Is Rock Harvest Another Great Big Music Festival or A Great Big Scam?
An open letter to music fans, promoters and the organizers of Rock Harvest.
Is Rock Harvest another great big music festival or a great big scam? Some are saying scam and I agree.
If you buy a ticket to Rock Harvest don’t be surprised if the advertised band(s) you are paying to see don’t end up playing the event.
The proof is in their own posters and advertisements that have been circulating since early spring 2013. It’s now October, the event is just weeks away and over two dozen of the advertised artists are no longer appearing.
Well it depends on who you ask.
According to the ‘Promoters’ (Twisted Nail Productions) and ‘Co-Founders’ (John Guarnieri and Lyle Desplaines-Hawkins) these bands either cancelled, dropped off, broke up, there was a conflict of interest or they retired. Yes. Retired.
According to many of the bands themselves and their respective agents – it’s simple. Rock Harvest breached their contracts.
I know this for fact. As my band (Tuff) has one of those contracts.
Rock Harvest had signed legally binding contracts with several of these bands and agreed to terms set forth in those contracts. But in the recent months leading up to the event, Rock Harvest did not fulfill their end of the agreement (buying flights or sending deposits) and therefore the bands were left no other option than to “not appear” at Rock Harvest.
The main issue for most of these bands, were the flights. The promoters agreed to cover the cost of and buy the artists round trip flights and cover all related expenses for the weekend. Some of the artists agreed to play for free as it was a charity event. But in playing for free they also required hotels and local transportation.
Rock Harvest agreed to all of this with several of these name bands and also agreed to pay guaranteed fees to some of the bands as well.
My band (Tuff) was one of these bands.
Why I am writing this letter? Simple. I feel it necessary to clear the air.
The promoters from Rock Harvest have been name checking me online and claiming I have sabotaged their event. This is not true. But I did in fact ring the bell and warn every band associated with this event to ‘watch out’ as shit was going to hit the fan. I will say, in reaching out to many of my comrades online, they all didn’t react so fast – and some were convinced by the promoters themselves – that this was just “sour apples with Stevie Rachelle” and to ignore me.
I can tell you today. That every band I contacted has now dropped from this clusterfuck of an event and I was right.
Am I bragging? Nope. Just telling it like it is folks.
I know I am not a big fish, but I won’t sit idle when someone tries to step on me, my band, related brands or people I consider to be friends.
Also to be clear, Rock Harvest did buy and pay for advertisements on Metal Sludge. These were paid in advance to run their ads. But – as I get into detail here, my contract was a little different than some others. I agreed to run all of those ads for FREE – but only – and only if the event played and paid us (Tuff) our contract in full.
Let me explain how this was to work. Rock Harvest buys ad space, and also agrees to pay Tuff “X” amount of dollars for our appearance at their event. Then from that final payment and/or deposit made to Tuff – all of the Metal Sludge (pre-paid) ‘ad money’ would be deducted from the Tuff “guarantee” which ultimately then gives them the ad space for FREE. Dig?
Rock Harvest did not honor their contract with Tuff, we were never paid, and no we will not appear – so their ad space in the end was not FREE and they paid for it. Thanks for your business.
Let me state again, Tuff never received any of our appearance fee, no flights were purchased and no deposits made. The same applies for Love/Hate (who were packaged with us for this date) or any other band that I am aware of – contrary to their claims. You’ll see more on that below.
The facts are, Rock Harvest did not honor their contracts. They continued to delay purchasing the flights, delayed the deposits and asked for more time to complete this. Many of the bands and agents (including our own) granted additional time in the form of days, then weeks and even months. When it became clear they were not honoring their obligatory duties – the bands pulled out one by one.
The list of bands who were ‘advertised’ but are no longer appearing at Rock Harvest is noted below. This includes national acts, regional talent and even local bands.
LIBERTY’ N JUSTICE,
LOVE & HATE,
FLOTSAM N’ JETSAM,
CIRCLE II CIRCLE,
LINE OF FIRE,
DEATHRIDERS (FEATURING NEIL TURBIN),
Rock Harvest Poster With 2o+ Bands No Longer Involved
As of today’s date, October 23rd 2013 the website http://www.fallenblue.org/ – the alleged ‘charity’ is still promoting a poster similar to the one above listing nearly 2 dozen bands that will not appear on the Rock Harvest event.
It is my opinion, that Rock Harvest is turning into a scam and a rip off for many involved. And the fans are gonna get scammed on this one for sure.
Who says so?
The fans themselves.
Read these comments below from fans who bought tickets for Rock Harvest.
