WEDNESDAY - MAY 08, 2013 - NAPA, CA - Crowds cheer during the closing performance by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis on the opening night of BottleRock 2013. Lisa James/Register file photo

Lisa James/Register

The Napa Valley Expo announced at its board meeting on Tuesday that it has negotiated a contract for the return of the BottleRock music festival in 2014.

The contract has been sent to the festival’s intended producers, GSF Entertainment LLC, also known as Latitude 38 Entertainment.

BottleRock 2014 "will be held either at the end of May or the first part of June. The dates should be settled by Friday or Monday," Expo CEO Joe Anderson said.

The GSF team received the contract Tuesday morning and is reviewing it, said spokeswoman Tara Murphy. 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.

New sponsors are trying to resuscitate the five-day music festival that was held this past May at the downtown Expo. A music success, with such major artists as Train, the Black Crowes, Joan Jett, Jane's Addiction, Kings of Leon and the Black Keys appearing on multiple stages, the festival ended with a mountain of debt, including unpaid invoices and lawsuits for breach of contract.

Key members of GSF include Napa entrepreneurs David Graham, Jason Scoggins, Joe Fischer and Justin Dragoo.

Fischer is known for his work with Copia and the Gasser Foundation in Napa. Scoggins is the co-founder of Jumpstart Automotive Media. Graham’s experience includes building, operating and investing in technology and e-commerce companies, according to one biography. Dragoo is president of Gargiulo Vineyards in Napa.

According to a letter from GSF Entertainment, the group executed an asset purchase agreement on Jan. 17 that will transfer “certain festival production and brand assets” from BR Festivals to GSF. Confirmation of the agreement was signed by Graham and Gabe Meyers, “manager” of BR Festivals, LLC.

However, Bob Vogt, another BottleRock co-founder, disputed that agreement. In an email received by the board hours before it met on Tuesday afternoon, Vogt wrote that Meyers and BR Festivals attorney Matt Eisenberg have “sought to circumvent” requirements regarding approval of any sale of BR’s assets.

A sale of such assets cannot be complete without his consent, which he has not given, Vogt wrote.

In December, Vogt said he had voluntarily resigned as manager of BottleRock but he remains a manager of WillPower Entertainment, LLC. Willpower Entertainment, founded by Vogt, was a partner in BottleRock.

According to Vogt, BR Festivals requires approval from WillPower management to sell BottleRock assets.

He asked the board to defer a lease until he and Graham could resolve their issues.

After Tuesday’s board meeting, Expo CEO Joe Anderson said that any dispute over BottleRock assets is between Vogt, Meyers and GSF. “We’re moving forward” with a contract with GSF, he said.

“We are very pleased at how all of this is progressing,” said Graham. Once the contract is executed, “we will be able to discuss, in more detail, plans for the 2014 festival.”

Graham declined to say when GSF would sign the Expo contract. He also declined to discuss which vendors would be paid for 2013 expenses or how a possible bankruptcy filing from BR Festivals would impact plans. More than $5.5 million in debt has been publicly disclosed.

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One of those vendors is Gary Bauer, president/CEO at Bauer’s Intelligent Transportation. The bus company is owed $524,239 for services at BottleRock 2013.

Bauer attended the Expo board meeting on Tuesday.

“We just want to be compensated,” Bauer said. “I don’t care who does it.” Bauer said he was in discussions with GSF to provide transportation for BottleRock 2014.

In October, Anderson said the Expo board would not approve a contract “until we know everybody will get paid.” On Tuesday, in a phone interview, Anderson said GSF has told the Expo they intend to pay vendors, “but we can’t require it as an element of the contract” with the Expo.

In November, Graham said that the Expo would be paid 100 percent of what it is owed and other vendors would be paid between 50 and 90 percent of amounts due. On Tuesday, Graham said he could not elaborate further until the contract was signed.

Jim Beaumonte, president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 16, said Tuesday afternoon that his members “have an agreement to work with Latitude 38 on BottleRock 2014.”

“We’re ready to get back to work,” Beaumonte said.

According to a lawsuit filed by IATSE, $630,000 in wages and benefits were left unpaid after the 2013 event. When asked if those members would be paid for that work, Beaumonte declined to comment.

This story has been corrected. Dates for BottleRock 2014 have not been selected yet.


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