VENUE NEWS: Last Official Show of Historic Canal Street Tavern

Posted: November 4, 2013 by Kimberly Weiss in Local Music News, Venue/ Local Service News
Tags: , ,

The word that a legendary music venue is discontinuing it’s long-lived tradition of supporting music has been circling around among the local scene, but according to Canal Street Tavern’s website, it is now official.   Listed on the venue’s online calendar for Saturday, November 30th, at 9pm, The Future Laureates and Shrug will be performing for the last time on this memorable stage, and then the music will cease to be heard as Canal Street Tavern.  The site officially states that this is “the last official show of Canal Street Tavern”, so there is still confusion about what exactly is going on.  However, it looks like a name change and some other major changes are in store.

Noah + the Rescue Radio, Bella Ruse, Monkey with Bomb, Starving in the Belly of the WhaleRecently on our Facebook page, we released a story about the possibility of the cancelling of all live music at Dayton’s historic Canal Street Tavern. Many of our readers became distraught at the thought of this happening to such a legendary local music venue, and believe me, as a local musician who has performed at Canal Street many times and whose bands were given a chance when other venues wouldn’t (and as a person who appreciates history and those who’ve come before me), I was also mindblown by this possibility!    This story came to us through circumstances that we won’t rehash, but it caused quite an uproar within the local music community, as it should have, and was almost immediately denied by owner Bill Daniels via Dayton Daily News (Click HERE for that interview). When asked about the news that Canal Street could cease to have live music, “Daniels said Canal Street will remain a music venue regardless of Montgomery’s direct association with the business.” That’s not going to change at all.””

There have been a handful of readers who admittedly felt that we were hurting Canal Street Tavern, and in turn former owner, Mick Montgomery, by bringing this all to light, but a local music scene is always tentative and fragile, and if the community isn’t aware and vigilant, it could deteriorate away into nothingness.  This message from the Canal Street video below illustrates what it takes to keep a scene going:

“A music ‘scene’ evolves when there is enough sincere, honest, and creative music being made AND when there is true recognition and support from an intelligent and discerning audience.”

In turn, it’s easy to see how a music ‘scene’ devolves, too, and there are a lot of questions circulating right now….What happened to Canal Street Tavern that live music is ending? Is it ending?  Will this be good for Dayton?  What happens now?  We may never know the answers to those questions, but because our readers care about music, this classic Dayton venue, and Mick, they want and deserve to know that this amazing place is possibly no longer serving up sweet tunes under the Canal Street name. Our lives, music, friends, families, hearts, and history have been positively affected because of this venue and because of Mick Montgomery and the work he’s done over the years to support local music and touring artists.   To see live music disappear here would be heartbreaking, but to not know or understand why this is happened or what’s going on is confusing and frustrating to many people.
I’m sure we can all appreciate that things change, times change, and if a business doesn’t or can’t adapt (for whatever reason), it will die.  Canal Street needed major updates, and many people in Dayton were excited about the possibility of major updates to this venue when it was purchased earlier this spring by Daniels.

I’m sure every person who’s ever gone to Canal Street could appreciate new a/c (it was always incredibly hot inside), credit card machines (the pre-show trip to the ATM for cash was a pain), and a kitchen (ordering out for pizza- also a hassle).    I would have been ecstatic to hear about new a/c and food service and credit card acceptance being added to the operations here, but I heard no announcements. I did hear a lot of ads on WYSO for weekly music, but nothing about any updates.  I think my biggest concern about this whole change is the lack of a plan to communicate these changes to the public in a timely manner and the cancellation of events planned for months in advance without a proper explanation. As a business, it’s imperative to convey to your customer base what you do and new updates and major changes, but the word hasn’t gotten out about Canal Street’s updates.

The elimination of live music may not have been the original intent of the current owner, but the way several shows were recently cancelled could have been handled more effectively helping to ensure that even though their shows were cancelled on very short notice, those patrons and supporters would continue to come back and revisit the business in the future, even if it changed dramatically.  Is removing live music and/or rebranding the whole business the right change if you don’t communicate it appropriately and in a timely manner?  No one knows what the future holds for this business right now because they’re not telling. Maybe the new owner will keep the music under a new name or bring music back in the future when it becomes more feasible and viable.  We just hope they will tell us if they do!

In the meantime, we have to remember that the scene is always fragile.   Let’s always keep asking ourselves if we’re doing enough to keep our local scene going, and what we can do better.  We need to take clearer, more concise, more positive, and more unified action to continue building our scene and to start thinking outside of the box of what has worked in the past.

Here are a few additional photos and a touching video recently posted about Canal Street, Mick Montgomery, and Musician’s Coop:

For feedback, ideas, suggestions, and comments, please email

  1. Keith says:

    I remember seeing at Canal Street: Rory Block Donovan John Sebastion Arlo Guthrie Willie Dixon Brownie McGee John Lee Hooker Country Joe McDonald Roger McGuinn just name a few. The place will be missed.


  2. Angelle says:

    Nothing lasts forever, sadly, but I’m glad we made our little co-op movie, capturing that particular place and time. Thanks for sharing it!


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