Did we just witness Napa’s Woodstock?

Those who attended the enormous BottleRock music festival in May might want to store their ticket stubs and T-shirts in a safe place. They are collectibles from an event the Napa Valley may, unfortunately, never see again.

Most every little bump during the event and leading into it — and there were a few — could be excused as a growing pain or chalked up to hasty planning, problems easily rectified for next time.

But it’s become hard to imagine BottleRock’s next time after news surfaced last week that the fledgling, super-sized festival is late on several large payments and has bounced checks.

The biggest entertainment event the Napa Valley has ever dreamed up may have just gotten its wake-up call.

In explaining $630,000 in unpaid wages to stagehands and other problems with payments to vendors, festival organizer Bob Vogt pointed to a financial dispute with food and beverage vendor CP Cooks LLC.

A representative from CP Cooks said it does not owe BottleRock any additional money.

However and whenever that dispute is settled, it may still not provide enough capital to cover BottleRock’s remaining financial obligations, which still include more than $300,000 owed to the Napa Expo and a six-figure bill from the city of Napa.

Vogt said BottleRock is also owed money from two festival sponsors.

Hopefully, BottleRock organizers secure the funding necessary to meet the rest of their payments and meet their significant pledge to local charities.

But whatever the depth of BottleRock’s financial hole and whether digging out of it is realistic, the damage to the event’s reputation is of equal concern and the primary reason we fear for the festival’s future.

In the wake of this week’s news, some have argued that inaugural events of this magnitude are destined to lose money for a few years while working to establish themselves.

That’s likely true. But there is a difference between losing money and not paying your bills.

Especially when those bills include workforce wages.

With close to 150 union workers still waiting for checks three weeks after payment was due, it is hard to imagine how the festival would be able to secure that labor for the next edition of BottleRock. They’ll certainly want money — or a bond — up front. Where will that money come from?

Some vendors are also still waiting for 2013 payments, and some have received checks from BottleRock that have been returned for insufficient funds.

Whatever the cause of these financial travails, they’ve stained the festival, quite possibly beyond repair.

We hope we’re wrong. BottleRock was a tremendous addition to the Napa Valley calendar. The music, spectacle and economic impact of the event was phenomenal.

Residents around the Napa Expo will tell you it wasn’t perfect, too loud and too disruptive. But thanks to local and contract law enforcement and medical personnel, it was safe. And the vast majority of those in attendance would agree, it was great fun.

Local government services, businesses, festival volunteers and staff members were tested by unprecedented crowds and traffic and responded in a manner we can all be proud of.

It was truly a wonderful event.

How sad, then, that this latest financial chapter could ultimately become BottleRock’s legacy.

(49) comments

Uncle Ed

Great event for the first time out. Always growing pains. If there is another next year, the contract language will be more clear. I worked at the event and was paid on time, every penny. Many temp workers. Processing payroll for 500 concession workers is a lot of work. Sorry to hear about the stagehands but that's the promoters issue. CP ran their part of the event very well. Attendance just didn't meet the expectations.


Now... while all the screaming about who did this or that, how loud etc. or fingerpointing, I wanted to mention a couple of things. After being told by young Mr. Meyers not to spend my "golden Years" writing negative posts and don't come to the show, well, I'm actually younger than Mr. Vogt, and have experience in many phases of the music industry. Can't take critics? Yer in the wrong biz. Yes, folks aren't happy, but how about bucking up and facing what's been happening. Oops! that's right, guess the lawyers said SHOOSH! We had a nice time except that for disabled folks, it was a bit difficult to get around.
Maybe, if you started with a smaller number of days, fewer promises, and making sure that the money was taken directly to a company that did the accounting, there wouldn't be these people all screaming as much. And truthfully, listen to the neighbors and the local businesses, they are people just like your "higher class of attendees". C'mon boys let's be nice to Napa folks!


Too bad there is no IMG and duPont family member (Festival del Sole key sponsors) to pick up the shortfall


I own my own business and can assure you that I NEVER write checks until the money is in the bank.
I have also been in charge of community special events and until I receive sponsor money, I would never dream of writing a check or spending the money until I have it in my account and the checks have cleared.
A simple budget and someone staying on top of the financials would have prevented this mess.


