"We booked seven shows before noon," said Steve Redfearn about his first day with new hire John Wojas.
Redfearn, president of Viejas Entertainment, said his concert company has left the reservation and is now based in a La Mesa high-rise. With addition of talent buyer Wojas last week (who left House of Blues Concerts San Diego), Redfearn says he has a ten-person team ready to promote concerts at Viejas, as well as 4th & B, Symphony Hall, Soma, and five other Indian casinos around the country: Cable Mountain in Fresno, Spirit Mountain in Oregon, Desert Diamond in Tucson, Oneida in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Potowotami in Milwaukee.
"For several years Clear Channel Entertainment has had an exclusive booking arrangement with the Sports Arena. We now have a deal [exclusively with Clear Channel and the Sports Arena] to bring any of our arena-sized shows to the Sports Arena."
Redfearn named Wojas as senior vice president of talent for Viejas Entertainment last week. Wojas first started working in publicity with Bill Silva Presents in 1990. Bill Silva Presents was swallowed by Universal Concerts, which in turn was taken over by House of Blues Concerts. Wojas stayed with each company and remained in San Diego.
Viejas hired House of Blues Concerts five years ago to get talent for Viejas' Concerts in the Park series. Last summer Wojas and House of Blues brought 25 headliners to the Concerts in the Park series including Seal, Counting Crows, and Crosby, Stills, and Nash.
Now that Wojas has left House of Blues Concerts to join Viejas Entertainment, the Viejas Casino has severed ties with House of Blues.
"We are now self-contained," said Redfearn.
Viejas Entertainment first tried off-reservation concerts last summer when it launched its Bayside Concert series at Embarcadero South, presenting six concerts including Don Henley, John Fogerty, and Harry Connick Jr.
A request for comment from David Swift, general manager of House of Blues Concerts San Diego, was not answered.
When asked if he knew when the San Diego House of Blues might open, Wojas said, "I heard April or May."
One potential competitor thinks the new company will have an advantage due to its access to casino gambling money. "They have deep pockets," said this promoter.
"Our budget has nothing to do with the casino budget," said Redfearn. "Any concert we book offsite is supposed to make money."
House of Blues Concerts maintains offices at the Coors Amphitheater (which it books), but the House of Blues corporation is headquartered in Los Angeles. Besides Viejas Entertainment, the only other locally based concert promoters who regularly promote nationally touring artists are Harlan Schiffman, owner of Fineline Entertainment, and Tim Mays, owner of the Casbah.