Concert Scam Not Isolated

A scam artist who booked concerts by pretending to represent Alice In Chains and Axl Rose has preyed on several clubs since last year using various names.

Janna Elias, personal assistant to Poison’s Bret Michaels, told Pollstar that Michaels and the group were similarly exploited. In one instance, a phony artist rep named John Bryant of Try-Star Entertainment attempted to book Poison for $7,500 at a Florida club in December.

“A club called Bourbon Street out of Port Richey, Fla., managed to contact me [through] our Web site,” Elias said. “[A club representative] sent me an e-mail saying, ‘Hey, we have this date here for Poison. My manager is out and I’m getting ready to write this gentleman a personal check for the deposit and I just want to verify this is true and correct.’

“I immediately e-mailed him with my phone number and said, ‘No, this is not correct. Do not send your check.’ At that point, we started doing a little bit of research and managed to put what we thought was a kibosh on this John Bryant guy.”

The Blonde nightclub in Kansas City, Mo., thought it had a May 24th Michaels concert booked for $2,500 but was informed otherwise.

“Bret does do, in addition to Poison, some large events … and some smaller, more intimate events,” Elias said. “I think that’s where these people are being taken advantage of.”

Elias thought that was the end of it until she got a Pollstar e-mail alert on May 11th listing a solo Michaels show at Peccadillo’s in Erie, Pa., June 1st. Elias let the club owner know the booking wasn’t legit.

After comparing notes, Elias discovered the Peccadillo’s show was pitched by a rep named Michael Robertson – the same name on the contracts for the Alice In Chains and Axl Rose bogus bookings – who’s associated with John Bryant.

Further research by Elias and associate Lance Surber, of Long Distance Concerts in Las Vegas, turned up a solo Robert Plant concert pitched to Annie’s Entertainment Complex in Cincinnati for $7,500. The Axl Rose show at 307 Downtown in Louisiana was pitched for $5,000.

Copies of the contracts and related correspondence obtained by Pollstar show the same contract template used in the AIC and Rose scams with the pertinent info typed in and promises of promotion on a Clear Channel radio station. The “act of God,” or force majeure, clause is again misspelled as “force manure,” as was found in other bogus contracts.

The names used by the phony artist rep include Robertson, Bryant, and Doug Goldstein, using various business names including Try-Star Entertainment, Michael Robertson Management and Robertson/Goldstein Management – and all listing addresses in Florida or Chicago.

Some club reps were instructed to send a certified cashiers check for the deposit to a Carey Zermeno, or Zermino, at a Chicago address while others were to be sent to Robertson or Bryant.

Agency For The Performing Arts agent Troy Blakely, who represents Plant and Poison among others, said the reported scams aren’t a new development and can be avoided.

“I’ve seen this happen for 30 years. There’s always been someone out there scamming somebody about selling an act they have no association with,” he told Pollstar. “It would be easy to check these things [on the Internet] to see if you can get this artist or if this is a real person trying to sell this artist to you.

“The old adage stands true here: If it sounds too good to be true, it is.”

– Tina Amendola