Sunday, June 27, 2010

Crowd packs venue for music festival

DAYTONA BEACH -- A temporary portal at the Bandshell entrance read "American Music Festival -- Daytona Beach: The Great American Destination."
With one-third of the pop group the Jonas Brothers on hand, plus the modern rock bands Lifehouse, Honor Society and local pop artists, the festival's kickoff concert Saturday was the destination for an estimated 3,500 people at the peak.
David Newell of the Daytona Beach Fire Department, estimated there were an additional 1,000 to 1,500 on the perimeter of the Bandshell. The city of Daytona Beach had set the Bandshell capacity at 4,700.
Presented by the Community Cultural Foundation, the event was part of that local organization's initiative, with support from the city, to "re-brand" and revitalize Daytona Beach, especially the "e-zone" (entertainment zone) that comprises the Bandshell and Boardwalk areas.
"We got here this morning; there was a line of people who had been here since 2:30 in the morning to get in," said Manuel Bornia, foundation president. "The first person was from Clermont, the second from Atlanta."
"The heat at the beginning affected us just as if it had rained. Yet we still had the diehards out there. However, this evening this place was packed. We're thrilled that the crowd was consistently growing at the end of the day."
Early in the afternoon, Bornia took the stage to address the crowd that, at that time, was about 400 strong: "They said it couldn't be done -- they said no Jonas brother would come to Daytona Beach. Well, guess what? I think we have a Jonas brother in Daytona Beach ... one-third of one of the world's most popular bands."
With that introduction, Kevin Jonas walked onstage. "Thank you so much for coming out -- I know it's a very hot day out there," he said. "We are about to kick off this amazing music festival. I will be your host for the day, so be hanging out, enjoy, stay cool if possible." The city's official high temperature Saturday was 92 degrees.
Reading from small cue cards he held, Jonas introduced each artist before their respective sets, spending about three minutes on stage chatting before exiting until the next act. Jonas introduced Holly Hill pop-rocker Chris Via, one of the festival acts, as "my new friend."
The lack of stage time and the fact Jonas did not perform didn't bother Katie McDonald, 18, and Priscilla Duff, 17, both from Clermont.
"We came to see Kevin Jonas," McDonald said. "I kind of expected him to just be in and out. We got to meet him. We won VIP tickets through the American Music Festival website. He was really nice."
Pavlina Osta, a 12-year-old Port Orange resident, got to interview Jonas in the VIP room before the start of the concert. Pavlina hosts her own local radio show on WAPN 91.5 FM.
"I like the Jonas Brothers' music, but I'm not like a crazed fan like the other girls (who were in the VIP room)," Pavlina said. "I thought they were going to have a heart attack."
Nancy Burgess-Hall, 56, and her husband, Doug Hall, admitted they are not fans of the Jonas Brothers or the other pop and rock artists on the bill.
"We were at the Oyster Pub at the National Federation of the Blind monthly meeting, and we decided to come afterward," Burgess-Hall said. "I've been reading the articles in the paper, and hearing (Holly Hill Mayor) Roland Via talk about it on the radio.
"I think it's a very nice idea. It's very relaxing," she said. "I'm glad to see this happening in Daytona. People are always bad-mouthing Daytona, saying there's nothing to do.
"I've been to some of the e-zone meetings (sponsored by the foundation and city officials). We really need to open this up so the public knows it's here."
The foundation plans to announce the lineup for Labor Day weekend concerts soon.



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