BottleRock 2014 announces festival dates

Three-day event starting May 30, lineup coming in late February or early March
2014-01-28T12:13:00Z 2014-05-01T14:29:32Z BottleRock 2014 announces festival datesJENNIFER HUFFMAN Napa Valley Register
January 28, 2014 12:13 pm  • 

A new group of organizers announced Monday that the BottleRock music festival will return to the Napa Valley Expo as a three-day event starting May 30.

Known as Latitude 38 Entertainment, or L38, the group said it had bought “selected assets” from the former promoter, BR Festivals, which racked up at least $5.5 million in outstanding debts and multiple lawsuits for breach of contract when it put on last May’s music extravaganza.

Latitude 38 has acquired the BottleRock name and a $15,000 deposit with the Expo for this year’s event. They also bought “some festival equipment and fixtures,” said David Graham, a local entrepreneur who is in partnership with three other Napans, Jason Scoggins, Joe Fischer and Justin Dragoo.

Latitude 38 did not purchase BR Festivals’ liabilities or obligations “and does not control how BR Festivals handles its debts,” said a news release from the group.

The lineup of musicians and artists to perform at BottleRock 2014 will be announced at the end of February or early March, he said.

While he couldn’t name any names this week, Graham said, “People that went last year will be happy” with the music selection in 2014. “We plan on meeting or exceeding” the bar set in 2013 with a “solid” lineup.

Graham detailed other changes. BottleRock 2014 will be three days instead of last year’s four and a half, more than 36 bands will perform (compared to more than 60 in 2013), but there will be no comedic talent. Neighborhood concerns about loud sound will be addressed, he said.

The VIP program will be enhanced. Ticket prices will be comparable. Camping will be available at Skyline Park. Both paid staff and volunteers will be used to run the event, he said.

Food, wine and beverages will be available and include partnerships with local businesses, he said. Entry, exit and transportation plans haven’t been finalized. Newly named to the planning team is festival director Steve Macfadyen.

According to many, BottleRock 2013 suffered from overly ambitious goals, last-minute planning and disorganization. When asked if there was enough time between now and late May to put together another festival, Graham said “absolutely. We have a blueprint of what worked and didn’t work from last year. We can avoid those painful mistakes.”

As for tickets that have already been pre-sold for 2014, Latitude 38 will honor or refund all tickets already purchased, Graham said. He would not say how many have already been sold or how many the group hopes to sell.

Graham said he understands that some people, especially creditors, feel burned by BottleRock 2013. What happened to those vendors “is completely unfair,” he said. “We’re sympathetic. We’re willing to step up and make this situation a little more palatable.”

The original BottleRock was founded by two Napans, Gabe Meyers and Bob Vogt. Meyers said that BR Festivals is “likely” to file for bankruptcy protection.

In a letter to BR Festivals’ creditors dated Jan. 27, Meyers wrote that through the bankruptcy process “we hope to pursue viable litigation claims which will generate sufficient funds to pay a substantial portion of your outstanding invoice.”

“I am deeply sorry BR Festivals was not able to pay you in full,” wrote Meyers, who said he is not a manager or investor in Latitude 38.

According to the United States Bankruptcy Court website, as of Tuesday, BR Festivals had not filed for bankruptcy protection.

Graham said Latitude 38 hoped to ease the losses suffered by last year’s creditors by creating “customized operations agreements with certain key vendors” from BottleRock 2013, “helping make a difficult and unfair situation less difficult and unfair to them.”

“Everyone thinks that just because we bought the name (that) we bought the company. We didn’t buy” BR Festivals, Graham said. “We didn’t absorb a single liability.”

While Latitude 38 said that it doesn’t control the finances of BR Festivals, the group has worked to help eliminate $3.7 million, or what amounts to “over half” of the organization’s debt, “enhancing the future recovery of BR Festival creditors.”

When asked why Latitude 38 wanted to help reduce debt for something that’s not its financial responsibility, Graham said: “We wanted to help better the position of creditors ... many of whom are from Napa. We live in Napa and are from Napa. We can see and feel the difficult position that many BR Festival creditors have found themselves in.”

