During my time in college working at the radio station, WFAL, I was often promoting giveaways for tickets to free shows at the Asylum in Toledo and Newport Music Hall in Columbus. Toledo – I had been there. They had a much bigger mall than BG, which was unaffectionately referred to as “the small,” they had movie theaters that played movies currently out, not several months old, and they had music venues. Plus, Toledo is roughly twenty minutes from BG, whereas Columbus is two hours.
Except for one brief trip to Columbus to take in a BG vs. Ohio State hockey game, I had little experience or understanding of Columbus. During my stay in BG during the Summer of 1996, the radio station operated on a skeleton staff to a skeleton audience. This made giving away tickets more than tricky. In the case of the George Clinton and The P-Funk All-Stars show, we couldn’t find a taker, so I ended up being the recipient.
I’m not sure accompanied me down to Columbus for the show, but I remember not being all that impressed with the High Street area around the Newport Music Hall. And by impressed, I mean it kinda looked like a shithole. As I would move to Columbus just two years later in the Fall of 1998, my initial impression was confirmed – the area smelled of urine and garbage on good days. Though some would cry foul when Campus Partners entered the picture and started kicking out the dive bars and citation-riddled restaurants, I didn’t take issue having no deep routed connection.
The show itself was eye-opening in that why haven’t I been listening to this music before kind of way. The place was packed, the band played for what seemed like three hours, and I left with a great appreciation for Mr. Clinton, which prompted me to head to a local BG record store and pick up the Parliament compilation Tear The Roof Off 1974-1980 upon my return. From their I ventured into careers of Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes and other ’70s soul and funk artists. I don’t claim to be an expert, but when it came time to learn how to play bass, Superfly and Give Up The Funk were definitely in heavy rotation.