Tag Archive | "Chris Jones"

Poor Ticket Sales Nix MTK Concert

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They had the music, they had the food, and they had the fashion, but what the organizers of the MTK: Music to Know Festival didn’t have was the crowds.

Just a week before the festival was set to debut, the stage nestled among greenery cradling an unused portion of a runway at the East Hampton Airport, festival organizers on Saturday pulled the plug on the event, citing poor ticket sales.

“It is with heavy, heavy heart that we regret to inform you that the inaugural MTK: Music To Know Festival in East Hampton will not take place,” said festival promoters in a release. “Despite our unique vision and arranging a world-class line-up, ticket sales were not adequate to allow the event to continue. We wanted to let everyone know now before engaging more deeply.”

“Along with our ticket holders, vendors, sponsors, business associates, colleagues and friends in the community, we too are filled with deep disappointment,” continued the release. “We pledge to endure during this difficult time with the same integrity and professionalism displayed throughout the creation of this event.”

The MTK: Music to Know Festival was conceived by hotelier and businessman Chris Jones and screenwriter Bill Collage, both Sag Harbor residents.

It aimed to bring up-and-coming, as well as celebrated indie-music artists, to the East End for a two-day festival that would also feature beer and wine gardens, high-end and local cuisine, an area for children, and special access to artists in the VIP area. One artist rumored heavily among industry sources to be set to perform an acoustic set at MTK was the actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who has earned critical and popular praise for her vocals in the film “Country Strong” and on the television show “Glee”

On Tuesday, Jones said that in order for the festival to go on, 5,500 tickets of the 9,500 tickets up for sale needed to be sold. Tickets were priced at $195 for a two-day pass, and two-day VIP passes for $695. One-day passes were also later offered as an option for festival attendees.

As of Saturday, Jones said the festival only sold 2,500 tickets. While it was possible that more tickets would have sold in the coming week, Jones said that was a possibility he unfortunately could not count on.

“The bottom line is when you run an event, you have a certain amount of losses you can take, and then you have to make a decision,” he said, adding Saturday was the last day the organization could make final decisions regarding expenditures.

The event was plagued from the beginning, when it was first proposed at an Amagansett venue, by a handful of critics locally who questioned the town’s decision to grant Collage and Jones a commercial mass gathering permit in the first place. Comments appeared to wane after the festival was moved to the East Hampton Airport, and particularly after a promised $100,000 was set aside in an escrow account for a number of local charities including The Retreat, Phoenix House, Project MOST, all East Hampton based food pantries, and the East Hampton Day Care Learning Center, to name a few.

Those charities will not receive that funding now, confirmed Jones.

“That is the most disappointing part,” he said. “It was contingent on the event taking place and you can’t really say anything more than that except it is really, really disappointing.”

As to what led to the lackluster sales, Jones said he could not say.

“One thing I will stand behind is the bands,” he said. “We really feel from the bottom of our hearts that we had an amazing lineup. As to what happened thereafter, who knows, but the lineup I will stand behind.”

In addition to a roster of acts including celebrated indie-rock bands like Vampire Weekend, Bright Eyes, and Dawes, folk artists M. Ward, British songstress Ellie Goulding, Brooklyn duo Matt & Kim and Fitz & the Tantrums, Collage and Jones also booked Suddyn, a rock band with roots in Montauk.

“Being born and raised in MTK, I was looking forward to being part of this incredible festival, I would like to humbly express my gratitude to Chris Jones and Bill Collage for their extraordinary efforts to make this seemingly impossible dream a reality,” band leader Alan Steil posted on the group’s Facebook page. “It is important to note that the loss of this festival was beyond the control of these two men and everyone else involved in the process. Again, we’d like to thank them for the opportunity and we were proud to be a part of it every step of the way.”

Since Saturday, Jones said he has been focused entirely on making things right as quickly as possible, in particular for ticket holders, who as of Tuesday night were still without information on how they could gain refunds.

“The Company is working very hard in making arrangements for a mechanism to provide ALL ticket holders with refunds,” read a message on musictoknow.com. “Purchasers of tickets have done so through various interfaces, we will provide clear direction for each of these on this website as soon as possible, but no later than Friday, August 12, 2011.”

