Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday October 14, 2016
Harvest Picnic organizer sues talent agency, performers, for millions
The organizer of the annual Harvest Picnic music festival has filed a lawsuit against one of Canada’s largest talent agencies, as well as musical acts Jann Arden, Johnny Reid and the Cowboy Junkies, seeking more than $26 million in damages due to breach of contract.
The lawsuit also says both the Harvest Picnic and the annual Hamilton Music Awards are in danger of collapsing.
Local promoter Jean Paul Gauthier alleges The Feldman Agency, based in Toronto and Vancouver, Reid and the Cowboy Junkies both breached contract provisions preventing them from playing within a certain radius of Hamilton within 90 days of the Aug. 26 to 28 Harvest Picnic at Christie Lake Conservation Area. His claims against Arden relate to concert date announcements.
Feldman acted as the booking agency for those festival acts.
The allegations, which have not been tested in court, were made in a 15-page statement of claim filed in Ontario Superior Court under Gauthier’s company, September Seventh Entertainment, which also runs the annual Hamilton Music Awards.
“The events that September Seventh produces and owns, namely the Harvest Picnic and Hamilton Music Awards, are now at great risk of ceasing to exist due to the unconscionable conduct, high-handed conduct or conduct in bad faith and breaches of contract by the defendants,” the statement of claim says.
This year the Harvest Picnic expanded from one to three days. Crowds were noticeably lower than the previous five years.
Meanwhile, several artists, many of them local, have said they have not been paid by Gauthier.
“I got a bounced cheque,” said Hamilton singer-songwriter Tomi Swick, who performed twice at the festival. “It’s a sad situation. (Gauthier) has always been pretty good to me. It was a good festival.”
Other musicians who have not yet been paid by the festival include the Toronto-based band The Rheostatics, Hamilton singer-songwriter Lori Yates and Hamilton native Jeremy Fisher.
“I honestly feel bad for (Gauthier),” said Fisher’s manager Mike Renaud, owner of Hamilton-based Hidden Pony Records. “I think he just got in over his head. I don’t think he’s a malicious person. But I don’t think this (filing a lawsuit) is the best way to handle it.”
Calls and emails to Gauthier were not returned. A representative of The Feldman Agency offered The Spectator no comment on the lawsuit, but Feldman president Jeff Craib told CBC News that it was “frivolous and vexatious.”
In a statement emailed to The Spectator, The Rheostatics said the band felt “let down.” (Continued: Hamilton Spectator)