North Dakota Fest Goes Cold

Jess Harnell, singer for the band Rock Sugar, recently told Pollstar how excited he was to be playing Thunder Mountain Rockfest in Sawyer, N.D. – but that was before festival organizers stopped short of paying the guarantees.

Corey Hanson, promoter for the July 7-10 event, has been accused of stiffing the performers because of low ticket sales – an accusation that Hanson reportedly confirms. Hanson announced Aug. 5 that his 5 Girlz LLC was no longer in business and he has canceled next year’s Rockfest. Tickets were already being sold and, according to the statement, refunds would be offered immediately.

According to Rock Sugar’s agent, Brian Hill of Paradigm, Hanson paid the binder, albeit late, but sent the remaining balance via check. Hanson then stopped payment on the check before it was cashed, Hill said.

“This is another case of a guy who thinks he’s a concert promoter transferring his debt, responsibility and burden onto vendors, production purveyors and bands,” Hill told Pollstar. “The thing that incenses me is he’s protected by North Dakota law by filing bankruptcy and will likely never pay any of the money he owes.”

Joe Litvag, manager for up-and-coming band Cavo, has a similar complaint, and the Ward County Sheriff’s Department has reportedly received complaints from representatives of three other bands, including Survivor and Blood, Sweat & Tears.

Hanson the Minot Daily News that attendance was low for July 17, and the festival released a statement that overall attendance was around 7,000.

The promoter told the paper the lower-than-expected income from the turnout resulted in stopping payment on the checks.