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Columns > John Zinkand - Improvise

Published: 2005/09/08
by John Zinkand

The Shakedown Breakdown

When I first heard the announcement about the first annual Shakedown Campout and Music Festival I was very excited. I love the Hornings Hideout venue here in Oregon, but am not a big fan of String Cheese or the bluegrass genre. Since the Northwest String Summit and the SCI annual weekend are (were) about the only annual events at this venue, I had only been there once before for a one-off festival featuring Leftover Salmon, Garaj Mahal, Skerik, Vinyl, and others called Bob Hornings Hoedown. It was very sparsely attended and someone must have lost money on that festival even though it was a kick ass and intimate experience for the fans. But since that time I had really been hoping for a good reason to go to Hornings. So when the Shakedown Fest was announced, I immediately stoked it into my program and fully planned on going.

For multiple reasons, however, I kept procrastinating on buying the actual tickets. After having just returned from the High Sierra Music Festival, buying more festival tickets was not really that high on my list of priorities. Add in all the other distractions like work and an unusually stressful home life and it turns out I just never got the chance to buy tickets. Then I kept missing the deep discount early bird price cut off dates which would lead me to feel it was ok to procrastinate on buying the tickets some more. It turned out that having waited to buy them was a good thing after all. Suddenly there was much murmuring about the possibility of the closing of Hornings Hideout as a concert venue. Then it was announced that this would be String Cheeses final summer show at the magical location. Next came the tragic news: Hornings Hideout will no longer hold concerts and the Reggae Fest and Shakedown Fest would be moved.

At this point, Im pretty psyched. Im thinking Im glad I didnt buy tickets already because I heard from folks who saw The Dead at Columbia Meadows last summer that the venue is pretty beat especially for an entire music festival. Ive never been there, so this is merely conjecture and hearsay, but I didnt want to take any chances. It was easy for me to skip it, too, because suddenly my plans changed and now I had to move out of my current house on Labor Day weekend. An extra weekend to get everything organized, packed, and ready to go didnt seem like such a bad idea.

Then the Shakedown Festival people added an extra day to the festival to try and torture me. How could I pass up a 3 day festival in my backyard with some bands I really, really dig? How could I call myself a jamband fan and not attend this festival? But yet I kept putting off buying tickets. Ultimately, I resigned myself to letting it be a last minute judgment call. I would go with the flow and suck up the slightly pricier door tickets. I figured there is no way it will sell out, so if Im ahead of schedule on packing and feel the need for some last ditch summer festival fun, I can just head on up there. I thought I could even just go over for the day on Saturday if it came down to that.

I had mixed emotions when I heard they cancelled the festival completely not more than 24 hours before it was supposed to begin. Im sure many people shelled out their cash well in advance and are now completely bumming. I also feel badly for all those people who drove long distance or even flew in to the area. I feel badly for all the vendors who paid their fees to vend, but now have no prospective customers. Hopefully it all works out and everyone gets refunds, eventually. But its such a total bummer. It also doesnt bode well for the jamband community to have such shadiness taking place. Our scene is supposed to be supported by good, hardworking, upstanding peoplethat like to party and rock out, of course. So this kind of thing definitely puts a dent in the scenes fine reputation.

Of course, when I heard the news of the cancellation I felt relieved in some ways. I was happy that I kept putting off buying tickets and that karma was looking out for me in this particular instance for whatever reason. On some level, I was happy that now I wouldnt miss a festival that might have turned out to be the sleeper festival of the summer season. How shitty would that have been if all the reports came back glowing and I had been sitting around packing boxes at my house 20 minutes away? It would have been tough to deal with knowing I bailed on all that fine music so close to my home.

So instead of packing or being at Shakedown Fest this fine Friday afternoon, Im doing some writing about packing and not being at Shakedown Fest. I wish things would have gone differently for all involved. I hope the person responsible for this fiasco pays back all the debts incurred to the various fans and vendors who forked over their hard earned cash only to get a big old plateful of nothing. Ive always thought the Northwest needed a new summer festival to infuse life into the scene up here and was hoping Shakedown would be all that and more. I think a lot of people were hoping the same. Too bad we were all wrong.

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