UPDATED: Producer of BottleRock 2013 files for bankruptcy

2014-02-06T09:56:00Z 2014-05-01T14:29:32Z UPDATED: Producer of BottleRock 2013 files for bankruptcyJENNIFER HUFFMAN Napa Valley Register
February 06, 2014 9:56 am  • 

Updated at 4:45 p.m. — In a move anticipated for months, BR Festivals LLC, the entity that produced BottleRock 2013, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Wednesday in the Northern District of California U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

According to court documents, BR Festivals accumulated $4.5 million in liabilities and has assets of $610,000.

The filing details the financial distress the producers, Bob Vogt and Gabe Meyers, faced after the May 2013 music festival.

With tens of thousands of people attending the five-day event at the Napa Expo, the festival had a total of $11.2 million in gross receipts, “not including food and beverage” funds due from one contractor, the documents indicate.

However, BR Festivals “sustained financial losses of approximately $8 million for the initial 2013 event,” and had no source of capital to pay its creditors and fund a 2014 event, said documents.

According to the bankruptcy filing, Vogt and Meyers “exhaustively pursued a number of potential buyers and joint venture partners without success” during the second half of 2013.

Later, a new group of producers, Latitude 38 Entertainment, stepped forward and agreed to buy the BottleRock production rights, other intellectual property and miscellaneous trade fixtures. This new group is planning another BottleRock at Napa Valley Expo May 30-June1.

The bankruptcy court documents, signed by Meyers, provide an explanation from BR Festivals as to what went wrong with the 2013 event.

First, the festival booked too much musical talent at too high a price, according to the documents. Most of the musical talent required 100 percent advance deposits, “which crippled the debtor’s available working capital leading up to the 2013 festival.”

Second, “there was a problem with the financial controls over the food and beverage sales, which were handled by outside contractors, leading to significant underpayment of sums due” to BR Festivals.

This statement refers to an ongoing dispute with Cindy Pawlcyn's restaurant group, CP Cooks LLC, the company that provided food and beverage services. Sean Knight of CP Cooks could not be reached for comment.

Besides “excessive staffing of the event,” Johnson’s $3 million payout on the eve of the event left BR Festivals “unable to pay labor, the city of Napa, and the Napa Expo and other vendors,” court documents assert.

“There were other smaller avoidable transfers as well,” according to the paperwork. Those transfers were not described.

The BR Festivals’ assets listed on the filing are limited. Besides $10,000 in a First Bank checking account, the other asset is a reported $600,000 due from CP Cooks and affiliates for an “unpaid share of food and beverage” revenues.

The bankruptcy attorney representing BR Festivals, John MacConaghy, said that Latitude 38 paid $60,000 for the assets of BR Festivals, which includes the $10,000 currently in a checking account.

A total of $25,000 of that was paid to Napa attorney Matt Eisenberg for bankruptcy and other legal services, $10,000 was paid as a retainer to MacConaghy, and $15,000 was paid to Meyers for his work on the purchase agreement and bankruptcy preparation.

Such payments are standard in any insolvency case, said MacConaghy. People have to be paid to be able to administer the bankruptcy, he said.

“At the end of the day, Gabe Meyers and I are trying to work as fiduciaries for creditors,” said MacConaghy. Meyers will not be paid additional amounts, he added.

The bankruptcy case will also include a proceeding commonly referred to as a “clawback,” MacConaghy said. Attorneys will attempt to recover $3 million paid to Jason Johnson, one of the early investors in BR Festivals. Johnson originally owned 35 percent of the LLC.

The clawback may also encompass a $500,000 “non-refundable deposit” paid by BR Festivals to the Uptown Theatre Property LLC in April 2013. That deposit was not described further.

“I think we have an extremely strong case,” said MacConaghy, who estimated the bankruptcy case will take between six and 18 months.

Neither Vogt nor Meyers could not be reached for comment Thursday. Vogt is no longer a manager of BR Festivals.

“Meyers feels terrible about how this has turned out. He has asked me to do whatever I can get people paid,” MacConaghy said

Approximately 174 debtors are listed in the bankruptcy filing.

Creditors holding the 20 largest unsecured claims include a number of entertainment production companies including: Crews Unlimited, owed $236,952; Delicate Productions, owed $298,247; the International Alliance of Theatrical Employees Local 16, owed $300,000, and National Event Services, owed $162,750.

