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Scene, Heard

LeAnn Rimes does her best Lita Ford impression.

Is it fun to point fingers? Abso-freaking-lutely. Is it right? Depends on who you ask. Is it a waste of time? Usually. So, while we have a fairly good idea of where the Trees-is-dead rumors started, we won't name names. For a change. And yes, in case you're still wondering, they are indeed just rumors. We have a reliable eyewitness (um, us) who has seen the plans and heard Brandt Wood describe them, and while we don't wanna spill any details, we will say that if Trees looks the way it does on paper when it reopens in early March, it will be second only to the Gypsy Tea Room--which Brandt and Brady Wood and The Entertainment Collaborative also own and operate--as the finest venue in town. And it will be, hands down, the best rock club in town. Meaning: Don't expect the same place with a new coat of paint and a freshly swept floor. The revamped Trees will be virtually unrecognizable, as far as we can tell, but in the best way possible.

Funny how only a few weeks ago, people were rummaging through their toolboxes, looking for a hammer to pound the last nail in Trees' coffin. When word first circulated that Trees would be shutting its doors at the end of January, we spent the better part of a Thursday afternoon fielding rumors that the club's hiatus meant that it was a) closing down for good, or b) forsaking live rock and roll for canned dance music. Strangely, the multiple-choice test never included the option that Trees was c) closing briefly so the Woods could make it into a better club. Which, from the looks of it, is exactly what they're doing.

Brandt Wood didn't get a chance to show us around--"There's a big pile of debris right in the middle of it," he apologized--but from the blueprints he showed us and the things he told us that weren't on the sketches, Trees will be a classier joint without becoming a smaller copy of the Tea Room. We'd tell you more, but that would only spoil the surprise, and that would go against the last New Year's resolution we haven't broken yet (the other two: curse less and shave more). You'll have plenty of opportunities to see for yourself when the club reopens in mid-March with a full weekend of local shows. Here's the cliffhanger: Look for another exciting announcement involving Trees in the next week or two. Or so. More information as it comes. But of course...

Ordinarily, mentioning the phrase "a new LeAnn Rimes album" in front of Scene, Heard results in the same reaction you'd get after throwing a bloody steak into a shark tank. With Rimes' new disc--the saucily titled I Need You--just in stores, we were all ready to take another bite out of Piper Perabo's Coyote Ugly stunt double when someone beat us to it: LeAnn Rimes. Yep, as I Need You was making its way into record shops, LeAnn (Miss Rimes, if you're nasty) was posting an open letter to her fans on her Web site, www.rimestimes.com, disowning the album with extreme prejudice.

"In December, I was informed by Rendee that Curb Records planned on releasing another album," Rimes wrote on the site. "As you can imagine, I was shocked! This album was made without my creative input. It consists largely of unfinished material and songs that didn't make other albums. I have not heard the album so I cannot tell you my opinion on it. But what I want to make abundantly clear to you is that this album is not a reflection of myself as an artist, but is solely the conception of Curb Records, and for that I am truly and deeply sorry."

Not terribly surprising, since Rimes is, after all, suing Curb to get out of her contract with the label. (She should also probably file suit against whomever convinced her to pose for I Need You's cover shot.) Tom Ross, LeAnn's manager, chimed in on the site with his own letter to her fans, referring to the various legal entanglements that resulted in I Need You.

"Having already endured a year of painful legal decisions, geared mainly towards her gaining control of her own financial affairs and creative rights, it is truly devastating to now see Curb Records issue an unplanned and unauthorized album to the public," Ross wrote. "This is an album for which LeAnn was not offered nor given any creative input or choices, and whose existence LeAnn was not even aware of until a month ago. Many of the songs on this album were unfinished cuts as of two years ago, while several others were tracks from previous albums released within the past six months. To not give LeAnn any artistic input is terribly unfair, not only to her, but to those celebrated fans who are waiting for an accurate collection that truly reflects her current musical direction and tastes."

All this name-calling and legal wrangling have left us with one question: Didn't something like this happen on Dallas? Really? No? Swear it sounds familiar. Maybe it was L.A. Law...

The Foxymorons have added a pair of lo-fi covers to their Web site, their versions of The Lemonheads' "Hannah and Gabi" and Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance with Somebody," both available for download as MP3s. The covers are part of the band's ongoing MP3-only covers album, with new selections added to the site each week. And if you have to have something you can hold onto, the group will eventually add some printable artwork to the site, you know, if you're planning to burn a CD of the songs. The band, essentially just singer-guitarists Jerry James and David Deweese, just released its second album, Rodeo City, courtesy of Berkeley-based American Pop Project. Stop by the group's site, located at www.foxymorons.com, check out the covers (including the band's takes on Christina Aguilera's "Come On Over," The Old 97's' "Salome," and The Buzzcocks' "I Believe"), and then pick up a copy of Rodeo City, which possesses so many pop-pop-pop hooks you'll think the guitars were covered in bubble wrap. Or, uh, something like that...

Condolences go out to Merge DJ Chip Adams, who recently saw his Sunday-night local showcase Local Access canceled due to low ratings. You can still hear Adams on the air on weeknights (where he'll continue his Local Access Spotlight feature every night at 9:55 p.m.), but Local Access had its last broadcast on February 11. Sorry, yo...

The Ridglea Theater is also in the process of a makeover, adding a bigger stage (on display for the first time during the recent Polyphonic Spree gig) and turning its upstairs lounge into what club booker Melissa Kirkendall calls "a cozy, lounge-y, intimate setting," thanks to new stage lighting and--ah, yes--velvet curtains. The theater turns two years old--at least in this incarnation--on March 24, with a big wingding featuring The Old 97's, who are set to release their new Satellite Rides a few days earlier...

Show and tell: Little Jack Melody, Shibboleth, and Paul Slavens are at the Gypsy Tea Room on February 16; The Deathray Davies take a break from touring on February 15 at Curtain Club, with the mighty Waxwings opening; Lewis opens for Rainer Maria at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios on February 15; and Asphalt the Recorder and Climate play The Brickhaus Cafe on February 16.


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