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Festi-nada USA: What Exactly Happened With Festibanda USA???

A dream banda lineup at a historic venue, lots of fan interest ... postponed until further notice

By El Chavo, El Original
Published on LatinoLA: October 19, 2011


Festi-nada USA: What Exactly Happened With Festibanda USA???


Inconsistent information, unresponsive solicitations for answers and internal organizational problems lead to frustration amongst ticket holders for the now-postponed Festibanda USA, one of the most anticipated Latino musical events of the year.

What began as the "Lollapalooza" of banda music has ended in a dramatic fashion that could not have been written any better in a script for a Hollywood motion picture. Festibanda USA, the musical festival that was scheduled to take place on October 9, 2011, involving some of the biggest bandas in Mexico with Banda El Recodo being promoted as the event's headliner, was abruptly cancelled on October 1, only days after posting a video on the event's Facebook page announcing that "Festibanda USA going stronger and stronger".

The lineup included other major groups, such as Banda Los Recoditos, El Coyote y su Banda Tierra Santa, Graciela Beltr?ín, Banda San Jos?® de Mesillas, Banda Machos, La Banda Jerez #1, El Mimoso y su Banda and El Bebeto.

Soon after a notice of the event's postponement was placed on the event's Facebook page, questions began pouring in from ticket holders as to what lead to the event's postponement and how they could get refunds on their ticket purchases. On October 1, soon after the announcement of the postponement was made, a posting by the Festibanda USA Facebook user informed page fans that information would be available shortly as to the rescheduling of the event. That was followed up with a posting on October 3rd that by October 7th, all information regarding the rescheduling of the event would be made public. Unfortunately, the release of that information was pushed back again several times on October 7, October 11 and October 14.

Leading up to their final notice of information on October 18th, questions were being raised as to what caused the postponement of the event. Was it poor ticket sales? Was it issues with booking the advertised artists? Did funding for the event fall through, causing the event organizers financial hardships in putting the event together?

On Facebook, the organizers of the event have posted various answers to this question. Originally, blame was being placed on the Los Angeles Coliseum (the venue where the concert was suppose to take place). Festibanda USA made claims that due to the investigation involving financial matters connected to several Coliseum Commissioners, funders for the event had decided to retract their financial commitments to the event.

There's an image of a posting by Festibanda USA on Facebook on October 1, 2011 at 1:34 PM where blame on the event's postponement is placed on matters regarding the Los Angeles Coliseum. Their latest posting on October 18, 2011 places blame on a third-party hired to secure the performers for the event.

Privately, rumors began to spread regarding their inability to secure the artists that were being promoted for the event, while also having difficulties in dealing with logistical issues with each individual banda. From what could be seen, the thought was that Festibanda USA chewed much more than they could swallow and were over their heads in trying to put on an event of such magnitude.

Even before the event was officially put on hiatus, several comments submitted by page fans suggested that Banda El Recodo was no longer scheduled to perform and that they had formally withdrawn from the event several months ago, even while event promoters still advertised them to be the headliners of Festibanda USA. At the time, Festibanda USA denied that the rumors.

On October 18th, an individual began posting contact information for Dennis Rodriguez, CEO of Festibanda USA, along with information that she received from a phone conversation with him regarding refunds for those who purchased the tickets through local vendors and through events sponsored at Olvera Street, Plaza Mexico and Whittier Narrows Park. Soon after Festibanda USA made four postings onto their Facebook page, outlining what they claim led to the postponement of the event.

After getting past all the information regarding the purpose of the event and information on the recognition of Banda El Recodo by Los Angeles City Officials, they begin to talk about what exactly led to the problems that ultimately derailed their event. They continue to place blame on the allegations of corruption facing the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission, and do so by providing links to various articles posted at online media outlets.

