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McCartney Is Likely to Bypass San Diego

It’s looking as though Paul McCartney will bypass San Diego on his upcoming U.S. tour, which is scheduled to begin in mid-April. McCartney will tour in support of his new album, “Off the Ground,” scheduled for a January release.

According to McCartney’s New York-based booking agent, Alex Kochan of the Artists and Audience agency, the large-scale nature of McCartney’s tour requires that San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium be available either the day before or the day after a concert tentatively scheduled for Saturday, April 17, in the Los Angeles area. Barring an unlikely schedule change by the San Diego Padres--who play home games at the stadium on April 16 and 18--or a rerouting of the tour itself, area fans will have to trundle north to see McCartney.

He last performed here with his band, Wings, in a 1976 show at the Sports Arena; he bypassed San Diego on his 1989 tour. If he avoids our burg in 1993 he’ll be thwarting the considerable efforts of 45-year-old Lakeside resident Carmen Salmon.

Last year, the self-described “first-generation Beatles fan” launched a local petition drive to lure McCartney to town. While that effort stalled after gathering less than a third of the 30,000 signatures requested by McCartney’s London representatives, the gesture reportedly moved McCartney to include San Diego on his 1993 itinerary if the logistics could be worked out.

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Recently, Salmon accelerated her campaign by personally contacting Kochan; McCartney’s offices in England; local promoter Bill Silva Presents; representatives of McCartney’s Stateside label, Capitol Records; the office of the stadium manager; and even Mayor Maureen O’Connor’s office.

On Nov. 30, O’Connor responded by sending Kochan a letter expressing the city’s official interest in bringing McCartney to San Diego.

Although a local McCartney performance remains a long shot, Kochan admitted in a telephone interview on Monday that Salmon’s doggedness has not gone unnoticed.

“It’s not entirely impossible for us to bring Paul to San Diego,” Kochan said, “but it would take a certain set of circumstances for that to happen. Two factors working against us are the Padres’ schedule and the fact that they’re going to be redoing the stadium field. But you never know--things can change.”

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If things don’t change, Kochan is considering a form of compensation for a specific group of potentially disappointed San Diegans.

“A couple of weeks ago, I was in London talking to McCartney’s people about the tour,” he said, “and I suggested that one thing we could do for the San Diegans who signed Carmen’s McCartney petition is to give them first crack at tickets to the L.A. show. Specifically because of Carmen’s persistence, we’re trying to come up with a way to appease Paul’s fans in San Diego, if we can’t do a show there. And, now, today, I received this letter from your mayor’s office. That kind of thing means something.”

At worst, San Diegans might have to settle for watching McCartney on the telly. This Friday night, the musician and his current band will be taping a concert at the Ed Sullivan Theatre in New York, where the Beatles made their American television debut on Feb. 9, 1964. The live show will be edited into an MTV special, “MTV Presents Paul McCartney Close Up,” to be aired as close as possible to the 29th anniversary of that auspicious event in pop history. Meanwhile, McCartney was to have appeared Tuesday night on the Arsenio Hall show, but Hall canceled Monday’s and Tuesday’s shows without explanation.

Once again, there are two star-studded Christmas benefit albums competing for San Diegans’ generosity. You might remember the local “Christmas album war” of 1991, a quietly venomous battle for charity-minded dollars between two seasonal benefit recordings.

On one side was “The Christmas Album . . . A Gift of Hope, Volume III” which was produced in Los Angeles by Grammy-winning producer Michael Lloyd; featured a number of major recording stars; and eventually raised $300,000 (in San Diego alone) for San Diego Children’s Hospital and its counterparts across the country.

In the other corner was “The Stars Come Out for Christmas, Volume III,” which was produced locally by Steve Vaus. It also boasted a number of major recording stars. Nationally it raised $2 million. North County’s Casa de Amparo center for abused children and families shared in the proceeds but were unable to disclose how much.

