Harvest Picnic lawsuit

Harvest Picnic promoter is suing for millions, but performers say they were never paid

Jann Arden, Johnny Reid, and Cowboy Junkies are all named in the lawsuit from the Hamilton promoter.

- Oct 13, 2016

September Seventh, the company which produces both Dundas, Ontario's Harvest Picnic festival and the Hamilton Music Awards, filed a lawsuit last month against the Feldman Agency, one of the largest talent agencies in the country, as well as some of its biggest acts. The action seeks almost $27 million in damages. Trouble is, as CBC reports, many of the acts that played Harvest Picnic this past summer say they themselves were never paid.

Jean-Paul Gauthier of September Seventh filed the suit seeking damages for breach of contract and lost revenue. Jann Arden, one of the musicians being sued, cancelled her headlining performance the day before she was scheduled to play because of "unexpected illness." Feldman refunded the $37,500 deposit Harvest Picnic had forked out to land Arden. Still, the company wants $6 million from Arden and her management alone for "loss of expected revenue" and "losses based on costs incurred due to the breach of contract."

Cowboy Junkies and Johnny Reid were named elsewhere in the suit for violating radius clauses, something that got Iron and Wine booted from the festival last year.

All of these actions, the suit claims, have thrown the future of the company and its productions into jeopardy. "The events that September Seventh produces and owns, namely, the Harvest Picnic and the Hamilton Music Awards, are now at great risk of ceasing to exist due to the unconscionable conduct, high-handed conduct or conduct in bad faith and breaches of contract by the defendants," the lawsuit reads.

The richest part of it all is that many of the bands that played the late August festival say they're still chasing Gauthier for their pay.

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"We all feel let down by this," the Rheostatics said in a statement provided to the CBC. "Promoters should pay musicians — whether it's $5 or $500,000. But Harvest Picnic has not. I suggest Harvest Picnic ticket buyers should know their money was not used to pay musicians — where their money has gone is anybody's guess — and think twice before buying tickets to their future events."

The Killjoys' frontman Mike Trebilcock and representatives for singer/songwriter Jeremy Fisher confirm they, too, are still waiting to be paid for their services.

Heck, even the stagehands and tech crew got cut out. The president of IATSE local 129, the union that represents those workers, says they received a down payment better than half the cost, but the workers are still owed the balance.

Sounds like Mr. Gauthier might become well-acquainted with the courtroom.

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