Thunder In The Courtroom

Thunder on the Mountain, a country music festival scheduled June 26-28 near Ozark, Ark., has been canceled and it appears lawsuits between the organizers and a production company are to blame.

Neither company specifically cites the lawsuits as the reason for the cancellation, but Pipeline Productions/Backwoods Enterprises referred local KFSM-TV to the Internet, saying, “Regarding Thunder on the Mountain, you are welcome to search the public federal court case out of Topeka, KS: Pipeline Productions vs. The Madison Companies online. We don’t have any additional comments beyond the information that you are able to find online.”

Federal court documents show the two companies are suing each other: Pipeline/Backwoods on one side and The Madison Companies and Horsepower Entertainment on the other. Pipeline Productions also organizes Wakarusa and Phases of the Moon festivals at the Mulberry Mountain site.

The company notified ticketholders by email June 13 Thunder on the Mountain, featuring Carrie UnderwoodZac Brown BandThe Band PerryEli Young Band and Big & Rich, along with 50 other acts, according to the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The inaugural Thunder on the Mountain in 2013 featured Toby KeithLuke Bryan, and Big & Rich but reportedly struggled financially, causing a planned 2014 edition to be postponed.

In Pipeline’s suit, the company accuses Madison of backing out of the festival when it appeared it would not turn a profit this year, despite having signed an agreement via a letter of intent with festival director Brett Mosiman. The suit contends Madison agreed to produce the festival and pay Pipeline approximately $700,000 for a 51 percent stake in Thunder on the Mountain and $500,000 for advance operating capital.

The suit alleges Madison paid $272,000 but now “recharacterize(s) its investment as a loan and refuses to fulfill its commitment or wants the agreement reconfigured to get a better deal,” according to the Democrat-Gazette. Pipeline also claims it has already paid some $700,000 in production costs for the now-canceled festival. Pipeline’s suit alleges breach of contract and of fiduciary duty, and seeks actual and punitive damages. In its cross-complaint, Madison and Horsepower names Pipeline, Backwoods, OK Productions, Mosiman and Nathan Prenger as defendants, alleging they “tried to force the plaintiffs into a business deal to which they never agreed,” according to the paper.

The countersuit claims the sides negotiated several “scenarios” that Madison/Horsepower would make investments in, including Thunder on the Mountain. The parties negotiated a “non-binding potential agreement” in which both sides would jointly own and operate Thunder, with Madison having a controlling share. Performers were booked, but Madison claims Pipeline/Backwoods was unable to pay deposits and Madison offered $270,000 under a revolving credit line, according to court documents.

Madison claims Pipeline/Backwoods then tried to claim the credit line was an equity contribution and demanded $400,000 be contributed for the Thunder festival by April 13. Madison further claims Pipeline/Backwoods used money from ticket sales and Madison’s “loan” to cover talent deposits. Madison/Horsepower seeks a judge’s ruling the LOI is not a binding agreement and a repayment of the $270,000, plus 10 percent interest.