Victoriapalooza

Victoria Theatre announces concert series featuring heavy-hitting local artists

By Rusty Pate

Much has changed since 1866, but one constant has been the theater sitting on the corner of Dayton’s First and Main Streets.

It began as the Turner Opera House and its name has changed several times in the 150 years since. Today, it is known as the Victoria Theatre, and Miami Valley residents have walked through those doors to find some of the finest cultural offerings in the area in that century-and-a-half. Such a momentous occasion’s arrival befits a proper celebration, and while many events will find a home on the Victoria’s stage this year, one particular series is sure to cause a stir for lovers of local popular music.

Lisa Wagner serves as vice president of ticketing and hospitality at the venue. She was part of a committee looking to celebrate not only the theatre’s milestone but the city’s rich history of homegrown talent.

“One of the things that became very clear was that there were many different genres of music that had been done in the Victoria over the course of its history,” Wagner says. “We, as a committee, felt it was important to represent those genres in the celebration.”

Those three styles of music will each get their own night. May 7 will feature Good English, Motel Beds and Buffalo Killers on the rock side. The D Funk All Stars and The Zapp Band will celebrate Dayton’s rich funk history on Oct. 1. The Repeating Arms, Nightflyer and Lonesome River Band will bring hot-pickin’ bluegrass on Oct. 15.

Wagner says that bands were quick to jump at the opportunity to bring their talents to one of the oldest continually operated theatres in America.

“As a committee, we were very nervous about how this was all going to come together,” Wagner says. “But, the deeper ingrained we got into the process and the feedback we got from the people we were collaborating with was really overwhelming in an exciting way. People really were receptive to it.”

The performers echo these sentiments.

Harold Hensley of the Repeating Arms says he first went to the Victoria on a field trip in the fourth grade. He walked across the stage, dreaming of one day playing there before he really knew what that entailed. The band was one of the first approached and Hensley remembers thinking how great it would be if this could actually be pulled off.

“Then, as it started to set in that it was going to happen, my nerves kicked in,” Hensley says. “Eight months out and I’m already a wreck.”

He said that 150 years of Dayton culture is special in its own right, and to be part of it is like a dream come true.

“We’re just excited to be a drop in that very special bucket,” Hensley says.

Motel Beds have been theater/arena-ready for years now. After more than a decade of pumping out one infectiously hook-laden track after another, there aren’t many local venues the group hasn’t played.

Vocalist P.J. Poslosky said he is looking forward to hearing how the building’s acoustics do in a rock setting. He also thinks that local music fans will not need much convincing for shows of this nature.

“I think it sells itself,” Poslosky says. “I think it’s going to be a lot different than just going to your average rock show—not that there’s anything wrong with that. That’s our home. I think it’s intriguing. I would go if we weren’t playing. I think we’re just playing so we can see Good English and Buffalo Killers for free. Don’t tell the Victoria Theatre we said that.”

That sentiment was shared by all the artists.

Good English may be the youngest musicians in the series, but even they have been at this for seven years. Guitarist/vocalist Elizabeth Rasmussen said the rock bill promises to be a special night, having shared stages with each of the other bands throughout the years.

“They are really respected by everyone in the music community,” Rasmussen says. “To be able to play on the same stage as them and being considered on the same playing field as them was really exciting.”

Each band represents a little slice of Dayton’s rich music history. Perhaps the most prominent musical force to come from the Gem City was the Dayton funk movement of the 1970s.

The D Funk All Stars celebrate that era. Co-founder Tony “Silky T” Allen says they are excited to open for Zapp Band.

“We concentrate on what Dayton has made and raised on our music that has went worldwide,” Allen says.

For Allen, it’s all about keeping this vibrant music in the ears of the city that helped shape the sound.

“We focus on playing hometown music for the hometown crowd,” he says. “We shall continue to keep it going.”

Victoria Theatre celebrates 150 years with three concerts. May 7, Good English, Motel Beds and Buffalo Killers will play. Oct. 1 features D Funk All Stars and Zapp Band. Oct. 15 will bring The Repeating Arms, Nightflyer and Lonesome River Band. Tickets for the May 7 show are $15 and go on sale March 30. For tickets or more information, please visit victoriatheatre.com and ticketcenterstage.com.

Reach DCP freelance writer Rusty Pate at RustyPate@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Rusty Pate at RustyPate@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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