Charlie Jones Steps Away From C3 Presents

The homegrown concert giant’s events visionary exits

Charlie Jones, co-founder and events architect behind the Austin-originating concert colossus C3 Presents, has left the company.

Charlie Jones (c) jamming with C3 cohorts Charles Attal (l) and Charlie Walker in 2009 (Photo by Gary Miller)

Crain’s Business Journal in Chicago reported the news yesterday and C3 confirmed.

Jones constitutes one of the first two C’s in the eventual promotions triptych, which stages ACL Fest and Lollapalooza. The College Station native entered Austin’s concert market in 1993 as an ambitious intern at one-time promotions kingpin Tim O’Connor’s company Direct Events. Three years later, he became a partner and general manager at bygone major showroom La Zona Rosa.

In 2001, Jones began sharing office space with Charles Attal, who co-owned and operated Stubb’s, which had effectively taken over Liberty Lunch’s mantle as Austin’s most popular community-sized venue. That teaming of two independent promotions power players proved historic, leading to the creation of the state capital’s most powerful live music enterprise. The third “C” in their company, Charlie Walker – former president of eventual C3 parent company Live Nation – teamed up with the duo in 2007, five years after the start of ACL Fest.

A 2002 Chronicle feature, in which Andy Langer reported from ACL’s war-room, made clear the departing partner’s significance to the operation.

“Jones is clearly the Festival's point man: No decision, big or small, goes unchecked by him.”

Even before being C3’s staging specialist, Jones existed as among Austin’s most capable minds at putting on events. His MiddleMan Music orchestrated pop-up concerts in Waterloo Park, with acts including John Lee Hooker and Ray Charles. He also organized 101Xfests, the KGSR Blues Festival, and several major celebrations of Lance Armstrong’s Tour De France wins between 1999 and 2005. Austin’s Y2K celebration at Auditorium Shores, dubbed A2K, found Jones organizing the city’s largest mass gathering up to that point.

“I was looking out at 250,000 screaming people,” Jones later reflected to the Chronicle. “It was the greatest moment of my life.”

As C3 blew up with ACL and an increasingly international run of Lollapaloozas, as well as campaign events for Barack Obama and, later, the Easter Egg Roll at the White House, Jones continued his reign as logistics czar.

Jones offered no public explanation for his departure and it’s unclear how his exit will impact events strategies at the company, which reportedly has over 200 employees. C3 Presents issued a statement:

“Charlie Jones has chosen to pursue other interests and we support him in that decision. We will miss his day-to-day presence, but he will continue to assist us as needed.  We wish him great success in his next endeavors.”

What those endeavors could be, at this point, are anyone’s guess. The Chronicle emailed Jones for comment and awaits response. A rep for C3 Presents confirmed that Attal, Walker, and Jones still plan to appear together for a Q&A at the Pollstar Live conference in early February.

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C3 Presents, Charlie Jones, Charles Attal, Charlie Walker, ACL Fest, Lollapalooza, Tim O’Connor, Direct Events, La Zona Rosa, MiddleMan Music, A2K, Lance Armstrong

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