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By John Staton

Prince may not be playing, but the Azalea Festival is still going to party like it’s 1999.

Two bands that made their names during the decade of alternative rock and grunge – power pop act The Goo Goo Dolls and rockers Collective Soul – were announced Friday as headliners of the 63rd N.C. Azalea Festival.

The bands will play a concert April 8 at Trask Coliseum on the campus of the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

The Goo Goo Dolls and Collective Soul join country duo Montgomery Gentry as festival headliners. Montgomery Gentry plays Trask April 9.

“This is a little different genre than we’ve had in the past,” Azalea Festival President Erica Mearns said of the alt-rock played by Collective Soul and “The Goos,” as they’re sometimes called, during a press conference.

The Goo Goo Dolls got their start in Buffalo, N.Y., in the mid-1980s and achieved national success with the 1995 album “A Boy Named Goo” (Metal Blade Records). That album went platinum, as did the follow-up, 1998’s “Dizzy Up the Girl” (Warner Brothers). The power ballad “Iris” from “Dizzy Up the Girl,” with its refrain of “I just want you to know who I am,” was a huge hit for the band, garnering three Grammy nominations and becoming one of the definitive songs of the ‘90s. The Goo Goo Dolls are fronted by the singer Johnny Rzeznik.

Collective Soul, which hails from Atlanta, came on the national scene in 1994 with its catchy, edgy hit “Shine,” a song that features start-stop power chords and the emphatic vocals of frontman Ed Roland. In 2001, the song was the subject of an unlikely, bluegrass-style cover by country singer Dolly Parton.

Of the two headliners, Collective Soul has been more active in recent years. Its song “Tremble For My Beloved” was on the soundtrack of the first “Twilight” movie in 2008, and the band released the self-titled “Collective Soul” in August.

The Goo Goo Dolls’ most recent studio album was 2006’s “Let Love In” (Warner Brothers), but the band may be poised for a comeback when they release a new record, “Something For the Rest of Us,” later this year. The band’s new single, “Real,” is available on iTunes. It has the Goos mining familiar rock ballad territory, with perhaps a few influences from contemporary acts like Coldplay.

Festival officials also made other announcements on Friday, including the return of the Cole Bros. Circus.

Chris Sligh, the portly, curly-headed Christian singer who was a contestant on “American Idol” in 2007 (he came in 10th), will headline the Contemporary Christian Stage at the Azalea Festival Street Fair in downtown Wilmington April 11. Sligh will be joined on the Christian stage by solo artist Andrew Witt, comedian The Brother Preacher and faith-based Nashville band Satellites & Sirens.

Also on April 11, a number of acts, including Wilmington bands Machine Gun, Medusa Stone and The Casserole, will play the Variety Show at Legion Stadium. It will be the second year for the Variety Show in its new incarnation as a music-heavy daytime event. In years past, before the event was scrapped and eventually revived, the Variety Show brought in such entertainers as the county comedienne Minnie Pearl and was topped off with fireworks.

The Azalea Festival will also feature characters from two children’s books: inquisitive monkey Curious George (or, if not an actual monkey, a guy in a monkey suit), who will be accompanied by an actor playing The Man in the Yellow Hat; and Fancy Nancy, who will be portrayed by Wilmington 8-year-old Ashley Ochs.

Two weeks ago, festival officials announced that the grand marshal of the Azalea Festival parade would be Kim Munley, a Carolina Beach native and police officer credited last year with helping to stop a fatal shooting in Fort Hood, Texas.

Festival President Mearns said the 63rd Azalea Festival queen and additional celebrities will be announced at a later date.

Source: http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20100219/articles/100219593&tc=yahoo
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