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Review: Kenny Chesney returns with a rich and varied album

Kenny Chesney's new CD is his 17th studio album and it finds the country superstar sounding a little like a 17-year-old — caught between wild abandonment and moodiness.

The 11-song "Cosmic Hallelujah" is mature and also a little goofy. It pushes the boundaries of country and yet makes sure to come home for a comforting twang. It worries about the world and yet also blows it off. "I's overexistentializin' my redneck," he sings happily.

"Cosmic Hallelujah" was supposed to come out last summer and it was going to be called something else. A new duet with Pink, "Setting the World on Fire" — an up-tempo party tune in the vein of Sheryl Crow "All I Wanna Do" — forced Chesney to reevaluate.

After some frantic recording, the album that emerged is rich and varied, looking outward and also holed up at a bar. Beer is mentioned in five songs, whiskey in another and both are probably part of a toast on the last song, the respectful "Coach."

Most intriguing are a pair of strong songs in which Chesney worries about society. "In the streets, in the crowds, it ain't nothing but noise/Drowning out all the dreams of this Tennessee boy," he sings on "Noise." On "Rich and Miserable," his target is consumption: "We don't know what we want, but we want it/And we want it all right now."

"Cosmic Hallelujah" finds a nice balance between preachy and summer fun. As Chesney sings on "Bucket": "I quit worryin' 'bout people's expectations/And ordered up a six pack of chillaxification."


Mark Kennedy is at

6-foot guitar statues once again honor Elvis in his hometown

Guitar-shaped statues that honor Elvis have been reinstalled in the Mississippi town where the King of Rock 'n' Roll was born.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal ( ) reports the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association installed 14 of the 24 statues honoring Elvis alongside downtown sidewalks on Wednesday. The rest were placed in other parts of town.

The 6-foot replicas of Elvis' first guitar were designed and painted by area elementary students in 2010. They were installed in Tupelo, but were removed at the start of the of the Elvis Presley Birthplace Trail construction.

Association director Debbie Brangenberg says most didn't need any repairs, but three are being refurbished.

She said tourists and residents love the guitars, which she says fit in great with the new downtown landscape.


Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal,

Shawn Mendes, the serious, striking musician, emerges

When Shawn Mendes went into the vocal booth to sing "Mercy," the gravelly, deep, emotional rock song from his latest album, he discovered a new side of himself.

He found his voice.

"When I sing it, when I perform it, like everything to do with the song is completely, just like my heart races, my blood pressures rises, I get all hot," said Mendes, who was encouraged to scream some of the lyrics to bring the song to life. "It's something that's unexplainable."

"After the take, I almost wanted to cry because so much emotion poured through me and you feel it in the song," he added.

"Mercy" is one of the best representations of Shawn Mendes, the adult musician. His sophomore album, "Illuminate," showcases a matured, meticulous 18-year-old guitar player and singer who knows how to emote perfectly on a song.

He recruited Jake Gosling, the producer behind many of Ed Sheeran's hits, to help craft the album, which ranges from rock to pop to blues. Mendes, Gosling, singer-songwriter Teddy Geiger and others traveled to upstate New York to record — living together, running in the morning and taking walks at night.

"The scene was just so right," said Mendes, who would record during breaks from touring. "It was gorgeous because we got to sit with the music, sit with the demos ... learn what we liked and learn what we didn't like."

Mendes co-wrote each of the 12 tracks, detailing some of his own personal life on the songs. The soft and pleasant "Three Empty Words" is about him staying in a relationship that ran its course. There are other songs, too, that strike with similar passion: "Don't Be a Fool" is a soulful rock classic; "Lights On" is a sweet rock song; and on the album opener, "Ruin," Mendes sings with a commanding tone: "And I'm not trying to ruin your happiness/But darling, don't you know that I'm the only one for ya."

He started writing some of the songs the day after his full-length debut, "Handwritten," was released last year. That album and his 2014 debut EP helped him establish a feverish female fan base and launched hits like "Stitches" after he broke through by singing cover songs on the social platform Vine at age 15.

But, until now, he was boxed in the category of the teen pop performer.

"I think it's very easy because of him being — well now it's just turned 18 — for people to sort of think of him (as a) pop star than rather a true artist," Gosling said. "The first thing when I met him ... I was really surprised by Shawn's maturity to be honest with you. He's like a wise, old man."

Even Mendes is noticing how people have begun to take him more seriously with his latest release: "Within one day, within a few hours, I feel like everything has changed. Like a switch was just turned.

"And the thing is when I first started performing live I mean, I could do it, I wasn't that impressive, but I worked so hard at the two most important things in my career ... songwriting and performing," he added.

"Illuminate," released last month, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts and its first single, "Treat You Better," is a Top 10 hit; Mendes topped Spotify's 25 Under 25 list, besting Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and Chance the Rapper; and he's honed his skills after touring with Taylor Swift and Sheeran, and has even become friends with one of his biggest inspirations: John Mayer ("He's a really great guy and helps with a lot of things I struggle with.")

