San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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November 16th, 2008
World United Music Festival cancelled

Music fans who were looking forward to three days of fun found a rude shock as the World United Music Festival was abruptly canceled.

Festival staff were told by Jerry Payne, the organizer of  the WUMF , that the remaining lineup of musicians would no longer be allowed to play and ticket holders were to be refused entry. People already attending the festival were asked to leave.

“He [Payne] was unhappy with the wind and the temperatures,” said Morrice Montalvo, one of the members of the production company that Payne contracted with to put on the festival, who also expressed apologies to the public regarding the cancellation.

Winds on Friday night were high and at least one tent was blown over resulting in an injury to a vendor.

“From what I understand all involved will be reimbursed,” said Montalvo, when asked about the possibility of refunds. As of yet no exact plans for this reimbursement have been finalized.

Payne, in a statement released today said:

There was a communication breakdown between the production company and those who they hired on to produce this show and it sounds like a dispute between the production company and one of its sub contractors. We are currently investigating the circumstances surrounding the breakdown in communication. Having been unaware of these issues I had no way to anticipate the severity of these problems. My heartfelt apologizes go out to all those who came on board to help us with our cause most of all the volunteers, vendors and the musicians as well as those who came to see the show to help the overall goal of supporting our troops and veterans who have served our country.

As soon as I have more information I will be sure to keep you informed. I am here in Austin as we work forward to resolve this situation.

And again my heartfelt apologies!

Jerry Payne  

Cory O’Donnell, Marketing Director for the festival, refutes the notion that the dispute was with the production company.

“It says production company, it should say staging company,” said O’Donnell

Furthermore,  a statement on the WUMF website says:

We are sorry for any inconvenience but the Festival has been canceled for the weekend. We look forward to next year’s event. Sunday Show Canceled Due to Weather on Friday and Saturday. The production staff apologizes for any inconvenience to the RMA, artists, fans, patrons, military, and families who planned on attending this event. The Executive Producer of the event, Jerry Payne, President and Founder of the United States Entertainment Force, made the announcement at 6:30pm Saturday, to cancel the remainder of Saturday’s show as well as Sunday’s because of the storm that occurred Friday which caused structural damage to the site, coupled with the freeze that occurred during the event yesterday.

However, sources close to the WUMF who have asked to remain confidential say that the festival could have easily continued and were stunned that the artists, employees, volunteers and vendors were given no warning before being asked to leave. Several of the bands contracted to play made an effort to perform at local venues for their fans. As of press time no times or locations for these performances can be confirmed.

Another consequence of the festival being closed down was the cancellation of a surprise appearance by current Ms. America, Jane Park Smith. Other consequences include the loss to local business that agreed to sponsor the event. However, the deepest consequence may be the loss of proceeds from ticket sales that would have gone to military families whose loved ones have been wounded overseas.

“We had an amazing show set up, we really did,” said a WUMF source who requested to remain anonymous.

As of yet no date has been set for a second festival.

by Sean Wardwell
Managing Editor

(Photo by Christina Zambrano)

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0 thoughts on “World United Music Festival cancelled

  1. What a shame! Whoever organized this should get some serious flack, and not just a slap on the wrist. Especially since they also chose to include Governor Rick Perry as one of the festival’s supporters. This is a disgrace to all of San Marcos, TX. How do you suppose people will take a second festival serious? Also, what about all those people who lost so much money in travel time, lost wages from work by the vendors who participated, the parking attendants and ticket collectors, the people who came to see the festival,and all the musicians who traveled so far to spread their most awesome talent ( and do these people even realize what it’s like to be an average touring musician? It’s not freakin easy!) Is anyone going to get compensated for their losses? I understand things go wrong sometimes, but what is it, the weather or a disorganized project with lack of communication? There have been different stories. The people of San Marcos and everyone from around the world that invested time into this festival deserve some answers. Especially our troops and their families who the proceeds were to go to. There is still a chance to make things right, and that is by being honest to the people of this community and to compensate wages to all of those who lost time and money due to the cancellation of the festival. That is the fair and just thing to do! I hope they do something right! If this gets handled in a decent manner, I will think of going to a future festival in San Marcos. If not, then shame on the people who give San Marcos a bad name.

