Music too metal for downtown

Darrell Cole
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AMHERST - An independent music festival planned for Amherst on Saturday has hit the skids and the person organizing it is pointing his finger at the town and the Downtown Amherst Revitalization Society.

Richard Clark started organizing the festival several months ago without thinking he'd have any difficulty getting permission from the town to use the bandstand at Victoria Square, but is frustrated the town has thrown roadblocks in his way.

"I'm a little angry, but more than that I'm very frustrated," Clark said Monday. "We had a bunch of bands lined up and we're ready to go, but when I put in my application to use the bandstand I was told I had to have $2 million in liability insurance."

Clark said he was told he had to have permission from the revitalization society as well, but when he asked for that permission was told loud music was not something wanted in the downtown during the day.

He inquired about liability insurance, but discovered he could not get insured if the festival included hip hop or heavy metal music.

"I was trying to organize something youth-oriented and wanted to showcase a lot of the bands that are around here and a lot of them are punk bands or harder rock bands," he said. "It's disappointing and makes me wonder a lot. I was basically told they didn't want hard rock or heavy metal bands downtown."

Amherst's director of Community and Economic Development, Roger MacIsaac, is not against a rock festival in downtown Amherst, but thinks Clark didn't do his homework when it comes to getting permits and the required insurance.

"We're not against holding events such as that in the park if it's doable, but things like liability insurance are essential," MacIsaac said. "He has to have proof of insurance so that our insurer is comfortable that we are not responsible for that liability."

MacIsaac said Clark's original proposal was to showcase local talent, then added other acts from outside the community.

Beth Munroe, the chair of DARS, has concerns with the festival and its timing and questioned how well thought out Clarke's plan is.

"I have a business downtown and expect certain standards. I appreciate him coming in, but at the same time that park is bounded by two churches. If someone's having a wedding, the music style wouldn't be conducive," she said, adding she can't lose business because of the noise. "My clientele isn't into hard, heavy music."

There are also concerns with who may attend such a concert and what damage could occur.

Munroe said use of the park is one of the issues that will come up during a consultants' study into downtown revitalization, most notably who has the decision-making power on who can and cannot use it.

The DARS chair is willing to work with Clark if he wants to try again later and with a plan. She feels some of the issues can be overcome, but believes it can't be accomplished in a couple of days.

Organizations: Downtown Amherst Revitalization Society, Clark's

Geographic location: AMHERST

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Recent comments

  • What A Town
    January 18, 2010 - 11:24

    Shame on you Beth!! You talk about your clientele not being into hard heavy music and that you expect certain standards
    Well I was/am a customer of yours and am in my 40's and I would LOVE to see ANYTHING going on in the bandstand!! The bandstand is between two churches? So now the downtown bandstand can only play church approved music? Get a grip!!! Wouldnt THAT be a huge draw and a crowd pleaser!! As far a maybe someone having a wedding and having it bothered by music Im SURE the bands would show respect for that and pause. Why do we have a bandstand that is barely NEVER used downtown?? Then when someone actually tries to organise an event the responce by Roger Mcisaac is you need 2 million in insurance ?? Are you SERIOUS McIsaac??? We have a bandstand but if anyone wants to set up some musical instruments to entertain ppl they need to have 2 MILLION in insurance? How is it possible for ANYONE to try and use the bandstand?? Barbara I agree with you...I have only seen the bandstand used a handful of times in the past and whenever it is its been country, folk, bluegrass or do you figure those bands sported the 2 million in insurance??
    Why doesnt it surprise me that the town would give a poor guy trying to do a good thing for our downtown a hard time? I hope Mr Clarke gets whatever essentials together for Mcisaac and the town to be happy. If so Mr Clarke you will have between now and 4pm Friday to probably catch McIsaac on the golf course and get this event back on track.