Other debtors include the city of Napa, owed $106,729; the Franchise Tax Board, owed $236,895; Reichers Spence & Associates, owed $57,000; Napa attorney Matt Eisenberg, owed $80,210; Ghilotti Bros, owed $56,000; Classic Party Rentals, owed $28,000; Emil Meyers Construction, owed $64,000; Holiday Inn Express American Canyon, owed $34,871, and Morimoto Restaurant, owed $15,000.

Because Latitude 38 is a separate entity from BR Festivals, the bankruptcy case “is not expected to have any impact on Latitude 38 Entertainment’s plans to produce a 2014 BottleRock Festival,” according to the documents.

The bankruptcy court filing also notes seven pending lawsuits filed against BR Festivals. They include suits filed by United Site Services, Bauer’s Intelligent Transportation, Landmark Staffing Services, IATSE Local 16, Wine Country Helicopters, Erik Foster, and LaRiviere, Grubman & Payne LLP.

Nathan Trivers, owner of the Up & Under Pub and Grill, Point Richmond, is owed $190,000 for his work at BottleRock 2013.

“It was only a matter of time,” he said of the BR Festivals bankruptcy filing. “I guess getting a slice of something is better than nothing,” he said. “It’d be nice to get any compensation.”

Trivers has been approached by Latitude 38 about possibly working at BottleRock 2014. “I think the new guys are at least trying to move in a positive direction,” he said.

David Graham of Latitude 38 Entertainment declined to comment on the filing except to say:

"As the new producers of BottleRock, our goals are to produce a financially successful event and to deliver an even better experience for the many people who are looking forward to another BottleRock event,” he said.

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

(19) Comments

  1. glenroy
    Report Abuse
    glenroy - February 06, 2014 11:28 am
    As many have already said….it’s pretty easy to put it down on paper…it’s another to pull it off…
    Can’t believe anyone would so naïve to think it could have been pulled the hundreds of details together in such a short period of time.
  2. Report Abuse
    - February 06, 2014 12:28 pm
    I suggest that what caused the domino's to fall is the pay out to Johnson of the 3 million prior to the event. That was the straw that broke the camels back. Then 500 thousand to the Uptown. That was working capitol in the amount of $3.5 million. The why's of reasons as to the nature that it was paid out is history. As for CP Cooks, bottom line, I was there and I saw vendors under their contract with Cooks taking cash and not tokens. Thats a breach of contract. So don't put all the blame on Meyers and Vogt, what was apparently missing from the production of this event was in legal terms "good faith", you can't pull $3.5 million in working capitol out prior to an event. To the cliche', it's like pulling the carpet out from under your feet.
  3. THeENDisNEAH
    Report Abuse
    THeENDisNEAH - February 06, 2014 2:25 pm
    I must have missed the part about the cost of paying for a helicopter and fuel to fly over the site all day for four days.
  4. jojojackson
    Report Abuse
    jojojackson - February 06, 2014 2:30 pm
    No ! Cindy Pawlcyn ? didn't think so…...
  5. crooked6pence
    Report Abuse
    crooked6pence - February 06, 2014 2:33 pm
    And that my friends is how you throw the biggest party ever for practically free ;)
  6. jojojackson
    Report Abuse
    jojojackson - February 06, 2014 2:42 pm
    That's a lot of un-taxed profit of $$$$$$$$$ hiding in someones cooked books …Do I smell a IRS audit coming soon…. Time 2 GO FISH ….ING
  7. y2kcbr
    Report Abuse
    y2kcbr - February 06, 2014 2:56 pm
    Yup. I paid with cash instead of tokens at a few vendors.
  8. carefreewanderer
    Report Abuse
    carefreewanderer - February 06, 2014 10:00 pm
    Agree with crooked6pence!!! Bob Vogt and Gabe Meyers should be charged with embezzling!!! BottleRock MADE money I know cause I was one of many Napins who bought tickets for the 4 day festival...... Too bad those two were trusted Napa business people
  9. Bauhausfan
    Report Abuse
    Bauhausfan - February 06, 2014 10:27 pm
    This is about as surprising an event as the sun rising in the East.
  10. Bauhausfan
    Report Abuse
    Bauhausfan - February 06, 2014 10:32 pm
    What I don't understand is why Bottlerock sued a transportation company for $500,000 but they haven sued CP Cooks who they claim owe them $600,000?

    Like almost everything that has come from BR Festivals since last years festival it's hard to believe what they say.
  11. Michael Haley
    Report Abuse
    Michael Haley - February 07, 2014 12:53 am
    the festival booked too much musical talent at too high a price<<<

    That is the first thing mentioned in the article as to the problems, something I noted and wondered about at the time. Sitting and talking to Meyers and Vogt a couple months before BR this is what I am thinking, how are you going to pay all that talent? The next thing I am thinking is if I were them I would be nervous as hell, and they were as calm as could be. I was amazed.

