Back to the garage

Old school promoter brings The Woggles to Bob’s

By Gary Spencer

Photo: Garage rockers The Woggles will perform at Blind Bob’s on April 23

The Dayton music scene has evolved a lot over the years, both for better and worse. One thing many longtime Dayton concertgoers bemoan is the lack of national touring acts stopping to play the Gem City, something that in the late 1980s and ’90s was actually pretty common. One promoter in particular was instrumental in making Dayton a regular place for national touring bands to play. HIs name is Ken Gross.

Operating under the monikers of 12X12 and Newspace, Gross started booking touring bands in the late 1980s, and through the end of the 1990s helped Dayton garner a reputation as a receptive audience for cutting edge punk, hardcore and indie rock. In that time, Gross booked an astounding 1,000 or so shows at a variety of venues in town, including the Front Street Warehouse, Brookwood Hall, Network Sights & Sounds and The Sub Galley/Aardvark Ballroom, all for the sake of bringing great underground music from all corners of the world.

“I’m 61 and have always been a huge fanboy at heart,” says Gross. “I’ve been going to shows for 50 years, and helping out with them for almost as long.”

Gross walked away from the world of promoting in 1999 and left the Dayton music scene entirely shortly thereafter, but within the past few years, he began to feel the itch to participate in local music once again.

“It was almost ten years before I set foot in a show in this town again,” Gross says. “At the beginning of that stretch, it wasn’t easy. I had to start from scratch, learning how to go to a show and just relax and enjoy. All it took was rediscovering my inner fanboy.”

Gross’s inner fanboy has also led him to book a handful of nationally and internationally known touring acts in town over the past few years. But even with this development, Gross has very specific guidelines as to who and when he would book a show.

“I refuse to book a show unless there is an out-of-town headliner on the bill, one that I like and consider to be artistically significant,” Gross says. “Furthermore, I strive to only book acts who I have met face-to-face and have some level of personal rapport with. You have a far better chance of getting people interested in playing in Dayton when you are out there in their face, as opposed to them just reading an email from you. When I look back at how booking worked in the old days, it rings true. Real interpersonal interaction seems to be a lost art these days.”

One such band Gross developed a personal rapport with is longtime Los Angeles-based garage rockers The Woggles, who he has booked to play at Blind Bob’s on April 23. With Gross and his future wife Heidi transitioning to a part-time life in LA, Gross has been communicating with members of the Sirius Satellite Radio’s Underground Garage channel, where he became acquainted with underground garage DJ Mighty Manfred, also the frontman for The Woggles. According to Gross, bringing The Woggles to town is solely a labor of love, celebration and personal fun.

“The main reason I arranged this show is because I wanted to do something fun, something I would totally enjoy myself,” Gross explains. “I want to get back to and be true to what made me love all this in the first place. I’ve decided that from now on I’m going to be strictly a hobbyist, and not give a shit about any money-driven considerations such as viability or profitability. A show should be approached with the attitude that you are throwing a party. As such, when it’s your party, you should be willing to bear the full cost of organizing it. Doing shows is just part of who I am, so this whole thing was just a good fit.”

As for The Woggles, the band has been around for over 30 years with a healthy reputation for belting out high energy R&B inspired ’60s-styled garage rock that drives audiences to fits of dancing and partying. The band has toured all over the world and has recorded for numerous labels including underground garage guru Little Steven’s Wicked Cool Records. Woggles frontman Mighty Manfred is excited to finally come play the Gem City and promises that all those who attend their first ever performance in Dayton a wicked good time.

“Attendees can expect total immersion in a baptism of sweat,” Manfred says. “We certainly encourage dancing and you’ll see we’ll be bopping around on stage ourselves. We believe in putting on a show; veritable Little Rascals are we with an Our Gang sensibility. There’s one thing we’ve never managed to do and that is play Dayton. Finally our bucket list is soon to be one item less!”

The Woggles will perform Thursday, April 23 at Blind Bob’s, 430 E. Fifth St. The Loveless, Swarm and Magic Jackson are also on the bill. Admission is $8 for patrons 21 and up, and the doors open at 8 p.m. For more information, please visit blindbobs.com or thewoggles.com.

Reach DCP freelance writer Gary Spencer at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Gary Spencer is a graduate of Miami University and works in the performing arts, and believes that music is the best. Contact him at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com

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  1. Back to the garage | OLD SCHOOL PROMOTER BRINGS THE WOGGLES TO BOB’S – Dayton City Paper | Music Connection- Dayton - April 21, 2015

    […] Read the rest of this article and find complete show details here: Back to the garage | Dayton City Paper. […]

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