As many of you have read on our sister blog DDMD or AKA Scumbagpromoter.com, about a year ago we were approached by Rich Vreede of Black Cat Entertainment in Los Angeles to “Sponsor” one of his upcoming concerts. I was living in Latin America at the time, planning my return to the U.S. and relocation to Los Angeles. I know that Black Cat was reportedly very shady, I had heard how he had stiffed a couple of well known bands at his last show, but I assumed that he eventually paid him. I also knew the guy had been doing concerts for 12 years and unfortunately there wasn’t the wealth of information on the guy’s sketchy track record online as there is now.
But really, lets face it, I was just lazy. Had I just bothered to simply google the guy I thought I knew already, I would have followed my first instinct and laughed at the guy when he approached me for money.
So in a lapse of judgement that I blame on a general softeness of the brain that comes with being out of the loop for a couple of years and an eagerness to hit the ground running in LA, I offered the guy a loan for a deposit for the venue, so he could put on his next show in exchange for promoting Punk Outlaw Records.
What happened after that is quiet hilarious really, if you discount the fact that the $ is still owed to me over 1 year later. As soon as my good buddy Rich got the money, he stopped returning calls, began (continued) lying and in general being a douche. He breached our contract so many times that I was spending almost as much $ on legal costs than on the actual loan itself. He became rude and didn’t even bother to put our logo on his first batch of flyers. Amazing.
When the concert finally went down about 6 months after it was originally promised, it turned out to be what was apparently a mini-ponzi scheme with multiple “investors” (none knowing about the other until the night of the show) and most bands not getting paid. The result was a near riot at Mayan Theater which for reasons unknown (probably out of ignorance like me) chose to work with a promoter like Black Cat. The police were called to escort Rich Vreede safely out of the building and all hell broke loose.
Since then it’s been such a circus.
I decided not to continue to write about it here. Lets face it, unless you are one of the ones that witnessed the actual blatant lying and breaching of agreements that night on multiple levels, you’re probably thinking “there are 2 sides to every story” or “the idiots got what they deserved” or maybe even “that’s f’d up, but what are you going to do about it?”.
And while the reality is the guy has been doing this for years, unbeknownst to me, it’s a fact that in business, if you take enough risk, you will eventually get singed and if you don’t do your homework, maybe you even deserve to get singed a little.
After over 20 years of doing business with large corporations and small business owners, this is the first time I’ve ever been stiffed and had to go to court to get back what was mine to begin with. Hell, in my past life, many deals were actually done on handshakes, so I figure one shitty deal in 20+ years is not bad, especially considering the relative size of this one.
Rich Vreede of Black Cat Entertainment
But there is a real principle at stake and I’m not sure if you’d ever find anyone that actually likes getting screwed. Yes, I was soft in the brain but not completely brain dead with Vreede. We put together a fair (I bent over backwards to be fair to the guy because I didn’t want to take unfair advantage fo his situation… for real) and really legally tight agreement that he signed (too quickly, no negotiations, a sure warning sign right there that I took for desperation) and it will take a while and some negative energy on my part to enforce, but of course we’re going to do it.
In the meantime, I’d like to prevent others from getting ripped off by a promoter who is a stain on the entire scene. So I began www.ScumBagPromoter.com and produced a couple of videos. It’s negative. I don’t enjoy it. So I sometimes ignore it and focus on things I love and enjoy.
But I’m certainly not the only one (If I were, you might be justified to be skeptical of my efforts). Many other folks have had enough and some recently put together a Boycott Black Cat Entertainment Facebook page as the guy incredulously is trying to put on another concert in November, even as he flouts his outstanding debts with emails like the one below:
“You need to do a Retraction and take down all the Lies you wrote about me first before I even Start again to take care of You..”
In Vreede’s world, it seems paying back a loan he begged for and promised to “pay back the day of the show if not sooner” is negotiable depending on whether he likes the way you act or not AFTER he doesn’t pay you back.