Producer Says New Charity Record Not Getting Its Due

After all the publicity that has attended his three, celebrity-stocked "The Stars Come Out for Christmas" benefit albums, producer Steve Vaus could be excused for feeling a bit neglected vis-a-vis his latest charity effort.

While the most recent Christmas project was being marketed in November and December, Vaus was already at work on "Tender Lovin' Country," a 19-song compilation featuring a number of country music's mainstream stars and young lions. All of the money generated by the recording will go to Ronald McDonald Children's Charities of San Diego.

"Tender Lovin' Country" went on sale in late January at all area Wherehouse stores. That deafening silence you heard was the media's response to the occasion.

"We were roundly ignored," Vaus quipped Monday. "To my knowledge, there hasn't been a word in the press about this album, which I think is a really great collection of songs. It certainly deserves some mention."

According to Vaus, the "Tender Lovin' Country" project began with a decision by McDonald's and KSON radio to put together a promotion to benefit the charity. They approached Vaus about making the charity he beneficiary of the Christmas album, but those proceeds were already earmarked for the local Casa de Amparo center and for Children's Hospitals in other cities. Instead, Vaus coordinated an entirely new recording project, his first charity album involvement outside of "Stars . . ."

"I thought there was great potential for this thing, especially with the increased popularity of country music," Vaus said. "The idea was to sort of tie the album to Valentine's Day, featuring all these great country ballads. I'm very pleased with the results. But nobody seemed to notice."

Among the 19 artists on "Tender Lovin' Country" are Anne Murray, the Oak Ridge Boys, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Rodney Crowell, Carlene Carter, Earl Thomas Conley, Steve Wariner, and the Bellamy Brothers. The album (priced at $12.95 for CD, $8.95 for cassette) was projected to raise over $50,000 for the nonprofit organization, which awards grants to benefit the health, safety, education and welfare of children. According to a publicist involved in the project, "Tender Lovin' Country" has sold 2,500 copies. The album will be sold Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. when KSON's rolling radio show broadcasts from the the McDonald's at 9614 Winter Gardens Blvd., Lakeside.

Vaus admitted that he was a little disappointed in the media's apparent lack of interest in "Tender Lovin' Country," but, then, he's been too preoccupied with the next "Stars . . ." album to follow its progress.

"The 1992 'Stars' album is already starting to come together," he said. "Carly Simon is writing a new song for it, and we have commitments from the Commodores, Ronnie Milsap, Ricky Van Shelton and Kenny Rogers. This could be the best one yet."

Two of the new categories in the San Diego Music Awards, scheduled for August, are "Best Independent Album or EP (locally produced)" and "Best Album (major label or national distribution)." Aside from the possibility that some recordings might qualify in both classifications, the event's producers are concerned that some worthy releases might altogether escape their notice. Those who wish to be considered for nomination in either category should send a copy of the recording to: San Diego Music Academy Nominating Committee, P.O. Box 90287, San Diego 92169. Entries must be received no later than June 1.

GRACE NOTES: Anyone who might have questioned the wisdom of booking Santana into Tijuana's 18,000-seat Bullring by the Sea should know that a second show has been added. As of Monday, 13,000 tickets to Saturday's concert had been sold, necessitating an additional show on Sunday at 3 p.m. The same bill of Santana, reggae artist Pato Banton, and a mariachi band featuring Carlos Santana's father, Jose Santana, will perform on both days. Tickets remain on sale at all TicketMaster outlets and at the LF Racebooks in Tijuana, Ensenada and Mexicali.

BOOKINGS: (Tickets for the following concerts will be sold at all TicketMaster outlets unless otherwise specified.) Canadian singer-songwriter Ferron will perform a March 28 concert at the Spreckels Lodge, at Front Street and University. Tickets are $15 (on sale at Paradigm Women's Bookstore and the Blue Door Bookstore). For information, call 296-0306. . . . Bluegrass fiddler extraordinaire Alison Krauss and her band, Union Station, will play shows at 6 and 8 p.m. on March 29 at Club Bostonia (in the El Amigo Plaza Mexican restaurant, 1340 Broadway, El Cajon). Tickets are $10, available at all TicketMaster outlets and the Bostonia box office. . . . The spring season at Leo's Little Bit O' Country starts heating up this Sunday when Rob Crosby makes his county debut at the San Marcos club (tickets are $10). Leo's will follow with a return engagement by Johnny Lee on April 26 ($10 general admission, $15 reserved seating) and Don Williams on May 17 ($27.50 general, $37.50 reserved). All three acts will perform two shows. For tickets and information, call 744-4120. . . .

Fineline Entertainment has booked an intriguing assortment of acts for the next few weeks, including the band James on March 23 (with Whirl opening) and the Connells on April 10, both at Sound FX; the Verlaines, Yo La Tengo and San Francisco Seals at the Casbah on April 17; and Mr. Bungle and Grotus at Iguanas on April 18.

CRITIC'S CHOICE

RISING COUNTRY STARS PERFORM AT BELLY UP

Jimmie Dale Gilmore is one of the best songwriters in country music, and critics still are gushing over his July, 1991, album, "After Awhile," which many feel was Gilmore's first giant step toward stardom. Marty Brown, meanwhile, is a relative newcomer whose style reaches back past country-pop and country-rock to the genre's more traditional roots.

Either of them alone would make for a solid country ticket, but Gilmore and Brown and their respective bands are touring together. They'll bring "The Jimmie and Marty Party" to the Belly Up Tavern on Thursday for an 8:30 p.m. show. Tickets are $9 at all TicketMaster outlets (to charge, call 278- TIXS), and at the Belly Up, 143 South Cedros Ave., Solana Beach. For more information, call 481-8140.

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