Aldermen deny blues fest appeal

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 12, 2000

Natchez aldermen denied an appeal of a noise permit Tuesday that prohibits the Natchez Bluff Blues Festival from using amplified sound for about an hour during an adjacent wedding this weekend.

A wedding will be taking place at St. Mary Basilica, next to the Memorial Park festival site, on Saturday afternoon in the middle of the event’s schedule.

Blues festival promoter Eric Glatzer, who has also filed a lawsuit against the city, appealed the noise permit which prohibits the festival from having amplified sound from 3:25 to 4:30 p.m. to allow the wedding to be undisturbed.

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Last year, &uot;the blues festival lost money because it was interrupted because of a wedding,&uot; Glatzer’s attorney, James Bobo of Pearl, told aldermen.

Bobo said the board told Glatzer after last year’s festival that he would only have to pause the festival in the event of a funeral at the church.

According to minutes from the April 27, 1999, board meeting, &uot;Alderman David Massey moved that the city, in order to be sympathetic to both the church and festival, allow the Natchez Bluff Blues Festival to be held in Memorial Park on the weekends of April 14, 2000, and April 20, 2001, from noon to 9 p.m.; further, if a funeral is scheduled during the festival hours, the funeral will preclude the festival activities during the time of service.&uot; The motion passed unanimously.

City Attorney Walter Brown said Tuesday the motion &uot;wasn’t meant to be all-inclusive.&uot; He said aldermen granted the blues festival organization the use of the park last year – not a noise permit.

&uot;Everyone likes to stand up for mom and apple pie and religion,&uot; Bobo told the aldermen. &uot;I don’t think you can cloak yourself in (protecting religion) when the noise permit includes the church’s regular Mass.&uot;

But also at the April 27, 1999, board meeting, Glatzer told aldermen the festival would continue to respect the church’s Mass, according to the minutes.

Brown said the city has worked to accomodate the blues festival for the past five years, closing streets and allowing the use of the park for free.

&uot;The city has bent over backward to assist Mr Glatzer with this festival in the past,&uot; said Brown, who is scheduled to meet with Bobo in U.S. District court this morning for a hearing on the noise permit. Brown said late Tuesday that he and Bobo were unable to agree on a settlement on the noise pemit issue.

Glatzer’s lawsuit contends that last year’s pause during the festival because of a wedding at St. Mary cost the festival about $6,000 in revenue. The festival is run by committee which does not profit from the event, but Glatzer, who runs the for-profit World Blues Festival, is contracted to promote the festival and does make money from the event.

Mike Worley, a New Orleans businessman who is also establishing a residence and owns property in Natchez, scheduled his wedding at St. Mary for Saturday. &uot;As long as the city is going to give permits to people on weekends for festivals when the church is holding services, there’s going to be a problem,&uot; he said. &uot;And this issue has come to a head over my wedding.&uot;