Blues fest won’t have interruption

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 13, 2000

The show will go on without interruptions for the Natchez Bluff Blues Festival at Memorial Park this Saturday. After a four-hour hearing, U.S. District Judge David Bramlette granted a temporary injunction Wednesday to festival promoter Eric Glatzer after the city gave him a noise permit with the exception of about an hour to accommodate a wedding at the adjacent St. Mary Basilica.

&uot;The court finds that this festival will not interfere with regularly scheduled activity at the church,&uot; Bramlette said in his ruling from the bench, later adding, &uot;I see no injury to the city at all. I see unpleasantness to those who are not party to this suit.&uot;

Natchez&160;Police Chief Willie Huff had granted a noise permit to Glatzer for 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., with the exception of 3:25 to 4:30 p.m., when no amplified music could be played.

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A wedding is scheduled at St. Mary during that time.

In his ruling, Bramlette said the festival will go on from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. &uot;unless there is a funeral&uot; — which he said was the only specific caveat when the city grantd the use of the park for Saturday’s festival almost a year ago.

Glatzer argued that the city had given him permission to use the park for the 2000 event in April 1999 — after that year’s festival and after a similar incident forced the festival to pause the amplified music for a wedding at the church.

Glatzer said last year’s break in the event caused a loss of $6,000 for the festival. Glatzer’s payment for promoting the festival is 25 percent of its gross. The festival is run by a non-profit association.

In his ruling, Bramlette said he agreed that the granting of the noise permit seemed to be a formality based on the city’s granting the use of the park in April 1999.

He also said the city was aware of a similar issue last year.

&uot;This is not a burgeoning issue,&uot; Bramlette said. &uot;The city was aware of this situation and failed to include it&uot; in its motion which prohibits music during funeral services when the city approved the festival in 1999.

Glatzer said after the hearing he is &uot;extremely&uot; pleased with the ruling. &uot;With the assistance of my lawyer Jim Bobo we’ve proved that there is in fact justice,&uot; Glatzer said.

City Attorney Walter Brown, who argued the case for the city, said the city will cooperate with the sponsors of the festival to help &uot;make it into a success as best we can.&uot;

&uot;We’re pleased that the court found the city’s noise ordinance was constitutional,&uot; Brown said. &uot;While there was a problem with the implementation, we’ve learned a lesson from it. In the future we will try to resolve these conflicts on the front end.&uot;

According to minutes from the April 27, 1999, aldermen meeting, aldermen voted &uot;in order to be sympathetic to both the church and festival, (to) 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.&uot; The vote specified that the blues fest halt in the event of a funeral at the church.

At its March 28 meeting this year, the board voted to allow the Sadie V. Thompson Era Reunion Committee to hold a July event at the park — provided the committee work out any scheduling conflicts with the church.

At the same meeting, Mayor Larry L. &uot;Butch&uot; Brown asked the board to vote that the same requirements for coordinating conflicts with the church would apply to the blues festival this year.

In his ruling, Bramlette said he had to determine whether Glatzer would be &uot;irreparably injured&uot; by the break in the festival; whether the city would be injured by not having a break for the wedding; and whether not having a break in the festival would cause a disservice to the public.

&uot;I can envision no way that a blues festival nearby a wedding of two private citizens would disserve the public,&uot; Bramlette said.

Glatzer’s lawsuit also asks for damages, but Bramlette delayed that part of the suit for an undetermined date.

The judge did say that, although he could not speculate whether a court would grant damages to Glatzer, granting the injunction for this Saturday would eliminate the chances that the plaintiff could claim damages for lost revenue at this year’s festival.

Glatzer would not comment on whether he would continue to seek damages. &uot;My next step is to bring to fruition the fifth annual Natchez Bluff Blues Festival,&uot; he said. &uot;(That’s) all I’m concerned about.&uot;

Glatzer testified during the trial about his definition of the blues — what he called &uot;the basis of all modern music.&uot;

Bramlette joked in court that he already knows what the blues are.

&uot;I experienced them when I found this complaint on my desk Tuesday morning,&uot; he said.