More on the Shakedown Campout Festival Cancellation

So, obviously after this monstrous debacle this past weekend regarding the Shakedown Music Festival in Oregon, we would all expect a long explanation. A very long explanation.

I’m pleased to report that we finally do have that explanation that we were looking for.

Stylus Shows, the festival promoter, has given us an insightful (yet seriously biased) view of what really happened, and call me crazy, but I believe every single word that they wrote. I wouldn’t mind trying to get the Lowell MacGregor group’s opinion in this matter, but truth be told, I don’t know that anyone that would cancel a festival three hours before its scheduled beginning is anyone that we want to support. Go ahead and check out the whole letter from Stylus (attached at end of the post) or check the website for any updates.

(edit: I guess I don’t know who to fully support on this topic; check the comments here; apparently, this was the promoter’s fault)

My closing argument: a lot of fans were out a whole weekend worth of music due to stupid beaurocracy; that’s really all I need to say about that. And, if anyone feels like sticking it to the Lowell MacGregor group for screwing them out of a festival weekend, call them…

Lowell Macgregor Group, LLC
400 East Evergreen, Suite 305, Vancouver, WA 98660
Lowell MacGregor Cell: 360-433-1040 President [email protected]
Eric Mayers Cell: 503-475-4913
Ofc: 360-696-9093 Fx: 360-735-7661 Prod. Mgr. [email protected]

Note: we welcome all comments and clarification from Lowell MacGregor and we will post it as soon as received. Ocomik already tried to no avail.

Here is the whole letter copied and documented for our delight.

Shakedown Meltdown Posted 8/29/05

We are waiting for information on refunds but in general, you should go back to where you bought your tickets.

(This was written by Hal Abramson and was posted as soon as possible. Some close people involved up to now, told me not to express my full opinion, so they are exonerated from any thing that happens as a result of me telling the truth.)

Last week an attorney said, “the Shakedown is happening right now.” I was an idiot to call it that.. my dream came true, wrapped in a horror story. Me, my friends, the vendors, contractors, hundreds of workers and volunteers and all of the people who bought a ticket or walked, rode, flew to buy a ticket at the Gate, we all just got fucked!

Why would I cancel an event I worked on for 6 months and dreamed of for almost 30 years?
Hal Abramson, Stylus Shows, Inc. nor the “promoter” canceled the festival. We were ready and excited about the crowd that would appear over the 3 ½ days. We got shut out!

Just prior to 1pm PT on Thurs. Aug. 25, Lowell MacGregor (Lowell MacGregor Group (LMG)- the people we rented the property from), approved of his attorney calling ours and stating that the show was officially canceled. He shut down our music festival 3 hours before it was scheduled to start at 4pm when early entry was to begin. Absolute insanity!!! We were just about to get the show paid for… and have a real good time!!!

It was hot and summery. The best jamband lineup in the region’s history had been contracted. Plenty of fun-seeking people from more than 35 states and 3 provinces in Canada ready to gather, all had their heart set on a great event. After 4 months of promotion, the festival had arrived.

Lowell MacGregor’s action was the dumbest thing I ever seen, heard or imagined in my knowledge of music festival history.

We were waiting for months for the gate money to pay back our investors and costs. We lost everything as soon as the festival was canceled. We were all sick with grief.

Lowell MacGregor knew that ticket buyers, vendors and contractors would all come to us for refunds. He forced the refunds. He destroyed our event, then tried to make me the scape goat by putting my phone numbers on an electric sign telling people to call me for refunds. He knew exactly what he was doing. Did you all know that if an event cancels, the promoter is still responsible for paying the balances on all contracts including the band’s cost? Lowell knew that. Pretty dirty maneuver.

Instead of working with us on building a great production by working together over 8 weeks, Lowell McGregor became increasingly compulsive about covering his expenses to the point of making demands we could not meet, way after the original agreement was accepted. The terms changed frequently at the end.

Though verbally agreed to about June 8, Lowell turned to Eric in a meeting I attended in their offices in Vancouver, WA, just 13 days before, and said “well, now that we know we have a festival”. Apparently, none of them recognized this as a real event before that. I feel that was evident in the lackluster and total lack of effort on many aspects.

As he also withdrew an earlier offer to consider paying for half the shade systems we needed to install to protect the customers, even though this was a deficit of his own venue, little shade. It’s basically a big open field.

