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Rappers Paul Wall, Baby Bash avoid indictment on drug charge

A grand jury has declined to indict Houston rappers Paul Wall and Baby Bash on felony drug-related charges.

The Harris County jury on Tuesday opted not to hand up indictments against Paul Michael Slayton, more broadly known as Paul Wall, and Ronald Bryant, known as Baby Bash.

The rappers were arrested in December along with eight other people on a charge of engaging in organized criminal activity for possessing a controlled substance with intent to deliver.

The Harris County district attorney's office says grand jurors did indict five of the people initially charged in the matter.

Authorities alleged in December that Slayton and Bryant were caught with some form of THC, the compound that gives marijuana its high.

Bonnaroo to offer all-night stage for dance, hip-hop artists

Music fans will have more options to dance the night away at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, which is unveiling an all-night stage focusing on dance, electronic and hip-hop artists.

The Other stage will run all night at this year's festival, scheduled June 8-11 in Manchester, Tennessee. The lineup includes Marshmello, Big Gigantic, Yellow Claw, D.R.A.M., Motama, Louis the Child, Borgore and more.

The music festival has been expanding its lineup over the past 15 years, including dance artists and DJs such as Skrillex, deadmau5, ODESZA, Flying Lotus, Tycho, Caribou, Jamie xx and Bassnectar. This year's lineup includes U2, The Weeknd and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.



Father of slain Louisville student: She died a hero

The grieving father of a slain University of Louisville student said his daughter was pushing others out of harm's way when she was shot during a rap concert inside an art gallery over the weekend.

Savannah Walker, 20, died after she was shot in the chest early Sunday at the Tim Faulkner Gallery in downtown Louisville, news outlets reported. Five others were injured.

The victim's father, Dean Walker, said his daughter died a hero and was pushing her friends out of the way. The coroner told him his daughter was still standing when she was shot.

"She always thought about other people," he said.

Savannah Walker played club lacrosse and was on the school's debate team. She was initially supposed to be out of town for a debate but opted to stay home as she was coping with the Feb. 18 death of her mother, who had pancreatic cancer, The Courier-Journal reported (

Louisville police haven't said what prompted the violence or whether there were multiple shooters. There have been no arrests and police have not publicly said whether they have identified any suspects.

Off-duty police officers were working security for the concert, which featured a New York City hip-hop artist known as A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie.

Dean Walker questioned how one or more people got into the concert with weapons.

"I don't want to blame," he said. "It's easy to point fingers because we're hurting. I want to know what actually happened. I do not want this to happen to another family."

AP Interview: McCartney, Costello & the album that never was

Paul McCartney's "Flowers in the Dirt" box is as much an archeology project as a reissue, in which listeners can discover the bones of a landmark album that could have been made but wasn't.

Two of the reissue's three audio discs are devoted to McCartney's songwriting collaboration with Elvis Costello in 1987 and 1988, which produced some 15 songs. Listening to the work, some of it first made available this week, it's hard not to wonder why they didn't make a duet album like Costello later did with Burt Bacharach. Instead, they decided not to alter their original plan.

The mythical disc could have started with "My Brave Face" and "Veronica," two of each man's biggest hits of the 1980s. And that was only the beginning.

"Looking back, you could say that," McCartney told The Associated Press. "If we'd just done a few more of these demos, we could have made a crazy album. But we didn't. That was as far as we got."

McCartney initiated the partnership at the suggestion of his manager. The former Beatle was looking for varied sounds, styles and producers as he began work on a new album. McCartney and Costello worked for a few weeks in a room above McCartney's studio in Sussex, England, where they'd write a song a day and immediately go downstairs to record it, sitting with acoustic guitars and singing together.

"There were many echoes, working with Elvis and working with John (Lennon), because I know Elvis is a big Beatles fan," McCartney said. "He was a John fan, he wears glasses, he plays guitar right-handed."

They're all from Liverpool, too. McCartney worked with Costello as he did with Lennon, two men with acoustic guitars sitting across from one another. With McCartney left-handed, it felt to him like looking into a mirror.

"I think the key was not to turn up in short trousers with my Fan Club card sticking out of my top pocket," Costello said. "I'd been asked to write songs in 1987, knowing what I know, having done what I'd done for that whole 10 years, which seemed like a long time then. Paul knows what he's done and he knows I love him.

