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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

JIGSAW DRAMA CONTINUES

Posted By on Wed, Apr 22, 2009 at 9:05 AM

The Agora-Jigsaw quagmire has a big new lawsuit, and the Black Keys still don’t have their money.

13a0/1239996208-blackkeys.jpgIn January, Akron’s Black Keys (pictured) sold out two shows at the Agora Theatre, moving a combined total of 3,800 tickets at $28.50 apiece. The band still hasn’t been paid. As of April, Terry Buckwalter, a partner in Euclid 5012 LLC. — that’s the corporation formed between Jigsaw Saloon and Stage partners Buckwalter and Phil Lara, plus Agora owner Hank Loconti, for purposes of running the Agora — had agreed to pay the Keys $5,000 a week. As of today, he hasn’t paid them anything.

“I’m in total disbelief,” says Keys drummer Patrick Carney, “that the venue where I saw my first show, that we’ve played many times, in our own back yard, would fuck us…. If I stole something that cost $400 from Wal-Mart, I’d be in jail. And they get to do this? The only thing that protects [them] is the $400 [it costs to form] an LLC [limited-liability corporation].”

Buckwalter, Lara and Loconti have refused to sign the settlement agreement, which would hold the parties personally responsible for the debt — as opposed to assigning the Keys’ overdue $50,000+ payday to the corporation. In short, if partners sign the payment arrangement as it stands, they’re concerned they might have to pay it.

Loconti — who says he was contractually barred from participating in the business at the time of the Keys concert — was named in the suit, and says it’s matter between the band and his partners. “I am not involving myself in that at all,” Loconti says. “They can drag me into it if they want to, but I am not taking any responsibility. I believe that’s going to be settled shortly.”

Lara admits the Keys are owed money, and says he’s working on getting it to them as quickly as possible. “We didn’t want personal guarantees attached,” says Lara. “It’s a corporate matter. It’s not a personal matter. We’re working on getting it all paid at once in the next few days.”

Lara maintains that the $100,000 box-office gross from the show (minus Ticketmaster fees) went “into the business. … We’re still trying to figure out what some of the actual amounts were.”

Loconti regained control of the Agora operations a month ago. While the Black Keys matter festers, the venue hasn’t announced any major new shows in weeks. “I’m finishing up the shows that [Lara’s crew] booked,” says LoConti. “I’m caught in the middle of something [so] I’m not going to [book any new shows]. It’s a business decision.”

On the other side of town, a $25,000 suit has been filed against one of Buckwalter and Lara’s other corporations, Briarwood Holdings Inc. Lairdy Lee, one of the previous owners of Parma’s Jigsaw, claims he’s owed the money as part of a back-end arrangement; under conditions of the sale, if the Jigsaw made a certain amount of money, Lee was to receive an additional payment. Lee says Buckwalter and Lara have stayed current with payments for the Parma business. But the bonus money is in dispute.

The accounting for the Jigsaw-related businesses has not been meticulous. “That agreement was predicated on a back-end arrangement that we’d hit certain numbers,” says Lara. “We’re still trying to figure out: did we even hit those numbers? There’s some room for interpretation.”

The Jigsaw Saloon and Stage remain closed. Lara says, not for the first time, that he and Buckwalter have “a new group that we’re bringing in to run it… [We’re] going to have that reopened as soon as we can.” — D.X. Ferris

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