The Music Festival Scheme Missoula Doesn’t Need, But Gwen Jones Wants + Day Of The Dead Festival Hiatus Misinformation

by Travis Mateer

This image is where Scott Osburn, a Dallas Native, wants to put a Missoula version of Lallapalooza next year. Who is this guy and why is he trying to harass this town with his festival plans? Here’s the pitch from Osburn’s appeal to City Council last week:

He showed an image to the city council members of his pitch for the concert.

“Join us for Missoula, Montana’s premier music festival, featuring world class talent, gourmet food and drinks, unique experiences and a vibrant community of outdoor enthusiasts, tourists and music lovers,” Osburn wrote on the slide. “Our strategy is focused on creating a festival that embodies the same principals (sic) as other iconic events such as Telluride Bluegrass, Newport Folk Festival, Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza — a legacy event.”

This idea has apparently been in the works for 5 months, with Council President, Gwen Jones, wanting city staff to get to YES (emphasis mine):

“This project started about five months ago,” she explained. “I was asked by administration — (city council president) Gwen Jones, the mayor (Jordan Hess) — to find a way to get to ‘yes.’ I took that to heart and I worked hand in hand with Scott Osburn to see if we couldn’t find an appropriate spot to do this music festival. I had a lot of concerns, so I started with this project in terms of ‘you need to convince me.’ I didn’t think we had a venue that would be appropriate for this many people and it wouldn’t impact it to the point where it would never recover.”

Ok, so Gwen Jones wants to get to YES. On that desired path to YES, did Gwen Jones do any research into Osburn’s Dallas shows? I know Gwen Jones can do online research if she feels directly threatened by disagreeable TIF activists, but skepticism in this situation would mean putting aside the money-making possibilities for just one second to deploy some healthy skepticism. I don’t think she’s capable of that, so here’s a little context that might inspire the use of the word NO.

Nine people at an electronic music festival in downtown Dallas were hospitalized over the weekend, most with symptoms of drug and alcohol use.

Thirty-eight more ill people were treated at the fifth annual Lights All Night venue, the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

Maybe Gwen Jones and our lame duck Mayor, Jordan Hess, assume Missoula’s appetite for monetary whoredom is an insatiable black hole (like that spot where Jones’ soul used to be), but it’s not. The continued transformation of this town–which is clearing out local storefronts as the cost of living leaves more and more regular Missoulians behind–is literally killing what made this place special in the first place. Jones and Hess want to ignore the growing public anger and keep flying full-steam ahead with their schemes. Fuck that.

Is the FUCK THAT sentiment represented in the Missoulian article? Kind of. From the link:

City council members Mirtha Becerra and Kristen Jordan both expressed serious concern over the lack of community engagement so far and the list of unanswered questions.

Becerra said it was “premature” for the committee to be even considering approving the agreement. She said she wanted to see a traffic plan presented by members of city staff rather than just something produced by Osburn. She said she had 10 questions she was going to email Osburn.

Jordan asked Osburn what kind of neighborhood outreach he had done.

He replied saying he had met with neighborhood council leaders, police department staff and fire department staff. He also noted that he’s talked with friends in the area of Playfair Park who seem to be amenable to the idea of a festival.

Jordan said, “Respectfully, anecdotal conversations with your friends doesn’t tick the box” for her as far as a requisite level of neighborhood outreach. She also noted that she’s only seen emails from constituents who are opposed to the project and none in support. She noted that a lot of people are concerned that they’re getting a “concert venue put in their backyard.”

Why does Gwen Jones want this festival? I suspect it has something to do with the fact Midtown is the current hotspot for gentrification planning, which is where the location of this festival is being proposed. It might be helpful to recall what happened when rain turned the Mumford & Sons concert at the baseball stadium into a mess that resulted in lost revenue for the baseball team and a lawsuit.

Moving on, the Festival of the Dead is apparently returning and, according to this local blurb, the reason the festival stopped was because of the pandemic, which is total horseshit.