I never said CP Cooks does not owe them anything. Please reread my posts. What I said was BRNV, depending on their contract, is owed a percentage of the the F&B take.
A vendor spoke out about a $3K check that bounced prior to the event and it was only made good because he threatened to go to police.
I'm all for transparency, lets start with BRNV. They should know how many checks have bounced and the amounts. Maybe "the person that did an enormous amount of work for BRNV" would be willing to share that
information. I don't see the promoters defending the fact that there are numerous bounced checks. A simple peek at their bank statement would show whether there is only one bounced check as is alleged.
And here's another fact, who writes checks if there is not enough money in the account to cover them? I believe the promoters said that it was not intentional, correct? Well if the story now is we wrote checks based on projected income coming in, that seems rather reckless.


As I recall, non-profits weren't "promised" a million dollars. NRNV hoped to raise that much money to donate, but that is far from a promise.

FAndrews, can you prove that CP Cooks doesn't owe them anything? You call it a smoke screen, but you had better be ready to back it up instead of telling people what to believe.

I had heard otherwise about bouncing checks in that it was an issue up until the event, and it has just become an issue now that CP Cooks isn't handing over the money they were supposedly supposed to get. This information came from someone who did an enormous amount of work for BRNV and someone who is still waiting on 25% of their compensation from BRNV.

It's up to lawyers and CPAs now to figure it out, but until then, the CP Cooks issue is obviously an important factor.

As for money and where it goes, I agree it needs to go to stagehands and hired help first. I've read that a job like this is anywhere from 5-15% of a stagehand's entire income, which is a bit more important than the non- profits when you're factoring that this is their livelihood and pays the mortgage and puts food on the table.


FAndrewss, I do not know Gabe or Bob. I briefly met Gabe at a volunteer event and quite frankly, we did not hit it off too well. I tried to point out some organizational issues that I was concerned about and he wanted to be a "know it all" who did not want any input. I was not treated very kindly by this person.

I don't know, but this Bob guy, with an autistic son and all, I think his heart was in the right place but he was dealing with Gabe who had grandiose ideas. Someone should have set some boundaries.

And I'm supposed to take your word at face value that they owe millions and that the beverage fee is too small to make a difference? Well, maybe to the non profits who you stated were owed a million (at least) it makes a big difference. But right now we have stage staff who deserve to be paid that money, whether or not it was set aside for non profits. To them, that paltry sum of beverage money could make a difference. Do the right thing. Pay the stage staff off first.


There in lies the problem as to who gets paid first. The other article has the listing in the comments for some of the amounts owed, add them all up. Plus don't forget to add in all of the bounced checks. So there are non union workers, vendors, staff and bands, not to mention all of the govt. entities as well as non-profits.
Simple math will show you that the catering company did not have enough to cover these expenditures. Keep in mind BRNV is only owed a percentage of the sales, not the whole amount made.
The promoters are residents of Napa and in my opinion have brought shame to our town!

5th Generation Napan
5th Generation Napan

Too bad, I enjoyed the festivities. But then I remember when Napa had big community Italian parties in Fuller Park in the Summer in the "old days"...lol Sorry to see the NIMBY take over the town and not even try to give a great event like this a chance. Given the chance and done right there was no reason money could not have been made by everyone involved. But, I agree a little better planning should have been done!


Also, regarding the food vendor, I have to ask why they are holding onto beverage fees set aside for non profits? Was that their job to distribute to non profits or was a contract in place to hand over money to the promoters who would then distribute to non profits IF there was money left over post expenses?

Yes Gabe and Bob are two fly in the sky dreamers who dreamed too big. I don't think this qualifies them as being bad people.

The reality is that the promoters need the food vendors to hand over the non profit money. The reason I'm saying this is because there are people who were independent contractors for stage production. They are not being paid. They have lots of staff underneath them who aren't being paid.

These people performed an actual service. Non profits did not (that I'm aware of). Who do you think is more deserving of the money? I feel sorry for non profits but they should be at the bottom, not the stage staff who performed actual labor. Do the right thing.


