Just a few months after leaving Long Beach for Nashville, it looks like Ink-N-Iron's ship has sunk. We read the reviews from the new location at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park back in August — the shockingly low attendance, complaints from non-VIP ticket holders who were treated like plebs, Merle Haggard canceling his performance last minute on night two via Twitter after the festival declined to pay him. Wait, Merle Haggard knows how to use Twitter?!
When it comes to promoters getting him his money, you bet your ass he does.
— Merle Haggard (@merlehaggard) August 8
If that wasn't bad enough, even this small clip from the review by Nashville Scene is enough to make you cringe.
We arrived at the opposite end of the park from the box office on Friday night, and as we walked the quarter-mile-or-so length of the festival grounds we couldn't help but wonder how much money promoters must have spent on erecting multiple stages and setting up multiple banks of Porta-Potties, long strips of vendor booths, rows of classic cars and the kind of festival infrastructure to accommodate crowds of 10,000 or more. We heard plenty of music emanating from four stages, but we didn't hear much commotion. Still, we were shocked at what we heard upon asking a ticket taker/security guard if there were many people inside. “More than last night,” he said.
“Well how many were here last night?” we replied.
“Enough to count,” he answered, “maybe 70.” His nearby co-worker quickly corrected him and said it was actually a couple hundred, he guessed, but still, we're talking a difference between double and triple digits here.
Apparently festival organizer Trace Edwards and founder Riun Van Driessche grossly miscalculated the Nashville scene's interest in rockabilly and tattoos. That sounds weird to say. I mean, it's Nashville after all. But according to recent reports, throwing a nearly empty left festival organizers with a whole bunch of bills they can't pay.
In an email sent to one contractor, Newport Beach, Calif., bankruptcy attorney Dennis Connelly says that the festival “has run out of funds to pay its bills due to an extreme lack of attendance. There are no plans to come back to the SoCal market or any other market as the festival is bankrupt.”
However, organizers say that there has been no official filing for bankruptcy. Further attempts to reach out to Edwards, the main spokesman for Ink-N-Iron, have been unsuccessful.
Several contractors, including Adam Prohaska who owns Atlas Worldwide Transportation, say they were never paid and are out tens of thousands of dollars. Damn, what is this? Punk Rock Picnic?
“I don't understand how they can do 13 years of a show in California, and claim that they have no money to pay because one show went bad for them,” Prohaska told Nashville's News Channel 5 Network by phone from California.
Whatever's actually going on with the tattoo festival and its organizers, flopping this hard on their first year in a new town will likely leave a permanent mark.