Since childhood, Kevin Radomski had dreamed of moving to the city where he was born and vacationed as a kid. “Edmonton always had a special magic for me,” he says. At 18, he left his hometown in the Peace Country for the big city, with no job prospects and no real plan. But with $1000 in his pocket, and unwavering confidence, he wasn’t worried. “I just remember thinking I knew so much and had all of this money,” he laughs.
It helped that he’d gotten a gig managing a Grande Prairie bar right out of high school — a position that involved booking musical acts, like Trooper. When he arrived in Edmonton, he soon landed a job at a 700-seat, south-side bar, where he booked hundred of local, national and international acts over the next 12 years. A big music fan himself, Radomski loved the challenge of concert promotion.
Wanting to book bigger shows, he created his own company — Horn’s Up Entertainment — in 2005.
His first gig as an entrepreneur was King of the Cage, a mixed martial arts franchise. Not long after, he was hired by 100.3 The Bear to bring actress and former professional wrestler Stacy Keibler to town for the radio station’s annual Halloween Howler concert at the Shaw Conference Centre.
Radomski says every new show helped him develop new industry contacts and build his reputation as a concert promoter. “You build your resume, just as you do in professional life, working a 9 to 5 job,” he says. In 2009, he booked his first show at the Shaw Conference Centre (SCC) — Buckcherry with Papa Roach and The Trews. Since then, he’s booked about two rock shows at the Shaw Conference Centre each year, including household names like Disturbed, Korn, the Offspring, Godsmack, and Seether, to name a few.
Each show is different since bands have a long list of unique requirements — everything from staging and lighting to the comforts in their green rooms before shows. A concert promoter must work with the venue to ensure requirements are met and the show is a success. At the Shaw Conference Centre, staff are friendly, detail-oriented, and flexible, making Radomski’s job infinitely easier.
“The convention centre is led by people who have that can-do, let’s get it done, let’s roll up our sleeves kind of attitude. And that’s what separates them from other venues of the same size,” he says.
This made a huge difference when shock-rocker Marilyn Manson was booked to perform at the Shaw Conference Centre a few years ago and sent a long-list of eyebrow-raising, pre-show requirements. One of the most eccentric items: a dressing room as cold as a meat locker and black, from floor-to-ceiling. Shaw Conference Centre staff bent over backwards to ensure the walls, furniture, and decor were black in colour and the room temperature a perfect 16 degrees Celsius.
“I was there when Marilyn Manson got off his bus and walked into his dressing room,” Radomski says. “Of course, I’m chewing my nails because if the performer isn’t happy, the show usually doesn’t go well.” To his relief, the performer was delighted with their accommodations and amazed fans that night by taking requests from the crowd.
Of course, more often than not, performers have a great time in Edmonton thanks to the enthusiasm of the fans. “Bands are always amazed by how politely rabid the fans are,” he says. Edmonton music lovers sing along to the band’s lesser known songs, buy massive amounts of concert t-shirts, and are incredibly polite when a band does a meet-and-greet at a mall before a show.
It’s one of many reasons Radomski still loves living and working in Edmonton, decades after arriving. Despite the city’s thriving entertainment scene, big city amenities and economic opportunities, Edmonton is still a warm and welcoming place. “I love Edmonton because it’s big, yet it’s small,” he says.
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