Arts Desk

The Disintegration of Zep Fest

Zep Fest, the Led Zeppelin-themed rock fest previously scheduled May 27-29 at National Harbor, has been canceled. We found out this morning. But it seems some of the booked entertainment hasn't been informed yet.

Local filmmaker Jeff Krulik was scheduled to screen a rough cut of his film, Led Zeppelin Played Here, at the event. When Arts Desk contacted him about it, Krulik had no idea what we were talking about.

Zep Fest's publicity firm Trifecta Team only heard about the cancellation yesterday, and publicist Zack Bolno says festival director Mark Boudreau gave him very little specific information.

The festival's Twitter feed lends a very vague clue that things weren't right as of last week. On Thursday, Zep Fest tweeted: "Some folks just like to see others fail – can't be helped, but we say Peace & Luv anyway." But Canadian Zeppelin blogger Brian Gardiner wrote yesterday that things began to smell fishy more than a week ago, when bands began canceling en masse due to the festival failing to pay up-front. Southern California-based cover act Led Zepagain dropped out a week and a half ago after waiting six months for festival organizers to pay them.

"They just didn't live up to their part of the bargain," says Led Zepagain manager James Elliott. "They didn't want to pay us." Elliot had entered the band into an "all-in" deal in which the band agreed to pay travel costs, provided they were paid in advance. They were supposed to get paid six months ago; a week and a half ago, they were still waiting. Elliott finally decided enough was enough. "And the funny thing is I was getting calls from every band" on the festival, he says. Zep Fest "had the same problem with everybody." Boudreau has not returned multiple requests for comment.

As for Krulik, he's still not sure what he's going to do. Screening at Zep Fest wasn't about the money—he had no financial arrangement with the organizers. He was excited about possibly meeting former Led Zeppelin tour manager Richard Cole, who could have lent him important information for his film, which is about a Led Zeppelin show that may or may not have taken place at a recreation center in Wheaton, Md., in 1969.  But Krulik also says he hadn't spoken to Boudreau in six weeks or longer, and the festival director had not given him any details about when or where his screening was supposed to take place.

"I'm still trying to decompress and comprehend this. I'm simultaneously relieved and confused. And bummed out too," says Krulik over email. "This was originally a great opportunity, to screen for an audience who really dug the subject matter, as well as uncover more source material...But, I guess back to the drawing board now."

Blog Widget by LinkWithin
  • Nikki

    Dang, DC Music Fest & now Zep Fest? What's the deal with concerts crapping out these days?

  • Rob L.

    Mark Boudreau is probably trying to cross into Canada. I'm sure Zep Fest, LLC filed bankruptcy prior to the announcement; their ticket stipulations clears them of having to refund money even if event is canceled. All of those people won't see a dime back, mark my word.....

  • James A.

    No doubt he is in hiding..he was destined to pull off a scam; he really has no moral compass; and he is also a piss poor promoter

  • John Y.

    Why doesn't this surprise me? I certainly didn't want to see it fail, but I got a funny feeling months ago that they were promising more than they could deliver. I never saw a proposed schedule on their website and no listing of all the bands attending. Bands like "Get the Led Out" and "ZoSo" I knew were going because band members told me so, but were "Lez Zeppelin" or "Zepperella", to great female Zep tribute bands, even invited? Not that I ever heard or read.

    Lesson learned: Don't promise what you can't deliver. Make sure you have the capital to cover what you promise BEFORE you set (exhorbitant) ticket prices. Even if you lose money you save your creditility. This will probably kill all future Zep Fests (at least under that name).

    And one more thing: NO TRUE LED ZEPPELIN FAN LIKES RICHARD COLE - HE'S NO DRAW, SO DON'T INVITE HIM TO ATTEND. Read what Zep fans think of Cole and his book at It ain't pretty. Wise up.

    - John (a very, very disappointed Zep fan)

  • Eric

    I agree. Something was not right with this event from the get-go. Zep Fest had a lackluster web site with vague promises, no schedule, no band lineup posted, initial ticket prices were through the roof (then later reduced). I know diehard LZ fans locally who weren't even going simply because of the high cost of tickets. I was suspicious so I held back, was going to buy a ticket this week or at the door. Glad I waited.

  • Brian Allen

    I was amazed to hear this event had been cancelled after all the organizing,but it reminds me of the words of Peter Grant from the film The Song Remains The Same,when,after finding a tout selling pirate photographs of the band inside Madison Square Garden,"This would never happen in England".Greedy people who are in it for the money and not the love of the legacy of the music,Shame on you-next time try doing it in England,the home of Zeppelin,and a warm welcome to all Zeppelin devotees!!

  • Beltway Greg

    Jeff, time to get the camera. Twenty years from now people will swear that they attended.

  • sharon

    I knew Richard Cole was not attending several weeks ago. I have to say I was personally offended by the exorbitant ticket prices. For God's sakes, I'd pay that for the REAL band or a festival of headliners, but not for tribute bands and the like. It's a shame though. Could have been something special if it had been properly handled.

  • sharon

    BTW I have it on good authority (RC) that the Wheaton story did not happen, or if it did it was sans Peter Grant as he had not joined the band at that point in the tour......too bad, I grew up there and actually roller skated at that community center. It would be nice to hear the answer once and for all though.

  • http://fatzrabbits fatz

    i live in australia and was amazed to hear the festival was canceled.people i know were going to fly over for it and only found out it was canceled the day before they brought the airline ticket.what a mess.

  •!/pages/Refund-Zep-Fest-2011-Tickets/201902029857096 Lori

    Check out this facebook page...

  • Steve

    ...and still no refund for many ticket buyers still today, Boudreau has been flagged by Pay Pal and Event Bright for what that's worth.