Bulgaria's Live Aid 2.0: Is Mick Jagger Coming?
“People are dying NOW. Give us the money NOW,” Bob Geldof called on the audience of his 1985 Live Aid event which, despite suggestions of the goals he might have pursued, did raise nearly two hundred million dollars to address famine in Ethiopia.
Thirty-one years later, a Bulgarian claims that same concert, simultaneously played in the UK and the US and aired live in dozens of countries, can be repeated in his homeland.
The date is October 01. Yes, this year. And it was late in the spring of the same year that Zhivko Botev announced he was “in talks” with Mick Jagger.
Scrolling down, however, one finds the lineup even more interesting as it includes: “Rod Stewart, Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars, Johnny Depp, Antonio Banderas, Slash, Eagles and Earth, Wind & Fire.”
Sounds great, doesn't it?
Dozens of Bulgarian media outlets - including public and private national TV stations - have published the information about “Live Aid Sofia” which, according to the press release and a Facebook event page already created, will take place at Vasil Levski Stadium.
A 10-hour concert that aims at helping children who fled war and armed violence sounds like a noble cause; but the short notice, the venue – Sofia – and the lack of any information in English coming from sources different than the organizers have made many raise eyebrows.
No tickets, but a big Donate button to click on
Botev's foundation, set up specifically for the event's purpose, is called Peace for You, Peace for Me. While its website only points to phone numbers of Botev and its office near Sofia's Central Railway Station is (something Botev admits) not used at the moment, a red “DONATE” button can easily be seen in the upper right corner. There is no information about tickets, and no major distribution network has the event in its calendar.
While Sofia Music Enterprises, Bulgaria's biggest organizer of musical events, does not completely dismiss “Live Aid 2.0”, daily 24 Chasa quotes it as saying that most announcements of the same nature, over the company's 25-year history, have been "pure fabrication".
Big names in music have to look years ahead in their schedule, and such a mega concert cannot be squeezed in just a few months in advance, they add.
“They'll come to sing for free”
Botev is a co-owner of West End Academy OOD, a production company with BGN 6000 (around EUR 3000) in assets and BGN 4000 in current liabilities. He shares his time between Sofia and London and boasts his involvement in the production of a number of films, concerts and plays. His partner in the foundation, Marchelo Dzhotolov, is even more interesting, being an associate in a company linked to Alexei Petrov, the ex-bodyguard and security agent involved in the controversial Octopus court case.
Considering that it sprouted out of nowhere just a few months ago, Peace for You, Peace for Me seems to have gained the trust of a good list of partners if one believes its website: UNESCO, Sofia Municipality, the Bulgarian Industrial Association (with the latter indeed promoting the event on its own website adding to the list performers from Russia, Peru, and C?te d'Ivoire), and the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry as its main partners.
However, Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General and UN chief candidate, has not yet replied to the patronage request. The Bulgarian Red Cross and the UNHCR have told the media they are waiting for a proper response from her to consider whether or not to endorse Live Aid, admitting they are unsure it could be organized in a matter of several months. The BRC has also told Offnews.bg the organizers have not provided a contract with Vasil Levski Stadium.
Commenting on the Bulgarian Red Cross's reaction, Dzhotolov has told 24 Chasa he is not aware how they will contribute, but has made clear he doesn't "need partnership."
"My wish is that they help distribute the funds [raised] one day."
Zhotev also says the new Live Aid's general sponsor is Hotel Marinela (formerly Kempisnki), with a request from the foundation having been allegedly submitted and approved late last year.
It is not clear how much of the BGN 2 M (around EUR 1 M) budget the organizers supposedly need will come from the hotel and how much from donations. If the amount of money looks small for a Live Aid-style concert, also aired in 50 to 60 (not named yet) countries, this has its explanation: all stars will come for free. The claim has been made not only by Botev, but also by his “chief negotiator”. Drummer and producer Robin DiMaggio, who in 2015 was awarded the title musical Director to the United Nations and recently joined the project, confirmed Mick Jagger's name as part of the lineup in an interview with the Bulgarian National Television. He went even further, vowing to organize a "Live Aid" event once every year if the one being organized currently turns out a success.
Shrouded in secrecy?
When it comes to promoting the event outside Bulgarian media, however, DiMaggio is a bit shy. Less than three months before the date, no comments have been made officially about the event in preparation. No-one from the lineup has announced they are coming, even though none of the performers is to be playing or singing anywhere else on October 01 according to the schedules available on their official websites.
To make matters worse, no English-language website has reported about Live Aid Bulgaria whose popularization – if one assumes it is to take place – should be deemed a Herculean task, given the location, still “bizarre” to some Westerners who consider Bulgaria a dangerous place to visit, and the fact that time is running out.
Is Elvis coming?
The project has already given way to numerous jokes in the Facebook event [BG], where more than 5600 people are "attending" and more than 19313 are "interested" as of Monday noontime.
Asked who else they would like to see at the event, some have suggested Beyonce and Adele should also be invited as they are the most “suitable”. Others have voiced their preference for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Michael Jackson, or Whitney Houston; but it is Ivan Kostov, a former Prime Minister of Bulgaria, who has garnered the most “votes” in an improvised poll.
"Is Victor Hugo coming?" another person asks, begging for “serious replies.“
Needless to say, it would be fabulous for Sofia to host a Live Aid concert; the world needs more similar events even though they do not address the root causes of conflict and devastation. However, even if Botev, Dzholotov and DiMaggio are led by the best possible intentions (something potential donors and all Mick Jagger fans are to decide for themselves), they are in desperate need of a miracle.
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