Dayton Indie Rock Party at Oscar’s
showcases DIY bands

A Voice of Your Own (L-R) Tyler Conley, Johnny McConnell, James Crabtree,
Levi Short, and Matt Mihalus. Photo: Brandy Wallace.

By Tim Walker

For many of us, the music we listen to is too often taken for granted. We turn on the radio or open up our Spotify or YouTube account, perhaps connect our wireless headphones to the iPod or download a track or two from our favorite artist without once thinking about where these songs come from or the many people who had a hand in creating them for our listening enjoyment. It is music, and we love it, and we should be able to hear it, and that is all we need to know.

But from a musician’s point of view, what goes into the creating and crafting of a song (or even, rarer in this digital age, an entire album), is their work, and their art. The songwriting and recording process itself can be more involved, and sometimes can take much longer and require more effort and force of will than anyone realizes. The music industry, like many entertainment industries, has certainly been turned upside down in the wake of the digital revolution that took place over the past several decades, and James Crabtree, lead vocalist and driving force behind local indie rock band A Voice of Your Own, knows this as well as anyone.

A Voice of Your Own, who celebrated the release of their new CD “Vines on the Lines” back in February, epitomizes that Do-It-Yourself mindset so many musicians possess these days. The band will be performing at the Dayton Indie Rock Party on Saturday, May 5—Cinco De Mayo—at Oscar’s Bar & Grill in Vandalia. That epic evening of indie entertainment will also feature sets from local bands Seth Canan and the Carriers, Yellow Paper Planes, Crosley Court, Neo American Pioneers, and The 1984 Draft.

“Well, ‘Vines on the Lines’ is kind of a project that I’ve been holding on to for close to seven or eight years now,” says Crabtree. “I’ve been writing songs in my free time, and just in the last year or so—I believe it was January of last year—we assembled a full band to play them live. We’ve kind of been rolling with that for the past year, when Johnny Red and I put this together,” he continues. “We got some guys to help us out, and we’ve been doing the full band thing for the whole year.”

As a solo project, A Voice of Your Own had already released two independently-recorded full length albums. Now, as a full-fledged band, with Crabtree on guitar and vocals, Johnny “Red” McConnell on bass, Levi Short and newest member Tyler Kahnle on guitar, and Matt Mihalus on drums, the band has been performing locally and building a strong following prior to the release of the new CD. When asked about “Vines on the Lines,” Crabtree says, “On a handful of the songs, I did all the production myself. And the band at first was just helping to fill everything in live, fill in those spots. But here lately we’ve been working toward ‘full band’ status, producing the songs all together, recording them all together, writing together. We do all the recording ourselves—I have a home studio, and I’ve worked on other demos for bands. For being done in a little home studio, everyone seems to enjoy it, and they think it sounds pretty good. We’re an indie band, at least I kind of slap us in that category because we like to independently take care of it all ourselves and stay true to that DIY style.”

The band has been busy filming music videos for their new album’s first two singles. The most recent, “Getaway Driver,” was co-produced by the band and Jon Lovegren of Spyhollow Entertainment. “The first single we put out was called ‘Turn Me On,’ and it came out last year, before the album,” continues Crabtree. “It was our pre-release, and we did a little indie video for it, too. But this new video, for ‘Getaway Driver,’ we did a little movie scene at the beginning where one of us gets hurt—it’s like a band robbery, getaway driver kind of thing. And during the video I’m kind of singing the song while sitting in the back seat of the getaway car. It’s like our first attempt at an action video,” he laughs.

Plan on checking out the Dayton Indie Rock Party at Oscar’s on Cinco de Mayo, and give a listen to A Voice of Your Own’s latest album while you’re at it. Our local indie rock scene, like all of Dayton’s hard-working hometown musicians, deserve your support.

A Voice of Your Own will be one of six bands performing on Saturday, May 5th starting at 7:00 p.m. as part of the Cinco De Mayo Dayton Indie Rock Party at Oscar’s Bar & Grill, 320 N. Dixie Drive in Vandalia. For more information, call 937.890.8655 or visit or

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Tim Walker is 51 and a writer, DJ, and local musician. He lives with his wife and their two children in Dayton, where he enjoys pizza, jazz, and black T-shirts. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Walker at

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