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CAFARO FIELD Rain, lightning stop the music



Published: Sat, September 22, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



It's too soon to say whether the concert will be rescheduled or refunds will be issued.

By DEBORA SHAULIS

ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR

NILES -- Country singer Jo Dee Messina didn't have to sing "Bring On the Rain" Friday night at Cafaro Field. It came anyway, in buckets, and prompted artist and stadium management to postpone the performance.

Rain and lightning occurred after opening act Gary Allan completed his set and before Dwight Yoakam took the stage at the "Tribute to America" concert.

After a delay of nearly an hour, an announcer told concertgoers just before 9:30 p.m. that the show had been called off.

Safey concerns: "Safety ultimately is the No. 1 concern," Anthony Cafaro Jr. of Cafaro Co. said.

A temporary, open-sided stage was erected for this and past concerts at Cafaro Field. The artist were worried about using electrical sound and lighting equipment in a wet environment, Cafaro said.

Even if the rain had ceased and the equipment was all right, it would have taken another hour to prepare the stage for Yoakam's and Messina's performances, Cafaro said. That would have pushed the concert into the wee hours of this morning, which wasn't in the community's best interest, he added. He acknowledged that people who live near the Eastwood Mall corridor have complained about past events that have run late.

As fans filed out of the stadium, Cafaro looked out from a loge box at standing water in various sections of the ball field. "That alone is a safety concern," he said.

An announcement will be made as soon as possible as to whether the concert will be rescheduled or canceled, Cafaro said.

A first: This is the first concert to be canceled in Cafaro Field's short history.

What was to be the final show of the Cafaro season had evolved into a patriotic affair in light of deadly terrorist acts in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.

Earlier this week, Cafaro Co. put 1,000 of the tickets for this concert on sale at a reduced price of $10 each and pledged to give all proceeds to WYTV Channel 33's disaster relief fund. Asked if the concert postponement would affect that donation, "absolutely not," Cafaro said. Regular ticket prices went as high as $50.

The total number of tickets sold wasn't available Friday night.

Opening act: Allan contributed to the patriotic theme by performing Merle Haggard's "Walkin' on the Fightin' Side of Me," which includes lyrics about people "running down this way of life." Cheers and fist-pumping by members of the audience began with the first chorus and swelled by song's end.

Allan used much of his set to play music from his new CD, "Alright Man," which will arrive in stores Oct. 2.




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