When all is said and done, we are probably looking in excess of MILLIONS of dollars that are due to Staff, band, union stagehands, workers, City of napa, State of California, County of Napa and vendors.
"Yes Gabe and Bob are two fly in the sky dreamers who dreamed too big. I don't think this qualifies them as being bad people." In my book, if you deceive people then I would say that DOES make them bad people. The keep stalling telling people that the "money" is coming when in reality it is not. These are supposed business men and pillars of the community. How can you conduct yourselves like this?
The non-profits were promised a percentage (a million if I recall), so to say oops, sorry you didn't really work or perform services, so you don't deserve to get paid is also ludicrous.
Get off the money from food vendor, that's just a smoke screen and stall tactic. There is no way they are holding enough money to pay all of BRNV bills!


I would suggest that all of the people that are saying how they know both of these men and how great they are. Perhaps you all collectively can lend them the money so everyone that to date BRNV has stiffed can be paid. Including those bounced checks, checks were bouncing before the event. So how is that the fault of CP Cooks? Writing checks and not honoring them is, depending on the amount, is a misdemeanor, perhaps it's time to start seeking legal recourse.


You people act as though it was a purposeful scam. I don't think that's the case.

There exist some type of people who sort of push forward in life with a "hopeful thinking" attitude of success. Sometimes it works but usually they start out on a smaller scale and work upward. That's not what happened here. They were disorganized from the get go but "scum" or "intentional" do not fit.

This event actually turned out way better than I was expecting. Gabe and Bob are lucky on that level, but now the reality of their financial disorganization is raising its head.

Maybe we will all be surprised at the end of the day when everyone is fairly paid. For now they ought to pay 50% of their debt and promise to pay the other half in a 4 weeks or so. I don't think it will benefit anyone for them to file bankruptcy.


Wow! A real scandal and huge scam in Napa!! Who'dathunkit??!!! Looks like a huge hole in the finances of Napa and the workers who worked this event.

As for the promoters, looks like jail time for them, probably bankruptcy and being run out of town on a rail after they get out. A huge flim-flam, as some suspected. When the headliner of a music festival is a band no one ever heard of, you know there's trouble.


What headliner would that be?

Bill O'Reilly

I laugh in the face of all these complaints. You poor souls had to deal with 5 days of noise until 10pm. That must have been so difficult. And your poor children...they're going to be scarred for life. Give me a break.

This was a great festival. I hope it comes back next year louder and bigger. The expo was the perfect location for the event and there is no reason to move it elsewhere.

There has so far been ONE issue with this event, and that is the unpaid wages and fees. Everyone deserves to be compensated and I hope they sort this out.


Yeah, not getting paid is no big deal. It's just one issue!


"In the wake of this week’s news, some have argued that inaugural events of this magnitude are destined to lose money for a few years while working to establish themselves."

You could say that about any type of business, but getting in the music production business and putting on a festival of this scale, you would be thankful if you actually broke even the first year. Or the second. It takes time to brand and build it up and you are always going to have problems the first time you do it.

Even if everyone gets paid what they are owed this thing is tarnished, probably beyond repair.


The Register got it exactly right. The event was fantastic. The neighbors near by are a bunch of old Napa pills who need to get with the program. Their old days a not coming back. Brewster's will not reopen. Sorry.

However the organizers, while guys with big dreams, have no business sense. They are a cross between PT Barnum and film flam men. Hopefully someone will come in pay the bills and take it over. We can hope....


There is nothing to take over. It hasn't been an ongoing festival for years with a reputation and a brand. This was the first baby step and now you have this. Someone may come in and do something similar with a different name and a smaller scale...which would be the smart thing. The venue is a flawed place to hold it.


What was the tax revenue?


Do you mean sales tax? I'm not sure but I would hope that sakes tax was collected for all of the merchandise sold and still being sold on EBay and thorough BRNV. The State Board of Equalization takes a dim view when sales sales tax is not paid. I would hope BRNV applied for a resale license.

