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Owner Jack Bodziak on Jannus Landing: 'It's not like we shut down'

10

August

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It’s been a rough few days for Jannus Landing.

First, veteran concert promoter Rob Douglas, a local music scene fixture who has booked shows almost entirely at Jannus Landing for more than 25 years, resigned from the venue.

Then, on Friday, a show by the emo band Emery was cancelled at the last minute without explanation — the latest sign of disarray at a venue whose owner, John C. “Jack” Bodziak has been charged with failing to pay $250,000 in state sales taxes.

But in a brief phone conversation Monday, Bodziak said Jannus Landing remains a viable concert venue — as evidenced by a local hip-hop concert this past Saturday that drew a paid crowd of 875, and solid advance ticket sales for this Sunday’s show by ’90s rockers Sugar Ray.

“It’s not like we shut down and we’re not having shows anymore,” Bodziak said.

Indeed, 10 more shows are listed on Jannus Landing’s concert calendar through Oct. 31, including Motorhead (Sept. 15), Johnny Winter (Oct. 8), Insane Clown Posse (Oct. 9) and All Time Low (Oct. 26). Bodziak said the venue is still moving forward with those shows, and is currently booking more. Late Monday, Skinny Puppy announced a concert at Jannus on Nov. 28.

Beyond that, though, the concert outlook at the beloved St. Pete venue — which has already lost several gigs this summer to the Ritz Ybor across the bay — remains murky.

Bodziak wouldn't comment on any of the charges he faces. But according to his criminal defense attorney, Donald Anderson III, Bodziak struck a deal with the Department of Revenue and has been paying back the unpaid sales tax that led to his arrest in May.

"He has complied with the agreement he has made with the state," Anderson said. "We're doing our very best to cooperate and put this thing behind him and move forward."

But Anderson could not say how much of the $250,000 in back taxes Bodziak agreed to pay, or how much has actually been paid back. The Department of Revenue said it couldn't comment on the matter.

However, paying the state back won't resolve the grand theft charge against Bodziak. The next court hearing is set for Sept. 8.

A separate legal matter is whether Bodziak's concert business and downtown bars will be evicted from the Jannus Landing property altogether. In July the owner of the properties, St. Pete Jannus Inc., filed to evict Bodziak's businesses: the Green Room/Tamiami Bar, the Pelican Pub, Detroit Liquors and the concert business.

Bodziak is contesting the eviction. But St. Pete Jannus attorney Jonathan Damonte said Bodziak still hasn't paid the owners the  $161,209 they allege he owes in back rent. Bodziak's civil attorney in the eviction proceeding could not be reached for comment.

From a business standpoint, losing Douglas, who’s been part of the Tampa Bay live music scene since 1979, won’t make things any easier for Bodziak.

Reached by phone Monday, Douglas confirmed his resignation, but declined to give a reason, “out of respect for Jack and the time I spent there.”

“I’m going to take a little vacation,” he said, “something I haven’t done in a long time.”

Friday night’s concert by Emery and Maylene and the Sons of Disaster — a show that Bodziak himself promoted — was canceled with no advance notice, leaving plenty of disappointed fans at the gate, finding only a handmade sign reading “EMERY CONCERT CANCELLED.”

Bodziak said the Emery concert “was canceled due to a combination of an electrical problem and slow ticket sales.”

On their Twitter feed Friday morning, Maylene and the Sons of Disaster wrote: “In St Pete. The power’s been shut off at Jannus so the show is up in the air at this point.” And Emery’s manager, Scott Andrews, said there was no sound equipment at Jannus when the band arrived Friday.

Bodziak said he had to replace a few electrical breakers, and was unable to make the fixes in time for the show.

Andrews said the band didn’t find out the concert was canceled until sometime after 2 p.m., when another band gave them the news. “This was the first time anyone had heard of this — booking agent, management, the band, the tour manager, anyone,” Andrews said.

Emery’s bus stuck around outside Jannus Landing until about 6 p.m.  Andrews said Bodziak eventually came by to deliver a check for half of the band’s guaranteed fee. Bodziak said he plans to pay the band in full, even though no concert took place.

As for the slow ticket sales: Jannus employees said only about 60 tickets were sold in advance. But even if that was the case, Andrews said, canceling a show at the last minute is not standard practice in the industry.

“If they had come to us and said, 'Hey, it’s three days out, and we’re going to lose our shirts — can we work together on this?’ We at least would have had that conversation,” he said. “But I know that I never got that call.

“We’ve got five bands on this tour who all make a living off their guarantees and merchandise, and skipping one show — especially in between Fort Lauderdale the day before and Atlanta the next day — that’s not a short trip. That’s not just a jaunt up the interstate, that’s serious driving. So to lose that money really affects everyone.”

Andrews, who has been to Jannus Landing several times as a tour manager for other bands, said he hopes the venue can work through its problems.

“We love that place,” he said. “Florida is usually a pretty good market for Emery. ... They’ll be back. This isn’t going to change anything like that. The only thing this really does is affect our relationship with one promoter in particular, and possibly a venue. But I’d like to think they’ll fix their situation. Because it’s a good venue. Hopefully they’ll right the ship and everything will be good to go.”

-- Jay Cridlin and Jamal Thalji, tbt*. Photo (2003) by Lara Cerri, tbt*.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 3:12pm]

    

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