes.

MS occurs when patients' immune systems go awry and attack the fatty layer of insulation, called myelin, that protects nerve fibers in the brain and spine, thus damaging or even destroying nerves.

In Walker's case, the disease brought him face to face with his own mortality.

"I think a lot of little things that bothered me before roll off of me like water off a duck's back," he said.

Now, he hopes he can provide "a small ray of hope" to people, like him, who suffer from MS.

"It's much more than an eye-opening experience," he said. "I just look out of a different window now. The window is much bigger now, and it's also raised up so I can smell the flowers."

___

On the Net:

http://www.claywalker.com

http://www.band-against-ms.org

Clay Walker's 'MS Road Tour' Dates

Tour dates for Clay Walker's "MS Road Tour":

April 1: Dallas

April 3: St. Louis

April 6: Phoenix

April 7: Los Angeles

April 8: Seattle

April 20: Cleveland

April 21: Chicago

April 22: Minneapolis

May 5: New York

May 6: Boston

May 11: Nashville, Tenn.

May 12: Philadelphia

May 13: Pittsburgh

June 23: Jacksonville, Fla.

June 24: Charlotte. N.C.

___

For more information, call 1-866-244-8079

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