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Irvine Bowl to Launch Fall Concert Series : Pop music: The Laguna arena will target acts with a medium draw. Revenues will fund art scholarships.


LAGUNA BEACH — The Irvine Bowl will stage a fall series of pop and jazz concerts as it bids to fill Orange County's longstanding lack of a mid-sized venue for touring pop attractions.

Since the 2,800-capacity Celebrity Theatre in Anaheim closed more than a year and a half ago, Orange County has had no spot regularly willing to book acts with draws too small for the county's three large venues (Irvine Meadows, the Pacific Amphitheatre and The Pond of Anaheim) but too large for its major clubs, the Coach House and the Galaxy Concert Theatre.

Now, the 2,600-seat Irvine Bowl, site of the annual Pageant of the Masters exhibition, is going into the concert business with a series that includes shows by comedian Howie Mandel, folk trio Peter, Paul & Mary, country singer Lorrie Morgan and a disco-flavored Halloween bash with the Village People.

The Irvine Bowl, at 650 Laguna Canyon Road, has been used sporadically in recent years for concerts, including a few jazz shows and two appearances by pop-rocker Kenny Loggins, according to Tim Wilcox, spokesman for Festival of Arts, the nonprofit organization that operates the city-owned Bowl.

Now the Bowl operators have contracted with a Los Angeles-based company, Stiletto Entertainment, to bring in a steady stream of touring talent, scheduled around the Pageant of the Masters' annual July-August run.

The object is to augment the sum that the Festival of Arts raises each year for arts-related giving. Bowl revenues fund arts scholarships for college students from Laguna Beach and grants to local arts agencies and charities.

"This is obviously a trial-run series, but our strong hope, and Stiletto's, too, is that this will be an annual partnership," Wilcox said. "We may do it in the spring as well [as the fall]."

Stiletto promotes concerts and manages a roster of pop performers, including Barry Manilow, Fleetwood Mac and Color Me Badd. Bill Silva Presents, a major San Diego-based concert company, is assisting with the booking and promotion of the inaugural series.

Jon Humphrey, director of talent buying for Bill Silva Presents, said that the Laguna Music Festival, as it's being dubbed, could dovetail in future seasons with the Summer Pops festival his company books each year at a 5,000-capacity amphitheater in San Diego, bringing some of the same attractions to Laguna Beach.

With a 95-decibel sound-output limit in effect to protect nearby residents, the Irvine Bowl won't be hosting any hard-rock acts.

"We're trying to go in there with a culturally diverse [schedule], nothing too hard," said Humphrey, a Laguna Beach resident.



Fall jazz and pop series:

* Sept. 16: Howie Mandel

* Sept. 20: The Temptations and the Four Tops.

* Sept. 21: Peter, Paul & Mary

* Sept. 24: Salute to Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey

* Oct. 8: Grover Washington and Bobby Caldwell

* Oct. 11: Toby Keith

* Oct. 22: Salute to Benny Goodman

* Oct. 27: Lorrie Morgan

* Oct. 31: The Village People

The Irvine Bowl is at 650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach. Tickets for all shows go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m. Information: (714) 376-8382 (box office), (714) 376-8589 (taped information), (714) 740-2000 (Ticketmaster).

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