  2. Second event? Not if the same guy is running it! What a rip-off and joke! Says “due to storm”, what storm? We didn’t have a storm in San Marcos Friday! This was an ill-planned event—expecting huge crowds at outrageous ticket prices for bands that are virtually unknown. Let’s hope the media does investigate and followup, since this “promoter” hurt people rather than help like promised!!

  3. 160 acts and eight stages? Perhaps they should look at more successful festivals like Old Settlers to see how it’s done. They spent more money on production than talent. Only 200 tickets were sold through ticket vendors. If only 200 tickets were sold, the promoter of the event should have known to pull the plug a week before the event even began. They should have canceled a week ahead of time so that touring acts can alter their travel plans, may be not buy the plane ticket, vendors wouldn’t have to spend thousands on food. A friend of mine told me that there were more port-o-potties than people, you could literally write your name on one claim it for your self for the day. Obviously Jerry Payne is trying to save a little face on this catastrophe of an event since San Marcos had one of the most beautiful weekends that I can recall. I really feel for the musicians, vendors and the 200 fans who purchased those tickets. I don’t think any of them will get reimbursed- and to not have the money to pay the production crews and stage workers? It was irresponsible for Jerry Payne to continue with the show when he knew only 200 tickets were sold. He should have had his staff contact vendors and artists to let them know the situation and just took the loss on the contractual obligations with the production company. Some times the show just can’t always go on.

  4. I have planned many events in the past…none that were intended to be as large as this one, but events none the less. One thing I’ve learned from all of my past events is that attendance is everything. If I’m planning an event and we only project a tenth of the expected attendance, we will cancel it, but in plenty of time as to not inconvenience participants. This event was not cancelled because of weather, it was cancelled because the person in charge was too embarassed by the poor showing to go through the torture of another day.

    One request…Please, do not bring this back to San Marcos. You have inconvenienced us enough.

  5. I personally feel sorry for the people that spent so much time and effort getting this together. Look at it more humanly if you’re planning a party for you birthday what is your biggest fear…That no one will come. Sometimes it just happens that way. I spent all day Saturday there, it was a bit windy but other than that the weather was fine. I had a good time and was disappointed in San Marcos citizens that no one came to represent. This was a cool idea and now that it was such a bust nothing like this will want to come to San Marcos for a long time.

  6. Some issues arose and people made mistakes plain and simple. It is human to save face. For the people that volunteered they should be proud. It was a great idea. I believe the ticket prices were a bit high. There were plenty of flyers. I believe the media in all aspects could have done more to promote this themselves. I would never say that this kind of event shouldn’t come to San Marcos.

  7. Re Adrian saying the media could have done more to promote the festival, I put out a roots monthly (3rd Coast Music) and I got calls from the San Antonio Express-News, the Austin American-Statesman and the Houston Post asking if I knew anything about this deal, but I was getting as much info as they were, ie nada.
    We gotta have something to work with!

  8. To add to that, it is not the media’s job to advertise for you. If you have good media relations and play your cards right then they will, but in the end, its not their responsibility. The responsibility of the media is to report, not promote.

  9. Cory O’Donnell contacted me about three weeks before the festival and said that she was with the production company hired by Jerry Payne (World United Music Festival) to market and stage the event. She did everything humanly possible to get the word out in a short time on a very limited budget – competing with a major election and other events – knowing that she was coming into this months later than generally necessary for a major event.

    This morning Cory showed great professionalism (which some would call guts – or other body parts) to make difficult phone calls to countless people with whom she had contact, to apologize for cancellation and she filled me in on what little she knew.

