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Music Midtown to announce its ‘position’ amid rumors of gun law issue

The Coathangers perform at Music Midtown's 2019 edition. (File Photo by Kevin Greiner.)

By John Ruch

The Music Midtown concert festival will soon issue a statement on its “position” amid rumors that Georgia law preventing it from banning firearms might force a cancellation or move.

The popular annual festival in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park is scheduled for Sept. 17 and 18. Earlier this year, its weapons ban was informally challenged by an activist named Phillip Evans, who recently lost a legal battle for the right to carry guns at the neighboring Atlanta Botanical Garden. Evans and his attorney have said that under state law and recent Supreme Court of Georgia precedent, a short-term tenant of a public park — such as a concert festival — can’t ban firearms or other weapons.

And in fact, the Home Depot Backyard, a publicly owned green space outside Mercedes-Benz Stadium, lifted its firearms and weapons ban in recent months after Evans complained about it.

Peter Conlon of the promotion company Live Nation, who arranges Music Midtown, said in a phone interview that a statement is coming soon, but he would not specify what it is about.

Asked if the festival is having trouble with the gun issue, Conlon said, “We’re going to be issuing a statement shortly — a statement of what our position is.”

Asked if that meant a position on the gun issue or on the festival being canceled or changed, he said, “A statement about the festival. That’s as far as I can go.”

One rumor in circulation, as recently publicized by independent journalist George Chidi, is that some artists are pulling out of the festival due to contractual agreements that guns will not be at the venue. “That’s not true,” said Conlon. “There are some rumors going on, but it’s not artist-related.”

He directed further questions to Live Nation’s Los Angeles-based public relations team rather than the local one, saying, “There’s a number of people involved in this right now.” An L.A. spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions.

The City of Atlanta, which is responsible for issuing permits to the festival, did not provide immediate comment. Mark Banta, president and CEO of the Piedmont Park Conservancy, a nonprofit that helps to fund and manage the park in collaboration with the City, said he had heard nothing about any issues with Music Midtown or the gun law. The Conservancy does not have a direct role in operating that festival.

On July 7, Evans issued another written complaint about the gun ban to the festival’s security company and Conlon. Evans said in a phone interview that he also heard the cancellation rumor, but that he has not received any information or response directly from the City or the promoter.

One Atlanta entertainment attorney who has represented other music festivals, and who asked not to be identified in this story, said he had not heard of Music Midtown issues or the gun issue being a problem. The attorney said that few artists have the leverage to include something like a gun ban in concert contracts, but that informal negotiations between musicians and promoters can be more wide-ranging. “No music venue wants to be seen as not artist-friendly,” the attorney said.

Update: This story has been updated with comment from Phillips Evans.

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13 Comments

  1. Phillip Evans July 30, 2022 2:29 am

    Who knows, perhaps Live Nation’s statement will read something like, “We don’t want guns in here, but we have to abide by state law”, and just carry on like other concerts have, such as the recent Atlanta Jazz Festival, where I carried my holstered pistol in full view with no cover garment, with a huge crowd of people. It was no big deal, no one running away and screaming, no one getting the police to check me out. An officer did pass by and I spoke with him pleasantly, just small talk, nothing about my firearm. He only stopped because my buddy (who was unarmed) started up a brief conversation with him about the weather or something.

    Folks, this is Georgia. We carry guns as free American citizens, not subjects of a king. We are armed, because we have the liberty to be armed. We understand the human right to protect ourselves by ourselves, without having to wait on a government employee to come to our rescue. My gun caused no issues at the jazz festival, and would cause no issues at any other event held on publicly owned property. I’ve worn my visible firearm at Stone Mountain Park with huge crowds for July 4th at least three times in past years with no problems. Other places as well.