If he cares at all about music, community and doing the right thing, he sure has a peculiar and damaging way of showing it.

I would not believe a word anybody there says. In my opinion, they are in deep legal and criminal shit and will do anything to make me look like the bad guy. I did nothing wrong but agree to use Columbia Meadows!

Why did he cancel the festival?
Lowell MacGregor could not be satisfied and was making increasingly unrealistic and uncooperative financial demands on us. He treated us like he hated us and we had already paid his company $32,500. We were about to pay him another agreed to $25,000 that Thursday Aug. 25.

He required me to assign the TicketsWest $40,000 to him. That $97,500. was not enough. Though the agreement called for a venue rental of $110,000, he wanted it all in advance and then wanted additional expenses guaranteed paid up front when we had no chance to check any of these costs.

He forced us to sign over ALL gate receipts until he was satisfied he had been paid enough without any discussion of exactly at what point would we receive our own money. Under threat of closure, we had no choice but to agree to this too.

And although originally agreed to pay talent balances out of gate money, he re-nigged on that in the last week.

This was not enough. He then demanded we cash out the TicketsWest funds being held or he would cancel. TicketsWest would sell tickets through Sunday but Lowell threatened us again with closure unless I agreed to pay him in cash for these tickets he could redeem on Sunday. At that time, this would have been $38,000. At this point I felt that he was a mad man and I told my attorney that I thought he was very dangerous.

I felt that if we kept signing whatever he put in front of me we would finally get to the show. We got to 3 hours before and the bastard pulled the plug because he states we violated our agreement by not cashing out the TicketsWest sales he was holding, by 10 am Thursday August 25.

Dividing the average value of a 3 day customer, Lowell MacGregor would have been been able to cash out that TicketsWest money on the first 281 gate buying customers. He was a short time away from having everything he stated he wanted. So why would he cancel? Maybe he didn’t want the festival to happen in fear of there not being enough customers to pay the rest of the bills. His non-belief in our lineup and marketing killed our event. All he really needed to care about was whether we lived up to the terms of our agreement. Him closing the festival set us up to instantly violate many other agreements.

When we got thrown out of Hornings, I called LMG about the availability of Columbia Meadows. We were most concerned with the guarantee of permitting. We chose it because it was in the same area, seemed friendly and could guarantee a permit.

Lowell MacGregor was asked for a venue rental contract immediately due to the fact we needed to advertise the new location. He was unwilling to send me an email confirming this but said he would get us a contract, that his word was good and that we had the venue. We discussed a basic rental figure and there were no strange stipulations at that time. After pleading with him almost daily and being promised daily, it took Lowell MacGregor six and a half weeks to get us an urgent contract. He constantly remained me that he “saved our show”. I guess saving a festival is allowing someone to rent your property than canceling the event just before the renter can open the gates.

We received a vague, poorly written, brief document that was not acceptable. We sent it back and pushed through our attorney to get the contract back. We signed it without having time to negotiate specifics of many terms that were left general. We need a venue contract for a month and a half.

I discovered Lowell had no experience working on multi-day music festivals and was unwilling for me to have any control over the concert venue other than putting the bands on stage. He strangely thought the concert area was his to manage and I should manage the festival camping area. It became obvious that we would have to give up a lot to put the show there, but what choice did we have in those time restraints?
Lowell MacGregor Group was to receive 82 ½ % of beer and 87 ½% of food vending.

LMG contracted with us early while still at Horning’s to manage the stage and to handle and manage vendors and obtain sponsors. In a region of microbrews, they were unable to secure any sponsors of any kind. Only about 18 crafts vendors were able to get through the system to get a booth. LMG knew that I was very upset at their handling of our vending/ sponsor affairs and Eric Mayers at LMG said on more than one occasion “it’s disgraceful”. Lowell was in total denial of any wrong-doing and was combative with me when I complained about the poor performance and effort. Real good customer service skills there Lowell! He said repeatedly “they were doing a good job”. Is he delusional? Though requested, we never even received a final list of vendors, and it was our festival. Columbia Meadows has no web site and when asked why repeatedly, I was ignored.

Eric was also forwarded the band’s advance information containing documents that needed to be returned to our co-promoter before gates opened. By Wednesday August 24, we contacted the bands to see where this information was and most of the bands never received it. Did he just screw up again and just sent this important information out too late or did he know something then. Maybe it was not necessary to expedite this info.