“Since this happened I have spent all of the hours I am awake focusing on how to sort this situation out to benefit as many people as we can,” said Jones on Tuesday. “I am not interested in what has gone on. I am trying to make everything right moving forward. I am really focused on trying to do the best thing we can for everyone.”


Vampire Weekend, Bright Eyes and Ellie Goulding Top MTK Lineup

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Columbia University grads and indie rock group Vampire Weekend have spent the better part of the last year treating revelers in Europe and South America to its African and Caribbean-inspired guitar rifts and rhythms with a 1980s-pop bend. The band, which with seemingly relative ease found critical success even before they released their self-titled freshman album in 2008, has since played virtually every great music festival around the world, from the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, California to the famed Glastonbury Festival in Scotland and the Jisan Valley Rock Festival in South Korea. Despite being courted by a number of festivals in the United States, this year the band’s only scheduled festival stateside will bring them back to New York where they will headline the MTK: Music to Know Festival in East Hampton on the weekend of August 13-14, along with Bright Eyes and British pop darling Ellie Goulding.

Chris Jones, who founded MTK with fellow Sag Harbor resident Bill Collage, said he has been listening to Vampire Weekend since 2006, right after the fledgling band formed in a Columbia University dorm room. Band members Ezra Koenig, Chris Baio, Rostam Batmanglij and Chris Tomson brought their Afro-pop melodies and rhythm to battle of the band contests, parties and even at literary society functions on campus. Word quickly spread about the group, which is named after Koenig’s freshman year film project, the band’s unique sound and witty lyrics, songs like “Oxford Comma” and “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” fueling the band’s rise, despite the fact they had yet to record an album.

In 2007, “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” was ranked 67 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s “Top 100 Songs of the Year,” and the band embarked on a tour in the United Kingdom, backing up The Shins. In 2008, they release “Vampire Weekend” and in 2010 released their sophomore effort, “Contra.” It debuted in the number one spot on the Billboard charts.

“I think they appeal to a really wide audience, a little bit like Mumford & Sons,” said Jones this week. “They have a great following with a younger generation, but their music also seems to resonate with an older generation, which is important.”

Jones added that as live bands go, Vampire Weekend is “phenomenal.”

MTK will be the band’s first stateside festival this year, performing as the headlining act on Saturday.

“They obviously have great taste,” joked Jones.

He later added that the band choosing to play MTK spoke not only to the marketability of the audience on the East End of Long Island, but also to a level of confidence in the festival itself. Collage and Jones hope it becomes an annual event, and in its inaugural year have been able to attract some of the more celebrated up and coming artists, not just in rock, but also in rhythm and blues, pop and folk.

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On the forefront of the alt-folk scene since the mid-90s is Bright Eyes, the Sunday night headliner at MTK.

Led by singer-songwriter and guitarist Conor Oberst, backed ably by multi-instrumentalist Mike Mogis and piano and trumpet player Nate Walcott, Bright Eyes quickly found success in the music industry, its 2004 singles “Lua” and “Take it Easy (Love Nothing)” earning the top two spots on the Billboard charts after their release.

The Omaha, Nebraska-based group released a slew of albums, featuring the best of the Omaha music scene and beyond, but it was not until 2002 with the release of “Lifted” that the band became a critical darling. However, it was the 2004 release of “I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning,” followed by a tour with Bruce Springsteen and R.E.M. on the Vote for Change tour that Bright Eyes found commercial success as well. The band released “Cassadaga” in 2007, and “The People’s Key” this year.

The group has collaborated with musicians such as fellow MTK performer M. Ward, Lou Reed, Jonathan Rice, Jenny Lewis, Nora Jones and Steve Earl.

“He is just an enormously talented musician, and very well respected within the artistic community,” said Jones. “It is great for us to be able to recognize an artist who the artists love, and we are honored he will be playing his first show on Long Island with us.”

Bright Eyes will open for Coldplay the week before MTK at Lollapalooza in Chicago. According to industry sources, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin’s wife, the actress and cookbook author Gwyneth Paltrow, who found her own musical success this year through her film “Country Song” and a memorable stint on the series “Glee” will perform in the VIP tent during MTK.

