Last year's Town Jubilee

In the last 24 hours, I’ve been called “reckless” and “anti-Floyd.” I’ve been accused of “trying to kill” the upcoming Floyd Town Jubilee and tagged “an enemy of efforts to save Floyd.”

And that’s just the comments that aren’t laced with threats of lost business or endless obscenities.

Strong reactions and controversy come with the territory, especially when you make your primary living toiling away in a profession that asks questions that some don’t want to be asked or write articles that try to be more than Chamber of Commerce pabulum.

I’ve been told I don’t understand the music business and that I have caused “permanent damage” to this year’s Town Jubilee because I reported on the concern of some area musicians that they are being being treated differently than out-of-town acts, especially when it comes to performance fees.

“Your contempt for efforts to improve Floyd is obvious,” said one email. “Your reckless behavior could destroy the upcoming festival and ruin all the hard work of those who are only trying to make Floyd a better place to live.”

Wow. Didn’t know I had such power. I seriously doubt that I do.

Legendary Chicago Journalist Findey Peter Dunne once wrote that it is the role of a newpaperman to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

Jim Echols, city editor of The Roanoke Times, told me when I went to work there in 1965 that “you have six months to piss off at least half of the people in this town. If you don’t, I’ll fire your ass and find someone who will.” I spent five years with The Times.

Elmer Broz, city editor of The Alton Telegraph, where I worked later in my career, said “a good newspaperman has more enemies than friends. If people aren’t mad at you at a regular basis then you’re not going your job.” I lasted 11 years at that paper.

I’ve had a number of controversies since returning to Floyd in 2004. Some, like exposing the questionable business practices of the promoters of a promised data center in the county’s commerce park, performed a public service. Others, like the local musician who delivered a pubic tirade from the stage of the Floyd County Store and claiming I was trying to destroy from the Friday Night Jamboree, are just plain silly.

The central issue in this latest controversy is a preliminary budget for the upcoming town Jubilee. The budget was presented to the County Board of Supervisors at their regular monthly meeting Tuesday and showed a wide disparity between what event organizers proposed paying local musicians and regional and national acts.

Some involved in planning for the jubilee felt the proposed budget was a public document but it became one when county supervisors asked for it and used the budget as part of their rejection of a request for financial support of the event.

Some local musicians are unhappy with differences in fees. To date, I’ve talked with or had email exchanges with more than 20 Floyd County musicians and they express the same sentiment: The situation is not good and needs to be addressed.

Area music venues have varying policies when it comes to paying for entertainment. Musicians appearing at the Friday Night Jamboree played for free for many years but when Woody and Jackie Crenshaw bought the Floyd Country Store they began paying a stipend to musicians who appear on stage at the Jamboree and also book local, regional and national acts for Saturday night concerts.

The Pine Tavern pays acts that appear for their summer series of concerts. Oddfellas Cantina depends on contributions from diners to pay musicians.  Zion Lutheran Church recruits sponsors to cover performer fees for their series of summertime concerts in Oak Grove Pavilion and solicits donations during the concert for area charities.

Some have suggested that by publishing the proposed fees for the upcoming jubilee “generates bad feeling” among area musicians when they see that some get higher fees than others.

That may be true but isn’t the difference in fees one of the key issues of the concern of local musicians?

Promoters say higher fees are necessary for regional and national acts that provide drawing power that bring more people to Floyd.

Organizers of the jubilee asked for contributions from both the Town of Floyd and the Floyd County Board of Supervisors. When public money becomes part of an event, the use of such money also becomes a public issue.

It takes a lot of hard work by volunteers to put an event like the Town Jubilee together and the efforts by those who stage such an event should be applauded. Much of what happens in this area comes from long hours by the same group of people who end up serving on multiple committees.

Most of the musicians who are also complaining have donated their time to local charities or played at reduced rates for good causes that benefits the area.

I didn’t create the issue that boiled over this week. Floyd Town Manager Korene Thompson told me Wednesday that she is aware of concerns from local musicians that date back to last year’s Jubilee.

The issue was already there. I just reported it.

Some suggest that I like creating controversy. I don’t. I came back here to relax. Controversies get in the way of that relaxation. Nasty emails add nothing to the quality of rural life. Angry Tea Party advocates who take a swing at me on a public streets disrupt the harmony of everyday life.

I’d love to just ride my Harley and enjoy life but these damn brouhahas keep screwing things up. :}

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