The following comments were taken from the Rock Harvest ticket buy link on ShowClix
Greg C writes:
It has less to do with the money than it does with being a victim of this fraud. The promoter used the names of bands to get me to purchase tickets in July for this November show. I was excited to see the bands that were listed. I planned on driving down from Pittsburgh and making it a weekend event. I recently went to this site to see who the final headliner was. To my surprise the headliners were gone from the list and had changed as well as most of the support bands. What happened to the lineup that I paid to see? I really did not see what was wrong with asking for a refund since I was no longer getting what I paid for. To be totally honest I would prefer that my money went to the cause rather to a promoter who used a bait and switch to defraud their customers. With only a few weeks left till this show I am still unsure what bands will be playing. I have heard that bands on the list have already cancelled and this current list has not been updated. This incident has not only hurt the bands and the people who bought tickets, it has hurt the reputation of the promoter, the cause and Showclix. I would rather purchase tickets at the door of a show than risk being defrauded by a lying promoter. Even tonight I am going to a showclix event and decided to buy tickets at the door rather than using Showclix.
I’ve been looking forward to this for quite some time. I’ve been a ticket holder for months and now I find out that two-thirds, no wait -make that three-quarters of the bands I wanted to see are out. This is unreal what a damn joke!!! I have the 3 day tickets, reservations at a hotel AND have planned to take off work.
This is the biggest pile of smelling garbage I have ever smelled !!!! You bold face lie!!!
You did not live up to your contractual obligations with the bands. You kept stringing bands on and on and on then blame the bands and you act innocent. Get a clue you defrauded bands!
C Curse writes:
The whole thing is very disappointing. I have been looking forward to this show for many months and just about every band I wanted to see are not on the bill. I know the promoter got screwed, bands got screwed but most importantly the fans got screwed. Selling tickets and holding an event that is now completely different is not right. You guys should do the right thing
Waukesha AOR writes:
i’m a fan who has booked a ticket in january, and after has booked a flight and hotel non refundable. and all the bands I want to see are gone . it’s easy to understand that i’m not “happy”. I don’t loose $45, but $450 and a dream.
This Promoter obviously is a scam artist. Remember when he was announcing 2014, Rock Harvest III bands in June, July , how can we trust that they will play next Rock Harvest festival. He overbooked all these bands, we the music fan, fell for it and booked early. Now WE ARE FUCKED ! And the ticket agency will not give refunds back…The police charity that this is for, should be ashamed for scamming the music fan like this with this JOKE of a promotion..I emailed bands, and knew they were not playing this festival, before the promoter let the public know.. Total Joke….More than half the bands that were announced in May, not playing now…..Fuck You Rock Harvest II!
Pat W writes:
@Iceman -totally agree with you. Complete scam this is turning out to be.
Rock Harvest II then responded to the above fans complaints with the following post:
Rock Harvest II writes:
Bands who have “cancelled”, Swindle or not ? (We are not and have not swindled anyone)
HURRICANE, (Robert is in Queensryche now and Andrew is on tour with a DIO Tribute band touring)
KING KOBRA, ( They do not want to tour, this was announced a longtime ago.)
Mitch MALLOY, ( He retired)
Ron KEEL, (Thanks to Stevie Rachelle from Tuff)
FEMME FATALE, (Dropped off a longtime ago,)
LIBERTY’ N JUSTICE, (Band is not together and JK is to busy promoting another festival, conflict of interest)
LOVE & HATE, (fees paid but sponsor dropped off and affected us getting airfare)
TUFF, (fees paid but sponsor dropped off and affected us getting airfare
JETBOY, (a cetain band member is talking to other bands creating BS)
LONDON, (Our fault with booking airfare due to loss of sponsor)
CIRCLE II CIRCLE, ( You will see soon, not our issue)
DEATH DEALER, (Ross the boss had other commitments after contract was signed)
TANGO DOWN, (Lack of airfare money)
LINE OF FIRE, (inner issues with band, not our fault)
DC4, (never a contract and wanted band fees that we did not have)
WHITE WIZZARD, (Band and drama issues, see bands press release)
Keep in mind this event is for fallenblue.org and we did not want any of this to happen at all. Events go through stuff like this all the time, and I have NEVER seen certain bands act so unprofessional. Most bands have understood and they WILL be on the next event.
Rock Harvest continues to sell tickets for the event with the above ShowClix link HERE.
Let me continue about the ‘Promoters’ (Twisted Nail Productions) and ‘Co-Founders’ John Guarnieri and Lyle Desplaines-Hawkins.
Do I think it was their intention from the start to ‘rip off’ the fans? Or mislead the bands? My guess is no it was not.
