BY JENNIFER SELF Californian lifestyles editor email@example.com
Jerry Seinfeld still pulls in the crowds 15 years after his eponymous sitcom went off the air, so much so that he recently was ranked No. 1 on Forbes' list of top-earning comedians. Yet despite his undeniable drawing power, plenty of tickets remain for the comedian's July 26 show at the Rabobank Theater.
But Ed Dorsey, assistant general manager of Rabobank Arena, recommends that Bakersfield's notoriously last-minute ticket buyers not put off securing their seats too long; Seinfeld sold out both of his previous shows in Bakersfield, in 2003 and 2005.
"2009 to '10 was pretty dry, but we did 20 concerts last year, and it's picked up a bit this year."
-- Ed Dorsey, assistant general manager of Rabobank Arena
"He usually tours every two years or so and does sort of a circuit," Dorsey said. "Once he comes to a city, he'll usually come back."
Also returning to Bakersfield July 26 is comedian Jo Koy, whose show at the Fox should more than fill the city's laugh quota that night. Lauren Montana, client relations associate for the company that books the landmark theater, said tickets are still available but that she expects a sellout of that concert as well.
So why does comedy do so well in Bakersfield? Without venturing any guesses, Dorsey and Montana said it just does.
"Combined with the Fox, we've done pretty well," Dorsey said, ticking off an impressive list of funny men who have sold out the theater or arena, including George Lopez, Carlos Mencia and Jeff Dunham.
As for other concert news on the horizon, Montana said tickets are nearly sold out for country singer Billy Currington's July 31 show at the Fox and that new bookings for the fall should pick up in August. She said the most successful booking at the Fox this year was the Darius Rucker concert in April.
Meanwhile, AEG has assumed management of the city-owned entertainment venues, which include the Rabobank complex, after longtime contractor SMG lost the gig. That means AEG is looking for a new general manager to run the facilities. The job has been vacant since June 30, when former GM Scott Neal, an SMG employee, left for a position with the company in Long Beach.
Personnel and management issues aside, Dorsey and recently promoted marketing manager Nick Wynne are keeping things humming.
"2009 to '10 was pretty dry, but we did 20 concerts last year, and it's picked up a bit this year," Dorsey said. "Not everything is going to be huge for us because we're not a major market. The most concerts we ever did is 2006 and '07 with 30."
Dorsey said the most successful concert this year was the May 9 Miranda Lambert/ Dierks Bentley double bill, which filled 8,300 seats.
"The most we've ever had, 11,000, was Neil Diamond the first time he came," Dorsey said of the 1999 concert. "It was a center stage in the round so we could use all the seats."
Fun fact: Dorsey noted Diamond wasn't the first performer to sell out the then-brand new arena. That honor goes to Aerosmith, also in 1999, but in true rock 'n' roll fashion, Steven Tyler and company canceled several shows on the tour, including the Bakersfield date, forcing the arena to refund all the tickets.
"He's (Tyler) made up the dates, but not ours," Dorsey said. "They want an exorbitant amount of money now."
It's just that problem -- money -- that usually takes Bakersfield out of the game when booking the biggest names in music.
"You have superstars wanting huge amounts, and they're getting it. But it's a consideration here in Bakersfield. We're half the size of Staples Center or the Honda Center (in Anaheim) or Oracle Arena in Oakland."
But that doesn't stop fans from thinking big when requesting concerts, and sometimes, if management hears the same names bounced around, they do try a little harder to secure the booking. That's how the Santana show happened in 2011.
"We tried for two and a half years to get him in," Dorsey said. "Hopefully you ask enough, but you don't want to ask too much because you become a pest."
So who is No. 1 on Bakersfield's list nowadays? Kanye West, Beyonce or Metallica?
No, no and no.
Surprisingly, it's Jimmy Buffett, a guy whose hottest chart action was during the Carter administration. Nevertheless, the flip-flopped crooner is a wanted man, commanding huge sums.
Dorsey knows because he has tried again and again to get him, but apparently there isn't enough tequila in Margaritaville to coax Buffett away from the water.
But rather than focus on the hard-to-get, Dorsey pointed to some interesting shows on the calendar, including the Gary Allan/Sheryl Crow concert Sept. 15.
"Shows that do well are country, if it crosses over into country pop. Also, Latin music does well and acts like Elton John and the Eagles.
"But then shows you think will do well don't and the other way around. It's a gambling man's game, as far as being a concert promoter."