Boots on the ground


I called Boots Hughston of 2B1 Multimedia, the firm hired by the Mateel to run Reggae on the River 2007, on Friday, Feb. 16, at his office in San Francisco for an update at a crucial juncture in the future of Reggae: the Mateel had just filed its lawsuit and Reggae Rising had just been announced.
(photo by Kim from last week’s coordinator meeting at the Mateel.)

We are halfway though February. In the past Reggae on the River tickets have gone on sale early in March with some sort of tentative a line-up announcement. Where are you on planning? Any acts confirmed?

We have confirmed somewhere between 22 and 23 out of 27 acts I’m planning to book. Contracts and deposits should be going out this coming week. I don’t really want to say exactly who the acts are at the moment because I don’t want to give the other side a pecking list to bump our acts. It’s already happened a little bit already.

I’ve talked with some people in the reggae industry who have told me both your production company and People Productions are bidding on some of the same acts.

That’s partially true. What happened is, we started booking in January. We pretty much got out ahead of them, but I did find out that it looks like they have Ziggy Marley on hold and they might have Burning Spear who they pulled off of our side and they also booked Anthony B, out of the 22-25 acts we had partially confirmed.

So in those cases, you’d been working with the booking agents, but through…

Through their friendships or whatever, it blew our deal.

The Mateel lawsuit seems to imply that [P.P.] is using its business contacts to dissuade people from working with you.

That’s starting to happen, but the good news is, we’ve been in business for so long it hasn’t really hurt us too much. But we’re only a week into their attempt to mess up our show. I personally feel that Carol should be above that and know it’s not the right thing to do. I don’t think she’ll stir the pot much more; it would not be smart for her legally. It could become real damages. The intent of that lawsuit is to make sure that People Productions does not interfere with the Mateel’s show. The whole idea is to keep them from jeopardizing the survival of the Mateel. What happens from this point on becomes a pretty serious matter.
The good news is we have most of the show booked. We plan on putting out a press release around the first of March stating all the acts. Tickets go on sale as of March 1. That’s where we’re at.

So you are moving forward under the assumption that Reggae on the River will take place as in the past, but with 2B1 as production company.

They way I look at it is this: There’s a binding contract with Dimmick and he can’t just say it’s breached; he has to prove that breach. So there is a venue [for the show]. That’s the first thing that needs to be proven in a court of law. If he wants to prove that the lease is breached, more power to him, but I don’t think he can do it before August 2 comes around.
The next thing is the permit process and our interpretation of the permits. There’s a history of 24 years of the Mateel having the permits. Just because a [Planning Dept.] employee working out of Eureka sees a different interpretation doesn’t really mean that’s the way it is. The permit is in the Mateel’s name on Dimmick’s property. It’s not the landlord’s permit; it’s the Mateel’s permit. We have the permit hearing March 1, where we’ll be discussing mitigation on the CUP filed. Some of this will be addressed then. I believe Michael Richardson is a good guy; he’s just been swayed by other people’s opinions. I think it will come back around toward the Mateel.

It has been reported that you have already paid an advance on the licensing fee. Can you say how much?

Yes. I gave the Mateel $300,000, to kind of bail them out, to keep the ball rolling.

So you gave them the full fee upfront?

Yep. I gave them the full amount. It should keep them going for a year or two. That’s the intention.

What if the judge decides for Dimmick and People Productions and you don’t get to do the show?

Technically the Mateel wouldn’t have an effective license and I guess the contract would be null and void.

They’d owe you that money.

They would, but there’s no argument between us about it. I’m a big boy and I understand how things go. I’ve looked at the negative side as well, but I respect the community and this is my way of helping out.

So you are not planning on foreclosing on the community center to get your money back?

(laughs) No. No I’m not.

There was some speculation about doing the show at French’s Camp without using Dimmick Ranch. Is that an option?

The permit is for Dimmick Ranch and Arthurs’ (French’s Camp).

Is the Cook Valley campground included?

