After having its doors closed for a brief time, the historic Columbia Theatre reopened with a bang over the weekend with the Nashville talents of Jacob Bryant and opener Jonathan Cox, of Greenup, bringing out 250 people.
Bryant is an award-winning Nashville artist who has been touring his “Bar Stool Preacher” show.
Bryant recently made his Opry debut and wrote the hit “Out There” with Luke Combs. Bryant’s most popular song, “Pour Whiskey On My Grave,” had 12 million plays on Spotify alone and topped rocking country charts nationwide.
The business is newly managed by Texas-based Meta MoJo, under the guidance of CEO Mandy “MJ” Brickey-Godfrey, a Scioto County native and Shawnee State University alum who manages major musical performances. Also helping is Scioto County native Josh Phillips.
“Opening night went incredibly smooth,” Brickey-Godfrey said. “Which is rarely the case as things you can’t anticipate often pops up last minute in just about every production. Jacob Bryant and Johnathon Cox were amazing and delivered a show perfect for our audience. Country Singer, Chris Turner, emceed the event and was engaging and entertaining. I thought it was fitting to make people acquainted with him as he and Rick Ferrell will be headlining a show within the next month or so.”
Christine Scott continues to own the company that keeps ownership of The Columbia Theatre building at 837 Gallia Street, Portsmouth. In previous years, Christine Scott’s husband, Lee managed the building and events.
Brickey-Godfrey says that she has big plans for the space moving forward.
“We plan to bring quality entertainment to Portsmouth, Scioto County, and the surrounding area, including live music, comedy, films, family events, and things like ‘Ohio State nights,’ where we project the game on a large screen and do a game night fair and fun,” Brickey-Godfrey said. “Also, ‘Townie Tuesday’ will be local acoustic sets geared at sharing with other locals, tourists, and college students.”
Brickey-Godfrey says, despite being Texas-based, the group is working hard to keep their finger on the pulse of Portsmouth development, politics, plans, and more.
“We will follow currently established public planning to aid in the transition of downtown Portsmouth into an arts and entertainment district and go to great lengths to support this mission, including lending our solid national network of organizations, people, and entities with whom we have worked with on various projects in the past to advise where needed,” Brickey-Godfrey explained. “We want to work with area commerce, enrichment, and improvement organizations to strategically plan our events to complement other areas’ businesses, initiatives, orgs, and efforts. We want Portsmouth businesses to thrive along with us and reap the tax-dollar benefits. Working with each other and not against them will benefit area businesses and those spending their hard-earned dollars in Portsmouth and at Scioto County establishments. There is already a Portsmouth Arts Council that is more geared towards children and, by all accounts, is doing an excellent job serving the people here, but we hope to unify a solid commerce-based arts council as well.”
Brickey-Godrey also heard great feedback from people in attendance at the show.
“I’ve got a lot of community feedback. People saying they have never seen anything like this in Portsmouth. I even had a young lady tear up and ask me for a hug thanking me for creating a safe space to enjoy such entertainment. Many people are asking to book their favorite bands. Patrons at the concert were thankful and smiling ear-to-ear,” Brickey-Godrey explained. “Others are calling my business phone, emailing and asking ‘where is the event calendar’ which isn’t complete yet as I’m trying to work with community business and not work against anyone. Many announcements such as events, memberships, and packages will be announced over the next few weeks. We are going to be totally cashless soon as well including alcohol, sales, food, and all other beverages.”
Portsmouth Police Department had several police officers on standby, hired by Brickey-Godfrey, to provide security and protection for the crowd of 250. Police were seen outside and inside most of the facility sections.
“Safety is our top priority, and we will enlist Portsmouth police for a while,” Brickey-Godfrey said. “At the same time, we will work to build a well-vetted security team and hopefully spark a downtown and area security council that works together collaboratively, as you see in towns and cities that see robust gains from tourism dollars.”
Brickey-Godfrey said so much heart has gone into the reopening of The Columbia.
“A downtown should represent what a city and surrounding area treasurers most,” Brickey-Godfrey said. “To name a few things — culture, commerce, education, entertainment, and the future. We need safe venues and cityscapes for not only the people of Portsmouth but the students that bring revenue to the area. Shawnee State University has hundreds of residential students from outside of Scioto County who live on campus and near downtown who would welcome a new entertainment venue.”
You can learn more about Meta MoJo and Brickey-Godfrey by visiting metamojopro.com or mjbrickey.com.
Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved