Friday, June 27, 2014

Help save the Fort Reno Summer Concert Series.

UPDATE #2- Fort Reno is back on for the summer! Shows start on July 7th. Amanda had a meeting this morning with The National Park Service, which includes the Park Police, and they came to an understanding about requirements, costs, provisions, and what is needed going forward for both sides so that this concert series is allowed to continue in the future.  See what happens when adults sit down and talk like...adults?

see you on the field!

Hey all-

Just a quick "Call to Arms" today. As many of you who follow the DC music scene have probably already heard, for the first time since its inception in 1968, the Fort Reno Summer Concert Series is not going to happen. For a full explanation as to why, you can read Amanda's letter over at .

The crux of the matter is that the National Park Service and the United States Park Police are insisting the organizers of the summer concert series (Amanda, Casey and their all volunteer group) pay to have a police officer at every concert that is scheduled. Something that would have to be paid for, in advance, which means no refund for a rain-out. This would double the cost against an already small budget. That said, it's not about the money - it's about the fact that the NPS and USPP are pushing the need for an officer and are withholding the permit until it is paid for. All this despite the fact that it has never been required before, and no one from either the NPS or USPP can provide a reason as to "why now?" The concert series has always been policed, successfully by all the volunteers and by the concert-goers (myself included), as well. In my 20+ years of going, the worst offenses I have ever seen are some kids smoking weed or lighting off firecrackers. Which, it's worth mentioning, always happened on the upper part of the field, which is NOT under the jurisdiction of the NPS and USPP, but under DC parks and recreation. So, it doesn't fall under the purview of the permit. It's also worth noting, that in the past, when it was known that a band would draw a big crowd (Fugazi, Dismemberment Plan, Bob Mould, Q and Not U, etc.), then the organizers WOULD arrange for an officer to be there. That just makes good sense.

On a personal note, I grew up going to the Fort Reno concert series, and it was where I first started taking photos of bands. I now take my daughter, and it's one of the things she looks forward to most every summer. I finally had a chance to perform there last summer with my band, The Mauls, and it was (corny as it may sound) a bit of a dream come true. To have performed on the same stage that so many bands I loved also did is very big check off my bucket list.

As you might imagine, this caught fire pretty quickly yesterday when the news broke. The Washington Post ran several articles, including this one in this morning's Style section. The City Paper ran articles as well, including one with a list of the bands that were believed to be this year's line up. Also Dischord records posted this on their website.

So, what can you do? Well, a few things - One you can sign the petition started on here. You can also call the numbers on the list provided by Dischord and make it known you want this series to keep happening as it has for the previous 45 years.

Fort Reno is a fantastic tradition, and one that is really unique and special to DC. I can't tell you how many out-of-town bands tell me how cool a thing it is, and how many local bands love playing there. Let's make sure it keeps going.

UPDATE: WAMU 88.5's Bandwith is reporting that Amanda will be meeting with several folks, including representatives of The NPS and USPP on Monday. Let's hope this is a step in the right direction. Read the article here.