From the horseshit link (emphasis mine):

A Missoula Festival will return this year after a hiatus due to the pandemic. Missoula’s Annual Festival of the Dead, a multicultural event inspired by Dia de los Muertos, will feature events over several days and represent multiple cultures.

The Festival has gone through some changes over its 31 years. Its current committee is a makeup of original founders, and people who have joined in the last few years. Tiffany Williams, a volunteer from the Festival, reached out with others to the committee about starting the festival again.

“There’s a unique blend of original members and new members,” Williams said, “which I think is valuable because it allows us to uphold the history of this event in Missoula while bringing in new ideas and energy.”

Um, let’s see, how about you guys “uphold the history of this event” by NOT pretending that the whole cancel-culture thing was the REAL reason this event was halted.

If you click that link, you will see that my coverage of this cancel-culture effort goes back to 2017, which was THREE WHOLE YEARS before the pandemic. Are we re-writing history now in Zoom Town? Because I’m not making this shit up, here’s the Missoulian from that same year reporting on the ZACC backing out as a fiscal sponsor due to the growing pressure from the virtue-signalers:

In the past two years, increasing numbers of community members have argued that it’s an offensive appropriation of indigenous culture and religious practices in a predominantly white city.

In the statement, the ZACC said they’d listened to many perspectives on the festival in the past few months leading up to the decision.

“We feel, as an arts community center with year-round programming, it is best for us to step down from being the umbrella of the Festival Of The Dead procession as it is, so we can concentrate on our true work, which is to provide accessible art experiences for the community,” according to the ZACC statement. “We are not equipped to be on the forefront of the cultural appropriation conversation and it is not our mission to do so, and we have great respect for the argument that we are not the correct people to spearhead the festival.”

See? I’m not making this up, but reading the weird glossing over of actual history makes me wonder about the new influence helping to RESURRECT this festival (emphasis mine):

The festival has evolved over time. “It feels like every year it becomes more expansive, more cultures are represented, and more people attend. This year we are excited to welcome Confluence Center as a hub for many of the events connected to the festival,” Williams said.

Oh, I see, the CONFLUENCE Center is being welcomed as a “hub”. Why not explain that the Confluence Center is a part of the Headwaters Foundation?

If you’d like to understand why I find this CONFLUENCE inclusion more than a little curious, here are 6 links going back to 2018 for context.:

What Is The Headwaters Foundation And Why Does It Matter? (December 18th, 2018)

On Taxes, Pilot Programs And The Untapped Millions Held By The Headwaters Foundation (July 9th, 2020)

Who Is Behind The Headwaters Foundation And Where Did They Come From? (July 10th, 2020)

While Bullock Considers Tapping The Rainy Day Fund, What Is Headwaters Doing With Our 100 Million Dollars? (November 20th, 2020)

A Closer Look At City Council Wannabe Jennifer Savage (April 23rd, 2021)

Why Isn’t Headwaters Foundation Doing More Than A Stupid Mural With Their 100 Million Dollars? (July 10th, 2023)

If you appreciate a journalist in this town capable of the radical act of REMEMBERING recent history accurately, Travis’ Impact Fund (TIF) is one way to support my work, and the donation button at my about page is another.

Thanks for reading!

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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4 Responses to The Music Festival Scheme Missoula Doesn’t Need, But Gwen Jones Wants + Day Of The Dead Festival Hiatus Misinformation

  1. Concern Troll says:

    Z100s content comes from the same people who write for KGVO. Not trustworthy news media. It’s ironic that the conservative channel is also mainstream and the oldest station in town. The fake news from our local media and their revisionist history is no surprise from long time Missoulians.

  2. Jay Putman says:

    I live in Lewis & Clark neighborhood (home to Playfair Park). I attended a neighborhood council meeting on the evening of November 1. Four of the five neighborhood council members were present. None of the four members had heard anything about the music festival proposal until news came out about the City Council meeting; one member had not heard anything at all until this neighborhood meeting. I doubt the remaining neighborhood council member who was not in attendance had heard anything either. If Scott Osburn is saying that he met with neighborhood council members, then he is not telling the truth. Having a music festival at Playfair Park would be wrong for a large number of reasons.

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