Monday, May 15, 2000

Night can't cool hot Jammin' acts

By Larry Nager
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Friday's tank tops gave way to Saturday's sweat shirts, as Pepsi Jammin' on Main 2000 seemed to start in summer and end in fall.

        The music was just as wide-ranging as the temperature, culminating in Saturday night's three-way face-off, the most diverse finale in the seven-year history of Jammin'.

        On the Main Stage, the Indigo Girls turned Jammin' into an intimate hootenanny. They filled downtown with acoustic guitars and sweet harmonies as they performed old favorites and new songs for an attentive, appreciative crowd.

        Meanwhile, it was a “Jungle Boogie” dance party at the Verizon Stage on Central Parkway, as Kool & the Gang played its lengthy hit list to a raucous, booty-shaking bunch of old school funk and soul fans.

        To round things out, the CityBeat Stage turned into the CountryBeat Stage, as the rural rhythms of BR5-49 had its crowd jitterbugging and line-dancing (remember that?) to its hillbilly boogie and country swing.

        That was the high point of the night, but much of the rest of Saturday's lineup came close.

        If national act Collapsis' lackluster set failed to show why it was a national act, the Simpletons' dynamic show earlier in the evening begged the opposite question — why is a group this good still just local? They have everything, the songs, the passion, the stage presence. And all of it was onstage Saturday.

        Tracy Walker was another local who also rose to the occasion. Performing just before the Indigo Girls, she faced the huge crowd (final attendance figures won't be available for several days) and proved she belonged on that stage. She got some excellent help from bassist Adam Sanregret and violinist Sophia Zapf.

        Ric Hickey & the Loose Wrecks were another Jammin' hit, in a set that ranged from bouncy pop-rock to cerebral fusion to Mr. Hickey's unique version of “Fly Me to the Moon.”

        The Brand was another band ready to make its mark, but a bad sound mix sabotaged even frontman Johnny Graves' enthusiasm.

        Dallas Moore had better luck, opening the country stage with a set that mixed Hank Jr.'s attitude with Lynyrd Skynyrd's sound on fine originals and a rocking cover of “Rednecks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer.”

        The Main Stage opened Saturday with another “Shades of Blue” revue, this one featuring Chris Arduser and Bam Powell, the drum duo that had powered Friday's highlight — the Raisins reunion. Leaders Marc Sastre and Larry Goshorn delivered their usual well-honed blues rock, aided by High Street's Greg Schaber and the soulful Keith Little.

        Along with paying tribute to the area's long-running blues tradition, the “Shades of Blue” set also took time to remember slain musician Michael Bany, a former member of both the Blue Birds and the Goshorn Brothers Band.

        The newest winner of the Michael W. Bany Memorial Scholarship, Mount Healthy High School senior Ryan Welch, was announced by a group that included Suzanne Buerkle, who received the first scholarship in 1996, and Michael's brother, Mark Bany.


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