This Dayton music fest continues tradition of great acts

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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We look at what has enabled this Dayton tradition to go on

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Mark McMillon wasn't thinking about creating a long-running rock fest when he came up with the idea for HoliDayton, the 14th version of which will happen this Friday at Blind Bob's at 430 E. Fifth St.. He just wanted to play a local show.

"To be honest, the first year we did it, it was like, 'Let's throw a festival at the end of the year.' We didn't really have any plans for it to be a thing like an annual event," singer and guitarist for Dayton band The Story Changes  explained.

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McMillon, along with drummer Christopher “Poppy” Lee, typically spent every year on the road playing shows in venues of all sizes from coast to coast. So, when they came back to Dayton to be with family and friends, it only made sense to throw a big show together to perform in front of, and often times with, those same people.

Mark McMillon (left) and Poppy Lee started Holidayton as a way to get  a local show in before the year ended.
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Mark McMillon (left) and Poppy Lee started Holidayton as a way to get a local show in before the year ended.

“We knew lots of friends were in town from traveling. Dayton is one of those places where you never really get away too far, but everyone kind of moves away at some point and comes back for the holidays,” McMillon said.

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So they put together what became the HoliDayton festival, with two stages at the now closed Elbo’s and Chin’s bar and restaurant. Acoustic acts would perform in one room, with the louder groups performing in the other. McMillon said he modeled the event off another Dayton rock tradition.

”I always really admired what Jamy Holiday (Haunting Souls, Luxury Pushers) did with the Monster Hop (at Canal Street Tavern). I always thought that was a really cool Dayton thing. Growing up in the scene, that was something all of us could look forward to,” he said.

The 1984 Draft will be one of 10 acts to perform the 14th annual Holidayton festival.
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The 1984 Draft will be one of 10 acts to perform the 14th annual Holidayton festival.

Ten acts, including Goodnight GoodnightJasper The Colossal and Me & Mountains will join The Story Changes for this year's festival. The venue has changed and the format has been adjusted a bit, but there's still two "stages", with one band playing on the main stage and another playing on the floor level, similar to the old days of playing punk shows at bingo halls.

“That’s kind of what it feels like. We tend to get the bands that have that cool, indie vibe that want to (play) the floor,” Lee said.

HoliDayton’s reputation for good  lineups with solid turnouts has made the event a magnet for local bands. There’s no shortage of acts who want to be a part of the festival, though having to a be a grownup does get in the way at times.

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"It's not as hard to get people that want to play," Lee began. "It's harder to get people that (have) their entire band is in town, because, as we're getting older, they'll have families and have to go out of town to be with the spouse's family possibly."

“This year, within five days, everyone got back to me right away,” McMillon added.

Dayton's The New Old-Fashioned have been Holidayton regulars.
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Dayton's The New Old-Fashioned have been Holidayton regulars.

While some of the bands of HoliDayton may be getting a little older, the result has always been positive. Lee says that’s why bands and fans alike keep coming back.

“It has a brand now. Everybody kind of knows that it’s going to happen. It’s just a fun, big show.”

WANT TO GO?

What: HoliDayton

Where: Blind Bob's, 430 E. Fifth St., Dayton

When: 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 30

Cost: $7

More info: 937-938-6405 or www.blindbobs.com