  • Richard
    January 18, 2010 - 11:23

    Hi I'm the guy with the finger from the article above. I just want to thank everyone for the support. I felt like it was an insult to our town and it's residents and I am glad that my perception is shared. First of all let me say the BOTH Beth and Roger were very nice to me even while telling me they did not like the idea of harder edged acts downtown. They told me what I needed and maybe I should have started this 6 months ago instead of 3, and maybe I could have found out THEN that I couldn't do this without the insurance and DARS' permission. I accept that, however I did have to call 6 different people just to find out what form I needed to have to apply for the use of the park and neither insurance nor DARS was mentioned until the meeting I had with Roger and the aplication required a list of performers so I had to confirm bookings before I could submit the form. I was told it was relative short notice and was informed of the Dickie park stage area, under construction now but won't be completed til next year, and was given that as an alternate spot, next year and not downtown. What should I tell the bands that I had to book and confirm before filing the application? As for the churchs the reverend I spoke with seemed to think it was a great idea. We worked out a solution to the wedding issues and Ms. Munroe was informed of this in a letter I had to submit to her.

    I told them from the start I was doing this out of my own pocket with the help of friends, family and local musicians, I could not afford much. When I found out what level of insurance I needed I almost fainted. That's what they require for ONE DAY!? They couldn't (or wouldn't) help me without these things in place. To me that says they want someone else to do it all so that they can say There we didn't stop them, and they did it. Look how progressive we are and we didn't even need to ACTUALLY support them.

    This town has been hemmoraghing youth for years because they feel like they can't attain their dreams here and they have to move to where there is stuff going on(I know I was one of those youth), but we need to show them they're wrong. The dreams live here too. BUT we just can't show them something without $2 mil worth of insurance and proper permission.

    I didn't want to but I had to cancel because I can't use the AVAILABLE bandstand (that would be the perfect place for it) due to what I feel is a discriminatory reason. This is my first time trying to organize something like this and I will not stop trying even if I need to run for council(though I hope it NEVER comes to that). Alot of the young local talent here are in Metal, fusion, rock or punk bands, like The Miscreantz, Travis Riot and Sweet'n'Gross. This event would be a place to showcase the musical ability that it has taken them years of work and passion to hone and they can't because it is not the cup of tea for a minority of the population. Maybe next year we ALL can do better for them.

  • A
    January 18, 2010 - 11:23

    First of all, I would like to note that to peg the music that would have been available at this festival as metal or heavy is incredibly small minded and one dimensional. This music has influences and notes from all over the spectrum. Secondly, I resent the idea that the people who might attend such an event may cause damage or disruption. On the contrary, the people drawn to such a festival are there for the music, to support local talent and to bring people together on common ground to hear something they may not have heard before. Please remember that one of these bands recently played to a very large crowd in front of the Anne Murray Centre in Springhill in the middle of a Friday afternoon! No damages have been reported from that event and it is a shame that some small minded people would prevent this same positive experience from occurring in Amherst. Where does the REAL problem lie in this situation?!?!

  • Justin Credible
    January 18, 2010 - 11:21

    Hey Ashley and others,it's Pugsley Pharmacy and The Old Emporium(inside the old clock tower).

  • Jacqulynn
    January 18, 2010 - 11:21

    What I can't understand is they are worried about damage caused by bands playing down at victoria park, BUT are not concerned about the teenagers that hang out down there...Drinking, doing drugs and vandilizing the property that is Surrounded by the Two churches.....and if the music isn't too loud on Canada when my father does the sound then concerning yourselves with loss of business over more entertainment down at the BandStand.....which is what it's there for....Shouldn't be turned down. I know plenty of business that surrounds it!!!

  • james
    January 18, 2010 - 11:20

    I would very much like to see bandshell used for a purpose other than a pigeon nest. I feel for the downtown merchants as they and we are not used to any excitement in town. Before canceling the show maybe the town reps and Mr Clark can work something out.

  • amherstguy
    January 18, 2010 - 11:18

    In keeping with Amherst tradition,,,,,,let's do some more things to drive the youth from our town. It would be terrible to actually promote something for our town's young people . Let's, instead ,leave the bandstand to actually stand there serving no purpose. Good Job at keeping our downtown dead.

    Hats off to the town.....AGAIN

    Hey..... I have a good idea, let's have another family event , like the 4 father's festival and have everything scheduled during working hours so no one can attend ,or wait...better still pay 1000's of dollars to out of town entertainers. Much better than supporting local talent.

