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Meet Ryan Blazer, who helps place WNF’s ‘biggest’ headliners

Meet Ryan Blazer, who helps place WNF’s ‘biggest’ headliners

By Western Navajo Fair staff

TUBA CITY – It’s Coachella weekend in 2014, and Ryan Blazer is on Interstate 10 driving to the most notorious music festival on the planet.

OutKast, Muse, and Arcadia Fire are set to headline the three-day festival, but Blazer has no plans on fist-pumping, crowd-surfing, or waking up with a killer hangover.

Blazer is an Uber driver, and his only agenda is to drop off his clients, whom he picked up from Los Angeles International Airport or LAX and are on their second round of pre-gaming and drive back to Los Angeles.

The only thing on Blazer’s mind is, “Where am I going to sleep tonight?”

Hotel rooms were likely all sold out, and if, by luck, there was a room available, it would be costly. So, Blazer picked up his cell and called Lori Otelsberg, who he remembered from working at William Morris Endeavor.

“I remembered she booked entertainment (musical acts) at Morongo Casino … and I had no shame in calling her up and asking if she could comp me a room at the casino after driving people to Coachella,” said Blazer. Otelsberg’s initial response was, “Are you kidding me?! You really have the cojones to ask me for a room during Coachella!?”

Lori didn’t comp Blazer the room, but she asked him to meet with her.

“I think I might have a job for you,” she told him.

Answering to calling

That five-hour meeting led to a job with Signature Entertainment and sparked a career that would put him on a collision course with the Western Navajo Fair.

Ryan was born with music in his blood. Growing up in Knoxville, Tennessee, Blazer was engulfed in the entertainment industry as far back as he remembers. His mother worked for CineTel Studios, owned at the time by the E.W. Scripps Company, which produced a show called “Hey Dude” on Nickelodeon and “Club Dance” on TNN (The Nashville Network), which would later become CMT (Country Music Television). While at CineTel Studios, his mother was present for E.W. Scripps’ launch of the television network Home & Garden Television (HGTV) in 1994 and later launch of the networks DIY and the Food Network.

“I knew my calling was entertainment,” said Blazer. “At a college fair, when I heard someone talking about Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) having a recording industry management program, I knew that’s where I had to be.”

After earning a bachelor’s in recording industry management from MTSU in 2004, Blazer spent two years working for the Broadcast Music Industry (BMI), which works directly with copyright permission, before taking a leap of faith and moving to California to attend law school.

“I thought my calling was to be an entertainment attorney,” said Blazer. But after one semester of law school, “I decided it was not for me.”

Blazer was hired at William Morris Endeavor (WME – formerly the William Morris Agency – the first talent agency dating back to Vaudeville). With a drive to become a talent buyer who seeks out entertainment talent, including musical performers, for shows, Blazer was on a direct path toward achieving this goal.

But after seven years, Blazer decided that WME (and becoming an agent) was not for him.

At that time, Ryan took a short break from the entertainment industry and decided to drive for Uber and Lyft, eventually leading to his life-changing call to Otelsberg.

After being hired by Signature Entertainment, founded by the legendary Dick Clark, Blazer’s first task was to seek out and recruit casinos to the company’s client list.

Native American casinos were a growing and fertile industry, and Signature Entertainment already worked with several tribal casinos. As luck would have it, Blazer called up a small casino in northern Arizona – Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort. He said because “we already had an Arizona Level 2 Gaming License. I ended up booking Great White for their (2014) New Year’s Eve Celebration.”

Booking WNF, etched in TC history

Blazer, who attends all the headline concerts he books, was at Twin Arrows on New Year’s 2015 when he said he met “Mike Sixkiller, who happened to be DJing for the casino that (same) evening. Mike called me up a few days later about helping book the fair (WNF) and Spring Festival.”

Blazer recalls his first booking was a young upstart country singer named Kane Brown in September 2016 (a month before his first official WNF 2016 booking of Skid Row).

“Little did I know that en route to cover the first show, we would have to cancel because of a death in Kane’s family,” said Blazer. “It was very nerve-racking having to explain what a Force Majeure occurrence is to a tribal council on my very first trip to Tuba City. We ended up rescheduling for March of 2017.

“And the unthinkable happened,” Blazer explained. “On the rescheduled date, Kane shot his vocal cords the day prior and was ordered vocal rest, which was the second Force Majeure occurrence.”

