Music Fest hits sour note with fans, musicians

Music Fest hits sour note with fans, musicians

(Sept. 19, 2014) The Soundwave Music Festival, which was promoted as “three full days of excitement, great entertainment and live music” hit a sour note with some musicians and attendees who said it fell far short of the “not to miss opportunity” they had been led to believe it would be.

“I would have been mad as hell to attend if I had actually paid to attend,” said Jill Crosby of Baltimore, who went with a friend who had won VIP tickets to the festival held Sept. 11-13 at Airlift Acres, a 50-acre site on Worcester Highway near Route 90 and Trinity Cathedral outside Berlin.

The VIP tickets were supposed to include free food and drink, a T-shirt, front stage admission and mingling and partying with the rock musicians. The free food was a cheeseburger and salad in a bag, the T-shirt was from the poorly attended 2013 Labor Day Music Festival held there and there was no party with the rockers although almost anyone attending could have gotten close to them since crowds were non-existent. The rockers included members of Slaughter, Trixter, L.A. Guns, Kix, Kickin Valentina, Seven Ten Oil, Wayland, Blameshift and several other bands.

One of the few people who purchased a $75 VIP ticket wrote online that “the

‘Mingle & Party With The Rockers’ was advertised as an event in the VIP tent with complimentary food and drink as well as mingling with the bands. It consisted of waiting outside a trailer with the guys saying hi and maybe taking a photo right before getting in a van to be shuttled off.

“I hope everyone (the 12 ppl that showed up) had a great time. . . . Seeing the vendors packing up and leaving at only 4 o’clock fri was a bad sign….to the 12 of us there,” the post read.

Crosby saw even fewer people.

“I think at the most, I saw five people in front of the stage watching the bands,” Crosby said. “We arrived at the venue around 4 o’clock Friday. One band was just finishing up. We didn’t hear another band or any music for that matter till 6 o’clock. Some vendors were packing up and leaving.”

“It was altogether a disappointing experience,” Crosby said. “We made the trip from Baltimore for the show. Granted, it was free since we won the tickets but we wouldn’t have wasted the gas going if we knew how disappointing the ‘festival’ would be.”

Some people had an even more disappointing experience.

Guitarist Tim Barbour of the New York band, Blameshift, said the band was not fully paid for its performance.  They had been paid some money in advance, but were due to get the rest of the money following their set. To add insult to injury, he said, the band members were thrown out and members of a second band who took up for them were also thrown out and members of both bands were escorted off the property by police.

“We couldn’t believe we were getting kicked off the property,” Barbour said Monday night.

When Barbour made his first attempt to settle up money with Airlift Entertainment, which put on the show along with sponsor L.E.O.S.A. (Law Enforcement Officers Safeguarding America), owned by former Ocean City policeman Tim Keane, he was given an envelope of money with a different band’s name on it. He immediately gave it back and questioned why he was never even asked what band he was in before they gave some random person an envelope of cash. After the Airlift affiliate “Sammy” looked again for Barbour’s money, she then claimed Barbour was already paid earlier in the day, he said.

On Saturday, however,  another woman affiliated with Airlift Entertainment told Barbour the money had been found in an envelope behind the stage.

“We think she gave our money to someone else and now they’re saying they’ve found our envelope under the stage,” he said. “Or maybe they didn’t find it at all. It’s just a stupid thing. I just want to get our money.”

Monday night, Barbour said it did not seem as if the band would get paid.

“We could really use the money,” he said of the band, which has been touring the country for five years. Its members are full time performers, unlike some musicians who have other jobs.

“It’s all we do,” he said. “We’ve been out since February of this year. Last year, we did 250 shows. We’ve done 180 shows this year.”

“This is the only time we’ve had an issue like this,” Barbour said.

Like many other touring bands, the members of Blameshift rely on their pay to get to their next tour date and to buy food and other necessities of life. Blamefest flew in its drummer just for the Soundwave Music Festival and made an eight-hour round trip with their bus and trailer.

While he was at the festival, Barbour saw about 20 people who were there as attendees. The headline act Friday night had about nine people watching, he said.

He also said the food vendors were not pleased at all because they had expected thousands of people to attend the hyped-up Soundwave Music Festival and they had spent thousands of dollars  in anticipation of many sales.

“The festival was a wash-out,” Barbour said. “No one was there.”

A crowd was expected Thursday because admission was free for any retired or active duty service members, military, policed, firefighters and EMTs. Admission fees for those people were reduced by $10 for Friday and Saturday.  Regular admission fees were $45 for one day or $110 for three days.  VIP rates were $75 for one day or $180 for three days.

Keane purposely scheduled the festival to coincide with Delmarva Bike Week, OC Bike Fest and Bikers to the Beach and he was anticipating many motorcyclists to attend the event. Instead of attending in droves, however, the motorcyclists stayed away.

“There wasn’t one,” Barbour said. “It was the worst run and least turn-out of any festival we’ve ever played.”

Last year’s Labor Day Music Festival also had an extremely low turn-out. Although it was a fund-raiser for the Worcester County Humane Society and the FOP Lodge 10, neither got any money.  The Soundwave Music Festival was also expected to be a fundraiser, but its intended recipients were not named online and it would seem there might not be any funds to donate.

Although Barbour said he and his fellow band members could not let their payment issue take up too much of their time, they want the money due them.

“It’s about the principle of proving our point,” he said. “We’d like to get paid for principle alone.”

As of Wednesday morning, the band had not been paid.

According to www.airliftentertainment.com, additional events are still scheduled at Airlift Acres.  Southern Comfort Country/Blues Festival is scheduled for Oct. 4-5 and the Haunted Halloween Fest is scheduled for Oct. 24-Nov. 1.

The Web site states that the Haunted Halloween Fest includes the Field of Fears with “plenty of clowns and other Psycho’s,” the Blackwell House, which is not a house, but the remains of a house “where 5 alleged murders took place in the early 1900’s,” and the Trail of Terror or the Path of Death, where there are “actual corpses buried within the path and grounds you will be exploring.”

Keane did not return phone calls or email messages by the newspaper’s deadline.

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