Dayton Circus Collective’s Jeff Opt, one of the founders of Sideshow, still oversees the volunteer-run arts and music festival, returning to the “Old” Yellow Cab Bldg. in Dayton on Friday and Saturday, May 13 and 14. CONTRIBUTED

Local artists, local music blend in unique Sideshow

Few art exhibitions in town get the foot traffic or attract such a cross-section of patrons as Sideshow. The annual festival, returning to the “Old” Yellow Cab Bldg. in Dayton on Friday and Saturday, May 13-14, is volunteer-run and features an abundance of visual art and live music.

“I really liked the idea of merging musicians and artists because you get a range of different people,” said Jaime Ferguson, who first exhibited her work at Sideshow 2015. “You get the crowd that appreciates art in the music sense but never goes to see painted art, sculpture or other mediums. That’s really interesting and everyone was so friendly last year, so I really wanted to be a part of it again this year.”

Sideshow 11 will feature the work of more than 50 visual artists, including Chris Corn, Moriah Haven, Stephanie Dever, Gary Mitchell, Kate Santucci and Jacob Gandert.

“Last year, there seemed to be more paintings and drawings,” said Ferguson, who is co-art coordinator with Rachael Redolfi. “This year we have several more sculptures, three or four photographers and a couple of installations, too. We have a weaver coming in and one of the artists will be painting live. They’ll both be doing stuff for a little bit each day.

“Gallery spaces can intimidate people but Sideshow has this celebration atmosphere,” she continued. “My friends and family that came to see my stuff amongst everyone else’s didn’t know what to expect. One person said, ‘I thought it would be all white walls and people with wine glasses and French berets.’ You could say Sideshow is a deconstruction of that stereotype.”

VOLUNTEER COMMUNITY

Musician Mike Emmons, a member of local bands Evil Eye Gypsy and Death by Fetish, booked the more than 50 acts performing at this year’s festival.

“This will be my fourth Sideshow,” he said. “I got connected with these guys five years ago when I did my own benefit show, Music for the Arts. I met Jeff Opt and everyone there and that’s where I heard about Sideshow. I started working with Todd the Fox, building stages for Sideshow. I volunteered and one of my bands played there.

“It was the coolest thing ever so I volunteered again the next year,” Emmons continued. “When you step up to volunteer, it’s easy to find work. Over the years, I started getting a little bit more responsibility and ended up running the music this year.”

In addition to volunteers like Emmons and Ferguson that coordinate participants, some people set up tents and stages and others help bands carry gear or keep the facility clean. There’s even a volunteer to organize the volunteers.

“The volunteering part of Sideshow is very interesting,” Ferguson said. “When I first heard about it, I didn’t realize how big that is, but it’s really cool that everyone is very quick to help.”

DAYTON MUSIC LIVE

This year’s musical lineup includes Dark Backward, Salvador Ross, My Latex Brain, Zygotes and other bands and solo artists like Dan Raridan, Mandy Jewell, Ward Lawson and Ryan Jones.

“We wanted to make sure we represented different styles and everything flows and is complementary to the next band,” Emmons said. “We’ve got some bands that are kind of rap-rock and hip-hop. We’ve got electronica, Americana, alternative rock and older-style rock ‘n’ roll. It’s a really good cross-section of the musical diversity out there.

“Sideshow is the perfect focal point for the overall music community,” Emmons continued. “It’s a great climate and you get such monster musicians and songwriters in this town. Something that’s really striking to me about the Dayton music community is what a tight circle of friends we have here. There’s no cutthroat attitude. Everyone is supportive, everyone is friends.”

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