According to the Urban Dictionary, “summah” means: a great summer consisting of booze, music and randomness. Just the way I like it! The term has also been popularized by comedian Howard Kremer as being the one undeniable season: “You can’t skip it. You gotta have it!”
Memorial Day weekend is the checkered flag for the summer music season, and I want to help you get the most out of it! Below are my picks for some of the hottest shows and festivals in the area. Mark your calendar, book the babysitter and get your tickets to these great events before they sell out!
- Friday, May 22nd – Local blues virtuoso Noah Wotherspoon takes the stage at Oregon Express this evening. This is a great chance to check out our homegrown guitar legend. In Yellow Springs, Far from Eden is playing at Aleta’s Cafe at 6 p.m. Either option is a great way to start the weekend.
- Saturday, May 23rd – The Gem City Get Down is doing exactly that at Blind Bob’s. This group mixes funk, hip hop, jazz and soul – and is a nice change of pace in the Dayton music scene. Proceeds from this performance benefit the Melissa Ortiz-Bebbington Memorial Scholarship Fund. Only $3 at the door, 18 & up.
- Saturday, May 23rd – Nothing says summah like reggae music, and the band Elementree Livity Project definitely delivers. Add on a luau, a limbo contest, and a pig roast, and call it a day! $10 gets you in the show and all you can eat! The event is south of town, in Fairfield, but well worth the drive. Music starts at 10 p.m.
- Sunday, May 24th – The annual Heritage Festival at Carillon Park runs all day from 11 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. Musical acts include the Classic Jazz Stompers, Todd the Fox and The Dayton Philharmonic. This is a family-friendly event. For detailed information, including even more reasons to attend, click here – or listen to fun podcast I hosted with the organizers of this event here.
- Sunday, May 24th – Blues & BBQ will be on the menu at Riff Raff Tavern Sunday afternoon. Starting this weekend, every other Sunday from 2-6 p.m. Riff Raff is hosting the Blues & BBQ Summer Series. Kelly Richey is kicking off this fun summer series, and she’s been described as “Stevie Ray Vaughan trapped in a woman’s body with Janis Joplin screaming to get out.” Ha! This is a great way to spend a Sunday Funday downtown, that’s for sure. $10 in advance, $12 at the door.
June 5th & 6th – Festival of Fire – AND – June 19-20 – Melting Pot of Music. Both festivals will be at Zane Shawnee Caverns – $40 pre-sale, $10 parking. These are a couple sweet little getaways, affordable and primitive. These mini-fests are stacked with great music and geared for the true music fans out there. My jam band friends will enjoy!
- June 13th – The Yellow Springs Street Fair – Music & Beer Fest 12-7 p.m. So many of my favorite Dayton bands are playing! This is such a great way to check out a mix of local talent, and it’s free.
- June 27th – Cityfolk Celebration – Courthouse Square 1-9 p.m. – Many of us miss the Cityfolk Festival, so this day of music on the Square is a great way to celebrate our love of Cityfolk. Eclectic and free, just the way we like it to be!
- June 27th – Tedeschi Trucks Band & Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings & Doyle Bramhall II at The Rose Music Center. Tickets are $48+ in advance. I cannot speak highly enough about how truly phenomenal this show is going to be. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing both of the main acts at major national festivals, and they truly steal the show. Susan Tedeschi and Sharon Jones are incredible female vocalists. Amazing that both are playing in Dayton, and performing together no less! This is one of my absolute “don’t miss” shows of the summer. P.S… there will be a fun after party at Jimmie’s Ladder 11 late night!
- July 1st – New Riders of the Purple Sage & Subterranean & Arrows of Neon at Oddbody’s. $20 in advance. In full disclosure, I’m helping promote this show along with Oddbody’s. Super excited to bring these legendary musicians to Dayton! This show is the area pre-party for the 50th Anniversary Grateful Dead shows and NRPS’s late night “Psychedelic Last Supper” shows occurring in Chicago over July 4th weekend. This is an awesome way to celebrate the Dead’s anniversary in Dayton, and kick off July 4th weekend.
