Jam Productions says it's owed big money for being cut out of summer music fest; downstate producer says 'false'

By Jonathan Bilyk | Jul 31, 2015

A Chicago company billing itself as “the largest independent producer of live entertainment in the U.S.” has accused a downstate production company of breaking up the duo behind a successful downstate summer music festival, and is suing Urbana-based Jay Goldberg Events and Entertainment for allegedly improperly cutting it out of the operation of a popular annual multi-day summer music festival near Peoria.

Chicago-based Jam Productions filed a complaint July 29 in Cook County Circuit Court against Progressive Innovations, parent corporation of the Urbana-based Goldberg Events company, asking a court to punish Goldberg for allegedly reneging on the longstanding arrangement Jam Productions said was responsible for building into a success the annual Summer Camp Music Festival in the Peoria County river town of Chillicothe.

In its complaint, Jam notes the two companies had partnered on producing the festival since 2001. In the first festival at Three Sisters Park in Chillicothe, about 1,000 people attended.

However, in the 14 years since, the festival has grown to include more than 100 bands on seven stages over three days, drawing more than 20,000 ticket-buying attendees.

Bands and artists playing the festival in the past have included Willie Nelson, the Wailers, the Roots and the Flaming Lips, among others.

This year’s event, according to the event’s website, included such acts as artists Moe, The Steve Miller Band, Umphrey’s McGree, Krewella, the Violent Femmes, Big Gigantic, the John Butler Trio and GRiZ, among dozens of others.

Jam said its connections to a number of bands and its professional reputation played a large role in making the Summer Camp festival successful.

“Particularly important in the success of Summer Camp is Jam’s prominent reputation,” the complaint states. “Concertgoers know that concerts and festivals produced by Jam will be of the highest quality, and Jam has longstanding relationships with top-quality musicians.”

“Many of the bands, especially in the early years of Summer Camp, might not have agreed to play were it not for Jam’s association with the event,” the complaint states.

During those 14 years, the two companies divided the profits equally, the complaint states.

However, earlier this year, Jam alleges Goldberg notified them they were “unilaterally cutting Jam out of Summer Camp, flouting their decade-and-a-half-long joint venture,” and violating their “fiduciary duties” to Jam.

“Over Jam’s objections, Goldberg produced the 2015 Summer Camp festival to the exclusion of Jam, usurping the Summer Camp name and good will that Jam and Goldberg have developed over the course of many years – and pocketing Jam’s 50 percent share of the profits,” the complaint alleges.

In an emailed statement, Jay Goldberg, of Goldberg Events & Entertainment, declared Jam's allegations to be "false."

"We did all the work, put up all the money and secured all the majority of the talent without them for the last several years," Goldberg said. 

He said his company took action to part ways with Jam Productions in June 2014 when Jam co-owner Jerry Mickelson informed him he wished to bring Los Angeles-based live entertainment giant AEG into the partnership.

" We at Jay Goldberg Events & Entertainment did not see us fitting into this scenario and have no intent to partner our festival with this new arrangement," Goldberg said.

He said he wished to "let the courts decide."

Jam did not discuss any alterations to the arrangement regarding the management of Summer Camp in its filing.

However, Jam alleged Goldberg’s maneuver has cost it “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in profit this year, and potentially “millions” in the years to come, if Jam continues to be excluded from the production of Summer Camp.

Jam’s complaint includes a count each of breach of fiduciary duty and unjust enrichment. The company is asking the court for an award of unspecified compensatory and punitive damages against Goldberg, including a demand Goldberg be made to pay them “all payments, revenue, profits, monies, royalties and any other benefits derived … from producing Summer Camp without Jam.”

Jam Productions is represented in the action by attorneys Greg Shinall and Erin Wagner Wolf, of Sperling & Slater, of Chicago.

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