Music News

The Beatdown

Three weeks ago, I opined in this space on the American Music Auditions that had taken place at Avalon May 12-16. I received quite a few e-mails in response, most of them from members of bands that had been duped -- er, I mean, had participated in the event. None of these missives, however, were as spirited as the one I received from Robert Metzgar himself, one of the luminaries behind the AMA, a producer so "legendary," according to his own bio, that he'd done work for Bob Johnston, who worked with "Bob Dillon." I quickly fired off a message in response; strangely, Bob didn't reply. So I've opted to give him another Beatdown.

"Dear Westword," he wrote (the typos are all his). "The misspelling of Bob Dylan's name didn't come from my bio. It came from a newspaper article written by people about as savy on the music business as your reporting."

Really, Bob? That's weird, because I downloaded the bio -- "Legends Hall of Fame Producer is Bluegrass Icon to Rock Musicians" -- directly from your website. Still, I can see how it's created confusion, considering that you admitted to me you hadn't actually read your bio. Further research shows that you're right about this tidbit coming from an "article" -- it was written by Entertainment Headline News, a company that lists you as the owner of its domain, according to Network Solutions. And it was released by McNeil-White Publicity in Nashville, who you said represents you. Savy, indeed.

"Your reporter talked with me at length at the Avalon auditions," Metzgar continued. "He told me in person in front of several witnesses that 'the' only thing he found wrong with the auditions was Dylan's name was misspelled in a newspaper piece that related to me and not to the auditions."

By wrong, Bob, I was referring to any impropriety on your part. There were a number of things "wrong" with the auditions. The bio error was just the most obvious evidence that you're not exactly on top of your game.

"As an investigative reporter, he asked a lot of tough questions and I answered every question," Metzgar said. "I spent all the time he needed to answer all the questions he had in the middle of the auditions while I was working. Your reporter was at the table when we talked to the artists, but he hasn't been at my office to answer their phone calls, emails and response since the auditions were over. I have done that every day since I left Denver. The positive response to our coming to Denver was overwhelming."

Right again, Bobbo. I haven't been at your office manning the phones -- because I've been too busy trying to keep up with the avalanche of e-mail that's landed on me since you split town. A few samples:

"I have a friend that was at the 'auditions' at the Avalon," one reader wrote. "Yesterday he got a call from Robert Metzgar, he asked my friend to go to Nashville for a meeting. My question to you is, have you found out anything about these auditions? I mean, was this a fraud or for real??? Any info you have would be VERY helpful at this point."

"Hi Dave," a second reader wrote. "I read your article in Westword regarding the AMA auditions. We participated in the audition. Now, Sony has contacted [booking agency's name deleted to protect identity] saying that they want all twelve bands represented by [deleted] to fly themselves to Nashville Tennessee in order to negotiate contract signings. I really liked what you had to say in your article, and I was just wondering if I could get your opinion on this proposed business deal. Originally we thought that we were the only band contacted to be signed to Sony but then we found out that they want all twelve bands. This seems a little sketchy to us and we would like to know what your input is on why they would want all twelve bands there."

Hmm. Bob, do those really sound like the voices of happy people who contacted you?

"The personal shot you took at Charles E. Fach, Jr. ," Metzgar continued, shifting between addressing me directly and in the third person, "who was Sr. Vice-President of Mercury/Polygram for many years in New York was a cheap shot at his age. It was uncalled for. If all you have to complain about in Denver is the age of one of the judges who listened faithfully to these kids music until 3:00 a.m. in the morning, you should apologize to your communicty readers. I didn't see your reporter staying there until 3-4:00 a.m. every morning.

"I only hope that I am as active and my mind is that sharp when I'm Charlie's age. You should apolgize for taking cheap shots at people who are senior citizens. My guess is that a senior citizen is your editor and probably owns the paper you write for and signs your checks on Friday. Maybe you should follow their advice. It might help you get to the next level. And at the rate you're drinking, you'll be a senior citizen a lot sooner than later."

Wow. Now you're taking shots at Patty Calhoun, Bob. Wait until I inform her that she's a blue-hair. That could explain her penchant for splitting every afternoon at 4 p.m. and the Furrs sticker on her bumper. Thanks for clearing that one up. And from the sound of it, your mind is starting to slip a little as well.

"At 'no' time," Metzgar asserted, "did anyone at our table ever tell you or anyone else that Ivan Mogull was the head of SONY/ATV Music in New York. The music was so loud in there, you couldn't have heard what we said anyway. We told you that Ivan was a consultant that came to the audition in behalf of the publishing company."

Actually, both you and Allen Miller said that he was with Sony. And even assuming I misheard you, my dictaphone didn't have a problem with the noise level. It's all on tape, Chief.

Metzgar concluded with this: "If you are going to write an article about me, at least quote me correctly and treat me with some respect. I'm surprised you got as many things right as you did, considering you were drinking and looking at all the Œeye-candy' in the club most of the time. You need to relax and get laid more often. You'll write a better story next time I'm in Denver to audition talent."

Okay, here's where I get upset. Eye candy -- what eye candy? Were you holding out on me, Bob? If there was any eye candy in the joint, I sure wish you would have pointed it out. Maybe next time.

Oh, yeah, wait, there probably won't be a next time, because as I mentioned in my original Beatdown, we may be living in Mootown, but we're not country dumbkins. As for me drinking, unless Caddy (you remember Michael Cadwell, el jefe at Avalon?) slipped some rum into my Diet Coke, I was sober as a preacher. And finally, with regard to getting laid: Unlike you, I'm still married, my man. So I'm all set, but thanks for thinking about me.