- July 3rd & 4th – Willy Fest Music & Art Gathering at Hannon’s Camp America (outside Oxford). Although this is the 1st annual Willy Fest, I don’t need a crystal ball to know this is going to be an awesome time. First of all it’s hosted by Randy & Lahey from Trailer Park Boys. Hilarious! Second, it’s headlined by Glostik Willy. Those boys know how to throw a party! Tickets are $70 in advance, and worth every penny once you check out the lineup.
- July 10th – The Dayton Philharmonic is starting a new “Summer in the City” series this year. The July 10th Guitar Heroes show initiates a series of four Saturday rockin’ shows. Tickets are as low as $29, with special deals for young professionals available too. (Musicians: check out details at bottom on how you can get involved!)
- July 24th – 26th – Dayton Celtic Festival – This annual free downtown festival is an absolute must. Headliners Gaelic Storm and Scythian take the stage again this year, and for good reason. They’re amazing! Take it from a French girl, you don’t have to be Irish to attend or to have a great time here.
- July 31st – Aug 1st – The Miami Valley Music Festival at the Troy Eagles Campground. Tickets are $45 pre-sale, subject to availability. $65 at door. $125 VIP. For the money, this festival can’t be beat when you consider the line up (40+ bands!), the convenient location and the fact that all the proceeds go to charity! This is one of the only local festivals that has a true mix of musical styles… including party band Nightbeast (yes!), jammin’ jam band Lost on Iddings and folksy fan favorites The Spikedrivers.
- Aug 4th – Primus & Dinosaur Jr & The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (with Sean Lennon) at The Rose Music Center – Tickets $42+ in advance. Les Claypool fans are going to nuts for this show, as well as early era alternative fans from the late 80s and early 90s. Pining for some old school Lollapalooza love? Here you go!
- August 6th – 8th – The Werk Out Music & Arts Festival at Legend Valley (outside Columbus). Yes, this festival is not directly in Dayton, but it’s hosted by beloved Dayton jam band The Werks. This annual gathering has quickly become one of the most popular festivals in Ohio, featuring great Dayton bands as well as national acts like Umphrey’s McGee, Lettuce, Papadosio, Dopapod, The Main Squeeze and more! GA pass $120.
- Aug 14th – 16th – Wham Bam Thank U Jam at Hannon’s Camp America. Tickets are $40 pre-sale. This festival is a true celebration of Dayton’s best jam, funk, reggae and soul bands and has a one-of-a-kind vibe that is truly endearing. I love this festival for many reasons… a great group of people, very affordable and has one heck of a bonfire on Saturday night!
- Aug 18th – Willie Nelson & Old Crow Medicine Show at the Fraze Pavillon. Tickets are $45 in advance. Can’t go wrong with Willie Nelson, and Old Crow puts on such an invigorating show! They rocked our world at the Gentleman of the Road Tour, and they will rock it again here.
- Aug 21st & 22nd – Ohmstead Music Festival at the VFW Campgrounds in Franklin. There is a good reason this festival is in it’s 14th year! They know how to put on a show. Great lights and sound + eclectic lineup = FUN! Tickets are $40 currently, but will go up as more of the lineup is announced.
- Aug 28th – 29th – Hog Jam 10 at the VFW Campgrounds in Franklin. This festival packs as much music as possible into two days, by combining daytime acoustic acts and night time electric rock. Ticket details still forth coming, so stay tuned!
- Sept 18th & 19th – Dayton Music Art & Film Festival, held at locations all over downtown Dayton! This festival is like Dayton itself: truly innovative. It pulls together the best of our local indie, alternative and rock bands and distributes them throughout the city. The Early Bird 2-day pass is only $22, so get one while they last!
Bonus Info for Local Guitarists: The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance is looking for Dayton’s own Guitar Hero! You think your chops are the best? Prove it. Fill in the application here, and if you win, you get to perform on stage at the Schuster Center on July 10, 2015 for the first concert of the aforementioned Dayton Philharmonic Summer in the City Music Festival. How cool is that?! As always, thank you for supporting the live music scene in Dayton. And have a Summah!!
Your Dayton Music Insider,
Note to Readers: Please click the links to find out detailed information about the bands, venues and events, including start times, directions and pricing. I try to link band names with samples of their music. Always check with the venue about start times and ticket availability. As you can see, I try to promote as many shows as possible, but there will be some I miss. Keep me in the loop: @LibbyBallengee