It’s a Dayton thing

Ninth Annual Dayton Music Fest set to run wild over downtown

By Gary Spencer

 Photo: Jah Soul brings their soulful vibe to Dayton Music Fest during Midwest Outdoor Experience on Oct. 5; photo: Amanda Barbosa

Some traditions in Dayton stay. Others come and go. However, going into its ninth year of existence, it appears that the annual Dayton Music Fest might be a long-lasting one in the Gem City. Started as a showcase for the overflowing talent and diversity of music being produced in our hometown, DMF continues to grow, and this year is no different. In fact, if it tells you anything, only 12 of the 32 participating acts have performed at DMF before, including artists who do not call Dayton their home. Long-time DMF curator Don Thrasher is very excited about this development.

“The big news this year is the wealth of great first-time performers we have participating in Dayton Music Fest like hometown favorites Nightbeast, Team Void, Jah Soul, Noah + the Rescue Radio and The Repeating Arms, plus out of town acts like Connections, Brat Curse and William the Accountant from Columbus and PUBLIC and Playfully Yours from Cincinnati,” Thrasher said.

And that’s not all that’s new about this year’s festivities. This year will also be going during the daytime at Five Rivers MetroParks’ Midwest Outdoor Experience beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Eastwood MetroPark.

“We increased our presence at Midwest Outdoor Experience on Saturday,” Thrasher explained. “In 2012, we booked four bands for the event. This year we have nine acts at the Five Rivers MetroParks-sponsored event with Josh Eagle opening up at 11 a.m. and PUBLIC closing things out with a set at 7 p.m. In between is a diverse selection of local acts like Good English, Kris N. and New Vega.”

Indeed, variety is the name of the game with this year’s DMF, featuring styles of music ranging from hip hop to electronica to folk to punk to indie rock to surf music and everything in between.  Assembling such an intriguing lineup each year continues to be a long consideration process for Don and his DMF associates.

“We take submissions each year beginning in the spring through our website,” Thrasher explained. “We keep that open for several months. Once that’s done, it’s just a matter of sitting down and going through the interested bands and determining what will work for the festival. First and foremost, this is a festival dedicated to original bands that exemplify the diversity of the Gem City’s music scene. That means we listen to audio samples and factor in the bands’ creative and technical abilities, but we also consider how active a band is, if they have a new or upcoming release and even how often they’ve participated in the event. And as a curator of the event, I also invite a few bands each year to spice up the lineup.”

Dayton Music Fest 2013 is musically spicy for certain. And that’s the plan for now and into the future according to Thrasher, though he declined to get specific about what the future might hold for the festival to keep people interested.

“I honestly think the future is bright,” Thrasher said. “Our goal is to serve the music listening public and the local bands and hopefully DMF will evolve to meet all of those needs. We have a growing support system that is helping us shape what DMF will be over the next 10 years. I don’t want to give too much away now, but I think we’ve only scratched the surface of what this festival can be.”

Dayton Music Fest takes place Friday, Oct. 4 and Saturday, Oct. 5. Admission is $10 for admission to all shows, $5 for any one venue. For more information, please visit

DAYTON MUSIC FEST: Guide to the bands




8 p.m. – THE HOLY SMOKES: groovy, danceable rock ‘n’ roll that Led Zeppelin fans should shake a tail feather for.

9 p.m. – THE 1984 DRAFT: This Dayton quartet crafts smart, singer/songwriter-esque indie rock, equal parts powerful and insightful.

10 p.m. – THE STEEPWATER BAND: Long hair, beards and a bit of hippie mysticism … the Steepwater Band runs deep, man.

11 p.m. – NOAH + THE RESCUE RADIO: One-time child blues guitar prodigy Noah Wotherspoon expands his musical palette with the Rescue Radio, drawing in an overt ’60s British pop/rock flavor to the virtuoso guitar talents Wotherspoon is well known for.

12 a.m. – NIGHTBEAST: Rapper Nick Testa and his merry band of bearded, shirtless dudes always rock the house with party-time rap/rock jams sure to get the booties movin’ and the alcohol flowin’.


MIDWEST OUTDOOR EXPERIENCE (Eastwood Metropark, 1385 Harshman Road)

11 a.m. – JOSH EAGLE: Wistful but rough and earnest folk rock with some mighty fine slide guitar work.

12 p.m. – GOOD ENGLISH: Clean, simple, straightforward rock n’ roll with surprisingly soulful vocals from three young sisters.  And when I say “sisters,” I mean they’re actually blood relatives.

1 p.m. – MEGHNA & THE MAJORITY: Sweet, soulful grooves and the bluesy vocals of Meghna. Sexy stuff here, indeed.

2 p.m. – KRIS N.: 1990s-styled, lo-fi, acoustic-based indie pop is alive and well thanks to Kris N. Expect a bouncy, punchy set from these guys in concert.

3 p.m. – JAH SOUL: This local eight-piece collective seamlessly blends classic reggae, ’70s soul, Santana-esque psychedelic rock and Afrobeat into a groovy, tasty concoction ripe for consumption.

4 p.m. – STARVING IN THE BELLY OF THE WHALE: Strummy, stripped-down, poppy acoustic folk sounds that are actually a joy to hear. Plus, ya gotta love that early ’60s Bob Dylan-sounding harmonica.

