On the Beat: 5/24/16

Fraze on Fraze

By Jim Bucher

I had a wonderful conversation with Ermal and Martha Fraze’s son, Mark, from his home in Arizona.

His pops, of course, owner of Dayton Reliable Tool Co., invented the pop top can, which made it super easy for beer lovers round-the-world to enjoy a cold one sans a can opener.

Now, that’s all well and good, but folks in these here parts know the name in a completely different light. As front and center on a pavilion called Fraze.

“When I introduce myself they ask [if] I own it, or say, ‘I like your place,’” Fraze chuckles. “Unless it’s someone I really don’t know, and I want to pull their leg and say, ‘Yeah, yeah, you know, I’m doin’ okay at my place.’”

Mark remembers vividly the story behind the Kettering, Ohio, world-class venue’s early beginnings.

“The first whisper I got about the plan was from a friend of mine who followed city matters and was a complainer,” Fraze recalls. “He was already whining about the parking before the first tree was cut.

“But in the late 1980s I was at City Hall working on some zoning issues for my recording studio, Re-Fraze, which I built in 1983 and Pete Horn with Kettering was there and said, ‘Come here, want to show you something.’ He had a mock-up of this entertainment venue the city wanted to build. I said, ‘That’s really nice’ and he said, ‘There are some opportunities here for the capital campaign to help fund it. You could name a certain portion of the project or the entire thing.’ At that time my dad had passed and organizations of all kinds were coming to mom’s door to help fund something to build in honor of dad. From Junior Achievement, to a tool maker museum, on and on.”

His mom, Martha, was overwhelmed with requests so, on a whim, he took the as yet un-named project to his mom.

“She already had an interest to do something and this project really struck a chord with her,” Fraze says. “Boom, she loved it and said, ‘I’m going to honor your dad.’ This solved everything and that’s when it became Fraze Pavilion.”

The 4,300-seat outdoor amphitheater opened in 1991 and it’s safe to say it exceeded all expectations.

“Did I really think it was going to do as well as it has back then?” Fraze asks. “Well, I knew it would do well, be a success. And whatever I thought it was going to be, it has become more than that.”

But, there was a time when Fraze as we know it may not have been.

“Our family wanted to honor dad with an entertainment venue and actually we were looking to restore the old Lowe’s Theatre (which was across the street from the Victoria, now a parking lot),” he says. “We had the preliminary plans drawn up and ready to make a move until about the same time the Save the Victoria campaign took hold. So, we moved on.”

Speaking of music, Mark has some musical roots himself, playing in the popular local band The Stumps. He remembers a time when his mom came to see him perform at his dad’s place.

“It was surreal and all I could think is, ‘It’s a Fraze at the Fraze watching a Fraze. That’s too many Frazes,’” he says, laughing.

But it was tough to focus and play on stage.

“A lot of times I made tons of mistakes because I couldn’t keep my mind on what I’m supposed to be doing,” he says. “Looking around here’s my mom sitting out there and there’s a sign that says Fraze, a billboard says Fraze, marquee says Fraze, there’s “Fraze” everywhere. Sort of surreal.”

Mark says even though his dad never saw the Fraze dream come true, he would be humbled and thrilled by the enjoyment and enrichment thousands received for 25 summer seasons.

“You know I sit there in the audience and see all the people and get a feeling for what kind of influence does this have on people of the whole area and what kind of entertainment opportunities it provided people at the time that just weren’t there,” Fraze says. “I’ve had several opportunities to get backstage and talk with some musicians who go on and on. They don’t get to play too many places that intimate who can afford to get really good people with enthusiastic crowds, full houses and professionally run. There’s nothing like it.”

And Mark please tell your friend, there’s plenty of parking.

Buch

For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com

Tags: , , , ,

For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.

One Response to “On the Beat: 5/24/16” Subscribe