    Most people who carry will conceal, and that’s fine. But a citizen without a badge or uniform carrying a gun openly once in a while will remind good folks they can be armed as well (that not only police or bad guys can be armed), and will remind bad guys that launching an attack would be risky at best where they know someone can stop them.Report

    Reply
    1. Ezra Cohen August 1, 2022 7:30 pm

      Glad you got your way. Now the festival is cancelled. Smart move all around. Idiot.Report

      Reply
    2. James Davis August 2, 2022 3:41 pm

      Do you care this much about carrying a gun because of your micro penis or because you are just a complete idiot?Report

      Reply
  2. Peace July 30, 2022 2:55 pm

    Guns are tools of death. There is no honor in the argument that they should be allowed everywhere. To those prepping for a public shootout, may the odds be ever in their favor and may the rest of us not be caught in the crossfire.Report

    Reply
    1. Phillip Evans July 30, 2022 5:38 pm

      Guns are neither good nor evil, they are merely tools. In the hands of good people they prevent robberies, rapes, maiming, and murder. In the hands of bad people they are used to destroy innocent people. There are a lot more good people than bad people. The bad people will never give up their guns, therefore more of the good people should have them. A small gun in the hand of a petite woman can keep five large men from gang raping her, and that’s a good thing.

      Cain likely used a rock to murder his brother Abel, but David used a rock to take down wicked Goliath. It isn’t the object, it’s the person.

      A young man recently broke a mall’s policy to carry his concealed pistol. A mall spokesman later praised and thanked him for it. Why? He saved numerous lives within 15 seconds of a bad guy with a rifle opening fire in the food court. Are you glad he broke the rules, too?

      When Robb Elementary in Uvalde was forced by state law to be unarmed, they had no choice but to dial 911 and wait for someone else to come to their rescue. 376 cops came, with several standing in a hallway for over an hour as 19 children and 2 adults were murdered. They finally opened an UNLOCKED classroom to get the killer AFTER he had done great damage. For Uvalde, the wait-for-help plan didn’t work out very well. The teachers and staff should have had the liberty to be armed. They would have saved lives, the same as the young man in the mall did.

      Taking my guns away won’t keep you safe from criminals. I’m not the problem. The evil in this world is the problem. Sometimes, the only way to put down an attacking animal in a neighborhood is to shoot it, rather than asking the neighbors to turn in their guns. Turning in my umbrella won’t keep the rain away. Neither will turning in my fire extinguisher prevent fires.Report

      Reply
  3. Peace July 31, 2022 11:35 am

    This guy that has to take his gun everywhere including the flower garden is simply a coward.Report

    Reply
    1. Johnny July 31, 2022 2:46 pm

      Seems like he’s made it his whole identity. Pretty sad honestly.Report

      Reply
  4. Rebecca August 1, 2022 10:55 am

    Well, now we know who the culprit is for Music Midtown being cancelled. A coward that has to walk around with his guns acting like a childish imbecile because of some ridiculous explanations and strawman arguments.Report

    Reply
  5. Pearl Krabs August 1, 2022 12:39 pm

    Phillip Evans ruins it for everybody by putting Live Nation in the position of eliminating artists with security riders, who apparently have no right to those riders, or to not have a festival.

    Thanks Phillip Evans for ruining it for everybody just to make your point. You win Karen of the year.Report

    Reply
  6. Your Conscience August 1, 2022 2:21 pm

    Spoiled little baby couldn’t get his way so he had to ruin it for everybody. Way to be the most selfish inconsiderate a-hole in Georgia!!! It takes a lot to achieve that but you pulled it off. I hope you feel good about ruining things for tens of thousands of people just so you can make a stupid insignificant point. You are a coward and a trash human being.Report

    Reply
  7. Melissa Hartwell August 1, 2022 4:35 pm

    There is a sizable group of neighbors glad to see Music Midtown get cancelled, for whatever reason.

    That festival was a circus and widely disliked intown for the two week traffic and pedestrian blockages, inept security and entitled corporate profits at public expense. Piedmont Park saw.little to no benefit from that event. Dogwood, Pride, Jazz and Peachtree Road race, by contrast, are all well-run and right sized.

    Good riddance, Live Nation and Music Midtown.Report

    Reply

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