Rock & roll returns to the Valley Dale Ballroom this Saturday night, January 14th, with the Ballroom Breakout! The Breakout! features local rockers Terry Davidson & the Gears playing both their own set AND backing Detroit rock & roll legend Mitch Ryder on a set of rockers that you KNOW is gonna include "Devil With A Blue Dress," "Jenny Take a Ride," and – I would hope, on accounta it’s my favorite Ryder tune – Lou Reed’s "Rock & Roll." The Lovebenders will open the night. (Click here for a poster: Ballroom Breakout!)
Some of the best nights of my rock & roll adolescence took place at the Valley Dale Ballroom. From sometime in 1969 ‘til ’72 a band called Brownsville Station – the pride & joy of Ann Arbor, MI. & environs – would rent Valley Dale and essay their own rock & roll throwdowns at the venue. (Smart business.) The large majority of rock fans would think of Brownsville Station as the one-hit wonders responsible for the 70’s novelty tune "Smokin’ In The Boy’s Room." I – and many, many of my rocker brethren & sistren – would remember Brownsville Station as one of the ten best live rock & roll acts they EVER witnessed: as our own near ‘n’ dear version of The MC5 or The Who; as the act that would play Columbus at least twice a year – at Valley Dale or at the old Agora Ballroom – and leave an audience of a few hundred to a thousand souls pleasantly deafened, hoarse from rock & roll sing/shout-a-longs and trying to dig our car keys out of our sweat-soaked jeans to make the drive back from Sunbury Road to our mercifully quiet homes. We was reamed, steamed & dry-cleaned, ladies & gentlemen, and it felt fine.
Brownsville Station weren’t just a rock & roll band, they were a rock & roll EXPERIENCE. I never saw a band so effortlessly establish a symbiosis with its audience that bordered on worship & hysteria. You weren’t an audience member at a Brownsville Station show, you were part of a tribe of like-minded jump, shout, work-it-all-out cult of crazy people intent on sex, drugs and rock & roll. (And – in a pinch – I guess two out of the three weren’t bad.) My best friend of the time, Dave Blackburn and I would leave those shows feeling the best I have ever felt in my rock & roll existence. I saw The Who in Columbus on November 1st, 1969, and yeah, of course they were probably BETTER than Brownsville Station, but I didn’t see The Who AGAIN until sometime in 1972 in Dayton. I saw Brownsville Station probably six or seven times in between those times and every one of those shows was a masterpiece of rock & roll mayhem. Plus we were maybe 20 FEET from Cub Koda’s Marshall stacks at Valley Dale, rather than the third row from the back of Vet’s Memorial or the second balcony cheap seats at Hara Arena. Sometimes proximity and quantity count.
Valley Dale recently underwent a $1.5 million renovation, I bet it’s still a great place for a rock show. Myself, I’ve gotta play the rock & roll elsewhere this Saturday night, but you should go, and I am DEFINITELY gonna be there in the future to relive my misspent youth and see what rock & roll The Team Productions have in store for the rockers of Columbus. Details at TheBallroomBreakout.com. – Ricki C. / January 11th, 2017