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February 25, 1996|Steve Hochman

ROAD WARRIORS, '96: This year's concert schedule will likely lack the kind of dominant presence a U2 or GNR can bring. Whispers abound about Barbra Streisand's coming back on the heels of her record-breaking 1994 tour, and even the possibility of Michael Jackson's putting together a series of stadium shows. But those remain rumors. As it stands, no 1996 stadium tour is officially being planned.

That's not so bad for the promoters.

"We make good money on the stadium shows, but our bread and butter is the amphitheaters," says Jim Koplik, president of New Jersey-based Metropolitan (who would not comment on the U2 situation).

On that front, it's looking like a strong year. Among the attractions promoters expect to be the biggest for amphitheaters and arenas are:

* "Deadapalooza": That's the unofficial nickname given to a package that will feature former members of the Grateful Dead, which until the death last summer of Jerry Garcia was consistently among the top concert acts. Ratdog, with the Dead's guitarist Bob Weir and keyboard player Vince Welnick, will be joined by drummer Mickey Hart's new group and auxiliary Dead member Bruce Hornsby.

* Bruce Springsteen: The Boss is planning to take his solo acoustic shows up from the intimate theaters to the larger amphitheaters--still cozier than the arenas and stadiums he's played for most of the past 15 years.

* Smashing Pumpkins: Unless Pearl Jam decides to tour, this could be the only major alternative act on the road outside of Lollapalooza.

* Jimmy Buffett: His Parrot-heads are as loyal to him as the Deadheads to Jerry and crew.

* H.O.R.D.E.: The tour's founding band Blues Traveler will headline the fourth edition of this package of rock American style. "Hippie-rock is huge," says one promoter.

Others expected to be big box-office business include Sting, the Cranberries and Rod Stewart, who is already set for shows at the Hollywood Bowl on April 26 and the Glen Helen Blockbuster Pavilion on April 28.

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