A proposal by a city official to organize a replacement festival for the discontinued Rockabilly on the Route music fest in Tucumcari, New Mexico, was tabled after Rockabilly’s co-organizer said such a bid would be “theft” of intellectual property.
Rockabilly on the Route organizers, however, said they were open on organizing a Route 66 festival in the fall of 2018.
According to the Quay County Sun newspaper, city commissioner Robert Lumpkin and Hot Pan Productions owner Brian Whitcomb proposed a Rockin’ Route 66 festival for 2018. Organizers for Rockabilly on the Route announced in February they would take an indefinite break after the 2017 festival concluded in June.
“After discussions with residents (and) tourist and event producers, the consensus was unanimous, we’d be crazy to let this event go away, even for a year,” Lumpkin said. […]
Lumpkin said during this year’s festival, the convention center bar reported $16,000 in sales, one motel reported $15,000 increased revenue and the New Mexico Route 66 Museum raised $4,000. He said after speaking with Cantlon and gaining his support, the proposed event was created to prevent a loss in the economic benefits and tourism created by Rockabilly.
Rockabilly on the Route co-organizer Ungie Davila pushed back against Lumpkin’s idea, saying they never were approached about a substitute festival and any such bid would be a “theft” of the Rockabilly on the Route trademark.
Davila said in past phone conversation with Lumpkin and Whitcomb, they were asked who owned Rockabilly on the Route and how they would feel about an event being held as a place holder. Davila said she and Simon told Lumpkin and Whitcomb repeatedly that any event held in the first weekend of June with a Rockabilly or Americana theme would confuse the audience and be an infringement on their intellectual property rights and damage their brand.
“We told them we would not support such an event. What is being proposed here is theft,” She said.
Davila said she felt Lumpkin acted deceitfully in organizing the proposal with Whitcomb. She said Lumpkin was operating on self-serving reasons with blatant disregard to her and Simon’s repeated warning and advice in the matter.
Lumpkin and the Lodgers’ Tax Advisory Board, which was slated to give $25,000 to the substitute festival, tabled the idea for now. Rockabilly on the Route co-organizer Simon Cantlon said he’d go to court if the board and city persisted with a rock festival in June. Lumpkin said he did not intend to deceive Davila and Cantlon.
Davila also said she and Cantlon were working with local resident Chase Dudley on possibly producing a Route 66 festival in fall 2018.
Cantlon said he and the Tucumcari city manager also were discussing about reviving Rockabilly on the Route in 2019. But for now, Cantlon said the break from the festival was needed to review its financial model.
A few thoughts and observations:
— The notion Rockin’ Route 66 would be a trademark violation is on shaky legal grounds. The organizers of that proposed a name change, and they almost certainly would make changes to differentiate itself from Rockabilly on the Route. Music festivals are a dime a dozen; the fact this one also would be in June doesn’t pass trademark-violation muster.
— Rockabilly on the Route proved popular to motels and businesses in Tucumcari. So when its organizers said they were going on hiatus, the reaction by city officials to find a replacement event not only is understandable, but almost justifiable.
— Rockabilly on the Route’s organizers sent mixed signals about their festival’s future. Promotional materials said the 2017 festival would be the “5th and final” and “our final year.” But they said they might be back in 2019, or they might take the festival on the road. Now they say might organize a Route 66 festival in fall 2018. The organizers may mean well, but vague or contradictory messages is not the way to go about things.
— If the fall 2018 festival doesn’t work out, the Rockabilly on the Route organizers and city officials ought to work out a compromise for a placeholder festival. I think city officials are right to be concerned about loss of momentum by losing the festival for even a year. Even a scaled-down event would be better than nothing, and it would serve as a springboard for Rockabilly on the Route if it returns.
(Screen capture of 2017 Rockabilly on the Route video)