May 21st, 2024

Promoter ready to get the music started again

By Herald on November 6, 2021.

Johnny Reid, seen performing with his big band The Soul Providers during a 2018 tour stop in Lethbridge, will be touring again this coming February. Herald file photo

Al Beeber – Lethbridge Herald

Ron Sakamoto is ready to get the music started again.

The legendary Lethbridge concert promoter, who the Canadian Country Music Associaton names its promoter of the year award after, hasn’t staged a show since the pandemic shut down the live music industry in March of 2020.

Sakamoto’s last show was a Brad Paisley concert in Saskatchewan. The final gig of Paisley’s Canadian tour, scheduled for Medicine Hat on Friday the 13th, had to be cancelled when Alberta’s government put the province into lockdown, Sakamoto recalled Friday.

While he hasn’t promoted any tours since, Sakamoto has kept all his employees on the payroll. Heeding his father’s advice to never got into debt, Sakamoto said Friday he was able to keep food on the tables of his employees, who he says are valuable assets to his company.

In February, Sakamoto will running what he believes is the largest tour ever by a Canadian artist on home turf. The artist will be his long-time friend, Canadian country superstar Johnny Reid.

The tour will include more than 100 concerts in about 50 cities across Canada. The tour will feature shows in many smaller venues, such as the Yates here in Lethbridge which will give Reid a chance to put on intimate performances for his legions of fans.

While other promoters will be staging larger arena shows in 2020, Sakamoto and Reid are taking a different approach.

“I feel really good about Johnny because he’s a superstar and he’s playing small places.  We felt that it’s way smarter to do a hundred or more shows in the smaller places and let people see him up close and personal instead of going into a huge 6,000 or 10,000-seat arena,” he said.

Tickets for the tour will go on sale Nov. 18 when details about the Lethbridge date will be available.

Sakamoto says while fans traditionally will head to bigger venues in major cities to see their favourite artists, this time around Reid will be coming to see them in places across the country with smaller seating capacity. Fans in cities such as Cambell River, Cowichan and Nanaimo, B.C., Lloydminster and Prince Albert will now see Reid on their home turf, Sakamoto said.

The live music industry is now starting to pick up again, he said.

“There’s a lot of shows that are on sale or are going to be on sale,” said Sakamoto, who is also promoting a tour by Canadian rockers Glorious Sons which hits the Enmax Centre on Feb. 3.

The Reid tour, he said, “I think is the biggest tour in the history of an artist in Canada.

“This time, he wants to go out to all the smaller cities and the larger cities and every city,” he said.

“It’s going to be an up-close and personal tour where he can talk to the people and they’re close. When he comes to Lethbridge, we are going into the Yates. We’re probably going to do a number of shows in the smaller venues because I’m sure he’ll sell out pretty fast in these smaller venues.”

Whether more than one show will be staged at the Yates is yet unknown.

“This is going to be unbelievable for his audience because everybody will have a great seat. Where else in Canada has anybody, except Johnny Reid, come with his stature and is going to play in front of 500 people? He’s going to do the whole show himself. It’ll be two sets and all you’re going to get is Johnny Reid baring his songs and soul to all his fans,” Sakamoto said.

“This is what he wants to do this time because he’s never done that.”

All fans attending Reid’s shows will be required to show proof they’ve had both COVID-19 vaccinations, he said.

Next fall, Sakamoto will be staging a tour by Old Dominion, the three-time Country Music Association group of the year which will also hit Lethbridge, he said.

The pandemic hit everyone in live music, said Sakamoto.

“It’s not just the artists but the sound men, the techs, right down to the security and the caterers. The first show will be almost two years” since his last, he said.

Paisley’s show in Medicine Hat was sold-out, he recalled, with 6,000 fans looking forward to seeing him.

“I had to cancel the show the day before,” he  remembered.

But Sakamoto’s staff haven’t suffered despite the closure of the music.

“They’e the best and I can’t afford to lose them,” he said of his employees.

“I have no debt so I was able to carry on and pay everybody in all my businesses because my father told me ‘Ron, you make sure you have no debt.” My staff have been paid full-on for two years with no shows. They have families to feed and I know a lot of people can’t do that. Most people can’t do that but that’s what I did. And other people did it, too. There’s lots of other people in businesses who did it, too, not just me,” he added.

Follow @albeebHerald on Twitter

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Thank you. It was fun to read.

Last edited 2 years ago by jenniferdehner9