Zep Fest, the Led Zeppelin-themed rock fest previously scheduled May 27-29 at National Harbor, has been canceled. We found out this morning. But it seems some of the booked entertainment hasn’t been informed yet.
Local filmmaker Jeff Krulik was scheduled to screen a rough cut of his film, Led Zeppelin Played Here, at the event. When Arts Desk contacted him about it, Krulik had no idea what we were talking about.
Zep Fest’s publicity firm Trifecta Team only heard about the cancellation yesterday, and publicist Zack Bolno says festival director Mark Boudreau gave him very little specific information.
The festival’s Twitter feed lends a very vague clue that things weren’t right as of last week. On Thursday, Zep Fest tweeted: “Some folks just like to see others fail – can’t be helped, but we say Peace & Luv anyway.” But Canadian Zeppelin blogger Brian Gardiner wrote yesterday that things began to smell fishy more than a week ago, when bands began canceling en masse due to the festival failing to pay up-front. Southern California-based cover act Led Zepagain dropped out a week and a half ago after waiting six months for festival organizers to pay them.
“They just didn’t live up to their part of the bargain,” says Led Zepagain manager James Elliott. “They didn’t want to pay us.” Elliot had entered the band into an “all-in” deal in which the band agreed to pay travel costs, provided they were paid in advance. They were supposed to get paid six months ago; a week and a half ago, they were still waiting. Elliott finally decided enough was enough. “And the funny thing is I was getting calls from every band” on the festival, he says. Zep Fest “had the same problem with everybody.” Boudreau has not returned multiple requests for comment.
As for Krulik, he’s still not sure what he’s going to do. Screening at Zep Fest wasn’t about the money—-he had no financial arrangement with the organizers. He was excited about possibly meeting former Led Zeppelin tour manager Richard Cole, who could have lent him important information for his film, which is about a Led Zeppelin show that may or may not have taken place at a recreation center in Wheaton, Md., in 1969. But Krulik also says he hadn’t spoken to Boudreau in six weeks or longer, and the festival director had not given him any details about when or where his screening was supposed to take place.
“I’m still trying to decompress and comprehend this. I’m simultaneously relieved and confused. And bummed out too,” says Krulik over email. “This was originally a great opportunity, to screen for an audience who really dug the subject matter, as well as uncover more source material…But, I guess back to the drawing board now.”