The Grascals have fired back after the head of a Music Row public relations firm sued the Grammy-nominated bluegrass band for failing to abide by an oral management agreement.
The band claims Kirt Webster, who operates Webster & Associates PR and Entertainment Evolution management company, booked unprofitable shows and used unethical tactics, which the band states may have included withholding money meant for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
According to The Grascals, they entered into an “at-will” management agreement with Webster in 2009 that ultimately didn't benefit the band.
“Mr. Webster has operated as their personal manager in such a way as to maximize his personal financial benefit without regard to whether his actions benefited them, and even when he knew his actions would result in financial loss … for the Grascals,” according to the counterclaim.
The Grascals point to several improprieties based around potential conflicts of interest. In 2010, The Grascals recorded an album exclusively for Cracker Barrel, who is also a client for Webster. Part of their Cracker Barrel agreement was that for every CD purchased, a portion of the sales would be donated to St. Jude's.
Even though the CD was supposed to be available exclusively at Cracker Barrel, the band claims Webster and his agent, Jeremy Westby, bought albums from Cracker Barrel and allowed them to be resold at Grascals concerts.
“However, he failed to produce receipts to show the purchase from Cracker Barrel with regard to a number of albums he provided that The Grascals sold,” the counterclaim stated. “The Grascals are concerned that with regard to these albums, the advertised donation to St. Jude has not been made.”
Attorney Phillip Lyons, who represents Webster, Westby and Entertainment Evolution, said he wouldn't comment on ongoing cases but did call The Grascals' claims “non-meritorious.”
Cracker Barrel hadn't responded to requests for comment as of Tuesday afternoon.
Another album produced by The Grascals was sold by Time-Life, which also uses Webster & Associates for publicity purposes. The band claims it has lost money on the album and hasn't seen any profits from its production, despite owning 80 percent of the Blugrascal Record imprint that produced the CDs.
A potential conflict of interest arose, according to the lawsuit, when Webster booked The Grascals as an opener on several Hank Williams Jr. shows. Williams is a close personal friend of Webster and is a client of Webster & Associates.
The six-member band was paid $3,000 for their shows with Williams.
“[The Grascals] believes and alleges Mr. Webster personally benefitted from booking them to perform with Mr. Williams at these low rates, through his business relationship with Mr. Williams,” the counterclaim stated.
Furthermore, The Grascals claim Webster hired Westby and used Entertainment Evolution to “create a false appearance that their personal management was being handled by an entity independent of him and his public relations firm ... because of his conflict of interest ... .”
The original complaint filed under Entertainment Evolution, alleged that The Grascals owed the company $120,000 after failing to abide by an oral agreement made between the two parties. The Grascals deny ever dealing with Entertainment Evolution and claim they dealt only with Webster, personally.