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BUZZ BANDS

Best of all possible deals

Damone is dead -- long live Damone. When the L.A. rock quintet formerly known as Damone finally got an offer from a major record label, it wasn’t about the music. No, after six years of slugging it out in clubs and building a strong local following, frontman Shane Alexander found the only thing that RCA wanted was the band’s name. Seems RCA had signed a young pop-punk band on the East Coast that needed a catchy moniker. Could “Damone” be bought? “We were proud of what we did as a band, and we’d been friends a long time, but we’d just about reached the end of our tether,” Alexander says. “We held out as long as we could, but it would have been bad business not to take the offer, especially if the band had folded a couple months down the road anyway.” The old Damone played a farewell show last month and cashed RCA’s check, thank you. Says Alexander: “I don’t want to have the figure printed, but we did really well.” So while Alexander has begun playing singer-songwriter gigs around Hollywood (next up: Genghis Cohen on April 5 and 24 and the Hotel Cafe on May 5), the new Damone visits L.A. next month. Fronted by a 17-year-old singer named Noelle, the Massachusetts quartet visits the Troubadour on April 4.

The Hart of L.A.

Nothing has happened in slow motion for Max Hart since he moved from Davis to L.A. two years ago because he “needed a break” from the place where he grew up. The 27-year-old “was thrashing around down here, starving, doing lawn work” before hooking up with Domen Vajevec and Adam Aaronson to form the High Speed Scene. The band has since self-released a six-song EP and is rattling the rafters during its Monday night residency this month at the Silverlake Lounge. The band is working on a deal with a label started by the Neptunes -- Star Trak, an Arista imprint. Hart, who has a background as a jazz pianist, made the connection by doing side work as a keyboard player for Kenna. What’s next? “Tour all summer,” says Hart, “and we’ll see what happens.”

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Fast forward

The night before his two-show engagement at UCLA next week, Elvis Costello will be celebrated at a benefit show featuring some of L.A. pop’s finest at the Knitting Factory Hollywood. Proceeds go to the USC Norris Cancer Center, where Eggbert Records founder Greg Dwinnell is being treated for cancer. The tribute next Thursday will feature a virtual Dramarama reunion, with a band led by John Easdale being joined by Chris Carter, Mark Englert and Clem Burke, with keyboardist Morley Bartnoff. Among numerous others on the bill: Jon Brion, Ann Magnuson, Tommy Keene, Kennedy, Kristian Hoffman, Rob Laufer and Simon Petty.... Just plain fun -- and they have two drummers: Cakecutter invades the Derby on April 2....

Speaking of Kennedy, who seems to be everywhere: Free tickets to the irreverent artist’s show Tuesday at the House of Blues are available for the asking at Sea Level Records in Echo Park.

-- Kevin Bronson

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E-mail us at buzzbands@latimes.com


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