  • Unplanned
    January 18, 2010 - 11:17

    To Ashley: regarding your comment about maybe doing something about the pregnant teenage girls, Beth's business does carry products that would curb this problem, if the kids would actually go in and buy them...

  • Ashley
    January 18, 2010 - 11:15

    I have a business downtown and expect certain standards. I appreciate him coming in, but at the same time that park is bounded by two churches. If someone's having a wedding, the music style wouldn't be conducive, she said, adding she can't lose business because of the noise. My clientele isn't into hard, heavy music.

    Ignorance at its finest moment. I would like to know what business she runs and hold a boycott! I don't want to frequent or be a patron of a business of close minded selfish individuals. If she was or is so concerned about her downtown business and its clientele maybe she should try and remove the pregnant teens or the welfare perpetuating welfare protruding out of the seems of downtown. How about the loiterers at Tim Hortons? I bet thats good for tourism and business on an everyday basis.

    Metal music is music, whether or not it's conducive to your business. Culture, socialization for our youth and freedom of expression are the issues here. Money and one day of operation in your small town business isn't.

  • Be Nice
    January 18, 2010 - 11:14

    You can have an opinion, as everyone is entitled to one, even Beth, without being rude. Have a nice day.

  • Quick Point
    January 18, 2010 - 11:12

    The downtown revitalization group is the one who gives permission for using the bandstand?
    Last time I checked it was public property? !?
    Who at town hall gave up the town's sovereignty over public places to a special interest group?
    And btw, I was 24 in 1969 and back then I was dropping LSD and listening to Led I'm 65, retired, only take drugs for my arthritis, blood pressure and prostate, and still listen to Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and ven a little Metallica. I would have enjoyed this festival despite being the old man.
    Beth, you need to move over so us young men can start enjoying some tunes.

  • Y-Not?
    January 18, 2010 - 11:09

    WHY NOT have the event in the evening after 6 when the streets are abandoned?

  • welll
    January 18, 2010 - 11:08

    Like the article says...the insurance company will not insure it if it has metal...and you don't do anything without insurance these days!

  • AmusedByItAll
    January 18, 2010 - 11:07

    Well, maybe they should have agreed to fly a rainbow flag on the bandstand and call it some other kind of festival.

    Oh wait, I forgot about the Intolerance around here. You can add that one to your list too, Venessa.

  • Barbara
    January 18, 2010 - 11:02

    We can get bluegrass, country, gospel acts allowed, but not this? Not everyone likes the same ol' music all the time. I'm not a fan of hip-hop (at all... can't stand it, actually), but others do like it, and it will give people who wouldn't normally go to events something to do.

    And it's not just youth that like the heavier music. I'm a tad over 40, and I tend to learn towards a harder sound in the music I listen to... and heck... most of us adults listened to the real punk music back in the day.

    For someone having a business downtown, and expecting certain standards... that is about the most arrogant thing I have read lately in this paper. Has she actually taken a look around downtown lately? And the park has two churches on the sides... so, it's all right to sing country songs about cheating, but not all right for heavy music?

  • Elvis is EVIL
    January 18, 2010 - 10:56

    Doesnt seem that long ago that there was a HUGE uproar over some old folks hating ELVIS and his music!! I like What a Towns comment when they said reading Beth and the towns comments were like watching a scene from the movie FOOTLOOSE! haha
    Im betting if the metal bands threw on Victorian clothes and offered to donate money to Baker and the Ramblers this event would be immediately accepted.
    And all the gospel and xmas ppl that use the bandstand actually have 2 million in insurance?? how did the acts cover that on Canada Day/Four Fathers week where they had activities in the streets for 4 LONG days!!! Someone please explain how this was done!!!!

  • Youth
    January 18, 2010 - 10:53

    Being a youth in this town, I think this would have been a great thing! Although I'm not into that type of music, it'd be pretty cool to be able to actually have something to do. Our town is labelled as having 'horrible teenagers' , well for a few that may be so , but its not our fault we live in a dead town with absolutely nothing to do, and the things that are being scheduled don't seem very interesting to someone in their late teens.
    Beth, your clientele may not enjoy that type of music, but we all have to endure a few things we don't enjoy!