I really have to shake my finger loudly at the Register. They have had opportunity time and again to interview a knowledgeable individual in concern of music and music industry in Napa. They have had more opportunity to learn and discover some very interesting and revealing history for the "Napa Music Scene". Clearly, three of their reporters have shown a bias to "anything local music or musician". With what happened with the neighborhoods was not totally in the mis-cued hands of BRNV management, The City made some wrong choices as well, but however when given solutions they took action. But the register does not have this information and will not get the in depth story because it would appear that the Register prefers "white pickett fences and Lollipop flowers". Even more discerning is that at times reporting by the Register, never really gets to the "real deal" in the publication but only offers surface information. Will the Register stop discriminating with sources for Napa Music?


Who would that person be?

I am continually stunned by the resurfacing of complaints about the events from the neighbors. Why? Because over the last 38 years it has been the same ol', same ol'. When the Expo was having concerts on the East Fairway in the Grandstands it was the same small minority of people squawking about it and not bringing solutions to the table. I did the music management for the City's 4th of July one year, 38,000 attended. It was the same group of people complaining, you could hear loud amplification all the way to Silverado CC. Really I think everyone gets it, we all live in the community, but when it comes down to this, music from the expo, the neighbors are separate and should receive preferred treatment. How about this, I don't want my taxes to go into supporting your community if my taxes cannot go into supporting music at the expo for only three days. As well if you would read the EPR for noise in Napa City you would find that the loudest source for decibels is at Trancas & 29.


You can leave with BottleRock.

Hey I am not leaving.... I am going to walk, ride or park my car somewhere in the "neighborhoods" and look for every code violation I can find, complain about every city utility, sidewalk, overgrowth, improper sign, jutting sidewalk, exposed piping, improperly painted city markers, non-defined property lines or locate residential encroachment on city property. Seriously, if just whipping up negative statements about Bottlerock, coming at Bottlerock from a perspective of me, me, me.... If thats all we are going to hear, like that broken record that was pressed in 1977, then if you want to sit around and pick at codes, well your codes can be picked too.

Or how about this... Try to find a solution for everyone in the community, because with the eventual streamlining and success of a music festival it can mean a economic boost for all concerned.


Mr. Vogt is an attorney, I went to www.calbar.ca.gov to see his profile. In 1976 he was accepted to the Bar. Five (5) times he was suspended and not eligible to practice law. Four (4) times were for failing to pay his bar membership fees. I guess paying things in a timely manner are allegedly a pattern for Mr. Vogt. We are talking MILLIONS of dollars still owed to Band, union and non union workers, City, State and County and vendors. As taxpayers we will shoulder the outstanding monies owed to City, County and State agencies. What about all the workers and vendors, how will they recoup? These men should be ashamed!


Bob Vogt is a good man whom I have known for a very long time. He has been the author behind the scenes of several successful ideas, usually to have someone else capitalize on his efforts. I admire his courage and his dedication to make things happen. I had no idea how was going to pull this off but it was a model of success during the production, with very few problems. High praise was showered on this event from the attendees and City of Napa residents alike. The fact that the books are slow to balance should not discount the success we have all enjoyed. He has several options, one of which would be to bring in an experienced partner working with him to produce next years show. I would never bet against Bob Vogt to work this all out to everybody's satisfaction it will take a little time. As someone said this is the first time ever and so give him credit for what he has achieved.
It is easy for those who have never tried anything out of their comfort zone to criticize others.


Bob Vogt and Gabe Meyers are the worst kind of heartless business people. Their rep told the stagehands there was NO money to pay them, not we'll pay you someday! They use flimsy excuses to the press rather than getting loans to pay the money they claim is owed to them! They had to have charges filed against them before they'd repay my friend 's $3,000 bounced deposit refund then told him to go to hell when he asked for the NSF charge. These " businessmen" need to be in jail! How can you pretend you had a great festival if the bank has seen your bounced checks and your employees are unpaid? Does the Expo plan on leasing the property to such irresponsible people in the future? What if an people get injured like in the stage collapse in Canada or Illinois? Who will be responsible if the promoters hide behind their business shell game like Bob & Gabe? Call me if your town gets out the tar. I'll provide the feathers.