"That said, you're bound to look up sometimes and think, 'Bloody hell, it's him!'," he said.

In this week's reissue, one disc contains nine of those 15 songs, recorded the day they were written. Another disc features the same songs produced by the two men later with a band added, primarily sung by McCartney since it was his album, after all.

To a certain extent, something is lost in translation.

Take the song "Tommy's Coming Home," for instance. Inspired fun with McCartney and Costello singing together, the tempo slows and the song drags in the full band version.

"I didn't realize until looking back later that these demos had a special groove and a freshness and, I think on a few of the recorded versions, we lost some of that freshness," McCartney said. "It gives an idea of the spontaneity of the writing. There's a time that you regret that we didn't just say, 'This is it, this is good enough.' Often when you don't think you're making the final record, you're a bit looser ... I think some of those performances are better than the ones on the record."

The two-man recordings "have a lot of charm and a good deal of cheek," Costello said. "You can almost hear us laughing at loud at what I call, 'the Mersey cadences.' It's in the blood. It's in the water. It's in him and it's got to come out."

Since both are strong-willed men used to being in charge of their music, you'd have to wonder whether the easy creativity of the songwriting sessions would have lasted through the grunt work of making polished recordings. The two dismiss the suggestion that there would have been trouble, or that they would have needed another producer to referee. Costello said it wouldn't have been as much fun as producing it themselves.

The songs they wrote were dispersed between the two men, or left on the shelf. Four were included on "Flowers in the Dirt," including the stately "That Day is Done" and the call-and-response "You Want Her Too." Costello later recorded "So Like Candy" and "Pads, Paws & Claws." Some demos creeped out through the years.

"My Brave Face" could have been as big as anything he and Lennon had written, McCartney said. His pride in some of the songs he had written without Costello is one reason "Flowers in the Dirt" took shape the way it did. But you can hear another reason between the lines listening to him talk. Perhaps he didn't want to pull Costello into the weight of comparisons that he felt for all of his post-Beatles career.

"Because John and I had such a successful collaboration and all the work we did was when we were young, often your first output like that can be your best," he said. "I wouldn't say it worries me, or I wouldn't continue to write. But I do get the feeling that it would have been very hard to come up to the standards of the ones I wrote with John, like 'It's Getting Better' or 'She's Leaving Home.'"

Costello, for his part, doesn't look back with regret at the album that never was. He points to McCartney's reissue.

"You could say, 'this is it,'" he said. "There's a whole disc of me and Paul singing together. What can you say about that?"


Follow David Bauder at His work can be found at

Wyclef Jean says he was mistaken for robbery suspect

Grammy-winning musician Wyclef Jean said he was handcuffed and "treated like a criminal" when Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies mistook him for a violent armed robber early Tuesday.

The former Fugees star posted a video on Twitter showing himself in handcuffs leaned over a patrol car in West Hollywood, decrying the way he was being treated. Hours after the incident, Los Angeles sheriff's officials apologized for inconveniencing Jean but said he was lawfully stopped by deputies looking for a violent criminal whose victims described a similar vehicle and article of clothing.

"I was asked by the police to put my hands up. Then I was told, 'Do not move.' I was instantly hand cuffed before being asked to identify myself and before being told why," Jean told The Associated Press. "In the process I said my name and told them they have wrong person. They proceeded to ignore me and I was treated like a criminal."

In a statement Tuesday afternoon, sheriff's officials said Jean was riding in a car that matched the description of the vehicle used in an armed robbery that occurred a few minutes before Jean was stopped.

The two robbery victims told sheriff's deputies that they were sitting in a parking lot when a man walked up to them, pistol whipped them, pressed the gun against the head of one of the victims and demanded they give him everything they had.

Deputies who were patrolling nearby spotted a car that was nearly identical to the description of the assailant's vehicle and followed the car until it pulled over in West Hollywood, the statement said.

The suspect was in "either a gold or tan Toyota or Honda, older model sedan" and Jean was in a 2002 tan Toyota, the statement said. The driver and Jean exited the vehicle as the deputies approached.