But, I have to think they had “pie in the sky” ideas and delusions of grandeur about how big their event was going to be. Once the financial reality finally caught up with them and they got in way over their heads – they should have backed off with their promises to both the bands and the fans. Instead they kept repeating the promises with new artists. Anyone who knows any of the people in these bands know that these are not wealthy guys. The cancellation costs them money too because of Twisted Nail Productions and Rock Harvest not living up to their word. Some of these bands also booked other East Coast dates around this event or passed on other related musical projects during the time frame that Rock Harvest had contracted these artists for.
Crazy to think, as much of a train wreck as this year’s event looks to be – these same guys are already promoting Rock Harvest III for 2014. Yes, and they are already naming ‘headliners’ and promising ‘contracted’ name bands to appear. This is already on Facebook HERE.
Even crazier yet. They have already started a Rock Harvest III (2014) Show Clix ticket buy link HERE and are advertising Helix, Nitro, Banshee, members of Racer X & a dozen other bands. There is even an “inner circled” VIP ticket link for $ 250.00.
This alone makes it feel crooked at best when the current event is in turmoil, hasn’t even played yet, fans are complaining and yet they are pushing next year’s event.
Adding to the insanity. These are the same promoters who booked VAIN to appear at the same venue in the spring of 2013. The show was postponed last minute when the promoters again, did not honor their contract and had not bought the required and contracted flights for the band VAIN. The promoters convinced the group and management to reschedule the VAIN show for September 8th 2013. With only 4 days before show time, on September 4th the same occurred and the promoters asked to reschedule for 2014. To my knowledge, the show has not been rescheduled and likely will not play. The date did play with local bands, no VAIN did not appear, and yes there were many disappointed fans. Many who asked for refunds and were denied.
Same people. Same venue. Same promoters. Same bullshit.
I truly believe these promoters made offers and agreed to conditions they were not capable of fulfilling from the start. Intentionally? Well if it was 1 or 2 bands, maybe a handful – I could accept and understand an error in judgment. But 10, 15 or 25 bands? That isn’t a mistake. Or an error. That is blatant mismanagement of power, and abusing the whole process. This whole thing has left dozens and dozens of people with a bad taste in their mouth.
Shame on me for saying dozens, as it may be hundreds. 25 bands by 4 members is 100 people. Add in agents, 5th band members, and worse yet – all the fans who bought tickets to go see these groups. My guess is their carelessness has affected more than a few hundred people.
Multiply that times $ 25.00 and $ 75.00 tickets and you have thousands of dollars that has gone where.
Where is that money?
Will the charity even see it?
The funny thing is, I see that John and Lyle are playing the victim here. And also playing the sympathy card going on and on about the charity they are doing this for in an attempt to draw attention away from the fact that they are not fulfilling the promises they made to these bands. And the fans who bought tickets to see these bands. I have also read another excuse they are giving is the loss of a major sponsor who was supposed to put up the money. If that is the case let me ask this. Who signs contracts and makes commitments to money they don’t have without confirming that their financial backing is 100% solid first? Rookie mistake!
Again, take into consideration, this isn’t about 1 or 2 bands or 1 night. It’s over 25 bands over 3 nights. A lot of this has been badly handled to say the least.
Of course doing something for a charity is an honorable and noble thing, especially an important cause as the one they are attempting to help. Fallen Blue raising money for officers killed in the line of duty. I respect their desire to help this cause, however that doesn’t excuse the fact that their lack of money, lack of experience and poor decisions is hurting these bands and fans who bought tickets – who did absolutely nothing wrong.
I ask this. Is there an actual fund for this charity? Do they have a permit? Who is keeping track of the money and what families, if any have received anything from this ‘event’ – past event or any related event.
A huge issue is Rock Harvest has been posting bands names for months with the words “CONFIRMED ACTS” on their ticket buy link.
Yet every week, 2, 3 or a half dozen more bands magically become unconfirmed.
Note that the list of current bands once contained all of the above noted “cancelled” groups as well. And last week the list was at 35 acts, now it’s down to 30. They edit this link daily. The only thing that hasn’t changed is the ability to buy the tickets. They have also refused any refunds. So if you bought a ticket to see 1, 3, 5 or 15 of the groups advertised in July – but all of them are now ‘removed’ from the event, you cannot get your money back.
They have recently added the following information to their buy link. Subject to subject?
MORE ARTISTS/ ACTS WILL BE ANNOUNCED.
ALL SALES FINAL (REFUNDS ONLY GIVEN IN THE EVENT OF TOTAL CANCELATION).
