Golden boy's return?
Amidst all the helicopter hoopla surrounding Sir Richard Branson 's announcement of the Virgin Festival at Toronto Island September 9 and 10, the one intriguing detail largely overlooked is that one of the key people involved in the two-day extravaganza is Goldenvoice VP Elliott Lefko , making a splashy return to concert promotions in Toronto after a lengthy absence. So why the Virgin Music Festival? Why Toronto Island? And why now?
"First of all, I should clarify that I'm not moving back to Toronto," explains Lefko from Los Angeles. "I'm in a great position at Goldenvoice and I really like it on the West Coast. I'm just working on the Virgin Festival. Emerge 's Jacob Smid and I were doing shows together on Toronto Island starting with Bjºrk in 2003 until I left House of Blues to join Goldenvoice. Jacob continued doing shows on the Island himself but when he got the Virgin contract, he called me up to help booking the talent -- coincidentally, just as the non-competition clause in my contract ended.
"We wanted to make V Fest cutting edge and exciting like one of the bigger European festivals. Between the two of us, we were able to assemble a very solid lineup for the first year, which showcases some of the most exciting Canadian artists right now alongside amazing acts from around the world. It's also great because the Island has a tradition of incredible concerts going back to Mariposa's early years. I feel like we're shaking things up a bit in Toronto, but this is just the beginning. We want the Virgin Fest to be like Reading, where people return every year."
The other interesting coincidence is that Lefko's return to book shows in Toronto comes just as his former employer, House of Blues, has been swallowed up by competitor Live Nation , a concert promotion spinoff of Clear Channel . Just how the buyout will affect Toronto's concert scene remains to be seen, but Lefko is optimistic.
"House of Blues has some fantastic people working for them in Toronto. Joining forces with Live Nation makes for a more powerful operation, which I think will just bring more great shows to the city.
"One company's elimination doesn't mean there will be no more competition -- people interested in doing shows in Toronto will just make more calls to Jacob, Craig Laskey, Amy Hersenhoren and other promoters. I just want a tiny slice of the Toronto pie; they can have the rest."