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Valley promoter Danny Zelisko says return of concerts could take awhile

Longtime Valley concert promoter Danny Zelisko finished his book during the pandemic and released it in September 2020. (Facebook Photo/Danny Zelisko Presents)

PHOENIX – A day after Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey rolled back the state’s COVID-19 restrictions, longtime Valley promoter Danny Zelisko said it could be months before the concert scene is up and rocking again.

“How all that unrolls remains to be seen,” Zelisko told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona Morning News on Friday. “But, you know, you don’t go from zero to 100 in one punch.”

Zelisko said he’s not expecting to present shows until June or July.

He said it takes time and money for performers to pull together crews and plot out tours, which are expensive endeavors. They need to be certain they will have places to play before taking that leap.

“They want to get back and work as badly as we want to see them,” he said. “But you don’t want to compound the injury by jumping too fast and then being shut back [down] again.”

Venues also need time to get back into playing shape.

“These people have been laid off, and they’ve been closed all this time, and they got to clean up their places and hire staff again,” Zelisko said.

“It’s all starting from scratch.”

Another piece of the concert puzzle is that music fans will need be ready and willing to crowd together with strangers again after a year of social distancing and other mitigation protocols.

“That’s the fun of it, and I think everyone wants to feel 100% safe when they’re going back to it,” Zelisko said.

“We’ve waited this long and we’ll get it together and make sure it’s 100%.”

On March 15, 2020, Zelisko’s staff was just opening the doors for a John Fogerty show at Talking Stick Resort when the concert industry was brought to a standstill.

“We were told we had to close it down right then. So we had to send everybody home, closed the hotel. They sent everybody out in the middle of the night. I mean, it was awful, tragic type of stuff,” he recalled.

“From that point forward, it wasn’t apparent that this was going to be a longtime problem, because nobody’s ever seen anything like this in our lifetime.”

Zelisko, who has been promoting concerts for more than four decades, finished work on his book, “ALL EXCE$$, Occupation: Concert Promoter” during the downtime. It was released in September 2020.

“It was very therapeutic, but the main thing was that provided us all something really good to do,” he said. “And I was able to keep everybody on at the office.”

Zelisko said most buyers have been holding onto their tickets for shows that were postponed because of the pandemic.

“They went through the hassle of buying the tickets to begin with, and to me now it’s a badge of courage and honor that you get to show up and finally resume your life, because that’s what it’s a sign of,” he said.

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