Both Jean and the suspect reportedly had on dark shirts and a similar colored bandanna, authorities said. The sheriff's department said deputies then detained Jean, "who they believed to the suspect in the violent crime," handcuffed him and placed him in the back of a patrol car.

Sheriff's officials said Jean was repeatedly ordered not to place his hands near his pockets or waistband and not to go near the trunk of the car. Jean was patted down for weapons and put in the back of a deputy sheriff's patrol car "out of an abundance of caution," the statement said.

Officials said deputies learned within six minutes that Jean and the female driver of the car were not suspects in the crime and released them. Two suspects were later arrested on suspicion of committing the robbery, officials said.

"It is unfortunate that Mr. Jean was detained for six minutes during this investigation, as he had no involvement whatsoever in this violent crime," the statement said. "The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is apologetic for any inconvenience this process caused Mr. Jean. We are grateful we were able to apprehend the robbery suspects and that no one was seriously injured."


Associated Press Entertainment Writer Nekesa Mumbi Moody contributed to this report.


Follow Michael Balsamo on Twitter at .

Blight battle finds focus at Aretha Franklin's birthplace

The crumbling house where Aretha Franklin was born looks no different from many others on Lucy Avenue in Memphis' Soulsville neighborhood: empty and shuttered, with plywood over the windows. A rear section has collapsed, and weeds grow all around it. No one has lived there for years.

It's a monument to urban blight, and daunting evidence of how much work it will take to fix it.

Now, however, in historic Memphis neighborhoods like Soulsville and Orange Mound, an effort is underway to reclaim the landscape of abandoned houses and trash-strewn vacant lots.

It's making Memphis a leader in the fight against the blight epidemic afflicting America's cities.

"I've become frustrated, angry, energized, charged, fired-up, all at the same time," said Roger R. Brown, pastor at Greater White Stone Missionary Baptist Church, which has bought abandoned properties and teamed with businesses to beautify the area. "We're going to address this area and make a difference."

Memphis is the first U.S. city to draft a charter document linking city agencies and community organizations to confront neighborhood blight, experts say. An innovative program enlists University of Memphis law students to sue homeowners on the city's behalf, forcing them to develop reclamation plans or give them up for demolition.

"The Memphis thing now is a model for a lot of other places, particularly because they did such a good job of establishing a collaborative group," said Kermit Lind, a lawyer who has worked with the Cleveland Municipal Housing Court. "With the charter, that is a step ahead."

Leaders in many American cities have long struggled to reduce vacant lots, abandoned buildings, uncollected litter and environmental contamination, according to a 2016 report by Joe Schilling and Jimena Pinzon. Blight can lead to school closures, drain municipal budgets and decrease property tax collections.

In recent years, several U.S. cities have launched coordinated anti-blight campaigns. Cleveland and Baltimore have used courts and data collection to rescue neighborhoods left empty by job loss, suburbanization and the Great Recession of nearly a decade ago, which set off a wave of foreclosures.

Revitalization has brought mixed results in New Orleans, which saw entire neighborhoods wiped out by Hurricane Katrina, and in Detroit, where vast swaths were turned into ghost towns by the loss of manufacturing jobs.

Experts say the Memphis Neighborhood Blight Elimination Charter, crafted by lawyer Steve Barlow with the help of Schilling and Lind in 2016, has generated momentum. Barlow outlined a plan to unify government agencies, community groups, businesses and others to help repair houses or rid neighborhoods of properties beyond saving.

Previously, groups rarely communicated, leading to scattershot, often contradictory programs.

The charter links blight remediation with the city's land use and community development plans, codes and economic development efforts.

"They're creating a new playbook," said Schilling, a senior researcher at the Urban Institute who co-authored an article with Lind about the effort in the University of Memphis law review last year.

The groups use a database to identify neighborhoods with numerous troubled properties.

Clean Memphis, which organizes neighborhood cleanups, enlists volunteers who pick up trash. Employees of Memphis-based businesses pitch in.

"There's so much work to do," said Peyton Dodson, a Watkins Uiberall employee who wore protective gloves as he filled bags with trash in the Soulsville neighborhood.

Meanwhile, Judge Larry Potter presides over Shelby County Environmental Court, where homeowners must address problems identified by code enforcement officers — from crumbling facades to plumbing and electrical problems.

