Talk about buzzkills…
In one of the more oblique press releases ever penned, the Kansas City City Market wrote late yesterday:
"The City Market is interested in the success of our tenants thus does not anticipate booking a 2012 concert series as a response to a concern from the Steamboat Arabia Museum that concerts have and continue to put their artifacts at risk. Investigation of this matter is a priority at this time.
"The past five years the City Market has partnered with AEG Live and Entercom Radio for the “Buzz Under the Stars” Concert Series hosting artists such as Mumford & Sons, The Killers, Incubus, Death Cab for Cutie and Offspring. This great partnership has brought more than 120,000 music enthusiasts to enjoy the atmosphere of concerts with downtown Kansas City, Missouri as its backdrop. We thank you for your patronage."
Talk about carefully-worded- "does not anticipate" – how could it get any vaguer?
"This is not a new thing, this has been going on for years and years," says Steamboat Arabia main man David Hawley. "It’s just gotten worse. You know, the speakers have gotten bigger and bigger and they have to bring them in on big trucks now."
In the early days of City market shows, a stage one fourth the size of the ones in use in recent years backed directly up Hawley’s museum.
"Then they moved it around 1998 or 1999," Hawley says. "As I’ve told people, if you can hear them, we can work around that, but if you can feel them, then we have a problem. But they (say they) need the sound pressure levels to drive the intensity. Last October is when the concrete fell out of our ceiling."
That was at the Death Cab for Cutie concert.
"They had a good time," Hawley says. "Although they didn’t have too many people. Some of the shows have had as many as nine or ten-thousand people.
"But you know, the sound engineers cater to the bands and when the band says, ‘Crank it up,’ they do – that’s their job. And our job is to protect what we do. And (the City Market) said, ‘Well Dave, let’s just insure it for you.’ But accepting insurance, for us to agree to that is like saying, ‘It’s okay to break things as long as we get paid for them.’ And that’s notm our position. We’re not a big organization supported by a big foundation or anything – it’s just us and the people who come to see us."
And hey, how do you insure the Mona Lisa?
When it’s gone, it’s gone – some things just can’t be replaced by a pile of cash.
"You know if we were the Nelson, we wouldn’t be having this discussion," Hawley says. "Somebody wouldn’t be glueing down the Chinese dishwhere, the concerts would stop."
Contrary to rumors, Hawley and the museum has not taken legal action against the City Market over the dispute.
"We told them we would hire an attorney to protect the collection if we have to," Hawley says. "They told me on Good Friday, they’ve got to get this done by that day or Monday and I told them if we have to, I would lawyer up. And I told them that a month ago. I can’t have things breaking here and if I have to I would lawyer up.
"They sent some engineers over here last November and again two weeks ao, but we’ve not seen that report yet."
Hawley things the City Market has more than enough fair warning and time to move the event to a city-owned park just to the east or to Richard Berkley Park on the river where the Irish almost drowned a handful of years back.
"You know, if you want to do it,then jump in and do iit," Hawley says. "There’s nother easy about digging up steamboats either, but you can’t expect a business like ours to be okay with havng your things damaged and broken just so they can do a few concerts."
Hawley as almost last to learn his landlord was poised to cancel the concert series, after City Market sent out a press release yesterday in the middle of the local 6 p.m. news.
"I didn’t hear about it until I got a call from Channel 9 News that they had called the season," he says. "I didn’t get the email because they’re upset with me."
And Hawley feels bad for other City market businesses that will miss out on some selling opportunities.
"I know and I feel bad about that," he says. "But I don’t think they would want to see us lose our collection."