Pump up the give

Charity rocks Miami Valley Music Fest

By Gary Spencer

Photo: Singer-songwriter Sharon Lane will perform at this year’s Miami Valley Music Festival, taking place July 31 and Aug. 1

There are rarely definites in life, but when it comes to summers, there are a couple—warm weather and music festivals topping the list. And during the warmest months of the calendar year, there is no shortage of festivals in the Miami Valley. One of the most recent to emerge in the past decade is the Miami Valley Music Festival (MVMF), which is quickly becoming a mainstay of summer festivities in the Dayton region. It will hold its now-annual event this coming weekend at the Troy Eagles Campground in neighboring Troy, Ohio. According to MVMF Marketing Director Jennifer Denson, the festival has goals beyond that of a simple music festival.

“[Our goal is] to gather people together to celebrate life in a way that is beneficial to themselves and their community,” Denson says. “To promote musical diversity, local artists and charitable giving and to enhance the mind, body and spirit of all who attend the festival.”

Denson also says the festival didn’t necessarily start off with such a clearly defined mission. In fact, the Miami Valley Music Fest came together as it exists today in a somewhat unusual fashion.

“The Miami Valley Music Festival Association was conceived in July of 2008, although the seeds for its growth were sown many years earlier,” she explains. “The Miami Valley Music Fest was first organized in the summer of 2006 by Nick Christian, while a year later Brad Denson organized the first Lost Creek Music Review. The two decided to merge their two festivals to create one like-minded event. At its conception, the goal was simply to showcase local musicians. In 2007, the festival made an important decision: to take an emphasis off of showcasing local music and focus on bettering the local community.”

Miami Valley Music Fest’s shift came about when the association became a licensed Miami County public charity with a mission to raise funds for local charitable causes abetted with the promotion of regional music talents. This re-focus enabled MVMF to re-establish itself with a clearly defined purpose and gained them external support for their efforts.

“The [MVMF] was then able to receive gracious sponsorships from local businesses to help curb the costs of the festival,” Denson explains. “In July of 2008, the festival creator, Nick, decided to create a nonprofit organization that would facilitate and organize the growing needs of the festival, with hopes to one day attain 501c3 status. This move proved very rewarding as the Music Fest underwent remarkable growth, doubling the attendance and the amount of donation from the prior year. With the help of our caring community, the Music Fest was able to donate $1,400 to local cancer outreach facilities and helped many cancer victims fight the good fight! Each year, we encourage local nonprofits to submit their application to be a part of our voting process, where festivalgoers get to learn more about their organization then vote on the winners. We are actually in the process of voting on our next three charities that will receive $2,000 total from us.”

While the MVMF clearly has its beneficiary goals in place, you may be wondering what exactly the festival has in store for those who attend.

“It’s probably the best event [the public] can attend where they will arrive and feel like they are surrounded by family,” Denson says. “It’s the atmosphere of our family-friendly festival that keeps the people coming back each year. Attendees can expect fun, groovy music, food vendors and a very child-friendly environment.”

As its name suggests, the Miami Valley Music Festival has its focus on a variety of musical acts. Roughly 40 acts are slated to play over the course of the two-day festival covering an array of genres from rap, rock, folk, singer-songwriter, tribal, rockabilly, bluegrass and everything in between. This year will once again be headlined by Ohio-based favorites The Spikedrivers, who infuse a unique but crowd-pleasing hybrid of jam-rock, jazz and bluegrass that has continued to please audiences over the past handful of MVMF events.

“Each year, we bring back the crowd favorite, The Spikedrivers, to top off the event,” Denson says. “The bands are selected by Festival Director Brad Denson, who has an extensive knowledge of the local music scene.”

This year’s festival lineup also includes Paige and The Belairs, The New Old-Fashioned, Magic Jackson, Jah Soul, Sharon Lane, Cricketbows, The Repeating Arms, Nightbeast, Cherry Lee & the Hot Rod Hounds and many more. In addition to the music, there will be local artists that make their own crafts such as jewelry, paintings, glass art, handmade soaps and clothing. And for those who want to make a full weekend of festivities without leaving the immediate area, camping arrangements are available.

“Tent camping is free,” Denson says. “Car or RV camping is $30 and first come first served for spots.” We have a family camping area,” she adds.

And perhaps the MVMF association’s modus operandi is best put by this statement by Brad Denson: “The Miami Valley Music Festival Association continues to prove its loyal, caring commitment to bettering the Miami Valley. They hope that through the power of love, music and community organizing the Miami Valley Music Fest will continue to reap fruit that the entire Miami Valley may enjoy. They have demonstrated time and time again that the Miami Valley Music Fest is where charity rocks!”

The Miami Valley Music Fest takes place Friday, July 31 and Saturday, Aug. 1 at the Troy Eagles Campground, 2252 Troy-Urbana Rd. in Troy. Tickets are $45 in advance for a weekend pass and $125 for the VIP Weekend Experience. For more information, please visit miamivalleymusicfest.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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