4th & B Takes On HoB

San Diego’s venerable downtown 4th & B Concert Theatre will be facing some stiff competition once House of Blues San Diego opens up shop two blocks away in May. And that’s not to mention that veteran 4th & B talent buyer Jeff Gaulton recently jumped ship for the Belly Up Tavern in nearby Solana Beach.

But 4th & B isn’t giving up without a fight, with the decision to hire Viejas Entertainment as its new talent buyer rather than join forces with HoB, which the club considered.

Viejas Entertainment comes with its own local clout. The company last year entered a two-year partnership with Avalon Attractions in Los Angeles to book the San Diego Sports Arena, which recently was renamed the ipayOne Center.

It also exclusively books venues at Viejas Casino in Alpine, such as the DreamCatcher Lounge and the summer Viejas Concerts In The Park series, as well as presenting shows at several venues in and around San Diego.

While competing with the corporate resources of House of Blues Concerts won’t be a cakewalk for the 1,500-capacity 4th & B, it’s sure to mean more music choices than ever for Southern California music fans.

Viejas Entertainment President Steve Redfearn knows all too well what he’s getting into. He and company VP John Wojas left House of Blues Concerts just last year, after joining the company with its acquisition of Bill Silva Presents – where they promoted shows at 4th & B, among other venues.

And just to complicate the history, HoB promoted shows at Viejas Casino venues before Viejas decided to form its own in-house operation.

“We’ve been competing with House of Blues Concerts since John Wojas left to come over here,” Redfearn told Pollstar. “But he and I worked together for years when we were with Bill Silva Presents. He stayed at House of Blues when [Silva] sold. When John’s contract was up, it was just a natural progression for us to go in-house with talent buying.”

Viejas and 4th & B still have their work cut out for them. San Diego’s 1,100-seat House of Blues will be the latest grand opening in the network of clubs that is one of the best-branded in the business.

Redfearn shrugs off suggestions that House of Blues is the 4th & B’s biggest concern.

“I still maintain that the biggest competition we have here concert-wise is the weather, with people going to the desert, the mountains, the beach and so on,” he said, laughing. On a more serious note, he believes the rising arts and entertainment scene in San Diego and House of Blues’ arrival is just more proof that the city has arrived.

“With all major cities, there’s not just one club,” he said. “That would be like saying there’s one movie theatre or one great restaurant or one great hotel. Last time I looked, there’s other clubs in New Orleans and Las Vegas and Anaheim and so on.”

Could it be coincidence that all the cities he mentioned have House of Blues clubs?

“Competition is healthy for the club business, and we’re looking forward to it,” Redfearn concluded.

— Deborah Speer