EllieCollage and Jones courted British songstress Ellie Goulding for months, but added her to the line-up just a month and a half ago. Jones credits his wife, Karen, for predicting Goulding’s star would rise long before she played the reception for Prince William and Princess Catherine this spring.

“She predicted Ellie’s star would rise for 18 months before it happened,” said Jones. “And then she came on board and blew up.”

Goulding’s album “Lights” debuted in the number one spot on the U.K. charts and was released with six new tracks as “Bright Lights” in 2010. Since then she has toured at a break-neck pace, including performing on Saturday Night Live and true to her roots played Elton John’s “Your Song” for the royal couple’s first dance.

“To be honest, the rest of the bands are equally talented as the headliners,” said Jones. “They are just not as well know, but in terms of talent they are all up there. We are lucky to have them.”

The MTK: Music to Know Festival will take place Saturday, August 13 and Sunday, August 14. For more information visit, www.musictoknow.com.

Bob Kennedy

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By Kathryn Menu


The man hired to produce Chris Jones and Bill Collage’s MTK: Music to Know Festival this summer talks about why the East Hampton Airport is a good fit for the festival, helicopters and all, and how parlaying a youth spent attending concerts into a career as a festival producer for events hosting thousands all began at a small theatre in Connecticut.


By Kathryn G. Menu


Now that the location of the MTK Music To Know Festival has been set for the East Hampton Airport, as a festival producer what is appealing about the site?

I think one of the most appealing things about the site for me is the way we have it set up. It has natural boundaries, the site is surrounded by trees, which makes it visually very appealing. In terms of location, especially considering the traffic concerns people had with the previous site in Amagansett, there are a number of ways into the venue, keeping traffic off the main streets and making it a little easier for everyone to get in and out of the site.


I would imagine one of the drawbacks to hosting a music festival at the airport would involve air traffic, specifically how to preserve sound quality with aircraft and helicopters landing nearby. How are you dealing with that?

The plan we have in place has the stage set as far away from the active runways as possible and we are bringing in delay speakers that sit halfway down the concert field, which will not make the music louder off the property, but will make it louder at the back of the concert field.

In a perfect world, there would not be planes landing at a concert, but all of our sound professionals agree it will have a pretty low impact.


I heard a rumor that you got into this business by basically walking into an executive’s office and demanding a job. Separate fact from fiction — how did you find yourself in this field?


Demanding might be a strong word. Insisting might be better. It happened during my mid-20s awakening. I went to school for broadcast journalism and then I realized it was not my calling. It was really innocent how I became what I became. I woke up one day and I thought, I spend so much of my money on concerts, how can I make that my job? I went to The Globe Theatre in Connecticut, a theatre with about an 1,100 capacity, and I basically walked in and said, ‘I work here now.’ They all looked at me like I was crazy, but they gave me a desk and not a job, but an internship and that developed into a job when the person I was interning for left. Shortly after that, I developed the Gathering of the Vibes Music and Arts Festival, which I co-founded with Ken Hays in 1996. And that was the beginning of my festival career.


One of the criticisms laid out by some residents concerned about the festival was a lack of experience in festival production on the part of festival founders. As the architect of the festival, what is your experience in this field?

I co-founded the Gathering of the Vibes, a music and art festival in July that now does about 20,000 people per day. I am also a founding producer of the Green Apple Festival, which at its beginnings was a festival that happened on Earth Day simultaneously in eight cities. We did festivals with 15,000 to 50,000 people in parks across the country, including Golden Gate, Central Park, Santa Monica Pier, parks in Dallas, Miami and more. I have also worked, not as a producer, but as staff at festivals like the All Good Music Festival, the Rothbury Festival in Michigan, Bonnaroo. So I have 16 plus years of festival experience, including being at the helm of a number of festivals.