From what I’ve been told that’s a separate permit held by Bowman. I think that’s from Mendocino.
As to Dimmick, the Mateel still has a binding contract and he’s going to have to prove that’s not a valid lease. He’s saying that he is relying on People Productions [as producers], and since the Mateel hired an outside company, that contract is breached. But People Productions breached the contract with the Mateel by overselling tickets, — an outside entity clicked the tickets and showed there were more sold than was permitted, let alone the other 12 or so breaches addressed [in the suit]. That means the Mateel had to find an outside producer to fill their fiduciary responsibility as a nonprofit. They have a business to run. They had to hire somebody; they hired us. And we’re going to try to do a heck of a good job.

Do you see the fact that a number of coordinators have pledged loyalty to Carol as a major hurdle? How do you move forward without all that institutional memory?

The first thing is, when something like this happens, all the top guys’ heads roll and they’re replaced with other people. And there’s good reasons for that, one is because the loyalties lie with the former boss. The new promoter doesn’t want to deal with disgruntled employees, so he gets new people.

You’re talking as if you’ve seen something similar happen.

I have.

Can you give a specific example?

Burning Man. All the heads rolled at Burning Man, not once or twice, but three or four times in the last 20 years.

Aren’t they in the middle of a court battle for control of the festival right now?

That’s true too. Then there was the North Beach Photographic Art Fair we did. I did it for 14 years, then it became the North Beach Fair, which is now in its 35th year. They’ve had three or four board struggles, cases where all the heads rolled and everybody was rehired to start all over again. It happens. And it usually happens around 10 or 12 years where people start getting unhappy with what’s going on. People get tired and so forth.
But on my end here, I want to keep everybody aboard. The reason why is because I want to keep the community intact. I feel that all of the coordinators have earned their place, earned their keep. What I’m trying to do is remind them all that the door’s not closed. They’re welcome to come back any time. I understand their loyalty is with Carol, and I actually respect that. I pretty good with it. As to the amount of coordinators, there’s roughly between 100-120 coordinators from last year rank and file. Out of those 120, between 60-70 have been to our meetings, maybe even more. There are 20 or so who are definitely not coming back. They’re etched in stone that if it doesn’t happen Carol’s way it’s not going to happen. Then there are a lot who are on the fence, waiting to see what happens in the next few weeks.
I want to keep the same organization as much as I can but I’ve already made plans to incorporate new people, to bring new people in, and if we don’t fill the coordinators position in the next few weeks, I’ll start putting those new people in. I’ll bring some up through the ranks, and where I can’t fill positions I’ll bring in outside people.
I’ll give you an example. Medical for instance. I love Mossman, he’s really intelligent and a fine person, and I think he’s done an excellent job, but he’s not the only guy in the world who can do medical. There’s Dr. Ross Chapman who does Sierra Nevada and many other festivals; there’s Dr. Bustamante and his critical response team and there’s others like Diana Totten who’s said she’s willing to consult and help us. We’ve talked to others from the Critical Incident Team who are interested and might change their mind and come aboard. In my mind the door’s wide open; I’m not closing it on anybody. It’s looking like we’ll have people who have been here before, just a different captain.
Reggae on the River is a complicated festival — no doubt about that. In my mind the reason has to do with it going back 25 years, it goes very deep in the community. You have people who have down the same job for 20 years and maybe their brothers have some other job moving the rebar or digging ditches. When something like this happens it gets pretty complicated. You lose one guy then his brother may not want to do it either — a complicated infrastructure has grown up around Reggae. I’ve done shows with 35,000-40,000 people where we had 300 volunteers, not 4,000. I’m not saying you don’t need volunteers, but we could do it with less.

Getting back to what happens next, it looks like it’s going to be in the hands of lawyers and judges for who knows how long.

Let’s put it this way: The Mateel is moving forward 100 percent. They have a binding contract with Dimmick and he has a contract with the Arthurs. Whatever happens next depends on Dimmick proving that his contract is invalid. He has to go to court to prove there’s a breach. Until that happens the show moves on. You can’t impede the Mateel from doing business. Everybody’s marching forward. There’s a huge amount of loss to the community if this doesn’t happen. I think it would be smart for everyone to get along and stop all the fighting.

From my perspective it just seems so sad. I read the comments on the blogs and see all this backstabbing and it gets depressing. I’ve always thought of Southern Humboldt as the last remnants of the old hippie culture of the ‘60s and all the strife makes it seem like a dream has died.

