Thursday, May 24, 2001

Isley Brothers to open Taste

J.T. Taylor to replace Midnight Star

By Larry Nager
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Isley Brothers, Cincinnati's first family of soul, will return to open Taste of Cincinnati and promote community “healing.”

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Taste of Cincinnati runs from noon to midnight Saturday and Sunday and noon to 9 p.m. Memorial Day.
        The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers (“Shout,” “Fight the Power”), who began their career singing in Lincoln Heights churches and have had hits in the '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s and '90s, are booked to kick off the three-day festival at noon Saturday. at the Ford Festival Stage at Elm Street and Central Parkway.

        Headed by Ronald Isley, the group will sing the national anthem, part of opening ceremonies that include a community prayer.

        “What we're trying to do is promote some healing by bringing people together,” said Cecil Thomas, executive director of the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission. “I don't want to put a political spin on it, because somebody would try to sabotage that.”

        The Rev. Damon Lynch, an organizer of a Taste boycott in protest of April's fatal shooting of Timothy Thomas by Cincinnati Police, did not return calls Wednesday.

  Cincinnati City Council approved a $1 unlimited parking plan for city garages in an attempt to lure people downtown. The $1 parking — which will be in effect Saturday, Sunday and Monday in all city garages - was proposed by Councilman Chris Monzel and passed 9-0 by City Council Wednesday. City officials are concerned that fears of protests and a boycott launched by a clergy group will hurt attendance.
        R&B singer J.T. Taylor, the voice of Kool & the Gang, has been booked to replace Midnight Star, the Cincinnati group that dropped out of Taste due to the boycott. Mr. Taylor performs at 6:30 p.m. Monday on the Ford Festival Stage.

        Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken downplayed the controversy surrounding one of downtown's largest events.

        “Too many people think (Taste) is a political statement. It's not. It's a coming together, it's fun, it's a festival,” said Mr. Luken will hold a press conference todayto announce the new Taste performers.

        The Isley Brothers could not be reached for comment.


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