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    Stars Against SARS

    The show must go on, eh?

    That's the rallying cry of several plucky Canuck performers in light of the SARS health scare that's paralyzed the city of Toronto recently.

    Homegrown talents Avril Lavigne, Sum 41, Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan are just some of the musical acts slated for a June 21 musical marathon dubbed the Concert for Toronto, that will take place over six hours in two different venues, the Air Canada Centre and the SkyDome.

    Organizers also hope to add Shania Twain and Neil Young to the star-studded bill--though Young's participation is doubtful because the rocker is scheduled to perform at the ACC on June 23.

    The concert is the city's latest effort to shake, rattle and roll itself out of its economic and tourism woes suffered since the outbreak of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) in March--the epidemic has cost the city's tourism industry an estimated $763 million.

    "We want summer to start with a real bang," Ontario Tourism Minister Brian Coburn told reporters Wednesday. "Something that's going to bring a lot of liveliness and rockin' and poppin' and all this."

    Efforts are also being made to attract the Rolling Stones to the city for a free show in July. Funding for the performance would come from the government and private sources (the band would be paid its normal rate). But money might not be enough to attract the dino-rockers--the Stones nixed several Asian tour dates in March after the pneumonia-related bug killed more than 50 people in Hong Kong.

    On schedule to rock the SkyDome will be The Tragically Hip, Sum 41, Lavigne, Our Lady Peace, Barenaked Ladies and Swollen Members. Meanwhile, Sarah McLachlan, Glenn Lewis and Remy Shand will get their groove on at the ACC.

    The two venues, which can accommodate 70,000 people, will be linked by live video feed so that fans can catch all the performances, in person or via giant-screen feed.

    So far, 29 people have died in the area since the outbreak of the dreaded flu-like virus and while the World Health Organization has withdrawn an earlier travel advisory the city is still on a list of SARS-affected areas.

    Just this week, the warning was enough to spook Staind, which canceled its Toronto dates meant to promote its new album 14 Shades of Grey due to a "health concern." The band nixed an autograph session and a Wednesday night concert with Cold. Others who have balked at traveling to Toronto to perform include Styx, Concrete Blonde, Elton John, Billy Joel, Lisa Marie Presley and Kelly Clarkson.

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