Oddbody's bringing bigger acts to Dayton

The former McGuffy’s House of Rock rocks on – but under a new name.

Today, the site of the former McGuffy’s, 5418 Burkhardt Road, is Oddbody’s. The music hall represents a return to live music at the storied small concert space in the Spin Kemp shopping center.

It’s the same space that once hosted Guns N Roses and a host of other acts – national, regional and local -- since the early 1980s.

Richard Eckhardt, Oddbody’s self-described “marketing and beer guy,” said he and his partners bought the space in an auction. They could not negotiate the continued use of the McGuffy’s name with the former owners. But patrons can still see live bands and DJs at the club nearly every weekend and some weeknights under the new moniker.

Eckhardt’s day gig is as a “numbers and GM guy” at computers and electronics outlet Micro Center stores in Columbus. But Oddbody’s takes up a good chunk of his weekends and free time.

The club opened under new management July 29, 2014. As of late January, the site had hosted more than 40 shows and counting, and acts are added to the calendar regularly.  

“The goal was to bring live music to Dayton on a bigger scale,” Eckhardt said. “Hara (Arena) stopped doing shows a long time ago. The Nutter Center only really brings in the really big ones (performers). And UD (University of Dayton Arena) hasn’t done concerts in a while.”

Fraze Pavilion in Kettering hosts acts in warmer weather in its popular outdoor venue. Huber Heights plans to open its own music center in May.

But for centrally located, year-round live music in Dayton on a bigger scale, Eckhardt and partners Neil Hixson and Skip Murray saw an unmet need.

“You’ve got the pops, you’ve got the orchestra, you’ve got all that, and that’s fantastic stuff,” Eckhardt said. “But there are people who want to see rock, they want to see country, they want to see funk, they want to see, you know, jam band stuff.

“Our goal is to bring that back to Dayton, Ohio,” he declared.

The new owners find themselves pleased with the reception so far. Refurbishing and cleaning up a former bar and restaurant took a fair bit of elbow grease.

“We’ve cleaned the room a great deal,” Eckhardt said. “We’ve made some modifications to help improve the sound, and then really it’s been listening to customer feedback.”

The beer selection rotates to keep things interesting, which is how the owners like it. A recent January show was a “just killer” performance by Ekoostik Hookah, Eckhardt noted.

Upcoming shows will feature Rusted Root, the Main Squeeze, Tantric and more. Hard rock act All That Remains is scheduled for March 20. Jackyl, the 90s metal band, is set for Feb. 27.

National acts, like guitarist Jake E. Lee – who succeeded Randy Rhoads in Ozzy Osborne’s band in the mid-1980s – have appeared at Oddbody’s. (Lee played in November. “A packed house on a Tuesday,” Eckhardt recalled.)

The new owners are making connections with agents to let them know that the venue is back. ”We’re willing to spend money to bring good acts to Dayton,” Eckhardt said. “We believe the people will come out as long as we get the word out that the shows are happening.”

With a venue like Oddbody’s, the goal is to make possible a connection between the band on stage and the audience on the floor. The capacity is an audience around 360, he said.

“It’s basically being in tune with the customers,” he said.

After failing to come to terms with former owners on the old name, the new owners latched on to Clarence Odbody, the angel in the classic film It’s a Wonderful Life. (“Odbody” was how the character’s name was spelled.)

“Oddbody’s was born,” Eckhardt said. “That’s where it came from.”

The bottom line for customers: It’s not just heavy metal and hard rock any more. The new owners say they want to lure audiences through quality and diversity.

“It’s a B market,” Eckhardt said. “It’s not the size of Columbus or Cleveland. So we have to be diverse and appeal to as many people as possible.”