Snoop’s Dog Days At Summit

An upcoming three-day music festival in Monterey, Calif., which faced some strong scrutiny from county supervisors for its lineup, will go ahead after all following a recent vote.

The promoter for the Monterey Music Summit, Joe Fletcher Presents, secured permits and contracts months ago from the Monterey County Parks Department, which oversees the Laguna Seca site. But when local residents protested that the event, featuring Snoop Dogg as a headliner, could incite gang violence, the supervisors threatened to revoke the event permit, Fletcher said.

"We got a lot of pressure from the County Parks Department, the Sheriff’s Department and from the Board of Supervisors to change the lineup," Fletcher told Pollstar.

There was also pressure from local media. The Monterey Herald ran an editorial that said Snoop was "all about profanity and glorifying gang culture and demeaning women," and questioned whether the First Amendment requires a "government entity such as the county to provide him a stage."

It wasn’t just Snoop Dogg generating all the fuss over the festival. County officials also objected to The Crystal Method, a theatrical piece called Filthy Gorgeous Burlesque, and some of the vendors and nonprofits associated with the event that promote inherently political agendas.

"It was really them saying, ‘We don’t want this burlesque group. We don’t want The Crystal Method (their name has a drug reference in it). We don’t want Snoop Dogg. We don’t want any of the political action.’ They put pressure on me threatening to pull the permit unless I changed that," Fletcher said.

He refused.

"I said, ‘You know, censorship is illegal, the First Amendment is a constitutional right, and you guys trying to censor this or change my artist lineup is completely ridiculous. There’s no way I would ever do that.’"

When the issue went to a meeting of the county supervisors for a vote, Fletcher found supporters in the county parks director and local law enforcement, who told supervisors that all necessary precautions would be taken to ensure the event would be a safe one, according to the Herald.

Sheriff Mike Kanalakis even suggested during the meeting that the issue had been blown out of proportion and there was little evidence to suggest a "nexus between gang violence and this kind of act," the paper said.

County supervisors voted 4-1 to let the show go on.

Even so, Fletcher had to make a few accommodations to keep things on track.

For starters, $1 from every ticket sold will go to local gang prevention organizations including Barrios Unidos and Second Chance.

On top of that, Fletcher is paying a premium for police security during the festival.

"Last year, we had two Monterey police on duty, and our total cost for the police detail was $3,700. The Monterey police didn’t have one incident," Fletcher said. "This year, the Monterey County Sheriff’s Department has sent me a bill for $38,000."

Although the festival expanded from two days to three, Fletcher noted that the 2008 lineup is very similar to last year’s event, which featured The Roots as a headliner, and said the leap in security costs was surprising.

"We’re still negotiating with [the Sheriff’s Department] and we think that we may be able to get them to relax some of what they’re asking for," he said. "It’s just a huge expense that we really didn’t anticipate."

After enduring such a "long, aggravating process" getting event approval, Fletcher will think twice about hosting the Music Summit at the same place next year.

"Last year we did the festival at the [state-owned] Monterey Fairgrounds … they didn’t give us any problems," he said.