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Council hears bar owner's plan for free downtown concerts

The owner of Crazy Jake's bar and restaurant has come up with a new plan for four summer concerts by tribute bands who perform music in the styles of KISS, AC/DC, Guns N' Roses and Journey.

At a workshop session Tuesday evening, the Common Council listened enthusiastically to the description Greg Doel gave for four yet-to-be-set concerts on Saturdays in July and August.

"It doesn't rely on a whole lot of city resources, so I like it," said Richard Andres, the Council president. "This has what I think is the right formula to work."

The plan could come up for a vote this month or next.

Last month, the city was left without a concert series when promoter Steve Reszka lost financing from a bank and other sponsors for a summer country music concert series in Gateway Park. Doel said he is open to having sponsors, but they are not essential.

City officials have been working to fill a void that started in 2008 when promoter Kathy Paradowski had a falling out with the previous mayor and moved the Molson Canal Concert Series from Gateway Park to Lockport.

While Paradowski plans to return to North Tonawanda in July and open the Canal Fest with a single, yet-to-be-announced show at Gratwick Riverside Park, downtown has had only its traditional Wednesday evening series of performances by local rock bands, such as Boys of Summer.

For his four free Saturday night shows, Doel is collaborating with Canal Fest president Larry Denef. But instead of bands performing at the waterfront, they will appear on a closed-off block of Webster Street in front of Crazy Jake's, between Sweeney and Tremont streets.

Doel and Denef said they expect the bands to draw as many as 10,000 fans, including boaters and people now in their 30s, 40s and 50s who grew up listening to the music that the tribute bands do a good job of imitating.

"They dress like them. They sound like them. They look like them," said Denef.

With a smile Doel added, "And, they act like them."

Details are still being worked out. Dates must be settled along with final arrangements with the bands, which they did not identify.

"We're in talks with the promoters, but nothing is contractually agreed upon at this point," said Doel.

This should be a good start for summers ahead, he said. If concerts go well, perhaps they could do more of them. .

"I feel like the Council was on board and they think it's a good idea and something to help generate more interest," Doel said. "I think we can upgrade the exposure to North Tonawanda. More people will come and visit."

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