The centerpiece of the Green Apple festival was Earth Day at the Mall in Washington D.C., which featured Sting, John Legend, Bob Weir from the Grateful Dead, Toots and the Maytals, Joss Stone. John Dindas, who is the production manager for MTK was actually at the helm of Earth Day at the National Mall and the same day I was producing Earth Day in Morocco in Rabat with Seal performing. I was actually hired by the Moroccan government, indirectly by the King of Morocco, to produce a free Earth Day concert in their capital. It wasn’t the worst gig in the world.


Do you find your musical preferences direct you toward working with specific artists or events?

Yes and no. I grew up as a Dead Head throughout high school and college and went through that phase where all I wanted to listen to is them. But I think now I have a very rich and diverse taste in music so I have the luxury of liking everything I work on. It’s harder to be passionate about a project if you don’t love the music, but I don’t know I ever encountered that.


What drew you to work on the MTK Music Festival?

We were introduced by mutual friends and I met with Chris and Bill for lunch in the city one day, and they were just great guys with a great vision. I meet a lot of people who have it in their heads that they are going to do a festival and most of the time people have no understanding about how much it takes in terms of dedication and the ability to execute a vision. From the first time I met them they really got that. They both bring really different things to the table. Bill, as a screenwriter, has a little of that Hollywood mentality, where everything is grandiose and Chris, as the guy who has hotels all over the world, he is very much about the nuts and bolts. With a pencil and a napkin he could draw out his entire vision of what the concert field looks like, from where the tents are to the parking. He is very tactile and can express his ideas.


The East End has not hosted a multi-band music festival of this scale in several years. Outside of the economy, what makes this part of the country ripe for a successful festival?


I think it’s a very culturally rich area and I think as Bill and Chris said at the announcement about the lineup, there are a lot of tastemakers and a lot of people who are usually the first to know about things that live out there.

To me, it was an appealing, beautiful place and an underutilized area full of people willing to give things a chance. Also, to a certain extend, the Hamptons are so far away from the rest of the world it becomes difficult for people to get these experiences. To go to a festival in Boston or Washington D.C., it’s a haul, and a lot of people miss out on those experiences. It is a hungry market of really receptive people interested in art and music.


How have festivals evolved during your career? Are we seeing an emphasis on more intimate events and festivals? Is music still the focus, or have festivals become something bigger than that?


I actually think that it is a little of both in terms of size. When I first started out there were not a lot of music festivals. Gathering of the Vibes was certainly the biggest in the Northeast, at least when we first started, and over time I think, as has happened in a lot of businesses, it became very chic to be as big as you could be, which at the Vibes we were never interested in. That bred Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits and Coachella and to that extent a lot of it is being as big as possible, but as a result you have seen a trend towards smaller, more intimate festivals a la MTK or the Wilco Solid Sound Festival in Massachusetts, which is geared towards their fans. Instead of trying to do a 100,000-person event, the idea is to make it 7,000 people and make it the coolest experience they have ever had. That is the same idea with MTK — take a small group of people and give them a life changing experience.


For more information on the MTK Music to Know Festival presented by Bing, visit www.musictoknow.com.

FAA Approves Music to Know Music Festival at the East Hampton Airport as Producers Announce Talent

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Just a day after Sag Harbor residents Chris Jones and Bill Collage announced the musical lineup for this summer’s MTK: Music to Know Music Festival, they received word from the Federal Aviation Administration that the festival was approved to take place at the East Hampton Airport. That was the final hurdle producers had to jump to ensure the music festival they have been planning for over a year will go on.

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“We are all systems go,” said Jones on Tuesday afternoon, just minutes after receiving confirmation from the FAA.

Having already received a commercial mass gathering permit from East Hampton Town to move the festival from an Amagansett farm to the East Hampton Airport, FAA approval was the last step before Jones could be assured the concert would go on.

“Now the fun part begins,” he said.

The fun part actually began on Monday night at Townline BBQ in Sagaponack, where Jones and Collage, surrounded by over two dozen supporters, announced the musical lineup for the two-day music festival, slated for August 13 and 14.

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Vampire Weekend, an American indie rock band out of New York City, will headline the festival on Saturday night. According to Collage, the band has turned down a number of major festivals and choosing to come to the MTK Music Festival is a testament both to what the festival hopes to accomplish, and also the market on the East End of Long Island.