Other annoying factors in dealing with LMG: The venue’s production literature and management’s thoughts were that they were going to stop vehicles not only to confiscate beer but to take food. I don’t think they understood what a music festival and campout is. People campout and eat. They also like beer and wine. They also like to dance and smile a lot. We’ll never know how much.

At first, until I took him by the shoulders and looked in his eyes explaining the right way, he was against people camping next to their cars. In addition, Lowell did not want people parking for one day allowed to walk into the camping area. I’m not making this up. They refused to allow me to speak to the Security Company until less than a week before the event. This is nuts!

I think much of his disdain for us comes from an email I sent to Eric months ago when I saw the depth of their ineptitude in vending and sponsor procurement I said “Lowell MacGregor sucks” in the context of my complaint. Lowell couldn’t handle criticism.

I have even heard some saying I left with ticket money.We had enough money to get us to the show and planned it that way back before Horning’s. I was forced to leave with my entire staff and because production services immediately expected the rest of their contracts paid regardless of using and of their services, my life was in clear danger. Everyone was looking for me. I was just waiting for the show start a few minutes before. Can you imagine how I feel? If this is life, it’s just not worth it friends.

There was no money available by the time we left. I did not take a salary and put all of what I had into the project.

Here’s the simple Festival math:

Total spent up to Thurs. 8/25: $ 262,000 From investment and Baseline advances
Projected to spend Thurs. 8/25: $ 40,000 in account
$ 15,000 from gate
Projected to spend Fri. 8/26: $ 46,000 from gate
Projected to spend Sat. 8/27: $ 42,000 from gate
Projected to spend Sun 8/28: $ 65,000 from gate
Afterward: $ 30,000

Total cost approx: = $500,000.

Total income: Baseline Ticketing: approx. $172,000
Tickets West: approx. $ 42,000
Vendors/ Tshirts/ RVs approx. $ 12,400
Investment: $120,000
Total income generated before gates opened: $346,400

Amount needed to pay all bills and breakeven: $153,600

Approx # of 3 day. tix (incl. concessions) to breakeven: 1,121 tickets more
This without any one day tickets included.

Lowell MacGregor obviously did not believe there would be enough in attendance to cover costs, or he would not have been so scared to pay his bills. We would have had 5,000 – 7,500 people at least attend the event. We sold 2,400 tickets up to Thursday morning. Days before, Lowell told my attorney that “he had to balance the cost of litigation with amount he’d lose in unpaid costs”. Does this sound like a guy who really wants to work with his renter. His fatalistic dream was self-fulfilling. I hope his ego feels real good at causing such devastation among so many… an abhorated man he is.

Unfortunately for Lowell, he signed a contract renting us the venue as long as we met our obligations. We were current on all bills the morning of August 25 and intended on making our next $25,000 payment that day. His used last minute demands, threats and shakedown methods because he knew he had us. This will not stand.

Yes, I am not from there. It’s easy not to believe someone who is distant. All of my words are true. I can never promote again. Others around me have had their careers destroyed. So many upset and disappointed people. The senselessness of it all. Your disgust for the whole situation is valid. Just don’t direct your anger toward me. I only tried as hard as I could to keep Lowell MacGregor from canceling the festival for weeks. I gave everything to him. I am truly sorry for every one of us.

LMG is telling people:

“Due to circumstances beyond venue control the show
has been cancelled.
Please contact The Shakedown Festival Office at:
Hal Abramson with Stylus Shows”

“Due to circumstances beyond their control”,
What dirty liars, it was totally under their control”.
This catastrophic outcome was totally unnecessary and their doing.

Since this man and his company are so hateful and vindictive toward me, I will repay the favor of offering you their contact info.

Lowell Macgregor Group, LLC
Lowell MacGregor Cell: 360-433-1040 President [email protected]

Eric Mayers Cell: 503-475-4913
Ofc: 360-696-9093 Fx: 360-735-7661 Prod. Mgr. [email protected]

400 East Evergreen, Suite 305, Vancouver, WA 98660

My favorite quote from Lowell MacGregor:
August 18, 2005 8 days before the festival….

“If you don’t like the way we run our business, take your festival elsewhere”

I should have.

Land Rental Agreement