Downtown music in full bloom

Friday, September 24, 2004

Downtown Cape Girardeau will be awash in the sounds of live music this weekend as the City of Roses Music Festival returns this year with three outdoor stages and 62 local and regional musical acts.

In addition to the additional stages and the musical line-up, this year's festival also differs from previous years in that there is no admission fee and required wristband, although a donation is requested at each of the festival's entry points. Most of the participating downtown clubs are not charging a cover fee.

This year's festival has no sponsers, as it has in years past. The stages, lighting and sound equipment were donated by Shivelbine's Music Store and C.P. McGinty Jewelers, while the event was put together by a core group of volunteers.

"I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a festival that's going to be this large and with this much quality," said Doc Cain, who is co-chairing the festival with Don Greenwood, both members of the City of Roses Music Heritage Association.

"You'll be able to hear bands you haven't heard before and hear bands you haven't heard for awhile," Cain said.

"I think the musicians are more excited than they've ever been," Cain said. "We've had incredible participation from the musicians. A lot of them are donating their services. I think they're pleased that the festival is getting more local and regional representation and they want to see the festival do as well as it can."

The musical acts will be performing on one of three stages based on the type of music they play.

Blues acts and jam bands perform on the American heartland stage, while mainstream rock acts perform on the power stage and metal and punk acts perform on what will be called the extreme stage today and the metalfest stage on Saturday.

The American heartland stage is located at Broadway and Water Street, the power stage at Themis and Water Streets and the extreme/metalfest stage at Independence and Water Streets. There will also be beer concession stands and several vendors located along Water Street.

Main Street will remain open during the festival, but Water Street will be closed today and Saturday.

Younger bands that are just starting out will get a chance to perform on the core stage in Port Cape's River City Yacht Club from 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday. The core stage replaces the battle of the bands from past festivals.

Battle of the bands did not continue this year because the event tended to cause animosity between bands, said Kirby Ray, radio personality on Real Rock 99.3 and guitarist and vocalist of the band Emaciation.

Ray put together the core and extreme/metalfest stages.

"A lot of the local bands have shown enthusiasm about being involved in City of Roses," Ray said. He said the bands want to see the festival succeed, in part, because it is such a great venue for them and is one of the few venues where alcohol is served, yet allows people under 21 years of age to attend, which brings in a range of age groups.

Ray is expecting the metalfest stage to do well this year, based upon the success of last year's initial metalfest stage, which Emaciation headlined.

Emaciation has played every festival except for the first one in 1997. Ray said the festival is one of the few times that his band performs in Cape Girardeau, as most of their performances are at outside festivals or opening up for other, occasionally nationally known, bands.

"I always love to play there," Ray said. "To play locally for our fans is one of the best feelings for us."

Bob Camp, who organized the first City of Roses Music Festival seven years ago, was involved in this year's festival and would like to be a future festival director.

According to Camp, the festival was started to bring more awareness tof music in the area and create an arts and entertainment district downtown, both of which have happened to a degree.

Eight or so years ago, "downtown Cape was like so many downtowns across America. All the retail had moved to the interstate. Downtown Cape was kind of dead," Camp said. "When I moved back here in 1991, occasionally a band played in Broussard's on the weekend. This weekend there's 60 bands playing in Cape and they're from Cape."

For this year's festival, Camp was in charge of finding local bands to play on the American heartland music stage. While some of the acts on the stage are regional, like the St. Louis-based band The Melroys or Bachman's Euphio from St. Louis and Springfield, most of the musicians performing are from Cape Girardeau.

"I'm happy to see that there's lots of bands in the area now. These young bands are starting to get, if not national, than regional attention," Camp said.

Although Camp would like to see the festival move toward what were his original plans of having several national acts perform, he is still supportive of this year's festival.

"I'm glad that we're having one and I'm hopeful that it will be a success," he said.

As for the future of the festival, Cane said nothing is definite yet.

"We want to get through this weekend first and then we'll take a deep breath and see where we are financially and start planning for the next one," Cane said.

335-6611, extension 182

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