|Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber|
By Ruth Ellen Gruber
Bombshell news from the French country music/western front! After 17 years, it looks as if the great Equiblues rodeo and country music festival in St. Agreve, France, will close.
The reason seems to be financial, specifically a retroactive tax bill, writes the web site ledauphine.com.
It is an open secret that in early August, Philippe Lafont received a reassessment of tax services. The amount claimed for the years 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012: a little more than € 61 000. Too much for the association and for its president, for whom volunteering and passion have limits: "The tax audit is the trigger of my decision to take a break in 2013, because we simply do not have the means to continue with the amount payable."
Equiblues was one of the first European -- and the first French -- country western festivals I went to in 2004, when I first started following the scene. That first experience was tremendously eye-opening, a lot of fun, and introduced me to a lot of people and ideas -- and I was happy to be able to get back there this past August.
|Didier Cere and the Bootleggers play Equiblues. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber|
This year it seemed to me both "bigger" and "smaller". The Western market seems more crowded -- but less "western." More booths, but far fewer "western" booths -- and far far fewer western T-shirts, and much more generic kitsch and other "stuff." People didn't seem as "dressed up" western as before, either -- aside from ubiquitous hats and boots (including on my own feet).
Lafont's announcement came just a few months after Georges Carrier announced that he was stepping down as the director of the great Country Rendez-vous festival at Craponne, not far from St. Agreve. (See my blog post on this.) The two festivals were among the top country summer venues in France.
Georges has now started up a consulting agency that will serve as a middle man for bands and festivals.