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Donovan on a New "Beat"

New set from Sixties singer-songwriter due in August

July 2, 2004 12:00 AM ET
Donovan will release Beat Cafe, his first new album in eight years, on August 24th. The Sixties folk-pop singer-songwriter, who scored a dozen Top Forty hits between 1965 and 1969 including "Mellow Yellow" and "Sunshine Superman," recorded the set as a trio with bassist Danny Thompson (Richard Thompson, Nick Drake) and drummer Jim Keltner (Bob Dylan, John Lennon) and with John Chelew (Blind Boys of Alabama) producing.

"We only played the tracks three times," Donovan says. "There were no rehearsals, no arrangements. It seemed natural that each of the songs I laid out were played naturally by us all. It's got a folk element, but it's also got a very New Age, spiritual vibe going for it. It's a stately record, not a jam."

The album takes its title from "Beatnik Cafe," a song Donovan wrote with the specific idea of getting Thompson to play "classic jazz bass." "Imagine three master musicians playing in a Beatnik Cafe," he says. "Lots of things can happen."

Though Donovan is planning a full U.S. tour for later this year, he'll get the first opportunity to showcase the new songs at two extended residences in San Francisco and New York. He'll play at Cafe du Nord in the former city from July 13th through the 15th, and at Joe's Pub in New York on July 27th and 29th.

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