Bluegrass Hotel turning sour

The Bluegrass HotelIt appears that the acrimony over announced appearances by top bluegrass/acoustic artists in Louisville this weekend (3/20) is likely to linger for a while. Charges and counter-charges are being flung online, with ill will and dashed expectations for a major bluegrass initiative floundering over contract disputes.

Bluegrass Today has posted a few times about this project to commemorate The Bluegrass Hotel, a rooming house that accommodated young musicians in Louisville during the 1970s, and helped turn this part of the bluegrass region into a breeding ground for newgrass music as much as thoroughbred horses.

You can catch up on the story in our earlier postings:

A cascading series of booked acts for the March 20 concert, scheduled to both kick off a year-long tribute to The Bluegrass Hotel, and raise funds for the American Cancer Society, have announced that they will not appear on the show. Sam Bush was the first to drop, followed almost immediately by John Cowan and Tony Rice.

These artists claim that necessary assurances and contract requirements for them to take part in the concert were never received, while the event promoter insists that these performers have reneged on prior agreements. The tone has turned ugly, with the following headline posted on the official Bluegrass Hotel website: Bluegrass Stars Jilt Major Charity.

The Bluegrass Hotel Project has been attempting to negotiate agreements with Sam Bush and Tony Rice since Jan. 2008 to appear in the film, but paying those artists a fee to perform at a benefit concert for the American Cancer Society was not included in the terms. Part of the process has been negotiating a broadcast of the film on PBS Television, which was recently completed.  Therefore it came as a surprise to receive notification from Bush and Rice informing the charity that unless they were paid fees of $10,000 and $3000 respectively, they would not perform at the benefit concert on March 20 at the Galt House Hotel.

For their part, both Bush and Rice deny this charge vehemently, insisting that no demand for these payments was ever issued.

Bush has posted the following on his web site:

I apologize to all you.  I cannot perform in Louisville on March 20.  I promise you I will work fervently to restore my reputation and earn your trust that Bill Millet has stolen from me.

To say this situation is out of control is a major understatement.  The duplicity with which self-titled executive producer Bill Millet has and continues to conduct himself towards you the fans, the performers, vendors and participants of the Bluegrass Hotel Project has undermined the foundation, principal and loyalty of those involved.

For those that ask how this could happen……   so do I.  I couldn’t stop him from using my name before and I can’t stop him now.  What he continues to do to me and others through the anonymity of the internet makes him, among many nasty things, a cyber stalker.  He has hurled so many lies at all of us.  Only some have been addressed in the Cease and Desist letter to Bill Millet from my attorney; that you can read on this site.

What Bill Millet continues to do to you, me, my friends and my family is ethically immoral and morally reprehensible.  Not to mention expensive.  In my 40 years in the music business, I have never been placed in a more despicable situation than this.

I apologize to all of you,


It seems fair to conclude that we haven’t heard the last of this dispute.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.