Is Dayton letting funk music die?

If you forget your history, you definitely won't repeat it, and that will be anything but funky.

Forgive me for sounding like a broken record here, but when it comes to the topic of preserving funk music's legacy in Dayton, I feel like one.

"Dayton needs to do something with the funk." A Dayton Daily News column I wrote way back in 2011 popped up in my Google search while I was doing research last week about the death of legendary Ohio Players bass player Marshall "Rock" Jones.

The title is as true today as it was long before I wrote that piece.

"Why, oh why, won’t Dayton latch on to funk and ride it like a love roller coaster?"

I wasn't the first, and I won't be the last to ask that question.


Photos related to the Dayton funk bands The Ohio Players and Zapp in the Dayton Daily News Archive stored at Wright State University. (Staff photo by Amelia Robinson)

There has been some work to embrace the music that put Dayton on the map as the Land of the Funk in the 1970s and '80s thanks to a stable of groups that included the Ohio Players, Steve Arrington’s Hall of Fame, Zapp, Faze-O, Heatwave, Sun, Slave and Lakeside.

• In 2011, a Michael Bashaw piece commissioned by the Phoenix Project and honoring Roger Troutman of Zapp was installed at the Salem and Catalpa Gateway to honor Troutman Recording Studio near the northwest corner of the Salem Avenue and Catalpa Drive.

• Radio Basim Blunt has a weekly funk show on WYSO, "Behind the Groove."

• The city's musical heritage was highlighted in "Finding the Funk," a film that premiered in 2014 as one of VH1 Roc Doc.

• That same year, Dayton funk was the subject of the Victoria Theatre Association and EbonNia Gallery’s annual presentation Visual Voices art exhibit curated by celebrated local artist Willis “Bing“ Davis. There was a concert at the Schuster Center and the library put on a program.

• Wright State University library started collecting certain funk memorabilia for preservation.

• Recently, Funk Music Hall of Fame and Exhibition Center moved in to the Dayton Metro Library’s Northwest Branch at 2410 Philadelphia Drive for an 18-month period. That grassroots organization has big hopes for a permanent home, but not yet the finances to make it happen.


In celebration of its 50th anniversary, the Wesley Community Center will stage the musical "Blame it on the Funk" at the Masonic Temple 7 p.m. June 19.

Tickets to this fun and funky tribute are $10 for general admission and $20 and 40 for VIP seating.

Local students will tell the story of a relationship using songs from Dayton funk acts, many of which have connections to the center, according to Yvette Kelly-Fields, the center's executive director and a Daytonian of the Week.


Ohio Players (Dayton Daily News Archive)

These efforts are great steps in the right direction, but wouldn't it be nice if there were more substantial tributes in place while the artists were still alive.

Dayton is effectively losing its gold mine that can help shape the future as time ticks away.

The city was rocked by Players' frontman Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner's death in 2013 and the world took notice, but there is still noting permanently honoring his still influential band's accomplishments.

Via email, Dayton spokeswoman Toni Bankston told me there have been inquires over the years about honoring the Players and Dayton funk in general with a street name.

But she says no application to formally begin the process has been completed.

Elements are there, but the ball is nowhere near the end zone.

How tragic would it be if we funked this one up?