April 9, 2008
By MEAD GRUVER
The Associated Press
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) -- Pop rockers Matchbox Twenty have canceled plans to perform during this summer's Cheyenne Frontier Days, and an animal rights group opposed to rodeo says it played a role in that decision.
Frontier Days bills itself as the world's largest outdoor rodeo, held over 10 days each July.
The booking company for Frontier Days, Omaha, Neb.-based Romeo Entertainment Group, confirmed Tuesday that Matchbox Twenty had provided written notice that the band would not be playing at this year's Frontier Days. No explanation was given.
"Our office is working with the Cheyenne Frontier Days staff to assess all alternatives, including potential legal action. Further information will be provided as it becomes available," Romeo President Bob Romeo said in a statement.
Joe Lopez, contract acts chairman for Cheyenne Frontier Days, said people who had bought tickets for the Matchbox Twenty show should contact Frontier Days about getting refunds.
"We were excited to have Matchbox Twenty," Lopez said. "We're kind of disappointed that they canceled."
Lopez said he didn't know for sure why Matchbox Twenty had canceled.
A person who answered the phone for Matchbox Twenty's manager, Michael Lippman, said she knew nothing about the canceled date and hung up. A phone message left at Lippman Entertainment in Calabasas, Calif., was not returned.
The withdrawal had been announced earlier Tuesday by a Geneva, Ill., group called SHARK, which stands for Showing Animals Respect and Kindness. The president of the group, Steve Hindi, told The Associated Press that he provided the band with video that he believed showed cruelty at last year's Frontier Days rodeo.
"We were watching for the lineup at Cheyenne, because if we found some people with a propensity toward animal care, we were going to get in touch with them," Hindi said.
He said he provided the video to the band through a group called the Sidewalk Angels Foundation, a New York City-based nonprofit created by Matchbox Twenty lead singer Rob Thomas and his wife, Marisol. The Sidewalk Angels Foundation helps "people who are destitute or homeless" as well as "animals that have been abandoned or abused," according to the group's Web site.
The foundation didn't have a listed phone number and e-mails to the foundation were not returned.
Hindi said he didn't personally speak with anyone in the band, but learned of the cancellation from Jeff Lamiroult, who is credited as an accountant in the band's album notes.
"They checked that out, I think, for about two weeks before we got a response back from them that they were withdrawing. They didn't just accept our word, they didn't just believe the rodeo propaganda, they looked into it," Hindi said.
Matchbox Twenty last year released its first album, "Exile on Mainstream," after a five-year break. The band is known for late 1990s hits including "3 a.m." and has sold tens of millions of albums.