A local promoter in Texas called off the first Lubbock Blues Festival after only 50 tickets were sold, saying a rumor helped kill the event and that he is uncertain the city is "even a blues town."
Billy Brown booked Johnny Winter, Long John Hunter, Smokin’ Joe Kubek and others for the Lone Star Events Center August 4th. The promoter moved from Washington in part because of Lubbock’s reputation for supporting live music, he told the city’s Avalanche-Journal. Now he’s out $12,000 in band guarantees and sound company deposits.
Brown added that his partner, Mike Pritchard, president of the Texas Panhandle Blues Society, was temporarily hospitalized for heart problems caused by the stress. Pritchard told the paper he was out of the hospital and on heart medication.
A show at the United Spirit Arena may have also contributed to the low ticket sales, Brown said. ZZ Top was scheduled to play the same day as the festival, and a rumor spread that the blues fest would cancel because of it.
"We even emphasized on our Web site that there was no cancellation, that we were still holding the blues festival," Brown told the Avalanche-Journal. "The rumors just ran rampant."
Brown said he tried to move the event to October 28th but the events center was already booked and nine of the artists on the lineup could not switch dates.
"I don’t know that Lubbock is ready for a blues or jazz festival," he said. "I don’t even hear a blues hour on the AM stations. A lot of people here told me they were behind us 100 percent but not many even bought tickets to show support."
Brown could not be reached at press time.