HoliDayton rock party returns to Blind Bob’s

 By Gary Spencer

Photo: [l to r] Poppy and Mark McMillon of The Story Changes bring HoliDayton to Blind Bob’s Dec. 28

The city of Dayton seems to have a lot of yearly traditions that have almost become like sacred rites for those that love to party in the Gem City. Saint Patrick’s Day and Hauntfest obviously come to mind, but at this point I think the annual HoliDayton rock n’ roll party should be mentioned in the same breath as those given annual events.

For the past 10 years, primary organizer Mark McMillon has been making this big shindig happen at varying venues, and the interest and support for the event has only grown. This Saturday, Blind Bob’s in the Oregon District will play host once again to HoliDayton just as it has the past handful of years. The halls are all decked and it looks like it’ll be a holly jolly good time once again this year.

“The biggest motivation has been how much fun it has been year after year,” McMillon said.  “Whenever I’m out in Dayton from around September onward, I usually run into someone I know who asks about when the event is going to be this year and who’s playing. There’s an excitement for it amongst friends in our local scene every year and to be a part of putting that together is awesome.”

That anticipation has become a normal thing for the holiday tradition known as HoliDayton and has made it a successful yearly treat to music fans in the Gem City. To Mark McMillon, guitarist and frontman for local mainstay alt-punk band The Story Changes, the premise of HoliDayton was simple enough.

“We (McMillon and The Story Changes bandmate Poppy) started the event as a fun way to cap off the year and celebrate with a fun hometown show full of some of our favorite bands and performers from the area,” McMillon explained. “We tend to be on tour off and on throughout the year, but are always home for the holidays, so the timeframe works out well for us to make it an annual event.”

The first HoliDayton event was held in 2002 at the now-defunct Elbo’s, and since then dozens of Dayton-based bands and singer/songwriters have participated in the Christmastime fun. This year’s HoliDayton, much like many of its predecessors, features a who’s who of Dayton musicians worth getting amped for, all under one roof in one evening.

The lineup for HoliDayton features The Story Changes, C. Wright’s Parlour Tricks, Grand Mammoth, Lovely, The New Old Fashioned, The 1984 Draft and Riley as well as solo sets by JT Woodruff (of Hawthorne Heights), Wes Disney (Invitation to a Bullfight) and Paige Beller, making her solo performance debut at HoliDayton.

“I’m really excited about the lineup this year,” McMillon said. “There are some new faces as well as old favorites. I am looking forward to watching everyone else perform just as much as I am playing.”

The way HoliDayton operates is sort of unique compared to most rock shows in Dayton. In order to accommodate such a huge lineup of acts in one night, the full bands set up and play on the main stage.  Between bands, solo acoustic acts set up and play to keep the music and good spirits flowing the whole night through.

“We have always had the two stages as a staple for the show,” McMillon explained. “I love it because it makes for non-stop music throughout the evening and gives us the extra room to have more bands and artists performing.”

In keeping with the spirit of the holiday season, McMillon wishes to invite not just Dayton rock show regulars to this year’s HoliDayton, but anyone of good cheer and wishing to spend a splendid evening enjoying the sights, sounds and camaraderie of a special night on the town.

“Whether you are active in the local music scene or unfamiliar with the great amount of local and original talent we have here in Dayton, I think you will have a good time at HoliDayton,” McMillon said. “It just always ends up being a really great show, which is a testament to all the talent in our local scene more than anything else. Through my other band (Hawthorne Heights) and The Story Changes, I have been fortunate enough to travel all over the world and play music, but I can honestly say Dayton has the most impressive abundance of original talent in a local scene I have come across. What we try to do with HoliDayton is showcase a little chunk of that talent every year with some of our favorite local artists.”

With 10 years in the bag, McMillon sees no reason to stop doing HoliDayton anytime soon.

“As long as it continues to be so much fun, we will continue putting it together!” McMillon said. “We have had so much love and support for the event. It means a lot that it has been embraced locally. Last year was our 10th anniversary of throwing the show and it absolutely exceeded any expectations we’ve ever had for it. It’s a lot of work to put together, but always absolutely worth it.”


The 11th Annual HoliDayton takes place Saturday, Dec. 28 at Blind Bob’s, 430 E. Fifth St. Show begins at 8 p.m. and admission is $5 at the door for patrons 21 and up. For more information please visit blindbobs.com.

 Reach DCP freelance writer Gary Spencer at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com.


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Gary Spencer is a graduate of Miami University and works in the performing arts, and believes that music is the best. Contact him at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com

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