That’s the way I feel too. It’s hard to believe people are doing what they’re doing. I’m still fighting for the goodness, and the good will prevail. The morals from the ‘60s were really important. Without us this would be an uglier world. You’d have everyone living in Eichler homes with everything painted green and pink…

In houses made of ticky tacky…

We changed all that. Our generation changed that. We stopped a war. We made music that was never heard before. All that came from our generation, and it’s not going to come to an end. I always thought of the Mateel and Humboldt County as the last bastion of those wonderful hippie values. And I don’t think the dream is over.

At that point my tape ran out. Where things go next remains to be seen…

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9 Comments

  1. February 15, 2007, 10:31 AM
    I feel compelled to write about the events swirling around in our community like a not funny soap opera…these statements are my opinions and thoughts, because I have freedom of speech. I am a citizen and I have sat silent too long. I refuse to buckle under any threats that I will be sued. Come and get me.

    There are so many facets like a prism.

    1. Why didn’t the board of the Mateel inform the community of its financial problems in 2005? My opinion is they hoped the next year would come and they would get by. Instead, their end of the contract was not fulfilled again in 2006. Was this planned to put extreme stress on the Mateel to sell out the Reggae on the River trying to save the Mateel?

    2. Where did the money go? Who benefited from this the most? Who wants the whole ball of wax? Is it truly the root of all evil? Greed? It certainly is not love.

    3. There have never been open books until now. Everyone, I guess, thought all was ok. Now one party refuses to help Mateel. Their books will be forever closed and have been that way from the beginning.

    4. I salute the present board and executive director.

    5. What is the end game?

    6. Are we prepared for the Mateel to go bankrupt?

    7. Who will buy the Mateel if we, the Mateel Nation, fail to keep our Mateel Community Center active and open?

    8. The Mateel, we the Mateel Nation, started Reggae on the River for many years. There are thousands of us locals who worked for free. We thought we were helping our Community Center. We found out that outsiders were being hired and paid where we worked for free. Or is it my imagination?

    9. Our plans for completing our Community Center are still unfinished. Where are the Teen Center, the Elder Center and the Performers Rooms? What happened to Stage II?

    10. Who is the most important non-profit in our community that should have benefited the most for our community to exist? The Mateel Community Center. Because it exists, many non-profits exist. Not just because of Reggae on the River, the Summer Arts Fair and the Winter Arts Fair help our community, too. All the events at the Mateel Community Center have helped so many.

    I went to the vendors meeting for Reggae on the River and I was a bit shocked by a few of them. Like their non-profit should receive free tickets, up to 30. No wonder there was money missing. That another group should be given special consideration to their help flying in from Boston. Give me a break here. All this about “local” this and “local” that.

    I helped with Volunteers for years and then I developed the Alter-Able Site. Which I have to say now is probably the largest handicap area at a concert in the nation. My man, Fredy Champagne, did Traffic out on 101 for years. We both did security for many years at many events at the Mateel Community Center as volunteers, not paid.

    When People Productions started their takeover many years ago, Fredy went to a whole year of board meetings to be shouted down over and over by PB who was not even a board member. The takeover [assumption of control: an assumption or seizure of control of something, especially of a corporation, political entity, or organization] has been planned for years. The generous offer to buy out the Mateel after putting them near bankruptcy hasn’t worked yet. Hopefully, we, the Mateel Nation, will rise up from these ashes.

    With Hoy, Fredy and I, many years ago forced a meeting on this issue. I, in a wheelchair, was accused of trying to take over Carol’s position. Like be real, I am severely handicapped. I was trying to point out that every position at Reggae should have a backup.

    So, I am guilty of walking away and not being strong enough to fight for my Community Center. It was easier for Fredy and me to do projects around the world with other countries than to deal with People Productions.

    How many of you have walked away, too? How many of you took the dollars? How many of you have even thanked Mateel all these years for putting on Reggae? Because we did it. You know. All the volunteers sweating out in the farthest points, all the volunteers in so many positions that is how Reggae happened.

    Without you volunteers, the non-profits would not have made money. I salute all who helped and I am grateful to be a member of the Mateel Community Center.

    Now, we the people have to see the future clearly if we want to continue. How can we resolve this bickering and finger pointing? Which is not what I moved here for? I was looking for all of you… I came here in 1979; my family is now mixed with the Walikis, the Rednecks, and the Hippies. We have our ups and downs. Yet we love each other and try to support each other.

