Woodstock 50 organizers-vs-investor clash heads to court

2 years 8 months 1 week ago Monday, May 13 2019 May 13, 2019 May 13, 2019 11:21 AM May 13, 2019 in News - AP National

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) - Accusations and counterclaims have piled up as lawyers for organizers of the Woodstock 50 festival and their onetime financial partner head toward a court hearing Monday.

With less than 100 days to go, the two sides are clashing over money, control, preparations and even whether the anniversary show will go on.

The show is supposed to unfold Aug. 16-18 at Watkins Glen International racetrack as a massive, big-name homage to one of the most significant events in pop music history and 1960s counterculture.

The over 80-artist lineup ranges from original Woodstock veterans, such as Santana and Canned Heat, to performers born a generation later, including Chance the Rapper and Miley Cyrus. Jay-Z, Dead & Company and the Killers have been announced as headliners.

Behind-the-scenes disputes spilled dramatically into public view April 29, when the chief investor announced that it was canceling the festival. The backer, an arm of Japanese marketing firm Dentsu, cited health and safety concerns and said there was no way to carry out "an event worthy of the Woodstock brand name."

Organizers Woodstock 50 LLC quickly countered that the show is still a go - and "going to be a blast."

They sued last week, saying Dentsu and its Amplifi Live arm couldn't singlehandedly call off the festival. The organizers accused their former partner of sabotaging the event by scaring off the public, privately telling artists to stay away and draining $18 million from the festival bank account.

"The very fact that they're trying to kill it every day is causing irreparable harm to everybody, including this festival, which is an iconic event," Woodstock 50 lawyer Marc Kasowitz told a judge Thursday.

Amplifi Live shot back in court papers Sunday that the organizers' "incompetence" and "misrepresentations" spurred the company to take control, nix the festival and take back money it had put in.

The festival has yet to get a state permit, and production company Superfly dropped out after raising concerns about funding, the attendance capacity and infrastructure at the festival's central New York venue, according to Amplifi Live's court papers.

"Allowing it to go forward would only put the public at risk," attorney Marc Greenwald and colleagues wrote.

Woodstock 50 wants its ex-investor to be barred from talking about the festival with the media, performers or others - a request that the judge has temporarily granted, at least through Monday's hearing. Woodstock 50 also wants the $17.8 million back.

Amplifi Live says at least another $20 million would be needed to pull off the concert. Woodstock 50 says it needs to raise $6 million to $9 million in the next four to six weeks alone. Performers have already been paid $32 million, according to the organizers.

Ticket sales were supposed to start April 22 but were delayed.

The original Woodstock concert in 1969 was held about 115 miles (185 kilometers) southeast of Watkins Glen on a farm in Bethel, New York.

It's now run by The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, which has its own anniversary concert planned Aug. 16-18, with performers including Ringo Starr, John Fogerty and Santana.

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