Wednesday, July 15, 2009


After nine shows, I think I have earned everyone's trust and the right to speak brutally honest. In fact, I think this is what most fans want to hear: the truth. Nobody wants to hear another lame two sentence explanation about “visa problems.” I will not hide behind anything.

I have been doing my own visa applications since ProgPower USA IV for 75% of the roster. Hiring a professional company to do the visas for a single performance is prohibitive due to costs. Imagine paying $36,000 just for visas up front before any other expense is incurred. The process has become so convoluted and intricate that it pushes me to insanity’s edge at times. However, I have had no choice but to suck it up and deal with it in order to maintain the festival. I have never had a problem prior to this year with obtaining visas for bands that I have applied for myself. Think of how many bands that is over the last six years. This is the same model used by other successful festivals such as NEARfest. However, this year has left me questioning whether or not to continue with the festival after 2010.

We started the visa application process back in early May. It takes three weeks to obtain approval from AFM (American Federation of Musicians). Once that approval is obtained, you send it in along with your 40+ pages of paperwork for governmental processing. There is a 90 day window for this decision process. I received approval for the majority of the bands in early June. The process was moving regularly. I then received a request for “further information” on the remaining four bands in mid-June. That has happened once before about four years ago and I resolved it quickly. I scrambled and sent in an additional 25 pages of documentation including peer letters, reviews, etc. for each band in order to prove the designation request that I have always used.

I just received notification on Monday that the visa applications for Andre Matos, Vanden Plas, Tomorrow's Eve, and Power Quest were denied.

Each individual case is reviewed by one person at the visa processing center. Evidently, if you get the right person, you have no problems. You get the wrong person and you get rejected. It’s as simple as that. There is no possible way to speak to any officer directly involved with your case to clarify, ask questions, etc. There is absolutely no method to the madness. How else can you explain how the remaining bands were approved with the standard documentation compared to the other bands that with more that failed? How else can you explain that I have never had a problem in the past using the exact same process and documentation? I have even had a situation in the past with half of a band approved (different nationality/consul) and the other half rejected initially based on the exact SAME documentation. Yes, you read that correctly. That proves that no two screeners follow the same reviewing standards.

Recently, there have been numerous articles on this same problem that all promoters are experiencing. I invite you to read the following article that describes this nightmare process:

I could appeal the cases. That costs an additional $700 per case and has a 30-60 day time frame for a decision. That would probably be money wasted as it is too close to the festival date with absolute no guarantees. In the case of Matos & Vanden Plas, I did seek out a professional consultation and was willing to pay the additional costs to get the processing completed within 30 days. They would seek out the a different designation that is used in all touring situations. I was going to do whatever it took to get them here. However, I just heard back from them and they do not believe it would be a quick and easy case based on the previous denial of the designation that I have been using for the past six years! The visa consultants told me I have been "lucky." Evidently, I have been lucky for six years straight? If someone would have failed me previously, I would have done things a different way this year. I had no reason to believe otherwise. Even if the band was approved, there is no guarantee the visas would be received until mid-August. That would leave the bands only 2-3 weeks to complete their interview processes in their own country. In most countries, you must have the approval in hand before you even schedule your interviews. Once again, there would be no guarantees even if I spent an additional $5,000 per band on every possible last ditch attempt.

These bands did nothing wrong. I attempted to play by the rules and the government’s process failed me. A quick google search will find that I am not alone. I cannot wait until the last minute to fix this and risk further cancellations; nor will I do anything illegal to get a band in the country. That is not fair to the bands or to the fans. Each of these bands will be brought back in the future using a different process and designation. That is the only fair thing to do. I do not see this as a problem for the bands in the future. We are simply out of time for this year.

I take pride in my work. I take pride in doing things the right way. I take pride in this festival. I take pride in being honest with the fans who are family to me. This situation has hit me hard and caused me many sleepless nights. I sincerely apologize to everyone. All I can say is that I promise to do my best in the future to prevent this from happening again. I will make a decision on continuing the festival in 2011 based on how smoothly 2010 goes. I simply cannot have this happen again.

That said, the show must go on…

Crimson Glory has been selected as the new headliner for Friday night. This will be the band's tribute show to honor and commemorate the musical legacy left behind by their recently departed brethren, Midnight. Wade Black, along with several guest vocalists, will join the band on stage to perform classics from the band's entire career. The band promises to make this a once in a lifetime show.

Brazil's MindFlow (with approved visas!) will take over the second slot on the first night of the show. The critically acclaimed progressive metal band will be debuting material from their upcoming release at the show.

American power metallers, Cage, will bring their crushing style of metal to the opening slot of the festival. Their most recent album, "Science of Annhilation," continues to draw rave reviews from media all over the world.

Shane Dubose will announce his replacement for Vanden Plas within the next two weeks.

Thank you for all of your support and understanding.

(Posted with courtesy from:


We just received word that due to the time commitments involved with the Stratovarious tour, Pagan’s Mind will not be arriving to Atlanta until Friday afternoon.

The acoustic Pagan’s Maximus show has been changed as a result. Circus Maximus will now play a full electric set consisting of cover tunes and Circus Maximus songs that will NOT be performed on the main stage on Saturday.

Both Pagan’s Mind and ProgPower USA apologize for the change in plans.

( I was really excited over this and and bummed it wont happen....bah! )

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