But the part that stands out is where they allege that Total Entertainment, Inc. (the company hired to book the bandas for the event), failed on multiple occasions to pay the necessary deposits to the bandas to secure their participation in the event. "[Total Entertainment] failed to deposit a percentage of the agreed payment to not only Banda El Recodo but to the rest of the bands that such agency promised in a legal binding contract to deliver the day of the event." Festibanda USA states in their public posting on Facebook.

"Now, after several days into the postponement of the event, we have come to find out through credible sources in the industry that the agency we hired to procure all the bands by the name of Total Entertainment, Inc. never paid Banda El Recodo and the rest of the talent," Festibanda USA continues to state in their public posting.

I wonder who those credible sources are?! It does not sound like they ever had a clear line of communication with the bandas, as the status of payment could have easily been confirmed by communicating directly with the management for each of the respective bandas. Common logic tells me that if Peter wants to find out if Paul paid Mary, he would call Mary and ask her instead of calling Juan to see if he had heard whether or not Paul paid Mary back. I know that it can be a bit confusing to follow, but I too felt confused when I first read Festibanda USA's explanation.

From a consumer perspective, the part that really bothers me is that the organizers of Festibanda USA continued to sell tickets to their event, promoting Banda El Recodo as the headliners, even when they had no firm agreement in place. "a few days after the press conference, Banda El Recodo notified our agency their decision to cancel their participation. Needless to say, we tried to convince them to reconsider, we even met for several hours with Poncho Lizarraga in Denver Colorado on August 27th," states Festibanda USA on their Facebook page. So even as of September 25th, when people began to question whether Banda El Recodo was confirmed for the event, the event organizers continued to represent them as the headliners even though by their own word there was no agreement in place.

A snapshot of an exchange between page fans and Festibanda USA on rumors that Banda El Recodo was no longer involved in the event. This exchange occurred almost a month after Banda El Recodo had informed the organizers of Festibanda USA that they were no longer going to participate in the event.

As for refunds for those who purchased their tickets for the event through third-party vendors or at community events at Olvera Street, Plaza Mexico and Whittier Narrows Park, people are being asked to send in their tickets (originals only, copies of the tickets will not be accepted) to a P.O. Box address and that they can expect refunds to be sent out within 48 hours. Considering the lack of consistency in the information that has been released, people are genuinely skeptical about whether they will actually get refunds. While the information was only posted yesterday, nobody has yet been able to successfully complete the process, I would not feel comfortable sending my original tickets to a P.O. Box where I would not be able to attach a certificate of mailing to ensure that my envelope reached a staff member for proper processing. I would much prefer a physical office location where I could mail tickets to or go to during office hours to get my money in person.

Also, those who have tickets which they wish to receive refunds have until October 31st by which to mail in their tickets. That only gives a window period of less than 2 weeks for individuals to get their money back. While the organizers have 1,218 people currently following their fan page on Facebook, I have to believe that more than 1,218 tickets were sold for the event (at this point, who knows!) and not everybody is able to get information on how to get a refund since their official website has never had more information on it than the postponement message that is up now.

To be honest, they used to have their logo along with the date of the event and listing the Coliseum as the location of the event but that's it. But even then, they had no information on the event's line up, ticket information, event sponsors (which for an event of this magnitude, you'd need quite a few big sponsors to come in, like Que Buena, Univision, Tecate, etc.), vendor information, links to the Coliseum with rules of conduct and what items are acceptable to take with them, dress code (which I have to assume there would be quite a presence of misguided men wearing Ed Hardy gear and would be better off wearing one of those paisa shirts that are made out of silk and look like Persian rugs), or anything close to what you would expect to have up for an event of this magnitude. I've seen taco trucks with more detailed websites than they have.

So there you have it. While organizers are asking those of us who had planned to attend Festibanda USA to maintain hope that the event will take place and that it will be as good, if not better, than originally planned, I for one am looking forward to other great concerts coming up, like Vicente Fernandez at the Gibson Amphitheatre. Like my brother said the other day, "Chente no se va rajar!"





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