Potter grills owners about their plans. Some tell him they can't maintain properties and surrender them for demolition. Potter presses others to make repairs.

"It's time to put the pedal to the metal," Potter told Lemoyne-Owen Community Development Corp. President Jeffrey Higgs, the receiver in the Franklin case, during a recent hearing.

Lind, a lawyer, used Ohio's residential public nuisance statute in Cleveland's housing court to abate blighted housing conditions. He said students sometimes assist prosecutors for credit or as part-time employees in other cities.

However, "it is unusual, if not unprecedented, for student lawyers to represent a city government" as they are in Memphis, he said.

The home where Franklin was born in 1942 and lived for two years before her family left Memphis is currently in limbo in Potter's court. It's been vacant for years, and there's no marker indicating its significance.

The house was scheduled for demolition before Memphis Heritage volunteers stabilized it, hoping to avoid demolition. Now a court-appointed receiver is raising money to fix up and move the house to "a location better suited for tourist traffic," said city attorney Kenya Hooks.

"The receiver has also been in contact with Ms. Franklin's representatives and hopes to have her on board to support the project," Hooks said.

Higgs, the receiver, told Potter on Feb. 23 he was working on a plan with the DIY Network to move the house to another spot.

"I would like to see this house saved," said the judge. "I want to see it in a secure location."

A hearing is set for March 23 in Potter's court. A spokesman for Franklin said the singer did not respond to a request for comment relayed to her.

Though Franklin's birthplace might be saved, the same can't be said of the empty houses surrounding it on Lucy Avenue. That work will take longer and be harder, and it probably won't be televised.

But those involved say they finally have a plan in place to succeed.

Review: Bob Dylan triples down on standards

The idea of Bob Dylan becoming the keeper of Frank Sinatra's flame would have seemed preposterous 50 years ago. Dylan was revolutionizing songwriting in a torrent of words back then, instantly making the classics sung by Sinatra another generation's music. Parents' music.

Yet after two releases delving into the songs primarily from the first half of the last century, Dylan doesn't just double down on the strategy. "Triplicate" is, as the name implies, a three-disc thematic set of similar material. Virtually all of the songs were once covered by Sinatra.

It seems like an odd direction for America's greatest living songwriter, fresh off a Nobel Prize. Dylan hasn't released a disc of self-penned material since 2012, and it's worth wondering if the well has run dry. Maybe the inscrutable Dylan just likes singing these songs and wants to keep them alive.

Singing is the last thing you'd expect to hear discussed on a Dylan disc, yet his voice is surprisingly supple, even lovely. He reaches for, and finds, notes that you wouldn't think possible. The songs are recorded in a hushed, intimate setting with spare backing from his longtime band, many resting on a bed of steel guitar. They deserve to be heard in a cabaret setting.

These are songs of missed opportunities and lost love that feel right coming from a 75-year-old man. "We were young and didn't have a care," he sings in "Once Upon a Time." ''Where did it go?"

Songs like "Stormy Weather," ''September of My Years," ''Stardust" and "Sentimental Journey" are familiar, but others will be new to fans weaned on rock 'n' roll.

As well performed as the material is, the slower tempos allow a sense of sameness to creep in. "Triplicate" is more of a historical document than a contemporary recording, and absent a curiosity about songwriting of this era, some tedium is inevitable.

Soprano savors 'Idomeneo' mad scene in Met Opera production

Swaying precariously from side to side, sinking to her knees and finally collapsing altogether, Elza van den Heever puts on a virtuoso physical display to match her vocal fireworks as she stops the show near the end of Mozart's "Idomeneo."

It's the final aria for the character of Elettra, who has just seen her hopes of marriage to the king's son dashed. She's in a rage that can aptly be described as "operatic," and van den Heever savors every minute of it.

"It all comes very naturally," the South African-born soprano said in an interview in her dressing room before a performance last week at the Metropolitan Opera. "It's just this great gift Mozart gave to a soprano who's wanting to be physically active onstage."

Van den Heever said she worked out the elaborate movements for the aria with stage director David Kneuss, who oversaw this revival of the 1982 Jean-Pierre Ponnelle production.

