One of the most admirable things about Dayton is the resiliency of its art community.
When a hardship or setback arises, the community finds a way to persist, to carry on. The same is true of the Musician’s Co-Op, which recently had its first night at the Yellow Cab Tavern in the Oregon District after a hiatus.
When Mick Montgomery opened Canal Street Tavern in 1981, he implemented the idea from a bar he had previously worked at. It was a simple concept that grew to mean so much to area musicians and music listeners.
“It’s definitely a Dayton institution. They really grew it into something on its own,” says Jeff Opt, general manager of Yellow Cab Tavern.
Each Tuesday, Montgomery would permit songwriters of all types to ply their craft on his stage while allowing the public to enjoy their work free of charge. It’s been the launching pad for many of the area’s greatest songwriters. In fact, names like Sharon Lane, Tod Weidner, Page Beller and Tim “Windsor” Knotts are just a few of the people who have hosted the Co-Op over the years.
When Montgomery sold Canal Street Tavern in 2013, the tradition continued at the same location, then known as Canal Public House. But the business closed earlier this year, leaving the Co-Op in limbo.
So Beller and Knotts turned to the Yellow Cab Tavern.
“When Canal (Public House) was folding, Windsor and Paige contacted me and asked if we could host shows here,” manager Tara Moore says.
Moore worked the venue’s schedule to re-establish the Co-Op, now on Thursdays. They plan to hold the shows twice a month and keep it just as it was intended to be—free.
“This is the place that most represents the spirit when we do this; to have people come in and be listened to,” Knotts says. “I love this place.”
Knotts, who began playing the Musicians Co-Op in the 1980s says, though the venue has changed, little else has.
“I don’t know that it has changed, other than the faces are a little bit different. We have a couple people playing tonight that played back in the '80s when I did.”
Hours later, Knotts and company were performing for a full room, making the inaugural show a success.
“It was great,” says Lane. “Lots of good musicians. Lots of folks came out.”
The strong start suggests the legacy of the Musician’s Co-op in Dayton is in competent hands at its new home. Indeed, it is an impressive one.
“If you really thought about the people who have been really big in the music scene in Dayton over the last 30 years,” Knotts begins. “Every one of them played the co-op more than once.”
Dayton’s newest songwriters are getting their chance to do likewise.