Threat of rain alters music plans

Saturday, September 8, 2007

A rainy forecast caused the River City Music Festival to cancel its outdoor events Friday evening, but some last-minute wrangling kept the event from becoming a wash.

Most of the bands scheduled to perform were relocated to Garden Gallery and Port Cape Girardeau Restaurant and Lounge.

After a late afternoon shower caused a quarter of an inch of rain to pool in the tarps that were shielding audio equipment, and with a 90 percent chance of storms on the way, festival organizer Mary Ramsey said she decided a change of plans was in order.

Dennis "Doc" Cain, owner of Port Cape Girardeau, agreed to supply the upstairs of his establishment, the lounge area called the River City Yacht Club, as a last-minute venue.

A bluegrass band had been scheduled to play in the VIP area.

Shivelbine's Music Store assisted the Port Cape Girardeau staff in "tweaking the system" and preparing the stage, and the lounge was ready to accommodate five of the bands scheduled to play at the Themis Street and Broadway stages, Cain said.

The bands slated to take the stage set up on Independence Street played at the Garden Gallery.

Scrambling to rearrange events caused a slight delay, but the first band took the stage around 8:30 p.m.

The bands were thrilled to have a place to play, Ramsey said.

Some of the larger bands decided to pull out of the music festival and make way for some of the other bands, said Brian Russell, music coordinator for the festival. The larger bands, such as Mid-Life Crisis and Groove Conspiracy, offered to play the festival to keep the event going, though they could have had bigger gigs, he said.

When they learned of the backup plan was to squeeze onto the Port Cape Girardeau stage, they decided it would be too hard to fit a 12-piece band.

"The younger bands decided to stick around," Russell said.

Since the outdoor stages had already been set up, crews went to work immediately trying to cover and move about $70,000 worth of equipment before any more rain fell. Port Cape was chosen because it was the closest to the stages, Russell said.

"When we pulled up, we noticed the stage was all covered up, and no one was on it," said Lauren Deboe of Cape Gir­ardeau.

Her husband, Jim, said he'd looked forward to attending the festival all week. The couple said they would probably not check out the bands playing at Port Cape.

"It'll be a little crowded up there," Jim Deboe said.

Mayor Jay Knudtson was supposed to give the welcome speech for the festival, as well as present a scholarship in the name of William Shivelbine, Homer Gilbert and Eddie Keys.

Knudtson will be unable to give the opening presentation at today's events, Ramsey said.

"People were thrilled to be having the festival this year, so it is disappointing," Knudtson said.

Today's lineup will start at 3 p.m., weather permitting, Ramsey said.

No fireworks

The fireworks sponsored by National Asset Recovery Services, or NARS, scheduled Friday evening were also canceled.

The display was part of a larger celebration of the grand opening of the call center on William Street that employs about 400 people. The fireworks will not be rescheduled, said Chris Buehrle, president and CEO of NARS.

The celebration originally included plans for an invitation-only party at the Red Star boat landing, which was moved indoors to the Show Me Center. Buehrle said the party was moved and the fireworks were canceled because of the forecast.

The company producing the fireworks display will not put on the show in the rain, he said. "I don't want to put anybody at risk."

The company will donate the money budgeted for the fireworks to Cape Girardeau-area charities, Buehrle said. And he intends to underwrite the LibertyFest fireworks show next July 4, he said.

"The idea was to give back something to the community," Buehrle said. The donation and the pledge to underwrite the fireworks in July will be in keeping with that spirit, he said.

bdicosmo@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 245

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