“We are pleased to say on Saturday night to headline we have one of the brightest and the best new bands emerging for one of their only U.S. gigs,” said Jones.

“It’s a testament, not just to us, but really to this market,” added Collage. “They specifically wanted to work here, with us. They wanted to be a part of the Hamptons in the summer because of the people that are here. We couldn’t be more thrilled and we see them as a perfect fit for what we think is Music To Know right now.”

The second headlining act, which will close the festival, is the Nebraska-based indie rock band Bright Eyes led by Conor Oberst.

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Oberst, touted as “the new Dylan” in 2005 after the release of “I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning,” and the rest of Bright Eyes recently performed as headliners at the popular Coachella Music and Art Festival. They also sold out two shows to acclaim in March at Radio City Music Hall in New York City and are opening for Coldplay at Lollapalooza in Chicago the weekend before MTK Music Festival opens.

“Frankly, they are just incredible,” said Jones on Monday night.

Vampire Weekend and Bright Eyes will be joined by 16 other acts over the course of the weekend, including The Limousines, a San Jose, California-based electro-pop band, who Jones said sound like “a combination of Peter Gabriel meets Depeche Mode.” They are known primarily for their song “Internet Killed the Video Star.”

Francis and The Lights, a New York City-based soul and electronic band led by Francis Farewell Starlite is also slated to perform, as is Portland folk musician M. Ward, whose 2009 album “Hold Time” featured guest performances by Lucinda Williams and Zooey Deschanel. The New Zealand electronic ensemble The Naked and Famous are also on the roster, as is indie rock band We Are Scientists.

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Tom Tom Club, led by Chris Franz and Tina Weymouth of the Talking Heads, will also perform in the festival, as will the California based folk-rock group Dawes, and the indie-rock, chamber-pop group Ra Ra Riot, a New York based band that incorporates a small string section into their music. Chromeo, a two-member electro-funk group, Canadian pop group Young Empires, Nicos Gun, Brooklyn-duo Matt & Kim, the folk-inspired Tame Impala and the Motown-inspired Fitz & The Tantrums are also slated to perform.

“The Cold War Kids are a real exclamation point in our lineup,” said Jones on Monday night of the indie rock band out of Long Beach, California.

Lastly, MTK Music Festival will feature SUDDYN, a rock band boasting a piano-ballad based sound with influences felt from groups like Radiohead, U2, the Beatles and Muse. The group found acclaim across the pond in Ireland a few years back, scoring three hit singles and quickly becoming one of the most popular unsigned acts in the country.

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What makes that band’s appearance at MTK Music Festival poignant, noted Jones, is that it originally formed in Montauk, where two of its members — vocalist and piano player Alan Steil and his brother Jarrett, also a vocalist and guitar player — grew up, attending high school mere miles from the concert site.

“We are trying to expose them through the festival,” said Jones on Monday night.

On Tuesday, Jarrett said not only was the band, which is rounded out by drummer Brendan Connolly, honored to be playing the festival, but also appreciated what it brings to the table in terms of talent.

“Usually we have a great classic like Billy Joel or Paul Simon out there,” he said in a phone interview from Los Angeles where the band has recently relocated. “But this is a festival of up-and-coming artists and we are really proud to be a part of that.”

The MTK Music Festival will sell 9,500 tickets in total for the two-day music festival, which in addition to music will feature local cuisine, wine and beer, retail booths and an area designed for children.

The cost for the festival is $195 for general admission to the two-days. However, locals will have a chance for a reduced price $175 ticket through May 23. Those tickets are available at Sylvester & Co. in Sag Harbor, Indian Wells Tavern in Amagansett, Khanh Sports in East Hampton Village, and 668 Gig Shack in Montauk.

According to Jones, VIP tickets, which are on sale for $645, already had begun to sell quickly on the first day of sales.

In addition to access to a VIP tent, with a special viewing deck of the stage, preferred parking at the site, and a unique menu of food and spirits, VIP access will also include small performances by guest artists that have yet to be announced as well as fashion shows.

“And we will reveal more of what we have up our sleeve as we get closer to August,” said Jones.

For information, videos and music visit http://www.musictoknow.com.