    I had no official capacity in this event- but am simply a lifelong music aficionado and longtime supporter of live music in Central Texas, and had informally spread the word about the festival

    I can only imagine how difficult it is to be in a situation where you are hired to promote something – and when the boss decides to pull the plug, for whatever reason, he leaves you – the marketing coordinator – and a bunch of other people holding the bag…

    The police and firefighters were not paid – the sound companies were not paid, the production company was not paid…. and Cory O’Donnell was not paid – but was still making calls to people she had talked to — she said “I feel like somehow it’s my reputation – I am the one who was out front – who put my word on the line about this event…I am the one who talked up this festival… ”

    She didn’t offer this info -but when I asked, she said that no, she had not been paid for her work yet either. Anyone want to lay odds on her seeing a paycheck out of this? Slim to none, I’m guessing.

    It is difficult in the best of times to put on a major festival. The road to hell is paved with good intentions and this sounded like a worthy cause – and I want to believe the promoter had good intentions when he decided to plan this event. No one plans one of these things expecting to fail.

    But whatever the excuse for failure – Jerry Payne’s disappearance is the most telling part of this event. That speaks volumes.

    Bad weather happens in Texas — ask Rod Kennedy!

    As Monday Afternoon Quarterbacks, we can all line up and think of ways that this could have been handled better. But it is not the fault of the marketing coordinator, the vendors, the production company, the bands, or even the guy who leased them the land… the buck has to stop somewhere and in this case, it seems the natural stopping place is with Jerry Payne.

    That said, after watching Cari Hutson and HalleyAnna perform great sets WITH sound on Friday afternoon – we were on hand when the sound company pulled the plug the first time…when the word was that their deposit check bounced and they were awaiting real cash money. Understandable.

    A group of fans, not easily dissuaded, talked Mark Jungers into playing sans amplification. As true roots artists, Mark and his band stepped down off the stage and stood on the dusty ground in front of us and played a fabulous purely acoustic set… proving that true talent prevails!

    That’s real Roots Music!

    Thanks to Cari and HalleyAnna and Mark and all the bands who donated their talent for free, whether they played or not – and to everyone who tried to make this event happen on stage and behind the scenes.

    And shame on Jerry Payne if he does not step up and FACE THE MUSIC!

  10. The promotion for the event was down right terrible! I didn’t see anything in the papers until a couple of days before the WUMF was to take place. Even that, I didn’t know where to buy tickets for Saturday. It seems as if someone was trying to make a fast buck and leave town! There needs to be an investigation that leads to someone being accountable for this festival going sour. It really makes the city look bad. Maybe, next time, we should ask Willie Nelson to have a concert/picnic out here. That might erase what happened this weekend. Any thoughts?

  11. I contacted numerous friends in Austin to invite them to the event. None of them knew of it. They each replied that there was nothing in the Chronicle, on City Search, etc. Very little was going on in the Austin area that weekend so it should have been a good possible event if it was publicized better. Now I’m glad none took me up on the offer.

  12. The event was promoted… a lot. I work for a cluster of radio stations in Austin and for the last month I heard something about the festival every time I tuned in. I can only imagine how much they blew on advertising… it just should have started sooner than one month before the event.

    Entertainment Force tried to put on an festival they and the city do not have the capability and understanding to handle. They tried to have a miniature ACL Fest in San Marcos with a bunch bands that only few people have heard of. I am all about promoting local bands and independent music… but without known headliners no one is going to buy overpriced tickets and travel to San Marcos to attend an unknown music festival. They should have started out smaller, had cheaper tickets and established the event before trying to put on a concert of this magnitude.

    The festival was also planned too late in the year. November is a terrible time to have a three day music festival with camping and air balloons etc. Though the climate in South Texas is usually moderate, since I have lived in San Marcos I can remember every November having at least one freeze, several cold fronts and many windy days.

    Besides the poor promotion, late date, overpriced tickets and unknown artists; the event had some an upside. It was the first of its kind and hopefully it didn’t tarnish the city’s image and chances of hosting large scale events.