Graham would not elaborate on how BR Festival’s debts had been reduced.

Members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) union Local 16, who were owed money from the first BottleRock, have already agreed to work with Latitude 38, said Graham.

Jason Alt, president of Delicate Productions, another vendor from 2013, said his business would also participate. “We’re all in for 2014,” said Alt.

Sponsors of BottleRock 2014 said they had considered several different dates including a later June weekend, the last weekend in May was chosen to avoid conflicts with other events, such as NASCAR racing and Memorial Day weekend.

Until Latitude 38 stepped in, other festival promoters including Live Nation made overtures to buy the festival but ultimately walked away. The future of BottleRock was looking dim until the local partnership put together a deal for BottleRock 2.0.

The release for BottleRock 2014 noted that Scoggins is himself a BR Festivals creditor. According to the information, Scoggins loaned the festival $600,000 which was used to pay artists who performed in 2013.

Vogt could not be immediately reached for comment on Tuesday morning. In November he announced he had voluntarily resigned as a manager of BR Festivals.

Copyright 2015 Napa Valley Register. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(26) Comments

  1. HLMMXII
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    HLMMXII - January 28, 2014 1:42 pm
    Many probably too young to recall. Those who aren't may not remember. But in the 60's, a lot of groups used to play the main exhibition building at Napa Fairgrounds. Just of the top, this commenter does recall James Brown one night. Also on another night, Blue Cheer played their 'hard rock' 'acid rock' version of Summertime Blues. It could be heard as far as Monticello Road and Vichy school easily.
  2. napa1957
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    napa1957 - January 28, 2014 4:33 pm
    I remember those days well...the concerts were 4 hours long, one evening. Cost was about $2.50 - $3.00. The Grateful Dead was my favorite of those. We were lucky if we had a soft drink machine and popcorn for "vendors". And...no one could smoke pot or drink alcohol openly either! A far cry from what Bottle Rock is today!
  3. AttenUnpaidBRNVStaff
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    AttenUnpaidBRNVStaff - January 28, 2014 6:03 pm
    Ego and inexperience created the catastrophic failures surrounding BottleRock 2013 which led to unprecedented financial losses for the hardworking individuals and businesses that worked on the festival. Furthermore, the reckless actions by the owners negatively impacted the brands of the artists that performed and the concert business itself. Promoters work for years perfecting their craft, develop relationships, understanding the risks and balancing all of that to put together a professional event. That includes making sure even if the Promoter loses money, everyone is paid in full. That's the risk we take as Promoters. It took a lot of arrogance for BottleRock 2013 to make large yet empty financial commitments and write bad checks to produce a major festival. The artists and agencies took them at their word and hundreds of people went unpaid. Will they respond the same during round it? We'll see. Regardless, the inexperience and arrogance reflects poorly on the industry as a whole.
  4. Napa
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    Napa - January 28, 2014 7:12 pm
    Wow "HLMMXII" & "napa1957" That's so cool, I didn't know that! I used to live on Monticello Road growing up in the 60s and 70s and went To Vichy School, but I guess I was too young to remember the sounds that floated in the breeze so to say. You guys really saw a lot of the real pioneers of the 60s play locally like James Brown the Godfather of soul, and Grateful Dead. Those were the good old days when innocence prevailed and the youth had a true blast. Thanks for your posts. It's something I never knew and I'm 54 now!
  5. VogueLaGalere
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    VogueLaGalere - January 28, 2014 7:30 pm
    Formula for "the most interesting man" as in the campaign launched in 2006 by the Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma Brewery ("Dos Equis"):

    1) Stiff the City of Napa for thousands of dollars in unpaid fees,

    2) Sell your assets and declare that the liabilities do not follows the sold assets,

