Local fest has major lineup, but suit says rules hit wrong notes; the likes of Erykah Badu, De La Soul, Tipper and Wyclef Jean highlight the 2018 event

COURTESY: CARL POSEY PHOTOGRAPHY - Wyclef Jean, formerly of The Fugees, plays Wonder Ballroom, April 22 as part of Soul'd Out Festival.The Soul'd Out Festival, which takes place April 18-22 at 12 venues around the city, made headlines this week for reasons other than music on the stage.

It has filed a lawsuit against the Coachella Music Festival for monopolistic practices.

But Nicholas Harris, Soul'd Out co-owner and co-founder, says it's not going to distract from the great acts playing in Portland, including Erykah Badu, De La Soul, Tipper and Wyclef Jean.

"We're not afraid of this overshadowing the festival," he says. "The festival speaks for itself. The lineup has gotten bigger and better every year. Shows are selling out.

"We were forced into action. In order for us to do business, this (lawsuit) had to happen. This news will be happening over the next week or so, but our main focus is producing the festival."

Soul'd Out is taking on a giant in the music industry with Coachella and its affiliated companies. (Coachella hasn't commented on the 21-page lawsuit). The annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival takes place April 13-22 in Indio, Calif.

A news release states that Soul'd Out "alleges that defendants impose an unlawful contractual restriction on artists that perform at Coachella, prohibiting those artists from performing at any other festival or themed event within a distance that extends over 1,300 miles, and for a period of nearly five months surrounding Coachella."

Indio is about 1,100 miles from Portland.

Soul'd Out claims that it has been injured by the defendant's anticompetitive practices.

"We seek no less than to operate in a fair and open environment," Harris says. "But as our industry has become more consolidated, it is subjected to more and more corporate tactics that penalize the public. Music, and the culture that births it, is not a commodity to be exploited."

Soul'd Out is represented by Portland law firm Schwabe, Williamson, & Wyatt, P.C.

"We look forward to having a Portland jury hear Soul'd Out's complaint," attorney Nika Aldrich says.

Harris says, simply, that artists should be able to play other festivals without threat of contractual breach.

"We don't know what's going to happen," Harris adds. "It's a matter of doing the right thing.

"We want to preserve and protect Portland as an independent market and have the ability for artists to sell themselves out to the highest bidder."

As far as the music, local acts such as Natasha Kmeto, Mel Brown and Lilla complement some international and national acts.

Among the highlights:

• Erykah Badu plays the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 S.W. Broadway, 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 18. "She's been a north star for us as far as style and type of artist we want to bring to Portland," Harris says. It's a sold-out show.

• British electronic producer Tipper plays the Schnitz, 9:30 p.m. Friday, April 20.

• Wyclef Jean plays the Wonder Ballroom, 128 N.E. Russell St., 10 p.m. Sunday, April 22. "A legendary figure from the '90s," Harris says. "The Fugees were a huge act."

• Also April 22, it's Ron Artis II and The Truth at the Star Theater, 13 N.W Sixth Ave. at 7:30 p.m. and De La Soul, 11 p.m. at Roseland Theater, 8 N.W. Sixth Ave. "A legacy act in line with our mission," Harris says, of De La Soul. Betty LaVette (8 p.m., Aladdin Theater, 3017 S.E. Milwaukie Ave.) is another highlight.

There are tickets to most events still available. Check for tickets.

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