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October 17, 2000

Bayfest visits the Music Alley

There are many events in Mobile that attract statewide and even regional attention. Mardi Gras is usually the most popular, sharing with the crowd the history and the lifestyles of Mobile. In recent years, a new act hit the town. Bayfest, a celebration of Mobileís music and culture, has brought an entire new light to the city since 1994. Sporting popular bands such as Creed, Candlebox, Sister Hazel, and many other acts from all areas of music, Bayfest has given Mobilians the chance to explore the popular, as well as the local, music scene. This year, the masses expected no less. Unfortunately, this year, Bayfest was unable to deliver.

While many different genres were represented this year, from Blues Traveler to KC & The Sunshine Band, many more were ignored. Nikki Bhakta, a freshman at the University of South Alabama, explained, "Bayfest 2000 simply didn't have the same 'Oomph' that it has had in previous years. I would have liked to see Blues Traveler perform, but there was nothing else that really appealed to me."

Mobile police considered it a "quiet" weekend. If you consider twelve-year-old children drinking alcohol and public drug use "quiet," then this was the weekend for you. Whitney Palmer, a student at Faulkner University, said "Everywhere I went, I could smell a different illegal substance. It was definitely an eye-opening experience."

Nearly all the radio stations were represented in some way at the festival, from WGOKís gospel stage to the Wherehouse Music/TK101 Launching Pad. Special Ed, a personality from the Pensacola-based TK101, remarked, "We really enjoy coming out and supporting local bands, as well as the great regional and national bands. This is also just a great opportunity to get out of the house, and even get a chance to check out some new bands."

KC and the Sunshine Band, who performed popular music back in the 70ís, looked like they needed a better retirement plan. Canadaís Loverboy performed a good show for the whole family. Blues Traveler, a band whose wild harmonica-playing singer and energetic guitarist have won them a place in the hearts of music listeners nationwide. The Reverend Horton Heat, with his crazy lyrics and punk-styled music, kept the crowd going for the entire show. Teenagers formed a mosh-pit in the crowd, and the Event Staff just sat back with wide eyes, as if they didnít know what to do. Percy Sledge, in his old age, although putting on an amazing show, had lost his vocal power over time, and was unable to reach the chords that made him the legend that he is today. The Doobie Brothers performed, giving more airplay for bands from a previous generation. Flogging Molly, an unorthodox Irish band, had a terrible show, with not only terrible music, but terrible sound as well.

By Sunday, most of the underage drinkers were gone, leaving time for a more family-oriented day. The bands also gave it a family vibe, with acts such as the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Gladys Knight, and Travis Tritt. While Travis Tritt and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones put on an adequate show, they were unable to make up for the travesty that had already occurred.

All in all, Bayfest was a big disappointment this year. The acts, although talented, should have been aimed toward all types of audiences, not solely on classic rock and jazz listeners. Most of the real music fans stayed home. Every person interviewed who did not attend did so because they had no interest in seeing bands from the disco era. With TK101ís X-Fest the following weekend, boasting more popular acts in one night than Bayfest had in three, Bayfest 2000 hardly stood a chance. "I was really pumped about Bayfest this year," stated Thomas Slater, a 20 year-old college student from the University of Alabama, "Iíve come down to Bayfest every year since 1996, but when I found out the lineup this year, I just stayed home."

If you have questions or comments, or if you know of or are involved in an up-and-coming band that you think should appear in the Harbinger, contact me at

-- Jeff McManus


The Harbinger