Jade Nielsen was working at a local record store in North Dakota when he stumbled into the live event business. As a teenager, Nielsen’s brother was diagnosed with cancer and Jade put on his first show to raise money for his brother and parents.
“I don’t think it was my idea initially. I worked in a record store and I was friends with some local bands,” Nielsen told Amplify. “I think somebody suggested it to me, so I put together the bands and did some street marketing to get people there and raise money.”
Nielsen was only 18 years-old when he put on the one-off event at the small club, Exit 99.
“From that point, that venue started sending any touring acts that they got phone calls from to me. So I must have done something right,” Nielsen said.
Nielsen unfortunately lost his brother to the cancer 25 years ago. Nevertheless, the event changed his career trajectory from that point on. Following his work with Exit 99, Nielsen was approached by a representative from Sony looking for a promoter to help in the North Dakota market for Mike Watt’s band Firehose on their 50 states in 50 days tour and he was hooked on the business.
Nielsen now owns and runs, Jade Presents, his own company in Fargo, North Dakota. He splits his time between talent buying and handling day to day for seven other businesses with a team of 16 employees.
“We think we’re in the best place that we could be,” Nielsen said. “It is home for one, but we also don’t have as much competition from other promoters in the markets we go into. I’ve been doing this long enough to feel pretty comfortable with where I am and the venues that we have to work with.”
Amplify caught up with Nielsen to find out about five of the best shows he’s seen.
Cheap Trick at Civic Memorial Auditorium in Fargo, North Dakota
March 1, 1987
The band was not scheduled to play Fargo, but the rumor was that their bus broke down in the area, so they played a show with 1 day notice. I believe the ticket price was $1.98. I don’t remember the show as much as I remember the story.
Fugazi at Elks Lodge in Fargo, North Dakota
Firehose at Fargo Civic Center in North Dakota
This was the show that hooked me on the business. Not only was the deal fair, the ticket prices were cheap, the act played for and met every fan interested in saying hello, and genuinely loved what they were doing.
The Avett Brothers at Big Top Chautauqua in Bayfield, Wisconsin
July 9, 2010
I had the pleasure to work with the band early on. This was my first time seeing them as a fan. They are a great live act, emotional, yet loose. You get the picture that perfection is not the goal for the live show, but it’s all about the feeling, which brings me back to my punk rock days.
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota
June 2, 2017
We did some shows with Petty in 2003 on the Lost Cities Tour, but working the show is never the same experience as seeing it as a fan. Petty is a favorite of both my wife and mine. We hadn’t seem him together until this show. The show was great. Tom was as animated as I have ever seen him and the band was top notch. I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to see a show on his last tour. R.I.P Tom Petty.