Thursday, May 10, 2001

Jammin' on Main canceled

Taste of Cincinnati threatened

By Larry Nager and Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Citing “miserable” ticket sales and the potential to lose money, organizers of the Pepsi Jammin' on Main music festival in Over-the-Rhine on Wednesday canceled this weekend's event.

        The decision to cancel comes after some protesters called for the cancellation because of the police shooting death April 7 of Timothy Thomas, an unarmed African-American man.

        Taste of Cincinnati, set for Memorial Day weekend, could be the next target, though organizers said Wednesday they intend to proceed with the event.

        The Rev. Damon Lynch III, who has led two days of peaceful protests downtown, Taste of Cincinnati should not be held in the current climate.

    • Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra — Jesus Lopez-Cobos' final three concerts as music director. Guest artist is violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg. 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Music Hall. Tickets: 381-3300.
    • Cincinnati Ballet performs Peter Pan — 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Procter & Gamble Hall, Aronoff Center for the Arts. Tickets: 241-7469.
    • Billy Joel and Elton John — 7:30 p.m. Sunday, , Firstar Center. Sold out. (Coincides with 8:05 p.m. Reds vs. Houston Astros game at Cinergy Field.)
   • Comedian D.L. Hughley — 8 p.m. Sunday, Taft Theatre. Tickets: 562-4949.
       • Q102/Bud Party at Sawyer Point — The Menus play 5:30-10 p.m. Wednesday at the P&G Pavilion. Free. Information: 699-5102.
    • Cincinnati May Festival: May 18, 19, 20, 25 and 26. Music Hall and Isaac M. Wise (Plum Street) Temple (May 20 concert). The oldest, continuous choral festival in the Western Hemisphere. James Conlon, music director; Robert Porco, director of choruses. Tickets: 381-3300.
    • LaRosa's Party in the Parks — 5:30-10 p.m., Yeatman's Cove Park, Sawyer Point. Danger Will Robinson performs May 23. 579-3191.
    • Taste of Cincinnati — Noon-midnight May 26, 27. 1-9 p.m. May 28, along Central Parkway between Elm and Main streets. Information: 579-3191.
        “What is the Taste of Cincinnati? Right now the taste of Cincinnati is sour. It's poor police relations and international mockery,” he said. “I think that's the real taste we need to focus on. Until that taste changes, people can eat at home.”

        Protest leaders said Jammin' on Main's cancellation keeps the city focused on racial issues they contend are paramount.

        “I don't think Cincinnati is in the mood to be jamming,” said the Rev. Mr. Lynch. “This is the time to be rectifying some of the problems we have as a city.”

        About 25 protesters met in front of the Albert B. Sabin Convention Center just before 2 p.m. Wednesday before they made their way to a council meeting at City Hall.

        The group held signs that said “Racism will no longer be tolerated” and chanted “No justice, no peace.”

        “We don't need any conventions here until we get this city straight,” said Juleana Frierson, chief of staff for the Cincinnati Black United Front, a civil rights group.

        The cancellation of Jammin' on Main, and threats to try to close other downtown festivals and events, angered some Cincinnati council members.

        They also said it hurts the city's image and damages Over-the-Rhine businesses that have barely recovered from last month's riots.

        “This action is going to hurt a lot of people,” said Councilman Chris Monzel. “It hurts innocents, including African-American business owners on Main Street.”

        He said Cincinnati is considered to be the “city of festivals,” and questions what event will next pull the plug.

        “Today it is Jammin' on Main. Tomorrow is it going to be a Taste of Cincinnati?” he said.

        Jammin' organizers said it was money, not safety or politics, that drove their decision to cancel the 8-year-old festival, scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

        “To preserve the future of Jammin' on Main, Cincinnati Arts Festival, the non-profit entity that produces the event, cannot suffer the severe financial losses that it anticipates ...” the group said in a statement.

        Jammin' on Main, an annual rock music event held on Central Parkway, draws as many as 60,000 people over two nights of local, regional and national acts.

        Although advance tickets for this year's event, featuring headliners Cheap Trick, Collective Soul, Buckcherry, Violent Femmes and the Romantics, were down from years past, much of the crowd buys tickets at the gate.

        But Jammin' on Main organizers, concerned for the future of the street festival, decided to cut their losses and cancel the 2001 edition.

        “The environment currently would not allow the event to be successful financially,” said Mike Smith, a Cincinnati Arts Festival spokesman.

        “To date we have had miserable ticket sales,” he said, estimating production costs of the 2001 Jammin' at around $400,000.

        Tim Trant, vice president and general manager of PepsiAmericas, the primary sponsor, said he was disappointed.

        “But we also understand the issues our city and residents have at the time and the interest in all participants' safety,” Mr. Trant said.

        One of the tens of thousands wanting to come downtown to spend money was festival fan Andrew Laudeman, 28, of Milford.

        “No one should dictate what goes on in the city, just because of the threat of violence. ... I refuse to be a prisoner in my own city,” he said.

        Councilman Paul Booth said the cancellation is probably appropriate given the tension in the community.

        “It's unfortunate,” he said. “But it is probably the right thing in the aftermath of the incident and all of the uncertainty that brings.”

        Evonne Kovach, city economic development director, said the impact of the cancellation will mostly be on businesses in Over-the-Rhine.

        The music festival brings in an estimated $1.6 million a year to the city's economy, according to a study last year by the University of Cincinnati's Greater Cincinnati Center for Economic Education.

        In comparison, Taste of Cincinnati draws as many as 500,000 and brings in an estimated $25 million to the city.

        Raymond Buse III, spokesman for the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, said chamber officials were “disappointed that public support wasn't there” for Jammin' on Main, but contended that there are no plans to cancel or modify the upcoming Taste of Cincinnati, which is held along Central Parkway adjacent to the Jammin' festival area.

        Joe Pepiot, manager at Washington Platform, downtown, said everything is on schedule for the restaurant to participate in Taste of Cincinnati.

        “I haven't heard anything to indicate anything other than business as usual,” he said.

        Cookie Jones, owner of Fore & Aft Restaurant, Sayler Park, said she is skeptical about the event's success this year.

        “If people are afraid to come down, I've wasted a lot of my time and money,” she said.

        Carrie Huck, manager at Cafe Cin Cin, downtown, said the restaurant is ready for the festival.

        “It's very good for us,” she said. “It was very lucrative for us last year.”

        Other organizers of downtown events remain steadfast in their plans while also taking more security precautions.

        The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra will have extra security for symphony concerts this weekend, as well as the Cincinnati May Festival and a June Cincinnati Pops concert, said Rosemary Weathers, CSO public relations director.

        Cincinnati Opera's Summer Festival, which begins June 21 in Music Hall, has been a Cincinnati tradition since 1920.

        “We are deeply committed to Music Hall and to this community,” said Patricia Beggs, managing director of Cincinnati Opera. “We fully intend to support our neighbors in Over-the-Rhine and will do our part to help repair and heal our community.”

       Michael D. Clark, Kristina Goetz, Jane Prendergast, Janelle Gelfand and John Kiesewetter contributed to this story.

City sued over shooting
Riots scar Over-the-Rhine
- Jammin' on Main canceled

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