Although parties involved in both endeavors made half-hearted attempts to downplay their differences, there was an undercurrent of animus in what should have been a friendly competition benefiting equally good causes. The reason for the bad blood: Vaus and the nonprofit San Diego Children’s Hospital Foundation (SDCHF) had teamed for the first “The Stars Come Out. . .” album in 1989, after which they had a falling out. Vaus subsequently hooked up with the American Cancer Society for the 1990 “Stars” project, and with the Casa de Amparo folks for the 1991 effort. The SDCHF, meanwhile, secured Lloyd to produce its series of Christmas albums, including last year’s ". . . A Gift of Hope, Volume III.”

This year, both camps have rejoined the fray, although SDCHF’s effort, “The Christmas Album . . . A Gift of Life, Volume IV,” gets the nod in terms of “new"-ness of product. The album consists of new recordings of traditional favorites by such artists as Frank Sinatra, Anita Baker, Natalie Cole, the Moody Blues, Kenny Loggins, Dionne Warwick, Jon Anderson, Magic Johnson, and others. It’s on sale in compact disc ($12.95) and cassette ($8.95) formats, at 7-Elevens, Long’s Drugs, Nurseryland, Postal Annex Plus, Great Earth Vitamins, Dean’s Photo, and airport gift shops. It also can be ordered by calling (800) 858-8998.

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By comparison, the Vaus-produced “Best of the Stars Come Out for Christmas, and More” album mostly is a compilation of selected tracks from the 1990 and 1991 projects, including performances of new and old seasonal tunes by the likes of Willie Nelson, the Little River Band and Juice Newton. Vaus said he went with a compilation because he received so many requests to include past recordings on the 1992 effort. The five newly recorded cuts are by Stephen Bishop, the Commodores, Andrew Gold, Nicolette Larson and “Entertainment Tonight” host John Tesh.

The “Best of” album is on sale in compact disc ($3.99) and cassette ($2.99) formats at more than 50 Taco Bell stores in the area. The local beneficiary will be the Mercy Hospital and Medical Center.

BOOKINGS: (Tickets for the following concerts will be sold at all TicketMaster outlets--278-TIXS--unless otherwise specified.) Dave Alvin, the Skeletons and Scott Kemper play the Rhythm Cafe tonight. . . . Bad 4 Good is at Club 860 Thursday night ($7.02 through TicketMaster or at the club box office: 272-1513). . . . The Texas Tornados, the Red Devils, and D.D. Wood form a triple-bill at the Belly Up Tavern on Thursday ($17.50). . . .

Local band Catch-22 plays a benefit for the homeless at the Carlsbad Village Theatre Friday night. . . . Canadian folk-rock artist Jennifer Berezan will be joined by local standout Deborah Liv Johnson for a concert Sunday at Rumors Cafe in Ocean Beach. Admission is $5 for the 7:30 p.m. show (294- 6660). . . . Ministry, Helmet, and Sepultura play the O’Brien Pavilion at the Del Mar Fairgrounds on Dec. 29; Megadeth and Suicidal Tendencies play the same venue the next night. . . .

Iguanas brings in the Cramps on Dec. 31 ($23 advance, $25 night of show); and Bad Religion on Jan. 22 ($15).

CRITIC’S CHOICE

RECONSTRUCTED POCO

Poco’s status as one of the first, and best, bands to cross-pollinate rock and country music in a way that created a fresh-sounding hybrid makes it a must-see concert attraction, even though positive results are not guaranteed.

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A reconstructed version of Poco--featuring Jimmy Messina and former Eagle Randy Meisner--made a disappointing showing at the Del Mar Fair a couple of years ago. The temptation is to conclude that Poco isn’t really Poco without founding member Richie Furay. Still, one holds out hope for the lineup that will perform at the Rhythm Cafe on Thursday night.

The current quartet features original member Rusty Young and middle-period Poco-er Paul Cotton on guitars and vocals, plus Tim Smith on drums and Richard Neville on bass. Opening the 8:30 p.m. show is local band Comanche Moon.

Tickets ($19.50 advance, $21 night of show) are available through TicketMaster (278-TIXS) or at the club box office (8022 Clairemont Mesa Blvd).


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