CARD SUBJECT TO SUBJECT.
More about Rock Harvest and the numbers.
A quick check of math would lead you to believe, this is virtually impossible to make any money at all for charity.
Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and assume, that a local Motel chain gives them 30 rooms a night for FREE. As it is for charity. Check that off as an expense.
Let’s assume that a local food eatery or similar, agrees to supply food for 75 persons (bands, staff, crew, etc..) daily for the 3 days. Check. Covered.
Let’s also assume that all bands fly in and play on standard pro back line supplied by a local music store. Again, check off that expense and let’s consider it covered.
But the flights. Here is where the big “how is this possible” factor comes in.
Let’s grab 6-7 bands from the West Coast all of whom were booked, and actually contracted through legitimate licensed booking agencies. Per those contracts – Rock Harvest guaranteed flights for these bands. Let’s take an average of 4 members per band, multiply by 7 bands and you get 28 flights. Let’s assume with basic flight costs these round trip tickets are $ 400.00 each.
That is $ 11,200.00 dollars.
Now without splitting hairs, according to the list above, all of these acts are West Coast.
HURRICANE, KING KOBRA, FEMME FATALE, LOVE & HATE, TUFF, JETBOY, SILENT RAGE, LONDON, LEATHERWOLF & DC4,
Some have more than 4 band members and in truth – the roughly 40 flights for these bands are actually $ 16,000.00 dollars.
At $ 25.00 a ticket they need to sell 640 tickets to make $ 16,000.00. The 640 tickets is more than the capacity of the venue alone.
This 16k will just cover the cost of the above noted bands flights – most of whom were slated to appear on the Saturday date alone. Make note that the 3 day event has 30 plus bands and there were guarantees given to several of these bands as well. Clearly a 3 day event involving over 100 musicians, and related staff – the over head has to be well into the thousands of dollars per day. Even with donations, and ‘assumed’ expenses covered (gear/backline, motels, food) the event has to come with some cost.
John & Lyle, both appear to be true fans of music. But being a fan and being a promoter are vastly different. Clearly somewhere along the line John and/or Lyle felt they had graduated from fan to promoter. But sadly, seem to have fallen flat on their face in trying to do so. Even as the last month has found them in the line of fire from angry fans over 2 dozen cancelled bands – they have still been pushing sales and even selling VIP tickets for $ 75.00.
On the ticket buy page it clearly says “CONFIRMED ACTS”
Let’s open up the dictionary and define the word SCAM.
It says the following: Scams, scamming, scammed. (tr) to swindle (someone) by means of a trick. scam (skæm) n., v. scammed, scam•ming. n. 1. a fraudulent scheme; swindle. a dishonest way to make money by deceiving people. Full Definition of SCAM. : a fraudulent or deceptive act or operation
Now let me say that I didn’t think that John & Lyle were outright thieves or con artists from the get go, as Rock Harvest had approached me to book Tuff in 2012 at their event. What they originally offered didn’t work for us. They wanted us to fly across country and play for free at this ‘charity’ event. I am all for charity. But I can’t appear in Baltimore for free with a group of guys. I live in Southern California and a few of my other band mates live in the Midwest. But Rock Harvest (John) insisted they’d cover all flights, hotels, etc.. I questioned this immediately and said “Even if you’re doing an event for charity, even if we play for free – you will spend a few grand to fly us and put us in a hotel room or two for the weekend. How will you be able to donate ANY money if you spend a few thousand dollars on Tuff alone to appear.”
Needless to say 2012 never happened.
Then after the guys saw the band (and others) at M3 Music Festival this year there was interest again. This time they were very aggressive to book Tuff, Love/Hate, Femme Fatale, Jetboy, Leatherwolf, Silent Rage, London, Flotsam N’ Jetsam and about 20 other bands. The lineup has changed so much over the last 90 days, I’d bet there have been upwards of 75 bands advertised as “Appearing at Rock Harvest” and “Confirmed Acts” with a “Buy Tickets Here” link all over their Facebook pages.
Yet in the middle of all the drama, turmoil, misrepresentation and fan concern, John and Lyle just keep on weaving their web. No one seems to care enough to call their bluff so to speak, so I have. I felt it very necessary to call these guys out for all to see.
I will close for now and tell you that I am sorry for anyone who has bought tickets to this event and feels like they have been cheated. I feel cheated, but mainly because I looked forward to another East Coast trip to play for fans and friends again. I am looking at my office calendar now and there is a big black marker crossing out the words Rock Harvest.
I urge all of you to share this, tweet it, post it, email it and send to as many people as you can. Spread the word.
Thanks for reading.