  • sigh
    January 18, 2010 - 10:51

    I think the key here was the planning. Why would he invite a bunch of bands to an event without first securing the venue!! DO you think the big concerts in Moncton and Halifax put on those concerts without permission from the cities and insurance?!?! To drive a student in my car to a sorting event I need a copy of my insurance to prove I have a million dollars coverage even if its just one kid.

    I think the concert is a great idea but I do think if we want it to be a success it has to be done properly and done well. It takes at least 4-6 months to pln something large and public likea this.

  • Bob
    January 18, 2010 - 10:49

    Mr. Clark should realize that the sort of music he proposes to be played in the bandstand is not liked by old blowhards and the retirement villa of Amherst. Perhaps try some Zamfir.

    And 2 Million in Liability insurance? Just call the style of music something else! Like Alternative or R&B. I know if hip hop is played in amherst outside people will destroy things and our youth will be corrupted.

  • Ashley
    January 18, 2010 - 10:48

    Was anything I said untrue? And to remove a comment is just another form of stifling free speech. Way to perpetuate the stereotype of ignorance in that town. Thank you for not allowing opinions to be shared on an open medium. And we welcome Beth's comments...I am sure all of us would like to hear her defend her comments and actions.

  • Fuzzy Bear
    January 18, 2010 - 10:48

    Youth from Nova Scotia.....if you are indeed a youth or teenager than you should commend yourself. Your comments were clear, precise and the only one on here including my own that gives me any hope for the future of Amherst. I also hope there are more like you out there that say what they feel with conviction...if we have others like you then thank god we actually have a chance...well said!

  • Someone from Amerst
    January 18, 2010 - 10:48

    WELL what else is new for this town. They dont want a thing going on around here. I hate Amherst and soon if it keeps going the way it is it will be a ghost town. I use to work at a local place in amherst and when you hear tourist saying they will never be so happy to get out of this ignorant town you wonder why anyone would live here. Amherst better start smatin g up or watch out.

  • Fuzzy Bear
    January 18, 2010 - 10:45

    Come on now folks .....give those poor hard working people down at town hall making these hard decisions a break!! Loud music just may wake someone up and do you know how annoying that gets when your in the middle of your afternoon nap!! After all Amherst was designed as a retirement community wasn't it ?? A community preparing for the grave and going nowhere!
    Two million in liability every Christmas season when we have the light up and all those people meandering around the bandstand what if some old gieser like me tripped over a cord or their old tired feet they could sue the town for 2 mil .....hummmmm that gives me an idea!!....oh my gosh we better cancel that too! Better still lets close of the downtown core altogether...whew future problems averted!
    Now the weddings at those churches I can sympathize with especially if they have the doors open, however if there are none planned for this time period then viola no local restrictions. The downtown businesses and revitilization committee should be focused on the Tim's mess - which has been soundly debated here before - if your truly focused on protecting your business and interests.

  • Steve
    January 18, 2010 - 10:45

    Rodger, (Mac Issac).

    The town should sponsor this festival and pay for the insurance.
    Beth, you do not speak for all of your clientèle. I believe a schedule could be worked out to please almost everyone, This is just wrong. IMHO as always

  • Aaron
    January 18, 2010 - 10:42

    It's about time someone finally called this charade for what it is! Ms. Munroe and DARS had all the best of intentions years ago, and for that she deserves credit.....but that was then and this is now. DARS has become illegitimate because it's not open to the public and it no longer serves the community in the way it was designed.

    I mean seriously come lady gets to decide what events are and are not acceptable for the people of Amherst? She wasn't elected to any office that I'm aware of, and I don't even think that DARS meetings are open to the what gives here?

    DARS is Amherst's way of pretending to do something while fighting progress every stop of the way...and the town has become all to happy to give up it's responsibilities and let a private citizen have carte blanch over this area...

    I'm not into this type of music, but holy smokes people, can't we even try to accommodate new things in this town?

    If the guy didn't have the permits then fine; the first thing that should have been done was for someone to help the guy get stuff in'd think they'd be happy someone what trying to do something for a change?? Right?

