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Coachella festival will bring out the Beasties

Special to The Times

When the first Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival was being put together in 1999, the No. 1 name on the wish list for headlining acts was the Beastie Boys.

It’s only taken four years, but the Beasties will be on board for one night of Coachella’s fourth edition, set for April 26 and 27 at the Empire Polo Field in Indio. The trio will be taking a break from recording a new album, due in the fall, to perform at this event as well as a Tibetan freedom concert benefit in Tokyo a few days before. It will be the group’s first Southern California appearance since September 1998.

“The Beasties was the first band we tried to get for the first year,” says Coachella organizer Paul Tollett, president of Goldenvoice, the concert promotions firm. “The timing wasn’t there. But we’re very happy this year.”

Tollett is also very happy that after a financially rocky first year, the festival has become an established feature of the pop music landscape each spring, drawing a vast and eclectic roster of acts and a healthy crowd -- 55,000 total for last year’s two days. This year’s lineup will include garage-rock revival leaders the White Stripes, balladeer Jack Johnson, hip-hop hybridists N.E.R.D., power-puff punks the Donnas and progressive rappers Black Eyed Peas. One night will feature the debut of the Blue Man Group’s full-production concert tour.

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Also on board is a strong roster of DJs and electronica figures (Underworld, Groove Armada, Darren Emerson, Timo Maas, Richie Hawtin, et al.) and a presence of the burgeoning electroclash world (Fischerspooner, Ladytron, Felix da Housecat).

Mexico’s Kinky and Cafe Tacuba represent Latin rock, with Sweden’s Soundtrack of Our Lives and Germany’s Stereo Total adding international reach.

Others confirmed include Ben Harper, Johnny Marr, Tortoise, Polyphonic Spree, Cat Power, Ben Kweller, Hot Hot Heat, Joseph Arthur, Thievery Corporation, Dirty Vegas and a package of artists from New York underground hip-hop label Def Jux.

The acts will be spread among two outdoor stages and two tents.

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“There’s no one flavor on any stage,” Tollett says. “People go back and forth, and we try to stagger the set times. We’ve gotten better at that. Last year we did pretty well in not having things too similar playing against each other.”

Once again there will also be tents devoted to film and art. The biggest addition this year will be a campground adjacent to the polo field. The details are being worked out, but Tollett says there will be room for 5,000 to 10,000 campers.

“That’s one thing we heard a lot from the public, the logic of having camping right there,” he says.

Tickets will go on sale Feb. 22.

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Garage too small for Swedes

Sweden exploded last year as a breeding ground for cool neo-garage-rock, with the Hives, Soundtrack of Our Lives, Sahara Hotnights, Citizen Bird and others making noteworthy arrivals. But wait -- there’s more.

At least that’s what a showcase of Swedish acts coming to the U.S. in March is intended to prove. The package of 10 bands will do a mini-tour sponsored by the trade association Export Music Sweden and the consul general of Sweden in New York, and finish March 16 at Spaceland and March 17 at the Troubadour. This is a sequel to a similar venture last year that introduced Soundtrack, Sahara Hotnights and Citizen Bird to U.S. audiences.

“The Swedish music scene is a lot more than garage rock, even though that seems to be what has caught the eyes and ears of the American public right now,” says Christer Lundblad, CEO of Export Music Sweden.

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This year’s roster includes the Sounds (sort of Blondie meets ABBA), country-rockers the $1000 Playboys, power-pop chanteuse Marit Bergman, hard-rocking Prime sth and ‘80s-rooted the Mo.

Small faces

* Dashboard Confessional is heading into the studio this week to start an album with producer Gil Norton, whose credits include the Foo Fighters and the Pixies. This will be the first new Dashboard studio album since Vagrant Records, the act’s home, partnered with major Interscope Records. Plans are to finish the album as soon as April and release it by summer.

* You might not expect to find the White Stripes’ Jack White, Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo and hip-hop figures Mos Def, Tweet, Nappy Roots and Q-Tip on the same album, but they are all guest vocalists on the debut from Mark Ronson, a New York DJ and producer who’s worked with Sean Paul, the Neptunes, Mos Def and others. The as-yet-untitled album is due in June from Elektra Records.

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* Former major league pitcher Tug McGraw’s son Tim has done pretty well for himself in country music, and now retired San Diego Padres hitting star Tony Gwynn’s daughter is hoping to do the same in R&B.; Nee-Nee Gwynn, 17, is releasing her debut album, “No Means No,” this summer on Base Hit Records, a new label run by her mother, Alicia, who once owned a studio and record label in Indianapolis. As a child Nee-Nee was in a vocal quartet called Flame that was signed to Eazy-E’s Ruthless Records but never released anything.

* Richard Thompson has signed with New York indie label SpinArt, which will release the English folk-rocker’s “The Old Kit Bag” on May 6. The album was produced by John Chelew, the former concert producer at McCabe’s in Santa Monica who produced the last two Blind Boys of Alabama albums.

* Janis Ian has partnered her Rude Girl Records label with John Prine’s Oh Boy Records, which will start releasing her material with a two-CD anthology package due in the summer and a new album planned for March 2004.


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