Music played up as growing part of celebration HIGH STAKES

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The musical distance between country's Sammy Kershaw and cool jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis is a lot greater than the few miles from Baltimore's Rash Field to Oregon Ridge Park in Cockeysville.

But planners of Preakness Celebration '95 hope those artists and others, including rocker Deborah Harry, can link together a broad range of musical tastes in an event aimed at attracting not only Baltimoreans and Marylanders, but also tourists from across the United States.

"Woodstock, the Mardi Gras and the Super Bowl, all rolled into one," proclaims Donna Leonard, executive director of Preakness Celebration Inc., of an ambitious plan to make Baltimore a springtime "music mecca" in conjunction with the Preakness Stakes.

The music spectacular includes three anchors:

* A family-oriented three-day country music festival Friday through Sunday at Oregon Ridge Park in Cockeysville, featuring Mr. Kershaw, Collin Raye, Martina McBride and Marty Stuart.

* A two-day jazz festival Saturday and Sunday on Rash Field, which will be widened by closing off Key Highway. Featured are Mr. Marsalis, Dr. John, Little Feat, John Tesh, David Benoit, Tom Scott, Norman Brown and King Creole and the Coconuts. Also included will be a tribute to Baltimore-born jazz legend Cab Calloway, who died last November.

* A week-long celebration of "Club Preakness," with a variety of national and local modern rock bands performing in participating local clubs Monday through Saturday. The event highlight is a Preakness eve bash featuring Ms. Harry and the band Urban Blight in a transformed harborside warehouse, at 500 Key Highway.

Ms. Leonard says the decision to emphasize music this year grew from discussions over how to turn the pre-Preakness event into something likely to attract more visitors. "Ultimately, we'd like to make Baltimore the music mecca of the entire mid-Atlantic for that entire week."

Planning began 18 months ago, and promotion included early advertising of the music events in more distant publications than in past years, including in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Washington. She says ticket sales so far seem to show some response from those areas and New York, too.

Ms. Leonard says the country and jazz events at Oregon Ridge and Rash Field "are true festival-style," including multiple stages and performances by local artists between the headlining national acts. Arts and crafts vendors and food booths will be found at both, too. Rash Field concessionaires will offer international food, while the country fest features -- what else? -- country cookin'. Children's performances and activities are also planned.

A week of Preakness events precedes the big race

The Preakness Passport entitles its bearer to preferred status at many Preakness events. Available at participating retailers throughout the area.

For information on Preakness events, call (410) 837-3030.

May 12

* Preakness Celebration '95 Opening Ceremonies. Hot-air balloons liftoff at 5:30 p.m. from Oregon Ridge Park in Cockeysville. Also, the Continental Airlines Coun- try Music BalloonFest kicks off with live music from country singer Sammy Kershaw, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the gate.

* Bud Light Nights (through May 19, excluding May 14) on Water Street in downtown Baltimore, from 5:30 p.m. to midnight. This outdoor block party features live music each night. Tickets are $2 with a Preakness Passport.

May 13

* First National Bank Hot-Air Balloon Race at Druid Hill Park at 6:30 a.m. More than 50 balloons are expected to participate. Free.

* Fila/Foot Locker Preakness 5K Run on Charles and Pratt streets downtown. Entry is $12 in advance, $15 on race day. The race starts at 9:45 a.m.

* Preakness Parade steps off on Charles Street and moves east on Pratt Street, starting at 10 a.m.

May 13-14

* Continental Airlines Country Music BalloonFest at Oregon vTC Ridge (noon to 9 p.m. May 13 and noon to 7 p.m. May 14). Saturday: Wild at Heart (3:30 p.m.), Martina McBride (5 p.m.) and Collin Raye (7 p.m.); Sunday: the Navy Country Band (1 p.m.) and Marty Stuart (4 p.m.). Saturday evening also showcases the Crown Petroleum BalloonGlow spectacular, and Sunday features "Flights of Fantasy" for Mother's Day. Tickets are $10 per day in advance, $15 at the gate.

* U.S. Healthcare Music Fest '95 (noon to 9 p.m. May 13 and noon to 7 p.m. May 14). Concerts at Rash Field. Saturday: John Tesh (2 p.m.), King Creole and the Coconuts (4:15 p.m.), Wynton Marsalis (8 p.m.); Sunday, Norman Brown (1 p.m.), Little Feat (2:30 p.m.), Dr. John (4:15 p.m.), David Benoit (6 p.m.) and Tom Scott (7:30 p.m.). Tickets are $10 per day in advance, $15 at the gate.

May 14

* Hot Air Balloon Race at Oregon Ridge, 6:30 a.m. Free.

May 15-20

* Area nightclubs feature national and local rock bands. Reduced cover charges for those with a Preakness Passport. The week's highlight (May 19) features Debbie Harry, formerly of Blondie, and the band Urban Blight, at "Club Preakness," a transformed harborside warehouse, at 500 Key Highway. Tickets are $60 in advance and $75 at the door. The event, to be held from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., is a benefit for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Children's House at Johns Hopkins. Call (410) 242-1549.

May 16

* Pee Wee Preakness gives the children a go at the Preakness Stakes, starting at noon at Rash Field. Clowns, jugglers and sports mascots cheer them on. Free.

May 18

* NationsBank Triple Crown Ball, a black-tie cocktail reception and dinner dance at the Stouffer Renaissance Harborplace Hotel. Tickets are $275 per person.

May 20

* Preakness Stakes. Infield tickets, $15 in advance, $20 at the gate. Grandstand tickets, $12. Clubhouse tickets, $15. Gates open at 8:30 a.m.

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