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Live Review: Jingle Ball 1998
By Debbie Seagle

Ever get tired of hearing the same old stories of excess regarding your favorite musicians and entertainers?  Too much drinking, drugging, partying . . . too much money! Yes, these things happen in the world of the musically inclined, along with the rest of us regular types.  On the flip side, musicians and entertainers are some of the most generous and sensitive people you will ever meet.  When they are called upon to help the less fortunate, most will make room in their busy schedules and find a way to make a difference.  This was the case at the 1998 Jingle Ball in San Diego, California on December 18th, when the stars came out to form a galaxy of good will and holiday giving.  Having only their expenses covered, all the proceeds of the evening went to charity.  Sponsored by a San Diego radio station, KFMB Star 100.7 and put on by Southern California concert promoter Bill Silva to benefit the San Diego chapter of Make-a-Wish Foundation, this jam session for charity has developed into a major musical event.  This year's 13,000 tickets sold out in three hours and netted over $100,000 for the Make-a-Wish Foundation of San Diego.  Make-a-Wish has chapters all over the United States and grants wishes to children with life threatening illnesses, to make their dreams come true.  Whether it is a trip to Disney World or a ticket to the World Series, they make it happen. 

     In its third year, the line up gets more and more stellar.  This year's concert revelers not only got to donate money to a worthy cause, they were treated to the sounds of Berlin, Cherry Poppin Daddies, Art Alexakis of Everclear, Rick Springfield, the Brian Setzer Orchestra, Bruce Hornsby, the Barenaked Ladies and Jonny Lang.  Starting out the festivities and keeping the concert goers entertained throughout the evening while roadies busily changed out equipment between the 30-40 minute sets was Steve Poltz.  The song writer best known for co-writing Jewel's smash hit "You Were Meant For Me" and his latest release "One Left Shoe," is a San Diego native and kept the audience laughing with his hilarious, meandering stories and upbeat acoustic music. 

     The evening was a holiday banquet table of musical genres, beginning with Terri Nunn and Berlin, the 80s pop/rock band best known for their Top Gun hit, "Take My Breath Away."  After Terri got things kicked off, it was on to the Cherry Poppin Daddies.  Jungle tom-toms and sassy brass ushered in Steve Perry, strutting and gyrating in his pinstriped zoot suit to songs like "Brown Derby Jump" and "Zoot Suit Riot."  Art Alexakis of Everclear introduced his solo band and performed several songs from his upcoming solo project.  Rick Springfieldwalked the audience down memory lane with such hits as "Jesse's Girl," "An Affair of the Heart," and "I've Done Everything For You." 

    Steve Poltz provided the half time show of songs and shinanigans to giveBrian Setzer and his 15 piece orchestra time to move in.  The tattooed one arrived in an electric red holiday suit and brought the crowd to their feet as the orchestra "Rocked Til They Popped" and Brian's own special version of Jingle Bells brought a shower of snowflake balloons wafting down to the merriment of the lucky people below.  Bruce Hornsby took it back to the 80s with his version of the song he wrote with Don Henly, "The End of the Innocence."   Clearly the high point of the evening was the arrival of the Barenaked Ladies.  Rappin, dancin and giving it up were the boys of the great white north.  Can you say F-U-N?  Singer Steven Page left his three day old infant Benjamin and his wife back in Toronto to fly in for the benefit.  What a guy!  Jonny Lang wrapped up the night with his biting blues riffs and mournful voice.  Its gravely hardness speaks the blues in a way you would never expect from this teen heart throb, but even the greats like B. B. King give him their nod of approval. 

     After six hours of non-stop, top rate entertainment, no one left the banquet table hungry!

Debbie Seagle is a freelance music journalist, and Rock n World Contributor. 

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