Guitar heroes

Local guitarists compete to perform with DPAA

By Katie Christoff

Photo: Guitarist Max Mobarry, 20, will perform as part of the Guitar Heroes concert on July 10

The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance is all about community. Just ask Marketing and Communications Director Dave Bukvic, who compares the organization—comprised of ballet, opera and philharmonic art forms—to an iceberg.

“I like to compare us to that well-worn cliché of an iceberg, the one that you see 10 percent over the water line,” Bukvic says. “Ninety percent of [what we do] is largely invisible to the general public, but you see us in schools, churches and in this particular case, a bar in downtown Dayton.”

The particular case Bukvic is referring to is the DPAA’s first-ever Guitar Heroes competition, which invited local guitarists to perform for audiences and a panel of judges, competing for the chance to perform onstage at the Schuster Center alongside the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. The performance will also feature Jeans ‘n Classics guitarists.

Local guitarists were first encouraged to submit a YouTube video, demonstrating their talents. Out of 37 entrants, 10 finalists were then selected to perform for an audience and a panel of judges at the Dayton Beer Company downtown. From these finalists, two winners, Mike Craft and Max Mobarry, were chosen to perform at the Dayton Philharmonic Summer in the City Music Festival, which will take place Friday, July 10.

In the spirit of showcasing as much local talent as possible, three runners-up were also chosen to perform at the street party beforehand: Michael Baumann, Blaine Gordon and Kelly Bus.

“Some of these guys haven’t ever played for an audience before Saturday night, so all five of them deserve some serious credit,” says Angela Whitehead, Communications and Media Manager of the DPAA.

“It’s about civic engagement,” Bukvic adds. “We want to bring it to where people live, where they work and breathe. We want to bring it into the school where your kid goes, the bar where you meet your friends, bring it into people’s worlds.”

The Guitar Heroes concert and competition is just one way the DPAA is trying to engage the community. Bukvic says they often reach out to schools to teach young students about music as well. But this is the first year the DPAA has featured a summer performance series downtown.

“We’re bringing the Summer of Love 50 years into the future in downtown Dayton,” Bukvic says. “The summer is pretty much about rock and roll with an orchestra backdrop. A lot of folks don’t really understand what that means: We’re using orchestra to supercharge what’s already there in rock and roll format. If you think of electric guitar doing a power chord, it’s more powerful when an orchestra is doing the same chord with them. It supercharges the musical experience with a 60-piece orchestra.”

The DPAA has done rock programs for five years now, and Bukvic says it’s probably one of the few orchestras in the country to play rock and roll programs. After Guitar Heroes, the Summer in the City series will feature an ABBA tribute, an Elvis tribute and a tribute to music of the ’80s.

“A lot of rock and roll has orchestra in it,” Bukvic says. “People don’t realize until they go back and appreciate the hits. It’s kind of like classical for baby boomers. It introduces people to what an orchestra is comprised of, and does it with some favorites from when they were growing up.”

About the winners:

Mike Craft, 47, has been playing guitar since he was 14-years-old. He grew up in New Lebanon, Ohio, and has been part of several bands on the Dayton music scene including Royal Guest and SYNDROME.

Along with his audition video for Guitar Heroes, Craft wrote, “To say that playing with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra would be a dream come true is an understatement. Although rock guitar is what I use as my musical avenue, my radio is normally tuned to 88.1 FM on my 20-minute daily commute.”

Twenty-year-old Max Mobarry has been playing guitar for 10 years now. He frequently plays local bars with his band, Others by No One.

“We’re all remarkably skilled, technically proficient, quirky entertainers that have a massive respect for smart songwriting,” he says. “We cover a lot of styles, but we categorize ourselves under the ‘progressive’ banner.”

“Music is what I do, and what I will always do,” Mobarry wrote with his audition video.

Craft and Mobarry will each perform with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra and Jeans ‘n Classics during the Guitar Heroes Concert on July 10, which will feature iconic guitar anthems made famous by the likes of Jimmi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Led Zeppelin. But come downtown early for the pre-concert street party which will feature more live performances and food trucks.

The Guitar Heroes concert, featuring Jeans ‘n Classics, will take place Friday, July 10 at the Schuster Center, 1 W. Second St. The concert begins at 8 p.m. The Street Party begins at 5 p.m in front of the Schuster Center. For more information, please visit daytonperformingarts.org.


Reach DCP freelance writer Katie Christoff at KatieChristoff@DaytonCityPaper.com

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