Quad-City Times from Davenport, Iowa on October 31, 1999 · 37
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Quad-City Times from Davenport, Iowa · 37

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Davenport, Iowa
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Sunday, October 31, 1999
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37
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r 0 questions Pokemon hit the J V -gr F ENTERTAINMENT TRAVEL screen Sunday. Oct. 31, 1899 Section f Quad-City Times WWW ASSOCIATED PRESS ; His music is Western Swing NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Ray Benson's favorite greeting is to crack a door slightly ajar and do his imitation of Lurch from "The Addams Family" , "Hel-LOOOW," he intones, emphasizing the bottom of his bass voice. : The 6-foot-7-inch bandleader does a mean Lurch and an even meaner Bob Wills. His band Asleep at the Wheel has been carrying the torch passed from Wills and his band the Texas Playboys . for three decades. Benson, a guitarist and vocalist, is the only remaining original member. As Benson sees it, rock 'n' roll got its start in Western Swing. "Bill Haley and the Comets were a Western Swing band," argues Benson, 48, about the group whose "(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock" helped launch rock 'n' roll. 'All rock 'n' roll was, was they dropped the fiddle and they dropped the steel guitars and they turned the treble up (on the guitar)." Western Swing, developed by the legendary Wills beginning in the 1930s, combines the instrumental virtuosity and improvisation of jazz, the vitality of swing and the street-smart entertainment value of honky-tonk country "Ride With Bob" is Asleep at the Wheel's second album featuring guest vocalists and songs done first by Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. It's a format that works well because of the .-quality of the Playboy repertoire and the fondness many country music stars have for Western Swing. For music fans curious about Western Swing, the album is a fine place to start. 1"Ride With Bob" is a tribute to Bob Wills. Isn't that a bit redundant, since Asleep at the Wheel as a band is pretty much a tribute to him? I Benson: I understand what you are saying. But no, we've always been an eclectic band and we just did what we wanted. We are a Western Swing band byiinstrumentation, because we have steel (guitar), fiddles, horns, electric guitars, piano and a rhythm section. On a regular album, I might do no Bob Wills songs, or I might do one. But on this album, it's his repertoire. 2 You must have been happy to see Wills make it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year. Benson: I've been sitting here blowing that trumpet for 30 years, you know? I always had a beef with the sound bites. ... That rock 'n' roll is the synthesis of country, bluegrass and rhythm and blues. Rock 'n' roll was an evolution , from Western Swing. ... The difference is Western Swing was built on the big ' band, and rock 'n' roll was built on the small combo. 3 It s surprising you didn't play c role in the induction, as the acknowledged modern leader of Western Swing. Benson: It was pretty disappointing because they called me for help identifying some of the band members over the years. ... I offered to put together a little performance and the lady said, 'Oh, we only let performers do that.' 4 Asleep at the Wheel would have received a giant boost had it been in the "Urban Cowboy" movie in 1980. 1 understand you turned it down. Benson: We were supposed to be in that thing, but I turned it down and did another movie at the time. It was called "Roadie." (Benson laughs at the misfortune of the decision). Hindsight's 20-20, but "Roadie" actually offered us more Tnoney and it was Blondie and Alice Cooper and Meat Loaf. And we had speaking parts in it. But history is funny. i K Asleep at the Wheel is on the J DreamWorks record label now, but you've put out records on every label in Nashville over the years. Since you don 't sell like Garth Brooks, how do you keep getting record deals? ; Benson: I try to make it possible for the record companies to record us. By that I mean I'm very realistic about how many albums we are going to sell. They like having the integrity of the music, and I am not going to lose money for them, because I have a small but loyal audience. f Smith packs for WI I 'Mononoke' a haunting, magical By Kenneth Turan LOS ANGELES TIMES HOLLYWOOD Animated it definitely is, but "Princess Mononoke" is no Disney movie, not even close. A $150-million-gross-ing phenomenon in its native Japan, the most popular home-grown film in that country's history, it marries a remarkable sense of visual fantasy, both lyric and violent, with an ecology-themed story and complex characters. It's an adult fairy tale, animation as we've not experienced it before exactly what devotees of writer-director Hayao Miyazaki have come to expect. Revered in Japan and overseas as perhaps the greatest artist of contemporary animation, Miyazaki and the company he co-founded in 1984, Studio Ghibli, have shown that more personal animation can reach the widest of audiences. His 1908 "My Neighbor