"He gave me the rough sketch and let me fill in the rest," she said. "He said: 'I want you here on your knees, here you have to get up, here you bang on the altar, here you have to be on your knees so these guys can help you up, and here you have to faint and sort of have an epileptic attack at the end and you'll be carried off by six guys.'"

All this while singing an aria full of dramatic explosions and coloratura calisthenics.

Audiences worldwide can see and hear how van den Heever carries it off Saturday when "Idomeneo" is broadcast into movie theaters as part of the Met's Live in HD series.

More than many sopranos, van den Heever injects humor into her rendition of the aria, her over-the-top antics drawing laughter from the audience at several points.

"I felt that we would have the license to just go there," she said. "If I look at what Mozart wrote on the page, that going up to a C and then coming back down — to me it's like hysterical laughing. So it seems to me he wants you to go into this kind of out-of-body experience. So that, with David's liberties and giving me rein to do what I want to do, yeah, I think it's fun, I think it's not serious."


Van den Heever said she feels "a deep sense of sympathy" for her character, a Greek princess who has taken refuge in Crete, because "she's an outsider, one of those individuals who will never fit in."

"I know what that feels like," said van den Heever, whose powerful voice is matched to a striking, 6-foot-tall physique. "I was always a very awkward kid. I've been this length since I was basically 11. I always stuck out like a sore thumb, and with that comes a lot of ridicule."

In her career, she has tried to turn this to her advantage. "I would call myself a little socially awkward," she said. "But onstage I see that as a big plus. I'm able to just be somebody else and not worry about what people think of me. I give myself the freedom to just go there."


The HD broadcast of "Idomeneo," conducted by James Levine and also starring soprano Nadine Sierra, mezzo Alice Coote and tenor Matthew Polenzani in the title role, will be shown starting at 12:55 p.m. Eastern on Saturday. A list of theaters can be found at the Met's website:

In the U.S., it will be repeated on Wednesday, March 29, at 6:30 p.m. local time.



Boston Pops to showcase Gershwin on tour of US Midwest

The Boston Pops is headed to the heartland.

The renowned orchestra, conducted by Keith Lockhart, kicks off a seven-city, seven-state tour around the Midwest this week.

Organizers say the tour will showcase the music of George Gershwin.

The tour gets underway Friday in Kansas City, Missouri, and moves to Iowa City, Iowa, on Saturday and Lincoln, Nebraska, on Sunday.

Next week's stops include Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on March 27; Chicago on March 31; Van Wert, Ohio, on April 1; and Carmel, Indiana, on April 2.

Actress and celebrated Broadway star Bernadette Peters will join the Pops at the Chicago and Ohio stops.

Review: Paul Shaffer and his dangerous band show their chops

Paul Shaffer, David Letterman's long-time nutty bandleader, recaptures some of the old TV magic on his new album with The World's Most Dangerous Band and help from Bill Murray, Shaggy, Jenny Lewis and Dion.

Displaying the same versatility and chops which served them so well for so long in late night, tunes by Vince Guaraldi, Lloyd Price and even a Bob Dylan instrumental are given stylish makeovers.

Shaggy puts his reggaefied vocals on Guaraldi's Grammy-winning "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" jazz standard, while Dion tackles Sam Cooke's "Win Your Love for Me."

Lewis helps on "Sorrow," a tribute to David Bowie, and Valerie Simpson is in the pocket for a song she co-wrote for Ray Charles, "I Don't Need No Doctor."

Murray assists on "Happy Street," akin to the theme song from a slightly spaced-out PBS children's show, while a soulful Leo Napier owns Curtis Mayfield's "Rhythm."

Shaffer even ventures into lead vocals — not his strongest talent, to put it kindly — giving "Yeh Yeh" a modern twist with lyrics like, "Turn the phone off so we can Netflix and chill."

Dylan's "Wigwam," one of his least typical singles, sums up the Shaffer trademarks — anything goes but excellence prevails, respect for the singers and the songs and an occasional surprise proving why he's been at the top of his profession for decades.

Shaffer and his dangerous musicians will be on tour soon and that's the best way to hear these songs — whether there's a now wooly-bearded host sitting at the other end of the stage or not.

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