The Day The Music Died in Ottawa

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Dear readers,

When we first started this country music blog, we started out as a site for fans by fans. We listen to what our fans and readers are wanting to hear from us, what features they’d want to see, and even which artists they’d love to see interviewed. The first music festival Jessica and I ever covered together was Capital Hoedown last year, which featured acts like Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts, and Miranda Lambert among many talented acts. We were the first ones reporting the Carrie-Miranda live duet/mash-up of “Before He Cheats” with “Gunpowder & Lead” at the festival which helped propel us into being one of Canada’s leading resources for all things country music. Since that August weekend, Capital Hoedown has always been one of the highlights of our brand and we always put an extra shout-out to the festival when discussing artists this year.

This year’s line-up for Capital Hoedown was to be even bigger: with promises of Taylor Swift, Reba McEntire, Ronnie Dunn, Sheryl Crow and Brad Paisley. When I was at the line-up announcement I was more than excited over the line-up organizers had made. We interviewed Concert International CEO, and Capital Hoedown organizer, Denis Benoit back in December before the Christmas rush and he promised in the interview that tickets would be sold-out by Christmas so fans needed to get them asap for this fantastic line-up, saying that they were selling “extremely well.” Tickets weren’t sold-out, and were still on-sale throughout this year. Read our interview with Denis right here on Keepin’ it Country.

Being a fan-first site, we read every Tweet, Facebook message, wall post, and e-mail sent in to us by readers. When we started to get a few mentions and messages from fans asking us what was going on with the Capital Hoedown as some artists had removed the date from their website’s tour pages, we reached out to our friends in those artist teams to inquire about the missing dates. Once we started to receive confirmations that those artists were out, with the okay to post the news, we did so. What happened next is a sea of press interviews, camera time, and paper mentions for our site with Canadian, and American, media and radio stations as we were the first ones to even realize that something was up. We received a “seize and desist” (sic – not ‘cease’) from Denis quickly after our confirmation from artist teams that they were pulling out with promises of “serious legal action” against our site for posting the information. Nothing else ever came from that e-mail as everything we’ve posted has been factual and 100% confirmed, and after speaking with American and Canadian attorneys, we were perfectly fine to post the information.

Read more below:

We were asked to be on CBC, CBC Radio One, CTV, The Ottawa Sun, and many other media sources because of this news and how we were the only ones with confirmation that artists were out. Capital Hoedown organizers were still saying all artists were on-board and were still selling tickets for every artist even a week after we broke the news on Keepin’ it Country. We stepped away from most of the bad press going around about the Festival as we only got involved to help fans figure out what was going on, and to defend the fans; but kept our media friends in the loop on everything we knew about the Hoedown. While we were in Nashville while most of the news was breaking back in Canada’s Capital city, we still updated fans on what we knew on CBC through phone interviews from Music Row.

Hoedown founder, Denis Benoit, had promised the Ottawa press several times that he would have a statement (often delivering late), but Friday’s interview sessions were abruptly canceled, reports the Ottawa Sun, as he was an no-show. We have not been given any press releases, statements, or interview possibilities from the Hoedown since the original posting of artist cancellations on our site – but we did get official statements from Ottawa City Hall on payments not being made and the status of the Festival from their viewpoint. Looks like we were the first ones “blacklisted” from the Hoedown by Denis… who also did so to major newspaper Ottawa Citizen. We invited Capital Hoedown and Concert International for an interview with us to clarify statements made in the December 9th interview, or to fill-in fans on the status of the festival and refunds with a fan-first brand. We have still not received a response.

Capital Hoedown organizers have announced today that the festival is officially cancelled, reports the Ottawa Sun. However, ticket purchasers are to bring up the issues of refunds with their credit card companies and not with Concert International, whom had already had ticket holders fill out refund forms in order to apply for refunds. We’re hoping fans do get their refunds back from the Festival. If you’ve received yours, or haven’t and are worried about it, please let us know and we will keep you anonymous. As always, we are here for the fans and reach out to us and we’ll see what we can do for you!

With love,

Lydia & Keepin’ it Country Staff

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