In late summer 2008, the first-ever Loki music festival — named for the Norse God of mischief, according to organizer Jack Ballard — generated a lot of buzz. For one, major acts like hip-hop outfit The Roots, legendary reggae artist Toots & The Maytals and Parliament’s George Clinton were slated to perform at Deerfields, which isn’t the hugest of outdoor venues. Then there was the “super-secret mystery headliner” announcement that kept fans guessing for weeks on the festival’s message boards.
The lineup included three days’ worth of bigtime festival-circuit bands: Toubab Krewe, Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band, DJ Equal, Col. Bruce Hampton, Larry Keel & Natural Bridge, J.J. Grey & Mofro, Turbo Pro Project, Shane Pruitt Band and a bunch of others. And the festival itself was, by all accounts, pretty rad. Friends who went described amazing performances amid a raucous but relatively controlled atmosphere (read this review from JamBase and sweet photos from Performance Impressions).
But something wasn’t right. Xpress had a clue that things were amiss after running a story on the festival. The festival had announced CAKE as a headliner, then rescinded that at the last minute. We had been set to publish the Loki story giving CAKE as the headliner, until our ad director noticed (at the very last minute) that CAKE wasn’t listed on the final Loki ad. We scrambled to change the story and published “Let them eat Cake — or not.” And we heard quickly from CAKE’s management.
Thomas Manzi of the Umbrella Group wrote: “I am the manager of CAKE. I recently read your Mountain Express article, dated 10/8/08, on the Loki Festival and wanted an opportunity to set things straight. For the record, CAKE did not ‘bow out at the last minute.’ The truth of the matter is, that although CAKE was looking forward to being a part of the Loki Festival this year, it was Jack Ballard who unilaterally cancelled CAKE’s performance. The fact is, CAKE remains interested in performing as contracted. This was a decision made entirely by Jack Ballard, not by CAKE. Jack’s comment that ‘…the band had some personal stuff and some business stuff that went awry’ is both slanderous and completely untruthful. Jack Ballard has clearly embellished the facts in your article and those facts need to be corrected.”
After contacting Ballard, we ran a correction. It was an interesting one to write:
“In the Oct. 8 issue, the A&E section included a feature on the inaugural Loki music festival. Just prior to publication deadline, our advertising director noticed the headlining band CAKE was not listed as a performer on Loki’s final ad. The A&E story originally focused on the revelation that the so-called ‘mystery headliner’ was the band CAKE. Xpress scrambled against deadline to change the story and let readers know that CAKE would not be at the festival.
Jack Ballard, acting as representative of Loki Entertainment, told Xpress that CAKE had pulled out because of ‘personal and business’ reasons. However, CAKE’s management disputes Ballard’s statements. CAKE’s manager Thomas Manzi contacted Xpress and said Ballard was the one who ‘unilaterally’ cancelled the performance, and that the comments in the story were untrue.
Contacted this week, Ballard agreed that Loki pulled the plug on the band: ‘Loki Entertainment unilaterally withdrew from having them play because of ongoing difficulty with negotiations,’ he said. Ballard said he didn’t want to discuss the ‘significant issues’ that came up during negotiations. In a follow-up e-mail, Manzi said CAKE would be pursuing legal action.”
Then, after the festival, we started getting calls and emails from folks who’d worked at or for the event. Some wanted to be on the record, some off. But we couldn’t get Ballard back on the phone to answer their questions, concerns and complaints. Some of those concerns linger on various message boards, threads and below posted articles.
And now we have a John Wright Ballard turning up on whosarrested.com. Some folks around town noticed this, and it’s been linked to in various places. I met Ballard, and in my opinion, this guy looks like him. But, that’s not been confirmed. A second-party public records search shows a John Wright Ballard with a previous 75 Furman Ave. address in Asheville was arrested in Maricopa County, Ariz. on Fugitive of Justice charges. That was on Dec. 15. Still, though. What’s up?
Where in the world is Jack Ballard?