    I think this has possibly big implications for BR 14. They are not going to be able to afford the same level of talent yet will have to charge the same ticket prices to at least break even. Will people pay it? We will see.
  12. Report Abuse
    - February 07, 2014 9:27 am
    So it is obvious that 30 days prior to the event BRNV sought additional investors for 3.5 million. So if portions of those sums were delegated to paying high end guarantee's to the music acts and then the additional sponsors who brought the 3.5 million to the table pull their cash out prior to the event, which they did, then you have a problem because your acts will not perform in lieu of ticket sales, then you have no festival, then your ticket holders take the loss. So I am just guessing that BRNV had to resource cash out of the event from other streams to compensate for the deficit already in place. Based on the information the register has published and I am just guessing that the pre-sale of tickets prior to the event did not reach their projections to a positive cash flow. The 30 day investors pulled the 3.5 mil working capitol and the music acts siphoned out large amounts of the in hand working capitol. So then, and I am just guessing that everyone left takes it in the shorts.
  13. freeport56
    Report Abuse
    freeport56 - February 07, 2014 9:57 am
    You have no clue what these talented men are going to do. Myers and Vogt are amateurs and will always be. Failure is the best part of learning!.....
  14. trapper66
    Report Abuse
    trapper66 - February 07, 2014 2:09 pm
    I was wondering did anyone make a video of Bottlerock, with the
    100 musicians.Sell to the public for the world to see .Or didn't anyone care...Like all this stupidity about vendors..dumb
  15. vegan 4 life
    Report Abuse
    vegan 4 life - February 07, 2014 5:11 pm
    No surprisingly, Bob Vogt has owed my husband money for several years for work my husband provided at his residence.
  16. Crosscountrykid
    Report Abuse
    Crosscountrykid - February 07, 2014 5:18 pm
    Michael, my thinking too about the cash flow for BR14. In order to attrack good size crowds there will have to be big name bands who in turn command big fees and will definitely want those fees up front. I'm no MBA, but I'm very curious how the financials will play out. I'd love to hear from those who have experience in these matters.
  17. ChefH
    Report Abuse
    ChefH - February 07, 2014 8:36 pm
    Half a million to Uptown Theater? Isn't that owned by Vogt? Hope he & Meyers are deeply investigated! Don't see how these scoundrels can walk around town. I'm most fortunate to have been able to squeeze money from Meyers after he bounced a check to me. But the little man refused to cover either the cost of my bounced checks or the fee his bank charged to cash his check. What? You think I should have waited until I got to my bank? Ha!

    I understood the (non restaurant) vendors were permitted to take cash. Tokens were for sponsors food & booze.
  18. singerandasong
    Report Abuse
    singerandasong - February 08, 2014 6:07 pm
    I find it very interesting that nothing was included about the new promoters paying off the debt to the vendors for the 2013 event. At first it sounded like they were going to make everyone square but that morphed into they would do what they could to see that everyone got as much as possible. If the new promoters are going to pay off the debt or at least part of it wouldn't that be an asset. Or....is this the beginning of a whole new shell game where promises are made to achieve the immediate goal and then once that has been achieved the promise is forgotten. Also as I remember one dollar from every drink sold was to go to one charity or another. I realize that CP Cooks has that money but why is there a delay in paying that out. I understand that they may not want to give it to the non-profits that were created by Vogt but there is little justification for not paying the rest. And yes it is unlikely that a festival such as was planned and is planned for 2014 can ever be viable.
  19. SpringMountain
    Report Abuse
    SpringMountain - February 09, 2014 3:54 pm
    Money aside, the ability to attract quality talent and dedicated workers relies on respect and a commitment to excellence. As a promoter, you are dealing with artists. The workers and volunteers you employ could be making more money doing Brittney in Vegas, but their passion for working with good people in great venues and being part of an event that *means something* leads them to work for less, but only when it means something more than a simple paycheck.

    Whatever this entity calls themselves or whatever legal maneuvering they hide behind, unless they meet their obligations, they will always lack credibility.

    Respect, humility and love will get you very far in life. You may not get rich right away, but you'll be rich in spirit and sleep well at night, with the feeling of bliss of having been a part of something magical. If you choose the other route, I'm sure The Kings Leon would be happy to play for you again.

    Does this mean I won't be going to the Uptown again? Looks to be so.
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick