James Brown Music Festival scaled down

By: Jonathan Martin
By: Jonathan Martin

The James Brown Music Festival is slated to run Memorial Day weekend.

But there are still many questions about who will be there and who's paying for it all.

Thursday, festival organizer Charles "Champ" Walker, Jr. met with the city administrator to answer some of those questions.

By all accounts, it was a pretty positive meeting.

It was a private meeting, but when they all came out, News 12 was told there is a plan that everyone can work with.

Champ Walker says forget what you've heard; the show will go on.

"Not only is the city on board in a major way, and are excited, but this has turned into a hometown venue with regional and local acts," Walker said.

Thursday afternoon, Walker and his committee met with city administrator Fred Russell to submit a final organizational plan for the four-day fest.

"We've had some good dialogue over the past few weeks," Russell said. "We've had some good dialogue today. And we're ready to move forward with a good event."

Originally, festival organizers asked city leaders to provide a quarter million dollars to help with funding. Commissioners never approved that request, but offered the possibility of $35,000 in in-kind services...but only if Walker could provide definitive plans of the events and artists by this deadline.

They say he did just that, with plans even scaled back.

"The number of folks anticipated, I think that's been scaled back between 75-hundred and 10-thousand," said Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength.

Russell says the festival will be able to use city venues, including the Jessye Norman Amphitheatre and the Commons area. Russell says they will also be offering $8000 worth of security.

But the major question remains: will the soul brother number one be at his own festival?

"We're pretty sure he's going to be here for the tribute," Walker said. "On the performance, we're trying to work it out."

And while the Godfather Of Soul's appearance is up in the air, News 12 has learned a local promoter has confirmed several lesser-known acts, including pop artists Michele Ari, country artist Rick Monroe, and child star Aaron Kelly.

Those are three of some 40 artists Mr. Walker says will be here.

News 12 spoke with James Brown's manager David Cannon Thursday afternoon. Cannon says that as of now, Mr. Brown is still not confirmed to perform at the festival. He says Brown will only appear if organizers can provide $25,000, the cost for Brown and his band to fly to Augusta.

The event has been scaled back.

The James Brown Music Festival has been plagued by changes in plans.

When James Brown himself endorsed the event in November, it was scheduled to take place in March.

The dates were then pushed to the end of May -- Memorial Day weekend.

And the list of performers has also changed several times.

The first unconfirmed names tossed around included Justin Timberlake, Usher, and the Black-Eyed Peas.

Early last month, organizers issued a news release saying India Arie, Nappy Roots, George Clinton, and Bootsy Collins were all confirmed headliners.

Now the website for the event says the list of acts is still being confirmed.

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