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Midnight Marionettes is one of three local bands to sue manager and promoter Shawn Barusch.
Midnight Marionettes is one of three local bands to sue manager and promoter Shawn Barusch.
Midnight Marionettes

Denver-Area Bands Sue Manager Shawn Barusch

Members of Denver bands Midnight Marionettes, Public Display of Aggression and Avrell have filed a lawsuit against their former manager, Shawn Barusch, the founder of Music Gallery International. The groups, who claim they gave Barusch thousands of dollars after he made promises to record albums, sign with a label and book shows, among other things, say he failed to deliver and ripped them off.

The suit, filed in Denver District Court earlier this month, states that Carla Houghton of Denver-based goth-industrial-rock band Midnight Marionettes contacted Barusch, a music promoter and manager, in November 2015 and paid him $2,500 at the time. Over the next two years, she paid him a total of $28,800.

While Music Gallery International has an office in Centennial, the company website states that it has offices in Amsterdam, Berlin, Liverpool, Hollywood and Houston. The suit states that Barusch also operates under the names Hollowpoint Management and Texas Music Gallery. None of those companies, according to the claim, are officially registered businesses.

The suit states that Barusch, who is based in Centennial and did not respond for requests for comment for this story, “made numerous promises to assist Houghton, including recording albums, signing with a record label, booking shows, publicizing their music, working with other producers and generally furthering Houghton’s music career.”

The document also claims that Barusch promised to pay music producer Dennis Shinn around $15,000 of the money Houghton paid to him so that Shinn would help her with recording and music production, but only paid the producer $5,500, keeping the rest for himself.

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Although a contract was signed by both parties in 2017, the suit states that Barusch “failed to follow through with most if not all promises to assist Houghton, including failing to assist with the productions or recording of an album, which included failing to pay Shinn money allocated for Shinn’s assistance in producing or recording an album for Houghton, failing to assist Houghton in signing with a record label, failing to book shows for Houghton, failing to market or promote Houghton, and generally failing to assist with Houghton’s music career.”

Despite the band's demands that the manager return the money, he failed to do so.

Denver-based Latin-rock act Avrell had a similar experience with Barusch, but the bandmembers, who did not respond for comment on the lawsuit, claim they paid Barusch a total of $58,400 between August 2017 and February 2018, including $28,000 that was supposed to go to Shinn for producing an album. According to the suit, Barusch paid Shinn $7,000 and kept the remaining $21,000.

Littleton-based metal band Public Display of Aggression (PDA) paid Barusch a total of $77,785 between September 2015 and February 2018, including $5,805 that was supposed to go to Shinn to assist with recording and music production, but Shinn only got $3,000, while Barusch kept the remaining $2,805. In a written contract, signed by the band and Barusch in September 2015, Barusch "made additional promises to assist PDA in exchange for payment from PDA and a share of proceeds of certain revenue potentially generated from PDA, like royalties and ticket sales," according to the suit.

"Although PDA paid Defendants, and made numerous promises both verbally and in writing, including in the September 9, 2015 contract," the lawsuit continues, "Defendants failed to follow through with most if not all their promises to assist PDA, including failing to materially assist with the production or recording of an album, which included failing to pay Shinn money allocated for Shinn's assistance in producing or recording an album for PDA, failing to materially assist PDA in signing with a record label, failing to book shows for PDA, failing to adequately market or promote PDA despite taking several trips with the stated intent to do so at the expense of PDA, and generally failing to materially assist with PDA's music career."

While members of Midnight Marionettes and Avrell did not respond to requests for comment, a member of Public Display of Aggression wrote, "We would be willing to comment in the near future, however are unable to at this time."

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