Sunday, May 9, 2004

Jammin' on Main's main attractions

By Jim Knippenberg
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The 10th annual Pepsi Jammin' on Main is all about options. Classic rock? You got it. Singer-songwriters? Plenty of them. The clang of heavy metal? All over the place. And more, more, more.

When: 7-11:45 p.m. Friday; 6-11:45 p.m. Saturday
Where: Downtown, Ninth Street, north to 12th Street; Walnut Street east to Sycamore
Cost: $18 weekend pass, $15 single day, at Ticketmaster outlets, online at, by phone 562-4949 or at the gate
Information: 721-3555 or Web site
No doubt about it, Jammin' has come a long way since its 1994 debut as a musical street festival with mostly local acts. Friday and Saturday, it offers 27 bands (nine local, 16 national) on three stages and attracts crowds in the hundreds of thousands.

But here's the problem: Unless you can be in two or more places at one time, you can't hear it all. You could run breathlessly from stage to stage hearing a song or two, but what fun is that?

Here's a look at some "must hears":

• Rock/punk/new wave trailblazers Blondie, enjoying a ton of success right now with the new Curse of Blondie CD, rocks the daylights out of the place at 10:30 p.m. Saturday.

• Arena rockers REO Speedwagon promise a night of all the hits when it takes to the stage for 70 minutes of power rock at 10:35 Friday. Stay for 35 minutes and then head for this one ...

• Fuel, the multiplatinum band with the heavy/melodic beat conflicts with REO (10:35 Friday), but honestly, it's worth it to divide your time and go a little bit schizo.

• Bless their amplified hearts, Offspring is the reigning king of the surf/skate punk genre with seven CDs and sales in excess of 32 million.

They hit the stage (10:10 p.m. Saturday) with a whole lot of songs from the new Splinter CD and a rejuvenated lineup that includes former Rocket from the Crypt power drummer Atom Willard.

• Former Smashing Pumpkins bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur, after a two-year lay-off, is back on the road and making her wonderfully brash punkish noise. Expect to hear a lot of music from her recently released solo debut, Auf Der Maur CD at 9:05 p.m. Saturday.

• On the international front, Mr. North (8:10 p.m. Friday) is here from Dublin and knocking out power chords that show why Ireland is a rock band hotbed.

• Cincinnati knows Tracy Walker and has heard plenty from her. But she's always worth revisiting. Especially now with her bluesy/jazzy All this Time CD making some major news. Expect a good deal of music from the CD full of songs about love, loss, broken hearts and moving on. Catch her at 6 p.m. Saturday.

• In the same vein, Cincinnatians who know good pop music know Cari Clara. Led by front man Eric Diedrichs, late of the Simpletons, the six-man band - with frequent guests sitting in - first took a stage almost a year ago and has been making waves ever since.

People are still talking about their performance at the 2003 MidPoint Music Festival. Catch them at 9:20 p.m. Friday.


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