January 22, 1995

With Great Pipes, Riveting Presence, John Berry Destined For Greatness

Jack Hurst Tribune Media Serv
 

Shot-in-the-dark predictions for

John Berry, the big-voiced and bluesy Georgian whose Nashville career got off to a promising goldcertified start last year with his noteworthy first album (“John Berry” on Liberty Records) and the media attention to his brain surgery, will make major steps toward mainstream celebrity with his forthcoming second album (Patriot Records’ “Standing on the Edge” due out March 7) as larger audiences become familiar with his riveting style of performance.

There is no predicting megastardom, of course, but Berry has exactly the kind of pipes, presence and eclectic musical approach that appear required of Nashville’s next world-beater.

Alison Krauss, the superstar of bluegrass and possibly the most complete 23-year-old singermusician on the planet, will make major navigational progress toward the mainstream herself.

The excellence and excitement of her work will be most awesomely showcased in her forthcoming new album (“Now That I’ve Found You” out on Rounder Records Feb. 7).

The title of the album, which is a collection of new material combined with work she has done for other people’s albums and a highlight or two from her previous songs, should end up referring to a lot more record buyers, country and otherwise, than Krauss ever has had before.

A brand-new singer named Wesley Dennis, a small-town Alabama blue-collar worker packing one of the most overpowering neo-traditional voices to hit country music in the past five years, will break through the new-face country radio glut and, despite Nashville’s current taste for more contemporary fare, make an impressive career launch with his first Mercury Records album (Feb. 7), “Wesley Dennis.”

Hank’s football howls

Hank Williams Jr. - who by popular demand of the viewers of ABC-TV’s “Monday Night Football” was brought back to the opening of each week’s broadcast to yell the rhetorical question, “Are you ready for some football?” - is scheduled to perform before the game at this year’s Super Bowl. How convenient. The appearance will be just in time to kick off the Jan. 24 release of his new Curb Records album, “Hog Wild.”

Sawyer Brown

The 1-800-COLLECT campaign, for which the rockish country group Sawyer Brown stars in TV ads purporting to give a roadie’s eye view of the country concert trail, recently announced it is sponsoring the 75 dates of Sawyer Brown’s $3 million 1995 “Faster & Louder” Tour.

January stops on the “Faster & Louder” schedule include multiple shows in Missouri, Kansas, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Spokane and Moscow, Idaho, are two of the stops. The TV spots use mundane Sawyer Brown road experiences to sell 1-800-COLLECT as a means of staying in touch with home while on the road.

Country targets Europe

“New American Music,” the new overseas euphemism for country, will get a strong spring push from the New American Music Tour 1995, a 13-country April venture by Emmylou Harris, Trisha Yearwood, Rodney Crowell and Marty Stuart that features an imposing team of financial backers.

MCA Records International, Harvey Goldsmith Entertainments, the Opel division of General Motors Europe, the McCann-Erickson international advertising agency and the CMT-Europe cable TV channel are cooperating in launching a tour scheduled to open in Dublin April 1 and conclude in Lisbon April 24.

When the tour was being planned Stuart Watson, then-senior vice president of MCA Records International, termed this foray “the first time a country tour (in Europe) has received such massive sponsorship support. By focusing on contemporary artists and quality songs with wide international appeal, we are getting away from the old country imagery. We are repositioning the genre and targeting a younger and broader audience. New American Music … is now the fastest-growing music sector in Europe. … Our research indicates the dawning of a new era throughout Europe, and we intend to be the first company to take advantage of this.”

Between Dublin and Lisbon, the four artists are booked to perform in Belfast, Brussels, Paris, The Hague, Glasgow, Birmingham, London, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Zurich, Milan and Madrid.

xxxx Album review “Bradley Barn Sessions” George Jones and Various Artists, MCA This would be a four-star album if some of Jones’ duet partners had been able to match his virtuosity. A singer with legendary prowess, Jones at 63 still has it. Singing with a succession of other stars, most of them hot on today’s charts, seems to drive Jones to strut all his stuff.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = By Jack Hurst Tribune Media Services

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