Feel the Power

The statistics are overwhelming: 12 1/2 tons of explosives, 70 technicians working weeks in advance, 11 launch sites, 14 high-power laser units, 22,000 amps of electricity and over 2 million watts of lighting. No, it's not the next invasion of Iraq nor the opening sequence of the next Star Wars installment; it's just a fraction of what's involved in "Sky Power II," the fireworks and laser show that is the highlight of this year's Power of Houston '98 celebration. Sponsored by Houston Industries, the festival stretches for five days over 144 square blocks of downtown.

"The whole show is pretty amazing and is even choreographed to a 20-minute musical selection," says executive co-producer Jeff Pinkerton. "The fireworks will be in sync to the individual notes of the music. Downtown is definitely going to be alive for this one." Those who were turned off by last year's packedlikethis crowd can take heart: This year's festivities are spread over twice the square footage.

Once again, festival-goers can watch Project Bandaloop, the "sky dancers" who last year performed while suspended from city skyscrapers. This time, their stage will be a specially constructed pyramid built over the reflection pool at City Hall.

On September 12 and 13, eight different stages will offer live music: blues, country, rock and zydeco music. Rock pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis headlines; other scheduled acts include '60s rockers Felix Cavaliere's Rascals, reggae band Inner Circle (listen for the "Bad Boys" theme from the TV show Cops), vocal group All Saints, David Lee Garza and Texas favorite Jerry Jeff Walker.

Other activities will include The Great Wine Fest (September 10), The Great Brew Fest (September 11) and Family Adventure Area (September 12 and 13). International food and beverages will be available, dozens of artists will sell their wares and a program called "The Power of Youth" will spotlight meeting the needs of "at-risk" children. Overall, it's certainly the one Houston event where "electricity" really will be in the air. Just stay away from those power lines.

-- Bob Ruggiero

Power of Houston '98 runs September 913 throughout downtown Houston. Hours vary by day. Tickets are $5 adults/$2 under 12/under three free. For a complete schedule of events, call 684-0900.

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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero