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ALL'S WELL <br> MAJESTIC THEATER SURVIVES FINANCIAL WOES AND WILL RETURN NEXT SUMMER

There is finally some light at the end of the dome in North Tonawanda. The Majestic Theater has survived its financial crisis and will be back next year.

The 3,400-seat covered dome, formerly known as Melody Fair, faced an uncertain future after reportedly losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in 1999.

That was the first year that owner John Bunch took over the facility from Ed Smith.

Bunch spent most of the lost money on renovations. He made it clear the flow of red ink had to end this summer.

"I can't continue to throw money in it and keep losing money," Bunch said earlier this year.

A schedule heavy on country music, classic rock, blues and oldies music boosted attendance, said Chris Montante, executive director of the Majestic.

"This season was much better than last year," she said. "We had a lot more people show up and a lot more support."

Twenty-one shows were held at the Majestic and the average attendance was about 1,500, Montante said. That was an increase of about 300 per show from the previous season.

"We still lost money, but nowhere near as much as last year," Montante said. "We are absolutely, positively going to be back next summer. I'm already working on next year's schedule."

Look for more country and blues acts, but a decrease in oldies performers.

"The oldies shows just didn't draw the way we thought they would," Montante said. "People came out for country, classic rock and blues, but they weren't here for the oldies."

Some of the bigger shows this summer featured country stars Clay Walker and Billy Ray Cyrus, and classic rockers Marshall Tucker. A big box office disappointment was the Box Tops with Alex Chilton.

Montante said the theater wants to add more blues acts next year.

"We'd love to do an outdoor blues festival," she said. "We've got room for up to 10,000 people at an outdoor show, and I think the blues community would support it."

The theater is also considering a year-round operation, Montante said. That would depend on financial assistance from the government, she said, and the acts available for booking.

"I don't know if it will happen, but we're thinking about it," Montante said.

The Majestic is an asset to this community as a summer venue. It deteriorated after years of mis-management and neglect. Bunch has put up the money and it's refreshing to see the music fans respond.

Hopefully, the theater's management will continue to live up to its commitment for bringing in major acts and upgrading the facility. That's the best formula for the theater to survive and prosper.

The Majestic, meanwhile, closes out its current season on Sunday at noon, with an outdoor country festival featuring local musicians.

Among the acts performing: the Stone Country Band, the Lonestar Western Swing Orchestra; Ghostriders, Paul Zittel and Pure Country, Dee Dee Thompkins, Craig Wilkins and J.C. Thompson. Doors open at 11 a.m. and tickets cost $14 or $46 for a family of four.

Pop notes

Bad news for Stanley Howse, better known as FLESH-N-BONE in the rap group, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Howse was sentenced to spend 11 years in a California state prison for reportedly threatening a friend with an AK-47 last December.

Howse is also facing up to three more years behind bars after pleading guilty to another charge of possessing a dangerous weapon, reportedly a sawed-off shotgun. The jail-time won't stop the rapper from releasing a solo album, "5th Dog Let Loose," due to be released on Tuesday.

It's a big month for EMINEM. The white rapper with the potty-mouth will be coming to the HSBC Arena with fellow bad boys LIMP BIZKIT on Oct. 21, the second date on their new tour. Also, Eminem will be the musical guest on the season opener of NBC-television's "Saturday Night Live," on Oct. 7.

GLASSJAW is a rock band with loud music, frenzied, swirling guitars and emotional lyrics. The group performs Saturday in the Showplace Theater, 1063 Grant St. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the bill includes DROWNINGMAN, ONE KING DOWN and BOSS TRIBAL.

The Toronto singing duo known as WILD STRAWBERRIES built a loyal following in Buffalo with their harmony and alternative sound. Ken and Roberta Carter-Harrison play an in-store gig at 2 p.m. Saturday in New World Record, 765 Elmwood Ave. They appear at 8 p.m. in the Tralf, 622 Main St.

DONNA THE BUFFALO playing a spirited blend of folk and pop music, will hold a CD release party at 9 tonight in the Showplace Theater, 1063 Grant St. Also, flamboyant glam/metal guitarist CC DeVILLE appears with the band Samantha 7, at 9 p.m. Monday in Classic Roxx Cafe, 1182 Walden Ave.

Benefits: BOBO and HANGING MUMS are among the performers at a gig for the Leukemia Society, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the Funhouse, 1830 Abbott Rd. Donation is $5 per person. For information call: 853-2600.

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