    What are we leaving for our children? What are our dreams for this community? Will Greed win?

    Oh, and one more thing. I keep hearing the issue of Safety. Like, we the Mateel Volunteers and Members are incapable of putting on an event and somehow safety is an issue.

    A few years ago, I witnessed two fires near Reggae on the River. No one at the concert even knew about them. The fires could easily have gone into the event. There is and was not any procedure to evacuate the site if a fire did happen to get to the event. There is no way 10,000 or more persons could safely leave the site. I want to thank all those great fire fighters who put their lives in danger to put the fires out before it reached Reggae on the River.

    I have seen so many other things that were not safe. Yet I refuse to point fingers or blame. Let us all work together to get Unity working again.

    We, the Mateel Nation, started Reggae on the River. We have to decide our future. Choose well and do it in Love and Unity.

    As dear Bob Marley said. “Stand Up, Stand Up for your Rights.”

    Reply

  2. I don’t understand the whole competative bidding thing. We don’t have competing events, we have two producers trying to put on events at the same location. Only one event will happen, so why should Boots or Carol care whether the artists double book? It’s insurance for the artists, and they get two deposits. The artists can always agree to refund the litigation loser, and they have a little more compensation if the whole thing crashes and burns and nobody gets to perform at all.

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  3. Competetive bidding- when 2 producers are after your services you can ask for more $$ driving the price for talent up. Bidding wars can start or everyone’s price goes up because if Act x gets so much than Act Z gets so much … just like sports stars if the top player gets so much than the 2d best can get a little less but more than the 3rd guy.

    Reply

  4. In your example though, that assumes 2 different events in different places. In this case, it’s essentially the same event by different producers and only one of them is actually going to take place.

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  5. Hi Moss man,

    I understand your anger and hostility – your loyalties are being challenged many of your friends have come aboard supporting the Mateel and 2b1. I understand your frustration. Lets clear the air, last year at Reggae you told several people you quite because you felt it was unsafe (this was told to me by many people). OK so you quit last year. Then, you try to make it out as though 2b1 is making the event unsafe. That’s not nice. You and I both know why it was unsafe, it’s because too many tickets were sold (or handed out). Estimates run as high as 25,000 this is twice as many as allowed. Even Carol’s CUP Report states there were 25,000 people in the area, the PP audit showed 24,500 wristbands were ordered. You know the real story; it was unsafe because it was oversold.

    Yes, you are right John Bustmante is an RN not a doctor; I made a mistake in the interview. I also got Harmony festival and Sierra festival mixed up but rest assured Dr. Ross Chapman is qualified to run the medial team and John Bustmante is an excellent RN. I also wish to point out that you are not a doctor but in fact an RN as well. It looks like Dr Ross is much more qualified than you are to head the team. As for Diana Totten she did say she would consult with us on the event, her heart is in the right place she cares about the community. If you wish to speak to me please call the Mateel they will give you my cell number (You don’t have to give them your name).

    If I were you I would look long and deep, and then ask the question; am I being manipulated? If so, by whom, and for what reason? Then, I would ask the question; what’s important, is it past relationships, egos, who did what? Once you’ve have gotten through this process I believe you will come to the same conclusion as all of us have. The community is what’s important. Then you to will defend the Mateel as your friends and associates have.

    I see good in all and feel this community is special. I even see good in you Mossman, I know what you are trying to do, Carol quits and now she wants to march on. Its ok – the door is open for even you, when the smoke clears you are welcome. My only purpose is to heal the community, raise the spiritual content of the show and bring the behemoth under financial control, the community deserves that much. The community worked many years for free to make this festival what it is today. It was a “labor of Love” for me and my friends, we worked for free and were happy to do it. The Mateel became a concept, a belief, a way for us to united as a community while enjoying each others company. Reggae on the River became a yearly right of passage. Its time to remember what it once was and to focus on bringing it back – to its roots.

    I have no anger toward you or others involved. My purpose is to make “Reggae on the River 2007” the best ever.

    Much Respect, Boots-2b1

    Reply

  6. Boots,

    Interesting how our first actual conversations ever are here on a blog online….