    3) Using the new assets, e.g. the trade name "BottleRock", apply to the City of Napa for permits and ignore the unpaid fees from the previous year.
  6. Unionrabblerowser
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    Unionrabblerowser - January 28, 2014 10:06 pm
    " the group has worked to help eliminate $3.7 million, or what amounts to “over half” of the organization’s debt, “enhancing the future recovery of BR Festival creditors." Funny, no union stagehands have received checks so far... Let me guess, they helped pay Bob Vogt's fake charity, right? What $3.7 million debt or are they just as dodgy about money as the last group. Changing the name of the promoters & claiming it's not their debt won't keep me from picketing the load-in! Show us the money!
  7. br2014
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    br2014 - January 29, 2014 1:30 am
    In the story above, Graham says "We didn’t buy BR Festivals. We didn’t absorb a single liability.”
    But on January 21, Huffman reports that "The GSF team received the contract Tuesday morning and is reviewing it. To further that commitment, the group has also given a certified check to the Expo for the full $310,938 it is owed for the 2013 festival."
    Hello, wouldn't that be considered to be "absorbing a liability"? They just paid the one that was most beneficial for them to pay.
    It certainly looks to me like Graham just flat out lied in the story above--not a good sign.. But to give the benefit of the doubt....I guess that "We didn't buy BR Festivals" can be translated as "We're just trying to rip off the BottleRock name." And "We didn’t absorb a single liability" can be translated as "We're just going to pay the people that we feel like paying."
    I don't know how these guys sleep at night.
  8. napa boy
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    napa boy - January 29, 2014 7:19 am
    So they never said how much money they had to pay for the naming rights to use BootleRock ? And woundnt Voigt have to give that money to one of the creditors ? This thing just Smells of bad motives !
  9. Old Time Napkin
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    Old Time Napkin - January 29, 2014 7:46 am
    As I recall Janis Joplin with Big Brother and The Holding Company also came to the Fairgrounds.
  10. Old Time Napkin
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    Old Time Napkin - January 29, 2014 7:54 am
    It looks to me like the previous people who are owed money will never see one dime of what is owed to them. Despite all the promises made by the "new' group" in order to get a new contract it appears there is a good chance the same scenario will happen again. Anyone who was involved in the past Bottlerock and is owed money would be foolhardy to sign onto this new Bottlerock.
  11. selim_sivad
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    selim_sivad - January 29, 2014 8:00 am
    A couple of pictures from the 1967 Grateful Dead show at the Expo (on Polaroid!) are floating around the internet. Compared to Bottle Rock, those pictures are like a window on a completely different universe...
  12. selim_sivad
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    selim_sivad - January 29, 2014 8:03 am
    I don't know how to break it to you, but the rock promoter industry was built on arrogance and risky bets. Ever hear of Bill Graham? Michael Lang? They wrote the book on arrogance, egoism, and financial grey areas.

    Bottle Rock is a different beast now; the only thing that remains is the brand and the location. Give the new promoters a chance...

    ...or don't. Either way, stop whining. It's unbecoming.
  13. JohnPoole
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    JohnPoole - January 29, 2014 8:20 am
    I just do not understand why the creditors are simply standing by.

    That someone is willing to pay the Fair Board $310k demonstrates there is value in the assets.

    "Most involuntary bankruptcies are a collaboration between several creditors. In fact, if the debtor has more than 12 unsecured creditors, at least three of these creditors must join the petition, and the three must have, altogether, at least $14,425 in unsecured debt outstanding from the debtor." Nolo.com

    The City of Napa ($106,729.29) and two other creditors could easily bring this matter to a more equitable solution by joining in a petition for involuntary bankruptcy, then the preferential payments could be recouped.

