Update: Huka On Hold

The CEO of 

A source told Pollstar Oct. 2 that Evan Harrison is no longer CEO and that the last time the source checked in with Huka there was only a handful of people still working at the company. Harrison’s LinkedIn page says that he was the CEO of Huka Entertainment from January 2015 to June 2017.

Pollstar received a box office report, submitted by an agency, for a concert in late August that noted the event was promoted by a different company because “Huka Entertainment was recently dissolved.” The report said that the concert was promoted by a new company called DM Presents, which appears to be founded by a talent buyer for Huka. A representative for the agency declined to go on the record or provide further information.

The phone number for the New Orleans-based Huka is no longer in service and social media accounts for Huka have not been updated since May.

However, a source close to the situation told Pollstar that reports of dissolution are greatly exaggerated.

Huka Entertainment
– Huka Entertainment

Huka Entertainment became well-known and, by all accounts, respected in the industry by the flourishing of the Hangout Music Festival in Gulf Shores, Ala., founded by Huka’s A.J. Niland and Shaul Zislin. Although Huka is no longer involved with the festival, it was the foundation upon which Huka created a thriving promotion business.

Since its formation in 2005, Huka has promoted concerts in the Southern and Eastern U.S., as well as a number of major festivals including

A source told Pollstar Oct. 3 that Huka is no longer involved with Tortuga Music Festival in any capacity. Huka co-founded the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., event with Rock The Ocean Foundation in 2013 and produced/promoted the fest from 2013-2017.

Organizers for the BUKU Music + Art Project released the following statement to Pollstar Oct. 5: “The BUKU Music + Art Project will not be impacted.  The festival will continue to be operated in New Orleans as a Winter Circle Productions and AEG Presents event with no affiliation with Huka.  We look forward to releasing details about the 2018 event soon.”

Huka’s website lists two upcoming concerts: J.J. Grey & Mofro at The Steeple in Mobile, Ala., Oct. 4 and Old Dominion at The Bell Auditorium in Augusta, Ga., Oct. 5.

A representative for The Steeple told Pollstar that Huka was involved with booking the Oct. 4 JJ Grey & Mofro concert, but “at this time, the Steeple [is] not involved with a contract with them.” The Bell Auditorium was not available for comment at press time.

Huka Entertainment was the promoter behind the now-defunct Pemberton Music Festival in Pemberton Valley, British Columbia. The festival announced in May it was going bankrupt and that the July 13-16 event was canceled. The news was shocking because of the involvement of established players Huka and Ticketfly – and because Pemberton Music Festival said that it would not be issuing automatic refunds for tickets “as PMF is now in bankruptcy, it has no ability to provide refunds.”

Huka released a statement at the time that said, “As a contract producer, Huka did not make the decision to cancel the Festival. That decision was made by the Pemberton Music Festival, LP. We are extremely disappointed for our fans, artists and all of our partners who have supported the festival over the years.”

Bankruptcy Trustee Ernst & Young released a 20-page report in June on the festival’s bankruptcy, which seemingly accused Huka of mishandling its role as promoter by misrepresenting the event’s financial projections over the years. The report also claimed that Pemberton barely dodged cancellation in 2016, saying that Huka told investors the day prior to the event that it would be “canceled if an additional $3.6 million was not immediately paid to cover cost overruns.”

Huka Entertainment released its own lengthy report in June about the business decisions behind the now-defunct Pemberton Music Festival, defending the role the promoter played in putting on the event and its efforts to stop the bankruptcy filing. 

As far as the near-cancellation of the 2016 festival, Huka said “This is false innuendo, arising mainly from omission.”  The promoter acknowledged that while it is correct that additional funds were required to cover festival costs, “all involved parties, including the Canadian Investors were aware these funds would be required for a long time prior to the date here. … At no point after guests had arrived at the festival was cancellation ever discussed.”

The 2017 festival would have marked the fifth edition of Pemberton Music Festival, after debuting in 2008 then returning under different ownership in 2014 with Huka as the producer.

WME Head of Music Marc Geiger spoke out against Pemberton during a May interview with Pollstar, warning that damage to consumer confidence from Pemberton and Fyre could have repercussions across the concert business, equating it to “the housing bubble.”

He said that moving forward, WME and other agencies are most likely going to tighten up financial requirements and deposit requirements.

The 2017 lineup was expected to feature a number of WME clients including Alesso, Big Sean, Tegan and Sara, Slightly Stoopid, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, and Eagles Of Death Metal.

A source confirmed to Pollstar May 26 that Huka laid off some members of its staff following Pemberton’s cancellation.

Pollstar also reported in late June that there were two Huka-promoted Vans Warped Tour gigs canceled that month. Tour founder Kevin Lyman spoke with Pollstar and came to Huka’s defense, explaining that there was more to the story.

Huka Entertainment was ranked No. 41 on Pollstar’s 2016 Year End Worldwide Ticket Sales chart for the Top 100 Promoters, with 423,024 in sales. 

Huka Chairman A.J. Niland was not available to comment at press time.