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WEEKEND TICKET:

January 31, 2002|By RICHARD ,MONTENEGRO, Staff Writer

Those wacky kids over at the California Mid-Winter Fair & Fiesta have again outdone themselves.

Scoring what could only be considered a coup, local music fans will get the chance to experience the soothing sounds of The Marshall Tucker Band and the always scintillating Three Dog Night.

Eschewing those pesky acts deemed too trendy or even relevant, the fair has gone with its tried and true lineup. And people actually have the audacity to make fun of acts stuck playing at county and state fairs. The nerve!

With cowboy boots and 10-gallon hats just about the county dress code, fair organizers would've been crazy not to serve up a helping of country and western music. Not the type to disappoint, The Marshall Tucker Band and its raucous flute-laden brand of honky tonk will headline the 10-day run of the fair.

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Performing atop the same stage that has featured country legends Willie Nelson, Hank Williams Jr. and Merle Haggard, as well as younger bucks like Dwight Yoakam, Mark Chesnutt and Tracy Byrd, the Marshall Tucker Band should really appeal to those with country and western hearts as big as the Salton Sea.

Don't mistakenly label MTB's music as '70s-era country-rock, or even country-pop, in the tradition of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Poco or the Eagles, MTB is much more important.

Just listen to the raging flute solos on MTB's hit single "Heard It In A Love Song," helping to bridge the gap between rock, pop, country and easy listening.

Let's not forget the rock 'n' roll. For the wild child in us all, the fair is bringing back Three Dog Night, as if one performance could have been enough.

With two of three originals (coked-up and loud-mouthed founding member Chuck Negron is absent), Three Dog Night is riding high on its recent "Behind the Music" episode on VH1, performing at packed hotels, small theaters and fairs all over the country, not to mention the occasional wedding and bar mitzvah.

Who can forget such gems as "Joy to the World" and "An Old Fashioned Love Song"? Three Dog Night has been responsible for some of the finest music in the last … well, at least the last five minutes after it was recorded.

Rock 'n' roll music has always been the fair's strongest selling point. Acts like Steppenwolf, Jan and Dean, Mickey Thompson's Starship and Mr. Mister have all performed at the top or just below the top of their game.

We should continue to support the fair's programming. If not, who knows when we'd next get to see and hear the Freddie Fenders or the Eddie Moneys of our generation.

To keep the California Mid-Winter Fair & Fiesta as strong and current as ever, I've taken the liberty of suggesting a few booking options for the years to come.

For the country and western lovers out there, we need some Eddie Rabbit. "I Love a Rainy Night"; you bet your sweet booty I do. What about Dolly Parton? A little Mel Tillis wouldn't h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-urt.

The rockers would go ape over some April Wine, Molly Hatchet, Mungo Jerry or even Rick Springfield.

But, wait. There's an entire segment of the Imperial Valley population being ignored musicwise. I'm here to speak up for the pre-teen/teen-age girl contingent. In an age where *NSYNC, the Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears reign supreme, we could offer our young friends such standouts as mall queen Tiffany, the follicly challenged Leif Garrett or an aging and ever-widening Bay City Rollers.

Keep it up California Mid-Winter Fair & Fiesta, your musical choices are top-flight. Don't make the same mistakes as our friends at the Indio Date Festival — who'd want to see bands like Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Grand Funk Railroad or the Village People anyway?

We in the Valley like our music like we like our wine, as old and as mellow as possible.

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