5 p.m. – THE REPEATING ARMS: The “roots music” or “Americana” sound has been en vogue for the last few years, and Dayton’s Repeating Arms do it just as good as anyone out there on the national circuit. If you like banjos, pedal steel guitar, mandolins and heartfelt vocals, these guys will scratch ya where ya itch.

6 p.m. – NEW VEGA: This Dayton-bred/Cincy-based quartet plays intricate and insightful rockin’ stuff with breathtaking melodies. I’d say they’re a must see.

7 p.m. – PUBLIC: Dancey, beatific, upbeat music perfect for any outdoor music soiree.


9:30 p.m. – BRAT CURSE: From the ashes of Dayton band Pharaoahs comes Brat Curse throwing down the best ’90s-sounding alternative rock tunes that you’ve never heard. If you like the Pixies or Weezer, these guys are a can’t miss.

10:30 p.m. – TIM PRITCHARD & THE BOXCAR SUITE: If you like tasty guitar work, you need to see Tim Pritchard and the gang.  Sometimes bluesy, sometimes jangly, Tim and the Boxcar Suite present a surprisingly bountiful palette of rock sounds.

11:30 p.m. – OH CONDOR: Psychedelic indie rock with a pop twist. The songs are righteous and these guys can back it up musically.

12:30 a.m. – CONNECTIONS: Transplanted Daytonians and featuring former members of 84 Nash, Connections stay true to their older bands’ roots of rockin’ sounds with big hooks and choruses that will no doubt be lodged in your head for days afterwards. There’s a reason these guys were in cahoots with Guided by Voices back in the day – here’s your chance to see why.

BLIND BOB’S (430 E. Fifth St.)

9:30 p.m. – SPEAKING SUNS: Wilco-influenced indie rock from Yellow Springs. With great vocal harmonies and intricate, interweaving guitar melodies and well-placed electronic effects and noise, expect Speaking Suns to tickle your brain as well as your ears.

10:30 p.m. – RED HOT REBELLION: Punk rock how it should be done – straight forward, old school sounds with no frills or stupid haircuts. Pop/punk wussies need not apply.

11:30 p.m. – PUBLIC: Dancey, beatific, upbeat indie rock perfect for any music soiree.

12:30 a.m. – MOTEL BEDS: If you don’t know these guys by now, you must surely be living under a rock or have shitty taste in music. The Beds seamlessly blend surf rock, ’50s rock n’ roll, and ’60s-styled pop and garage rock into a sound that cannot be mistaken for any other band on the planet. And their live show repeatedly proves why they’re one of the most popular bands in the Gem City. Get hip, sucakz.

OREGON EXPRESS (336 E. Fifth St.)

9 p.m. – THE GIANT STEPS: bluesy, groovy jams from Dayton area locals.

10 p.m. – PLAYFULLY YOURS: Don’t hate them because they’re from Cincinnasti – this trio from the Queen City plays retro-flavored, piano-based dance pop with swoon-worthy girl vocals and an ethereal edge. I heart Saint Etienne and this group is the next best thing.

11 p.m. – CITY OF KINGS: CoK is a band capable of many looks – they can play straight up ’60s influenced garage rock, pseudo-psychedelic Britpop and all related sounds in between with killer songcraft that puts them at the top of their pack.

12 a.m. – TEAM VOID: the Luchador-mask wearing quartet kick out the surf rock instrumental jams better than anyone in the state of Ohio.  It’s always a rock ‘n’ roll time when the Void is in the house.

TROLLEY STOP (530 E. Fifth St.)

9 p.m. – LUKE FRAZIER: Whimsical, stripped down singer/songwriter fare with witty lyrics that most of us can relate to. A welcome addition to this year’s DMF.

10 p.m. – WILLIAM THE ACCOUNTANT: Jazzy, quirky, offbeat and a bit eccentric, William the Accountant is kind of like the bastard spawn of Barkmarket, Mr. Bungle and early Devo.  It’s hard not to be entertained by this irreverant group of maniacs, so see them and get loose.

11 p.m. – TREY STONE & THE RINGERS: If you seek a piano man, look no further than Trey Stone. With his jazzy piano stylings that might call to mind Dr. John or Ramsey Lewis, Stone’s nimble fingers will amaze your eardrums during his set at DMF.

12 a.m. – NEW VEGA: This Dayton-bred/Cincy-based quartet plays intricate and insightful rockin’ stuff with breathtaking melodies. I’d say they’re a must-see.


9:30 p.m. – THE TURKISH DELIGHTS: Melodic, crafty alt-indie fare with sweeping guitars and spooky vintage keyboards that lend the Delights a delightfully fresh flavor.

10:30 p.m. – THE NEW OLD-FASHIONED: Folky, alt-country rock with cleanly strummed guitar melodies and infectious choruses. Good enough tunes that I’ll give these dudes a pass for their hipsterish “Gee, aren’t we clever?” band name.

11:30 p.m. – ABERTOOTH LINCOLN: The stinkin’ Lincoln spits out skronky, saxophone-heavy, post-punk rockers for the more adventurous DMF attendee. Highly recommended for those who hunger for something off the well-beaten path.

12:30 a.m. – C. WRIGHT’S PARLOUR TRICKS: If you wanna rock the fuck out with one of the tightest musical outfits Dayton has to offer, then you must see this band. Lead guitarist Chris Wright wails on the axe over all-instrumental, meaty, blues-boogie rock that would most certainly put ZZ Top into the retirement home where they belong.

Reach DCP freelance writer Gary Spencer at


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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

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