    Let me clear up a few things….First, John & Mary Bustamante are great RN’s and great people. I love them dearly and would not stand in their way, regardless of what decision they make. I am not a Doctor that is true, I am not even an RN, not sure where you got that, but am I qualified to do what I do, I’d say my track record speaks for itself. As far as me quiting last year, again not sure where you heard that, but it isn’t true. I have threatened to quit almost every year (as most of the staff do the same thing) but never actually quit. That is simply not accurate information. I believe we all quit every year..then come to our senses a few weeks after the event. As far as Health and Harmony or Sierra Nevada, not sure what you are implying but I am the person who runs the medical team at both events, not Dr. Ross. As far as Ross, I will not go any further than I have gone other than most of what I do is Admnistrative at this point. Are doctors great administrators…Not the ones I know…Anyway, if Dr Ross has indeed stepped up to that challenge, than I wish him and you the best of luck. I know the man personally do you??? I also spoke with Diana (just last night) and our info again seems to conflict. But rather than speaking for her, maybe she can post or maybe you can speak to her again directly. I know its been several months since your last conversation with her. Diana is a great person and if there was a situation where people were hurt and resources were needed I know she would be there (as we all would, regardless of who is producing the event). With regards to your statement about me putting the lack of safety on you, once again please, let me try to be clear on my thought process. I don’t and never have claimed that the event was safe because I was there. I would never imply that. Infact, there are many things that need to change in order to make it safer (again not sure why you have not made an attempt to even talk with me about any of these issues). What I claim is this, last year was very intense every single minute of the week. It seemed as though it might boil over at any given moment. If it did boil over, I felt comfortable with the staff and crew that were there that we would be able to mobilize and respond more efficiently than anyone else could. We the staff have and had a long time working relationship with each other that put us in a place to be better prepared to deal with just about anything than a new crew coming in cold. Really nothing more than that. Please, those responding to this, don’t spin this any other way. All along, I have said I don’t believe you have the resources to pull this event off safely, meaning if the shit boils over, I think the fact that you will have mostly all new people and a lack of symbiosis that would be required to deal with such situations. That is my contention and I stick by it. While Ross is great and so is John, it will take a lot more than those two to pull it off. I have also spoken with John in the past few days and he approves what I have written in my original post. He and his wife are committed to a safe event as well With regard to who is right and who is wrong, all I can say is that my views and opinions are based on what I do at the event. I am reasonable person and certainly would have entertained a discussion with you Boot’s. You did say at the first meeting you wanted to talk with me privately, I never received a call??? Instead you put information out there pertaining to medical and me, and it was not accurate. I responded, and I am responding again. I have nothing against you personally (I don’t even know you). I am just concerned that you don’t seem to have a staff to pull off an event the size and scope of Reggae. I believe it is a valid concern and I am sharing that concern with the public. It was scary last year with the staff of so many years……That is all…mossman

    Reply

  7. I agree. When did ambition become synonymous with expertise? Just because you want to do something doesn’t mean you’re capable. Let’s put it this way; If god forbid, ROR had lost Carol or Diana or Mossman or Johnnie or Dan or any number of other key people we would have been worried. But the show would go on. But without ANY of these people? What are they thinking? If I were the landowner I’d be terminating the contract too.And please, don’t give me that stuff about loyalty to the Community Center. I’m a member and my partner is a founding member. I support the Center but I do not support the board or the director.

    Reply

  8. BOOTS SAID “Let’s put it this way: The Mateel is moving forward 100 percent. They have a binding contract with Dimmick and he has a contract with the Arthurs. Whatever happens next depends on Dimmick proving that his contract is invalid. He has to go to court to prove there’s a breach. Until that happens the show moves on. You can’t impede the Mateel from doing business. Everybody’s marching forward. There’s a huge amount of loss to the community if this doesn’t happen. I think it would be smart for everyone to get along and stop all the fighting.”

    Where did you come up with this info. No one has to go to court to prove their contract is invalid. Someone does however have to go to court to sue everone who doesn’t let them have it their way.

    Reply

  9. Where did you come up with this info. No one has to go to court to prove their contract is invalid.

    see you on the 26th…8am eureka courthouse. That is exactly what will be required of Tom Dimmick.

    Reply

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