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Skip the JBMF; go to Birdie Stock instead

It turns out that organizers of the James Brown Soul of America Music Festival have chosen a weekend for their festival that was already taken by another local festival. Organizers for Birdie Stock 2006 are positively molting.

(Sorry.)

To me, Birdie Stock sounds much cooler (even if their name is horrible). For one thing, it’s an established festival; they’ve been having it on Memorial Day weekend for years now. For another, it’s for a good cause. It’s a fundraiser for Feathered Friends Forever, a group that provides sanctuary for birds in need.

At Feathered Friends Forever we provide a loving, life long, care home for tropical birds. We take in all types, for any reason the bird cannot be cared for, in any situation. Feathered Friends Forever Rescue/Refuge, Inc. is the largest privately owned rescue/refuge in Georgia and one of the largest in the nation. We are a 501(c) non-profit corporation.

Compare this to the JBMF. The “James Brown” Soul of America Music Festival is hilarious, first off, because James Brown himself is unavailable on the dates of the festival. Organizers claim he’s coming for the opening ceremony, and that they’re working on getting him to actually perform, but he’s already scheduled to perform in Virginia immediately before and after the festival. It seems a little rude to demand that your supposed guest of honor–who isn’t getting any younger, by the way–fly home from Virginia and then back again over the course of a weekend, and give a concert somewhere in there.

The JBMF is also hilarious because of this.

Then there’s the matter of where the money is going. Nobody seems to know. The organization in charge of the festival, the Heritage Crest Foundation, is kindasorta infamous for being founded by a former Georgia state senator who is now in prison for conspiracy and mail fraud. Here’s a description of what he was charged with from the Augusta Chronicle:

According to the indictment, between 1996 and 2003, Mr. Walker lost about $530,000 at casinos in Atlantic City, N.J., Las Vegas and Biloxi, Miss. Contained in the 66-page indictment are allegations Mr. Walker engaged in a pattern of deceit, covering up his personal ownership of businesses to sidestep mandatory financial disclosures, diving into his political donations for personal expenses and not disclosing that information.

His son’s in charge now, and to be fair, we shouldn’t punish the son for the sins of the father. But it does raise a few eyebrows.

I think people would feel a lot better about it if it seemed like the festival was being handled well. But the date’s been changed several times. Artists who were reportedly “confirmed acts” have said they never agreed to come (and I’m not just talking about Wil Wheaton ;>), and now the website doesn’t list any acts. Additionally, amateur performers are being asked to pay up to $600 for the right to play at the festival.

It gets a little hairy to say bad things about Heritage Crest and the JBMF, because Augusta is a racially-charged town. You can theoretically deflate someone’s argument simply by saying “You’re just being racist”. I personally don’t think it’s racist to point out organizational blunders, but there you have it.

In any case, given the controversy surrounding the JBMF and the fact that Birdie Stock was there first, I’d say forget Augusta that weekend and head over to Harlem.

Or just stay home and have a cookout.