Saturday, June 04, 2005


There are two screw-ups in my entry on The Agora. On p. 6, I give the date of the Columbus show as April 15 -- of course, it's March. (The Cleveland Agora show was four days later, as noted -- but four days later in March. By April 15/19, EC would have been back in the UK.) I'm sorry I didn't catch this in copyediting: the date is given correctly everywhere else, as far as I can tell, and the chronology in the long "Columbus" entry (p. 41-48) is consistent with the going print and online sources.

Second and more substantively, reader Scott Cullen-Benson of Oakdale, Minnesota didn't catch the mistaken date, but writes (in part):

OK, I know this is really picky, but I just couldn’t let it pass. Mr. Bruno discusses The Agora Ballroom in Columbus, Ohio. I am a graduate of Ohio State University and was a student there from 1970 to 1974. Mr. Bruno states that The Agora moved in 1985 “from 24th Street to its current home on Euclid Avenue.” To the best of my personal knowledge the original Agora was located on North High Street (yes, appropriately named indeed). North High Street (State Rt. 23), which is right across the street from the east side of the OSU campus, is where I saw many a music concert (most notably Roland Kirk and Miles Davis) in The Agora Ballroom. In fact, my fondest memory is how The Agora thwarted a mob of rioting football crazies by putting their huge speakers outside and blasting music to the ensuing looting and rioting that occurred after OSU beat Michigan in November, 1970. Every store’s windows were smashed EXCEPT The Agora which figured if you couldn’t beat ‘em (the rioters) you joined ‘em by playing the soundtrack to the show. I certainly don’t know where The Agora is located now, but then, it was on North High Street, not 24th Street. In fact, I think what you have done is mixed up The Agora Ballroom that is currently located on 5000 Euclid Avenue in Cleveland with the one that was in Columbus.

Understandable error, but us native Buckeyes know about such things…..But I could be wrong.

Nope, you've got me: I conflated the Cleveland and Columbus venues, which share a name (and an original owner, Henry LoConti). According to the history at the club's own site, the Cleveland Agora was opened in 1966, moved closer to Cleveland State (on 24th St.) the following year, and after a fire in 1984 moved once again to 5000 Euclid Avenue, where it is today. The Columbus Agora opened in 1970, and has always been on High Street. My misreading probably had to do with conflating the High Streets in the two cities.

To complete the story, the Columbus venue was bought in 1984 and renamed Newport Music Hall, the name under which it operates today. Here's a relevant article from The Lantern at OSU. (Free subscription required.) This article also suggests that the club was up and running by the late-'60s, and moved into national acts with a Ted Nugent show in 1970. Fittingly enough, the Columbus Agora was originally the State Theater, a movie house build in 1922 -- not unlike London's Dominion (see p. 55-56). I'm sure I would have used this to bludgeon home some point about mass entertainment if had I noted it earlier.

Two final notes:

1) I'm doubly ashamed, because Columbus and Cleveland have been a couple of my favorite places to play on tour. I'm sure that if such noted Buckeyes as Paul Nini or Ron House read any of this, they'll be shaking their heads in horror: "We let that guy play at Stache's/Bernie's, and he doesn't even know which city he's in." Same for ex-Clevelander Robert Griffin and that city's Euclid Tavern -- on Euclid, smart guy!

2) Scott also points out that the Cleveland Agora is seemingly alluded to by Akronian Chrissie Hynde in The Pretenders' "Precious": "At 55th and Euclid Avenue, you're real precious."

However, Vern Morrison of Parma, OH writes:

This is the first track on the first Pretenders album, and it came out in 1979. At that time the Agora stood at E. 24th & Payne, & didn't move to the Euclid/E. 55th address until '85 or so, when a fire claimed the E. 24/Payne venue. I admire the old Pretenders as much as anyone but I don't think Chrissie could have alluded to a club which wouldn't be there for at least six more years!

The question now is -- just what was at that intersection in 1979?

If all of my readers are as civil about my errors as Scott and Vern, I'll consider myself lucky. And that Miles/Roland Kirk show sounds amazing.