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Fair keeping the beat

Tribute bands and the real thing making appearances this year at the O.C. Fair.

July 08, 2010|By Candice Baker, Special to the Daily Pilot

It seems that every big name in pop and rock music is back on the road these days, despite the soft economy.

Venues around the Southland are opening their doors to Boomer and Gen X fans who haven't worn side ponytails since the '80s or flannels since the '90s, but are once again rocking the look — as well as their tatty band T-shirts — to relive their glory days.

Keen to the trend is the Orange County Fair, whose theme for this year's month of fun from July 16 to Aug. 15 is "The Beat Goes On." Accordingly, the fair's annual concert series is packed with tributes to some of the biggest names in the world — as well as appearances by the real deal, including Train, Faith Hill, Blue Öyster Cult, ZZ Top and the B-52s.

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But this summer also has seen a slew of tour cancellations, from Christina Aguilera to the Eagles; 10 shows of the newly returned Lilith Fair have been canceled due to slow sales, along with seven stops on the American Idols LIVE! Tour.

One of the most surprising postponements this summer was the second round of U2's gargantuan 360° Tour (and 170-ton, $40-million stage), which tore through Los Angeles last year in a much-feted series of shows that culminated in a bestselling live DVD.

Lead singer Bono suffered an accident while rehearsing in Germany just two weeks before the North American leg of the tour was to open, resulting in emergency back surgery and doctor's orders for months of rehabilitation and rest.

More than one million ticketholders were left showless for 2010, including tens of thousands of fans in Southern California who had planned to go to summer shows at venues like Angel Stadium in Anaheim.

Many have turned to tribute acts like Orange County-based The Joshua Tree, which seeks to emulate the boys from Dublin by using the same equipment, costumes and sound. Such tribute bands are taking the stage at concerts in parks and fairs around the country.

Like the band it impersonates, The Joshua Tree has seen its own share of unexpected opportunities since it played the O.C. Fair last summer. The band announced recently that its singer has departed the band, and the band is now seeking a replacement.

"The search for a new singer is going well," said guitarist Chas Alm, who performs as the Edge. "We have had several people respond wanting to audition, and more coming in every day."

Alm said the challenge is to find someone who is a great singer and who can mimic Bono's style.

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