Kane Brown would put on a great show in Tuba City in May 2017 and become etched in Tuba City’s music history. Since then, Blazer has been a part of every major concert event in Tuba City and the Western Navajo Fair, including Nelly, Mya, Aaron Watson, 112, Lil Mosey, Juvenile, Randy Rogers Band, David Lee Murphy, Ginuwine, Snow Tha Product, Baby Bash, Skid Row, Casadee Pope, Futuristic, HorrorPops, The Expendables, and a lineup of others.

Since becoming a part of the Western Navajo Fair family, Blazer has been in Tuba City through all the significant changes, including the eventual construction of the Tuba City Amphitheater.

“It has been great seeing the venue transform and get better every year,” said Blazer. “My first year, it was just a tent and stage inside with not so many people in attendance.

“Then, the fair got a stage and tent, (and) more people gathered,” he said. “Now the amphitheater has really gotten people to show up.”

Blazer was behind the move that placed the WNF’s biggest headliners on Sunday.

“I was thrilled when my suggestion to swap the Saturday and Sunday headliners (moving country to Saturday and the hip-hop to Sunday),” he said. “It’s been a proven success to have most of the fair patrons stay the entire weekend, which makes the other fair vendors happy.”

Booking headliners

Blazer said booking headline acts for the Western Navajo Fair hasn’t come without challenges. Many artists have never even heard of Tuba City, let alone the Western Navajo Fair, but beyond that, “difficulties arise in (simply) trying to get the artists to Tuba City with limited flights into Flagstaff, and the time zone change doesn’t make it any easier either,” said Ryan. “It’s like David Lee Murphy called it, ‘Two Timin’ Tuba City.’”

Despite the small challenges, Ryan loves his job and has become a mainstay at the Western Navajo Fair. Ryan played a significant role in booking this year’s headliners, including Quiet Riot, Chingy & Ying Yang Twins, Breland, Warren G, and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.

Blazer said: “I think that the biggest perk (of the job) is seeing all the smiling and happy faces at the concert once it starts. No matter what may have transpired before the show – good or bad – the audience’s reaction and faces make it worth it.”

Blazer, who now calls Long Beach, California, his home, has started another chapter in his life.

“I am currently married to a wonderful husband, and we have four adopted children and (are) in the process of adopting a fifth (and final),” said Blazer. “We have two large breed (Akbash) dogs and four cats. You could say it’s a real zoo at home (pun intended).”

Holding onto love for music

Though Blazer has found happiness in starting a family, he continues to hold onto his love for music.

Blazer was recognized as part of The Recording Academy’s “GrammyNext,” which acknowledges the next generation of music professionals. Ryan was re-introduced through Signature Entertainment and Lori Otelsberg to his now-client Gary Mule Deer, a comedian and musician.

Deer had been self-managed but had mentioned to Otelsberg that he was looking for a manager. Otelsberg asked, “Why don’t you give Ryan Blazer a call?” Deer remembered Ryan from working at WME, where Blazer was an assistant helping book Johnny Mathis’ shows (Deer has toured with Johnny Mathis as a special guest since 1994).

As Deer’s manager, Blazer negotiated a deal to turn Deer’s life story into a documentary film titled “Show Business Is My Life, But I Can’t Prove It” (available for viewing on Amazon and other streaming services).

Deer recently was inducted into The Grand Ole Opry this past spring. Blazer has found joy in watching those he works for make their achievements.

Blazer is proud to have played a vital role in transforming the Western Navajo Fair into what it is today and doesn’t hesitate to brag about it being named “Best Fair on the Navajo Nation” for three years.

“I’d love to see the Western Navajo Fair nominated for best fair at the IEBA (International Entertainment Buyers Association) Conference,” said Blazer.

Blazer has been a talent buyer with Signature Entertainment for nine years. He can’t imagine doing anything else for the foreseeable future.

When asked who’d like to see perform on the amphitheater stage in Tuba City, Blazer said, “I think Dua Lipa would be great for the fair. But really, it comes down to who the fair wants and what it can afford.”

The Western Navajo Fair team is sure that with Blazer’s help, one day, it just might see Dua Lipa, Usher, and maybe even Gary Allan perform on Tuba City’s now-famous stage.

Information about Ryan Blazer and Signature Entertainment:, (310) 853-3930.


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