Butlins Rock and Blues weekend, Jan 2012

Those who have read my review of the weekend will know I sent an e-mail to Butlins expressing a cause for concern. I was told the e-mail would be forwarded to the person concerned and I would get a reply. Well, three weeks on and, what a surprise, zilch. So here goes…

Can I first say that I reckon the weekend is very good value for money, generally good music , pretty well organised and many would agree. We have been going since the 90s and (if allowed!) will carry on so to do.  My main cause for concern is the person who books the acts.

Mr Peter Barton runs the Rock Artist Management company (www.rockartistmanagement.com) and he does the bookings. Now if you go to the website, you will see a LOT of familiar names on the artists rosta. Have you maybe seen them at a Butlins music weekend perchance?!  I counted at least a couple of dozen. Their talents don’t come into the problem, but surely it MUST be a conflict of interest when the person who does the bookings seems to book an awful lot of his own artists?!  I looked at a random copy of Blues Matters , from 2008, and a letter writer commented that the event then seemed to be a showcase for Mr Barton’s acts.

A local town councillor couldn’t recommend a firm to, say, build a new school if he owned the bloody firm. MPs are duty bound to list ‘interests’, so doesn’t it seem a bit ‘suspicious’!?

Please note I am stressing that the following doesn’t necessarily happen , but what is to stop the booking person booking one of his acts for , say £2000 when they only normally go out for £1000? He gives them an extra £500, asks them to give HIM the OTHER £500 and who’s to know? And that’s only one act! Even better if you book The Animals and Friends (who are regulars) because who is the bass guitarist/vocalist? A Mr Peter Barton!! He would win twice!!  But like I said, I am NOT saying this happens but it COULD and that is my point re ‘conflict of interest’.

Now, what adds a bit of spice to the above concern is that I have been told to my face by a member of a a regular act at Skeggy (not a RAM member!) that they love the booking because it’s a ‘good gig’…i.e it pays well!! Groups regularly put Skeggy into a tour of continental Europe and fly in for the gig, so it must be worth their while.

And another extremely good group, who have played before and would love to come back, can’t get in because they are not in the RAM Mafia (their opinion, not mine!).

Also, my original review commented on a run-of-the-mill club group who had come from Lancashire for a 50 minute slot. A round trip of about 7 hours?! Why, may you ask, should they be booked? There must be dozens like them within spitting distance. Are they friends, relatives, blackmailers?!

I think the vast majority will not be aware that they are basically seeing the RAM weekend (that happens to be at Butlins!) but consider what I’ve said, especially in the light of maybe you thinking  ‘are they here again!?’  or ‘what is an ordinary group like this doing here when I could see them in a pub near where I live?’.

I am sure Mr Barton is a wonderful chap and I am not accusing him of ANYTHING but the mechanics of the event leave it open for people to put 2 and 2 together … and make a lot more than 4!

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