    The U.S. Bankruptcy Code, Section 547, permits a debtor in bankruptcy or its trustee to “avoid” (i.e., force disgorgement or repayment) transfers made within 90 days of a bankruptcy filing (one year if the transferee was an insider). Such transfers are referred to as “preferential transfers.”
  14. napa1957
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    napa1957 - January 29, 2014 8:22 am
    I think that this one situation is the one that upsets me the most. And to hear the Union boss say that they are "excited to go back to work" for BRNV is just sad. Hope they get paid up front if so!
  15. glenroy
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    glenroy - January 29, 2014 8:52 am
    Battle of the Bands...and that whiner Country Joe...Elvin Bishop when he could stay on the stage without falling off...Tower of Power and War....all played there.
  16. Hasavoice
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    Hasavoice - January 29, 2014 8:55 am
    I have faith in you guys. Thank you for all the work you all are putting in to give us a great show. BR 2014 baby!
  17. Bystander 1
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    Bystander 1 - January 29, 2014 5:26 pm
    Actually you seem to be most of the whining.
  18. Report Abuse
    - January 29, 2014 5:34 pm
    Oracle calling FA Andrews..... Oracle calling FA Andrews..... Bottlerock happening without a legal suit and actionable complaint in which you predicted? I wonder who FA Andrews is he really a Reporter for NVR? Anyway Oracle calling FA Andrews for the consumption of crowpie and vinegar soda. Did anyone seriously believe that the business community would move away from the opportunity to establish an event that would bring hundreds of thousands of dollars into the business community? In music business for other support businesses to realize profit, you may not see the GPI growth in hand immediately, however once the event matures and all business activities are streamlined with the event then you see the pounds worth of effort. Now if we can just get the hokey pokey Napa music mentality to fade quietly into the wood work from which it came, this valley can get this concert firing on all eight cylinders! BRVN 2014!
  19. vocal-de-local
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    vocal-de-local - January 29, 2014 11:04 pm
    I really hope that the Gabe dude stays out of BR2014.
  20. Trucker
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    Trucker - January 30, 2014 8:06 am
    I did not attend BR in 2013 and I was opposed to it before, during and after the event. However, I have known 3 of the 4 new investors for over 20 years. They are products of this valley who earned what they have and are family men of great integrity. For that reason and that reason alone, I am now in support of BR 2014 and I will remain so as long as these 4 men do all they can to accommodate the concerns of those negatively effected by the event in their back yard. There are always going to be those who will whine and complain, last year it was justified. If this event ever had a chance, it is now. If it does not go off significantly better than last year, we will all know an event like this does not belong.
  21. freeport56
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    freeport56 - January 30, 2014 11:46 am
    However, this is not the first time an even of this size and to some extent smaller ones have gone bust as well. 'Egos' destroyed BRF 2013.

    2014 belongs to very shrude businessmen, Unlike 2013, they are not promising the Moon and Stars...!
  22. freeport56
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    freeport56 - January 30, 2014 11:47 am
    Not accurate, but and interesting twist on reality
  23. Bauhausfan
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    Bauhausfan - January 31, 2014 12:08 pm
    Country Joe is a "whiner" to you because of his famous anti-war song.
  24. Bauhausfan
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    Bauhausfan - January 31, 2014 12:18 pm
    Just a guess but the city will be paid the money they are owed from the last festival. These guys are going to make good the money owed to those that are important to them in the future.

    It's to their benefit.

    Some people and businesses are not going to get paid at all.
  25. NativeSonNapa
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    NativeSonNapa - January 31, 2014 10:47 pm
    JohnPoole is on to something interesting. I'm just trying to understand the facts at this point:

    Was the name Bottlerock purchased by the new group from the original owners?

    Under what legal theory is the new group entitled/obligated to pay one (and only one) of the debts of the original owners?

    Why did the new group have to pay the Expo anything other than a standard deposit required for the 2014 event?

    Was it proper that the Expo was the only creditor that got paid at this time?

    I will be interested to hear what the bankruptcy judge has to say about all this.
  26. Napa81
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    Napa81 - February 01, 2014 6:55 pm
    While I don't know the details of the asset purchase agreement, I do know that the Expo is not the only creditor that is getting paid. GSF paid the Expo in full because they wanted rights to the 5-year deposit BR Festivals paid to the Expo. And I suspect the reason why the creditors do not force an involuntary bankruptcy is that most creditors were paid something - it's my understanding that in a bankruptcy all monies paid would be "clawed back" and redistributed, which would likely put all creditors in a worse situation, compared to negotiating with GSF for some sort of payment.

    Personally, I am disappointed that GSF seems to be going back on their word. During the presentation they made to the Expo Board, they said all creditors would be made "50 to 90% whole". It now sounds like they are going back on this promise.
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