It's OK to grill at The Joe

Dave Matthews band

The 15,000 people expected for the Dave Matthews Band concert at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park on Friday can grill in the parking lot after all, but they still won't be able to have a tailgate beer before the show.

In a reversal of a previous decision, officials decided it's OK to have open flame for cooking in the city parking lots before the show, said Dave Echols, Charleston RiverDogs general manager. "That has been re-thought," Echols said.

In another last-minute change, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones saxophonist

Jeff Coffin will be filling-in for saxophonist LeRoi Moore, who is recovering from an ATV accident, the Associated Press reported. According to the band's Web site, Moore was taken to the University of Virginia Health System for treatment after the Monday wreck in Charlottesville. He was upgraded from serious to fair condition on Tuesday.

Tail-gating is a tradition among the band's followers, many of whom will be here from out-of-town. It won't be an all-day affair though because the city parking lots for the show open at 3 p.m. The sold-out concert is at 7 p.m. And just in case you decide to risk a beer while flame-broiling burgers, keep in mind that the penalty can be 30 days in jail, a $500 fine, or both. Police Chief Greg Mullen has said he won't send in teams to bust people and issue summonses but that there will be officers at the concert to let people know the law.

In the past year, police have cracked down on drinking in public. You can't take your beer on the sidewalk in front of a bar when you need a smoke, or stand on the corner with a cold one on a Saturday night. And the days when you could walk the Battery on a warm summer evening with a chilled glass of wine are gone with the wind. Mullen has said that it's all about risk management — the police department's responsibility to keep people safe and abiding the law. Last year, police curtailed tailgating at Citadel football games. Since then, they have turned the annual downtown art walk into a staggered event — you can't carry your wine from one gallery to the next.

He said last month that the city simply is trying to maintain a safe environment, not ruin anybody's good time. The stadium management strongly encourages carpooling to the show. Police officials said they believe enough parking will be available. A map of the 12 city parking lots available for the show can be found at It costs $5 to park in the city lots.