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Oliver Anthony spars with venue over cancelled show, booking fee

Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Oliver Anthony made his name when his “Rich Men Of North Richmond,” a song that despite (or because of?) deriding people on welfare and being adopted by conservative politicians, struck a chord with a certain section of disaffected listeners and duly topped the Hot 100. Anthony positioned himself as a man of the people in his lyrics, someone who knows what it’s like to work overtime for “bullshit pay” and wants to see the uber-wealthy taxed higher than him and his peers. So, naturally, his fans expect this stance to carry through into his now-burgeoning music career.

However, an upcoming live show Anthony was due to perform in Knoxville came under the spotlight after fans complained of high ticket prices. Anthony was due to appear at Cotton Eyed Joe, a 4000 capacity venue that has previously welcomed country stars such as Chris Stapleton and Dan + Shay, later this month. Tickets for the show were on sale for $99 with a meet-and-greet option available at $199. In a video shared on Instagram, Anthony said he was axing the show in protest at what he saw as an unfair exploitation of his audience. “I had to pull off on the side of the road and make this video. My adrenaline’s pumping, man,” he says in the video that can be seen below.

He continued: “Don’t buy $90 Cotton Eyed Joe tickets or $200 for a meet and greet. That’s not acceptable. Just saw the Facebook post and lost my shit. Miscommunication with my friend booking shows and I. My shows should never cost more than $40, ideally no more than $25. Hell, out of the 4 shows we have currently done, 2 of them have been completely free. This will get straightened out tonight. Hold off on buying tickets for now.”

Staff at Cotton Eyed Joe responded to Anthony via a Facebook post, in which they said that the ticket price was set at the high price point as a way of covering his booking fee, which they claim was $120,000. The message stated that in order to “break even and bring our customers a show we thought would be fun” the ticket price needed to be at the higher level. They added a warning to fellow industry figures, “To our talent agency and promotor friends that follow us… be careful booking the North Man of Richmond.”

Anthony then attempted to clear the air between all parties, writing on Facebook: “Cotton Eyed Joe has been cancelled. Ultimately, it’s my fault for not being more directly involved with the venues who have reached out. My plate has been full and I delegated the responsibility to someone else to help me book. I am not pointing fingers at Cotton Eyed Joe, I don’t know where the miscommunication took place. I’m just upset seeing those prices. We will find another place in Knoxville area that can do $25 ticket and free meet and greet. I will work to get your tickets refunded from my own budget if they can’t. This will never happen again. Thanks for your patience. I am still learning how all of this works.”

The FADER has reached out to Cotton Eyed Joes for comment.