Lefko has left the building
You might think you don't know Elliott Lefko from a hole in the wall, but chances are you've seen one or more of the killer concerts he's promoted over the last two decades. For 12 years, until the beginning of this month, the sharp talent promoter served as the director of artist development at House of Blues Concerts , presenting the Toronto debuts of important alternative rock bands including the Pixies , Sonic Youth , the Smashing Pumpkins and a little-known Seattle band called Nirvana .
But now Lefko's decamped for the Left Coast to join the forces of the powerhouse California-based Goldenvoice organization (i.e., the producer of the touted Coachella fest) as its new vice-president of talent.
"Goldenvoice founders Paul Tollett and Rick van Santen have been my idols for years," says Lefko from the Toronto airport minutes before he's set to fly back to Cali. "We've been pals for a while, and when Rick died suddenly around Christmas, Paul asked whether I wanted to come down there and work for them. It took me about a quarter of a second to say yes."
Lefko insists he wasn't unhappy at House of Blues, but he's thrilled that they've graciously let him go to pursue what he sees as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He'll be booking theatres and arenas all over the West Coast, from Nevada to Alaska, which he says is daunting.
"Last week if you'd asked me to find Fresno on a map I couldn't have told you. Now I've gotta find out the character of each city and what the kids there want to see. In Alaska they want straight-ahead country; in Hawaii they want the Beastie Boys. It's a challenge to get it all straight."
His top memories of his time in Toronto include NOW's Tim Perlich pushing him out of the way when Kurt Cobain started hurling bottles during Nirvana's 1990 Lee's Palace gig and Sonic Youth's Great Hall show later the same year.
"My father was selling tickets outside the Sonic Youth show," laughs Lefko, "which I totally didn't realize. The police came and shut it down because there were too many people."
Although he'll miss this city terribly, Lefko couldn't be happier about his new employers.
"I remember when the actress Linda Griffiths got a starring role in a John Sayles movie, she said, 'I found the good-guy Americans.' Well, I found 'em and have a big smile on my face."