  13. I participated in the Festival as a musician. It was a TOTAL SCAM!! Big House Sound were the guys who walked on Friday. Checks were bouncing everywhere. City of San Marcos cut the power Saturday night…It was truly appalling. The bill boasted that they were to have 150 bands. It was more like 25 bands. Everyone had to pay for EVERYTHING. Hotel. Food. Travel Expenses. Oh yeah btw, none of us got paid! My band played the mixer that was on Tuesday. After the performance, I was greeted with a few of the backers. They bragged the entire evening about how much money was vested in the Festival. My interaction was very strange. Since Tuesday I have been researching the event and making my own projections. There is sooooo much to disclose about what happened here…I am in the process of contacting the proper authorities in efforts to address one of the biggest SCAMS i have ever witnessed. Stay tuned my friends.

    The San Martian.

  14. “I can only imagine how much they blew on advertising.” Well, CJ may have heard them on the cluster of radio stations he works for, but it doesn’t seem to have done much good, even if they can claim credit for each and every one of the 200 ticket sales. What I do know was that not one dime was spent on print media, which may not have may any difference, but is still pretty odd. However, my point was that WUMF was utterly useless at media relations. We’ll write abut you even if you don’t advertise, in fact I, for one, did write about them, if only to predict total disaster, but when you can’t be bothered to email details to the media, you really can’t expect much coverage.
    What we have here is a failure to communicate.

  15. I guess it is possible to get a refund. Their website now states:

    “For ticket refunds and vendor refunds contact the executive producer Jerry Payne at the United States Entertainment Force

    Phone: (559) 645-5015″

  16. It makes the most common sense that the event should’ve been cancelled, but it should have been cancelled well over a week ago so all these hard working musicians, vendors and festival goers would not have paid so dearly with their hard-earned dollars to get to the festival and experience this mess. Where is the common decency? I expect they (WUMF) knew they were in trouble before Saturday.

  17. Yes Conquest, you did predict failure. But in a truly condescending and innuendo filled fashion, you directed that “prediction” at the WRONG party- one who in actuality was screwed over along with everyone else (as mentioned by Payne in his “apology” statement). Contrary to your highly unprofessional and uncalled for personal attack, as it turns out, that part of the event took place smoothly and successfully: “The festival was supposed to coincide with a music conference held in San Marcos. That event, the Roots Music Association Conference, was a big success.” (KeyeTV) So the question remains to be seen whether you have to guts- or at the least professionalism- to print a retraction to those statements and give credit where credit is due.

  18. Annie, sorry you didn’t like my tone, but the fact remains that the RMA was an essential component of the festival, they recruited all the artists (well, maybe not the two headliners who were supposed to get paid), none of whom would have signed up if not for the RMA’s involvement. I admire the way they’ve managed to distance themselves from Payne, I’d do the same in their shoes, but it was they who chose to go into partnership with him, obviously with little or no vetting. I heard the conference went well, and actually I wish the festival had been rather more successful (or been cancelled much earlier) so the whole concept could be retired with some dignity.

  19. Another place WUMF failed was that they did not reach out to the local entertainment professionals. If they were smart, they would have talked to people like Vicky Lucero of Propaganda Media, Kent Finlay owner of Cheatham Street Warehouse or even our local bookers like Eric Shaw from Triple Crown. These are the people that know what would work for this area and how to do it. Vicky even told me she stopped by WUMF Office when they first set up to ask if they needed any help or advice, she was met with deaf ears. If you read the Austin-American Statesman Story, Vicky gave the most sound advice for starting a festival like this. Also the city, though with limited involvement, should have formed a committee with local entertainment professionals to help WUMF with some input, especially if we used some of our city money to help fund the event. How much money was wasted on this event? Eight stages, U.S. Air Force Flyovers, police and EMS presence. Jerry Payne the Huckster, all hat and no cattle hiding behind “an act of God,” which is a boldface lie since there was no freeze or rain, check the weather report- 42 degrees Friday night. Vendors, employees, musicians, get your lawyers ready.

  20. We played Sat. at 1:00 to about 10 people. You know what, we had a fine time. It was disappointing with the turn out. The power was on and so were our amps. I am sorry about the vendors and the money they lost. I think once they saw that the pre-ticket sales were so low, they should have slashed the price down to $5.00 a head one week before the festival.

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