N o music and arts festival would truly be complete without… wrestling, right? Well, this year at Ladyfest Dayton, buckle down the turnbuckles and get ready to rumble because it’s going to get rowdy from the very first bell. “POSER Wrestling is a local DIY wrestling organization run by my pal Dustie Pitstick,” says Paige […]

Ladyfest Dayton #8 at Yellow Cab Tavern

Alicia Grodecki of Moira, with Patrick Hague on drums and Aaron Hardy (not pictured). Photo: Gary McBride.

By Gary McBride

No music and arts festival would truly be complete without… wrestling, right? Well, this year at Ladyfest Dayton, buckle down the turnbuckles and get ready to rumble because it’s going to get rowdy from the very first bell.

“POSER Wrestling is a local DIY wrestling organization run by my pal Dustie Pitstick,” says Paige Beller, lead coordinator of this year’s Ladyfest. “He has put together a line-up of talented women wrestlers. In the past we have worked with The Gem City Roller Girls, and this is just another way to celebrate female athleticism. Women wrestlers have had a big push in the professional realm. It will be exciting to see what Dayton and our surrounding cities have to offer! POSER will open the event in the main room at 7 o’clock on Friday.”

Beller is one of the busiest people in the Dayton music scene, as a solo artist and one-third of the band Jasper the Colossal, and a variety of other side projects. Still, she finds time to take a leading role to make Ladyfest happen on the regular.

“I have been head coordinator and booker for 4 years,” says Beller. “But before me was Mary Katherine Burnside, Jen Dyke, and many others. A core group of ladies decided to resurrect the festival after a few years off. We now have it sectioned into different jobs and responsibilities, but we all do a little bit of everything to get it done. Sara Roseberry, Jaime Heck, Jessica Holt, Liz Rilling, Rachael Lare, and I make the decisions.”

The women are in charge, but plenty of men are on Team Ladyfest. “We also have had endless amounts of help from Dustie Pitstick, Tim McKenzie, Zac Bailey, and Joe Augustine,” notes Beller. “Not to mention the incredible volunteers and all the help we get from the staff at Yellow
Cab Tavern.”

How many volunteers does it take to make the event happen? “Too many,” says Beller with her usual sly wit. In fact, at this writing, a few volunteer spots are still open—visit volunteersignup.org/WQLYW to sign up.

The motto “female fronted is not a genre” has been going around for a while—a bit of a jab directed at lazy bookers who fill a bill with “chick bands” rather than selecting artists whose sounds are actually complementary.

“I don’t think that being a ‘chick band’ is a genre,” agrees Beller. “This event aims to bring together many genres to show the many sides of female musicianship and art. In many places it is becoming less of an anomaly to see women in bands. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case everywhere. There are still little girls who don’t know that they are ‘allowed’ to play guitar. I have had multiple parents approach me and tell me that their daughters are inspired by the event. That is who this is for.”

Beller herself defies genre, From some of the most heartbreaking acoustic songs to major ass-kicking anthems, young musicians can learn a lot from her example. Check out her acclaimed 2016 release Live and a Person for a convincer. 

Again this year, Ladyfest features many of the area’s most well-known performers, but Beller clearly looked deeper in putting together the music line up. “I take great pride in the booking process and I make an effort to include people that work hard in our community and the areas around us,” Beller affirms. “That being said, the brand-new bands this year include novena, which features local photographer extraordinaire Jennifer Taylor and the triumphant return of Emma Woodruff, Penny Wishes, House Ghost’s first show and EP release, Rachel Litteral and the Abstracts, Mike Defendant + Katrina Jo, WYD from Columbus, and GRLwood from Louisville, who are making waves all over the damn place. There isn’t a single act on the bill that I wouldn’t recommend.”

Clearly, with nearly 40 bands and solo performers lined up, Ladyfest Dayton has a lot of great music to offer. But beyond that, the event showcases a wide range of arts. “Our visual art show is huge and always brings out amazing local and regional artists. Many create special works just for the event,”notes Beller.

Ladyfest Dayton features at least 20 visual artists every year. This year, they have more than 40. “We try to cover as much wall space as humanly possible. It is one of the largest aspects of the overall experience,” Beller emphasizes. “We also feature information tables for local non-profits and activists, as well as woman-owned vendor stands.”

Speaking of vendors, the Wicked ‘Wich and Son of a Biscuit food trucks will be there Friday, with Son of a Biscuit returning for Saturday as well, so bring your appetite.

To top it off, Branch & Bone Artisan Ales has created Hey Girl Hey Rozay, a limited-edition tart rosé beer for the occasion. Only two kegs will ever be made, one tapped each evening of Ladyfest, so plan to arrive early if you want to sample this unique brew. Plus, that way you won’t miss any of the music.

“The turnout for Ladyfest Dayton has always been great,” notes Beller. “I think the event has a positive message, and the talent sells itself. We don’t just have some of the most impressive local bands with female representation…we have some of the most impressive bands period.”

Ladyfest Dayton begins at 6 p.m. Friday Sept. 14, and 4 p.m. on Saturday Sept. 15 at the Yellow Cab Tavern, 700 E. 4th St., Dayton. Admission is $7 per day for adults, children under 12 free with parent. All ages. For a schedule of performers, list of participating artists, and more information, visit LadyfestDayton.org or Facebook.com/LadyfestDayton.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Gary McBride at GaryMcBride@DaytonCityPaper.com

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