An Open Letter from the Chuck Wagon Gang
The Chuck Wagon Gang issued this open letter over the weekend:
Dear friends, fans, and supporters of The Chuck Wagon Gang,
We are contacting you to advise you of a situation which we feel that you, the friends, fans, and supporters of The Chuck Wagon Gang should know. We recently learned that the National Quartet Convention board voted on which groups should perform in 2008 and determined that we, along with several other groups, would not be appearing on the main stage at Freedom Hall for the National Quartet Convention to be held in Louisville, KY in September 2008. Instead, we were offered a spot on a Saturday noon showcase, which is separately ticketed. (Showcases are normally smaller events at NQC for the up-and-coming groups and soloists.)
We were told that cutting groups from the main stage was necessary to cut some expenses and time, and that by secret ballot among the members of NQC board we did not receive enough votes for the main stage. In effect, our status as a 71-year-old group has been reduced from performing twice on main stage to an estimated crowd of some 11,000 people with a decent honorarium, to a proposed performance in a 3,000 seating capacity, with separate ticketing, and a very low honorarium. This situation would also have an adverse effect on product sales at our booth (which we pay for), as sales are directly proportional to numbers in attendance and performances.
While we recognize that the NQC is a private enterprise and they can invite whomsoever they wish, nevertheless, we were saddened and disturbed by their decision. We must remember that James Blackwood and J. D. Sumner founded the NQC based on good quality, old-time gospel music. As you know, many of the old-timers have passed away in recent years, and there are few left who represent the gospel music in its simplest form. It appears by eliminating us and others characteristic of this style, the very heritage of the NQC is being diminished or even possibly destroyed. Is that good for NQC? It would seem that somewhere during the 60-hour main stage event there could two adequate time slots for the 71-year-old, traditional, Chuck Wagon Gang.
The Chuck Wagon Gang performed at the very first National Quartet Convention, held in Memphis, Tennessee in 1957 and has been a part of many conventions since that time. The NQC has always been a good experience for us, as we get to meet many folks that we don’t get to see across the country each year, we meet many promoters, groups, and other business contacts, and of course the vast array of different talent at the event.
The Chuck Wagon is a full-time group, with salaries and many expenses as any other group at NQC. Given the situation, we have declined the side-showcase performance. As it stands right now, we must inform you that, regretfully, The Chuck Wagon Gang will not perform at NQC for 2008.
To those of you who attend NQC, we urge you to continue to support the event. We cannot change the situation, and will abide by their decision. However, you, as the friends, fans, and supporters of The Chuck Wagon Gang could make a difference. If you attend the NQC particularly to see us, or if we are one of the groups that you don’t ever or rarely see other than NQC, perhaps you would let the NQC board know your feelings. If we are variety to the mix that you enjoy, let them know.
The board will meet again in early March. If any of you would like to contact them, please do not email or call them. Please send any signed responses by mail directly to the following address:
National Quartet Convention Board
815 John Harper Hwy, Suite 8
Shepherdsville, KY 40165
We would hope that any comments you wish to make to them would be professional, nice and cordial, but to the point and the impact their decision makes on you. May we suggest that any responses be done soon, while it is fresh on your mind, and received in time for consideration at the March board meeting.
Thanks to all of you for your support through the years. NQC will not break or make us. Life goes on. . .we will too!
We hope to see you again soon somewhere.
Dave Emery, Manager
The Chuck Wagon Gang