Strasburg Emerges With AEG

The ever-lively concert promotion market in the Denver area lived up to its hyper-competitive reputation August 16th when Live Nation announced that former House of Blues Denver booker Jason Miller would return to his old stomping grounds.

The rumor mill cranked to high gear with whispers of mass defections from the Live Nation – Denver fold – including a rumor that Chuck Morris had already left the company and taken most of his staff with him to start an AEG Live office.

That rumor turned out to be a non-starter, as Morris is still at work at his Live Nation desk, according to a spokesman for the company. But two of his longtime staffers, Don Strasburg and Brent Fedrizzi, were confirmed to have left LN.

Like a game of “telephone,” unconfirmed tales morph a bit with each telling. Once the dust had a chance to clear, Strasburg emerged as a VP and senior talent buyer with AEG Live, opening a Boulder office with one assistant and the AEG Live national team behind him.

Fedrizzi’s post-LN status isn’t confirmed, and Strasburg declined to discuss industry speculation of his future – preferring to talk about the present.

“Right now, we have set up a temporary office and are up and running in Colorado,” Strasburg told Pollstar. “We have the full support of the AEG team. I’m active in booking and promoting shows in Colorado even as we speak.

“We expect to expand the office and take a look at all opportunities to create wonderful entertainment options for the regional marketplace,” Strasburg said.

According to Denver’s Westward alt-weekly, Strasburg hit the ground running for AEG, with an August 25th Melissa Etheridge date reportedly on the books at the Colorado Convention Center.

With the sale of House of Blues Entertainment to Live Nation pending, observers of the usually vibrant market predicted a sharp easing of competitive forces when Chuck Morris Presents/BGP, HoB Concerts and independent promoter Nobody In Particular Presents were all vying for shows.

And AEG Live wasn’t even in the Denver picture until now – despite it being the home market of corporate parent chief Philip Anschutz. But more, rather than less, competition suits Strasburg just fine.

“Denver is a phenomenal market for music, and I am no stranger to competition,” he emphasized. “Literally, when I was at Live Nation with the potential House of Blues situation at hand, it was really the first time I had ever seen the possibility of a lessening of competition.

“It’s nothing new to me because I’ve always existed in a very competitive environment,” Strasburg said.

He still may have his work cut out for him, as Live Nation controls rooms including The Fillmore Auditorium and is primary programmer of the Paramount Theatre in an agreement with Kroenke Entertainment. Assuming the HoB acquisition closes by the end of the year, LN will be able to add Coors Amphitheatre to the list.

Strasburg isn’t fazed by the prospect of being locked out of buildings by his former company.

“They have a few, but most of the facilities in the region are open facilities and we plan on using all appropriate venues in the region to promote shows,” Strasburg said. “And obviously, if the opportunity presents itself we’re willing to build when it’s appropriate to.”

Strasburg and AEG Live intend to go after the same artists and the same open facilities he has in the past, without regard for size or style, including Red Rocks Amphitheatre and the Fox Theatre, which he opened in 1992.

He expects to expand his office in the near future but in the meantime can count on the full resources and support of AEG as he grows its seventh regional office, covering the Colorado, Utah and Wyoming area. AEG Live President Randy Phillips told The Denver Post he expects the office to grow by as many as 10 to 15 people.

“AEG came to me with an opportunity and I am elated to be working with a phenomenal, fantastic group of people and organization,” Strasburg said. “While the Live Nation experience was exciting, and I absolutely wish them the best, this was an opportunity I had to pursue because it was the best for me.”

AEG Live’s Rocky Mountain office can be reached at 303-497-9760. The mailing address is 4760 Walnut St., Ste. 106, Boulder, CO 80301.

Strasburg’s e-mail address is [email protected].

– Deborah Speer