Rock News: Music's high and low notes

By JOHN SWENSON, United Press International   |   May 8, 2003 at 3:00 AM
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UPI's Pat Nason reports rock star Pete Townshend has been placed on a sex offender registry but cleared of possessing child pornography, according to Scotland Yard. Townshend was arrested in January on suspicion of making and possessing indecent images of children and of incitement to distribute indecent images of children. In a prepared statement, London's Metropolitan Police said the co-founder of The Who has received a formal caution for accessing a Web site that featured child abuse images.

"After four months of investigation by officers from Scotland Yard's Child Protection Group, it was established that Mr. Townshend was not in possession of any downloaded child abuse images," the statement said. Scotland Yard said Townshend had fully cooperated with investigators.

In a message posted on his Web site, Townshend repeated the explanation he offered in January -- that he had accessed Web sites containing child pornography as part of his research for a planned campaign against online pornography.

"From the very beginning, I acknowledged that I did access this site and that I had given the police full access to all of my computers," he said. "As I made clear at the outset, I accessed the site because of my concerns at the shocking material readily available on the Internet to children as well as adults, and as part of my research toward the campaign I had been putting together since 1995 to counter damage done by all kinds of pornography on the internet, but especially any involving child abuse."


Blind Pig Recording artists Magic Slim and the Teardrops will perform at the 24th annual W.C. Handy Award Show in Memphis May 22. Slim, perhaps the greatest living proponent of the intense, electrified Mississippi-to-Chicago blues style that spawned so much of the modern rock sound, was honored with five Handy nominations, as many as any other nominee.

He was nominated for "Blues Entertainer of the Year," "Traditional Blues-Male Artist of the Year," and "Blues Instrumentalist-Guitar." He and the Teardrops were nominated as "Blues Band of the Year" and the group's latest Blind Pig release, "Blue Magic," produced by cutting-edge artist and label-mate Popa Chubby, was named to the "Traditional Blues Album of the Year" list.

Slim also will be seen on national television in a much anticipated Martin Scorcese-produced film series set to air this fall on PBS stations. Entitled "The Blues," the series is the cornerstone of an array of activities and projects throughout the year celebrating 2003 as the "Year Of The Blues," as declared by Congress. Slim will be featured in the movie called "Godfathers and Sons," directed by Marc Levin, and will be shown performing three songs at the Chicago Blues Festival last summer.


Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, and Ricky Skaggs are three of the most important and influential artists in American roots music, and their first collaboration, "Three Pickers" documents the historic meeting of these legends.

"I can't even say it's a dream come true, because honestly I never dreamed something like this could ever happen," Skaggs said of the the collaboration.

Recorded at a single concert and scheduled for release July 15 on Rounder, the album's 23 tracks present these masters in a format as relaxed as a front porch picking session. Despite decades of shared heritage and countless meetings at festivals and concerts, amazingly the three had never formally collaborated.

In December of 2002 they joined forces for what would prove to be a historic concert at the RJR Auditorium in Winston-Salem, N.C. Shot as an episode of the "Great Performers" series, the concert will air on PBS beginning July 28, and is available on DVD, containing all broadcast footage, audio in Dolby stereo and 5.1, with two bonus tracks and

a special 22-minute documentary.


"Weird Al" Yankovic, the undisputed champion of musical satire, loses himself in 12 new pop culture send-ups that are as hot as the artists he spoofs on his new CD, "Poodle Hat" (Way Moby/Volcano). The disc features parodies of Eminem, Avril Lavigne, Nelly and others. Al's knack for finding absurdity in the mundane is evident on the CD's lead track, "Couch Potato." Performed to the tune of Eminem's smash hit, "Lose Yourself," "Couch Potato" showcases Al's winning MC style as he delivers intense, rapid-fire rhymes in this sharp social commentary on America's obsession with television, the media and celebrity.

For the first time in a career that has spanned more than 20 years, Weird Al will not be doing a music video for the lead track. Eminem gave his blessings for the parody of "Lose Yourself," but he felt uncomfortable with Al making a video for "Couch Potato."

Al also parodies Backstreet Boys and Billy Joel on the CD and delivers one of his signature accordion-fueled medleys covering artists from The White Stripes to Rage Against The Machine on the angst-filled "Angry White Boy Polka." "Poodle Hat" contains several Weird Al original songs including "Hardware Store," "Party At The Leper Colony," "Wanna B Ur Lovr," "Why Does This Always Happen to Me" featuring a guest performance by acclaimed alt-pop keyboardist Ben Folds, "Bob," a homage to Dylan, and "Genius In France," an epic 9-minute tribute to

Frank Zappa featuring a guitar cameo by his son Dweezil.

Weird Al and his long-time band (Jim West on guitar, Steve Jay on bass and Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz on drums) will embark on a North American tour in support of the new CD beginning June 19 in Del Mar, Calif.

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