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High-energy rap concert held in W.Va.

April 30, 2001

High-energy rap concert held in W.Va.



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg

Nelly concert in ShepherdstownPhotos: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - A sellout crowd of about 4,500 mostly young people enjoyed the sunshine and the high-energy music of rap star Nelly in a field at Shepherd College Sunday.

Although about 70 police officers from seven police agencies were standing by for crowd and traffic control, some of the officers holding hand-held metal detectors, they had no major problems, said Chief Deputy Jesse Jones of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department.

Arms raised at show"It was a great crowd," Jones said. "It was a good orderly crowd made up of a lot of young people. Everything went off well." Four or five people had dehydration problems, but they were taken care of at the scene, he said.

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The Program Board of Shepherd College, an arm of the student government, had sold out the concert Thursday. Tickets were priced at $5, $10 and $15, depending on when they were purchased. Many people waited two hours or more in line to get in the gate, and didn't seem to mind their wait was delayed for sound checks.

Five groups played before Nelly came on at 6:55 and played for 45 minutes.

"I think they're popular and great - I've liked them since they first came out," said Alicia Neiser, 12, Hagerstown. "I like the beat."

She was waving a sign that read "Nelly We're Your Biggest Fan Because You Da Man." There was a sign disparaging Nelly's work, too.

The person standing above the second sign, 23-year-old student Chris Riggin, said he didn't put it there. He attended the concert.

"Some people aren't into rap, but I think it's making the college look good," Riggin said. "It's getting young people involved."

Nelly is a nickname for Cornell Haynes Jr. of St. Louis, said Shando, marketing coordinator for Nelly and the band he plays with, St. Lunatics. Shando does not have a first name. According to the group's Web site, they started out together as St. Lunatics in the 1990s, and enjoyed a regional hit, "Gimme What You Got." They could get not further as a group, so they put their charismatic leader out front. They were picked up by Universal and in 2000 produced the album "Country Grammar," which sold six million records.

"Nelly's got skills - he's tight," said Todd Johnson, 33, Hagerstown. "I think he's got a tight future. I never thought I would see so many 11- and 12-year-olds out here."

Johnson said he started with the "old school" rap in the late 1970s, which was more about partying.

The group was the headliner for "Shepfest01" put on by the Program Board.

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