And in just a few years Mendes has sold out Madison Square Garden, where he said he converted some of his young followers' parents into fans last month.

"I thought it was going to be the worst show Madison Square Garden ever saw (but) it was the best show of my entire life," he said. "I'm so proud of myself and I don't mean proud of myself in a conceited way. I truly worked really hard to get there and to make a great show."



Iggy Pop: Jarmusch was first, only choice for Stooges doc

In 1969, Jim Jarmusch got his hands on The Stooges' self-titled debut album, and the 16-year-old future filmmaker from Ohio was hooked.

"We were partly plotting our escape from Akron in the future and we were investigating whatever stuff we could get our hands on that was a little outside," said Jarmusch, seated Tuesday in a Detroit-area hotel suite next to Iggy Pop, frontman of both the band and Jarmusch's new documentary of the group called "Gimme Danger." ''We were Midwestern ... and suddenly that was like, wow, this is our stuff: This is working-class, wild-ass primal music. Yeah, that had a big effect."

The attraction never wavered, so Jarmusch said he eagerly accepted Pop's invitation four decades later to make a film about the band. While technically it qualifies as a documentary, Jarmusch prefers terms like "celebration" and "investigation of context and influences." Or, as he declares early in the film, which premieres Friday in Detroit and New York, "We are ... interrogating Jim Osterberg about the Stooges — the greatest rock 'n' roll band ever."

Whatever it's called, it's a compelling story about Osterberg — who became Iggy Pop — and his band that included late brothers Ron and Scott Asheton and James Williamson. The film chronicles the band's rise from the outskirts of Detroit to dissolution amid drugs and commercial indifference — but not before releasing sonic blasts that would inspire hordes of fans and bands, including the Sex Pistols, Ramones, Nirvana, Sonic Youth, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Then, there's The Stooges' resurrection in the 2000s, when Pop says they reunified to "finish up the job" with new music, triumphant tours and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The singer, who grew up near the college town of Ann Arbor, had long thought the story of his pioneering, proto-punk band, The Stooges, deserved to be told on film. But he "didn't ask two people to do the damn movie, I asked one person."

"(Jarmusch) knew all about the group and he had been coming to our shows anyway for no reason except to come to the show. He's his own person, artistically," said the 69-year-old Pop, dressed all in black save for some colorful sandals. "I thought, well, this would be a great opportunity, it would elevate the group to have someone of this stature see whatever they see and share that with people. And I knew he had the ability."

Pop, who in person and on film candidly discusses his earlier appetite for drugs and the band's propensity for self-sabotage, said he was still "shocked" to see "Gimme Danger" start with the 1970s demise and then move backward and forward from there. But he welcomed the "unique" approach of Jarmusch, which included animation, handwritten text and less-than-precise editing in an effort to "be true to The Stooges," according to the filmmaker.

Jarmusch calls it an "emotional decision" to structure the film the way he did, because hindsight offers the chance to view The Stooges' early failure far differently. He calls the first three albums — "The Stooges," ''Fun House," and "Raw Power" — "a classic gift to rock 'n' roll music" featuring songs like "I Wanna Be Your Dog," ''Search and Destroy" and "T.V. Eye."

"They had made those three things and now they're 23, 24 years old going home to their moms because they're rejected by the world," said Jarmusch, as Pop laughs heartily alongside him. "I made my first feature film, 'Permanent Vacation,' when I was 26 years old. These guys had already made these three records and gone home. ... Let's just start with what they did and how they were treated by the world."

The comment leads to an easy, brotherly back-and-forth between filmmaker and subject. "To be fair to the world," Pop says, Jarmusch took the time to get a "proper education." The New York filmmaker of "Broken Flowers" and "Only Lovers Left Alive" admits he "wouldn't have been ready," but praises The Stooges for their early gusto: "You just went for it."

Pop allows that he could have been "more sensible" and "should have taken some music lessons, some singing lessons."

"I'm glad you didn't," Jarmusch said.


Follow Jeff Karoub on Twitter at His work can be found at


This story has been corrected to reflect that the title of the movie in the 10th paragraph is "Broken Flowers" instead of "Broken Hearts."

Rapper cancels concert due to "unforeseen incarceration"

Publicists for a festival in Louisiana say rapper Kevin Gates has cancelled his performance due to "an unforeseen incarceration."

The Baton Rouge singer was sentenced Wednesday to 180 days in jail after being convicted of kicking a female fan at a Florida concert last year.

Organizers of the 2016 Voodoo Fest said in a tweet that the artist scratched his performance "due to an unforeseen incarceration."

News outlets report a Polk County jury found Gates guilty of battery after he was captured on cellphone video kicking 19-year-old Miranda Dixon at Lakeland's Rumors Nightclub, where he performed last August.

Dixon, who was in the crowd, testified that she tugged on Gates' pants twice to get his attention for her friend. After the second time, she says Gates kicked her so hard that she fell back and passed out.

Gates' attorney, Jose Baez, argued his client was battered by the woman before he kicked her and that Dixon has a financial motive in the case, saying that she had a civil lawyer.

The New Orleans Advocate ( reports Gates was slated to perform on Voodoo's Pepsi Stage at 8:45 p.m. on Friday. No word yet on who, if anyone, will replace him. He has presumably also scrapped his post-fest show at the House of Blues, which was slated for later Friday night.

Judge rejects claim to Prince estate from woman and girl

A Minnesota judge ruled Wednesday that a woman and girl who claim to be Prince's niece and grandniece will not be considered heirs to the late music superstar's estate.

Carver County Judge Kevin Eide ruled that Brianna Nelson and her niece, Victoria Nelson, are excluded as Prince's heirs as a matter of law.

The decision means the pair won't share in an estate that some experts projected could be worth up to $300 million in the wake of Prince's death April 21 of a fentanyl overdose.

Brianna and Victoria Nelson claimed descent from the late Duane Nelson Sr., who they say was a half-brother to Prince. Court documents indicate Prince's father was not Duane's biological father.

The Nelsons argued Minnesota law allowed for a claim because Prince's father, John L. Nelson, long treated Duane Nelson as his son.

They cited a 2003 case in which the Minnesota Supreme Court agreed with a claim involving a longstanding father-son relationship in which the older man had pleaded guilty in 1959 to the crime of "illegitimacy" in the younger man's birth, then treated the younger man as a son for many years.

Eide rejected that argument. He said that the earlier case implied a genetic relationship. He also said revisions to Minnesota probate law since the 2003 decision now require that parent-child relationships may be established only by genetics, adoption, assisted reproduction or a presumed relationship that was legally established before death.

In his ruling, the judge said "there is no case law in Minnesota, or, to the Court's knowledge, anywhere in the United States that establishes a parent-child relationship for intestacy purposes where there is no genetic relationship but the parties to the relationship held themselves out to be parent and child."

Andrew Stoltmann, an attorney for the Nelsons, declined to comment.

The judge said another man — Corey Simmons — who claims to be Prince's nephew via his descent from Duane Nelson has until Nov. 25 to provide evidence for his claim. If he doesn't, he'll also be excluded as an heir.

Minnesota judge rejects claim to Prince's estate from woman and girl who say they are the musician's relatives.

Minnesota judge rejects claim to Prince's estate from woman and girl who say they are the musician's relatives.

Rapper Coolio pleads guilty to bringing gun to airport

Rapper Coolio has been sentenced to probation after pleading guilty to bringing a concealed firearm to Los Angeles International Airport last month.

The rapper, whose real name is Artis Leon Ivey, entered the plea during a court appearance Wednesday.

District attorney's spokesman Ricardo Santiago says the rapper was sentenced to three years of supervised probation and 45 days of community service.

The "Gangsta's Paradise" rapper was arrested Sept. 17 when a security screener found a handgun in his bag.

The 53-year-old was convicted in 2001 of carrying a concealed weapon.

A call to his manager was not immediately returned.

The plea and sentence were first reported Wednesday by TMZ.


This story has been corrected to show Coolio pleaded guilty, not no contest.

Kenny Chesney to receive Pinnacle Award at 50th CMA Awards

Kenny Chesney will receive the Pinnacle Award during the 50th annual Country Music Association Awards, joining Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift as the only recipients.

The award, created in 2005, recognizes an artist who has achieved global prominence through performances and record sales and the highest degree of recognition. Over his career, Chesney has eight CMA awards, including four entertainer of the year awards. His new album, "Cosmic Hallelujah," comes out Friday and features a hit duet "Setting the World on Fire" with Pink.

Chesney has 28 No. 1 country songs and has sold in excess of 30 million albums. He is considered one of music's top touring artists.

The CMA Awards will air live from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on Nov. 2 on ABC.

ABBA members to launch 'new digital experience' next year

The members of ABBA are reuniting for a "new digital experience" next year.

The iconic Swedish pop band made the announcement Wednesday, but didn't offer much detail. They said they are teaming up with Universal Music Group and entertainment mogul Simon Fuller ("American Idol," Spice Girls) to "create an original entertainment experience ... that will enable a new generation of fans to see, hear, and feel ABBA in a way previously unimagined."

ABBA includes Benny Andersson, Agnetha Faltskog, Bjoern Ulvaeus and Anni-Frid Lyngstad. They formed in Stockholm in 1972 and last performed together 35 years ago. The four members made a rare joint appearance in January for the opening of a Stockholm restaurant inspired by the "Mamma Mia!" musical.

ABBA's hits include "Dancing Queen" and "Take a Chance on Me."

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