Totoro," for instance, was bested only by Kurosawa's "The Seven Samurai" in a recent TV survey of favorite Japanese movies. j a punch Y2K In "Princess Mononoke," Miyazaki brings a very different sensibility to animation, a medium he views as completely suitable for straight dramatic narrative and serious themes. Though it has humor, there are no musical comedy figures in this film, no hummable Broadway stow i 'sV V ' V)t- i rr- . By Gail Mitchell BILLBOARD LOS ANGELES - In the film industry, July usually means the onset of a Will Smith blockbuster. If Columbia Records has its way, November will mark the regular release of a new smash album by the superstar. That's when the label will release his second solo disc, "Willennium," -' worldwide Nov. 16, to be precise. ' The set follows the 1997 set "Big Willie Style," which spawned such pop hits as "Get-tin' Jiggy Wit It," "Just The Two Of Us," and f: "Men In Black." t"Q? According to , . SoundScan, the album has sold 5.6 million copies in the US. The label is banking that such sales momentum plus the recent success of Smith's "Wild Wild West" single, and soundtrack will carry "Willennium" further. For his part, the engaging Smith calls this new set "the best work of my career. It's the quintessential Will Smith album." Coming from most people, such a statement might seem pompous. But with Smith, it comes off as less a brag and more like fact. He's been wrapping up the album while currently filming the Robert Redford film "The Legend Of Bagger Vance" with Matt Damon and Charlize Theron. Caught while on location in Savannah, Ga., Smith - SMITH Please turn to Page 5E world of fantasy Lady Eboshi (voiced by Minnie Driver) In Hayao Miyazakl'9 "Princess Mononoke." tunes. Instead, we are presented with a haunting, even unsettling magical mystery milieu of frustrated gods, angry spirits and overmatched humans in which images - AMERICAN Please ,rn to Page 4E 3 new monsters conning to America By Susan Wloszczyna USA TODAY First, the Nintendo video game. Then, the trading cards and cartoon series. Next? Pikachu for best actor. The $5 billion-plus Pokemon phenom that was born in Japan three years ago and hit the States last fall is morphing to the next logical level. The first animated feature to star the battling creatures, "Pokemon: The First Movie," along with a 22-minute short, "Pikachu's Vacation," will hit theaters -Nov. 12. Fans in this country will be intro- : duced to three new Pokemon monsters (current population: 150, plus one elusive critter, Mew). Meet the trio making official U.S. debuts: Donphan. Appears in the movie. Nintendo's Gail Tilden says the name is derived from the Japanese word "don," 4 meaning "heavy-footed," and "phan" I from elephant. Donphan does a rolling attack and is one of the larger Pokemon. Snubbull. Introduced in "Vacation." The name is a combo of snub-nosed and bulldog. Tilden says Snubbull is very grumpy and has a short fuse. Marill. Also introduced in "Vacation." This water mouse is already hugely popular in Japan, where the movie opened in summer '98, and soon , will pop up on the top-rated Saturday- -morning WB show. The trio won't find their way into games and cards here until next fall, when the second Pokemon movie arrives. At that time, 100 new charac- ters will flood the market. Making their debuts on T-shirts and as stuffed animals and Burger King toys (57 arrive Nov. 6), however, are Mew, Mewtwo and egglike Togepi. Pokemania shows little sign of letting up: Pre-sales of the yellow version of the game, were the biggest ever for a GameBoy game. n 'Pokemon' catapults Kids' WB to the top Who says kids have short attention spans? After playing Pokemon video games and collecting Pokemon cards all summer, kids' sitting down for fall's Saturday morning cartoons are again choos-". ing Pokemon. Since new episodes began airing Sept. 4, "Pokemon," which made its WB premiere in February after a strong run in syndication, has lifted Kids' WB from also-ran status to the front-runner, averaging 1.6 million viewers ages 2 to 11. A month into the season, Nickelodeon is second to Kids' WB with just under 1.6 million kids, followed by ABC (1.2 million) and Fox Kids (1.1 million). CBS, which unveiled its schedule Oct. 2, trails. Marathon "Pokemon" airings (as many as 3 and one-half hours' worth per Saturday) haven't worn out children's enthusiasm for the story of Ash Ketchum, a boy on a quest to become a great trainer of the little monsters known as Pokemon. In fact, on Sept. 11, the series attracted 3.1 million kids the largest audience in the history of Kids' WB. "We are hoping and thinking this will be a longtime sensation," says WB entertainment chief Susanne Daniels. -"But what 'Pokemon' has done for us i already is brought new viewers to the ; network who haven't seen our other ; programs." For Nickelodeon executives, "Poke- -mon" is a fad that will run its course. " "We've seen them before," says Nick general manager Cyma Zarghami. - "Power Rangers was a phenomenon, " and the (Teenage Mutant Ninja) Turtle was a phenomenon. They come on like gangbusters, and then kids move on to j the next one." v - USA TOiytf

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