We were sold a bill of goods. The promoters promised the world, including A LOT of money to charities - money that they will never see. Not to mention the nearly $1 million owed to workers and the city of Napa. Those close to BR-- artists, promoters and others in that clique were all payed and payed well. What an absolute sham. Well intentions are one thing, fraud and theft are quite another. Oh and this editorial is a love letter to Bottle Rock. Could have been, and should have been much more scathing.


I could understand how CP Cooks owing money could cause financial problems. That aside, writing bad checks, that's a giant red flag. Asking new investors to pay old bills, that's another giant red flag. Sounds like Vogt and co. need to have someone else run the money side of things.


If I understand it correctly from what I have read CP Cooks is holding the money is due to the non-profits. They are not turning it over to BottleRock because they fear that it will be used to cover operating losses instead of benefitting the non-profits. I believe that if you look at the non-profits, who are the members and who sits on the boards you may find out why the Expo and City extended essentially what amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars of credit. They could have collected the estimated total fees in advance or required a bond to insure payment but neither agency did. I challenge anyone else to go to the Expo or the City and tell them you want to do something that will incur a $100,000 bill and that you will pay them sixty days afterwards. Get ready to be laughed out of the building. I've seen the City shut off a family's water for bills under $100. It pays to get the right people on your side by promising a million dollars to their pet interests.

Barbara E

Hopefully this event will soon be part of Napa's past. Moving forward, we need to make sure that Joe Anderson of the Fair Board understands that our Expo Center is not a Concert Hall. It was build and meant to be used for small town fairs and other rural events. We do not want large music festivals there. it was not meant for that and we don't want it used for that. Take your massive sound systems and huge crowds somewhere else. Perhaps it was a mistake to build the fair grounds so close to our neighborhoods. I am sure that 100 years ago it was not seen as an issue as they never would have predicted the volume of people and music that was coming, but it is what it is. You can try and move the fair grounds somewhere else if you like, but so long as it is where it is, please limit the usage to low impact events. Our communities have had enough.


Major events like BottleRock generally take 3 years to become profitable. The team behind BR was (is) very inexperienced and dreamy. Every young entrepreneur is. It was amazing they pulled off such a great first show. The now famous Coachella Festival in Palm Springs also had a shaky start (replete with grumpy neighbors). For BR to succeed, Vogt/Meyers must publicly commit to make good on their debt, then secure professional backers with deep pockets. All of the problems of the first event can be solved, including the inconvenience to adjacent neighborhoods. But it will require an improved plan, bonafide financial backers and community support. Most important to the formula is trustworthy organizers. Mr. Vogt and Mr. Meyers have a short window to set things right. I certainly hope they do; BottleRock was a blast, enjoyed by many locals and visitors alike.


That short window broke when their rep. told the union members they wouldn't honor the contract Bob & Gabe signed. If they can't honor a Collective Bargaining Agreement, they need to get out of the business

Barbara E

"Residents around the Napa Expo will tell you it wasn’t perfect, too loud and too disruptive. But thanks to local and contract law enforcement and medical personnel, it was safe. "

That is too funny. Since it was safe, we'll over look the massive crowds, garbage, noise, crime, drugs and other reported mayhem that our neighbors endured. No one died so therefore it was "tremendous", "phenomenal" and "wonderful". Nice that our local paper is looking out for our families. I am not quite so quick to count them gone. I'm waiting for the State to refuse their permit. Then we can all celebrate. Hopefully that will come soon. Not sure how long something like that takes.


I don't know that proves much of anything...reality is they did accomplish the remarkable... they just missed their mark by a mile...there's a reason 9 out 10 businesses fail before they know they failed…hope they recovery personally these type of events are a blast to pull off.
But.. lots of buts...unless they have more money than brains it will never-EVER fly paying top of the market wages/services out of the box, at some point down the road when it’s established perhaps, but no way out of the box life and business doesn’t work that way. The bottom-line here is if you run it like a government entity you get government entity results...….this is not intended as a slam on government this is just to point out the differences that too many people fail to realize even exits…the difficulties and the realities free society…free to fail and free to fly.
I commend the team behind the show...a remarkable accomplished...with, as expected a wart or two but it’s not a terminal tumor.


