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Well-dressed grungsters, cheering theater companies, killer band performances and thrilled winners carried the evening Nov. 24 at the 1997 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards. The program culminated with the first live show by local legends The Bears in nine years.
Sycamore Gardens was packed throughout the night, which began around 7:45 with a high-octane performance from Lee Harvey Skaswald and ended three hours later with a trio of old Bears numbers from Adrian Belew, Rob Fetters, Chris Arduser and Bob Nyswonger. In between, 13 theater awards and 13 music awards were handed out to local actors, theater companies and musicians.
The evening focused on the diversity of the local performing arts scene. Music performances ranged from the Jazz speak of Iswhat to the dynamic Folk of Uncle Daddy & the Family Secret to the progressive Jazz stylings of The PsychoAcoustic Orchestra, while theater sketches introduced audience members to Mark Twain, A Tuna Christmas and a sword-rattling female Hamlet. A diverse crowd showed up as well, ranging from dressed-up Blues and Jazz aficionados to dressed-down Rap and Hip Hop supporters to half-dressed dancers accompanying The Tigerlilies during their roaring, three-minute Pop performance. Not to mention the show’s sparkling cross-dressed host, who sported size 13 pumps.
The CEA process began months ago with nominating committees organizing categories, nominating local performers and deciding Critical Achievement Awards. More than 1,200 ballots were returned by CityBeat readers in Readers’ Choice voting. Representatives of nine area radio stations — and a technically challenged Jerry Springer via video — helped present the etched glass awards.
It all came to a climax shortly after Rick Bird of WEBN-FM and The Cincinnati Post presented the first CEA Hall of Fame Award to The Bears. Belew, Fetters, Arduser and Nyswonger beamed like little boys as they ripped through old favorites “Trust,” “None of the Above” and a transcendent “Superboy.” The crowd responded with the evening’s loudest cheers, and The Bears responded by hinting at a possible full-blown concert once their current album project finishes.
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