    Amherst is a great little town and I won't badmouth it here or anywhere else, but we really, really, need to think about these types of situations more seriously. If we want to make Amherst more welcoming, more inviting and more, dare I say progressive, then we have to do a little bit better people.

    I'd suggest one way to solve this problem would be a replacement for Ms. Munroe. She's put many years into this and honestly, if there isn't one other person who is willing, capable and talented enough to pick up the reigns and set some new direction, then we really are in sad shape as a community. DARS has to open up the doors and let a little fresh air in for a change.

    Beth has given lots to Amherst and I'll give her credit for that, but everything becomes stale after time and this is a perfect example of where we need some new thinking, some new leadership and some new energy.

    It's worth pointing out that this entire discussion actually has very little to do with the music we listen to and more about the type of community we want to live in.

    I challenge DARS to have quarterly public meetings without argument, reservation or delay and the agenda for the first meeting include the recruitment and selection/election of a new chair for the society. The Amherst Daily could do their part and be sure to cover events as they unfold, making sure community members know exactly where this story ends up...

  • Greg
    January 18, 2010 - 10:39

    I am 35 years old, and consider myself to be a responsible and professional business person. When I flip through my CD collection, I find artists such as NOFX, Pennywise, Sublime, Green Day, Bad Religion and Lagwagon, just to name a few. This is the music I grew up on and I am extremely insulted that anyone would draw a conclusion that the music someone listens to has any correlation to any behavior. And more so, to make a decision on behalf of a community based on your personal preferences is unacceptable for someone in such a position. As a business person, Beth should be seeing the attendance of several people in the vicinity of her shops as an opportunity, not a threat. I hope this gets worked out because this is the type of event I would definitely attend !!!

  • Guy
    January 18, 2010 - 10:35

    How about instead of shut them down, assist this group in finding an alternative location.
    It does just seem like they just didn't want the noise downtown.
    What a smart business person would understand is that some of this group may be your clientele some day and you could be shooting yourself in the foot by losing potential future customers.
    People should be pumped about anything going on downtown.
    The town just awarded a couple of huge contracts to outside companies to evaluate and revitalize the downtown area, but what good is it if community events get shut down because some old minded individuals don't want change.
    As far as the insurance, should have been specified as an alternative music festival, as i'm sure not all groups are going to be heavy. by todays standadrd, bands like metallica, ozzy, arn;t even metal anyway, there mainstream.
    Good luck though

  • Jack on the rocks
    January 18, 2010 - 10:33

    Hey Beth,tooooooooo bad for your clientele.I'm not into old cars or jazz.How come they get to close the streets off.This town cries about the kids having nothing to do,you try and get something and you get the DARS comittee head to shut it down.Not much wonder people shop at the malls and avoid downtown and maybe some will avoid your business now.The SO-CALLED Leaders of this town are a complete JOKE.DARS,you will get exactly what you deserve,NOTHING.......

  • Venessa
    January 18, 2010 - 10:31

    He inquired about liability insurance, but discovered he could not get insured if the festival included hip hop or heavy metal music.

    That's Discrimination

    There are also concerns with who may attend such a concert and what damage could occur

    That's Stereotyping

    Enough said.

  • Help A Guy Out!!
    January 18, 2010 - 10:31

    How is this type of stereotyping even tolerated in this day in age?? Its automatically being assumed by Beth and McIsaac that any youth or anyone for that matter who listens to this form of music brings with them destruction!!
    I find it a really a smug comment for Mr Mcisaac to say Clark didn't do his homework when it comes to getting permits and the required insurance . Maybe SOMEONE at town in charge of that stuff could try and HELP someone trying to do something in this town!! If Mr McIsaac is supposedly director of Community and Economic Development then for petes sake HELP Mr Clark or anyone like him trying to develope a project like this!! What else do you have to do more important than helping DEVELOPE projects that may help bring ppl to this town?? Maybe McIsaac or someone else could have HELPED Mr Clark with their HOMEWORK instead of criticising his attempted efforts!! But again when can anyone fit helping someone out when its busy golfing season?

  • Aussie
    January 18, 2010 - 10:31

    AC/DC just posted on their website that they will refuse to play in Amherst until this matter is settled.