Kicking cancer in the C-Note

Dayton Blues Society benefits American Cancer Society

By Mike Ritchie

Photo: [l-r] Paul Goodwin, Greg Calvert and Fred Gillespie of The Beaumonts

The Dayton Blues Society (DBS) and Team Vanderpool (TV) present the “Blues in the Key of C” Benefit for the American Cancer Society (ACS).

TV is a group from Indiana and Ohio who get together every year for a Relay for Life, raising sponsor-driven funds for the American Cancer Society. They approached the DBS about the possibility of having a blues event with all proceeds going to the ACS.

The DBS started in 2008 with the benefit show starting in 2010 at the Xenia Elks Lodge. It quickly became evident the event needed a larger venue, so they moved to Gilly’s in 2011.

Blues Society President Jeff Hill has organized each year’s show, taking great pride in the talent booked and his personal history and love of blues and the surrounding blues scene. Hill hand-picks each band from dirty, clean blues to the rowdiest of guitar slingers with an uncanny, educated ear for the music that helped build rock and roll. Hill is also involved in the Winter Blues Showcase held in January.

Though it’s still just talk, there’s been discussion of holding an event at the Victoria Theatre with a national headliner. There are also ideas of incorporating other elements and genres of music including folk and rock in future shows.

Dayton saw great success this year from the International Blues Challenge held in Memphis, Tennessee. The International Blues Challenge is an event for the nation’s up and coming young blues players to show off their chops, earning prizes, recognition, contracts and other industry goodies. As affiliates of the NBS, each local chapter enters their winning local acts from the Winter Blues Showcase into the big show. This year, the Dayton Blues Society won big, with two acts not only making it to the semi-finals but to the finals. Local artist Noah Wotherspoon scored second place, also winning the Albert King award for best guitarist. Brian Keith Wallen won second place as a solo act.

The benefit show for the American Cancer Society started with Hill’s daughter’s relation by marriage to a woman named Jackie Vanderpool.

“Jackie lost her husband to cancer and that’s when they started doing the Relay for Life in Indiana,” Hill explains. “The runners are sponsored per lap and other ways, and sometimes they go all night. People camp out and support the cause.”

Hill had them over to his house for dinner and they said something about having another kind of fundraiser. They asked if Hill thought he could put together a blues benefit for the cancer society.

Since 2010, Dayton regional acts have given their time and talent to the benefit’s cause. Past performers include: Jimmy Baker & Blues Encounter, The Average Joes, Reece Lincoln Band, Michael Locke & the Repeat Offenders, Slowhand featuring Rick Bailey, The Noah Wotherspoon Band and The Scotty Bratcher Band.

There are no openers or headliners at the Dayton Blues Society benefit show. All bands, styles and stories told are treated equally.

This year’s entertainment will be provided by the hard-driving Beaumonts, after nearly a 20-year hiatus. Brad Hatfield and company will also take the Gilly’s stage, bringing a true tragedy-to-triumph story from Cincinnati of a man dealt a heavy blow who pursued and persevered in his love and passion for the blues.

Gregg Clark and the Royal Blues will bring 45 years of playing and national touring experience.

There will also be raffles and prizes during the show as this year is looking to be another packed house, with a sizable donation raised.

The American Cancer Society has been looking for something to hang its hat on and a way to give back to everyone that’s supported continuing research and to anyone affected by it. The Dayton Blues Society has answered that call.

The Dayton Blues Society “Blues in the Key of C” benefit for the American Cancer Society will be held on Saturday, May 2 at Gilly’s, 132 S. Jefferson St. Doors open at 6 p.m., show starts at 7 p.m. This is an all ages show. Donations will be accepted at the door, and all proceeds support the American Cancer Society Relay for Life of Wayne County.

Reach DCP freelance writer Mike Ritchie at

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Reach DCP freelance writer Mike Ritchie at

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