Thursday, April 17, 2003

Soul artist Green plans a 'return' to Blue Ash

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

BLUE ASH - The Rev. Al Green, one of the grandfathers of soul, will attempt some soulful crooning to make amends at the next Taste of Blue Ash celebration.

Famous for many hits including the legendary "Let's Stay Together," Green will give a free afternoon performance on Towne Square. It's his effort to apologize for not showing at last year's festival,

Crowds were left to jam with his band, and festival organizers had no choice but to accept his contention that he was too ill to board a plane hours before he was supposed to hit the stage.

No matter how contrite he has been, festival organizers were too burned to line him up for another evening performance during this year's festival, Aug. 22-24.

This will be the first time a national act performs in the afternoon.

"I'll be honest with you. We didn't really want to book him for an evening. He's a great performer (but) we didn't want to take a chance," City Manager Marvin Thompson said. "We wouldn't want to be left with egg on our face twice. I was embarrassed ... when he didn't show."

Green did not return phone calls Wednesday to his Memphis, Tenn., office.

Bruce Henry, Blue Ash deputy city manager and Taste of Blue Ash Inc.'s president, was negotiating a performance date with the star.

Green said no to dates in September and July, but was willing to promise another Taste of Blue Ash performance. This year's line-up also includes Dion, Starship, Herman's Hermits, and the Go-Gos.

"Al Green and his camp are anxious to make the situation right (and) we're anxious to not have this hanging out there," Henry said. "In the end, it's going to be a win-win for Al Green (and) the City of Blue Ash."

The Wellness Community, a non-profit group serving cancer patients, is expected to receive thousands of dollars in donations from this year's event.

Executive Director Chris Conlan looks forward to seeing the performance. She has faith he'll show.

"I don't know what the story was" last year, she said.

"He has put his word on it, and I trust that he will be true to his word."


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