Dayton Music Fest organizers Don Thrasher and Kyle Melton take a seat with me in the patio area at South Park Tavern. While we are sitting at our table, an influx of people come and go throughout the duration of the early evening. It’s mostly due to the establishment’s half off priced pizza promotion that they are running that evening. For some others, they have chosen to stick around and settle in the covered patio. Those same individuals are also taking full advantage of the fall weather and the terrific selection of craft beers that are waiting on tap.
Since the end of May, the duo listened to 60-100 demos of submitted music from bands that wanted a chance to be selected. Now the final preparations are underway. The duo are in the middle of a press junket, including a couple of radio spots and our meeting. Melton and Thrasher have also been preparing for their set in the music event with their band, Smug Brothers and currently run the indie label Gas Daddy Go. While sipping on a beer, Thrasher and Melton talk about some of the acts that will be taking the stage.
“Have you had the chance of checking out Manray yet? Definitely check them out,” Thrasher mentions. “Also don’t miss out on catching Dead Rider. They love playing here in Dayton, so we are thrilled to have them coming and playing in town.”
Dayton’s music scene has seen some bands get included in the national spotlight. You have Kelley and Kim Deal’s alternative rock band The Breeders see their hometown success sky rocket in the 90s to become indie legends. You have the recently split lo-fi rockers Guided By Voices, led by the one and only Robert Pollard, blaze through with their endless releases of new material. You also can’t forget the past local bands Enon, Swearing At Motorists, and Brainiac who left their imprint on the music scene in Dayton. With the widespread talent circling around the area, it would be difficult to not have an event like Dayton Music Fest. It’s a celebration of the melting pot that is the music that surrounds the city.
In 2004, Dan Clayton, Andy Ingram, and Shawn Johnson felt that the national scene wasn’t giving the Dayton area the appreciation that it once did. Johnson and Clayton threw out the idea that Dayton needed a showcase the burgeoning music scene. The duo quickly went to work on setting up the bands and locations for the shows to be at. They then recruited Ingram to create the posters and flyers. No one knew exactly how it was going to turn out, but they felt that it was needed to be done.
Now it’s 10th year, the Dayton Music Fest has become one of the highly anticipated and heavily attended events in the area each fall. Individuals from all corners of life will be able to seize an opportunity to come out and partake in the celebrated music scene. Festival goers will fully consume all of the special, unforgettable performances, along with some surprises.
As soon as the final band finishes up their set Saturday night (Motel Beds at Blind Bob’s), both Melton and Thrasher will be no longer curate the event.
“We were at practice Sunday night, and afterwards we looked at each other and said, “You done after this one?”. We shook our head in agreement,” Thrasher explains when the decision was made to call it a day.
Besides increasing the visibility by scheduling some of the selected bands and artists to perform at The Midwest Outdoor Experience, which is one of the largest festivals in the Midwest. This past April, Melton and Thrasher had a kickoff event for the Dayton Music Fest with a special concert-the Buffalo Killers performed with a backing choir at the Christ Episcopal Church in downtown Dayton, 20 W. First Street. You can get the DMF mobile app, where you can rank and follow the bands with Q&A posts.
The duo has handpicked local band’s Speaking Suns bassist Conor Stratton to take over the reins. “We think that he is going to be great,” Thrasher says. “He manages the band, and runs his record label (Great Guys Records). He’s already been calling some people and is getting a team together.” As for Melton and Thrasher? They will continue to play in Smug Brothers and prep some upcoming releases with Gas Daddy Go.
While it will be tough for Melton and Thrasher to no longer coordinating the yearly festival, they have no regrets on ending their run.
“We wanted to give someone else a chance to do it, and make it even better,” Melton says. “We did some great things to make the festival better. Five years is a great run.”
A run that deserves a toast while sitting in the patio at South Park Tavern.