There is an excitement in the air in Dayton, OH. Nearly 10 years after being “moth-balled,” Dayton’s historic Memorial Hall is once again opening its doors. The first concert on the schedule is slated for Friday, July 30, featuring, The Hoppers along with Kevin Spencer, Generation of Faith, and The Penny Loafers.
In its day, Memorial Hall was the place to be if a Gospel concert came to Dayton. Promoters like Larry Orell, Norm Livingston, Victor Seaton, and Kenny Shiveley used Memorial Hall to host some of the most popular groups in Gospel Music. Some of those groups included The Kingsmen, The Cathedrals, Gold City, The Paynes, and Charles Johnson and the Revivers just to name a few.
Ernie Haase says he does remember Memorial Hall. “Lots of great memories there. Glad it’s opening again.”
Rod Burton, also has fond memories of Memorial Hall. “I did several concerts there with everyone from the Hinsons, The Kingsmen, The Nelons…Heavenbound to Russ Taff and the Imperials. We even did a concert there once with Russ Taff, Mylon Lefevre and The Dixie Melody Boys (DMB Band). Now THAT was a hoot! What a great place to have an event. That was the place that Charles Feltner liked to bring groups in to. “ Burton went on to say, “Memorial Hall is a historic facility with lots of character and a presence that you don’t get in some of the newer places. When you stood on that stage you were standing in history. It had been graced by performers for decades.”
Strictly Gospel Ministries is promoting the July 30 concert. Tim Fitzharris of Strictly Gospel recalls working with the Kingsmen in 2008. While talking to Ray Reese the subject of Memorial Hall came up. Reese recalled when the Kingsmen would pull up to Memorial Hall in the afternoon people would already be lined up outside waiting to get in.
Fitzharris, who has promoted Southern Gospel concerts since 2005 says God does have a sense of humor. “When I started promoting it was always a joke that one day I would promote a concert at Memorial Hall. It was a joke because I knew it had closed and didn’t allow concerts there anymore.” Fitzharris goes on to say, “I had been trying to find a place to host The Hoppers and was not having the best luck. I was starting to get discouraged, when someone told me they were re-opening Memorial Hall. So, the next day, I started making phone calls, leaving messages, and sending emails. Two weeks later I was walking through Memorial Hall, in awe of the beauty of the place.”
So for Gospel Music fans who have been asking, the wait is over. GOSPEL MUSIC IS RETURNING TO MEMORIAL HALL. There is already another concert in the works for December at the historic venue. Strictly Gospel hopes to start and annual concert series at a venue that has such a rich history with Southern Gospel Music.
For more info on the July 30 concert with The Hoppers visit www.strictlygospel.org or call 937-475-4760.