Unity upheld

Local bands raise guitars, LGBTQ support at GemFest

By Mike Ritchie

Photo: (l-r) Kei, Tom Black, and Kelly Chelston of Tiger Sex; photo: Richard Blondy

In the Human Rights Campaign’s 2012 report of more than 10,000 American LGBTQ 13- to 17-year-olds, although 75 percent polled that most of their peers didn’t have an issue with their identity, 92 percent reported hearing negative messages about identifying as LBTQ at school, online, and/or from their peers.

Local and regional acts at this year’s GemFest, in addition to local artists and vendors, aim to raise some awareness against the bullying, harassment, and discrimination of area youth based on appearance, lifestyle, personal preference, and gender identity. The event’s mission aims for youth, in a stage where personal identity is formed and determined, to feel secure and positive about whatever path their lives take and who they are, outside and in.

This year’s GemFest structure is a little different, however, featuring two shows having started at the Oregon Express on Sept. 17 with Evil Eye Gypsy, Kyleen Downes And the Whole Crew, Achilles Tenderloin, Paige Beller, Moriah Haven, Mandy Jewell, and James Thomas. The main festival will be hosted again at the Old Yellow Cab Building downtown Oct. 7. Both events are sponsored by Musicians for Unity in support of GLSEN Greater Dayton and The Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Greater Miami Valley.

The 2016 GemFest lineup includes many returning bands and a few fresh faces, including McGuff & The Dumpster Fires, Jasper the Colossal, A Shade of Red, Death by Fetish, Far From Eden, Thundertaker, Duderus, Tiger Sex, and Dead Tuth.

Several band members voiced their opinion of the event’s history and positive local impact.

“It is essential to our future to ensure all young people are given a safe environment not only to learn, but also to discover themselves as individuals,” says Emily McGuff of McGuff & the Dumpster Fires. “When hatred and fear rule, we all lose. By being a part of this benefit for GLSEN of Dayton, we, as a music and art community, are creating a strong base upon which those young people can grow and thrive.”

McGuff guitarist and vocalist Taylor McGuff adds, “We’re incredibly excited to be a part of Gemfest this year. Two of our members were fortunate enough to play the first Gemfest last year and were blown away by the sense of community, musical appreciation, and love shown to everyone there. On top of that, we’re stoked to be supporting an organization as awesome as GLSEN. If we can teach children not [to] embrace hatred early on, we can make the next generation better than our own.”

Last year’s inaugural show was an all-day event with artists, vendors, and musicians offering an early all-ages friendly environment, moving to an adult event in the evening. Event organizer/Death by Fetish guitarist Mike Emmons says the all-day platform was a one-time test run. Last year’s event raised over $2,500.

“I really appreciate the youth focus of the organizations GemFest benefits,” returning artist Kyleen Downes says. “Being a guitar teacher, I work with kids on a daily basis, and I can see the positive effects of having support from individuals outside of immediate family. I also dig the camaraderie that comes out when bands get together for a bigger event like this!” Downes opened the second part of last year show with a solo acoustic show along with Jasper the Colossal’s Paige Beller.

Both shows offer diversity with a variety of bands and sound’s united for the same cause, though the Old Yellow Cab may host the louder of the two. There will be enough acoustic, punk, rock, and alternative for everyone.

“The reason I put my time and effort into GemFest is that I believe strongly in the idea of giving back to the community and helping young people,” says Evil Eye Gypsy vocalist Sherree Jane.

Emmons is playing both shows this year, Evil Eye Gypsy at Oregon and Death by Fetish at
Yellow Cab.

This year’s artists and vendors include Tami Mote, Rachael Redolfi, Whitney Marie Nathan, Dean Phil Preston, Stephanie Dever, Samantha Lober, Natasha Underwood, Monica Villamar, Zoe Duncan, Ashley Linden, The Crazy Redhead Canteen, and Ginniebug Creations.

For the second year in a row, all participating bands, at both shows, have volunteered their time and talents to the cause.

“We are excited to be a part of GemFest again this year,” says Jasper The Colossal’s Moriah Yux. “We hope it continues to grow and gain support. It’s always great to see positive things happen in the community, and we are grateful to be part of that.”

GemFest takes place Friday, Oct. 7 at the Old Yellow Cab Building, 700 E. Fourth St. in downtown Dayton. Doors open at 4 p.m. Suggested donation is $5 or $3 with student ID at the door. For the full schedule and more information, please find ‘Gem Fest’ on Facebook.


Reach DCP freelance writer Mike Ritchie at MikeRitchie@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Mike Ritchie at MikeRitchie@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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