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KID-FRIENDLY GIGS?

If you're thinking of taking your kids to a rock show this summer, obviously, safety is the primary priority. You might, for example, want to relive your metal phase by attending this year's Ozzfest at Darien Lake, and perhaps your kids are interested in some of the younger bands taking part in that blitzkrieg. Depending on your kids' age, that might not be the best idea. A teen, sure. But a preteen? Well, I wouldn't take mine.

The decision is yours as a parent, naturally. Here are a few shows coming to our area this summer and beyond that seem both family-friendly and of cultural significance, which is the delicate blend we're looking for as rock-conscious parents.

Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, May 26, Thursday at the Square -- Find a clear spot with easy access to an exit route, and your kid will doubtless be enthralled with the world-class Jersey Shore rock of the Jukes.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers with guests the Black Crowes, June 25, Darien Lake Performing Arts Center -- Petty is well-schooled in the Dylan-Byrds-Buffalo Springfield-Springsteen strain, and he's managed to bring his own indelible stamp to the genre over the course of several decades. The Black Crowes come from the Faces-Humble Pie-Allman Brothers side of the fence, and they are terrific live. Bring ear plugs, open eyes and common sense.

The Dave Matthews Band, July 27, Darien Lake Performing Arts Center -- I'd recommend an inside seat for this one, as the lawn might not be the best place for a family-type hang. Exercise some caution: DMB shows are always packed, and parking is less than fun.

U2, Dec. 9, HSBC Arena -- Avoid general-admission floor seats if you're planning on bringing your preteen to this gig. But U2's music speaks directly to the heart and in my home had already become a source of emotional bonding by the time my son was 4. Food for the soul, regardless of age.

If you're not opposed to traveling, there are some great shows coming within the couple-hundred mile range over the next few months, including Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson, June 26, at the Classic Park in Eastlake, Ohio -- roughly 180 miles each way, and kids under 12 are admitted free. And, oh yeah -- it's Bob Dylan!

Bruce Springsteen at the Wolstein Center, May 15, Cleveland State University -- An adult show in many ways, but giving your child an opportunity to see Springsteen up close and personal is advisable, and should provide plenty of intersting discussion topics.

Santana, June 24, Molson Ampitheatre, Toronto -- A multicultural celebration of the human spirit, bolstered by some of the most inspired electric guitar playing your kid will likely ever hear.

And Paul McCartney, Oct. 10, Air Canada Centre, Toronto -- This could be your last chance to see the man so close to home.