Butte-Silver Bow County Fair officials in Montana paid a hefty price to have 1970s rock group
Redbone manager Ron Kurtz said he didn’t know about the ruse involving Denny Freeman until he was tipped off earlier this month.
“I got a call from a musician from up in Montana. The musician said ‘I just want to let you know I feel really bad about this. Some guy hired me to be in his band, Redbone, and I found out the whole thing was phony,'” Kurtz told Pollstar.
The real Redbone, co-founded by Native American brothers Pat and Lolly Vegas in 1968, performed at the Mohican North Star Casino in Wisconsin the day of the reported masquerade. The band just recently went back on the road after a five-year hiatus, with plans for a 2007 tour in the works.
Freeman reportedly asked for, and received, $6,500 in advance. He and another musician showed up for the gig but reportedly said the rest of Redbone had the mumps.
“I mean, at least say the plane got delayed in Dallas,” Kurtz said.
The group, with some local musicians filling in, only played one Redbone hit, “Come And Get Your Love,” during the set.
“Unfortunately when you get into a lot of fairs, there aren’t a lot of professional staff. They’re used to local people helping out and they wouldn’t know Redbone from
Butte-Silver Bow County Fair representative Wayne Grosvold told Pollstar he could not comment because of possible litigation.
Kurtz contacted fair officials to find out how the booking came about and researched Freeman’s connection to Redbone.
“I was thinking that maybe before I had the group in the ’90s, he did some fill-in work in the group and now he’s saying ‘formerly with Redbone,'” he said. “But he said he co-founded the group. That’s really blatant. Pat’s never heard of him.”
Meanwhile, Freeman told The Montana Standard he did nothing wrong in performing under the Redbone name and is willing to give back the money he was paid for the concerts “just to put this thing to rest.”
Freeman told the paper he entered into “a contract” with two former members of Redbone in the 1980s to reunite the band. He claimed the band didn’t get back together but had permission to perform under the Redbone name.
Pollstar‘s attempt to reach Freeman was unsuccessful at press time.
Kurtz said he’ll continue to investigate so he can put the confusion to rest and prevent any problems with future bookings.
“I’m not looking to put this guy in jail or even sue him. I just want it stopped,” Kurtz said. “We’re going to all the Indian reservations to promote Native American relations and I don’t need some guy named Denny Freeman saying he’s Redbone. Who knows what he does on stage? It degrades us.”
The real Redbone is scheduled to perform at the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Casino in Idaho November 3rd.
– Tina Amendola