"It was truly a wonderful event."......so says the editorial board of the NVR. It was truly a wonderful event for those who attended, I'm sure, but a nightmare for the residential neighbors of said festival who dealt with what could legally be defined as a public nuisance for one whole week. It could've truly been a wonderful event if they had started out slowly, gotten input from the community (especially the residents of Juarez, Fairview, and Alta Heights) and had not been so stubborn and insistent on using the Expo. A compromise could've even been reached to use the Expo, if only for a one-day music festival to test the waters, with plans for a larger and longer event in the future somewhere in a rural field away from residents. All you needed to know about BRNV could've been gleamed at their informational meeting held one-month before the show: camera men and women with silly teenybopper grins filming Vogt-Meyers and the assembled crowd like they were part of the next Woodstock.

Hear Ye
Hear Ye

I hope bottlerock is here to stay. They need to pay their bills and continue the great success they had.


And this just proves that all napa cares about is the money and happiness of our tourists. They don't care that people can hear the LYRICS TO SONGS across town! Not even near the festival. Keep it up napa! Doing great!


Good bye Bottlerock- May you stay in the bottle corked to never be heard again! I and others will not miss you and hope that is what happens. Don't pay your bills and get the hell out of town.


The promoters got paid but not the worker who earned every cent. Shameful for not paying them. Go away and don't return to our community.


Is that a fact?
Doing events like this it's easy to a millionaire....just start with 10 and you'll get to one million before you know it.......
Without a hard driving Director and crack team of project coordinators pull it all tegether…it be doomed before the gates opended.


I say Good riddance BottleRock "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen".!!!!

Jane Esters

I am stunned by the content of this. In particular ;"Residents around the Napa Expo will tell you it wasn’t perfect, too loud and too disruptive. But thanks to local and contract law enforcement and medical personnel, it was safe.". Honestly Napa Register, is this what our community deserves? "Safe"? Is that why we buy homes and raise our children here? To be "Safe"? I hope our city leaders and every civil-minded member of our community notice that statement. Our families demand and deserve more than "Safe". It was LOUD and it was DISRUPTIVE. That is what it was. Safe was not a reward handed out because it was loud and disruptive. Our communities pay their taxes and demand what the law provides. The peaceful enjoyment of their property. Shame on your paper. Is that what the writer wants in their neighborhood? Safe? Looks like we should have thrown this event in their front yard. They could have had some "safe" there.


Well said Jane...but I think it could be fixed...I know it could be the question is will it even have a pulse after all the press...

It was too loud for the location but it can be done right....

Jane Esters

glenroy I agree. It could be done right. The expo center was never intended for this type of event, but if there is anything that comes out of this it is that Napa needs a venue to support these types of festivals. Someone needs to put together a package for the City/County to buy some land (perhaps between Napa and American Canyon) and create a new venue. A location away for the population center where the event can crank it up as loud as they want. I think it would be an outstanding addition to our community. Maybe something patterned after the Concord Pavilion (or whatever they are calling it this week.). Napa can, and should have more events like this. I really, honestly believe and support that idea, I just know that right in the middle of a subdivision is not the right place. Buy 100 acres in AmCam and develop it. Put it on a ballot. Maybe a one-cent tax to fund it. I'd vote for that. All those hills look boring anyway.


IImagine the traffic...it's brutal now....but I don't disagree, somewhere but where it is now. Btw use to drive from Belair to Mini Dr Safeway in 15 minutes any day anytime...great job for a young person.
I think over the last few days the tide has turned against BR...
Maybe buy a chunk of Mare Island?.. The City of Vallejo has allowed a congressional heavy weight to pillaged what few valuable assets existed on MI, part of a phony base closing/superfund cleanup scam once she took control of the Democrat Party... which was nothing more than giving a corrupt congressional family members public lands without paying for it....and Monte Carlo condo's for pillaging.....Sac is being overrun by legal thugs as we type.

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