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December 13, 2013

Controversial rapper picked to appear at OH-Fest

By Jessica Reynolds Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College announced the headliner for the April 26 OH-Fest concert on their respective Facebook pages last Friday amid some lingering concern from previous year’s concerts.

The artist will be Sammy Adams, a Boston-based whose latest album, “Homecoming,” debuted last week at No. 45 on the Billboard 200, according to the music publication’s website.

Samuel Adams Wisner, 26, was arrested for disorderly conduct and incitement to riot at a concert in Manhattan, Kan. in 2010, according to the Riley County Police Department. That year, Adams’ debut album “Boston’s Boy” reached No. 1 on iTunes’ hip-hop station.

In a statement from his then-publicist, Amy Meyer, the concert was put on by Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity of Kansas State University, according to music website The Masked Gorilla. Meyer said that not long into the set, police showed up to shut down the party as a result of a noise complaint.

Meyer said Adams and his band tried to perform “Driving Me Crazy,” but the police walked onstage, arrested Adams and took him to jail, where he was booked and released on bail. According to several accounts, Adams yelled “f*** the police!” from onstage before the arrest.

When reached for comment, Adam’s current publicist, Jamie Abzug from RCA records, said the charges were dismissed and the case was dropped and that she would not comment further on the incident.

OH-Fest, in its ninth year, is sponsored and organized by students from Hartwick College and the State University College at Oneonta, and has been described as a way for the college students and community to come to together and enjoy a free concert and carnival.

Bill Harcleroad, director of campus activities at SUNY Oneonta and adviser to the OH-Fest board, previously told the college’s student newspaper that the voting system used to determine the artist is an open-response system, in which students may recommend any artist, without limitation of a list from which to choose, according to The State Times.

In 2011, the rapper Pitbull performed in Neahwa Park for OH-Fest 6, drawing a crowd of about 10,000 people that sparked concerns about public safety and the ability of law enforcement to keep the peace. This was the first year with a hip-hop headliner.

Police Chief Dennis Nayer told the Daily Star that year that, on top of the excessive crowds, the rapper made the situation worse by urging the crowd to “get crazy.”

Following the incident, Nayor recommended that in future years the colleges retain private security consisting of licensed security guards to assist police with the event, to have the event on one of the campuses if it trends toward an all college-age audience and that the performer should be approved by the police department for “family friendliness.”

Nayor said Wednesday he wasn’t aware that the OH-Fest artist had been chosen or announced this year.

OH-Fest 2012 included a pair of paid indoor concerts at the State University College at Oneonta. Oneonta Police Department reports said the concert brought little controversy and concerns in light of the previous year’s event.

Last year, OH-Fest returned to Neahwa Park. To meet a stipulation given by the city Common Council, which was concerned about crowd control, student organizers of the event arranged to hire 28 unarmed security officers for the event.

Last year’s president of Student Association Activities Council at SUNY Oneonta, MaryBeth Carswell, previously spoke to the State Times about the return of the concert downtown.

“This year especially we wanted to be super careful, for the future of OH-Fest, if we want to keep it downtown, we can’t start off with an artist that the city can close down,” Carswell told the student newspaper.

Mayor Dick Miller told The Daily Star on Wednesday that he was unaware that an OH-Fest artist had been chosen. Miller said it was the first he heard of Adams, let alone any controversial incidents involving him.

“That is not something we would want to happen,” Miller said. “We want good community events, and if it’s going to be problematic, we will have to handle that then.”

Harcleroad said the team was assured by Adams’ management that the rapper could give a PG show.

“We take it as a responsibility that people will be able to hear this in their houses,” Harcleroad said. “And we try to balance it out by gearing other acts of the concert specifically to the community.”

According to SUNY Oneonta’s website, there will be a battle of the bands March 5 at 6 p.m. in the Hunt College Union Ballroom to decide which other bands will play at OH-Fest.

Bob Brzozowski and Chip Holmes, both members of the City of Oneonta Common Council and the OH-Fest planning committee this year, said as long as Adams can keep the concert appropriate as is contracted, there shouldn’t be a problem.

Holmes admitted the 2010 incident with Adams is a concern but expressed overall satisfaction with the OH-Fest committee’s cooperation in previous years.

“After Pitbull came, there were some concerns, but they addressed them well,” Holmes said. “They have shown they understand what the city expects and there is no reason to believe that they won’t continue to do that.”

Holmes also said he believes that Adams will be more professional than in previous years, as he is now signed to a major record label.

“His contract says he can give an appropriate concert,” Holmes said. “He is a professional artist now and has professional management and contracts to uphold,” Holmes said. “It’s not likely that he would want to risk that.”